Top News Stories for Today – December 23, 2016
Berlin market attacker killed in Milan
Police in Milan have shot and killed Anis Amri, the Tunisian man believed to have carried out the deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said Friday morning.
“The person who was killed, there is no doubt that he is Anis Amri,” Minniti said, confirming news first reported by the Italian magazine Panorama. “He was the most wanted man in Europe and we immediately identified him and neutralized him. This means our security is working really well.” Amri, whose fingerprints and identity papers were found in the cab of the 18-wheeler, was killed in a gunfight after a routine stop by police; one officer was wounded. Police reportedly confirmed Amri’s identity through fingerprints. The Guardian, Reuters, The Week
Trump meddles in Israeli settlements
On Wednesday night, after it became clear that the United States was ready to allow passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Palestinian East Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter to urge the Obama administration to veto the measure.
Soon after, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted an almost verbatim message. On Thursday, Egypt, which sponsored the resolution, pulled it for unclear reasons. A senior Israeli official tells CNN that the Israeli government called Trump to ask him to put pressure on President Obama, after its own efforts failed, and an official in the Trump transition told Reuters that Trump also spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about the UN resolution. Traditionally, presidents-elect don’t try to set policy. The Washington Post, CNN, The Week
Putin on Trump’s nuclear comments
Trump said in a Twitter post Thursday that the United States must “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.” Putin said “As for (comments by) the newly elected president of the US, there is nothing new,” during his annual news conference.
Before Trump’s tweet, Putin on Thursday had touted Russia’s military strength, saying it was “stronger than any aggressor’s.” Those remarks gave way to declarations by Obama administration officials that the United States had the world’s greatest defense capabilities. “I am surprised by the officials of the Obama administration. They started to prove that the US Army is the most powerful in the world. No one challenges that,” Putin said. CNN
Aleppo fall totally to Syrian Government
The Syrian regime says it has taken full control of Aleppo, state-run media announced Thursday, marking a major turning point in the country’s five-year civil war. Government forces and their allies now control eastern Aleppo, ending more than four years of rebel rule there.
The battle came from both the ground and sky. President Bashar al-Assad‘s troops and supporting militias entered eastern Aleppo by ground in late November. The regime and Russia — its most powerful ally — decimated neighborhoods with airstrikes, leaving scorched earth where a bustling metropolis once stood. CNN
North Korea mocks Ban Ki-moon
North Korea on Friday mocked outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over his apparent ambitions to run for South Korean president, calling him an opportunistic “chameleon in a human mask” who’s dreaming a “hollow dream.”
The North’s state-run Uriminzokkiri website said Ban’s alleged presidential ambitions were absurd because the way he handled his job as UN chief for the past 10 years has left him living in “criticism and shame.”The article said Ban had a bad reputation in South Korea’s domestic politics because he’s an opportunist who “sets sail wherever winds blow and changes colors by the circumstance.”
Ban, who steps down as UN secretary general at the end of the year after two five-year terms, has not officially declared an ambition to run for South Korean president, but he has not denied his interest either. VOA
New Ebola Vaccine successful
Final test results confirm an experimental Ebola vaccine is highly effective, a major milestone that could help prevent the spread of outbreaks like the one that killed thousands in West Africa. Scientists have struggled to develop an Ebola vaccine over the years, and this is the first one proven to work. Efforts were ramped up after the infectious disease caused a major outbreak, beginning in 2013 in Guinea and spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone. About 11,300 people died.
The experimental vaccine was given to about 5,800 people last year in Guinea. They got the vaccine right away or three weeks later. After a 10-day waiting period, no Ebola cases developed in those immediately vaccinated, 23 cases turned up among those with delayed vaccination.
The World Health Organization, which acknowledged shortcomings in its response to the West Africa outbreak, led the study of the vaccine, which was developed by the Canadian government and is now licensed to the US-based Merck & Co. Results were published Thursday. VOA
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