- AFRICA: The Republic of Congo will hold early presidential elections on 20MAR after a new constitution removed barriers to President Denis Sassou Nguesso extending his rule.
- AMERICAS: Venezuela’s highest court blocked the two-thirds majority that the opposition won in this month’s landmark legislative elections by suspending the inauguration of three incoming lawmakers.
- ASIA: China confirmed it is building a second aircraft carrier, as neighbors worry about Beijing’s new assertiveness to claims in the South China Sea.
- EUROPE: Security is being stepped up in major European cities ahead of New Year celebrations, with officials wary of possible terror plots.
- MIDDLE EAST: Iran denied its naval forces had test-fired rockets close to a US aircraft carrier in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz.
- TECHNOLOGY: Twitter has clarified its ban on threats and abuse amid calls for a tougher stance on extremists’ use of the platform.
- Belgium: More arrests related to Paris attacks, canceling New Years celebrations.
○ A 10th man has been held on terrorism charges in Belgium in connection with the investigation into the Paris attacks on 13NOV.
○ A Belgian citizen identified only as Ayoub B., 22, was arrested in the Molenbeek area north of Brussels and charged with terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist organization.
○ As a result, Brussels canceled its New Year’s Eve fireworks display and other festivities because of a “significant” risk of a terrorist attack.
○ During the search, about 10 cell phones were seized and are being examined by investigators but no weapons or explosives were found.
○ French police reports show the 13NOV Paris attacks were orchestrated or at least closely monitored, in real time, from Belgium.
- The Republic of Congo: The country will hold early presidential elections on 20MAR after a new constitution removed barriers to President Denis Sassou Nguesso extending his rule. (AFP)
- Rwanda: A Rwandan court has sentenced Jean Uwinkindi, a former pentecostal pastor, to life in prison for leading a massacre of people sheltering in his church during the 1994 genocide. (AFP)
- Rwanda: Two Rwandans deported from Zambia last week have been freed without charge, contrary to reports they had been brought home to face genocide charges. (AFP)
- Argentina: The country said it will stop releasing data on the economy until the government statistics agency is overhauled and its numbers can be trusted. (AFP)
- Haiti: Two female officers from the UN police force in the nation were found dead in their home. (AFP)
- Venezuela: The country’s highest court blocked the two-thirds majority that the opposition won in this month’s landmark legislative elections by suspending the inauguration of three incoming lawmakers. (AFP)
- Region: South Korea and China set up a defense hotline to reinforce their cooperation on security issues on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. (Yonhap)
- Bangladesh: Two students have been sentenced to death for the murder of a secular blogger, delivering the first convictions after a series of such killings. (AFP)
- China: The country confirmed it is building a second aircraft carrier, as neighbors worry about Beijing’s new assertiveness to claims in the South China Sea. (Reuters)
- Korean Peninsula: South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the door is open to dialogue with North Korea for peaceful reunification on the Korean peninsula. (Xinhua)
- Region: Security is being stepped up in major European cities ahead of New Year celebrations, with officials wary of possible terror plots. (BBC)
- Dagestan: The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a shooting at an ancient citadel in the region that killed one and injured 11, the SITE Intelligence Group said. (AFP)
- Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel in her New Year’s address asked Germans to see refugee arrivals as “an opportunity” and not to follow racist hate-mongers. (AFP)
- Iran: The country denied its naval forces had test-fired rockets close to a US aircraft carrier in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz. (AFP)
- Saudi Arabia: Minister of Planning and the Economy Adel Fakeih denied the country’s new budget is related to austerity measures. (WP)
- Syria: At least 16 people were killed and 30 wounded by explosions in the northeast city of Qamishli in attacks claimed by the Islamic State group. (AFP)
- Yemen: Gunmen killed Ahmed al-Idrisi, a top commander in the pro-government Popular Southern Resistance group in the southern city of Aden. (Reuters)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
- Technology: Microsoft Corp. said it plans to begin informing users of its online email and file-storage services if it suspects attackers associated with government agencies have tried to break into their accounts. (WSJ)
- Communications: Twitter has clarified its ban on threats and abuse amid calls for a tougher stance on extremists’ use of the platform. (The Hill)
- Cyclones: Tropical Depression 09C
○ Location: 574 NM E of Tarawa
○ Wind: 34 mph
○ Movement: W at 9 mph
- Cyclones: Tropical Cyclone 06P (Ula)
○ Location: 217 NM ESE of Pago Pago
○ Wind: 63 mph
○ Movement: SSW at 24 mph
- Hurricanes: Nothing to Report
- Earthquakes: Nothing to Report
- Volcanoes: Nothing to Report
- Global Disease Outbreaks:
○ Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
■ Cases as of 31DEC: 28,637 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Italy)
■ Deaths as of 31DEC: 11,315 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, United States)
○ Chikungunya Virus Disease (CHIK)
■ Suspected Cases as of 31DEC: 607,961 (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: 35,019
■ Deaths as of 31DEC: 77 (Colombia, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Grenada, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Dominican Republic)
○ Novel Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, SARS-related)
■ Cases as of 31DEC: 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 31DEC: 584 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)
TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK (01JAN)
- Global: New Year’s Day
- Czechoslovakia: Anniversary of the splitting of Czechoslovakia – 1993
- Cuba: Anniversary of the success of the Cuban Revolution – 1959
- Europe Region: Anniversary of 12 EU countries adopting the Euro – 2002
- Haiti: Haiti Independence Day – 1804
- Nigeria: Anniversary of Nigeria becoming a British protectorate of the British Empire – 1901
- Sudan: Independence Day – 1956
- Christianity: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Catholic)