AFRICA: In Liberia, George Weah promised a crackdown on endemic corruption as he was sworn into the presidency.
AMERICAS: In the US, a tsunami alert was issued after a 7.9-strength earthquake was recorded off the coast of Alaska.
ASIA: Myanmar blamed Bangladesh for delays to a huge repatriation program for Rohingya refugees.
EUROPE: The EU removed eight countries – Barbados, Grenada, Macao, Mongolia, Panama, South Korea, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates – from its tax avoidance blacklist after they made commitments to meet EU requirements.
MIDDLE EAST: Turkey announced it seeks to avoid any clash with Syrian, Russian or US forces during its operation in northern Syria but will take whatever steps it needs for its security.
TECHNOLOGY: Facebook acknowledged the explosion of social media poses a potential threat to democracy, pledging to tackle the problem head-on.
Syria: Turkey’s military operation against Kurds in Afrin continues.
Turkish troops have taken control of 11 Kurdish positions and created “safe zones” in neighboring Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin.
Turkey acknowledged its first combat death in the military offensive just south of the Turkish border.
Turkey announced it seeks to avoid any clash with Syrian, Russian or US forces during its operation in northern Syria but will take whatever steps it needs for its security.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Turkey’s Syrian ground and air offensive is distracting from international efforts to ensure the defeat of the Islamic State group.
In contrast, Qatar threw its weight behind Turkey’s military offensive, coming to the defense of the “national security” of one of its closest allies.
Gambia: Military authorities arrested two of ex-strongman Yahya Jammeh’s generals after they returned unexpectedly to the country from exile. (Reuters)
Liberia: George Weah promised a crackdown on endemic corruption as he was sworn into the presidency. (Reuters)
South Sudan: UN peacekeepers are returning to the only UN base in the country in the opposition-controlled Akobo area. (AP)
Region: The US Embassy in the Haitian capital, Port-Au-Prince, closed as demonstrators gathered outside to protest US President Donald Trump. (AP)
Honduras: Supporters of the Opposition Alliance continued to protest what they claim to be fraudulent presidential elections. (Xinhua)
United States: President Trump slapped steep tariffs on imports of washing machines and solar energy cells and panels as an attempt to erect trade barriers Trump has frequently said are necessary to protect American manufacturers. (NYT)
United States: A tsunami alert was issued after a 7.9-strength earthquake was recorded off the coast of Alaska. (BBC)
Region: The US, Japan and Britain voiced their opposition to South Korea’s proposal to resume humanitarian assistance to North Korea. (Yonhap)
Region: Myanmar blamed Bangladesh for delays to a huge repatriation program for Rohingya refugees. (AFP)
Region: Another 58 asylum-seekers held in an Australian-run detention center on Papua New Guinea will leave for resettlement in the US. (Reuters)
Region: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the Trump administration wants to help Indonesia play a central role in maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region. (AP)
Australia: A 40-year-old Sydney woman who worked for the federal government is facing terrorism financing charges accused of wiring tens of thousands of dollars to the Islamic State. (NYT)
Region: The EU removed eight countries – Barbados, Grenada, Macao, Mongolia, Panama, South Korea, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates – from its tax avoidance blacklist after they made commitments to meet EU requirements. (AP)
Sweden: The government summoned China’s ambassador over reports that Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen, was taken away by Chinese authorities. (AP)
Turkey: Turkish police arrested 42 people for “spreading terrorist propaganda” on social media about the country’s military operation against a Kurdish militia in Syria. (Reuters)
United Kingdom: A major cyber-attack on the UK is a case of “when, not if”, says the head of the National Cyber Security Center, Ciaran Martin. (BBC)
Region: The United Arab Emirates said its forces had instructions not to escalate an ongoing diplomatic crisis with Qatar. (Reuters)
Region: The US Navy countered Iranian claims, saying it only received a radio message from Iranian naval vessels about an ongoing Iranian exercise in the Strait of Hormuz. (AP)
Region: Turkey launched air strikes in northern Iraq on Kurdish militants planning an attack, just days after Ankara began an offensive against a Kurdish militia in Syria. (AFP)
Region: Senior Al-Qaeda leader Khalid Batarfi called on Muslims “everywhere” to rise up and kill Jews and Americans in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (AFP)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Communications: Facebook acknowledged the explosion of social media poses a potential threat to democracy, pledging to tackle the problem head-on. (AFP)
Communications: Britain’s competition regulator found 21st Century Fox takeover of Sky not in public interest. (AP)
Lava fountains gushed up 700 meters and ash plumes rose up to 3 km, which sent 40,000 villagers to shelter in evacuation centers. (AP)
Volcanoes: Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, Japan
The eruption triggered avalanches and launched debris that killed one soldier and injured more than a dozen people, including several at a ski resort. (NYT)
Global Disease Outbreaks:
Chikungunya Virus Disease (CHIK)
Suspected Cases as of 20JAN: 61,613 (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, and Venezuela)
Suspected Cases (01JAN16-31DEC16): 349,936
Confirmed Cases as of 20JAN: 123,087 (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin (French part), and Venezuela)
Confirmed Cases (01JAN16-31DEC16): 152,250
Deaths as of 20JAN: 101 (Brazil, Ecuador)
Deaths (01JAN16-31DEC16): 172
Deaths (01JAN15-31DEC15): 91 (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico)
Cases as of 20JAN: 2,123 (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 20JAN: 740 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)