Government shutdown enters Day 7 with no end in sight » It is now Day 7 of the partial government shutdown.
AUDIO: Welcome to the Internal Revenue Service. Live telephone assistance is not available at this time. Normal operations will resume as soon as possible.
The IRS is one of multiple agencies affected. Around 420,000 federal employees deemed essential are still working, while 380,000 are on furlough.
Congress met Thursday for the first time since the shutdown commenced last weekend. But Democrats aren’t budging on border wall funding.
White House officials want to narrow the gap between the $1.3 billion Democrats have proposed for border security and President Trump’s desired $5.7 billion for the wall. So far, no concrete progress.
President Trump said this week his position won’t change.
TRUMP: Whatever takes, I mean, we’re going to have a wall. We’re going to have safety.
The House likely will not hold any votes before Democrats take control of the chamber next Thursday. And leaders in the Senate also have no plans to vote until a deal is reached.
Indonesia raises danger level along coast » The Indonesian government is warning that the danger along its shores has not passed.
RAMPANGILEI: I encourage the people to stay away from the coast. This is what we are doing. Let’s see in a couple of days.
Wilem Rampangilei heard there. He heads the Indonesia’s Tsunami Mitigation Agency.
The country’s volcanology agency on Thursday raised the Anak Krakatau volcano alert status to the second-highest level and doubled the exclusion zone, rerouting all flights within a 3-mile radius.
Volcanic activity triggered a devastating tsunami over the weekend. The death toll from the disaster now stands at at least 430. At least 150 others are still missing.
Leadership reshuffle in Saudi Arabia » Saudi King Salman has announced a major shakeup of leadership within the Saudi government—replacing some of its top officials. Among the changes, the king named a new foreign minister and shuffled two supreme councils that oversee economic and security matters.
The move may signal further efforts to show the kingdom is taking action in the wake of the Jamal Khashoggi murder scandal.
But notably, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman maintains his roles as both prime minister and defense minister.
Saudi Arabia has struggled to convince many in Washington and other Western capitals that he had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s killing.
Stock market continues roller coaster finish to 2018 » Wall Street continued its roller coaster close to 2018.
AUDIO: [Sound of the market bell]
Stocks staged a furious late-afternoon rally on Thursday, closing with gains after the Dow Jones Industrial lost 600 points early in the day.
The Dow rose 258 points, adding to Wednesday’s record gain of more than a thousand points. The S&P 500 also added 21 points.
Even with the rally, the indexes remain sharply lower for December and down for the full year with only two trading sessions remaining. One factor weighing on the markets: another slip in oil prices, plunging toward 18-month lows.
Gas prices continue to fall » Holiday travelers, however, have been reaping the benefits of some of those low oil costs. Gas prices this week dropped below $2 a gallon in nine states, mostly in the south and the Midwest.
Fuel price analyst Trilby Lundberg said the lowest average pump prices locally in the Lundberg survey this week were in Louisiana.
LUNDBERG: Baton Rouge is the low at $1.94, and the high is the San Francisco Bay area at $3.55.
AAA reported Missouri has the best statewide average: just $1.87 a gallon.
And the national average is now $2.30. That’s a drop of about 60 cents over the last 3 months.