Dec. 21, 2018

REUTERS

President Donald Trump on Friday threatened a "very long" government shutdown just hours ahead of a midnight deadline, calling on the Senate to pass spending legislation that includes his $5 billion demand for border wall funding and seeking to shift blame for a holiday showdown to Democrats.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday added $5 billion to a government spending bill to help President Donald Trump make good on a pledge to build a border wall, a move that made a partial federal government shutdown more likely this weekend.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis abruptly said he was quitting on Thursday after falling out with President Donald Trump over his foreign policies, including surprise decisions to yank troops from Syria and start planning a drawdown in Afghanistan.

London's Gatwick Airport reopened on Friday after a mystery saboteur wrought 36 hours of travel chaos for more than 100,000 Christmas travelers by using drones to play cat-and-mouse with police snipers and the army.

The United States and three allies chastised China for economic espionage on Thursday, ratcheting up tensions as U.S. prosecutors indicted two Chinese nationals linked to a spy agency on charges of stealing confidential data from American government agencies and businesses around the world.

Sudanese police fired tear gas at dozens of demonstrators on Friday in the cities of Omdurman and Atbara, witnesses said, where people gathered in a third day of protests driven by price rises and a nationwide cash shortage.

Cargill, Bunge and other global traders have halted food supply deals with Iran because new U.S. sanctions have paralyzed banking systems required to secure payments, industry and Iranian government sources said.

A simple wreath-laying and prayer service in Lockerbie on Friday marked 30 years since a jumbo jet (Pan Am flight 103) was blown up over the small Scottish town, killing 270 people. It is the deadliest ever militant attack in Britain.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday decreed a 22 percent rise in the minimum wage, the biggest in four decades, and a move that could strengthen his grip on power but defies warnings that it could worsen unemployment.

U.S. consumer spending increased solidly in November as households bought motor vehicles and spent more on utilities, but wage growth remained moderate suggesting the current pace of consumption was unlikely to be sustained.

AP Top Stories

President Donald Trump is planning to withdraw more than 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, a U.S. official said on Thursday, in the latest sign Trump's patience is thinning with America's longest war and overseas military interventions.

Denmark's ruling coalition has approved a controversial plan to put some 125 "unwanted" migrants on Lindholm, an uninhabited island, sparking outrage at home and abroad.

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad raised doubts Thursday about the Taliban's desire to end the 17-year war, after the militants refused to meet with a Kabul-backed negotiating team.

President Donald Trump is "right" to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, Russia's leader Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is on course to post a higher deficit and lower economic growth than budgeted, due to a renewed fall in oil prices, economic experts said.

A congressional report on prescription pill dumping in West Virginia blames U.S. prescription drug distributors and the Drug Enforcement Administration for not doing enough to help mitigate the nation's opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

Pakistan on Thursday defended its close ally China against a growing outcry over Muslims who are being detained by Chinese authorities, saying the issue was being "sensationalized" by foreign media.

BBC

Argentina's former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is to go on trial for corruption, a federal court has ruled. She is accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes over a 12-year period in what has become known as the "corruption notebooks" scandal.

The US justice department has indicted two Chinese men accused of hacking into the computer networks of companies and government agencies in Western countries. The pair are allegedly part of a "hacking group" known as Advanced Persistent Threat 10, affiliated with China's main intelligence service.

WND

With Democrats opposing President Trump's request for $5 billion for a border wall, an Air Force veteran has stepped with a GoFundMe page. After only a couple of days, the fund established by Brian Kolfage has raised more than $11.5 million. The campaign, titled "We the People Will Fund the Wall," aims to raise $1 billion to help fund the wall that became a major plank in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

A United States judge ordered a convicted sex trafficker to pay his teenage victim nearly half a million dollars-the largest sum ever decreed under the district's trafficking restitution statute.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party has stepped up a nationwide crackdown on Christians, raiding and detaining pastors and members of churches in several locations as urban authorities warn against public Christmas decorations and events.

Two school districts in Iowa will reportedly introduce mandatory classes about firearm safety into school curriculum starting next year. Students enrolled in both the 7th and 8th grade at schools in the North Butler and Clarksville districts will be required to take part in a mandatory hunter safety course taught by the Butler County Conservation Board, Radio Iowa reported on Thursday.

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