AFRICA: Recent spates of violent attacks in Tanzania threaten the country’s democracy, the European Union has said.
AMERICAS: Fake news threat looms over Brazilian election.
ASIA: A series of bombs targeting government offices and other places in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state exploded, injuring a police officer, authorities said.
EUROPE: The UK’s approach to the next stage of Brexit negotiations seems to be based on “pure illusion”, Donald Tusk says.
MIDDLE EAST: Syrian government forces have unleashed dozens of rockets and airstrikes on the besieged opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta since the UN delayed a vote on a possible ceasefire.
TECHNOLOGY: Washington is cranking up pressure on Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecommunications-equipment maker that U.S. official’s view as a potential tool for state-sponsored spying.
Somalia: Car bomb rocks Mogadishu
Two car bomb blasts in Somalia’s capital killed at least 45 people and shattered a months-long period of calm in Mogadishu, which is often the target of attacks by the al-Shabab extremist group.
A loud explosion reportedly took place, followed by a second blast and sustained gunfire which broke out near the president’s residence. The second blast took place beside a popular hotel.
Concerns have been high over plans to hand over the country’s security to Somalia’s own forces as a 21,000-strong African Union force begins a withdrawal that is expected to be completed in 2020.
The Islamist militant group al-Shabab, which opposes Somalia’s UN-backed government, says it carried out the attacks.
The group wants to overthrow the Somali government and impose its own harsh interpretation of Islamic law. It has killed hundreds of civilians across East Africa and thousands of Somalis in a decade-long insurgency.
Egypt: A court has fined one of the leading activists behind the 2011 uprising 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($565) during his re-trial over insulting the judiciary. (WP)
Senegal: The judge conducting a trial into controversial Senegalese mayor Khalifa Sall’s alleged embezzlement of public funds will issue a verdict on March 30, the court has heard. (AFP)
Tanzania: A recent spate of violent attacks in the country threatens its democracy, the European Union has said. (AFP)
Region: Crisis in Venezuela, which has undergone a catastrophic economic collapse, has now spread across its borders. The Colombian President, Santos, said that his country’s most serious problem could be the mass influx of desperate Venezuelan refugees: More than 600,000 are now in the country, and thousands more are arriving every day. (WP)
Brazil: Fake news threat looms over election. (FT)
Mexico: Country’s rampant corruption is a source of white-hot voter rage in the 01JULY presidential election which all three candidates say they are committed to fighting. Yet all face allegations of being less rigorous on the issue the closer it comes to home. (FT)
Afghanistan: An official says at least 18 soldiers have been killed after their checkpoint came under attack by Taliban insurgents in western Farah province. (AP)
China: The ruling Communist Party will hold a three-day meeting of its top officials to discuss deepening of reform, and will also likely decide on key personnel decisions ahead of a government reshuffle next month. (REU)
Myanmar: A series of bombs targeting government offices and other places in the troubled Rakhine state exploded, injuring a police officer, authorities said. (WSJ)
Pakistan: Interior minister says the Islamic nation will expedite steps to curb terror financing and money laundering a day after the country avoided ending up on a terror watch list by a global task force. (AP)
Region: For years, Russia has worked to gain influence in Southeast Europe, using Serbia as a foothold to establish a friendly pocket on a hostile continent. The EU finally is pushing back. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is embarking on a seven-nation Balkans tour to promote the EU’s new eastward expansion strategy. (WP)
Region: Czech President Zeman has urged Justice Minister Robert Pelikan to extradite a suspected Russian computer hacker to Russia rather than the US, a stance at odds with Prime Minister Andrej Babis. (AP)
United Kingdom: The country’s approach to the next stage of Brexit negotiations seems to be based on “pure illusion”, Donald Tusk says. (BBC)
Israel: If an election were held tomorrow, Bibi — as Netanyahu is universally known in the country — and his Likud party would likely win, according to recent polls. (NYT)
Syria: Government forces have unleashed dozens of rockets and airstrikes on the besieged opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta since the UN delayed a vote on a possible ceasefire. (DPA)
Syria: Russian FM Lavrov accused the US-led coalition of failing to fight the Nusra Front terrorists that Russia deems as the major obstacle to reaching a cease-fire in the Mideast country. (XIN)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Technology: Washington is cranking up pressure on Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecommunications-equipment maker that U.S. official’s view as a potential tool for state-sponsored spying. (WSJ)
Cyclones: Nothing to Report
Hurricanes: Nothing to Report
Earthquakes: Nothing to Report
Volcanoes: Nothing to Report
Global Disease Outbreaks:
Chikungunya Virus Disease (CHIK)
Suspected Cases as of 22DEC: 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 22DEC: 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 22DEC: 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 19FEB: 2,143 (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 19FEB: 750 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)