December 24, 2018

This is VOA news. I'm Tommie McNeil.

A tsunami that struck late Saturday has killed over two hundred people along Indonesia's Sunday Straits. Eight hundred are injured and 28 are still missing.

Reuters Grace Lee reports.

2018's earthquakes flattened parts of the tourist island of Lombok claiming the lives of almost 100 in August. Thousands more were killed after a double quake-and-tsunami hit Sulawesi island two months later.

Anak Krakatau, an active volcano located halfway between Java and Sumatra, has been spewing ash and lava for months, erupting again just after 9 p.m. on Saturday.

Casualties are expected to rise.

The U.S. government is partially closed until at least Thursday, and possibly for days or even weeks beyond that as President Donald Trump holds firm in demanding funds for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and Democrats remain resolutely opposed.

On Twitter Sunday, Mr. Trump continued to push for the border wall.

Lester Munson is a U.S. foreign policy and national security analyst.

As the shutdown affects a quarter of the government which includes more than 800,000 federal employees.

A majority of agencies and departments including defense and the postal service secured funding during the shutdown. Still thousands of employees from the Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation and others will be affected. Many will work without pay.

And this marks the fourth time in the last five years.

Congress and the White House have not been able to agree on how much money the federal government should spend and for which objectives, failing to meet the funding deadline that causes non-essential services and operations to be halted.

This is VOA news.

The U.S. commander of international [force] forces in Afghanistan said that he has not received orders for a troop withdrawal from the country.

General Scott Miller's remarks came just after reports quoted officials in Washington as saying that President Trump had ordered the Pentagon to withdraw roughly half of the more than 14,000 American troops beginning next month.

The largest Afghan television station, TOLO News, broadcast footage of Miller's meeting with the provincial governor where the general was apparently responding to queries on the reported U.S. troop withdrawal plans.

U.S. President Trump will not change his mind on withdrawing American troops from Syria. That's according to his acting chief of staff, on ABC's This Week, Mick Mulvaney.

When questioned about the resignations of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the special U.S. envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State, Brett McGurk, Mulvaney said it is not unusual for cabinet members to resign over these types of disagreements.

Those two resignations came after Mr. Trump declared last week that Islamic State had been defeated and that 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria would then return home.

And we also get more from Shelley Adler.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says President Trump and outgoing Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis didn't always agree.

"The president has told people since the campaign that he wanted to get out of Syria. I think he's entitled to have a secretary of defense who is committed to that same end."

But former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says sometimes presidents need to reassess their campaign promises once they are in office.

"The question the president has to decide is whether he upholds his oath of office as president of the United States to protect our security or whether he's simply going to move forward and fulfill campaign promises."

While Mulvaney was on ABC's This Week, Panetta appeared on Fox News Sunday.

Shelley Adler, Washington.

London's Gatwick Airport is back in operation, but the fugitive drone operators who brought incoming and outgoing flights to a standstill over multiple days remained at large and a potential threat after police cleared two local residents Sunday saying they are no longer suspects.

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is spending the holidays in jail after Tokyo court added another 10 days to his detention. He faces new allegations that he manipulated the automaker into bearing the cost for $16 million in his personal investment losses.

Ghosn was first detained on November 19 on suspicion of conspiring to understate his Nissan salary by about 50 percent between 2010 and 2015.

I'm Tommie McNeil, VOA news.