ONS: 20 December 2014

by TRG Alerts Admin on December 20, 2014

KEY STORYLINES

  • AFRICA: Voters in Liberia are set to go to the polls for Saturday’s senatorial elections that were postponed in October because of the Ebola outbreak.
  • AMERICAS: Colombia’s FARC rebels have begun an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire.
  • ASIA: US President Barack Obama warned the nation it would face retaliation for a crippling cyber attack on Sony Pictures over an irreverent film comedy that infuriated Pyongyang.
  • EUROPE: US President Barack Obama banned new investments in Crimea on Friday, slapping sanctions on the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine earlier this year.
  • MIDDLE EAST: Israeli air planes struck targets in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses and the army said early Saturday, hours after a rocket from the Palestinian enclave hit the Jewish state.
  • TECHNOLOGY: Office-supply retailer Staples Inc said about 1.16 million payment cards might have been affected by the data breach announced in October.

 

TOP STORY

  • North Korea: US weighing responses against North Korea for cyberattack on Sony
    • US President Barack Obama warned North Korea it would face retaliation for a crippling cyber attack on Sony Pictures over an irreverent film comedy that infuriated Pyongyang.
    • Japan and South Korea condemned a hacking attack on Sony Pictures, saying they would cooperate in international efforts against cyber-crime as asked for by Washington.
    • President Obama directly referenced Sony’s decision to cancel the release of The Interview in his end-of-year press conference, calling the move “a mistake”.
    • Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, denying that the studio had “caved” by scrapping next week’s opening of “The Interview,” fired back Friday after President Obama said the studio had “made a mistake.
    • North Korea is denying any connection with the hacking of Sony over a new film that it says has defamed the country’s image.
    • Coverage: AP, AP-2, CNNMoney, Digital Spy, Reuters

 

AFRICA

  • Region: UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday pledged support for Ebola-ravaged countries seeking to end the world’s worst outbreak of the virus and rebuild their health systems as he began a tour of the three hardest-hit nations. (AFP)
  • Egypt: The US State Department has listed Egyptian insurgent group Ajnad Misr and senior Al-Qaeda figure Ibrahim Al-Rubaysh as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. (Al-Awsat)
  • Liberia: Voters are set to go to the polls for Saturday’s senatorial elections that were postponed in October because of the Ebola outbreak. (BBC)
  • Madagascar: President Hery Rajaonarimampianina and four of his predecessors met for the first time Friday in a bid to restore national unity that quickly produced a pledge to free the country’s political prisoners. (AFP)

 

AMERICAS

  • Colombia: The country’s FARC rebels have begun an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire. (BBC)
  • Cuba: Cubans expressed joy Friday at the prospect of opened relations between their nation and the United States, especially, at the possibility of unrestricted trade and travel for the first time in half a century. (LAT)
  • Jamaica: The government on Friday signed an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank to allocate $250,000 of grant resources to combat infectious diseases like Ebola and Chikungunya. (EFE)

 

ASIA

  • Region: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday urged the semiautonomous former Portuguese colony of Macau to guard against interference by what he called hostile external forces, after prolonged pro-democracy protests in nearby Hong Kong. (AP)
  • Afghanistan:  The UN said Friday it’s been talking to the Taliban about reducing civilian casualties in the country but hasn’t seen any change on the ground. (AP)
  • Afghanistan: Civilian casualties have risen in 2014 as the country’s security forces are taking the lead and the end of NATO-led forces’ combat mission is drawing near, said the UN mission in the country on Saturday. (Xinhua)
  • Pakistan: The country has carried out two executions, the first since a death penalty moratorium was lifted after a deadly attack on a Peshawar school. (BBC)

 

EUROPE

  • Region: US President Barack Obama banned new investments in Crimea on Friday, slapping sanctions on the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine earlier this year. (AP)
  • Greece: Greek MP Pavlos Haikalissays he was offered a bribe worth 3m euros to vote for the government’s candidate in a critical presidential vote in parliament. (BBC)
  • Russia: Canada announced Friday fresh sanctions on the nation over its support for rebels in Ukraine, targeting 20 Russian politicians and Ukrainian separatist leaders as well as Russia’s oil and gas sector. (AFP)
  • Turkey:  The country issued an arrest warrant Friday for Fethullah Gulen, a rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan living in the U.S., brushing aside warnings from Western allies against using police actions to settle political scores. (WSJ)

 

MIDDLE EAST

  • Region: The U.N. approved a resolution Friday asking Israel to pay Lebanon over $850 million in damages for an oil spill caused by an Israeli air force attack on oil storage tanks during its war with Hezbollah in July 2006. (AP)
  • Region: Israeli air planes struck targets in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses and the army said early Saturday, hours after a rocket from the Palestinian enclave hit the Jewish state. (AFP)
  • Iraq: Kurdish forces in the north have broken the Islamic State siege of Mount Sinjar, claiming their biggest victory yet against IS militants. (BBC)
  • Lebanon:  An agent of Israel’s Mossad spy agency infiltrated the upper echelons of Hezbollah’s security apparatus and leaked information about the Lebanese Shiite group for several years before being discovered and arrested recently (WP)

 

TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS

  • Technology: Office-supply retailer Staples Inc said about 1.16 million payment cards might have been affected by the data breach announced in October. (Reuters)

 

WORLD

  • Cyclones: Nothing to Report
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to Report
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to Report
  • Volcanoes: Mount Gamalama, Indonesia
    • Nine people injured, one missing as hot ash continues to spew (AP)
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
      • Cases: 18.603 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, United States)
      • Deaths: 6,915 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, United States)
      • Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2, BBC
    • Chikungunya Virus Disease (CHIK)
      • Suspected Cases as of 13NOV: 885,926 (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haití, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.)
      • Deaths as of 13NOV: 153 (Colombia, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Grenada, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Dominican Republic)
      • Sourcing: WHO, CDC, CDC-2
    • Novel Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, SARS-related)
      • Cases as of 17DEC: 938 (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 and the U.S)
      • Deaths as of 17DEC: 343 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman)

 

TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK (20DEC)

 

  • Panama: Anniversary of US Operation Just Cause in Panama – 1989

 

END

 

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