- AFRICA: US President Barack Obama asked key advisors to draw up options for ratcheting-up the fight against the Islamic State group, including opening a new front in Libya.
- AMERICAS: Colombia and Venezuela are both reporting a jump in cases of a rare, sometimes paralyzing syndrome that may be linked to the Zika virus.
- ASIA: The US is lobbying its allies to continue financial assistance for the Afghan army, which is now faced with a resurgent Taliban.
- EUROPE: Standard & Poor’s cut Azerbaijan’s credit rating to “junk” and predicted its economy would contract this year for the first time in two decades.
- MIDDLE EAST: Talks aimed at ending the civil war got off to a shaky and chaotic start, with the main opposition group at first boycotting the session, then later agreeing to meet with UN officials — while still insisting it would not negotiate.
- TECHNOLOGY: Facebook set out to block people from using the leading social network and its Instagram photo-sharing service for private gun sales.
- South China Sea: A US Navy guided-missile destroyer conducted a freedom of navigation operation within 12 nautical miles of an island claimed by China in the South China Sea
- Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said, “This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants – China, Taiwan and Vietnam – to restrict navigation rights and freedoms.”
- The USS Curtis Wilbur navigated within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracel island chain.
- Triton Island is a manned Chinese outpost.
- China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim the waters surrounding the island.
- On 27OCT15, a US navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of the Chinese-built artificial islands in what US officials said was the first of several such patrols designed to challenge China’s recent activities.
- Coverage: WSJ, ABC, Reuters
- Burundi: The country kept its seat on the African Union’s peace and security council in elections, a move that could complicate plans to send peacekeepers to the troubled country against its will. (Reuters)
- Burundi: France said it suspended its security and defense cooperation activities with the country. (AP)
- Libya: US President Barack Obama asked key advisors to draw up options for ratcheting-up the fight against the Islamic State group, including opening a new front in the north African country. (AFP)
- Libya: The World Food Programme (WFP) started distributing food in the eastern part of the country, for the first time since last June to provide one-month assistance over the coming four weeks to nearly 80,000 displaced people in and around Benghazi. (Xinhua)
- Nigeria: A child suicide bomber blew himself up in a grain market in the country’s northeastern Adamawa state, killing at least 10 people. (AFP)
- South Sudan: Russia said it opposes an arms embargo on the country and sanctions on its leaders for their role in the two-year war. (Reuters)
- Region: Colombia and Venezuela are both reporting a jump in cases of a rare, sometimes paralyzing syndrome that may be linked to the Zika virus. (AP)
- Haiti: Several hundred radical opposition protesters demonstrated in Port-au-Prince, angry over an international election mission that they say will interfere in the presidential vote. (AFP)
- Venezuela: The opposition vowed to drive President Nicolas Maduro from office this year, raising pressure on the socialist leader as he weathers a political crisis in the oil-rich nation. (AFP)
- Afghanistan: The US is lobbying its allies to continue financial assistance for the Afghan army, which is now faced with a resurgent Taliban. (AP)
- Myanmar: The country’s state-owned telecommunications operator, MPT, will provide its 3G network to cover 90 percent of the country during February, with over 95 percent of country to receive coverage by the end of March. (Xinhua)
- South Korea: Thousands of unionists gathered on the streets of Seoul to demand improvements in the government’s labor policy and to call for President Park Geun-Hye’s resignation. (EFE)
- Azerbaijan: Standard & Poor’s cut the country’s credit rating to “junk” and predicted its economy would contract this year for the first time in two decades. (FT)
- Sweden: The government proposed an age limit for teenagers who want to interact on social media as a result of data protection rules at the European Union (EU) level. (Xinhua)
- Israel: According to a report from the Israeli daily Haaretz, Jerusalem rejected a new peace bid by France to revive the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. (Xinhua)
- Saudi Arabia: A suicide bomber attacked a mosque in the Shiite-populated eastern region of the country during prayers, killing four people before worshipers disarmed and tied up his accomplice who had fired on them. (AFP)
- Syria: A rebel group said it merged with a number of other rebel groups around Aleppo province to become a stronger fighting force. (Reuters)
- Syria: Talks aimed at ending the civil war got off to a shaky and chaotic start, with the main opposition group at first boycotting the session, then later agreeing to meet with UN officials — while still insisting it would not negotiate. (AP)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
- Social Media: Facebook set out to block people from using the leading social network and its Instagram photo-sharing service for private gun sales. (NYT)
- Cyclones: Tropical Cyclone 09S
- Location: 97 NM N of Port Hedland, Australia
- Wind: 75 mph
- Movement: SSE at 4 mph
- Hurricanes: Nothing to Report
- 91km N of Yelizovo, Russia
- Magnitude: 7.2
- Depth: 180 km
- Shiveluch, Kamchatka Krai, Russia
- Based on satellite data, an eruption (explosion or pyroclastic flow) was reported to have produced an ash plume that rose to 24,000 ft (7.3 km) altitude and drifted west. (Volcano Discovery)
- Global Disease Outbreaks:
- Chikungunya Virus Disease (CHIK)
- Suspected Cases as of 30JAN: 951 (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: 21
- Deaths as of 30JAN: 0 (Colombia, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Grenada, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Dominican Republic)
- Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2, CDC, CDC-2
- Novel Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, SARS-related)
- Cases as of 30JAN: 1633 (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 30JAN: 587 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)
- Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2
TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK (31JAN)
- Cyprus: UN peacekeeping mission to end