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Obama to fly home early as fiscal cliff looms

With a year-end deadline looming before the economy goes over the so-called "fiscal cliff", President Barack Obama is cutting short his traditional Christmas holiday in Hawaii, planning to leave for Washington on Wednesday evening. Obama was expected to arrive in Washington early Thursday, the White House said late on Tuesday. First lady Michelle Obama and the couple's two daughters are scheduled to remain in Hawaii until January 6. In the past, the president's end-of-the-year holiday in his native state had stretched into the new year. The first family left Washington on last Friday night. Congress was expected to return to Washington on Thursday. Before he departed for Hawaii, Obama told reporters he expected to be back in the capital this week.

Minister hints at further delay for Berlin airport

Germany's transport minister says he can't rule out a further delay in opening Berlin's new airport given continuing technical problems with the fire safety system. The capital airport is one of the nation's major infrastructure projects but has turned into a big embarrassment for city officials because costs have more than doubled to 4.4 billion euros ($5.8 billion) and the project is years behind schedule. Peter Ramsauer told daily Die Welt in comments released Wednesday that there are "signs that the opening date on October 27, 2013 maybe cannot be held to".

Russian Parliament okays anti-US adoption Bill

The upper chamber of Russia's parliament on Wednesday unanimously voted in favour of a measure banning Americans from adopting Russian children. It now goes to President Vladimir Putin to sign or turn down. All 143 members of the Federation Council present voted to support the bill, which has caused wide-spread controversy. Some top government officials, including the foreign minister, have spoken flatly against the Bill, arguing that the measure would be in violation of Russia's constitution and international obligations.

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