People also are talking about the World Cup draw, the GOP tax plan snag and Trump's reaction to an undocumented worker's not-guilty verdict.
Thousands of Americans' holiday flights don't have pilots
A scheduling glitch has left American Airlines scrambling to find pilots to operate thousands of flights over the busy Christmas holiday period.
A spokesman for the airline said Wednesday that American expects to avoid canceling flights by paying overtime and using reserve or on-call pilots.
American isn't saying how many flights are affected, but the pilots' union says that about 15,000 flights were scheduled without a captain, a co-pilot or both.
American, the world's biggest airline, has about 15,000 active pilots and expects to operate more than 200,000 flights in December.
Pilots bid each month for flying assignments based on seniority. The scheduling glitch let pilots drop scheduled flights — to take a vacation over Christmas, for example — even when there were no other pilots available for that flight. Normally such a request would be denied, especially during busy travel periods.
The pilots' union estimated that when the problem was discovered late last week, about 19,000 cockpit seats were left empty. The glitch affected flights between Dec. 17 and Dec. 31 from nearly a dozen airports including hubs in Dallas, Chicago and Miami.
"This is a potential crisis that we see well in advance," said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the union. "This is very unusual."
The union has lodged a protest against the company's plan to fix the mistake by tapping reserve pilots and offering overtime pay for some of the unstaffed flights. The union says American is violating its labor contract by imposing a solution without union input, and is improperly restricting premium pay.
Some nervous customers tweeted at the airline, looking for reassurance that their Christmas-travel plans would not be upset.
American officials "expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season," said airline spokesman Matt Miller. "We will work with the (union) to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays."
Trump 'would not be welcomed' in Britain, London mayor says
The mayor of London on Thursday added his voice to mounting calls for President Donald Trump's state visit to the U.K. to be canceled over his retweets of a British far-right group.
Sadiq Khan said Trump has promoted "a vile, extremist group" and an official visit by him to Britain "would not be welcomed."
Trump's retweeting of anti-Muslim videos from far-right fringe group Britain First has been widely condemned in Britain. Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said the president was wrong to have done it.
In response, Trump urged May to focus on "the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom," rather than on him.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Thursday repeated the government's view that Trump had been "wrong" to retweet the videos.
"I hope the prime minister's comments will have some impact on the president," she said.
Rudd told lawmakers that "British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right."
"This government will not tolerate any groups that spread hate by demonizing those of other faiths or ethnicities," she said.
May has sought to cultivate a close relationship with Trump, visiting him in Washington days after his inauguration in January and extending the offer of a state visit hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.
The Twitter storm has prompted renewed calls for the trip to be called off. Trump had already faced strong opposition in Britain over his attempt to ban travel to the U.S. from several majority-Muslim countries.
30 years later, American's death in Australia ruled gay hate crime
Almost three decades after the naked body of an American mathematician was found at the base of a Sydney cliff, a judge ruled Thursday that he was the victim of a gay hate crime.
It was the third coronial inquest - a court-like proceeding held after unusual deaths - to investigate the circumstances surrounding Scott Johnson's fatal fall at North Head on Dec. 8, 1988.
The first coroner ruled in 1989 that the 27-year-old had taken his own life, while a second coroner in 2012 could not explain how the Los Angeles-born openly gay man fell.
State Coroner Michael Barnes ruled Thursday that Johnson "fell from the cliff top as a result of actual or threatened violence by unidentified persons who attacked him because they perceived him to be homosexual."
John's brother, Boston IT entrepreneur Steve Johnson, attended the Sydney court to hear the verdict. He now wants police to bring his brother's killers to justice.
"We know now that Scott was killed and not only that, it was likely a gay hate gang that met him at North Head," the 58-year-old older brother told reporters. "The inquest produced many leads toward possible perpetrators that should still be pursued."
The first inquest concluded within three months of Johnson's death did not hear evidence that the area was a renowned gay beat - a public place where gay men met for sex. The family had the case reopened after an inquest found in 2005 that three young men who had died in cliff falls near Sydney's Bondi Beach in the 1980s had been attacked by youths who systematically assaulted gay men.
Barnes heard the evidence of 10 men who were convicted or suspected of gay hate crimes in Sydney in the 1980s. All denied involvement in Johnson's death.
Barnes found that gangs of men roamed various Sydney locations in search of gay men to assault, resulting in the deaths of some victims. Some victims were also robbed.
Johnson's clothing was found neatly folded at the top of the cliff, but his wallet was never recovered.
The coroner declined the family's suggestion to recommend further criminal investigation. But Barnes he said he was confident police would pursue any promising new leads.
Scott Johnson was a Ph.D. in mathematics candidate at the Australian National University when he died.
Matt Lauer says he's 'truly sorry' for conduct that got him fired
Matt Lauer, the fired longtime anchor of NBC's "Today" show broke his silence Thursday with a statement that said he was "truly sorry" for the conduct that led to his ouster.
His statement included a partial denial but he admitted "there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed."
"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC," Lauer said.
"Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.
"Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I'm committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job," he added. "The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It's been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace."
Lauer's firing was announced at the top of Wednesday's show by Savannah Guthrie, his co-host. Variety published a more detailed story of the alleged sexual misconduct of Lauer, 59, who had been the long-running star of morning television.
NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack said in a memo Wednesday that the first woman's complaint prompted a serious review and represented a "clear violation of our company's standards."
Jimmy Fallon, the host of NBC's "Tonight Show" did not avoid the mess in his monologue.
"The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was lit tonight," he said. "Also getting lit tonight, the HR rep over at the "Today" show."
Falon also cracked that "if you were wondering where in the world is Matt Lauer," he's "probably at a bar with Charlie Rose."
Search for missing girl, 3, goes on in North Carolina
The FBI has joined the search for a missing 3-year-old North Carolina girl reported abducted from her home as authorities step up efforts to find the child.
Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller told news outlets that investigators need a break in their search for Mariah Kay Woods, who was reported missing from her home about 6 a.m. Monday. The girl's home is in the southeastern part of the state, just west of Jacksonville and Marine Corps Air Station New River.
A statewide Amber Alert has been issued for the girl.
Her mother, Kristy Woods, told WITN-TV in Greenville that she last saw Mariah about 11 p.m. Sunday when she checked on her. She said her boyfriend saw the child about midnight when she got up and he told her to go back to bed. Once they realized she was missing, the couple said they called authorities.
She made a plea for the girl's safe return Monday night.
"This is my world, this is my angel," Woods said. "She was sent to me for a reason. This is my everything besides my boys, the love that I have for this girl."
The FBI joined the search for the girl Tuesday. As part of the investigation, the agency released three photographs of an unknown woman and a young girl in a Walmart in Morehead City, about 40 miles east of the girl's home.
The FBI requested the public's help in identifying the woman and child in the photos.
The girl's biological father, Alex Woods, who does not live with the child or her mother, questioned the kidnapping story. He has been involved in custody issues with Kristy Woods and called her explanation unbelievable.
"Someone just walked right up in there, grabbed the 3-year-old out of the bed and she didn't cry, she didn't scream?" Woods told WCTI-TV in New Bern Tuesday. "Nobody heard anything? Four people in the house, two adults and two kids someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?"
War criminal drinks poison in courtroom, dies
A deadly chemical was in the container from which a Croat war criminal drank shortly before dying, a Dutch prosecutor said Thursday, as an independent investigation into the dramatic death of Slobodan Praljak continued.
"There was a preliminary test of the substance in the container and all I can say for now is that there was a chemical substance in that container that can cause death," Prosecutor Marilyn Fikenscher told the AP in a telephone interview. She declined to elaborate on the exact nature of the substance.
Praljak, 72, stunned the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on Wednesday when he gulped down liquid from a small bottle seconds after a U.N. appeals judge had confirmed a 20-year sentence against him.
The wartime commander of Bosnian Croat forces said in court that he had taken poison. He was rushed to a Hague hospital but died there, tribunal spokesman Nenad Golcevski said.
Praljak was convicted in 2013 of crimes including murder, persecution and deportation for his role in a plan to carve out a Bosnian Croat ministate in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
Fikenscher said that an autopsy, including toxicological tests, will be carried out soon on Praljak's body.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said Thursday that Praljak wanted to send a message to the U.N. court that the verdict against him was unjust. Plenkovic said the former general was "obviously shaken by the possibility he would be convicted" of war crimes for his actions during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
Fikenscher said the Dutch investigation will look into how Praljak managed to take the small bottle of poison into the tribunal's tightly guarded courtroom.
A lawyer who has frequently defended suspects at the war crimes court told The Associated Press it would be easy to bring poison into the court.
Prominent Serbian lawyer Toma Fila said security for lawyers and other court staff "is just like at an airport." Security officers inspect metal objects and confiscate cellphones, but "pills and small quantities of liquids" would not be registered, Fila said Wednesday.