Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: Federal Ethiopian troops clashed with the gunmen behind the deadly attack in the western Benishangul-Gumuz region, killing 42 gunmen and seizing weapons from them, according to state media reports.
  • AMERICAS: Mexico became the first Latin American country to receive shipments of a coronavirus vaccine.
  • ASIA: Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe admitted he was unaware that his office may have possibly violated Japan’s strict political funding laws as he issued an apology for denying the allegations made against his office.
  • EUROPE: French President Emmanuel Macron no longer has any COVID-19 symptoms and is set to end his quarantine.
  • MIDDLE EAST: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed US President Donald Trump’s allegations of Iran being responsible for the recent rocket attack on the US embassy in Iraq.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: Chinese regulators launched an antitrust investigation into China’s most successful internet company the Alibaba group.

Top Story

  • Europe: EU, UK on cusp of post-Brexit agreement.
    • The European Union and the United Kingdom are reportedly on the cusp of finalizing a post-Brexit trade and security agreement.
    • British media reports indicate that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will soon hold a final phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to sign off on the deal. 
    • PM Johnson is then expected to announce the news of reaching a final agreement in the next few hours.
    • Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that despite some last-minute issues over fishing rights, “the expectation is that we will get a Christmas Eve Brexit deal” sometime “later on today.”
    • The two sides have negotiated for months in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit ahead of the 31 December deadline when the UK will formally exit the European Union.
    • Reporting: AP, BBC, Reuters, DPA, NYT, WSJ

Africa

  • Region: The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said another new coronavirus variant, one different from the strains in the UK and South Africa, appears to have emerged in Nigeria. (AP)
  • Ethiopia: Federal troops clashed with the gunmen behind the deadly attack in the western Benishangul-Gumuz region, killing 42 gunmen and seizing weapons from them, according to state media reports. (Reuters)
  • Morocco: The government has imposed a new curfew and other measures to halt the spread of the new coronavirus. (AP)
  • Nigeria: The recent kidnapping of 344 schoolboys in Katsina state was reportedly linked to inter-communal feuding over cattle theft, grazing rights, and water access, not Islamist extremism. (Reuters)

Americas

  • Canada: The lawyers of detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is facing extradition to the United States on fraud and conspiracy charges, plan to ask authorities about easing her bail conditions. (AFP)
  • Costa Rica: The country is set to receive its first shipment of a coronavirus vaccine with a vaccination drive expected to begin as soon as tomorrow. (AFP)
  • Mexico: The country became the first Latin American country to receive shipments of a coronavirus vaccine. (AFP)
  • United States: Millions of coronavirus vaccines are reportedly sitting unused in hospitals across the country, placing the government’s target for 20 million vaccinations this month in doubt. (Reuters)

Asia  

  • Region: Bangladesh and India are finalizing a deal that will see Dhaka purchase 150,000 tons of rice from New Delhi, marking the first such deal between the two countries in three years. (Reuters)
  • Region: 53 Australian coal ships are stranded off China’s coast due to Beijing’s ban on Australian coal imports. (Guardian)
  • China: The government issued guidelines on developing its social credit system amid data management and invasion of privacy concerns. (Reuters)  
  • Japan: Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe admitted he was unaware that his office may have possibly violated Japan’s strict political funding laws as he issued an apology for denying the allegations made against his office. (Reuters)
  • Pakistan: A court has ordered the release of Omar Sheikh, who was convicted as the mastermind of the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. (WSJ)

Europe

  • Belarus: The US has blacklisted dozens of the country’s officials and entities over their involvement in August’s disputed presidential election. (UPI)
  • France: President Emmanuel Macron no longer has any COVID-19 symptoms and is set to end his quarantine. (Reuters)
  • Hungary: The Finance Ministry announced that the government will spend an additional $2.91 billion on various projects this year, including preparations for a vaccine factory and pre-financing 2021 investments. (Reuters)
  • Serbia: Prime Minister Ana Brnabic received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in the country, as she launched her government’s coronavirus vaccine program. (DPA)

Middle East

  • Region: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed US President Donald Trump’s allegations of Iran being responsible for the recent rocket attack on the US embassy in Iraq. (Reuters
  • Iraq: US President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon four Blackwater personnel who were imprisoned for a 2007 massacre has sparked outrage in the country. (Guardian)
  • Israel: The government announced the country’s third coronavirus lockdown just days after it began vaccinations against the virus. (AFP)

Tech & Communications

  • Tech Regulation: Chinese regulators launched an antitrust investigation into China’s most successful internet company the Alibaba group. (WaPo)

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 24DEC20: 78,781,797
    • Total Recovered Cases as of 24DEC20: 44,387,376
    • Deaths as of 24DEC20: 1,731,989
    • Countries with Confirmed Cases: 191 
    • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (25DEC20)

  • Central African Republic: Final day of campaigning in the country’s upcoming elections.
  • Denmark: New coronavirus restrictions will take effect.
  • Japan: Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might appear in Parliament over a costs scandal linked to a dinner reception.
  • Kazakhstan: New coronavirus restrictions will take effect.

END