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The Inquisitr offers a constantly updated mix of the latest stories to hit the web, covering news, entertainment, technology, news, sport, health and everything else.

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    the entrance to zion national park in utah

    Utah is using state funds to keep three of its most popular national parks open during the government shutdown, the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting.

    As Donald Trump and Congress continue to battle over a lack of funding for Trump’s proposed border wall, the federal government is without a working budget, which means that it is, in essence, shut down. Among other things, that means that federal employees are furloughed until further notice. One consequence is that national parks have no one to staff them; to drive the buses that carry visitors to and fro, to maintain the fences and other equipment, to staff the gift shops, or to even keep the bathrooms clean.

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    Tiny House

    A woman in the St. Louis area who spent $20,000 and more than two years building a small house for herself had the house stolen from outside a warehouse where she had kept it during construction. But following a nationwide, social media-driven hunt, the house was recovered and returned to its rightful owner.

    According to the Washington Post, Meghan Panu had been at work on a 12-foot-high small house for herself, as part of the growing “tiny house” movement. A student at Webster University, Panu had mostly built the house with her own hands. She had been keeping the house, which was still under construction, at a supply warehouse near St. Louis, but she got the call last week that the house had been taken from where she left it.

    “He asked if I had moved the tiny house overnight and when I said no, he had the unfortunate news that they hadn’t, and it was likely taken,” Panu told a local news station.

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    A tour bus with its lights still running sits on a bungalow wrecked by the December 22 Indonesian Tsunami

    A tsunami most likely birthed by underwater landslides from the Anak Krakatau volcano struck Indonesia without warning Saturday. The tsunami struck the Sunda Strait, tragically killing more than 200 people, injuring hundreds and leaving scores of people missing. Among them are members of the Indonesian boy band Seventeen, and CNN provided astonishing video footage of the moment the tsunami hit while the band performed during a pop concert.

    The band was reportedly putting on a beach concert that was sponsored by state-managed electric company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) on Tanjung Lesung beach. Crowds had gathered at the beach, per Channel News Asia, for an end-of-year celebration, and many of the fatalities and injuries happened there.

    The video, which lasts over twenty seconds, shows the band performing in a tent to a seated audience. The revelers are seen enjoying the music throughout the footage, but towards the end of the video, giant waves come crashing through the tent.

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    Barbed wire fence against a blue sky.

    After the deaths of six inmates in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County jail system over a span of several months, families and investigators are searching for answers. Three deaths were linked to drugs, while the rest were caused by suicide. The U.S. Marshals Service is investigating the situation after critics suggest the deaths are a result of an overcrowded jail system and lack of proper management, according to NBC.

    Yvonne Postlethwait-Allen is one of the many who are grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season as a result of the jail’s poorly staffed system. Her brother, Randall Kain, had been in jail as a result of his heroin addiction. He had battled with drugs since his mother’s passing in 2006. The last time she spoke to her brother, she had told him not to visit for Christmas, a conversation that now haunts her.

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    Donald Trump

    After Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned in protest of Donald Trump’s treatment of United States allies and his announcement that he would order all U.S. troops out of Syria, as reported by Politico, a retired four-star Army general has branded Trump “a rogue president,” and warned that congress must now provide increased oversight to keep Trump from creating new crises, according to a report by the media monitoring site MediaIte.

    McCaffrey spoke in an interview with MSNBC anchor Nicole Wallace on Friday, describing Trump as unfit for the Oval Office, and “relying on his daughter and his son-in-law, both with no experience in national security or foreign policy,” he said, making reference to Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, both of whom serve as White House advisers.

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    Ellen DeGeneres participates in the phone bank during 'One Voice: Somos Live! A Concert For Disaster Relief' at the Universal Studios.

    Ellen DeGeneres is known for her bright personality and light-hearted banter, but during her new Netflix special, she revealed her childhood was anything but a laughing matter. According to Radar Online, Elen DeGeneres discussed a side of her life fans rarely hear about. During the stand-up segment, she revealed she was raised under a set of beliefs called Christian Science.

    Ellen went on to explain how her parents didn’t believe in doctors or the use of medication, and how their belief system affected her life. While the idea of vaccinating children is still a major discussion for many parents, Ellen DeGeneres’ parents’ stance was clear: they weren’t getting involved with doctors on any level.

    “I was raised Christian Science,” said Ellen, explaining “It is a religion that does not believe in doctors or medicine.”

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    Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Erdogan

    Donald Trump, according to a CNN investigative report published on Sunday, made his announcement that he would order a full withdrawal of the United States military forces from Syria after a phone call with Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan, in which the Turkish strongman repeatedly peppered Trump with what he said were reasons the U.S. troops should leave, prompting Trump to simply declare, “OK, it’s all yours. We are done.”

    While Erdogan reportedly promised Trump that Turkish troops would “finish off” the ISIS fighters in the region, in fact, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Erdogan’s true motivation was his desire to attack and subjugate the Kurdish population near the Turkish-Syrian border. The Kurds there have been staunch U.S. allies in the war against ISIS and have scored many of the most significant battlefield victories against the terror group that had attempted to establish its own Islamic “caliphate” within Syria.

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    Heather Locklear attends TLC 'Too Close To Home' Screening at The Paley Center for Media.

    After a month-long ordeal, Heather Locklear has been released from rehab. According to Radar Online, the famed actress was recently spotted out shopping with her boyfriend, Chris Heisser. An insider close to Heather Locklear has shared a few details about her release and how she’ll be spending the Christmas holiday. “She is out of rehab for now to spend time with family for the holidays. And she was spotted with her boyfriend at the Westlake Promenade on Saturday.”

    Despite all of the difficulties Heather Locklear has faced over the past month, the insider claims she appeared to be enjoying the outing with her beau. “They seemed to be enjoying themselves grabbing a bite to eat and shopping.”

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    Border Patrol agents apprehend immigrants

    The body of immigrant girl Jakelin Caal has arrived in Guatemala more than two weeks after she died while in the custody of U.S. Border Patrol.

    Caal was with her father as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico on December 6. The family was part of a group of more than 100 migrants who crossed the border and surrendered to Border Patrol agents to seek asylum in the United States, but Caal fell ill within hours of being taken into custody and died on December 8 after being taken to a hospital. As USA Today noted, her body has now arrived back in Guatemala to be laid to rest.

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    A beach in the aftermath of the Indonesia tsunami

    Some critical data about the deadly tsunami that struck Indonesia is missing, as the U.S. Geological Survey remained shuttered during the extended federal government shutdown.

    Late on Saturday, an underwater volcano triggered a tsunami that struck the Indonesian coast without warning, killing at least 222 people and injuring more than 800 others. As the Huffington Post noted, the U.S. Geological Survey normally monitors seismic events and releases data to the public, but the agency has been dormant during the shutdown and posted a notice on its website that it would not be updating data.

    “Due to a lapse in appropriations, the majority of USGS websites may not be up to date and may not reflect current conditions,” the note reads. “Websites displaying real-time data, such as Earthquake and Water and information needed for public health and safety will be updated with limited support.”

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    worker with Atlantic Express closes the gate for school buses after more than 8,000 New York City school bus drivers

    An Arizona woman has been arrested for posting naked photos of her ex-boyfriend on the front gate at his children’s elementary school. It’s unclear what led to 55-year-old Deborah Britton printing up and posting the photos in front of the school in Chandler, Arizona, but the victim told police that the woman was the only person with access to such pictures.

    The Daily Mail says that Britton is facing felony charges for posting what was considered to be pornographic material on school property. The victim, whose children attend Hull Elementary School in Chandler says that he and Britton broke up in September and soon after the naked pictures were posted on the front gate near the main entrance of the school.

    The photos were posted on the inside of the fence, making them visible to students and teachers. The photos showed the victim entirely undressed with his face visible.

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    Relief workers in Puerto Rico after hurricanes

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency this week auctioned off 34,496 unused meal kits that had been intended for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, but were never distributed.

    The agency faced criticism for its slow and inefficient response to the natural disaster, which left tens of thousands of people without power for several months and cut off large portions of the population from essentials like food, water, and medicine. As NBC News reported, the agency was left with tens of thousands of ready-to-eat meals that were never distributed, and they were auctioned off this week as they neared the expiration date.

    The meals were priced at between $4.55 and $4.75, meaning they cost taxpayers more than $157,000 in total, but sold for a tiny fraction of the total price. After the initial bids came in for just over $500, the winning bid ended up being $10,000.

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    A man's hands as he fires off a gun at the screen of a laptop computer.

    A man from Fort Worth, Texas, was so annoyed by the loud music his wife was playing on her laptop computer that he allegedly grabbed his handgun and shot her machine.

    The police reportedly received a call about the incident around 2 a.m. on Saturday, December 22, and dispatched police to the scene on Kingsknowe Parkway, near the Marine Creek Reservoir, according to the Star-Telegram.

    When officers from the Fort Worth Police Department arrived, the suspect, 44-year-old Gary Lykins, had barricaded himself inside his home in which he had “access to several firearms,” reported Dallas News.

    This led to a four-hour standoff during which 16 different police units were called in to try to coax the music hater from his house. As a last-ditch effort, a SWAT team was contacted. However, Lykins surrendered to cops before their arrival and was arrested at approximately 6:45 a.m. He is being charged with deadly conduct for discharging a firearm, which is a third-degree felony in Texas.

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    a stock photo of a car thief

    A would-be car thief was thwarted when he found himself locked in the car he was trying to steal, the Guardian is reporting. Lacking any better options, he called the cops.

    Police in the Norwegian city of Trondheim say the 17-year-old would-be thief was known to them, having already racked up a lengthy rap sheet of petty crimes, including multiple other attempts at car theft. He had also developed a reputation for being a rather dim-witted car thief (police spokesperson Ebbe Kimo politely called him “perhaps not the most knowledgeable car thief”), who often fails to think things through. For example, his attempted Christmas Eve car theft not only resulted in him being locked in a car, but it also took place about three blocks from a prison.

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    Pile of Christmas presents

    On Tuesday morning, children all over the world will wake up and excitedly rush to the Christmas tree to open presents from their parents and, of course, for those young enough, gifts from Santa Claus. The size and value of the presents vary from household to household, with some parents preferring not to spoil their children too much, and others sparing no expense for their little ones.

    One such mother that falls into the latter group, 38-year-old Emma Tapping, has faced criticism after she posted photos of her Christmas tree almost invisible behind a stack of presents so high only the top branches are showing. According to Unilad, Tapping shared the photo to social media, and people quickly labeled her “selfish” in the comments section of the image.

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    A spider ornament hangs on a Christmas tree.

    Whether you are celebrating a white Christmas or a balmy one, there are certain trappings commonly found surrounding the holiday in all corners of the world. Turkey dinner with all of the fixings, savory stuffing, gravy boats, Santa Claus, and gift-giving all make the list of common traditions — but what about the Christmas oddities? Some cultures around the world celebrate the special day in a variety of strange and unique ways, the most interesting of which are detailed below.

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    Doctors performing a circumcision in an operating room

    A 2-year-old boy died from severe blood loss after receiving a botched home circumcision on the outside of the city of Rome Sunday. The toddler’s twin brother had the procedure performed on him as well and is fighting for his life in the ICU. The brothers had the circumcision performed at a refugee center “in the north-western suburb of Monterondo,” according to BBC News.

    The fatal circumcision took place in a nine-room refugee welcome center provided by the Italian nonprofit organization Arci. The refugee center is additionally run with the local council of Monterondo.

    In Europe, rates of circumcision are low, and they are mostly confined to Muslim and Jewish communities. The twins were born to a Nigerian mother in 2017, and she reportedly has five other children back in Nigeria. Local town officials said that the mother of the boys asked that they be circumcised to honor “Nigeria’s Islamic traditions,” even though the mother identifies herself as Catholic.

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    Some of the creative Christmas tree people have come up with

    By now, everyone who celebrates Christmas has a tree or two (or perhaps one in every room) up, decked out in colorful baubles and twinkling lights for the festive season. Most people opt for either a real fir tree or a plastic version that bears a striking resemblance to the popular evergreen. In recent years, companies have even sprung up all around the globe that allow people to rent a tree for the festive season before returning it in early January.

    Some people, however, have come up with far more creative and wonderful ideas to adorn their homes over Christmas, and the results can be truly stunning, as Powerful Mind noted. From trees made out of nothing resembling green foliage, to those made up of just the decorations that usually adorn the traditional Christmas tree, the power of imagination has proved endless with some of these divine takes on the usual holiday decor.

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    helicopter

    She made history in Mexico, but now because of a tragic accident, she’s instead become a legacy.

    Less than two weeks after Martha Erika Alonso, 45, became Puebla’s first female governor, she tragically perished along with her husband Sen. Rafael Moreno Valle, 50, in a helicopter crash in Huejotzingo.

    According to CNN, a pilot, co-pilot and a fifth passenger also died in the crash, noted Mexican Public Security and Civil Protection Secretary Alfonso Durazo. He said the crash occurred at 2:40 p.m. local time, approximately 10 minutes after they took off. Communication with the aircraft was lost, then a crash was heard.

    “When the aircraft was in flight some three nautical miles from the Puebla airport, it suffered an apparent failure which hasn’t been determined yet,” Durazo said.

    The incident is under investigation.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump takes phone calls from children as he participates in tracking Santa Claus' movements with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve in the East Room of the White House December 24, 2018 in Washington, DC.

    President Donald Trump was roundly criticized by social media users and news publications alike on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning after he was captured on video telling a 7-year-old child that his belief in Santa Claus is, at his age, “marginal.”

    As reported by USA Today, Donald and Melania Trump spoke to a number of children who called the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)-run Santa Tracker on Monday night, as the president and first lady remained in Washington for the holidays due to the ongoing government shutdown. The Santa Tracker, according to the publication, was first introduced 63 years ago and has since allowed children from all over the world to place a call and get the latest updates on Santa Claus’ journey from the North Pole to their homes.

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