Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: The US Embassy in Sudan’s capital city Khartoum said Washington is set to formally remove the country from its state sponsor of terrorism blacklist.
  • AMERICAS: The rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in the United States is set to begin as the country approaches the horrifying new milestone of 300,000 pandemic deaths.
  • ASIA: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government was working on establishing two-way “travel bubbles” with Australia and the Cook Islands.
  • EUROPE: European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said negotiations over the next few days will be critical to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
  • MIDDLE EAST: The Iranian government summoned the German and French ambassadors to Tehran after the European Union condemned Tehran’s execution of journalist Ruhollah Zam. 
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: At least 387 journalists and other media industry workers were arrested worldwide so far this year according to Reporters Without Borders.

 

Top Story

  • United States: Suspected Russian hackers gained access to Treasury emails.
    • The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity arm issued a rare emergency directive due to a long-term hacking campaign by another country that managed to break into several federal agencies.
    • The emergency directive warned of an “unacceptable risk” to the government due to a feared large-scale penetration of US government agencies by the foreign hackers.
    • The federal agencies hacked include the Treasury and Commerce Departments, with the hackers reportedly gaining free access to their email systems.
    • Though not publicly confirmed yet, the country behind the months-long hacking campaign is reportedly identified as Russia.
    • Following the news reports, The Kremlin issued a statement denying the allegations.
    • Reporting: AP, Reuters, NYT, WaPo, BBC, WSJ, Reuters2

 

Africa

  • Eswatini: Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini died at the age of 52 after a four-week hospital battle with the coronavirus, though no official cause for his death was announced. (BBC)
  • Nigeria: Government forces reportedly surrounded the area where gunmen are believed to be holding schoolchildren hostage in the country’s Katsina state. (BBC)
  • Sudan: The US Embassy in Khartoum said Washington is set to formally remove the country from its state sponsor of terrorism blacklist. (AFP)

 

Americas

  • Region: 14 people who traveled from Venezuela to Trinidad and Tobago were found dead near Venezuela’s coast. (Reuters)
  • Brazil: The Supreme Court ordered Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello to announce the starting date of the government’s coronavirus vaccination program within the next 48 hours. (Reuters)
  • United States: The rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is set to begin as the country approaches the horrifying new milestone of 300,000 pandemic deaths. (AP)

 

Asia  

  • Region: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government was working on establishing two-way “travel bubbles” with Australia and the Cook Islands. (DPA)
  • Region: Japan and South Korea are both facing a surge in new coronavirus cases as the governments of both countries deliberate over implementing some of the harshest coronavirus restrictions. (Reuters
  • China: Beijing said the European Union should stop making “irresponsible remarks” after the EU urged Beijing to release journalists in detention in the country. (Reuters)
  • India: Tens of thousands of farmers called for a second strike in a week to press the government into repealing three new agricultural reform laws. (AP)
  • Malaysia: The opposition in Parliament staged a walkout after two government ministers flouted a coronavirus quarantine and appeared in Parliament wearing PPEs. (AFP)

 

Europe

  • Region: European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said negotiations over the next few days will be critical to avoid a no-deal Brexit. (Reuters)
  • Germany: A Christmas period coronavirus lockdown will be imposed in the country as coronavirus infections and deaths peak. (BBC)
  • Lithuania: The country joined the growing list of countries deliberating stricter coronavirus lockdowns as the government announced a series of new coronavirus measures and restrictions. (DPA)

 

Middle East

  • Iran: The government summoned the German and French ambassadors to Tehran after the European Union condemned Tehran’s execution of journalist Ruhollah Zam. (RFE-RL)
  • Kuwait: Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah finalized a new Cabinet that includes Khalifa Hamade being appointed as the new Finance Minister, and Mohammad Abdulatif al-Fares being appointed as the country’s new Oil Minister. (Reuters)
  • Saudi Arabia: Oil tanker BW Rhine is the latest vessel to be hit by an explosion near the port city of Jeddah as attacks in the Red Sea continue to increase. (Bloomberg)

 

Tech & Communications

  • Media: At least 387 journalists and other media industry workers were arrested worldwide so far this year according to Reporters Without Borders. (Deutsche Well)

 

World

  • Cyclones: Nothing to report.
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
  • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global
    • Confirmed Cases as of 15DEC20: 72,352,258
    • Total Recovered Cases as of 15DEC20: 47,334,449
    • Deaths as of 15DEC20: 1,614,290
    • Countries with Confirmed Cases: 191 
    • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

 

Tomorrow’s Outlook (15DEC20)

  • Global: The UN will release its 2020 Human Development Report.
  • Americas: The Inter-American Development Bank and the French government will hold the 12th International Economic Forum on Latin America and the Caribbean virtually.
  • Europe: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will visit the European Commission and meet with EC President Ursula von der Leyen.
  • Europe: Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will visit Germany and Belgium to meet with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Bundestag President Wolfgang Schauble, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. (to 16DEC)
  • Europe: The European Parliament will hold a plenary session with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and EU cooperation with neighboring countries to the east expected to be the main items on the agenda. (to 17DEC)
  • Europe: The European Commission will introduce its new Digital Services Act.
  • Europe: The Agriculture Ministers of EU member-states will hold an in-person meeting.
  • China: Pro-democracy Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai will appeal for bail following the recent charges levied against him.
  • France: A countrywide lockdown will be lifted, but a night-time curfew will be imposed.
  • France: Mass coronavirus testing will be held in the city of Le Havre. (to 19DEC)
  • Guinea: President Alpha Conde’s swearing-in ceremony will be held, with Zimbabwean Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Angolan Vice President Bornito de Sousa expected to attend.
  • Israel: A new mandatory coronavirus quarantine will be imposed.
  • Kazakhstan: Campaigning for next year’s presidential elections will begin.
  • Kuwait: The country’s new post-election Parliament will hold its first session. (to 18DEC)
  • Russia: The government is expected to introduce measures to curb an increase in food prices.
  • South Sudan: The UN Security Council will discuss the situation in the country.
  • Turkey: The trial of exiled journalist Can Dundar will be held.
  • United States: President-elect Joe Biden will visit the state of Georgia.
  • United States: Vice President Mike Pence will visit the state of Indiana.
  • United States: The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee will hold a meeting before making an interest rates decision. (to 16DEC)
  • Vietnam: The country’s ruling Communist Party will hold a plenum to discuss potential changes to the party and the country’s leadership, among other topics. (to 18DEC)

 

END