Top News Stories for Today – December 25, 2016
Pope Christmas message offers hope
Pope Francis on Sunday offered a Christmas hope for peace in a world lacerated by war and terrorism, urging people to remember migrants, refugees and those hit by economic instability caused by “idolatry of money.”
Francis, marking the fourth Christmas season since his election in 2013, also urged Palestinians and Israelis, facing renewed tension after a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements on occupied land, to have the courage to put aside hate and revenge and “write a new page of history.” His traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message was linked by a common thread of war, violence and suffering at a time that should be defined by harmony and peace symbolized by the infant Jesus.
Francis, the first Latin American pope, also said Christmas should inspire everyone to help the less fortunate, including migrants, refugees and those swept up by social and economic upheavals. VOA
Trump to dissolve charitable foundation
One day after saying it was a “ridiculous shame” his son, Eric, would no longer be able to raise money for his charity, President-elect Donald Trump announced he would dissolve his own foundation, a move designed to avoid allegations of conflicts of interest. The assets of the Donald J. Trump Foundation will be distributed and the organization, which is under investigation by New York’s attorney general, will be shut down once that investigation is closed.
The New York Times also reported Saturday Trump is considering hiring an outside monitor to oversee the Trump Organization instead of shifting that responsibility to his adult children. A similar arrangement is on the table for Ivanka Trump’s personal brand. No announcement has yet been made regarding Trump’s new Washington, D.C., hotel, which is subject to a lease that cannot be held by an elected official. The New York Times, NY Daily News, The Week
Boko Haram ousted in Nigeria
The Nigerian army on Friday successfully drove Boko Haram militants from their last stronghold in the Sambisa Forest, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhar announced Saturday, a major victory against the terrorist organization that kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in 2014, nearly 200 of whom remain missing.
“The terrorists are on the run and no longer have a place to hide,” Buhar said in a statement praising the raid but indicating there is still work to be done. “Further efforts should be intensified to locate and free our remaining Chibok girls still in captivity,” he added. “May God be with them.” BBC News, Pulse.ng
Lockheed Martin to lower F-35 costs
Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson promised Friday she would work to lower costs of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump, who one day earlier tweeted that he might cancel the project in favor of a cheaper, comparable jet from Boeing.
“I’ve heard [Trump’s] message loud and clear about reducing the cost of the F-35,” Hewson said. “I gave him my personal commitment to drive the cost down aggressively.” F-35 development is the Pentagon’s single most expensive project ever, with escalating costs projected to hit $1.45 trillion over its lifespan. Depending on its specifications, a single plane costs up to $337 million. CNN, Reuters
Russian plane crashes with 92 people
The Russian Defense Ministry says a military plane with 92 people on board, including a popular military choir, has crashed in the Black Sea shortly after taking off from the resort town of Sochi. Officials say debris from the aircraft and some bodies have been found just off the Russian coast. The main section of the plane has been located 1.5 kilometers off the coast at a depth of about 70 meters.
The Tu-154 aircraft disappeared from radar minutes after taking off from the Black Sea resort town of Sochi at 5:40 a.m. local time (0240 UTC). The aircraft was headed to an air base in Syria. There is no indication of what might have caused the crash. Officials say there was no distress signal sent from the cockpit. A search and rescue operation continues. Authorities say they do not expect to find any survivors. VOA
Philippines Braces Super Typhoon on Christmas
A powerful typhoon is headed for the eastern Philippines late Christmas Day as officials struggled to divert people’s attention from family celebrations and travel. A provincial governor offered roasted pigs to entice villagers to move to emergency shelters.
Typhoon Nock-Ten packed maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers (114 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph), and was expected to smash into the island province of Catanduanes Sunday night. It’s then forecast to blow westward across the southern portion of the main Luzon island and pass close to the capital, Manila, on Monday, before exiting into the South China Sea. Nock-Ten may weaken after landfall and hitting the Sierra Madre mountain range in southern Luzon.
Heavy rainfall, destructive winds and battering waves were threatening heavily populated rural and urban regions, where the Philippine weather agency raised typhoon warnings. Officials warned of storm surges in coastal villages, flash floods and landslides and asked villagers to evacuate to safer grounds. VOA
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