AFRICA: Nurses at a public hospital in Sierra Leone went on strike to demand hazard pay for treating Ebola patients, as the region was under lock-down in a bid by authorities to combat the killer virus.
AMERICAS: Paraguayan People’s Army released 17-year-old Arlan Fick.
ASIA: 37 pro-democracy protesters were arrested in Hong Kong.
EUROPE: Prosecutors in Azerbaijan raided the Baku offices of a radio station funded by the US government.
MIDDLE EAST: The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the demolition of West Bank settlements.
TECHNOLOGY: A hacker group shut down PlayStation and Xbox gaming systems.
A trilateral North Korea-intelligence-sharing pact between the US, South Korea, and Japan was announced to boost surveillance of the regime’s activities.
The three countries will sign their first joint intelligence-sharing pact next week to better cope with North Korea’s increasing nuclear and missile threats.
Under the agreement, Seoul and Tokyo will share intelligence via Washington only on Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
Cooperation between the three nations is expected to boost the quality of intelligence on the North, which will enable the allies to respond to possible provocations in a swifter fashion.
The scope of information to be shared between the three countries will be confined to intelligence on threats related to North Korea, reflecting negative public sentiment in South Korea towards greater cooperation with Japan.
“We believe that the arrangement will be very effective in deterring the communist country from launching provocations in the first place,” a South Korean defense ministry official said.
Libya: Islamists killed at least 22 soldiers after a surprise attack in which they used speed boats in a failed bid to seize some of Libya’s main oil terminals. (AFP)
Mauritania: A Muslim man was sentenced to death for apostasy after a court ruled that he had written something blasphemous. (AFP)
Sierra Leone: Nurses at a public hospital went on strike to demand hazard pay for treating Ebola patients, as the region was under lock-down in a bid by authorities to combat the killer virus. (AFP)
Somalia: Al-Shabaab gunman attacked a Christmas party at the Mogadishu African Union base in an area known to have embassy and UN staff residents. (NYT)
Sudan: Despite increased fighting, UN forces in the country scheduled to downsize following immense pressure from the government whose President recently evaded ICC persecution. (NYT)
Colombia: FARC guerrillas announced intentions to free captured soldier Carlos Becerra Ojeda. (AFP)
Haiti: Former Port-au-Prince mayor and veteran politician Evans Paul was nominated for PM by President Martelly on in the latest attempt to resolve a political crisis over long-delayed elections. (Reuters)
Panama: Hundreds of workers on the Panama Canal expansion project continued their strike, demanding better working conditions. (XIN)
Paraguay: The leftist guerrilla Paraguayan People’s Army group released 17-year-old Arlan Fick who had been held captive by them since April 2nd. (AP)
United States: Plans were announced by the Obama administration to fortify cyber defenses following the Sony hack incident. (WSJ)
China: Officials at the country’s central bank announced that it would ease restraints, freeing up USD $242B for lending. (WSJ)
Hong Kong: Police arrested another 37 people as pro-democracy protesters returned to the streets demanding genuine elections for the city’s chief executive. (Guardian)
Korean Peninsula: A South Korean man who defected to North Korea in November was repatriated in Panmunjeom for humanitarian reasons. (XIN)
Malaysia: 69,549 victims took shelter in relief centers as floods worsened over the past two days. (XIN)
Pakistan: Intelligence officials said that two suspected US drones fired missiles at Uzbek and Punjabi Taliban hideouts, killing seven in North Waziristan. (Reuters)
Azerbaijan: A radio station funded by the US government says its Baku office was raided by prosecutors who claim to have a court decision to shut it down. (AP)
Belarus: A key round of peace talks between Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian rebels, due to take place in Minsk on Friday, was called off. (BBC)
Russia: A leading Russian elected official called for a “crime against humanity” investigation of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (LAT)
Sweden: An arsonist set fire to a mosque in Eskilstuna, injuring five, amid calls from the country’s political far right to reduce immigration by 90%. (NYT)
Turkey: A 16 year old high school student was arrested for insulting President Erdogan after making a speech at a student protest in Konya. (NYT)
Egypt: A roadside bomb struck an Egyptian army vehicle killing an officer and a soldier in the insurgent flashpoint of the Sinai Peninsula. (AFP)
Israel: The Supreme Court ordered the demolition of the West Bank’s largest unauthorized settlement in Palestinian territories in two years. (DPA)
Jordan: The country launched an effort to secure the release of a pilot held by IS militants in Syria. (WSJ)
Saudi Arabia: An anti-terrorism court announced the intent to try two women for terrorism after being detained for a month for violating edicts against female drivers. (NYT)
Syria: Rebel groups fighting in Aleppo province formed an alliance to strengthen the revolt against President al-Assad. (Reuters)
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Cyber-attacks: Hacker Group ‘Lizard Squad’ boasted on social media about torpedoing Sony PlayStation and Xbox networks on Christmas Day. (CNN)
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)