01.25.2018

Thursday, Jan 25,  2018

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says weak dollar is good for U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a weak dollar is good for the U.S., sending the dollar plunging in currency markets, The Associated Press reported. “Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities,” Mnuchin said while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he is to talk with U.S. trade partners and encourage investment from businesses. Mnuchin’s remarks, ahead of President Trump’s arrival in Davos, marked a break with a decades-long U.S. government commitment to a strong dollar. During his 2016 campaign and since, Trump has occasionally said he would like to see the dollar’s value fall so U.S. goods would become cheaper and exports would increase. But one economist told Politico rooting for a weak dollar was “playing with fire.” Source: The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal

Trump says he’s willing to testify under oath to Mueller President Trump said on Wednesday he is “looking forward” to speaking under oath with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Speaking to reporters as he prepared to leave for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump also said the interview could come in “two or three weeks.” Shortly after Trump made the comments, his attorney, Ty Cobb, told The New York Times Trump was speaking “hurriedly” and just meant to say he would meet with the special counsel. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Mueller wants to question Trump about his firing of FBI Director James Comey, as well as the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Source: The New York Times

 

Wednesday,  Jan 24, 2018

Several rockets fired from Syria strike the Turkish city of Kilis, near the Syria–Turkey border, killing at least one person and injuring 13 others. Turkey blames the YPG group. (Xinhuanet)

The U.S.-led coalition against ISIL says it has killed up to 150 militants in air strikes on a headquarters in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria. (BBC)

British, American and German men are among a group of international volunteers who travelled to Afrin to fight against Turkish-led forces in north-west Syria. (BBC) (Reuters)

 

A dozen camels are disqualified from a beauty pageant at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, near Riyadh, after reports in the media about injections with botox. A veterinarian is caught performing plastic surgery to make the camels more attractive. Rules prohibit to change the natural form of participating camels. (NPR)

Chinese scientists announce they have successfully cloned Crab-eating macaques using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), making them the first primates to be cloned. (Reuters)

SpaceX conducts the first static fire test of the Falcon Heavy rocket ahead of its maiden flight. (BBC)

Larry Nassar is sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting Olympic gymnasts and other women. Many of the accusers were children, who were told to not question authority. (Chicago Tribune)

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers from the National Basketball Association (NBA) scores his 30,000 regular season points, in a loss against the San Antonio Spurs on January 23, 2018, as the youngest player ever to do so, at 33 years and 24 days, surpassing Kobe Bryant’s record of 34 years and 104 days. (Sports Illustrated)

Mueller probe reportedly focusing on obstruction of justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s push to question President Trump signals that he is “closing in on his determination about what obstruction of justice looks like,” a former aide to Mueller told CNN. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Mueller wants to question Trump about his firing of FBI Director James Comey, as well as the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Legal experts told CNN that the recent spate of activity in Mueller’s probe — The New York Times reported Tuesday that Comey was interviewed by Mueller’s team last year, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned last week — indicates Mueller’s team is increasing its focus on whether Trump or his aides have tried to obstruct the Russia investigation. Source: The Washington Post,

Trump aides try to reassure Davos crowd about ‘America First’ policies Top Trump administration officials made their first comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, reassuring global leaders and business executives that President Trump’s “America First” agenda doesn’t mean the U.S. is unwilling to work with other countries. “America First is not America alone,” said Gary Cohn, head of Trump’s National Economic Council. While members of Trump’s Cabinet fight the perception that he is against free trade and globalization, they are also touting the new Republican tax cuts as evidence that Trump is making the economy stronger. Anti-capitalist demonstrators staged protests against Trump in several Swiss cities, including Davos, where he is to deliver a keynote address on Friday. Source: The Washington Post

 

Tuesday,   Jan 23, 2018

Russia’s Ministry of Culture bars the release of the British–French political satire film The Death of Stalin in the country after accusing the film of containing “ideological warfare” and “extremist” content. (BBC)

The United States closes its embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, due to large-scale protests against the policy of U.S. President Donald Trump. (AP via Armenpress)

The United States Senate confirms Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank with 84 votes for and 13 against. (The New York Times)

The organizers of the Google Lunar X Prize announce that the $20 million grand prize for a commercial lunar lander will expire on 31 March 2018 without a winner because none of its five finalist teams would be able to launch a mission before the deadline. (Space News)

Monday,  Jan 22, 2018

A motorcycle bomb kills at least three people and wounds 22 others at a market in Thailand’s southern Yala Province. (Reuters)

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raises Mount Mayon’s alert level to 4, its second highest volcano category which indicates a hazardous eruption is imminent. Mayon’s activity, which began the afternoon of January 13, 2018, has displaced about 40,000 residents in Albay Province on Luzon island. (Reuters via NBC News)

Mayon erupts at 12:43 p.m. (PST). The eight-minute phreatomagmatic eruption was a dense, five-kilometer tall column of volcanic ash, followed by two explosion-type earthquakes. Fountains of intense but sporadic lava, which lasted between three to 30 minutes, began at 9:37 p.m. (GMA News Online)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence declares during a speech in the Israeli parliament that the new U.S. embassy located in Jerusalem will open in 2019, sooner than generally expected. (The Guardian)

After a meeting with the President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini again assures President Abbas that the European Union supports his ambition to have East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state. (Reuters)

The United States Senate reaches an agreement to reopen federal agencies through to February 8. A bill is working its way through the legislative process. The first Senate vote was 81–18. (AP).

George Weah takes office as President of Liberia, and Jewel Taylor as Vice President. It is the first peaceful transition between two Liberian presidents in 74 years. (New York Times)

Sunday, Jan 21, 2018

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/turkey-deploys-thousands-fsa-rebels-syria-border-180120070616740.html

https://www.rt.com/news/416560-turkish-town-missile-attack-syria/

Turkish President Erdoğan announces that Turkish Army ground troops have entered the district of Afrin in Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım says the goal is to establish a 30-km safe zone. (Voice of America)

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian calls for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to address the Turkish incursion into Northern Syria’s Afrin Region. The UNSC will convene on Monday. (Reuters)

Abdullah II of Jordan tells U.S. Vice President Mike Pence the U.S. has to rebuild “trust and confidence” to achieve a two-state solution in Israel after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (Reuters)

Hundreds of thousands protest for a second day throughout the United States in support of women’s rights. (CNN)

U.S. President Donald Trump says on Twitter that if the shutdown stalemate continues, Republicans should consider the “nuclear option” parliamentary procedure in the Senate. Majority leader Mitch McConnell is opposed to taking this step, a spokesperson said. (Bloomberg)

Rocket Lab successfully launches test rocket Electron into orbit from Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, becoming the first rocket to reach orbit using an electric pump-fed engine, after the original rocket launch in May 2017 had to be aborted by safety officials. (1 News)

THE END

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01.21.2018

Saturday,  Jan 20, 2018

The Syrian Army seizes control of the strategic Abu al-Duhur Military Airbase in the Idlib Governorate. (Reuters)

Tens of thousands of Romanians protest in Bucharest and major cities against perceived corruption and changes to judiciary. Romanians in diaspora stage protests in dozens of cities worldwide in solidarity with the anti-corruption movement in the country. (Associated Press) (Balkan Insight)

The United States federal government shuts down after the United States Senate fails to pass a budget bill. (The New York Times)

China claims its sovereignty was violated when a United States Navy ship sailed close to the Scarborough Shoal near the Philippines. (The Japan Times)

Thousands of women protest throughout the United States in support of women’s rights. (The New York Times)

Former candidate for the presidency Manuel Baldizón was captured in the United States accused of receiving bribes from Odebrecht. (Reuters)

 

Friday,  Jan 19, 2018

An Atlas V rocket successfully deployed the fourth SBIRS satellite for the United States Air Force. This launch completes the geosynchronous segment of SBIRS and provides a global missile detection system for the United States. (Spaceflight 101)

Presenting a new national defense strategy, the United States Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, says terrorism is no longer the focus of the national security of the United States. Now it is competition between great powers. (BBC)

With a cross-border artillery bombardment into the Afrin Canton, Turkey starts its announced military campaign to “destroy” the Syrian Kurdish YPG group. (Reuters)

Outside the Fleury-Mérogis prison, French police clash with prison guards who are striking over the detention conditions in French jails. (Reuters)

Citing a national “fervor”, the Communist Party of China proposes writing the Xi Jinping Thought into the state constitution, after it was already added to the party constitution. (Reuters)

Carl Higbie, Corporation for National and Community Service Chief of External Affairs, apologizes and resigns from his position with the agency that runs AmeriCorps after racist and anti-Muslim remarks he made in 2013 are reported by CNN(NPR)

 

Thursday, Jan 18,  2018

The Emirates airline announces an order for up to 36 Airbus A380s. Emirates is already the aircraft’s largest operator, with a fleet of over 100. (BBC)

A bus carrying Uzbek migrant workers catches fire in Kazakhstan’s Aktobe Region, killing 52 people. Five people escape and are treated by rescue workers. (BBC)

Police in Serbia arrest three Australians, one of them Rohan Arnold, a known businessman, for allegedly smuggling 1,280 kilograms (2,820 lb) of cocaine into Sydney in 2016. (Sydney Morning Herald)

In a world’s first, a drone rescues two people off the coast of Lennox Head, New South Wales in Australia by dropping a safety device to them. John Barilaro, the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, praises the rescue as historic. (Channel News Asia) (BBC)

THE END

 

 

 

News 01.16.2018

Syria is a complete clusterfuck that looks more like the Crimean War of 1853 than anything else at the moment.

Look at all the tangled loyalties and animosities. It must be very hard for the Saker and the other resident Kremlin trolls and neo-Stalinists to admit the uncomfortable truth that Tsar Putin I of Russia is in somewhat of a quagmire. He cannot abandon Assad because he knows the risk of losing the Latakia/Khmeimim base is too great if Assad is removed.

This is just the continuation of Russia’s long struggle to at least have some control over the Dardanelles and gain a warm-water port on the Indian Ocean in Iran or Pakistan – that whole Great Game thing I’m sure everybody has heard about. Crimea is useless without the Dardanelles.

Admitting that Syria is ONLY about Latakia for the Russians would be signaling weakness. It would be an admission that they are boxed-in strategically. Hence all the garbage from the Kremlin trolls about the “AngloZionistWahhabis” being dealt an embarrassing defeat in Syria. Really? I think not. Pure fantasy.

Like all the history coming from the Saker and Andrei Martyanov – it is fraudulent and fictive.

There are a couple thousand American Special Forces and Marines and support personnel for those Special Forces in Syria. They are there to back the YPG fight ISIS. They are backed by American air power.

No matter what is said by any representative of any State involved, Syria, Turkey, Russia, the US, or Israel – it has always been clear that the military general staffs are in communication to prevent conflict among themselves.

At the same time, supporting Assad means killing a lot of Syrian civilians. Russians are good at killing civilians, particularly their own, like in Chechnya – twice. They also don’t have a problem with it. Unfortunately, it takes some of the glow off of their supposedly noble aim in Syria of destroying ISIS. Lavrov and Putin start to sound like a hypocrites when they lecture Americans about “international law” and such. They are hypocrites and they are full of it. The last one hundred years of Russian history are nothing if not crammed full of bullying and invading their neighbors and turning some of them into slave states for the Russian Empire.

The Kremlin trolls on the UNZ Review talk as if the Soviet  Union’s history is something completely different and separate from the history of Russia since the ascention of Tsar Putin I in 1999.

ISIS was destroyed in Iraq by a US-led and backed coalition. The rise of ISIS in Northern and Western Iraq driving American-trained Iraqi ghost/skeleton divisions before them and capturing all their equipment was another in a line of huge CIA intelligence failures. The 2003 American destruction of the Iraqi state created the power vacuum and breeding ground for ISIS, and ISIS was supported heavily by American Sunni “allies” in the Persian Gulf, but the CIA and Israel didn’t “create” ISIS. This is conspiracy theory.

 

***

Tuesday,   Jan 16, 2018

Mueller subpoenaes Bannon President Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon was reportedly subpoenaed last week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a grand jury. This is the first known instance of a grand jury subpoena being used on someone in Trump’s inner circle, and “could be a negotiating tactic,” The New York Times writes, noting that Mueller “is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators.” Bannon also testified behind closed doors Tuesday in front of the House Intelligence Committee which, like Mueller, is looking for evidence of Russian interference in the election. Source: The New York Times, The Week

Kushner was reportedly warned Wendi Deng Murdoch might be Chinese agent In early 2017, U.S. counterintelligence officials told President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a friend of Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, could be using her relationship with the pair to push Beijing’s agenda, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. There was also concern she was lobbying for a Chinese garden at the National Arboretum, paid for by the Chinese government, which the intelligence community feared could be used for surveillance. Murdoch, the ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch, came to the U.S. from China in 1988, and is a U.S. citizen. Her spokesman said she “has no knowledge of any FBI concerns or other intelligence agency concerns relating to her or her associations.” Source: The Wall Street Journal

Police arrest California parents after 13 kids found shackled, malnourished Authorities in Perris, California, arrested a husband and wife who allegedly kept their 13 kids, ranging in age from 2 to 29, captive inside their home, with some shackled to their beds and all of them malnourished. Early Sunday, a 17-year-old girl was able to escape from the house with a cellphone and called 911. When police entered the home, they found “several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” the department said. David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were “unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner,” officials said, and were both arrested. Neighbors said they were “devastated” and had no idea what was happening inside the house. Source: The Press-Enterprise

Monday,  Jan 15, 2018

Turkey threatens to “strangle” the United States-backed Syrian Border Security Force “before it’s even born”, while Syria vows to crush it and expel American military personnel from the country. Russia called the plans “a plot to dismember Syria”. (Reuters)

American actress Eliza Dushku says that a stuntman molested her when she was 12 years old. (The Guardian)

A 910 ct “D colour Type II A” diamond is dug up in the Letseng diamond mine, Lesotho. (MiningMX)

The mezzanine overlooking the main lobby of the Indonesia Stock Exchange in Jakarta, Indonesia, collapses, injuring at least 70 people. The Indonesian National Police ruled out terrorism as the cause. (The Australian)(Daily Express)

Nabil Shaath, the foreign affairs adviser of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, says that the Palestinian Central Council freezes its recognition of the state of Israel until Israel recognizes Palestine as a state. Palestine will freeze the Oslo accords. (Sputnik)

A knife fight between students breaks out in a school in Perm, Russia. Twelve injured are reported, with three of them in serious condition. (BBC)

Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, the nephew of the assassinated Egyptian president Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, announces that he will not run in March’s presidential election, blaming an environment of fear surrounding the vote. (The Guardian)

Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose resigns after losing the support of the Social Democratic Party (PSD). (Reuters)

Four Pakistani soldiers are killed in shelling by the Indian Army across the disputed Kashmir frontier. (Reuters)

 Sunday, Jan 14, 2018

The U.S.-led coalition confirms reports that it will form a new 30,000-strong Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Half of the forces will be Syrian Democratic Forces veterans. Another 15,000 will be recruited and trained in the near future. (Daily Sabah)

The Israel Defense Forces report the complete destruction of an underground tunnel dug by Hamas under the Kerem Shalom crossing. Israel shut down the crossing before its jets bombed the tunnel opening in Gaza Saturday night. The crossing remains closed. (Ynetnews)(CNN)

The National Iranian Tanker Company-operated MV Sanchi sinks, following its January 6 collision with a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship off Shanghai, China, leaving no survivors. (BBC)

President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas describes President of the United States Donald Trump’s Middle East peace efforts as the “slap of the century.” (Euronews)

The Tunisian government announces a wave of social and economic reforms after violent anti-austerity protests that have resulted in at least one death and the arrest of more than eight hundred people. (BBC)

A study in Biological Psychiatry asserts that increasing the activity of the habenula brain region leads to social problems in rodents, whereas decreasing activity of the region prevents social problems. (Brinkwire)

 

Saturday,  Jan 13, 2018

An emergency alert warning of an inbound ballistic missile is accidentally sent out across the U.S. state of Hawaii, before being cleared as a false alarm 38 minutes later. This event caused panic and disruptions across the state on the archipelago inhabited by roughly 1.7 million people. (BBC)

Russia deploys a second anti-air S-400 missile batallion in Crimea. (TASS) (Radio Free Europe)

Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the January 12 U.S. sanctions on Chief Justice Sadeq Amoli-Larijani are “beyond all […] red lines.” (BBC) (Sputnik)

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is extending sanctions relief for Iran one last time so Europe and the U.S. can fix the nuclear deal’s “terrible flaws”. (BBC)

Iran’s Foreign Ministry replies that it “will not accept any change in the deal,” adding that it will “not take any action beyond its commitments.” (Politico)

The first round of the presidential election results in a second round that will be held on 26 and 27 January between Miloš Zeman and Jiří Drahoš. (Reuters)

 

Friday,  Jan 12, 2018

For the first time, Saudi Arabia allows women to spectate at football matches, part of an easing of strict rules on gender separation by the ultra-conservative Muslim country. (BBC)

Turkey cautions its citizens against travel to the United States in response to an advisory that warned Americans about terror threats and arbitrary detentions in Turkey. (AP via Fox News)

The CDU/CSU (Christian Democrats) and SPD (Social Democrats) agree on a blueprint for formal negotiations on a new “grand coalition” government after the September 2017 federal election. (BBC)

Mexicans react with incredulity after President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto appointed Alberto Bazbaz to the position of head of the CISEN intelligence service. Bazbaz is known for having overseen a 9-day search for a missing girl, Paulette Gebara Farah, who was eventually found dead in her own bed. (The Guardian)

A Delta IV launches NROL-47, a classified U.S. military payload, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. It is the last single-core Delta IV to launch from Vandenberg. (Spaceflight Now)

Trump denies calling Haiti, African countries ‘sh–holes’ President Trump on Friday denied referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries” during a bipartisan meeting with senators on Thursday. A Democratic aide told NBC News that lawmakers were in the Oval Office discussing changes to the visa lottery system when talk turned to immigrants from Africa and Trump asked why they would want people from “all these shithole countries” coming to America. Trump, who met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday, said the U.S. should try to instead attract people from Norway and similar countries. In a statement, the White House did not dispute the remarks, merely saying Trump “will always fight for the American people.” Trump tweeted Friday that “the language used by me … was tough, but this was not the language used.” Source: NBC News

House votes to extend NSA spying laws in victory for Trump, Ryan The House on Thursday rejected a bipartisan effort to limit the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, marking a victory for President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The proposal would have required officials to obtain warrants in most situations before reading any American citizens’ electronic messages that are incidentally gathered during surveillance of foreigners abroad. The House then voted to extend Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act by six years, allowing the government to continue warrantless collection of foreign communications from American firms like Google and AT&T, regardless of whether they involved American citizens. Earlier Thursday, Trump contradicted the White House’s stance in favor of the surveillance law, though he publicly amended his opinion after a phone call from Ryan. Source: The New York Times, USA Today

Facebook alters algorithm to favor posts from friends over companies Facebook said Thursday that it plans to change its algorithm to give its two billion users more content from friends and families, favoring it over news and brands. “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us,” Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote. “But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands, and media — is crowding out the personal moments.” The change marks a major shift from Facebook’s long-held focus on user engagement, which has been credited with pushing its revenue to a record $34 billion last year. The change follows complaints that the old strategy spotlighted too much inflammatory and misleading content. Source: Quartz

 

Thursday, Jan 11,  2018

Bowing to pressure, French publisher Gallimard suspends plans to reprint a compendium of “violently antisemitic pamphlets” by novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline. (The Guardian)

Walmart announces that it will increase the minimum wage for its U.S. employees to $11 per hour and close 50 Sam’s Club stores. (USA Today)

The South Korean Ministry of Justice announces that it is a preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges. (ABC News Australia)

The Trump administration through the U.S. Justice Department establishes the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team to assist with the DEA’s Project Cassandra investigation into groups supporting Hezbollah. (Reuters)

The United Kingdom, France, and Germany call on U.S. President Donald Trump to endorse the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. (France 24)

The United States House of Representatives passes a bill to reauthorize, for a period of six years, a key foreign intelligence collection program. Changes to the program will require the FBI to get a probable cause warrant if it wants to view the contents of Americans’ communications swept up in the process. (Time)

Twitter posts disseminate claims that actor Kirk Douglas (aged 101) had been accused in the past of having sexually assaulted actress Natalie Wood when she was 16 years old (c. 1954). (Mediaite.com)

United States President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and Africa as “shithole countries” in a private meeting; several U.S. politicians have condemned his remarks as offensive. (CNN)

THE END

 

News 01.10.2018

New Trump book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff. Full PDF: https://t.co/sf7vj4IYAx

 

Wednesday,  Jan 10, 2018

Trump slammed by immigration hard-liners over potential DACA deal President Trump is being criticized by immigration hard-liners after signaling his flexibility Tuesday to work with Democrats on an immigration deal, including a solution for the 800,000 “DREAMers” brought to the United States illegally as children. A frustrated Tucker Carlson wondered “what was the point of running for president” on Fox News while Ann Coulter, the author of In Trump We Trust, called it the “lowest day of his presidency.” Trump praised his own “performance” at the bipartisan meeting, saying he “got great reviews” and “I’m sure their [TV] ratings were fantastic.” The president, however, called the court system “broken and unfair” after a federal judge ruled the administration must continue accepting and processing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewal applications while lawsuits are pending. Source: Townhall, BuzzFeed News

Trump attacks Sen. Feinstein after she releases Fusion GPS transcript In a tweet Wednesday morning, President Trump lashed out at Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), after she unilaterally released the 300-plus page congressional testimony of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. Trump implied that Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, broke the law by publishing Simpson’s testimony, writing: “The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein … would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way … is a disgrace.” Simpson’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee was unclassified, so it is unclear why the president believes Feinstein acted illegally. Trump’s rancor toward Fusion GPS stems from the firm’s hiring of Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored an infamous dossier that alleges that the Russian government possesses compromising information about him. Source: The Washington Post, The Week

Pences to lead U.S. Olympic delegation in South Korea Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen will lead the U.S. delegation at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the White House announced Wednesday. The decision comes as North and South Korea have defused tensions in recent days, with Pyongyang agreeing to participate in the Winter Games and the two nations reopening their military hotline. Pence’s attendance is intended to “reinforce the strong U.S. presence on the Korean Peninsula and send a clear signal to the North Korean regime,” a White House official told CBS News. U.S. delegations to the Olympics typically attend the Opening Ceremony, meet with athletes, and participate in events in the host city. Source: Talking Points Memo, CBS News

 

Tuesday,   Jan 9, 2018

In the first inter-Korean talks in two years at the Panmunjeom-Paju “Truce Village” (DMZ), both parties agree on the need to ease tensions and hold military talks. North Korea also agrees to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (The Korea Herald)

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says that Iran has extinguished the unrest and has foiled attempts to turn legitimate protests into an insurgency to overthrow the Islamic Republic. He went on to identify the United States, Britain, Israel, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran and “a wealthy government” in the Persian Gulf among Iran’s foreign enemies. (Reuters)

Steve Bannon steps down as executive chairman of Breitbart News amid a dispute with U.S. President Donald Trump over comments he made about the Trump family in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury(BBC)

At least 15 people are killed by mudslides following heavy overnight rains in areas of Santa Barbara County, California, where last month’s wildfires destroyed forests and destabilized the land.  (NBC News)

 

In Poland, new ministers of defence, finance, interior, health, environment and foreign affairs, amongst others, are appointed. (Reuters) (Reuters²)

The Parliament of Egypt approves, with a two-thirds majority in favour, extending the nationwide state of emergency for a further three months, starting January 13. (Ahram Online)

 

 

Monday,  Jan 8, 2018

Spy satellite launched by SpaceX believed lost A U.S. spy satellite launched Sunday in a SpaceX rocket failed to reach orbit and is believed lost, two U.S. officials said Monday. SpaceX had called the launch successful after the Falcon 9 rocket’s reusable first stage landed in one piece. The classified intelligence satellite built by Northrop Grumman, possibly costing billions of dollars, failed to separate from the second stage, however, and is assumed to be a “write-off,” one of the officials said. An investigation is underway. A SpaceX spokesman said the company does not comment “on missions of this nature.” Source: The Wall Street Journal, Reuters

The U.S. government’s highly classified Zuma satellite is reportedly lost after being launched by SpaceX on a Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Northrop Grumman, who built the satellite, and SpaceX have both refused to confirm the mission’s failure due to its classified nature. (CNBC) (Los Angeles Times)

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer discontinues research into treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. (The Telegraph)

All residents are evacuated, 500 of them to the nearby island of Blup Blup, while the once-dormant Kadovar volcano in the Schouten Islands, Papua New Guinea, erupts for the first known time, sending an ash cloud 2.1 kilometres (1.3 mi) above sea level. (Carbonated TV) (News.com.au)

In the College Football Playoff National Championship, Alabama defeats Georgia 26–23 in overtime. It is the second national title for Alabama in three years, the sixth for coach Nick Saban, and the 17th officially claimed by Alabama. (ESPN)

 

Sunday, Jan 7, 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri wins four Golden Globe Awards including Best Motion Picture – Drama, while Lady Bird wins Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. (The New York Times)

Iran enforces a ban on teaching English in elementary schools. (Deutsche Welle)

An explosion at the headquarters of the Chechen-led Ajnad al-Kavkaz rebel group in Idlib, Syria, kills at least 23 people, while several people remain unaccounted for, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (BBC)

A man is killed in Stockholm after he picks up a grenade that detonates. According to police, there has been an increased use of hand grenades by criminal groups in the country. (CTV)

Eleven people are killed in La Concepción, Mexico, near the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco, following violent clashes involving gunmen, a community police force, and state police in the southern state of Guerrero. (AP via ABC News)

The former Prime Minister of Egypt, 76-year-old Ahmed Shafik, retracts his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections. (Reuters)

The Pakatan Harapan alliance chooses 92-year-old former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad as their candidate Prime Minister in the upcoming Malaysian general election. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will be released from jail on June 8. Mahathir and Anwar join forces in the election. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Sadeq Ameen Abu Rass, not Saleh’s son Ahmed, is named as the successor to late Ali Abdullah Saleh as leader of the General People’s Congress party. (Reuters)

Trond Giske announces his permanent resignation as deputy leader of Norway’s Labour Party after several sexual assault accusations. He also gives up his position in the Norwegian parliament’s finance committee. (Jamaica Observer)

 

Saturday,  Jan 6, 2018

Saudi authorities arrest 11 princes in Riyadh for staging a protest against Saudi Arabia’s austerity measures. (Al Jazeera)

Thousands of government supporters demonstrate across Iran for the fourth consecutive day. (Voice of America)

Thirty-two sailors are missing after Iranian oil tanker MV Sanchi and Chinese freighter CF-Crystal collide off the east coast of China. The collision ignites the oil tanker, which carried a 136,000-tonne load. (CNN)(Reuters)

German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel and his Turkish colleague Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu agree to improve relations between their countries. (AFP via News24)

After the Venezuelan government orders shops to lower prices, hundreds of people line up to take advantage of these price cuts. (Reuters)

 

Friday,  Jan 5, 2018

During a session of the United Nations Security Council, the United States repeat its “unapologetic” support for the ongoing Iranian protests. Russia denounces the “veiled [U.S.] attempt to use the current moment to continue to undermine” the JCPOA. France calls to “be wary of any attempt to exploit this crisis for personal ends”. (The New York Times)

Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary refer the British spy Christopher Steele to the U.S. Department of Justice for a potential criminal investigation. (ABC News)

National Security Agency director Admiral Mike Rogers plans to retire this spring. President Donald Trump is expected to nominate a successor later this month. (Politico) (New York Magazine)

Twitter, in response to criticism over its handling of U.S. President Donald Trump’s account, says it will not block world leaders or remove their controversial tweets. (Reuters)

Four women accuse film and television producer, director, and writer Paul Haggis (Crash and Million Dollar Baby) of sexual misconduct including two rapes. (Hollywood Reporter)

A hot air balloon crashes due to strong winds in Egypt’s Luxor Governorate. A tourist from Australia is killed and 12 other tourists are injured. The Egypt Aviation Authority says there were 20 passengers on the balloon. (CNN)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says he is “tired” of waiting for the European Union to approve Turkey’s membership in the political union. (Al Jazeera)

French President Emmanuel Macron suggests that Turkey could have a “partnership” with the EU instead of full membership. (France 24)

Belgium and the Netherlands, by swapping 48 acres of land, agree that one section of their border is now the center of the Meuse River. This is expected to fix a police jurisdiction problem. (UPI) (The Independent)

NASA research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, implies that the ozone layer is starting to recover due to man’s actions. The decline in ozone-depleting chemicals, specifically chlorine from chlorofluorocarbon(an effect from the 1980’s CFC ban, say the scientists), has resulted in 20 percent less depletion since 2005. (Newsweek)

Six-time U.S. NASA astronaut John Young dies at the age of 87. He was the 9th man who walked on the Moon. (Time Magazine)

THE END

 

01.05.2018

Friday,  Jan 5, 2017

North Korea and South Korea to hold first talks in 2 years North Korea has accepted South Korea’s invitation to discuss ways to cooperate on the Winter Olympics, and agreed to meet at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced Friday. This will be their first formal dialogue in more than two years, and they will also discuss how to improve ties between the Koreas. On Thursday, the United States and South Korea agreed to postpone their joint military exercises — an annual event that North Korea considers preparation for an invasion — until after the Pyeongchang Olympics in February. While some see this as the first step in bettering relations, others believe this could be Pyongyang’s way of causing friction between South Korea and the United States. Source: The Associated Press

Fire and Fury publisher pushes up release date after Trump lawsuit threat The White House has come out swinging after excerpts from a forthcoming tell-all book — Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House — were published in various news outlets, featuring incendiary quotes from former chief strategist Stephen Bannon. In response, a Trump attorney sent Bannon a letter saying “legal action is imminent,” and demanded the book’s author and publisher halt the book’s release and “issue a full and complete retraction and apology” or else face legal action. Publisher Henry Holt instead pushed up the released date five days, putting it on sale Friday morning. “We see Fire and Fury as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book,” the publisher said. Source: ABC News,

U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in December, fewer than expected U.S. employers added 148,000 non-farm jobs in December, the Labor Department reported on Friday. The numbers fell short of the average increase of about 190,000 predicted by economists, and marked a slowdown from an average increase of 232,000 in the two previous months. Economists had been predicting that hiring would slow down eventually, just not this soon. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent. Wages increased by 2.5 percent over the last 12 months, edging up from November’s 2.4 percent figure, but still considered sluggish. Source: MarketWatch

Apple joins list of firms whose laptops, phones are vulnerable to security flaw On Thursday, Apple said that Mac computers, iPhones, and iPads are vulnerable to two hard-to-fix security flaws that cybersecurity experts revealed Wednesday. Windows, Google, and other companies that make PCs, smartphones, servers, and tablets had already acknowledged that their own devices have the same issue. The flaws — named Spectre and Meltdown — could be used by hackers to exploit the microprocessors, mostly made by Intel, in internet-connected devices to launch a “side-channel analysis attack” to steal files, passwords, photos, and other documents. Intel, the dominant chipmaker, says the vulnerability has been in every microprocessor it has made since 1995, but apparently nobody realized the risk until a few months ago. No hackers are known to have exploited the vulnerabilities. Source: The New York Times

 

Thursday, Jan 4,  2017

North Korea accepts South Korea’s proposal for official talks, and will meet on January 9 to discuss North Korea’s possible involvement with the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. These are the first high-level talks between the Koreas in more than two years. (BBC)

The U.S. State Department suspends its security assistance to Pakistan. (ABC News)

The U.S. Treasury sanctions five Iranian entities associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program. (Politico)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinds three Obama-era memos that had adopted a policy of non-interference with states that have legalized recreational marijuana. (Associated Press)

A United Airlines flight headed from Chicago to Hong Kong makes an emergency landing in Anchorage, Alaska, after a passenger allegedly became unruly. (KTUU-TV)

Munich Re reports that the insurance industry faces record claims of US$135 billion from natural catastrophes, such as the Mexico earthquakes, South Asian floods, California wildfires and Atlantic hurricanes in 2017. Overall economic losses from natural disasters are estimated at the second highest amount since 2011. (Insurance Journal)

A massive winter storm hits the East Coast of the United States with up to 18 inches of snow predicted to fall between The Carolinas and Maine. So far, three people have died in North Carolina and a person has died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (AP via Yahoo!)

 

Wednesday,  Jan 3, 2017

Security researchers disclose two hardware vulnerabilities—Spectre, which affects most modern processors, and Meltdown, which affects most Intel chips. (Reuters) (The Guardian)

A new Icelandic law goes into effect which requires government agencies and companies with more than 24 full-time employees to prove they are paying men and women equally, as required by existing legislation. (NPR)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announces that Ethiopia will drop charges against all political prisoners and close down the infamous prison camp of Maekelawi. (AP)

 

Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump responds to Kim Jong-un’s claim of having North Korea’s nuclear missile launch button on his desk, boasting that the size of the nuclear missile launch button on his own desk is larger and more powerful than Kim’s.  (BBC)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, responding to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s offer during his New Year’s Day address, proposes a meeting to discuss the Winter Olympics and North Korea’s nuclear program next Tuesday at the border city of Panmunjom.  (BBC)

President Donald Trump tweets that the U.S. may withhold future payments to the Palestinian authority, over 350 million dollars per year, because they are “no longer willing to talk peace” with Israel, and that Israel “would have had to pay more” in return for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (Haaretz) (Politico)

Israel announces plans to deport African migrants residing in the country illegally. Migrants will be given 90 days to leave the country or face imprisonment. (BBC)

Vice Media suspends two of its top executives as it investigates allegations made against them. (ABC News)

Citing national security concerns, the U.S. government blocks Ant Financial’s acquisition of MoneyGram. (Reuters)

Joshua Boyle, a Canadian man recently rescued from a Taliban linked group, is arrested on 15 charges, including assault, sexual assault, and unlawful confinement. (Global News)

Nine prisoners have escaped from a Berlin, Germany prison over the last five days, with two escaping today. (BBC)

THE END

 

News 1.2.2018

Tuesday,  Jan 2, 2018

Trump returns to Washington for high-stakes January President Trump returned to Washington on Monday night in an upbeat mood after 10 days at his members-only club in Florida, but White House aides are bracing for “the grim reality of 2018,” including slim legislative prospects, a potentially brutal midterm election, an expected exodus of White House aides with no replacements ready, and the ever-present “shadow of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation,” Politico reports. On the other side of Capitol Hill, Congress returns over the next week with a full plate for January, including funding the government, children’s health care, protection for DREAMers, stability of health-care markets, a looming debt ceiling increase, and other contentious and high-stakes issues. Source: Politico

Deadly anti-government protests grip Iran At least 20 people have been killed in anti-government protests in Iran, including nine overnight Monday, Iranian state TV and semi-official ILNA news agency reported Tuesday. At least 450 others have reportedly been arrested as demonstrators stormed police stations and military bases. The protests, the biggest in the country since 2009, began Thursday, with protesters chanting “death to the dictator” and “death to Khamenei,” the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, despite the government’s threat of an “iron fist” of punishment. On Sunday, Tehran placed what it says is a “temporary” restriction on access to social media including Instagram and an encrypted messaging app call Telegram. Demonstrators have used both to chronicle and coordinate their efforts this week. Source:  CNN

 

Monday,  Jan 1, 2018

Ten people die at the protests overnight, with twelve deaths total so far as the protests enter their fifth day. (BBC)

Value Added Tax (VAT) has been introduced in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for the first time. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump tweets that Pakistan has been a “safe haven” for terrorists from Afghanistan and has given America “nothing but lies & deceit” after getting more than $33 billion in U.S. aid. (Time)

Pakistan asks U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale to clarify Trump’s remarks. Pakistani Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi calls for Cabinet and National Security Council meetings to discuss the tweet. (Los Angeles Times)

Pakistan’s Defence Minister accuses the U.S. of giving Pakistan “nothing but invective & mistrust” after receiving “land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs”. (AOL)

An armed standoff between Indian security forces and Kashimiri rebels at a paramilitary base ends after 36 hours and leaves eight people dead. (Al Jazeera)

California becomes the latest and most-populated state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. (BBC)

Alain Berset takes office as President of the Swiss Confederation. Mr. Berset is the youngest president of Switzerland since 1934. (SWI)

 

Sunday, Dec 31, 2017

Iran blocks access to Telegram and Instagram as the largest anti-government protests since 2009 continue. (The Guardian)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issues “a red alert for our world,” saying that conflicts have deepened, global anxieties about nuclear weapons have increased, inequalities have grown, and nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise. Guterres calls for global unity to overcome these growing challenges. (CNN)

China announces the country’s ivory trade is now illegal. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and then-U.S. President Barack Obama announced “near-complete” ivory bans for each country. America’s ivory ban went into effect in June 2016. (National Geographic)

Palestine recalls their envoy to the United States for “consultations,” following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas says they will not accept any U.S. peace plan in the wake of Trump’s move. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Dec 30, 2017

Two protesters are shot dead by Iranian police in Dorud, Lorestan Province, as anti-government protests spread across the country. (Reuters)

Nepal bans solo climbers, double amputees and blind climbers from scaling its mountains, including Mount Everest, in a bid to reduce accidents. This has been criticized by successful double-amputee Everest climbers. (BBC)

A man strapped with explosives takes 11 people hostage in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The Ukrainian police free all the hostages and arrest the man. (Reuters)

 

Friday,  Dec 29, 2017

Anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets of Iran for a second day, with protests being held in a number of cities. (BBC)

Venezuelan communications director Jorge Rodríguez announces that the country’s Petro cryptocurrency, backed by 5.3 billion barrels of oil worth $267 billion, will launch shortly. (CNBC)

In a surprising event, Malian Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga and his government resign without providing a reason. (The Guardian)

http://www.dw.com/en/russia-warns-us-against-meddling-in-presidential-election/a-41942772

THE END

News 12.29.2017

Friday,  Dec 29, 2017

http://www.dw.com/en/russia-warns-us-against-meddling-in-presidential-election/a-41942772

Trump: Russia investigation makes the U.S. look ‘very bad’ During a 30-minute impromptu interview with The New York Times on Thursday, President Trump said Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election “makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position. So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.” Trump said 16 times “no collusion” has been discovered, and declared he has the “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.” The interview was conducted at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. Source: The New York Times

Historic cold snap grips northern half of America Some 220 million Americans are experiencing dangerously cold Arctic air that has settled over the northern half of the country, and meteorologists warn relief likely won’t come for at least another week. “It felt like we’d been living in a war zone,” said Carole Van Duzer of Erie, Pennsylvania, which was buried this week under five feet of snow. New record lows include 23 below in National Mine, Michigan, and minus 36 in International Falls, Minnesota. With 110 mile per hour wind gusts at Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, the wind chill is registering at negative 89 degrees. At least two people have died in Chicago from the cold and in the Midwest, “temperature anomalies on Saturday could be as much as 30 to 35 degrees below normal,” NOAA reports. Source: The New York Times, NOAA

 

Thursday, Dec 28,  2017

A suicide bombing at a Shi‘ite cultural center and news agency in Kabul, Afghanistan, kills 41 people and injures 84 others. ISIL-affiliated Amaq News Agency says this group is responsible. (Reuters) (CNN)

The Libyan National Army declares full control of Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, after retaking the last district held by Islamist militants. (Reuters)

United States consular missions in Turkey and the Embassy of Turkey, Washington, D.C. announce they will resume visa services. (France 24)

In Mandaluyong, Philippines, law enforcers mistakenly fired at a Mitsubishi Adventure, which they thought carried suspects in a previous shooting incident, resulting in two people dead and two others injured. As a result, 10 police officers were relieved from the post. (GMA News)(Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The Oregon Court of Appeals upholds a $135,000 fine against the Sweet Cakes by Melissa Christian owners for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. A similar case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission has reached the Supreme Court of the United States with a decision expected in June 2018. (NBC News)

With 98 percent of the votes counted, Liberia’s National Elections Commission announces these unofficial results show Senator George Weah, a former Pro footballer, defeating vice president Joseph Boakai, 61.5 to 38.5 percent, in the runoff of October’s presidential election, to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female Liberian president. (The New York Times)

 

Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017

Ukraine exchanges hundreds of prisoners with the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. (BBC)

A bomb goes off in a supermarket in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, injuring at least 10 people. Police say they are treating the blast as an attempted terror attack. (Reuters)

Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz says that the new underground railroad terminal in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem (part of East Jerusalem) will be named in honor of U.S. President Donald Trump. (Jerusalem Post)

The Iranian Parliament votes 207–0 to declare Jerusalem the “everlasting capital” of Palestine. (The Times of Israel)

North Korea is building its first operational ballistic missile submarine on an “accelerated schedule,” according to the US-Korea Institute of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. (The Christian Science Monitor)

 

 Tuesday, Dec 26, 2017

According to emergency services and the Houthi-owned Al Masirah, Saudi Arabian coalition air strikes kill 15 people and wound 60 at al-Shahra souq, a popular market in Taiz Governorate. (Al Jazeera) (Het Laatste Nieuws)

Seven Israeli chess players are denied travel visas to the Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Saudi Arabia as the two countries have no diplomatic relations. Players from Qatar and Iran are given last-minute visas, while Ukrainian champion Anna Muzychuk refuses to participate because she does not want to wear an abaya. (BBC)

Forty Syrian rebel and opposition groups reject Russia’s offer to attend peace talks in late January 2018. (Fox News)

Fifteen militants accused of carrying out attacks in 2013 during the Sinai Insurgency are hanged in Egypt. The last mass execution in the country took place in 2015, when six jihadists were executed. (BBC)

Thousands of Moroccans protest working conditions in Morocco’s coal pits. (France 24)

Grigory Rodchenkov, the person who exposed Russia’s systematic doping of Olympic athletes, is warned by U.S. officials that Russian agents may be inside the United States looking for him, and that new security measures must be taken to ensure his safety. (UPROXX) (BBC Sport)

END

 

Tuesday,  Dec 26, 2017

Indecision over Russian disinformation leaves U.S. vulnerable in 2018 The Trump administration is reportedly poised to make the same mistake of inaction against Russia’s disinformation campaigns as many administrations before it, The Washington Post wrote Monday. “The miscalculations and bureaucratic inertia that left the United States vulnerable to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election trace back to decisions made at the end of the Cold War, when senior policymakers assumed Moscow would be a partner and largely pulled the United States out of information warfare,” the Postwrites. While Obama officials warned their Trump counterparts to draw up operations to combat Russian disinformation, “the Trump White House remains divided over whether to act,” the Post adds, with the president himself among those who “play down the effects of Russian interference.” Source: The Washington Post

China’s economy projected to surpass America’s by 2032 The Chinese economy is expected to be larger than the American economy for the first time in 2032, per a report from the Centre for Economics and Business (CEBR) Research in London. The CEBR also predicts significant economic growth for India over that period; India will have the third-largest economy by 2032, a decade after it replaces China as the world’s most populous country. The question of population is key to understanding what it means for Beijing to helm a larger economy than Washington. China’s population is currently about 1.38 billion, more than four times the United States’ 323 million. Even with a larger aggregate economy, per capita income and standard of living in China will remain significantly lower than in the U.S. for some time. Source: Bloomberg

Peruvians protest controversial pardon of jailed ex-leader Fujimori Protests erupted in Peru on Monday after President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pardoned ailing former President Alberto Fujimori, who was serving 25 years in prison for human rights abuses and corruption. Thousands of demonstrators marched in the capital city of Lima, many carrying posters calling Fujimori a “murderer” and a “thief.” Police responded with tear gas. Critics say Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori in exchange for abstentions by lawmakers in a party run by Fujimori’s children that allowed the president to survive an impeachment vote on Friday. The conservative party, Popular Force, controls Congress, and Keiko Fujimori — the former president’s daughter and Kuczynski’s rival in the 2016 presidential election — had pushed to impeach him over a scandal involving his financial ties to Brazilian construction behemoth Odebrecht. Source: BBC News,

Holiday sales rise at best pace in 6 years Holiday retail sales rose at their best pace since 2011, thanks to strong consumer confidence and a healthy job market, Mastercard SpendingPulse reported. “It started with a bang in the week leading up to Black Friday,” said Sarah Quinlan, a senior vice president of marketing insights at Mastercard, which tracks spending online and in stores. Retailers got help from the calendar, with shoppers getting a full weekend for last-minute buys because Christmas fell on a Monday. Sales, excluding automobiles, rose by 4.9 percent over the Nov. 1 to Christmas Eve season, up from a 3.7 percent gain last year. Online sales continued to be the driving force, increasing by 18.1 percent. Source: MarketWatch

Trump lashes out at ‘Crooked Hillary’ and ‘bogus’ Russia dossier President Trump tweeted Tuesday about “Crooked Hillary” and the “bogus” Russia dossier from Mar-a-Lago, where he is spending the Christmas holiday with his family. “WOW, @foxandfrlends ‘Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED,'” Trump tweeted, adding: “And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!” Although Trump insists he doesn’t watch much TV, Tuesday’s tweet directly cited Fox & Friends’ morning interview with Jason Chaffetz. As CNN’s Dan Merica observed: “People do what they love on vacation and the president clearly loves watching Fox and criticizing the FBI.” Source: Donald J. Trump, The Week

 

Monday,  Dec 25, 2017

More than 70 civilians are believed killed in a two-day airstrike by the Saudi Arabian air force targeting Houthi rebels. (Al Jazeera)

A public transport bus crashes into Slavyansky Bulvar subway station entrance in Moscow, Russia, killing four and injuring eleven. (BBC)

The Russian Central Election Commission refuses to register opposition leader Alexei Navalny as a candidate in the presidential election due to a previous embezzlement conviction, which he claims is politicized. Navalny has called for his supporters to boycott the upcoming election in response. (BBC)

 

Sunday, Dec 24, 2017

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales says he will move his country’s Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Reuters)

Tunisia’s Transport Ministry suspends Emirates Airlines flights to Tunis. (Deutsche Welle)

North Korea’s foreign ministry, in an official statement, says the latest United Nations sanctions are an act of war and are, in effect, a complete economic blockade. (Reuters)

The Turkish government dismisses 2,756 public servants for alleged links to organizations involved in the July 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt. (France 24)

China’s AVIC AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, makes its maiden flight. State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has spent almost eight years developing the aircraft, which is designed to carry out marine rescues and battle wildfires. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Dec 23, 2017

A fire breaks out at a café and shop at the London Zoo. An aardvark is killed and four meerkats are missing. (Sky) (Reuters)

The Thomas Fire becomes the largest in Californian state history. (BBC)

Previously secret documents from Alan Ewen Donald, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to China between 1988 and 1991, regarding the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, are released after being declassified in October, putting the death toll from the protests at 10,000 people. (BBC)

Former Peru president Alberto Fujimori is taken, from prison, to a local hospital for treatment for abnormally low blood pressure. (Reuters)

 

Friday,  Dec 22, 2017

After 1,000 days of civil war in Yemen, eight million people are at risk of starvation. (BBC)

Two Palestinians are shot dead and about 60 others are wounded by Israeli troops gunfire as thousands protest along the Gaza border fence, in all seven West Bank cities and in East Jerusalem, against the U.S. declaration. (Reuters)

The digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin loses a third of its value within 24 hours. (CNN)

CSX Corporation names chief operating officer Jim Foote its new chief executive officer, succeeding E. Hunter Harrison who died last week. Harrison had started a restructuring campaign less than a year ago. (Reuters)

Apple Inc. faces backlash and lawsuits after admitting to slowing down the speed on some of their older phones deliberately. (CNET)(Business Insider)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not accept any U.S. plan for peace with Israel, because it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (BBC)

The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposes new sanctions on North Korea that caps refined petroleum product imports to 500,000 barrels a year, a 90 percent cut, and demands the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 24 months. (Reuters)

The U.S. agrees to supply Ukraine with more lethal weapons, now including Javelin anti-tank missiles. (AP via New York Daily News)

President Donald Trump signs the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 into law. (CNN)