AFRICA: Diplomats said Burundi faces mounting pressure to accept an African Union peacekeeping force, with the issue a key point of talks due in Uganda next week.
AMERICAS: In Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree legalizing the growing and sale of marijuana for medical purposes, signifying a dramatic shift in policy.
ASIA: Australian police arrested two alleged jihadists in Sydney in a counter-terrorism operation to thwart possible attacks against targets, including a naval base.
EUROPE: In Turkey, a woman was killed and another wounded after an explosion of unknown origin at Istanbul’s second international airport.
MIDDLE EAST: Quoting witnesses and activists, an Amnesty International report says at least 200 civilians were killed in Russian air strikes in Syria.
TECHNOLOGY: Apple warned that a British plan to give intelligence agencies extra online surveillance powers could weaken the security of personal data for millions of people and paralyze the tech sector.
Iraq: Iraqi special forces in final push to re-take Ramadi from Islamic State.
The battle to drive so-called Islamic State (IS) fighters out of the center of Ramadi is entering its second day as Iraqi special forces fight the militants street by street.
Army Chief of Staff Lt. General Othman al-Ghanemi said government forces expect to dislodge Islamic State militants from the western Iraqi city of Ramadi within days.
Officials estimated before the latest push into Ramadi that no more than 300 IS fighters remained held up in the city.
Coalition warplanes have been targeting Ramadi for several weeks with dozens of airstrikes.
If the Iraqi forces manage to fully reassert control over Ramadi, it would be the most important of a series of military setbacks for the Islamic State since its explosive expansion across Iraq that began with the capture of Mosul last year.
Region: Diplomats said Burundi faces mounting pressure to accept an African Union peacekeeping force, with the issue a key point of talks due in Uganda next week. (AFP)
Burundi: The National Security Council (NSC) — including President Pierre Nkurunziza and his entire cabinet rejected the proposed African Union peacekeeping force. (VOA)
Nigeria: Human Rights Watch said Nigerian soldiers fired on unarmed Shiite children with no provocation before unjustified raids on 12DEC-14DEC that killed hundreds of the minority group in the West African nation. (AP)
Region: The number of undocumented migrants detained near the US-Mexico border fell by almost a third in 2015, US government data showed. (AFP)
Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos has signed a decree legalizing the growing and sale of marijuana for medical purposes, signifying a dramatic shift in policy. (AP)
Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos said civilians forced through threats or intimidation to participate in armed conflict in the country will not be persecuted. (EFE)
Australia: Police arrested two alleged jihadists in Sydney in a counter-terrorism operation to thwart possible attacks against targets, including a naval base. (EFE)
Korean Peninsula: Seoul’s FM Yun Byung-se said South Korea will make various types of efforts in the coming year to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. (Yonhap)
New Zealand: A judge ruled that Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and three of his colleagues can be extradited to the US to face criminal copyright charges. (AP)
Thailand: PM and junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha gave a year-end speech in which he said the junta will hand back power in 2017. (Reuters)
Region: Greek authorities say a small plastic boat carrying migrants from Turkey to Europe sunk off an eastern Greek islet drowning at least 13, mostly children. (AP)
Region: Polish President Andrzej Duda warned Britain’s departure from the EU would be a “very serious crisis” for Europe. (AFP)
Russia: Russian investigators said top Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky had been put on the international wanted list after he was charged with murder earlier this month. (AFP)
Turkey: A woman was killed and another wounded after an explosion of unknown origin at Istanbul’s second international airport. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia: In a televised speech before the National Advisory Council, King Salman said security and economic development will remain top priorities for his country. (AP)
Syria: Quoting witnesses and activists, an Amnesty International report says at least 200 civilians were killed in Russian air strikes in Syria. (BBC)
Syria: Syrian activists accused regime forces of using a “toxic gas” during clashes in a flashpoint town southwest of Damascus, saying five men were killed. (AFP)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Technology: Apple has warned that a British plan to give intelligence agencies extra online surveillance powers could weaken the security of personal data for millions of people and paralyse the tech sector. (Reuters)
Cyclones: Nothing to Report
Hurricanes: Nothing to Report
Earthquakes: Nothing to Report
Volcanoes: Nothing to Report
Global Disease Outbreaks:
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
Cases as of 23DEC: 28,640 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Italy)
Deaths as of 23DEC: 11,315 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, United States)
Suspected Cases as of 23DEC: 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 23DEC: 77 (Colombia, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Grenada, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Dominican Republic)
Cases as of 23DEC: 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 23DEC: 584 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)