In our news wrap Thursday, businesses in parts of Hong Kong were at a standstill as anti-government protesters targeted shopping malls for a third consecutive day. Riot police stepped up their presence, at times confronting crowds and escorting people out of buildings. Also, at least 20 people are dead after a powerful typhoon barreled through the Philippines, bringing misery on Christmas Day.
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Wall Street extended its year-end rally for another day. All three of the major indexes notched new record closing highs today, thanks to a boost from retail and technology companies.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 106 points to close at 28621. The Nasdaq rose 69 points, to cross the 9000-point mark for the first time, and the S&P 500 added 16.
Businesses in parts of Hong Kong were brought to a standstill today, as anti-government protesters targeted shopping malls for a third day in a row. Riot police stepped up their presence, at times confronting crowds and escorting several people out of the buildings. The unrest is part of a months-long campaign for more democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
At least 20 people are dead, after a powerful typhoon barreled through the Philippines, bringing misery to Christmas Day celebrations. The storm made several landfalls across the country's central region yesterday, with high winds and pounding rains that forced thousands to flee their homes.
Residents woke up today to see swollen rivers had inundated entire villages. They waded through flooded streets and sorted through piles of debris.
Services were held across Indonesia and Thailand today to mark the 15th anniversary of a devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean. It claimed the lives of some 230,000 people, making it one of modern history's worst natural disasters. Hundreds participated in mass prayers in Indonesia's Aceh province, one of the hardest-hit areas.
In Thailand, survivors visited memorials to lay wreaths and flowers for their loved ones, and recalled the terror of that tragic day.
Suwannee Maliwan (through translator):
I am still scared, very scared. I want to go to live somewhere else, but it's not possible. Sometimes, I dream that a wave is coming. It's an image that still haunts me of when the wave was coming. I can still remember it.
A 9.1-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra Island triggered that deadly tsunami. A dozen countries from Indonesia to East Africa were hit. To this day, thousands of people are believed to still be unaccounted for.
In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu faced his first major challenge to his decade-long rule as prime minister today. Voters cast their ballots in a primary election to pick the leader of his conservative Likud Party. His main party rival, veteran politician Gideon Saar, hoped to capitalize on a late surge in the run-up to the vote.
Netanyahu is widely expected to win, despite facing corruption indictments and failing to form a coalition government twice this year. He declared victory tonight, even though the official results won't be announced until tomorrow.
And back in this country, Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic diocese have paid nearly $84 million to 564 victims of sexual abuse by clergy. That is according to a new Associated Press review. Seven of the state's eight dioceses launched victims compensation funds after a Pennsylvania grand jury report on the abuse and the church's efforts to cover it up.
The jury found that more than 300 priests had molested over 1,000 children in the state since the 1940s.