Trump talks shutdown during surprise Iraq trip

President Donald Trump and the first lady quietly swept into Iraq to pay a holiday visit to US troops, at last making good on the President's promise to travel to one of the war zones he has derided as costly blunders. CNN's Abby Phillip reports.

Posted: Dec 28, 2018 7:34 AM
Updated: Dec 28, 2018 7:56 AM

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1. President Trump

When the President's Twitter feed fell silent Wednesday, he wasn't taking a sudden social media sabbatical -- he was on his way to Iraq. The commander in chief, along with the first lady, surprised US troops with a holiday visit, his first to a war zone. After making the secret overnight flight from Washington and touching down onto a pitch-black airstrip (because of security concerns), Trump stayed on the ground for three hours. He took endless selfies with enthusiastic servicemen and women in a dining hall. Later, during a speech at an air base near Baghdad, he reinforced his skeptical view of wading into foreign conflicts and defended his decision to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. The Trumps landed back in Washington early this morning.

2. Financial markets

Consider it a post-Christmas miracle. After suffering its worst Christmas Eve session ever, the Dow roared back Wednesday with its biggest daily point gain in history. The Dow rose 1,086 points -- a 5% gain. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up big, too. It was the biggest percentage gain for all three indices in almost a decade. Keep in mind though, thin trading and a lack of big news often send stocks higher in the last week of the year. Will this miraculous rally keep going today? That's anybody's guess in this current environment. But Asian stocks are up this morning, so there's that.

3. Russia

A nuclear missile that's impossible to stop? Russian President Vladimir Putin claims his country has just that. Putin says Russia's new hypersonic missile system is "invulnerable" to US defenses and will be put into service next year. The missile system underwent a test Wednesday at an air base in southwest Russia. The missile, called the Avangard, has intercontinental range and can reportedly fly as fast as 15,000 mph. The Russians also claim it can adjust both altitude and direction and fly low enough to avoid most missile defense systems. A US official told CNN earlier this year that the weapons system is not close to being operational, and analysts caution that Russian boasts of new military capabilities are often overblown.

4. Indonesia

The alert level for the volcano that triggered last weekend's deadly tsunami in Indonesia has been raised. That's prompted the evacuation of thousands of people and caused flights to be rerouted. Indonesian officials raised the warning for the Anak Krakatau volcano to 3, which is the second-highest level. Activity and eruptions continue at the volcano, which had seemed to be calming down following Saturday's eruption, which caused the wave that swept through parts of the country, killing more than 430 people.

5. Australia heatwave

It's been a hot time Down Under this week. A brutal heat wave is punishing parts of Australia, with the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia all hitting above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for four days in a row. Temperatures are averaging about 24 degrees F higher than average for this time of year. Now extreme and severe fire warnings are being issued. CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller says part of the problem is that El Niño conditions appear to be forming over the Pacific Ocean and affecting the country's weather. January is typically the hottest month of Australia's summer, and many fear the early heatwave may be the prelude to even more extreme weather in early 2019.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"Whatever it takes. I mean, we're gonna have a wall."

President Donald Trump, reiterating that the partial government shutdown shouldn't end until he gets funding for a wall on the border with Mexico. Lawmakers are back in Washington today, but talks to end the shutdown are at a standstill.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

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Meaningful meals
Christmas might be over, but somebody in Georgia still has the spirit. An anonymous donor is providing free lunches to kids during the holiday break.

Just let it go
Raise your hand if 2018 stressed you out. It's OK. Now is the perfect time to plan trips to visit 16 of the world's most relaxing places.

AND FINALLY ...

Pillow talk
Somebody threw a cat pillow on the couch, and the dogs are not having it. (Click to view.)

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
Lauderdale7181240
Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
Lafayette6171118
Washington5323133
Bolivar4797132
Oktibbeha461498
Panola4561105
Pearl River4499145
Marshall4397103
Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
Neshoba4026176
Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
Winston226881
Tishomingo225967
Jasper220848
Attala214173
Chickasaw207157
Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
Out of AL00
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Tupelo
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Columbus
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Oxford
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This will bring back into our area some more chances for some rain and thunderstorms.
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