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Irish regulators have slapped Facebook parent Meta with a 265 million euro fine in what is the company’s latest punishment for breaching strict European Union data privacy rules. The Data Protection Commission said Meta Platforms infringed sections of the EU rules that cover technical and organizational measures aimed at protecting user data. The watchdog opened an investigation last year into news reports that data on more 533 million users was found dumped online. Meta says the data had been “scraped” from Facebook using tools designed to help people find their friends through phone numbers using search and contact import features. The company said it had “cooperated fully” with the Irish watchdog.

Hong Kong’s leader says he will ask Beijing to rule whether to let foreign lawyers be involved in national security cases after the city’s top court allowed a prominent pro-democracy publisher to hire a British lawyer. John Lee says his government would ask for a postponement of Jimmy Lai’s high-profile trial that was due to start Thursday. But he did not offer a timetable for the interpretation that could effectively preempt the court judgment. Lai is the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily and one of the most prominent figures in the city’s pro-democracy movement. He was arrested after Beijing imposed a tough national security law to crack down on dissent following widespread protests in 2019.

Officials say more than 2 million people in the Houston area remain under a boil order notice after a power outage caused low water pressure at a water purification plant. The order — which means water must be boiled before it’s used for cooking, bathing or drinking — also prompted schools in the Houston area to close Monday. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the city believes the water is safe but a boil order was required because of the drop Sunday in water pressure. He says water sampling will begin Monday morning and the boil order could be lifted 24 hours after the city is notified the water is safe.

When John Fetterman goes to Washington in January as one of the Senate’s new members, he’ll bring along an irreverent style from Pennsylvania. It's one that extends from his own personal and very casual dress code to hanging marijuana flags outside his current office in the state Capitol. Pennsylvania’s unique lieutenant governor just flipped the state’s open Senate seat to Democrats and may be the only senator ever to be declared an “American taste god” as GQ magazine once did. He'll be the country's tallest senator, and might be its most tattooed as well. But Pennsylvania's sitting Democratic senator, Bob Casey, says he expects Fetterman will navigate the clubbiness of the Senate just fine.

Don’t look for plastic partitions or faraway benches when visiting Santa Claus this year. The jolly old elf is back, pre-pandemic style. Santa booker HireSanta.com has logged a 30% increase in demand over last year after losing about 15% of its performers to retirement or death during the pandemic. Most Santa experiences have moved back to kids on laps and aren’t considering COVID-19 in a major way. Inflation has taken a bite out of Santa. Many are older, on fixed incomes and travel long distances to don the red suit. They spend hundreds on their costumes and other accoutrements. And Santa bookers this year say there's a higher demand for inclusive Santas, including Black, deaf and Spanish-speaking Santas.

German security officials agree that people shouldn’t be deported to Iran until further notice because of the tense situation there as anti-government protests are violently suppressed. Bavaria’s state interior minister said Monday ahead of a regular conference this week of Germany’s top federal and regional security officials that they are united in their approach. The unrest in Iran was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. It quickly morphed into the most serious challenge to Iran’s establishment since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Chinese authorities have eased some anti-virus rules but affirmed their severe “zero COVID” strategy after protesters demanded President Xi Jinping resign in the biggest show of opposition to the ruling Communist Party in decades. The government made no comment Monday on the protests or the criticism of Xi, but the decision to ease at least some of the restrictions appeared to be aimed at quelling anger. Still, analysts don’t expect the government to back down on its COVID strategy and note authorities are adept at stifling dissent. It wasn’t clear how many people were detained since protests began Friday and spread to cities including Shanghai and Beijing.

Financial educators are often working on overdrive during the holiday shopping season, dispensing advice to consumers about budgeting and staying out of debt. We asked five financial educators how they personally survive the holiday season with their finances intact. They shared some novel strategies, such as saving for the season starting in January and even buying gifts that early, giving nontraditional presents and focusing on next year’s financial goals instead of gifts. People can apply these techniques to their own life to start the new year on solid financial footing.

A mother has been charged with murder in the stabbings of two small children in a Bronx apartment. Police said Monday that 22-year-old Dimone Fleming has been charged with killing 11-month-old Octavius Fleming-Canada and 3-year-old Dashawn Fleming. The two boys were found with multiple stab wounds on Saturday in the apartment in the Mount Hope neighborhood where the family had been living. Fleming was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and arrested there on Sunday. Her father, Dwane Fleming, told the Daily News that she was hoping to get treatment for postpartum depression. Her great-aunt said she had recently become obsessed about demons.

A trial for a former college student who randomly killed a Florida couple in their garage six years ago and then chewed on one victim’s face is set to begin. Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer will begin hearing the case Monday before deciding whether 25-year-old Austin Harrouff goes to prison for the rest of his life, or to a mental hospital. Harrouff waived a jury trial after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of first-degree murder and other charges for the 2016 slayings of 59-year-old John Stevens and his 53-year-old wife, Michelle Mishcon Stevens. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

Authorities say two people have been rescued more than six hours after their single-engine plane crashed and got stuck in some live power lines in Maryland. The crash caused widespread outages in Montgomery County. Fire Chief Scott Goldstein says responders were able to safely remove both people after disconnecting the lines and securing the plane to the tower early Monday. He says both suffered “serious injuries” from the crash and that hypothermia had set in while they waited to be rescued. The Federal Aviation Administration says the crash happened around 5:40 p.m. Sunday near Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg.

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The suspect in a triple homicide in Southern California who died in a shootout with police Friday is believed to have driven across the country to meet a teenage girl before killing three members of her family. Police say Austin Lee Edwards, 28, also likely set fire to the family’s home in Riverside, California, before leaving with the teenager. The bodies in the home were identified as the girl’s grandparents and mother — Mark Winek, his wife Sharie Winek and their daughter Brooke Winek. Police say Edwards met the girl online and obtained her information by deceiving her with a false identity, known as “catfishing." Edwards was a Virginia State Trooper until his resignation last month.

Democrats celebrating a successful effort to keep control of the U.S. Senate this year will soon confront a 2024 campaign that could prove more challenging. The Democratic Party enters the next cycle defending 23 Senate seats, including two held by independents who caucus with Democrats. That’s compared with just 10 Senate seats that Republicans hope to keep in their column. Several states that had costly and hotly contested Senate races this year will see a repeat in 2024. Those states include Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Meanwhile, some states have become increasingly hostile to Democrats, including Montana, Ohio and West Virginia.

Ukraine is preparing for more Russian strikes and has warned of the possibility of a new round of evacuations from the capital. Russia has been attacking energy facilities and other key infrastructure in recent weeks, and authorities are struggling to make repairs as quickly as the damage is inflicted. In the West meanwhile, preparations are being stepped up to boost humanitarian aid to Ukraine so that the population can enjoy some warmth during their coldest months of need and keep the resolve of the nation as high as possible. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russian troops “are preparing new strikes and as long as they have missiles, they won’t stop.”

Russian energy giant Gazprom announced Monday that it will not further reduce natural gas to Moldova as it had threatened to do after claiming that bills went unpaid and that flows crossing through Ukraine were not making it to Moldova. Gazprom tweeted Monday that Moldovagaz has “eliminated the violation of payment” for November supplies and that “funds for the gas deposited on the territory of Ukraine, intended for consumers in Moldova, have been received.” Last week, Moldova and Ukraine hit back at Gazprom’s claim that Russian gas moving through the last pipeline to Western Europe was being stored in Ukraine. They said all supplies Russia sends through the war-torn country get “fully transferred” to Moldova.

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