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Asian markets mostly higher on optimism about US-China deal

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mostly higher on optimism about a U.S.-China trade deal as regional markets open for the new year's first day of trading. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.2% and the Shanghai Composite gained 1.5%. South Korea's Kospi was lower, while Tokyo was still closed for the New Year's holiday. President Donald Trump said an initial trade deal with China would be signed later this month. North Korea's promise to soon reveal a new strategic weapon weighed on sentiments. China's central bank is also lowering its reserve requirement, a move welcome because it frees money for lending ahead of the Lunar New Year.


Pete Buttigieg raises $24.7 million during 4th quarter

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Pete Buttigieg's campaign says he raised more than $24.7 million in the last three months and now has a campaign staff of 500 people nationwide. It's a show of financial and organizational strength heading into the presidential primaries. Buttigieg's campaign says he has raised $76 million since he launched his bid for president, including more than 2 million contributions from over 733,000 people. It’s a notable feat for the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who gave up the position Wednesday when his successor was sworn in. Buttigieg's average contribution was around $38.


North Korea's Kim touts strategic weapon amid stall in talks

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has expressed frustration over stalled nuclear negotiations and warned that his country will soon show to the world a new strategic weapon. Kim also says North Korea is no longer obligated to maintain a self-imposed suspension on the testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. President Donald Trump has touted North Korea's moratorium as a major diplomatic accomplishment. Kim gave no clear indication that a resumption of such tests was impending and Trump urged him to hold to his alleged commitment. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General António Guterres “very much hopes" that the tests will not resume.


Some flee, others restock before Australia's wildfires grow

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Thousands of tourists are fleeing Australia's wildfire-ravaged eastern coast ahead of worsening conditions as the military started to evacuate people trapped on the shore further south. Cooler weather has aided firefighting and allowed people to replenish supplies. Vehicles formed long lines at gas stations and supermarkets, and traffic was gridlocked as highways reopened. But fire conditions are expected to deteriorate as high temperatures and strong winds return. Wildfires this week have burned more than more than 400 homes in Australia's two most-populous states. New South Wales ordered tourists to leave a large stretch of the coast.


Baghdad embassy attack prompts Pompeo to delay Ukraine visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The breach of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad has prompted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to delay his trip to Ukraine and four other countries. Pompeo was to arrive in Ukraine late Thursday in his first visit to the country at the center of President Donald Trump's impeachment. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus says Pompeo is postponing the trip “to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East." She says he intends to reschedule soon. In Kyiv, Pompeo was to meet Ukraine's president and reaffirm U.S. support for Ukrainian sovereignty.


Former NBA Commissioner David Stern dies at 77

NEW YORK (AP) — David Stern, who spent 30 years as the NBA's commissioner and oversaw its growth into a global power, has died. He was 77. The league says Stern died Wednesday after suffering a brain hemorrhage Dec. 12. Stern had been involved with the NBA for nearly two decades before becoming commissioner in 1984. By the time he left in 2014, a league that had struggled for a foothold had grown into a more than $5 billion a year industry and become perhaps the world's most popular sport after soccer.


Bobbi Kristina Brown's ex-partner Nick Gordon dies at 30

ATLANTA (AP) — The ex-partner of the late Bobbi Kristina Brown, has died. Nick Gordon was 30 years old. Gordon's attorney confirmed his client's death in a statement Wednesday to The Associated Press. He did not give a cause of death. Brown was the daughter of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. She was found unresponsive in a bathtub in 2015 and died after months in a coma at the age of 22. Investigators didn't determine exactly how Brown died. Her family blamed Gordon, accusing him in the lawsuit of giving her a “toxic cocktail.” Gordon was never charged in the case, but he was found responsible in a wrongful death lawsuit.


Larsen, who threw only perfect World Series game, dies at 90

NEW YORK (AP) — Don Larsen, the journeyman pitcher who reached the heights of baseball glory in 1956 for the New York Yankees when he threw a perfect game and the only no-hitter in World Series history, died Wednesday night. He was 90. Larsen's agent, Andrew Levy, said the former pitcher died of esophageal cancer in Hayden, Idaho. Levy said Larsen's son, Scott, confirmed the death. Larsen was the unlikeliest of characters to attain what so many Hall of Famers couldn’t pull off in the Fall Classic. He was 81-91 lifetime, never won more than 11 games in a season and finished an unsightly 3-21 with Baltimore in 1954, the year before he was dealt to the Yankees as part of an 18-player trade.


Illinois sees first legal sales of recreational marijuana

CHICAGO (AP) — The sale of marijuana for recreational purposes is now legal in Illinois. The change took effect with the new year, to the delight of pot fans. Many began lining up hours early at dispensaries. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that about 500 people were outside Dispensary 33 in Chicago on Wednesday morning. Renzo Mejia made the first legal purchase in the shop shortly after 6 a.m. Illinois is the 11th state to broadly allow marijuana's use and sale for people 21 or older. Neighboring Michigan made it legal starting Dec. 1.


White nationalist who ran for Senate arrested in Florida

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — Florida authorities say they have arrested a white nationalist who ran for the U.S. Senate in Florida and was a featured speaker during the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Miami Herald reports that 36-year-old Augustus Sol Invictus was arrested Monday at a mall by Brevard County Sheriff's deputies. He was arrested on a warrant issued out of South Carolina charging him with kidnapping, domestic violence and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence. Jail records show that Invictus is being held without bond and is to appear before a judge on Jan. 15.

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