Dec 26, 2019

REUTERS

President Donald Trump on Thursday warned Russia, Syria and Iran against killing civilians in Syria's Idlib province and said Turkey was working hard to stop the "carnage."

Hundreds of protesters marched through Hong Kong shopping malls on Thursday, disrupting business in the Asian financial hub for a third day over the festive period and prompting riot police to close off a mall in a tourist district.

Communities across Asia commemorated the more than 230,000 victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami on Thursday, the 15th anniversary of one of the world's most deadly disasters.

Poor Central American migrants who form caravans to fend off predatory gangs as they cross Mexico's interior en route to the United States have made global headlines and drawn the ire of President Donald Trump. But last week in the Texan border city of Laredo a caravan of about 1,500 families made up of Mexican migrants and Americans of Mexican origin set out in the opposite direction - for their Christmas holidays.

Iraqi President Barham Salih refused on Thursday to designate the nominee of an Iran-backed parliamentary bloc for prime minister, saying he would rather resign than appoint someone to the position who would be rejected by protesters.

Turkey will increase the minimum wage by 15.03% in 2020, for a monthly net minimum wage of $392, the labor minister said on Thursday.

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell last week in a sign of ongoing labor market strength. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week ended Dec. 21

Thousands of skywatchers gathered across parts of the Middle East and Asia on Thursday to glimpse the sun forming a ring of fire around the moon in a rare annular solar eclipse.

China is in close touch with the United States on signing a Phase 1 trade deal, adding that both sides are still going through necessary procedures before the signing.

AP Top Stories

China, Iran and Russia will hold joint naval drills starting on Friday in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman, China's defense ministry said on Thursday amid heightened tension in the region between Iran and the United States.

Japan on Thursday executed a 40-year-old Chinese man convicted of murdering a family of four, in the country's first execution of a foreigner since the disclosure of details on sentences carried out began in 2007, the justice ministry said.

At least 35 people were killed when a bus plunged into a ravine in Indonesia, officials said in a new toll Thursday, making it one of the most deadly bus accidents in recent years.

The organizers of the weekly Palestinian demonstrations along the Gaza Strip's frontier with Israel said Thursday that they will significantly scale down the gatherings early next year.

More than 100,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or injured over the past decade, the United Nations reported Thursday, as it renewed calls to end the bloody 18-year conflict.

With the help of NASA scientists and a satellite, Jennifer Briggs, a physics student at Pepperdine University, connected the unusual aurora to a sudden retreat in Earth's magnetic field. It's the first time scientists have seen an aurora caused solely by a compression of Earth's magnetic field.

Taliban militants have kidnapped 27 peace activists from a highway in Afghanistan's western Farah province, local officials and peace activists said on Wednesday.

A Roman Catholic church in Louisiana gave a community-wide blessing by dumping holy water on an entire town using a crop duster plane.

On Wednesday, the body of sergeant first class Michael Goble arrived at Dover Air Force base. The 33-year-old Green Beret from New Jersey was killed by a roadside bomb. Goble was the 20th American to die in combat operations in Afghanistan in 2019, the deadliest year for the U.S. forces in that country since 2014.

BBC

Typhoon Phanfone has killed at least 13 people in the Philippines, leaving a trail of devastation through the center of the country. The storm battered several islands with gusts of 118mph, destroying homes and power lines. Many people are missing. Thousands were left stranded as they tried to make their way home for Christmas.

At least 16 inmates have been killed in a fight between rival gangs at a Honduran prison, less than two days after deadly violence at another jail.

Suspected Islamist militants have killed 35 civilians, 31 of them women, in an attack on a military base and a town in Burkina Faso, officials said. They say seven soldiers and 80 militants were also killed as the army repelled Tuesday's attack in Arbinda, in northern Soum province.

The Pope has prayed for a softening of "stony and self-centered hearts" to help end injustice in the world, in his Christmas Day message. From the Vatican balcony, Pope Francis spoke of "walls of indifference" being put up to people fleeing hardship in the hope of finding a better life.

Twenty-seven members of a peace group who were kidnapped as they travelled in western Afghanistan have been released, local media said.

WND

Merriam-Webster, the nearly 200-year-old dictionary company, said "they" has been chosen as its 2019 word of the year, primarily because of its newfound association with persons confused about their gender.

China plans to rewrite all translated "classic religious books" to reflect the socialist values of the Communist Party of China. The order was given during a meeting in November that was organized by the Committee for Ethnic Affairs, which is responsible for all religious matters of the country. While not directly referring to the Quran and the Bible, the committee plans a comprehensive review of the religious texts, which allegedly "do not conform to the progress of the times" and need to be fitted to the "era of President Xi Jinping."

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