'Start Here': Shutdown, Syria, SCOTUS. What you need to know to start your day.

It's Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Thanks for choosing to start here.

1. Trump to deliver prime-time address

As the government shutdown enters its 18th day, President Donald Trump is set to make the case for a southern border wall in a prime-time address from the Oval Office tonight before he visits the border on Thursday.

The White House is also weighing whether Trump can declare a national emergency to build the wall without approval from Congress, according to Vice President Mike Pence. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl tells us it would be a "messy process" for the president and "another court challenge."

And while the White House has insisted the president has made a concession in calling for the wall to be made of steel instead of concrete, Democrats are holding firm by refusing to support any funding for a wall. House Democrats will vote on bills to reopen parts of the government this week, and Senate Democrats want to block bills unrelated to ending the shutdown.

"We don't sense that the Democrats feel boxed in, in any way," ABC News' Trish Turner says. "In fact, they are charging forward."

2. White House tries to clarify Syria policy

The president claimed victory over ISIS two weeks ago and promised that American troops would be coming home within 30 days.

ABC News Senior Foreign correspondent Ian Pannell says that since then we've heard some conflicting messages from some of Trump's closest advisers.

3. Cyntoia Brown granted clemency

Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a man who solicited her for sex when she was 16 years old.

Now, after serving 15 years, Brown, 30, will be released in August after Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has granted her clemency.

"Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16," the governor said in a statement Monday. "Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh."

ABC News' Steve Osunsami walks us through Brown's case and why it sparked outrage from celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West.
4. Ruth Bader Ginsburg misses misses oral arguments

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not present for oral arguments on Monday for the first time ever.

She's still recovering from surgery to remove two cancerous lesions from her left lung.

ABC News' Devin Dwyer says Ginsburg didn't sit to hear a case that involves a dispute over warning labels on a bone-strengthening drug.

Other news:

'Devastating': A New York firefighter falls to his death.

'Chaos': A Los Angeles man is arrested in connection with a deadly shooting at a bowling alley.

'Resolution': A former Uber driver in Michigan pleads guilty to six murders.

From our partners at FiveThirtyEight:

Someday, we'll appreciate Alabama and Clemson's historic dominance: ... though it might seem like it happens all the time, it's actually pretty rare for the same teams to square off in the postseason year after year.

Last 'Nightline':
On set with the cast of 'The Conners': The show's stars take us behind the scenes and discuss their pivotal first season.

'Rape by fraud?' College-student case could help expose loophole in rape laws: Purdue student Abigail Finney says she thought she was having sex with her boyfriend until she realized it was someone else in an incident that highlighted a technicality in many sexual assault laws.

On this day in history:

Jan. 8, 2004 -- Queen Elizabeth christens the world's largest passenger ship, Queen Mary II.

The must-see photo:

An aerial view shows ice sculptures during the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in China. (photo credit: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

For more great photos from around the world CLICK HERE.

Socially acceptable:

A herd of determined cattle wade through deep snow as a winter storm brought avalanche warnings and snarled traffic in parts of Austria.

All right, you're off and running. You can always get the latest news on ABCNews.com and on the ABC News app. Details on how to subscribe to the "Start Here" podcast are below. See you tomorrow.

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