The Obama administration enters the year locked in a battle with Congress over whether to go ahead with new economic sanctions against Iran.
A prominent US senator reproached China on Tuesday for not doing more to support the typhoon-hit Philippines, saying the relief effort showed the need for US leadership in the world.
Although illegal immigration to the US has been dropping, many tens of thousands still arrive each year.
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a double digit lead over two possible Republican presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, in their home State of Florida, opinion poll said.
Day in Pics: 18th December
Showbiz World - December 18, 2014
Stardust Awards 2014