10 things you need to know today: December 23, 2018

Tsunami kills 222, injures hundreds more in Indonesia, Senate adjourns until after Christmas with no shutdown resolution deal, and more

Residents evacuate from damaged homes on Carita beach on December 23, 2018, after the area was hit by a tsunami on December 22 that may have been caused by the Anak Krakatoa volcano.
(Image credit: SEMI/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Tsunami kills 222, injures hundreds more in Indonesia

A tsunami struck the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra Saturday evening, killing at least 222 people and injuring at least 800 more. The wall of water swept in without warning and is thought to have been caused by undetected sea floor landslides from an eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, located in the strait between the islands. Indonesia also lacks a comprehensive tsunami warning system, explained Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the country's National Disaster Mitigation Agency. "We need multi-hazard early warning system, and we need lots of it," Nugroho said. Rescue efforts are ongoing Sunday; the death toll is expected to rise.

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2. Senate adjourns until after Christmas with no shutdown resolution deal

The Senate adjourned Saturday afternoon — and will not meet again until Thursday, Dec. 27 — with no deal made to end the partial federal government shutdown that began Saturday at midnight. "[P]roductive discussions are continuing," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Saturday, and when they "produce a solution that is acceptable to all parties, which means 60 votes in the Senate, a majority in the House, and a presidential signature, at that point we will take it up on the Senate floor." Most federal agencies are funded through September, so the shutdown only affects seven Cabinet-level departments and some independent agencies.

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3. Trump says he's 'in the White House, working hard' during shutdown

"I am in the White House, working hard," President Trump tweeted Saturday after the government shutdown began. "News reports concerning the Shutdown and Syria are mostly FAKE. We are negotiating with the Democrats on desperately needed Border Security (Gangs, Drugs, Human Trafficking & more) but it could be a long stay." Trump will now spend Christmas at the White House instead of traveling to his Mar-a-Lago resort. In a second tweet, he discussed his announcement that U.S. troops will leave Syria, noting U.S. intervention there has lasted longer than expected and arguing regional powers can handle any remaining terror threat.

CBS News The Week

4. U.S. envoy for ISIS fight quits over Syria withdrawal

Brett McGurk, the United States' special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter the Islamic State, tendered his resignation Friday in response to President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Appointed by former President Barack Obama, McGurk previously planned to leave his post in February, but he will now depart at the end of December. "I worked this week to help manage some of the fallout" of Trump's plan, McGurk reportedly said in an email to his staff, adding, "I ultimately concluded that I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity."

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5. Trump tweets on Mattis, McGurk resignations

President Trump on Twitter Saturday night turned his attention to the resignations of Defense Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the United States' top envoy for the fight against the Islamic State. Both men resigned this past week in protest of Trump's Syria strategy. "When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. ... Interesting relationship," Trump wrote. In a separate tweet, Trump said McGurk, "who I do not know," was due to leave office in February and suggested his early departure is simply grandstanding.

Politico Fox News

6. Mnuchin denies Trump asked advisers about firing Fed chair

President Trump has repeatedly asked his advisers whether he has the legal authority to fire Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, Bloomberg and CNN reported over the weekend, citing sources close to the administration. Trump has publicly expressed displeasure with Powell's performance, especially his decision to raise interest rates. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied the report Saturday night, tweeting that Trump said, "I totally disagree with Fed policy. ... [But] I never suggested firing Chairman Jay Powell, nor do I believe I have the right to do so."

Business Insider CNN

7. Canada demands China release detained Canadians

Canada on Saturday formally demanded China release two Canadians detained by Beijing in apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest of a Chinese tech executive on the United States' behalf. "We are deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of two Canadians earlier this month and call for their immediate release," said Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. "We also believe this is not only a Canadian issue," she added. "It is an issue that concerns our allies." The U.S., United Kingdom, and European Union issued supporting statements.

The Associated Press The New York Times

8. Cuban lawmakers approve new constitution

Cuban lawmakers on Saturday approved a draft of a new national constitution on which the Cuban people will vote in a referendum in February. The draft has yet to be released to the public, but reports in state-run media indicate it recognizes private property; makes new space for small-scale private enterprise; allows for a referendum on gay marriage; imposes age and term limits on the presidency; and creates new roles of prime minister and regional governors. Cuba remains a single-party communist nation marked by human rights abuses, and the new constitution maintains a goal of "advancing toward communism."

Reuters The Associated Press

9. Japanese emperor celebrates birthday before abdication

Japanese Emperor Akihito on Sunday celebrated his 85th birthday with a crowd of more than 80,000 well wishers at Tokyo's Imperial Palace. He was joined by Empress Michiko and Crown Prince Naruhito, the latter of whom will succeed his father when Akihito abdicates in April. "Many unfortunate things happened this past year. My heart is with those who have lost family and loved ones or suffered natural disasters," Akihito said. "The new year is almost here. I hope it will be a good year for everyone, and I am praying for your health and happiness."

The Japan Times NBC News

10. U.K. police release Gatwick drone suspects

British police on Sunday released the two people arrested in connection to the recreational drone that disrupted flights for three days at London's Gatwick Airport this past week. They were not charged with any crimes. "Both people have fully cooperated with our inquiries, and I am satisfied that they are no longer suspects in the drone incidents at Gatwick," said Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley. Investigations are ongoing, but no further arrests have been made. Police retrieved a damaged drone near the airport and hope it may offer useful forensic evidence.

Reuters The Associated Press

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