- AFRICA: Iran summoned Nigeria’s charge d’affaires to protest the Nigerian army’s deadly crackdown on pro-Iranian Shiites in the north of the country.
- AMERICAS: In Haiti, a 27DEC presidential runoff is expected to be held as scheduled regardless of the deep suspicion of first-round results.
- ASIA: Indonesia’s economy took a USD 16B hit this year from forest fires, more than double spent on rebuilding after the 2004 tsunami, according to the World Bank.
- EUROPE: US Secretary of State John Kerry called for “common ground” between the US and Russia on contentious differences over ending Syria and Ukraine.
- MIDDLE EAST: Saudi Arabia said 34 nations have agreed to form a new “Islamic military alliance” to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in Riyadh.
- TECHNOLOGY: The European police agency Europol has backed national forces in a two-week crackdown on cybercrime mostly by tech-savvy youngsters, leading to 12 arrests in France, Norway and Romania.
- Yemen: Seven-day ceasefire and UN-sponsored peace talks begin
○ The Yemeni government and Houthi rebels agreed to immediately halt fighting as they started peace talks mediated by a UN special envoy at an undisclosed location in Switzerland.
○ The talks are expected to last all week.
○ The rebel forces, who control the capital, have yet to say if they will abide by the truce.
○ Previous ceasefires in Yemen have fallen apart or only been partially observed, with the warring parties accusing each other of not respecting the terms.
○ The Saudi-led coalition targeted Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and killed at least 15 people, just hours before a proposed ceasefire was due to begin.
- Ethiopia: The government said five people died in weeks of protests sparked by land grab fears, dismissing opposition reports of dozens dead and scores arrested. (AFP)
- Kenya: Two Kenyan men have been charged with receiving Iranian training in Iraq to carry out attacks in the east African country. (AFP)
- Nigeria: Iran summoned the nation’s charge d’affaires to protest the Nigerian army’s deadly crackdown on pro-Iranian Shiites in the north of the country. (AFP)
- Brazil: The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) will contract 3.62 percent year on year in 2015, said the nation’s central bank. (Xinhua)
- Chile: Defense Minister Jose Antonio Gomez confirmed cocaine was smuggled in an army container sent to Switzerland. (AP)
- Haiti: A 27DEC presidential runoff is expected to be held as scheduled regardless of the deep suspicion of first-round results. (AP)
- India: Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, has accused PM Narendra Modi of waging a “psychopathic” vendetta after federal investigators raided its headquarters. (AFP)
- Indonesia: The country’s economy took a USD 16B hit this year from forest fires, more than double spent on rebuilding after the 2004 tsunami, according to the World Bank. (AFP)
- Philippines: The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced a 12-day unilateral Christmas and New Year truce. (Xinhua)
- Thailand: An article in the International New York Times detailing the arrest of a man on charge of lese majeste was censored in the country for the third time within one month. (DPA)
- Region: Britain and Italy agree on the need for EU reforms to protect the rights of the bloc’s non euro zone members, promote business and tackle the migration crisis. (Reuters)
- Region: Luxembourg’s FM Jean Asselborn said that the EU’s border agency could be deployed in non-member states like Serbia and Macedonia. (Reuters)
- Russia: President Vladimir Putin signed a law that enables the country to reject rulings by international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights. (DPA)
- Russia: US Secretary of State John Kerry called for “common ground” between the US and the country on contentious differences over ending Syria and Ukraine. (AP)
- Spain: A flight operated by Brazilian flag carrier TAM Airlines was forced to return to Madrid after a bomb threat. (Reuters)
- Region: Saudi Arabia said 34 nations have agreed to form a new “Islamic military alliance” to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in Riyadh. (AP)
- Iran: The UN’s nuclear watchdog is set to complete its probe of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, a step closer to the lifting of international sanctions on the country. (USA Today)
- Syria: At least 40 members of forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad were killed in combat against the al-Nusra Front and its allies in the province of Aleppo. (EFE)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
- Technology: The European police agency Europol has backed national forces in a two-week crackdown on cybercrime mostly by tech-savvy youngsters, leading to 12 arrests in France, Norway and Romania. (AFP)
- Cyclones: Typhoon 28W (Melor)
○ Location: 107 NM SSE of Manila, Philippines
○ Wind: 143 mph
○ Movement: W at 8 mph
- Hurricanes: Nothing to Report
- Earthquakes: Nothing to Report
- Volcanoes: Mount Bromo, Indonesia
○ Ash column eruption 1.5 km into the sky. (Xinhua)
- Global Disease Outbreaks:
○ Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
■ Cases as of 15DEC: 28,637 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Italy)
■ Deaths as of 15DEC: 11,315 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, United States)
○ Chikungunya Virus Disease (CHIK)
■ Suspected Cases as of 15DEC: 607,306 (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Spain, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.)
■ Confirmed Cases: 34,507
■ Deaths as of 15DEC: 77 (Colombia, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Grenada, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Dominican Republic)
○ Novel Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, SARS-related)
■ Cases as of 15DEC: 1621 (Saudi Arabia (KSA), Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK), France, Tunisia, Italy, Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, Malaysia, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Iran, Algeria, Austria, Turkey, The Philippines, Germany, China, South Korea, and the US)
■ Deaths as of 15DEC: 584 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)
TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK (16DEC)
- Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan’s Independence Day – 1991
- Libya: Rival parliaments to sign a UN-sponsored agreement on forming a national unity government
- Philippines: Supreme Court expected to rule on agreement allowing wider US military presence in the Philippines
- Seychelles: Presidential elections
- South Africa: Reconciliation Day – 1994
- Ukraine: Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko will travel to Brussels for talks ahead of the decision on the extension of the EU sanctions against Russia