Asian markets lower … First full business day for US partial shutdown … Japan to resume commercial whale hunting
UNDATED (AP) – Asian markets were mostly lower today after President Donald Trump said that there was “nothing new” on the partial government shutdown over a U.S.-Mexico border wall. U.S. markets, which were closed for Christmas, are set to open higher today. Stocks are still headed for their worst December since the Great Depression in 1931. Markets in Europe, Hong Kong and Australia were closed.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Today is the first full business day of the partial government shutdown. So far, the public and federal workers have largely been spared inconvenience and hardship because government is closed on weekends and federal employees were excused from work on Christmas Eve and Christmas. The shutdown began at midnight last Friday. Trump said Tuesday that the closed parts of the government will remain that way until Democrats agree to wall off the U.S.-Mexico border.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea is hoping to someday link its railway with its southern neighbor, but without progress in nuclear negotiations, regular trains won’t be crossing the border anytime soon. Both countries broke ground Wednesday on an ambitious project to modernize the North’s railways and roads and connect them to South Korea. A South Korean train carrying government officials, lawmakers and aging relatives separated by the Korean War rolled into the North Korean border town of Kaesong.
TOKYO (AP) – Japan says it will resume commercial whale hunting for the first time in 30 years but promises not to hunt in the Antarctic. It also says it will leave the International Whaling Commission. The IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in the 1980s due to a dwindling whale population. Japan switched to what it calls research whaling and says stocks have recovered enough to resume commercial hunts.
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) – The Baltic nation of Estonia is engaged in an ambitious project to make government administration completely digital to reduce bureaucracy, increase transparency and boost economic growth. Need a prescription? It’s online. Need someone at City Hall? No lines there. And parents can go online to see whether their children’s homework was done on time. There are still a few things that Estonians can’t do electronically: marry, divorce or transfer property.