Dec. 19, 2018

REUTERS

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed legislation long in the making and backed by President Donald Trump to reduce sentences for certain prison inmates.

Two Democratic lawmakers urged the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday to better protect U.S. oil and gas pipelines from cyberattacks, after a report they requested detailed a lack of federal oversight of the critical conduits.

Days after a judge in Texas declared that the Obamacare healthcare law is unconstitutional, Maryland's Democratic attorney general on Wednesday will pursue his request that another judge rule the opposite way.

The United States has defeated the Islamic State in Syria, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday, adding that it was the only reason he had kept troops in the country.

The United States is considering a total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria as it nears the very end of its campaign to retake all of the territory once held by Islamic State, U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday Hezbollah had shut down plants to develop precision-guided missiles but was imperiling Lebanon with a cross-border tunnel network he deemed "an act of war".

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a bishop in Los Angeles accused of sexually abusing a minor, the Vatican said on Wednesday, in the latest case of clergy misconduct to shake the U.S. Catholic Church.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday, but may cut the number of hikes it anticipates next year and signal an earlier end to its monetary tightening in the face of financial market volatility and rising recession fears.

AP Top Stories

The murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi in a year when more than half of all journalists killed were targeted deliberately reflects a hatred of the media in many areas of society, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday.

Ethiopian Airlines on Monday resumed flights to Moscow after a gap of 27 years stretching back to the demise of the Soviet Union, which saw relations with Moscow dive.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley gave a hint, but no details, of the Trump administration's peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday, saying it's long, takes advantage of new technology, and has a lot both sides will like and things they won't like.

Russia has cut its military flights in Syria from more than 100 per day to fewer than four a week, the defense minister said Tuesday, in another sign the country's conflict is winding down.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas on Tuesday filed a lawsuit over a state law requiring contractors to certify that they do not boycott Israel or Israel-controlled territories, arguing the law forces people to choose between their First Amendment rights and their livelihoods.

Russia, Iran and Turkey, supporters of the main sides in Syria's complex civil war, on Tuesday failed to agree on the makeup of a U.N.-sponsored Syrian Constitutional Committee but called for it to convene early next year to kick off a viable peace process.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered the creation of "Space Command," a new organizational structure within the Pentagon that will have overall control of military space operations.

Russia said on Monday it had built new barracks for troops on a disputed chain of islands near Japan and would build more facilities for armored vehicles, prompting a diplomatic protest from Tokyo.

The UN General Assembly on Monday adopted by a wide majority a Global Compact on Refugees aimed at improving efforts to manage large refugee movements -- but without the support of the United States and Hungary.

Yemen's warring parties have exchanged lists with a total of 16,000 names of people believed to be detained as part of a prisoner swap deal agreed last week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday.

Nearly one in five U.S. fuel stations are charging less than $2 per gallon of gasoline as falling oil prices deliver holiday savings for American motorists. Missouri's already there with an average of $1.96 on Tuesday, according to AAA. Others within cents of the two-buck threshold: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina. 31 states had at least one station with fuel for less than $2, according to GasBuddy. One station in Texas was charging $1.65 - the lowest in the country.

BBC

Facebook has been caught on the back foot again over its data privacy practices, following an investigation by the New York Times. The newspaper has disclosed fresh details about ways the social network shared access to users' data with other tech firms, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify and Yandex.

Four transgender women have been allowed to pray at an Indian temple at the center of a bitter row over whether women should be permitted to enter. The panel agreed that they could pray at the shrine, and temple officials also said they did not object to the transgender women because they do not menstruate.

WND

The Nation of Islam and its leaders have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the U.S. government since 2008 to teach religious study programs for federal prison inmates, according to records reviewed by the Washington Examiner.

China has begun colluding with Russia on war-game experiments that heat up the atmosphere in a process that would kill satellite technology and eliminate a military opponent's communications. Phenomena such as hurricanes, cyclones and even earthquakes also could result.

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