December 24, 2018 / 11:56 AM / in 5 months

Monday Morning Briefing

Trump pushes out Mattis early, U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin calls top bankers amid rout on Wall Street and Indonesia searches for survivors after volcano triggers deadly tsunami. Catch up on the latest headlines. 

Highlights

President Donald Trump’s budget director and chief of staff said the partial U.S. government shutdown could continue to Jan. 3, when the new Congress convenes and Democrats take over the House of Representatives.

Following weeks of talks between Trump and congressional leaders, parts of the U.S. government shut down on Saturday after negotiators reached an impasse over a deal to keep the government fully funded. At issue was funding for a wall along the country’s southern border with Mexico. Here is a summary of departments affected by partial shutdown.

President Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called top U.S. bankers amid a rout on Wall Street and made plans to convene a group of officials known as the “Plunge Protection Team.” U.S. stocks have fallen sharply in recent weeks on concerns over slowing economic growth, with the S&P 500 on pace for its biggest percentage decline in December since the Great Depression.

Trump said he was replacing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis two months earlier than had been expected, a move officials said was driven by Trump’s anger at Mattis’ resignation letter and its rebuke of his foreign policy.

Commentary

Mattis exit leaves the world more volatile. The resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is a nasty surprise for Washington's national security community and its overseas allies, writes Reuters global affairs columnist Peter Apps. "President Donald Trump started 2018 with a triumvirate of respected current and former generals seen as central to restraining his wilder foreign policy instincts. Now that constraint will soon be gone, leaving U.S. international relations hugely less predictable."

Christian revivals prompted less by churches, more by politicians. In the secular West, complaints that Christ is no longer the focus of Christmas remain a holiday-season routine, writes columnist John Lloyd. Yet in many countries, Christianity is experiencing something of a renaissance. Often prompted more by politicians than churches, this revival represents “a recoil from secularism and a search for a moral authority more powerful, because more traditional, than that of the state or of liberalism.”

World

“People said ‘run, run a wave is coming!’. There were three waves in a row,” said Yadi, a middle-aged fisherman who operates a fleet of six vessels that were among dozens that sank or were dragged out to sea by the waves. The death toll from a tsunami triggered by a massive underwater landslide on an Indonesian volcano rose to 281, as rescuers using heavy machinery and their bare hands searched through debris in the hope of finding survivors. It is the latest in a string of natural disasters to strike Indonesia in 2018, making it the deadliest year in more than a decade.

Venezuela’s navy “intercepted” a ship exploring for oil on behalf of Exxon Mobil in Guyanese waters over the weekend, Guyana’s foreign ministry said in a statement, while neighboring Venezuela said the incident occurred within its territory.

A Myanmar court heard arguments in the appeal of two Reuters reporters sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of breaking the Official Secrets Act. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been imprisoned in Myanmar for 378 days, read the full coverage.

Business

World stocks were set for their seventh straight day of losses, as investors nervy about the possibility of a prolonged U.S. government shutdown and a worsening global economy opted for the safety of bonds and gold.

Oil prices edged up after evidence that a recent fall to 15-month lows may be affecting output in the United States, the world’s largest producer, although concern about the outlook for demand tempered gains.

Exclusive: U.S. satellite start-up OneWeb has offered to sell a minority stake to Russia, a move it hopes will allay Moscow’s concerns about the company’s plan to create a worldwide internet network using satellites, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Reuters TV:

A SpaceX rocket carrying a U.S. military navigation satellite blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Sunday, marking the space transportation company’s first national security space mission for the United States.

SpaceX launches first national security mission
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