Wednesday morning news: December 25, 2019

President Trump sends video message to troops » President Trump on Tuesday shared a Christmas greeting with members of the U.S. military across the globe.

TRUMP: We are honored to be joined in this call by five units deployed all across the world representing branches of our armed forces. 

He spoke by video conference from Florida. The group included Marines in Afghanistan, an Army unit in Kuwait, and a Navy ship in the Gulf of Aden.

Trump praised the armed forces for their efforts this year to eliminate ISIS and for killing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He touted economic successes at home and a pending pay raise for service members starting in the new year.

He also chatted and fielded questions from troops. 

TRUMP: Thank you, great job.
SOLDIER: Merry Christmas, sir.
TRUMP: Thank you, you too. Merry Christmas to everybody. 

President Trump is celebrating the Christmas holiday with his family in Palm Beach, Florida. 

U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan identified » The Pentagon has identified the U.S. soldier killed Monday in Afghanistan. 

He is 33-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Goble of New Jersey.  He died in a roadside bombing in northern Kunduz province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, posting pictures of Goble’s identification card. 

Twenty Americans have died in the fighting in Afghanistan this year.

Australian firefighters still battling wildfires » Many firefighters in Australia are working through Christmas—still struggling to contain an outbreak of brush fires. Prime Minister Scott Morrison recognized their efforts on Tuesday. 

MORRISON: At this Christmastime, we give thanks, despite these terrible challenges, for the wonderful country that we’ve been blessed to live in. As we look forward to next year, and as we celebrate this Christmas, I want to thank all of those who serve our nation, serving as volunteers fighting those fires as we speak. 

Morrison announced that volunteer firefighters from the federal public sector will receive paid leave on top of their regular annual and sick leave.

Fires have consumed about 12 million acres of land over the past few months—killing nine people. The flames have also destroyed nearly a thousand homes, mostly in New South Wales, the country’s most populous state.

Christians make pilgrimage to Bethlehem for Christmas » At least 15,000 foreigners stayed overnight in Bethlehem for Christmas in 2019.

Thousands of Christians made a pilgrimage to the city where Jesus was born to celebrate with the local community. A Christmas parade welcomed travelers…

AUDIO: [Sound of parade]

Festivities in Bethlehem include a midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity on the site where some believe Jesus was born and a large faux Christmas tree in Manger Square. 

Kentucky resident Roger Hoagland is among the Christmas travelers. He’s in Bethlehem to lead a choir. 

HOAGLAND: We have 40 people, and many of them are from the United States and other countries. They’ve come to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Tourists also stayed in other West Bank towns, including Jericho and Jerusalem.

(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP) In this aerial image made from video, fire burning in Birdwood, South Australia state, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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