Dec. 26, 2018

REUTERS

resident Donald Trump said the partial shutdown of the federal government was going to last until his demand for funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is met.

President Donald Trump's budget director and chief of staff on Sunday said the partial U.S. government shutdown could continue to Jan. 3, when the new Congress convenes and Democrats take over the House of Representatives.

President Trump on Tuesday expressed confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin amid worries over a weakening economy and a stock market slump, but repeated his criticism of the U.S. Federal Reserve, saying it has raised interest rates too quickly.

U.S. National Parks will be left with just a skeleton staff during the federal government shutdown, and several states are using their own funds to make sure public restrooms get cleaned and visitor centers stay open.

A Russian blogger critical of the authorities was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday, his lawyer said, in an extortion case critics say is politically-motivated.

A Belgian judge has ordered the government to repatriate six children of Islamic State (IS) militants and their mothers who have been detained in a camp in Kurdish-controlled Syria, the national news agency Belga said on Wednesday.

The Russian government on Wednesday approved a draft bill allowing the country to produce crops used in medicinal narcotics, saying this would reduce its dependence on foreign states that have imposed sanctions against it.

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would deploy its first regiment of hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles next year, saying the move meant his country now had a new type of strategic weapon.

Sales during the U.S. holiday shopping season rose 5.1 percent to over $850 billion in 2018, the strongest in the past six years.

Oil rose to around $51 a barrel on Wednesday on perceptions that a price slide to 2017 lows prompted by economic worries had been overdone amid an OPEC-led effort to tighten supply.

The Kremlin does not rule out the participation of President Vladimir Putin in the World Economic Forum in Davos next month.

AP Top Stories

An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.8 hit an area north of Catania on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily early on Wednesday, damaging buildings and injuring about 30 people, officials said.

Indonesian search and rescue teams Wednesday plucked stranded residents from remote islands and pushed into isolated communities desperate for aid in the aftermath of a volcano-triggered tsunami that killed over 400.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has ordered medical checks on every child in its custody after an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died, marking the second death of an immigrant child in the agency's care this month.

Pope Francis used his traditional Christmas Day address urging people to overcome their religious and cultural differences to end conflict in Syria, Yemen and the Middle East.

Gunmen who raided a government building in the Afghan capital killed at least 28 people - mostly government employees - and wounded more than 20 others in a seven-hour standoff with police that ended on Monday night, Afghan authorities said.

A U.S. court ordered Pyongyang to pay $501 million in damages for the torture and death of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, who died in 2017 after being released from a North Korea prison.

A fake priest was able to hear confessions and perform wedding ceremonies for almost two decades before being unmasked, a Roman Catholic diocese in Spain revealed on Monday.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the country would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, but only hunt whales in its own territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, drawing criticism from Australia and New Zealand, where anti-whaling sentiment is strong.

The two Koreas on Wednesday held a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for reconnecting and repairing roads and railways across the divided peninsula, with the North calling on the South to push through joint projects despite sanctions on Pyongyang.

BBC

Martial law declared in parts of Ukraine has ended after 30 days, amid continuing tensions with Russia in the Kerch Strait.

An Argentine woman seized in the 1980s by people traffickers has been reunited with her family in a joint operation by Argentine and Bolivian police.

Thailand's parliament has voted to approve cannabis for medical use, with a key lawmaker calling it a "New Year's gift" to the Thai people. Recreational use will remain illegal.

Campaigners have thanked Apple for removing an app from its store that they said stigmatized LGBT people. The software promoted a US religious group that says homosexual practice is sinful and that its members should help "call up" others to their natural-born "biblical gender".

Two fishermen have been rescued by a cruise ship after being stranded for 20 days at sea.

WND

The British star, Dominic West believes next 007 should be transgender.

Canada is expected to approve euthanasia for sick children, joining the Netherlands and Belgium as the only nations in the world affirmatively sanctioning such practices.

The Girls Scouts are warning parents not to encourage their young daughters to show appreciation - physically through hugs and the like - for visits or gifts from family during the Christmas season.

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