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    Leo Medina's Christmas wish came true when he saw his brother, Army Private Justin Purnell. Greg Cergol reports.

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    Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks to reporters on Thursday's arrests of men suspected of planning Christmas Day attacks,

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    The attack that killed 12 people was caught on dramatic dashcam footage showing the moment a truck plowed into an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, on Dec. 19, 2016.

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    France has just opened what it claims is the first public solar panel road in the world, officials said on Thursday, NBC News reported. 

    The French Ministry of the Environment announced the inauguration of the "unprecedented" new road on Thursday, which is covered by solar panels and stretches for more than half mile in the town of Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy, France. 

    The road, called the Wattway, was officially opened Thursday by French Minister of Ecology Ségolène Royal and Mayor Guy Monhée, according to a statement from the environmental ministry. 

    The stretch of road is covered in photovoltaic panels, which transform solar energy into electricity.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Photovoltaic power panels stand at Abaste's El Bonillo Solar Plant on Dec. 2, 2015 in El Bonillo, Albacete province, Spain.Photovoltaic power panels stand at Abaste's El Bonillo Solar Plant on Dec. 2, 2015 in El Bonillo, Albacete province, Spain.

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    The world-famous Radio City Rockettes have been called on to perform at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, but not everyone is kicking up their heels at the booking.

    When told they would be perofrming at Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, some dancers expressed their displeasure over email and social media and reportedly discussed boycotting it, according to 

    That prompted the dancers' union, The American Guild of Variety Artists, to send a stern note to the Rockettes, stating, "Any talk of boycotting this event is invalid... if you are full time, you are obligated." 

    But Madison Square Garden Co., which employs the dancers, said Friday no dancers are being compelled to attend the event.

    "For a Rockette to be considered for an event, they must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice," the company said in a statement. "In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available."

    James Dolan, the president of Madison Square Garden Co., announced Thursday the Rockettes would be performing at the inauguration, saying in a press release, "We are honored that the Rockettes have again been asked to perform in the upcoming inauguration festivities."

    The backlash was immediate, and one Rockette, Phoebe Pearl, said in a private Instagram post that she was "embarrassed and disappointed" to appear at the event. 

    "The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love, and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we're against is appalling," she wrote, according to The New York Post. 

    "I am speaking for myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts #notmypresident," Pearl added. 

    The American Guild of Variety Artists later sent an email to members saying the union was contacted by a Rockette dancer expressing concern about performing at the inauguration. 

    "I must remind you that you are all employees, and as a company, Mr. Dolan obviously wants the Rockettes to be represented at our country's Presidential inauguration, as they were in 2001 & 2005. Any talk of boycotting this event is invalid, I'm afraid," the email from the union stated, according to 

    The email went on to say, "Everyone has a right to an opinion, but this does not change your employment status for those who are full time."

    "This has nothing to do with anyone's political leanings (including AGVA's), it has to do with your best performance for your employer, period. I will reiterate that if Hillary Clinton was the President-elect, nothing would be different, and there would probably be those who would not want to be involved because of her. It is a job, and all of you should consider it an honor, no matter who is being sworn in. The election is over and this country will not survive if it remains divided."

    The email, sent by a high-ranking member of the union's administration, then continued in bold, underlined font, according to "If you are not full time, you do not have to sign up to do this work. If you are full time, you are obligated. Doing the best performance to reflect an American Institution which has been here for over 90 years is your job. I hope this pulls into focus the bottom line on this work." 

    The Rockettes usually have about 36 dancers, with 12 employed full-time and the rest freelance, reports, citing a former Rockettes employee. 

    Though Madison Square Garden Company says Rockettes won't face consequences for not participating in the inauguration, many on social media believed attendance was mandatory and called on people to lodge complaints with the Rockettes' employer. 

    One Rockette who wanted to remain anonymous told NBC 4 New York exclusively why her fellow dancers were so disappointed in being called on to perform at the inauguration.

    "I think that any sort of mixed message wouldn't be sending the right positive attitude toward these young women that we're trying to empower," she said Friday. "We are just trying to spread joy and love, and I think that a lot of women are worried that because of things that have been said from him, we would be sending the wrong message."

    The woman added, "We get so many young girls coming to us, saying, 'I want to be just like you when I grow up,' so I feel like performing in the inauguration would just promote something that we don't stand for." 

    The Rockettes dancers' union has not responded to NBC 4 New York's request for comment.  

    Trump has had some difficulty securing stars to perform at his inauguration, though the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and 16-year-old former "America's Got Talent" contestant Jackie Evancho have agreed to sing. 

    Elton John, Celine Dion, Garth Brooks and Andrea Bocelli have declined invitations to participate in the inauguration, reports. 

    Trump has claimed A-list celebrities are trying to get tickets to the event, "but look what what they did for Hillary, NOTHING," he tweeted. "I want the PEOPLE!" 

    The Rockettes, who have performed at Radio City Music Hall since the 1930s, have previously appeared in Super Bowl halftime shows, Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades and George W. Bush's inaugurations in 2001 and 2005.

    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.


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    A dad and a baby alone on a commercial flight could be a long, uncomfortable trip for everyone on board.

    But, Evan Hughes, of Fort Worth, received help from a stranger to comfort his 8-month-old son, Ki, on a Dec. 11 flight and the picture he took went viral.

    "The fact that she was willing to offer a hand, not just listen to her music and ignore me, she was very engaged and active in the process and I'm forever thankful for it," Hughes said.

    Winter weather caused Hughes and his wife's flight back from Chicago to be canceled. They were rebooked on separate flights, and different airlines, with Hughes flying back to North Texas alone with the boy.

    India Massinburg was in a window seat.

    "I had my earplugs in already because I was getting ready for takeoff and I said, 'Oh man, it's a man with a baby. I hope he's not sitting by me,'" Massinburg recalled.

    That dad and his baby were booked in the middle seat right beside her.

    "For me, it was going to be my first time flying alone with him, his second time flying ever," said Hughes. "When we sat down, he was just antsy and fidgety, wanted to get to the window."

    Luckily, Massinburg is an experienced daycare worker at Kosmic Kids Learning Center in DeSoto.

    "Working with kids is just a passion of mine," she said.

    She came to the rescue for the dad and his restless son.

    "She offered a couple of times. I didn't want to impose, but eventually I said 'OK,' just handed him over and she held him for a minute," Hughes said.

    The boy was soon asleep in the stranger's lap and his father took a picture.

    "The rest is history," Hughes said.

    The photo spread around the world on social media and news reports. It was posted on a parenting website and Thursday, back in North Texas, it aired on NBC 5.

    The adults said the photo and attention to it is a holiday blessing in more ways than one.

    "Some people say whites and blacks don't get along, whatever it may be. But to know that it was comforting to somebody else, that they were able to just talk about it without being ridiculed in any kind of way, that was amazing to me," Massinburg said.

    "I'm sure everyone around us was thankful for it, too," said Hughes about their trip on the plane.

    His father is saving the photo of Ki and the stories about it to show the boy in the future that he was an 8-month-old celebrity passenger.

    And the adults are talking about another visit over the holidays after meeting on that plane.

    "They always say it takes a village to raise a kid, and that was more true than ever with this experience," Hughes said.

    Photo Credit: Evan Hughes

    A North Texas dad got help with his restless baby on a plane from a stranger who turns out to be an experienced daycare worker.A North Texas dad got help with his restless baby on a plane from a stranger who turns out to be an experienced daycare worker.

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    Police are investigating after cards warning residents that “something terrible is going to happen” on Dec. 31 were left on hundreds of cars at numerous suburban parking lots over the weekend.

    Authorities stressed they "do not want the community to panic," and said numerous law enforcement agencies are involved in the investigation.

    The cards were found Sunday on vehicles in the Fox Valley mall, the Wheaton Bible Church, the Willow Creek Church and AMC Movie Theaters in South Barrington. Similar signs were also found at Studio Drive and Barrington Road in South Barrington.

    According to police, the cards and signs read “Something terrible is going to happen in Aurora 12/31/16. The wise will find the truth and act before it is too late. If you are vigilant and watchful the clues will appear as you travel the roadways. The answer is all around you but will you find it before the evil is done?”

    They also said “Seek it happens 12/31/16 in the book of face.”

    A Facebook page was set up featuring similar language, but that has apparently been taken down, police said. 

    Aurora police said as of Thursday there were no suspects.

    “While we’re not certain as to what the meaning behind the messages are, we do not want the community to panic,” the department said in a statement. “The incidents do serve as an excellent illustration of everyone’s role in keeping our community safe in that any suspicious behavior, no matter how insignificant it may seem, should be called into 911 immediately. If possible, taking a photograph or video of the suspicious behavior is also recommended as long as doing so would not put someone in immediate danger.”

    Anyone with information on the cards is being asked to call (630)-256-5500.

    Photo Credit: Aurora Police

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    President-elect Donald Trump vowed to enhance America's nuclear capabilities, warning Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday to avoid circumstances that may set the two global powers on an "alternate path." NBC’s Jennifer Johnson reports.

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    President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia had nuclear warheads that could penetrate any missile defense system, NBC News reported. 

    "We've advanced in improving the systems ... including [those that have] to do with overcoming missile defenses," he said during his annual press conference in Moscow. "Today, this system is more efficient than the [U.S.] missile defense."

    "It's not us who have been speeding up the arms race," Putin also said.

    On Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump stunned nuclear experts when he said "the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

    Photo Credit: AP

    Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016.Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016.

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    The Tunisian man suspected in a deadly attack on a Christmas market in Berlin was killed early Friday in a shootout with police in Milan during a routine patrol, ending a Europe-wide manhunt.

    Italian police said Anis Amri traveled from Germany through France and into Italy after the attack, at least some of it by train. French officials refused to comment on his passage through France, despite increased surveillance on its trains after both recent French attacks and the Berlin massacre.

    Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni praised the two young police officers for their courage in taking down Amri during a routine check of ID papers. But he also called for greater cross-border police cooperation, suggesting dismay that Amri was able to easily move through Europe's open borders despite being Europe's No. 1 fugitive.

    Amri was identified with the help of fingerprints supplied by Germany.

    "The person killed, without a shadow of a doubt, is Anis Amri, the suspect of the Berlin terrorist attack," said Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti.

    The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for Monday's attack outside Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in which a truck plowed into a crowd of shoppers, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others. It also claimed the Milan shooting.

    Milan, Rome and other cities have been on heightened alert since the attack, with increased surveillance and police patrols. Italian officials stressed that the young officers who stopped Amri didn't suspect he was the Berlin attacker, but rather grew suspicious because he was a North African man, alone outside a deserted train station at 3 a.m.

    Amri, 24, who had spent time in prison in Italy, was stopped by two officers during a routine patrol in the Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood of Milan early Friday. He pulled a gun from his backpack after being asked to show his identification and was killed in an ensuing shootout.

    One of the officers, Christian Movio, 35, was shot in the right shoulder and underwent surgery for a superficial wound and was in good condition. Movio's 29-year-old partner, Luca Scata, fatally shot Amri in the chest.

    Amri's death doesn't reduce the terrorist threat to Germany, the country's top security official said.

    The threat "remains high" and security won't be scaled down, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

    He said the two Milan police officers "did excellent work and acted with great bravery."

    "I'm very relieved that this attacker poses no risk anymore," he said.

    Amri passed through France before arriving by train at Milan's central station where video surveillance showed him at around 1 a.m. Friday, Milan police chief Antonio de Iesu said. A train ticket indicates that he travelled from Chambery, France through Turin and into Milan, an Italian anti-terrorism official said.

    De Iesu declined to provide further information, citing the ongoing investigation.

    Germany's chief federal prosecutor, Peter Frank, said his office is in contact with Italian authorities to establish what route Amri took.

    A Milan anti-terrorism official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation, said Amri made his way to the piazza outside the Sesto San Giovanni train station in a suburb of Milan, which is 7.5 kilometers (nearly 5 miles) from the main train station.

    Two police officers became suspicious because it was 3 a.m., the station was closed and Amri was alone. He had no ID, no phone and only a pocket knife on him, as well as the loaded 22-caliber pistol.

    "He was a ghost," de Iesu said, adding that he was stopped because of basic police work, intensified surveillance "and a little luck."

    Authorities are still trying to determine how Amri arrived at the piazza because only a few buses operate at that hour.

    "It is now of great significance for us to establish whether the suspect had a network of supporters or helpers in preparing and carrying out the crime, and in fleeing; whether there were accessories or helpers," Frank said.

    Prosecutors also want to know whether the gun Amri was carrying in Milan was the same one used to shoot the Polish driver of the truck he had commandeered for the attack, Frank added. The driver was found dead in the vehicle's cab.

    The Milan anti-terrorism official said investigators also are working to determine what contacts, if any, Amri had in Milan. There is no evidence he ever passed through Milan during his previous stay in Italy, where he spent time after leaving Tunisia in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

    Amri's brother Abdelkader told The Associated Press by telephone that the family wants to find out the "truth about my brother." He hung up when asked about the family's reaction to Amri's death.

    The family told a crowd outside their house to leave when news of the police shootout reached the central Tunisian town of Oueslatia, according to neighbor Wiem Khemili. Police stood guard around the impoverished town, where everyone was talking about Amri.

    Amri served 3½ years in Italy for setting a fire at a refugee center and making threats, among other things — but authorities apparently detected no signs that he was becoming radicalized. He was repeatedly transferred among Sicilian prisons for bad conduct, with prison records saying he bullied inmates and tried to spark insurrections.

    His mother said he went from there to Switzerland and then to Germany last year.

    Authorities in Germany deemed him a potential threat long before the Berlin market attack, and even kept him under covert surveillance for six months this year.

    They had been trying to deport him after his asylum application was rejected in July but were unable to do so because he lacked valid identity papers and Tunisia initially denied that he was a citizen.

    Authorities say Amri has used at least six different names and three nationalities in his travels around Europe.

    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Daniele Bennati

    A body is covered with a thermic blanket after a shootout between police and a man near a train station in Milan's Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood, Italy, early Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. Italy's interior minister Marco Minniti says the man killed in an early-hours shootout in Milan is A body is covered with a thermic blanket after a shootout between police and a man near a train station in Milan's Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood, Italy, early Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. Italy's interior minister Marco Minniti says the man killed in an early-hours shootout in Milan is "without a shadow of doubt" the Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri.

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    President-elect Donald Trump suggested Friday that he is willing to engage in "an arms race," insisting that the United States will surpass its rivals and "outlast them all" in a push for global weapons dominance, NBC News reported.

    "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all," Trump said in a statement to "Morning Joe" host Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC.

    Trump's assertion comes a day after he tweeted that the United States "must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

    But as the president-elect threatens to upend longstanding U.S. nonproliferation policy, spokesman Sean Spicer pushed back, saying Trump's comments were meant to send a general message of strength to countries like Russia and China rather than indicate the United States planned to build up its nuclear capabilities.

    On NBC's "Today," Spicer said, "We're not going to sit back and watch other nations threaten our safety."

    If Trump were to seek an expansion of the nuclear stockpiles, it would mark a sharp shift in U.S. national security policy. President Barack Obama has made nuclear nonproliferation a centerpiece of his agenda, calling in 2009 for the U.S. to lead efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons — a goal he acknowledged would not be accomplished quickly or easily.

    Still, the U.S. has been moving forward on plans to upgrade its aging nuclear arsenal. Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Pentagon planned to spend $108 billion over the next five years to sustain and improve its nuclear force.

    The U.S. and Russia hold the vast majority of the world's nuclear weapons. In 2010, the two countries signed the New START treaty capping the number of nuclear warheads and missile launchers each country can possess. The agreement is in effect until 2021 and can be extended for another five years.

    The state of the U.S. nuclear arsenal was rarely addressed during the presidential campaign. Trump's vanquished Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, repeatedly cast the Republican as too erratic and unpredictable to have control of the nation's nuclear arsenal.

    The president-elect's transition website says he "recognizes the uniquely catastrophic threats posed by nuclear weapons and cyberattacks," adding that he will modernize the nuclear arsenal "to ensure it continues to be an effective deterrent."

    Photo Credit: AP

    President-elect Donald Trump speaks to members of the media at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016.President-elect Donald Trump speaks to members of the media at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016.

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    Actress Carrie Fisher has suffered a heart attack on a Los Angeles-bound flight, law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC News.

    Fisher was in full cardiac arrest on the plane and was rushed to a local hospital.

    Passengers were administering CPR on the flight heading from London to Los Angeles International Airport, according to TMZ.

    The law enforcement official told NBC News her condition was "not good."

    United Airlines released a statement about reports of an "unresponsive" passenger on one of their flights, but did not reference Fisher in its comments. 

    "Medical personnel met United flight 935 from London to Los Angeles upon arrival today after the crew reported that a passenger was unresponsive. Our thoughts are with our customer at this time and any requests for additional information should be directed to local authorities," the statement read.

    The Los Angeles Fire Department said paramedics "were standing by for the plane's arrival, provided Advanced Life Support and aggressively treated and transported the patient to a local hospital."

    A passenger on board the flight told NBC4 the crew made an announcement 20 minutes before the flight landed to ask if there were any nurses or doctors on board.

    Fisher is best known for her role as Princess Leia from "Star Wars."

    She recently finished filming "Star Wars: Episode VIII," which is the second of three new films in the "Star Wars" saga, noted NBC News.

    Mark Hamill, Fisher's co-star in the "Star Wars" movies, tweeted that he is "sending all our love" to Fisher.

    Actor Peter Mayhew, the man behind the mask of Chewbacca, asked fans in a tweet to pray for "everyone's favorite princess right now."

    Fisher recently finished filming "Star Wars: Episode VIII," which is the second of three new films in the "Star Wars" saga, noted NBC News.

    NBC News Investigations' Andrew Blankstein and NBC4's Marin Austin contributed to this report.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Carrie Fisher attends the 54th New York Film Festival - 'Bright Lights' Photo Cal on October 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Carrie Fisher attends the 54th New York Film Festival - 'Bright Lights' Photo Cal on October 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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    In a striking rupture with past practice, the United States allowed the U.N. Security Council on Friday to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a "flagrant violation" of international law. In doing so, the outgoing Obama administration brushed aside Donald Trump's demands that the U.S. exercise its veto and provided a climax to years of icy relations with Israel's leadership.

    The decision to abstain from the council's 14-0 vote is one of the biggest American rebukes of its longstanding ally in recent memory. And it could have significant ramifications for the Jewish state, potentially hindering Israel's negotiating position in future peace talks. Given the world's widespread opposition to settlements, the action will be almost impossible for anyone, including Trump, to reverse.

    Nevertheless, Trump vowed via Twitter: "As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th."

    The resolution said Israel's settlements in lands the Palestinians want to include in their future state have "no legal validity." It demanded a halt to such activities for the sake of "salvaging the two-state solution." Loud applause erupted in the council chamber after U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power permitted the resolution to pass.

    Friday's condemnation, a day after Egypt suddenly postponed a scheduled showdown, capped days of frantic diplomacy in capitals around the world.

    American officials indicated they would have been prepared to let the resolution pass, despite blocking such proposals for years. Israeli officials said they were aware of such plans and turned to Trump for support. The U.S. president-elect sent a tweet urging President Barack Obama to block the U.N. effort. Egypt then pulled its resolution, with U.S. officials citing fierce Israeli pressure as the reason. Israeli officials then accused Obama of colluding with the Palestinians in a "shameful move" against the Jewish state. Washington denied the charge.

    Most of the world is opposed to Israel's construction of Jewish settlements in lands it seized in the 1967 Mideast War. The primary holdout at the U.N. has been the United States, which sees settlements as illegitimate but has traditionally used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to block such resolutions on the grounds that Israeli-Palestinian disputes should be addressed through negotiation.

    Underscoring that unity, Friday's resolution was proposed by nations in four different parts of the world: Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela. It is the first resolution on settlements to pass in 36 years, Malaysia's U.N. Ambassador Ramlan Bin Ibrahim said.

    Explaining the U.S. vote, Power quoted a 1982 statement from then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan, which declared that Washington "will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements."

    "That has been the policy of every administration, Republican and Democrat, since before President Reagan and all the way through to the present day," Power said. Settlement activity, she added, "harms the viability of a negotiated two-state outcome and erodes prospects for peace and stability in the region."

    She noted that until Friday, Obama was the only president in the last half-century that did not have a Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict pass on his watch.

    "One would think that it would be a routine vote," Power said. But she acknowledged that, in reality, the vote was "not straightforward" because it occurred at the United Nations, a body that has singled out Israel for criticism for decades.

    Chief Palestinian negotiation Saeb Erekat hailed the result as a "victory for the justice of the Palestinian cause." He said Trump's choice was now between "international legitimacy" or siding with "settlers and extremists."

    But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office voiced anger.

    "Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. and will not abide by its terms," it said, blaming Obama for failing to "protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN" and even colluding with the country's detractors. "Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution," the statement said.

    In some ways, the American abstention served as a direct reflection of the deep distrust between Obama and Netanyahu. It followed months of intensely secret deliberations in Washington, including what one official said was an unannounced meeting earlier this month between Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, and a spate of fresh Israeli settlement announcements that have wrought exasperation and anger from American officials.

    Trump has signaled he will be far more sympathetic to Israel's stances on the two territories, where some 600,000 Israelis live. His campaign platform made no mention of the establishment of a Palestinian state, a core policy objective of Democratic and Republican presidents over the past two decades. He also has vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would anger Palestinians and lack international support. Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel, Jewish-American lawyer David Friedman, is a donor and vocal supporter of the settlements.

    The resolution is little different in tone or substance from Obama's view, with the exception of its language on the legality of settlements. Washington has long avoided calling the activity illegal, in part to maintain diplomatic wiggle room for a negotiated solution that would allow Israel to incorporate some of the larger settlement blocs.

    While the resolution doesn't impose sanctions on Israel, it enshrines the world's disapproval of the settlements. A reversal would require a follow-up vote that avoids a veto from the U.S., Britain, China, France or Russia — a highly unlikely scenario given the current stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

    In Washington, Republicans were already threatening consequences. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who heads the Senate appropriations panel in charge of U.S. payments to the global body, said he would "form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce" such funding. He said countries receiving U.S. aid also could be penalized for backing the effort.

    In a Hanukkah message Friday, Obama didn't mention the matter. He referenced Israel once, noting that Jews there and around the world would soon "gather to light their Hanukkah menorahs, display them proudly in the window and recall the miracles of both ancient times and the present day."

    Photo Credit: AP

    FILE - In this Wednesday, March 20, 2013 file photo, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tour the Iron Dome Battery defense system, at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.FILE - In this Wednesday, March 20, 2013 file photo, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tour the Iron Dome Battery defense system, at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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    A veterinarian has been infected with a strain of bird flu known as H7N2 that spread among more than 100 cats housed at New York City animal shelters, NBC News reported.

    New York City health officials said Thursday the vet has recovered from a mild illness, and there's no sign that the flu has spread to shelter workers or those who've adopted cats.

    "More than 160 Animal Care Centers of NYC employees and volunteers, including several people who had similar exposure to sick cats, were screened by the Health Department and not found to have infection with the H7N2 virus," the department said.

    Vets, doctors and other scientists keep an eye on bird flu because it can and does spread to people and has the potential to cause epidemics. So far, H7N2 hasn't. It has only ever infected a few people.

    Photo Credit: Katerina Bend/Getty Images/iStockphoto

    In this file photo, a Mekong bobtail cat.In this file photo, a Mekong bobtail cat.

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    It'll be a white Christmas for the northern Plains and some Western states, but it's likely to cause troublesome travel. 

    A large swath of the Dakotas is under a blizzard warning Sunday and Monday, with the National Weather Service forecasting heavy snow and strong winds. To the east, parts of central Minnesota are under an ice storm warning.

    Much of Idaho and Montana is under a winter storm advisory, and Utah and the northeast corner of Colorado are under a winter storm warning.

    Forecasters cautioned drivers to keep alternate routes in mind and prepare for possible delays. Air travel wasn't yet impacted Saturday at the nation's major airports.

    The Storm Prediction Center cautioned that warm, humid air could cause severe weather in the lower Plains, Arkansas and Oklahoma on Sunday.

    Photo Credit: AP

    Vehicles commute under snowfall northbound on the New Jersey Turnpike, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, in Ridgefield, N.J.Vehicles commute under snowfall northbound on the New Jersey Turnpike, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, in Ridgefield, N.J.

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    Unable to work as she fights cancer, Karla Vasquez wasn’t sure how she’d provide for her family this Christmas. But her hospice nurse and his colleagues stepped in to help.

    The mother of four thought she’d won her battle with breast cancer two years ago — but cancer wasn’t done with her.

    “In 2015, my cancer came back again, more aggressive,” she said.

    And it came back in more places, like her liver.

    “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t even take a shower, I couldn’t even dress myself,” she said.

    Several months of pills, radiation and chemotherapy seemed to help, until yet another diagnosis earlier this year.

    “I had seven tumors in my head,” Vasquez said. The cancer had spread to her brain.

    “I called all my kids, sat them down, and told them, and my daughter told me, ‘Mom, do it. I want you to live,’” Vasquez said.

    It’s a constant battle that’s taken a toll, and she hasn’t been able to return to work as a club concierge at the Tysons Ritz Carlton.

    “I love it," Vasquez said of her job. "And I can’t wait to go back.”

    Without her income, she and her husband didn’t have much money to spare for gifts. She wasn’t quite sure what would happen, but she gave what she had: her infectious, positive spirit.

    “When you give, you receive three times,” she said.

    “She will brighten up anybody’s day,” said her hospice nurse, Barry Smoot. ‘This is a lady who just does not quit.”

    He told his colleagues at Capital Caring about her.

    “Our volunteers and our staff just poured their hearts out and opened their wallets, went shopping, got gift cards, gave money, bought all sorts of gifts for the children, and made sure they had what they needed and enough to make a little bit of the rest of the year a little better, too,” said Rev. Carolyn Richard of Capital Caring.

    “I’m in heaven this year," Vasquez said. “I don’t need to worry about anything.”

    Her message to others facing tough times: “Please don’t give up. To have faith, to pray and to keep themselves positive, because that’s what’s kept me alive.”

    Photo Credit: NBCWashington

    Karla VasquezKarla Vasquez

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    Six-year-old Ke'ani Page of Lafayette, Louisiana, released a balloon into the air with a letter to Santa attached. Page was asking for a tablet, light-up shoes and a turtle. Four days later, Rachel Goffinet found the balloon, and note, nearly 800 miles away in Evanston, Indiana — about 10 miles south of a town called Santa Claus. Taylor Trache reports.

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    The Minnesota Vikings' team plane slid off the runway after landing in Wisconsin Friday and became stuck, the team announced, and the players on board were quick to hit social media with the news. 

    "While taxiing after a safe landing, the team plane slid off the runway and became stuck," the team wrote on Twitter. "We are waiting patiently to exit the plane." 

    The team sat for hours on the aircraft after the incident before a firetruck arrived to assist the passengers off. But apparently, when you leave the Vikings on a plane for a while, Twitter gets a bit more interesting. 

    It wasn't until about midnight, just hours before kickoff, the team finally tweeted that the players were back at the team hotel and resting. 

    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    A man dressed in all black gunned down a beloved 81-year-old woman inside the Philadelphia corner store she owned for decades on Christmas Eve.

    Police responded to Marie’s Grocery Store at S 6th and Titan streets in South Philadelphia around 8:55 a.m. Saturday, said investigators.

    First responders found the elderly woman -- identified by family members as Marie Buck -- suffering from three gunshot wounds. Medics rushed Buck to Jefferson Hospital where she died a short time later, said police.

    The gunman got away after firing about one dozen shots, said police. An 89-year-old woman was also working in the store at the time of the shooting, said police. [[408157545, C]]

    Buck's family said she owned the store for the past 44 years.

    NBC10 cameras captured people crying outside the taped-off store. Many people in the neighborhood called her "Aunt Marie."

    "She took care of everybody," said Angela Sweeney, Buck's great niece.

    "When you were short changed, or whatever, she'd help you out that's the type of person she is," said longtime customer Wanda.

    Police didn’t immediately have a motive for the shooting but robbery didn't appear to be a reason considering the gunman took nothing from the store. Neighbors and family said the store had never been robbed before.

    Investigators hoped surveillance video from nearby could help in the search for the killer. Anyone with information is asked to contact Philadelphia Police.

    Photo Credit: NBC10 - Aundrea Cline-Thomas | Family Photo
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    Dec. 24, 2016: Marie Buck (inset) was gunned down inside her South Philadelphia corner store.Dec. 24, 2016: Marie Buck (inset) was gunned down inside her South Philadelphia corner store.

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    For most, Frosty the Snowman is a jolly happy soul. But for President Barack Obama, the snow sculpture gives him the willies.

    In an interview with People magazine earlier this month, the commander-in-chief revealed that the army of snowmen decorating the White House are “a little creepy.”

    “There’s a whole kind of Chucky element to them,” he said, referencing the killer doll that comes to life in the “Child’s Play” horror films.

    The first lady teased her husband, suggesting “we should put one in the bedroom, right by his bed.”

    “I would move,” the president joked. “If I see one of those snowmen in my bedroom, I’m moving.”

    [[382452741, C]]

    The White House staff decided to use the president’s admission against him and set off to prank Obama with the help of a family of snowmen parked in the Rose Garden near the Oval Office.

    Pete Souza, the White House’s official photographer, explained in an Instagram post that, for the last three weeks, staffers have been thinking about moving the snowmen closer to the house.

    "We've been joking that we should move the snowmen a few feet closer to the Oval Office every day to see if anyone noticed," Souza wrote. "Then, we realized the snowmen were too heavy to easily lift."

    But this week, they finally pulled off the prank, moving all the snowmen right up to the president's office windows. Souza captured a photo of one of the snowmen creepily peering through while Obama signed end-of-year bills.

    Thankfully, according to Souza, the president was amused with the joke. He even played along in a follow-up post, acting scared to see a snowman outside another window.

    [[408110955, C]]

    The question now is, Mr. President, “Do you you want to build a snowman?”

    Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
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    A snowman peeks into the Oval Office as President Barack Obama signs end-of-the-year bills, Dec. 16, 2016. Staff moved four snowmen that were decorating the Rose Garden just outside several Oval Office windows to greet the President when he arrived in the office.A snowman peeks into the Oval Office as President Barack Obama signs end-of-the-year bills, Dec. 16, 2016. Staff moved four snowmen that were decorating the Rose Garden just outside several Oval Office windows to greet the President when he arrived in the office.

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