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

People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.

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Congratulations

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are more than just a couple. The singer and the actor are now husband and wife after tying the knot over the weekend.

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.

Confirmed Cases: 34622

Reported Deaths: 1215
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Jones117349
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Lauderdale94281
Forrest93943
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Leflore52256
Lincoln50935
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Sunflower4528
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Monroe43635
Covington4195
Panola3996
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Attala37524
Simpson3733
Newton35710
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Pontotoc3266
Tate32313
Marion31312
Claiborne29310
Chickasaw29219
Winston28711
Pearl River27632
Noxubee2758
Marshall2693
Jasper2676
Clay25511
Union23811
Smith23412
Walthall2267
Coahoma2156
Clarke21425
Lawrence1992
Yalobusha1938
Kemper18014
Carroll17311
Tallahatchie1664
Humphreys15910
Montgomery1493
Calhoun1475
Tippah14411
Itawamba1418
Hancock13813
Webster12811
Tunica1193
Jefferson1173
Jefferson Davis1164
Prentiss1123
Greene10810
Amite1063
George1023
Wilkinson959
Tishomingo921
Quitman891
Alcorn852
Perry764
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin492
Benton420
Sharkey420
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6030162
Mobile4418137
Montgomery4339109
Tuscaloosa254448
Madison19078
Marshall186611
Shelby150924
Lee149437
Morgan12205
Baldwin111410
Walker105127
Elmore98919
Dallas9639
Franklin92216
Etowah88214
DeKalb8416
Chambers65727
Russell6570
Autauga65313
Butler64328
Tallapoosa61669
Unassigned58626
Limestone5741
Houston5526
Cullman5395
Lauderdale5376
Lowndes48022
St. Clair4692
Colbert4656
Pike4595
Escambia4528
Calhoun4365
Coffee4074
Covington39911
Jackson3742
Bullock37010
Barbour3672
Dale3621
Talladega3497
Hale33722
Marengo33011
Wilcox2968
Clarke2946
Winston2893
Chilton2872
Sumter28512
Blount2731
Pickens2556
Monroe2492
Marion24514
Randolph2449
Conecuh2277
Perry2091
Bibb2081
Macon2069
Choctaw20212
Greene1928
Henry1433
Crenshaw1273
Washington1277
Lawrence1170
Cherokee1127
Geneva920
Lamar811
Fayette781
Clay742
Coosa621
Cleburne411
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