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News Wrap: In Iraq, Sunni Demonstrators Protest Shiite-Led Government

December 26, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: Toyota Motor Company agreed today to pay more than $1 billion and settle claims of sudden acceleration. Court filings in California said the automaker will install a brake override system in more than three million vehicles. It also will make direct payments to affected customers. The agreement is subject to approval by a federal judge.

Thousands of Sunni demonstrators in western Iraq staged a mass protest today against the Shiite-dominated government, the third in less than a week. Protesters filled the streets in Ramadi in Anbar Province, chanting “Topple the regime.” The demonstrations began after police arrested 10 bodyguards assigned to the Sunni finance minister.

The parliament of Japan has elected Shinzo Abe as the country’s seventh prime minister in six years. Abe was sworn in today after being chosen by his conservative-leaning Liberal Democratic Party. The party won power in this month’s elections, for the first time since 2009. Abe has called for bold measures to bolster Japan’s ailing economy. He previously served as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.

Russian lawmakers gave final approval today to a ban on Americans adopting Russian children. It’s part of a series of reactions to a U.S. sanctions law targeting Russian human rights abusers. In Washington today, a State Department spokesman called the ban misguided. And adoption groups in Moscow said it would harm children most.

MIKHAIL PIMENOV, director, To a New Family Project (through translator): Today, we don’t have that number of Russian families who are willing to adopt, and the children who go to adopted families abroad are the children that Russian families wouldn’t take. There must be at least five refusals for the child to go to foreign parents. For that reason, I don’t see within this law an improved situation for these children.

KWAME HOLMAN: Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the legislation last week, without saying directly he would sign it.

In economic news, a MasterCard report said U.S. holiday sales so far have been the weakest since 2008. And Wall Street failed to get any momentum today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 24 points to close at 13,114. The Nasdaq fell 22 points to close at 2,990.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.