In our news wrap Tuesday, the House approved a short-term spending bill to prevent a government shutdown. The deal funds federal agencies through December 20th and is on track to be passed by the Senate. Also, Amnesty International says it has “credible reports” that more than 100 Iranians have been killed in a crackdown on protests over rising gas prices. An internet blackout remained in force.
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In the day's other news: The U.S. House of Representatives approved a short-term spending bill to prevent a government shutdown on Friday. It would keep federal agencies running through December 20, buying more time to work out a final spending package. The Senate is on track to pass it, and President Trump had indicated he will sign it.
In Hong Kong, a handful of protesters remained holed up at a university today, besieged by police. Overnight, some tried to escape down ropes. Others walked out wearing masks and emergency blankets. Hours later, some wrote an SOS on the ground in a plea for help. Police have already arrested more than 1,000 people since the siege began on Sunday.
There's word that more than 100 protesters in Iran have been killed in a crackdown. Amnesty International says it based the number on credible reports after mass protests over gasoline prices. Today, state TV showed empty streets with burned-out mosques and vandalized bank machines.
An Internet blackout remained in force, but a United Nations spokesman called for Tehran to explain itself.
It would be very useful to have a better, clearer picture. But it is clearly very significant, very alarming situation and widespread across the country.
We would encourage states to maintain the flow of information. If there's false information, they can rebut it, but let's see the information.
So far, the Iranian government has not given any public accounting of the death toll.
Thousands of Lebanese protesters converged in Central Beirut today, preventing Parliament from meeting. They blocked roads and chased SUVs trying to bring one lawmaker to government buildings. Scuffles broke out with riot police, who tried to disperse the crowds. Protesters were outraged that legislators intended to meet without discussing demands for reforms.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban today wrote — freed, rather, two Western hostages who had been held since 2016. American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks were teachers at the American University in Kabul when they were kidnapped. Their release came after the Afghan government released three top Taliban commanders.
More than 100 fires burned across Australia's east coast today, engulfing the city of Sydney in smoke. The heavy haze prompted health warnings for some five million people. Air quality was 10 times the hazardous level caused by atmospheric conditions that held the smoke in place.
We have got this real mix of converging winds today. And you can see the smoke impact into the Sydney Basin, for example, today. That's because we have got quite a northerly influence influencing down the coast of New South Wales and across the inland.
Strong winds and drought conditions have stoked wildfires across Eastern Australia this month, destroying more than 300 homes.
Back in this country, meanwhile, several thousand public school teachers in Indiana surrounded the state capitol building. The educators, all in red, demanded a hike in pay and an end to using student test scores to evaluate teachers and schools. The scale of the protest forced nearly half of Indiana school districts to close for the day.
Two jail guards in New York have pleaded not guilty to falsifying prison records in the death of Jeffrey Epstein. He hanged himself in his city jail cell last August, awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. The guards entered their pleas after a grand jury indictment alleged that they failed to check on Epstein for nearly eight hours. Instead, it says, they were shopping online and sleeping.
President Trump insisted today that his unscheduled health exam on Saturday was — quote — "routine" and not prompted by specific concerns. He had the exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
At his Cabinet meeting today, he dismissed suggestions that he might be hiding a health problem.
President Donald Trump:
I went, did a very routine — just a piece of it. The rest of it takes place in January. Did a very routine physical, visited the family, visited a couple of groups, but visited the family of a young soldier who was very badly injured who was in the operating room.
I toured the hospital for a little while. I was out of there very quickly and got back home. And I get greeted with the news that, we understand that you had a heart attack.
Late on Monday, Mr. Trump's personal physician issued his own statement that the checkup was routine.
New York state is now the latest state to sue the nation's biggest e-cigarette maker, Juul Labs. The legal action filed today alleges that Juul engaged in deceptive marketing and deliberately targeted teenagers. California filed a similar suit yesterday, and North Carolina took that step last May.