- AFRICA: In DR Congo, security forces killed at least 26 demonstrators and arrested scores more amid protests against President Joseph Kabila’s hold on power.
- AMERICAS: Venezuela partially reopened its border with Colombia following a messy crackdown on what it called currency hoarders.
- ASIA: Sao Tome and Principe cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, a move welcomed by China.
- EUROPE: Russia said new sanctions imposed by the US would damage relations between the two countries and that Moscow would respond.
- MIDDLE EAST: Islamic State militants are deliberately targeting civilians as they retreat as Iraqi forces move to retake the militant-held city of Mosul, according to Human Rights Watch.
- TECHNOLOGY: Egypt has blocked the encrypted messaging service Signal used by many activists and journalists in the country, the company that owns the app said.
- Germany: Manhunt focuses on Tunisian “prime suspect” for Berlin attack.
- German police are searching for a Tunisian man in his early 20s in connection with the Berlin Christmas market attack, a German security official said.
- Authorities are now considering the Tunisian man as the prime suspect.
- Officials released the only detained suspect – a Pakistani – saying there was no evidence to link him to the attack.
- Germany is treating the attack as terrorism and it has been claimed by the Islamic State, but no evidence has emerged establishing a connection to the militant group that has staged and inspired assaults across Europe and the United States.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces mounting criticism from her own party over her open-door refugee policy and lax security.
- Coverage: BBC. CNN, USA Today, WP, WSJ
- DR Congo: Security forces killed at least 26 demonstrators and arrested scores more amid protests against President Joseph Kabila’s hold on power, Human Rights Watch said. (AP)
- Ethiopia: Nearly 10,000 people detained under its ongoing state of emergency will be released, but the government will charge almost 2,500 others of destabilizing the country. (AP)
- Libya: State-run National Oil Corporation major pipelines and fields in the west were reopened, restoring a key component of the country’s oil exports. (AP)
- South Sudan: Japan plans to oppose a UN proposal pushed by the US for an arms embargo against the country. (Xinhua)
- Region: Venezuela partially reopened its border with Colombia following a messy crackdown on what it called currency hoarders. (AFP)
- Region: The US Border Patrol says it’s seized more than USD 3M that was being smuggled from the US into Mexico. (AP)
- Colombia: Five people were killed and one was injured in a plane crash near the country’s eastern border with Venezuela. (DPA)
- Mexico: The death toll from a massive chain-reaction at a fireworks market near Tultepec rose to 29. (AP)
- Region: Sao Tome and Principe cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, a move welcomed by China. (BBC)
- Indonesia: Indonesian police said three suspected militants who were planning a holiday season suicide bombing were killed in a raid on the outskirts of Jakarta. (AP)
- Japan: The US is prepared to return thousands of hectares of US military-used land on Okinawa to Japanese control, the biggest land transfer in more than 40 years. (Kyodo)
- Philippines: Abu Sayyaf bandits are suspected of kidnapping four Filipino fishermen despite increased security in Mindanao. (AP)
- Philippines: The country said President Rodrigo Duterte’s killing of three people in the 1980s was part of a police operation, after the UN urged Manila to investigate him for murder. (AFP)
- Britain: Roads in front of Buckingham Palace will be shut during the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony following the truck attack that killed 12 people in Berlin. (AFP)
- France: French Gen. Pierre de Villiers called for boosting defense spending to better confront Islamic extremists and authoritarian states increasingly reliant on military muscle. (AP)
- Russia: The Kremlin said new sanctions imposed by the US would damage relations between the two countries and that Moscow would respond. (Reuters)
- Russia: The Russian parliament called for heightened security measures for Russian diplomats abroad following the assassination of the ambassador to Turkey. (AP)
- Ukraine: The country approved an austerity federal budget for 2017 that doubles minimum wages but keeps in line with the International Monetary Fund target. (AFP)
- Bahrain: Police briefly clashed with residents of Diraz, the besieged home of Shiite cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, arresting at least two youths before withdrawing from the area. (AP)
- Iran: Rolls-Royce sold equipment to the country for decades, a confidential company memo reveals, exploiting a series of loopholes in US sanctions. (Guardian)
- Iraq: Islamic State militants are deliberately targeting civilians as they retreat as state forces move to retake the militant-held city of Mosul, according to Human Rights Watch. (AP)
- Syria: Syrian activists say the last buses meant to evacuate rebels and civilians from Aleppo have been delayed for nearly 24 hours. (AP)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
- Communications: Egypt has blocked the encrypted messaging service Signal used by many activists and journalists in the country, the company that owns the app said. (AFP)
- Cyclones: Tropical Cyclone Two
- Location: 430 NM NW of Port Hedland, Australia
- Winds: 40 mph
- Movement: SW at 3 mph
- Hurricanes: Nothing to Report
- Earthquakes: 278km ENE of Dili, East Timor
- Magnitude: 6.7
- Depth: 151.5 km
- Volcanoes: Bogoslof, Alaska
- Ash eruption 10 kilometers into the air. (AP)
- Global Disease Outbreaks:
- Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
- Chikungunya Virus Disease (CHIK)
- Suspected Cases as of 16DEC: 319,841 (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten (Dutch), Spain, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, UK Virgin Islands, United States of America, US Virgin Islands, Uruguay, and Venezuela)
- Confirmed Cases as of 16DEC: 121,801
- Deaths as of 16DEC: 133
- Deaths (01JAN15-31DEC15): 91 (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico)
- Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2, CDC, CDC-2
- Novel Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, SARS-related)
- Cases as of 20DEC: 1,864 (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 20DEC: 659 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)
- Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2
- Zika Virus
- Reported autochthonous Transmission as of 15DEC: American Samoa, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bonaire (Netherlands), Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cabo Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Montserrat, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Singapore, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Netherlands), Sint Maarten, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos, United States of America, Vietnam, United States Virgin Islands, and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).
- Outbreak Terminated as of 15DEC: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Gabon, Isla de Pascua (Chile), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
- Locally Acquired Without Vector Borne Transmission as of 15DEC: Argentina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and the United States of America.
- Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2, CDC, CDC-2
TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK (22DEC)
- Cambodia: Second foreign ministers’ meeting of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) to be held in Siem Reap (to 23DEC)
- France: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit
- Japan: US military to return land in Okinawa
- Kyrgyzstan: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to visit Bishkek
- Somalia: Parliament to elect speaker
- Zimbabwe: National Unity Day – 1997