A partial US government shutdown is underway after US lawmakers failed to agree a budget. Donald Trump, who must sign off any deal, is insisting at least $ 5bn (£4bn) in government funding be included to help build his US border wall. Without a deal, funding for around 25% of the government expired at midnight local time. The US President warned a shutdown could last “a very long time”.
Jeremy Corbyn has reaffirmed Labour’s policy of leading Britain out of the European Union with a refashioned Brexit deal. Despite growing pressure from Labour MPs and activists for him to back a second referendum, the Labour leader said that, if he won a general election, he would: “go back and negotiate, and see what the timetable would be”.
Two people have been arrested in connection with the “criminal use of drones” which caused disruption at Gatwick Airport. More than 100,000 Christmas passengers were affected when hundreds of flights were grounded this week. Sussex Police said the pair were arrested in the area at about 10pm on Friday evening. The airport said its runway would be open on Saturday, with an “aim to run a full schedule”.
Christmas trees could make some people ill when they react after coming into contact with central heating, experts have warned. Those with asthma and certain allergies are at risk of attacks because, once inside a heated area, the trees emit thousands of mould spores. A study found that mould count from a live Christmas tree rose to five times the normal level after the tree was brought indoors.
Four men have been arrested after special forces stormed a cargo ship off the UK’s coast where a group of stowaway migrants had threatened the crew. Special Boat Service operatives fast-roped from helicopters on to the ship which had been sailing in the Thames Estuary. The operation lasted around 25 minutes and no-one on-board was injured.
Desperate retailers are offering discounts of up to 90% in a final bid for shoppers. On the day dubbed ‘Super Saturday’, retailers hope that punters will splash £1.7bn on last-minute Christmas presents. Retail analyst Richard Hyman said: “This is unprecedented. The level of discounts, the number of retailers with sales, and the proportion of their stock on offer are all at record levels.”
Amber Rudd says Jean-Claude Juncker is “ghastly” and his “grotesque” behaviour should have been subject to an official complaint. Accusing the EU Commission president of “terrible” conduct at last week’s EU summit, the Work and Pensions Secretary said: “What I minded before that were those pictures of the way he was holding the Prime Minister. I did not like that.”
Two thirds of Network Rail’s highest-paid executives had pay rises last year, according to official data. Government figures show that 50 of the 71 staff who earn more than the PM had their pay packet increased in the year to September, with some given rises worth almost £30,000 despite already earning more than £150,000 a year. The rises come despite chaos on the rails.
Martina Navratilova has been accused of being “transphobic” after she claimed that people born male should not compete in women’s sporting events. The 62-year-old former Wimbledon champion and LGBT campaigner’s comments came in response to a question from a Twitter follower about transgender women in sport. “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women,” she replied.
An Amazon customer has been told by the virtual assistant Alexa: “Kill your foster parents.” An investigation found the device had quoted from the social media site Reddit, says Reuters. The user who heard the message described Alexa’s remark as “a whole new level of creepy”. Previously, Alexa has recited a Wikipedia entry for masturbation to a customer.