United States: A gift-wrapped package sent to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's home in a posh Los Angeles neighbourhood sparked a security scare but turned out to be filled with horse manure. The package was found in a next-door neighbour's driveway in Bel Air, the Los Angeles Police Department told the Los Angeles Times and KNBC television. The package also included a Christmas card with negative comments about President Donald Trump and the new US tax law signed by Trump last week. An LAPD bomb squad X-rayed the package before opening it and found the horse manure inside, police told local media.

Australia: A toddler has drowned in a portable pool in a southwest Sydney home. The 2-year-old boy was found in a pool at a home in Bass Hill, a NSW Police spokesman said. The child was rushed to Westmead Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead. A crime scene was established and police are investigating.

Guatemala: The Central American country of Guatemala will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow the lead of US President Donald Trump in ordering the change. Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted with the United States and Israel last week when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Spain: King Felipe VI used his traditional Christmas address to call on Catalonia's newly elected parliament to renounce further moves towards secession from Spain. "The way forward cannot once again lead to confrontation or exclusion that, as we now know, only generates discord, uncertainty, anguish," the Spanish monarch said in a televised speech. Regional parliamentary elections resulted in separatist parties being voted back into power.

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Sweden: A 13m-tall straw Christmas goat in the Swedish city of Gavle, which is routinely torched or vandalised, is standing unscathed, so far. "It's gone very well so far," Maria Wallberg, the official spokeswoman for the Gavlebocken, said. "It's a great Christmas gift for all the people of Gavle and all the fans around the world," she told Swedish Radio. Wallberg said she was not aware of any attempts to torch the goat this year. Wallberg said that "if all goes well" the goat will stand until January 2 when it will be dismantled. The parts are then transported to a secret location where they are stored. During its history, the goat has been burned more than 30 times. The first time was on New Year's Eve 1966. It has also been vandalised in past years.

Venezuela: Officials released dozens of prisoners accused of inciting violence against the Venezuelan Government during street protests, a human rights organisation said. Alfredo Romero, director of Foro Penal, said that 36 prisoners were released over the weekend, but he remained critical of the Government's tactics. "Better yet, instead of releasing a few, free everyone and don't incarcerate anymore," Romero said on Twitter.

France: French authorities say about 200 skiers were stranded in chair lifts when a gondola broke down at a resort in the French Alps. Rescue operations are underway and no one has been reported injured so far. An official in Isere said most of the skiers were evacuated after spending one or two hours stuck on the gondola at the Chamrousse resort. The gondola cars run 25m above the ground.


Russia: Hundreds of supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny nominated him for president today, allowing Navalny to file the endorsement papers required for his candidacy and putting pressure on the Kremlin to allow him to run. Navalny, the most formidable foe President Vladimir Putin has faced during 18 years in power, is prohibited from seeking political office because of a criminal conviction that is largely viewed as retribution. However, he could enter the race, if he gets special dispensation or the conviction is thrown out.

Peru: Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pardoned former authoritarian leader Alberto Fujimori, clearing him of convictions for human rights crimes and graft before completion of a 25-year prison sentence. The decision stunned many in Peru and will likely rile large swaths of Peruvian society, possibly prompting resignations from the Cabinet. One ruling lawmaker, Alberto de Belaunde, announced on Twitter that he was breaking from Kuczynski's party. Kuczynski's office said that a medical review showed Fujimori, who governed Peru from 1990 to 2000, suffered from "a progressive, degenerative and incurable disease". Fujimori was rushed to the hospital after suffering a severe drop in blood pressure and abnormal blood pressure that put his life at risk, according to a doctor.

- agencies