Daily News Roundup

December 12, 2018

Image: BOM

Wednesday, December 12

A shooting near a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg has left four people dead and 11 injured, according to authorities.

The gunman fled the scene and there are conflicting reports on his fate. One source said he had been cornered by police and a shootout was unfolding. Another source said the gunman was still on the run.

The French Interior Ministry called on the public to remain indoors amid a “serious security event” in the city centre.

Local authorities told people in the city’s Neudorf area and Etoile park to stay where they were.

“There were gunshots and people running everywhere,” one local shopkeeper told BFM TV.

“It lasted about 10 minutes.”

The European Parliament, which is sitting in Strasbourg this week, was put into lockdown and staff were ordered to remain inside.

“My thoughts are with the victims of the Strasbourg shooting, which I condemn with the utmost firmness,” tweeted Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, the EU executive.

“Strasbourg is an excellent symbol of peace and European Democracy. Values that we will always defend.”

The office of France’s counterterrorism prosecutor said an investigation into the shooting had been opened.

France remains on high alert after a wave of attacks commissioned or inspired by Islamic State militants since early 2015, in which about 240 people have been killed.

The Christmas market was being held amid tight security this year, with unauthorised vehicles banned from surrounding streets during opening hours and checkpoints set up on bridges and access points to search pedestrians’ bags.

The Paris prosecutor said the motive for the attack was not known.

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In an unprecedented public spat US President Donald Trump has engaged in a slanging match with the top two Democrats before the media at a meeting in the Oval Office on the border wall and a possible government shutdown

The President openly traded sharp words and accusations  about government funding with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi at the meeting, throwing into question whether a deal was possible ahead of a deadline later this month.

During the public argument, the likes of which is seldom seen before cameras, Mr Trump said: “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other – whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call – I will shut down the government.”

“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country,” he said before reporters left their ringside seats.

Congress is seeking to finalise spending before some federal government funding expires on December 21. While Trump’s fellow Republicans control both the House and the Senate until next month, Democratic support is needed to pass any spending legislation.

The meeting did not last long after reporters were ushered out of the Oval Office.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement it was a “constructive dialogue” and said Trump was “grateful” the cameras captured him fighting to protect the border.

Back on Capitol Hill, Schumer accused Trump of throwing a tantrum.

“The president showed what he really thinks: he wants to shut down the government,” Schumer said.

It was the first time Trump met with Pelosi and Schumer since the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in November 6 congressional elections.

The fight kicked off when Pelosi told Trump that Americans did not want to see a “Trump shutdown”, touching a nerve. Trump cut off Pelosi, arguing that he could not advance a funding bill without Democratic votes in the Senate.

“If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them in one session, it would be done,” Trump bragged.

“Well then – go do it, go do it,” Pelosi shot back, adding “I don’t think we should have a debate in front of the press on this.” Pelosi said.

“We’re doing this in a very friendly manner,” Trump replied.

“Let’s call a halt to this,” Pelosi said as the two went at it. “It’s not bad, Nancy – it’s called transparency,” Trump said.

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As residents in far north Queensland are being warned to prepare for heavy rains and gale force winds from an intensifying tropical Cyclone Owen, ongoing drought conditions in the state’s south-west have taken a toll on century-old travelling stock routes with vital areas closed off to graziers for the first time in living memory.

Known as the ‘long paddock’, the stock routes have been a lifeline for graziers who have needed to move their livestock on to the routes when feed on their own properties starts to run low.

The Murweh Shire, which spans an area twice the size of Wales, has had to stop issuing travelling permits and will only allow grazing permits on a case-by-case basis.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Cyclone Owen, located northwest of Mornington Island, is expected to intensify further after it redeveloped into a category one system about 8pm on Tuesday.

Residents between the Queensland and Northern Territory border have been warned to prepare as the low pressure system gathers strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

But on Wednesday or Thursday it is expected to slow down and turn back towards the Queensland coast.

Forecasters say it could escalate to a category three cyclone if conditions remain favourable, with a Friday crossing along the gulf’s southeastern coast most likely.

“Anything that can become a missile in strong winds needs to be stacked away.”

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