GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN COULD LAST INTO 2019… Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney warned yesterday that the ongoing partial government shutdown could likely extend into 2019. Mulvaney said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” that President Trump is determined to get $5 billion funding to build a wall along the southern border and accused House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of intentionally stalling negotiations until next year when she becomes speaker of the House. The Senate adjourned for the holidays on Saturday without a deal and aren’t scheduled to reconvene until Thursday. Mulvaney said the extended shutdown wouldn’t affect federal paychecks set to go out on Friday, but paychecks issued on January 11 would be affected. Outgoing Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker remains critical of Trump’s role in the shutdown. Yesterday he accused the president of being involved in “a made-up fight so the President can look like he’s fighting.” If there’s good news regarding the shutdown, it’s that tonight’s tracking of Santa Claus’ progress in delivering presents around the world. The North American Aerospace Defense Command and its team of 1,500 volunteers are prepared to track Santa’s journey for the 64th year.
TRUMP ACCELERATES MATTIS’ DEPARTURE… President Trump announced yesterday that Defense Secretary James Mattis will leave his post on January 1 instead of February and his deputy, Patrick Shanahan, will take over as acting secretary. It is not clear why Trump sped up Mattis’ departure, but the defense secretary was critical of the president in the letter of resignation he submitted. Shanahan was a long-time Boeing executive.
TRUMP AND ERDOGAN TALK AGAIN… President Trump has revealed that he had telephone discussions with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan regarding “a slow and highly coordinated” withdrawal of American troops from Syria. The revelation comes as Trump’s decision to remove U.S. troops continues to draw harsh criticism from even his own party and led to the resignations of Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Special Envoy Brett McGurk. France President Emmanuel Macron expressed deep regret for the U.S. withdrawal yesterday and said he called Trump to warn against the plan and urge that “An ally must be dependable.” Media reports claim that Trump’s unexpected order for a U.S. withdrawal from Syria came after a previous phone call between Trump and Erdogan.
VIDEO SHOWS PROUD BOYS INITIATED ATTACK… The New York Times reported yesterday that previously unreleased video footage confirms that members of the alt-right gang Proud Boys initiated an attack on several left-wing protesters in Manhattan in October. At the time, the gang claimed counter-demonstrators were to blame for the violence. Ten Proud Boys members have since been arrested and charged in connection with the attack.
NORTHWEST FACING STORMS… The Pacific Northwest appeared to be bearing the brunt of Christmas storms heading into the holiday. From Northern California to Seattle, moderate to heavy rain showers were forecast for lower elevations while the high country was expected to get as much as a foot or more of snow. Winter weather alerts were in effect yesterday for six states in the region.
KODAK BLACK TOPS ALBUM CHART… Rapper Kodak Black’s new release, “Dying to Live,” sold 89,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 chart. Meek Mill’s “Championships” remained in second place after selling 83,000 copies. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” soundtrack finished third on sales of 64,000 units. Michael Bublé’s “Christmas” dropped to fourth with 63,000 units sold. The “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” soundtrack debuted at No. 5 afters selling 52,000 units.
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE… Three newcomers top the pre-Christmas weekend box office. “Aquaman” led the way with $67.4 million. “Mary Poppins Returns” followed in a distant second place after taking in $22.2 million. “Bumblebee” finished in third place with $21 million. Last week’s champ, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” slipped to fourth place with $16.7 million. “The Mule” dropped to fifth place with $9.9 million.
NEW ORLEANS 31 – Pittsburgh 28… The Saints (13-2) upended the Steelers (8-6-1) to clinch the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Drew Brees tossed a go-ahead 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas with 1:25 remaining. Alvin Kamara rushed for a pair of scores. The loss all but doused Pittsburgh’s postseason hopes.
DALLAS 27 – Tampa Bay 20… The Cowboys (9-6) handled the Buccaneers (5-10) to wrap up the NFC East title. Dak Prescott ran for a touchdown and threw for another. Jaylon Smith returned a fumble 69 yards for a score.
SEATTLE 38 – Kansas City 31… The Seahawks (9-6) punched their ticket to the postseason with the win over the Chiefs (11-4). Russell Wilson passed for 271 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Carson rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Doug Baldwin had seven receptions for 126 yards and a score.
L.A. Rams 31 – ARIZONA 9… C.J. Anderson rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown in leading the NFC West-champion Rams (12-3) past the Cardinals (3-12). He signed with the team just five days earlier. Jared Goff had a scoring pass and a TD run.
Chicago 14 – SAN FRANCISCO 9… The NFC North-champion Bears (11-4) scratched out a win over the 49ers (4-11) to win for the eighth time in nine games. Jordan Howard’s 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter proved to be the difference.
Minnesota 27 – DETROIT 9… The Vikings (8-6-1) continued their march to the postseason by downing the Lions (5-10). Kirk Cousins’ 44-yard Hail Mary pass to Kyle Rudolph as time expired in the first half gave Minnesota the lead for good. Rudolph had two scoring catches on the day. Cousins finished with 253 yards passing and three TDs.
PHILADELPHIA 32 – Houston 30… Jake Elliott’s 35-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Eagles (8-7) over the Texans (10-5) and kept alive Philadelphia’s playoff hopes. Nick Foles passed for 471 yards and four touchdowns. Zach Ertz had 12 receptions for 110 yards and two scores. Nelson Agholor added five catches for 116 yards and a TD.
NEW ENGLAND 24 – Buffalo 12… The Patriots (10-5) fought their way past the Bills (5-10) and clinched their 12th straight AFC East title. Sony Michel opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and rushed for 116 yards on the day. James White had a 27-yard scoring run.
Jacksonville 17 – MIAMI 7… Kai Forbath broke a fourth-quarter tie with a 26-yard field goal and Telvin Smith added a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown as the Jaguars (5-10) put away the Dolphins (7-8). The loss eliminated Miami from the postseason.
INDIANAPOLIS 28 – N.Y. Giants 27… Andrew Luck’s 1-yard scoring toss to Chester Rogers with 55 seconds remaining sent the Colts (9-6) past the Giants (5-10). Luck finished with 357 passing yards and two touchdowns. T.Y. Hilton had seven catches for 138 yards.
CLEVELAND 26 – Cincinnati 18… Brook Mayfield passed for 284 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Browns (7-7-1) past the Bengals (6-9) for their fifth win in six games. Nick Chubb rushed for 112 yards on 19 carries.
Green Bay 44 – N.Y. JETS 38 (OT)… Aaron Rodgers found Davante Adams with a 16-yard touchdown pass at 6:23 of overtime to give the Packers (6-8-1) a come-from-behind win over the Jets (4-11). Rodgers completed 37 of 55 passes for 442 yards and two scores. He also rushed for a pair of TDs.
Atlanta 24 – CAROLINA 10… Matt Ryan connected with three different receivers on touchdown passes as the Falcons (6-9) cruised past the Panthers (6-9). Ryan found Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu with 75- and 44-yard scoring strikes, respectively, in the third quarter.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL…
Denver (6-8) is at Oakland (3-11)
Atlanta 98 – DETROIT 95… The Hawks held on at the end to down the Pistons. Vince Carter came off the bench to score 18 points and lead a balanced scoring attack. Alex Lin had 15 points and 17 rebounds.
INDIANA 105 – Washington 89… Myles Turner powered his way to 18 points and 17 boards in leading the Pacers past the Wizards. Domantas Sabonis added 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Miami 115 – ORLANDO 91… The Heat jumped out to a double-digit lead after the first quarter and cruised past the Magic to give coach Eric Spoelstra his 500th coaching win. Tyler Johnson pumped in 25 points. Justise Winslow tossed in 22 points.
BOSTON 119 – Charlotte 103… The Celtics rolled past the Hornets to end their three-game skid. Kyrie Irving scored 25 points to lead all scorers.
Chicago 112 – CLEVELAND 92… The Bulls held the Cavaliers to 33 second-half points in a comeback victory. Lauri Markkanen scored a game-high 31 points.
BROOKLYN 111 – Phoenix 103… Spencer Dinwiddie delivered 24 points off the bench to help the Nets get past the Suns. Rodions Kurucs had 16 points and 10 boards.
SACRAMENTO 122 – New Orleans 117… The Kings outscored the Pelicans 36-21 in the fourth quarter for a come-from-behind victory. Buddy Hield led all scorers with 28 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 24 points off the bench.
Minnesota 114 – OKLAHOMA CITY 112… Andrew Wiggins laid in a go-ahead basket with 14.3 seconds remaining and added a free throw down the stretch as the Timberwolves outgunned the Thunder in a back-and-forth contest. Wiggins finished with 30 points.
GOLDEN STATE 127 – L.A. Clippers 129… Stephen Curry’s tiebreaking layup with less than a second remaining culminated a 42-point night and gave the Warriors a hard-fought win over the Clippers. Kevin Durant had 25 points and 12 rebounds.
PORTLAND 121 – Dallas 118 (OT)… The Trail Blazers got 33 points from Damian Lillard and 22 from CJ McCollum in outlasting the Mavericks. Jusuf Nurkic grabbed 12 boards to go with his 10 points.
Memphis 107 – L.A. LAKERS 99… The Grizzlies pulled past the Lakers in the fourth quarter to emerge with the victory. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 27 points to lead six players in double figures.
TONIGHT’S NBA SCHEDULE…
No games scheduled
Columbus 3 – NEW JERSEY 0… Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all 39 shots as the Blue Jackets blanked the Devils or their fourth straight win. Artemi Panarin scored a goal and had an assist.
CAROLINA 5 – Boston 3… The Hurricanes scored four straight goals to erase an early two-goal deficit on their way past the Bruins. Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had two goals and two assists.
Florida 6 – CHICAGO 3… Jayce Hawryluk found the net twice as the Panthers doubled up on the Blackhawks. MacKenzie Weegar assisted on two goals.
N.Y. RANGERS 3 – Philadelphia 2 (SO)… Nolan Patrick scored in the shootout to send the Rangers past the Flyers. Michal Neuvirth made 32 saves at goal.
TORONTO 5 – Detroit 4 (OT)… Kasperi Kapanen’s second goal of the game came at 1:53 of overtime and gave the Maple Leafs a dramatic win over the Red Wings. John Tavares’ goal with 8 seconds left in regulation forced the extra period. Morgan Rielly had a goal and an assist.
N.Y. Islanders 3 – DALLAS 1… the Islanders scored three unanswered goals to beat the Stars after spotting them a second-period lead. Anders Lee scored the go-ahead goal off a power play midway through the third period. Leo Komarov added an empty-netter.
Los Angeles 4 – VEGAS 3 (OT)… Tyler Toffoli scored the winning goal at 1:40 of overtime as the Kings outlasted the Golden Knights. Michael Amadio, Jeff Carter and Alex Iafallo also scored for L.A.
Arizona 4 – SAN JOSE 3 (SO)… Alex Galchenyuk scored twice in regulation and again in the shootout to push the Coyotes past the Sharks. Clayton Keller assisted on two goals.
TONIGHT’S NHL SCHEDULE…
No games scheduled
TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES…
#21 HOUSTON 75, Coppin State 44