AFRICA: Boko Haram Islamist militants launched a fresh assault on the strategically important city of Maiduguri, Nigeria.
AMERICAS: North America has an “enormous interest” in building diplomatic relationships with Cuba, US Secretary of State Kerry said a meeting with counterparts from Canada and Mexico.
ASIA:North Korea accused Washington of trying to shift the blame for the deadlock in denuclearization talks after the US rejected an invitation to send Ambassador Sung Kim.
EUROPE: Greece’s anti-austerity government began a European charm offensive aimed at building consensus on renegotiating its USD $270B bailout.
MIDDLE EAST: The Jordanian Kingdom “will do everything it can to save the life and secure the release of its pilot,” government spokesman Mohammed al-Momeni said.
TECHNOLOGY: The Chinese Ministry of Information continued expanding its “Great Firewall” by cutting off VPN access in addition to recently- blocked western social media platforms.
Iraq and Syria: World leaders express outrage at slaying of Japanese reporter.
“We can’t help but feel extremely outraged at the repeat of another heinous and despicable terrorist act,” government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a press conference in Tokyo.
British PM Camerin said in a statement, “I utterly condemn what appears to be the despicable and appalling murder of Kenji Goto … It is a further reminder that ISIL (IS) is the embodiment of evil, with no regard for human life.”
President Obama said in a statement, “The United States condemns the heinous murder of Japanese citizen and journalist Kenji Goto by the terrorist group ISIL.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon condemned the purported killing of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto by IS militants, describing his death as “barbaric murder.”
Region: The African Union accused the ICC of targeting Africans, even though half of the cases it is prosecuting were referred to it by African governments themselves. (AP)
Nigeria: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) expressed optimism about the country’s forthcoming national polls since implementing some of its post-2011 general election recommendations. (XIN)
Nigeria: Boko Haram Islamist militants launched a fresh assault on the strategically important city of Maiduguri. (BBC)
Somalia: Over 40 Al-Shabaab militants were killed and several others injured in an air strike targeting their militant base in Dugdale village. (XIN)
Sudan: Six Bulgarian UN aid workers who were detained by rebels in the strife-torn South Kordofan region were released. (Reuters)
Region: North America has an “enormous interest” in building diplomatic relationships with Cuba, US Secretary of State Kerry said a meeting with counterparts from Canada and Mexico. (AP)
Canada: Montreal’s mayor said that he would block permits for a planned community center, calling its Muslim religious leader “an agent of radicalization.” (AFP)
Chile: President Bachelet announced plans to end a total ban on abortions in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. (BBC)
Colombia: The former secret police head Maria del Pilar Hurtado, appeared in court in Bogota after turning herself in to authorities for “spying on political opponents.” (BBC)
Hong Kong: Pro-democracy activists returned to the streets for their first big rally since mass protests last year. (BBC)
Japan: The killing of Kenji Goto by IS militants sent the country into shock and mourning after many united in prayer for his release. (AP)
Korea, North: Pyongyang accused Washington of trying to shift the blame for the deadlock in denuclearization talks after the US rejected an invitation to send Ambassador Sung Kim. (Reuters)
Thailand: The government summoned the US embassy charge d’affaires to explain American attempts to influence local politics. (DPA)
Croatia: The UN’s highest International Court of Justice prepared to hand down its ruling in a long-running genocide case that could reopen old wounds with Serbia. (AFP)
Greece: The country’s anti-austerity government began a European charm offensive aimed at building consensus on renegotiating its USD $270B bailout. (AFP)
Ukraine: At least six civilians and two government soldiers were killed in fierce fighting in the eastern part of the country. (AFP)
Iraq: An old man shot dead seven IS militants in revenge for the killing of his son by the extremists in the northern central province of Salahudin. (XIN)
Jordan: The kingdom “will do everything it can to save the life and secure the release of its pilot,” government spokesman Mohammed al-Momeni said. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia: Two Americans who came under fire this weekend were confirmed to be employees of US defense contractor, Vinnell Arabia. (AFP)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Internet Censorship: The Chinese Ministry of Information continued expanding its “Great Firewall” by cutting off VPN access in addition to recently- blocked western social media platforms. (Mashable)
Suspected Cases as of 29DEC: 1,091,612 (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, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.) Confirmed Cases: 22,796
Deaths as of 29DEC: 169 (Colombia, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Grenada, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Dominican Republic)
Cases as of 23JAN: 955 (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 US)
Deaths as of 23JAN: 351 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman)