AFRICA: Doctors in Sierra Leone report that 70% of patients are surviving Ebola.
AMERICAS: A lab mistake at the CDC may have exposed a technician to Ebola.
ASIA: 2000 people fled their homes following rebel attacks in Assam, India.
EUROPE: Minsk peace talks between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels ended without any indication of progress.
MIDDLE EAST: Iran has begun a seven-day military training exercise.
TECHNOLOGY: Facebook faces a lawsuit for violating user privacy.
Christianity: Pope Francis calls for tenderness, warmth, and conflict resolution following year of religious violence.
Pope Francis led Christmas Eve mass in the Vatican on Wednesday calling for “tenderness” and “warmth” after a violence-plagued year.
Pope Francis sent the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and millions of others his traditional “urbi et orbi” message at the close of a year plagued by war and religious fundamentalism.
The Pope urged refugees forced to flee their homes by the Islamic State militant group to “persevere,” and said he was close to them in his heart.
Pope Francis wished courage and warmth for the world in his Christmas Eve mass homily, as God is stronger than “darkness and corruption.” He also made a phone call to Iraqi refugees who fled ISIS violence, saying that they are “like Jesus” on this night.
Pope Francis called the violence inflicted by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria a “profoundly grave sin against God.” He also urged constructive dialogue with Muslims based on “mutual respect and friendship.”
Pope Francis has acknowledged the possibility of military intervention in Iraq, where Islamists have terrorized Christians and other minorities. He stressed that any action must follow a consensus of multiple countries.
Gabon: Political opposition leaders were summoned for questioning following violent weekend protests against President Ondimba that left at least one person dead.(AFP)
Nigeria: Troops in the northeast state of Gombe captured a suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber who rammed into a military check point in Bajoga. (XIN)
Sierra Leone: Doctors reported that 70% of Ebola victims are surviving despite a lack of medicines and vaccines. (AP)
Sierra Leone: A five-day lock-down in the country’s north was initiated to step up efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic. (AFP)
Tunisia: Protesters attacked buildings in Kebili, in the latest protests against the presidential electoral victory of veteran politician Beji Caid Essibsi.(DPA)
Brazil: President Rousseff announced the names of 13 members of her second-term cabinet, which includes six ministers who belong to the conservative Brazilian Democratic Movement. (XIN)
Nicaragua: Police denied that two demonstrators were killed during a crackdown on hundreds of farmers protesting the construction of a USD 50 billion canal. (AFP)
Mexico: Dozens of Roman Catholic priests and hundreds of parishioners marched through Ciudad Altamirano to demand the release of a kidnapped priest and protest a series of kidnappings, killings, and robberies of priests. (AP)
United States: Several internet platforms offered controversial film ‘The Interview’ for rent after Sony was hacked prior to the films theater release. (EFE)
United States: A laboratory mistake at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA may have exposed a technician to Ebola. (NYT)
Afghanistan: Two Afghan soldiers were killed and two others sustained injuries as a bomb blast targeted a military vehicle in Laghman province. (XIN)
Cambodia: The number of villagers tested positive for HIV in a remote Roka commune in northwest Cambodia’s Battambang province has exceeded 160. (XIN)
Hong Kong: Police arrested a dozen pro-democracy protesters after a night of clashes in the first sizable rally since camps were cleared last week. (AFP)
India: More than 2,000 people fled their homes in the restive Indian state of Assam after separatist rebels killed dozens of villagers. (AFP)
Thailand: PM Chan-ocha announced that elections would be postponed until February 2016 to allow time for the drafting of the constitution. (DPA)
Russia: Security officials accused NATO of pressuring Ukraine to drop its nonaligned status and warned that Moscow’s relations with the Western alliance would be damaged beyond repair if it extends membership to the longtime Kremlin ally. (LAT)
Spain: King Felipe VI has attacked corruption across the country in his first Christmas Eve message. (BBC)
Ukraine: Minsk peace talks between the country and pro-Russian rebels ended without any indication of progress. (BBC)
Iran: General Pourdastan announced a seven day exercise on state television titled “Mohammad Rosulollah.” (RFE/RL)
Israel: Four Palestinians armed with pipe bombs and suspected of plotting attacks on Israeli security forces were arrested at a checkpoint near Jenin. (XIN)
Jordan: A government spokesperson said that the country could normalize relations with Cairo if Egypt “returns to proper democracy.” (XIN)
Yemen: ‘Inspire,’ an al-Qaeda-produced magazine based in the country, suggested targeting western airliners and public figures. (WP)
Yemen: Suspected Shiite rebels kidnapped Yemen’s second highest intelligence official from his house in the capital Sanaa. (AP)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Internet Privacy: Facebook Inc. must face a lawsuit accusing it of violating its users’ privacy by scanning the content of messages they send to other users for advertising purposes, a U.S. judge has ruled. (NBC)
Cyclones: Nothing to report.
Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
Global Disease Outbreaks:
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
Cases: 19,497 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, United States)
Deaths: 7,588 (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, United States)
Suspected Cases as of 13NOV: 885,926 (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haití, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, 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.)
Deaths as of 13NOV: 153 (Colombia, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Grenada, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Dominican Republic)
Cases as of 17DEC: 938 (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 17DEC: 343 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman)