Christmas typhoon kills 20 in the Philippines » AUDIO: [Sound of wind and rain]
At least 20 people have died in the central Philippines after a strong typhoon charged over several of the country’s islands. The storm interrupted Christmas Day celebrations as thousands of people fled their homes.
Strong winds downed trees and power poles and blew apart houses. Rain and flooding inundated low-lying villages.
Christmas is a popular time for traveling in the predominantly Catholic country. Many people headed to visit family ended up spending the holiday in bus stations and airports.
California weather snarls holiday travel » Meanwhile, here in the United States, a winter storm is creating havoc in Southern California on the busiest travel day of the year. Meteorologist Andrew Orrison says the storm is bringing heavy rain and snow.
ORRISON: In fact we’ve actually seen as much as 1 to 2 feet of snow for some of the higher elevations outside of Los Angeles.
Flooding forced officials to close several freeways in the area. Orrison says despite the inconvenience for travelers, the storm is actually a blessing.
ORRISON: It’s actually very beneficial for them to get the rain and especially the snow in the higher elevations because that snowfall will eventually melt once we get into the later part of the winter and into spring, and that will help to replenish the reservoirs for the water supply.
By Thursday evening the rain had tapered off, bringing clear skies in its wake.
Advocates cheer charity parking tax repeal » Advocates for charities are celebrating the repeal of a controversial parking tax on churches and other nonprofits.
Just as lawmakers tucked the provision into the big tax overhaul in 2017, they tucked its repeal into a huge appropriation bill earlier this month. President Trump has now signed that legislation into law.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission helped lead the two-year-long effort to repeal the measure. It touted bipartisan support in the House and Senate from Republicans James Lankford and Mark Walker and Democrats Chris Coons and Tom Suozzi.
In a statement the ERLC credited the—quote—”collective advocacy of hundreds of groups representing millions [of] Americans of diverse faith communities and nonprofit organizations.”
Fractures in GOP solidarity over impeachment » Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is trying to distance herself from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the upcoming impeachment process.
In a recent Fox News interview McConnell said the Senate would handle the trial in—quote—“total coordination with the White House counsel’s office.”
This week Murkowski told Alaska TV station KTUU she found that characterization disturbing.
MURKOWSKI: I heard what leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process.
Murkowski is a moderate and made it clear she won’t necessarily stand with the rest of her party in supporting President Trump.
MURKOWSKI: I am viewed as one who looks openly and critically at every issue in front of me, rather than acting as a rubber stamp for my party or my president. I’m totally good with that.
Murkowski said she wants to see a “full and fair process” in the Senate. She previously criticized Democrats in the House for the way they conducted their part of the process—passing two articles of impeachment with exclusively Democratic votes.
The Senate will hold simple majority votes to determine the rules that will govern the trial portion of the process. Republicans have 52 seats, compared to 48 who caucus with Democrats.