Top News Stories for Today – December 27, 2016
Shinzo Abe to visit Pearl Harbor
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit Pearl Harbor on Tuesday with President Obama in what will be the first such public visit by a sitting Japanese leader to the site of the 1941 surprise Japanese air attack that pulled the US into World War II.
They also will meet privately to discuss the US-Japan alliance, which could be in for changes under President-elect Donald Trump, who has called for renegotiating US trade deals and making allies like Japan pay more for their own defense. Abe landed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Monday to start his landmark visit, which comes after Obama’s visit earlier this year to Hiroshima, the Japanese city hit with the first US atomic attack at the end of the war in 1945. BBC News, USA Today, The Week
Israel moves ahead despite UN vote
Israel said Monday that it would proceed with plans for 5,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, undeterred by a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the building of Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas.
Israel said it does not “turn the other cheek.” In the past, the US used its veto power to shield Israel from such criticism at the Security Council, but this time the Obama administration abstained. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials accused President Obama of orchestrating the resolution, and President-elect Donald Trump said things will be different when he takes office in January. The New York Times
US leads global arms sales
The US signed weapon-sale deals worth about $40 billion last year, ranking it first in the world, according to a new congressional study. France ranked as the No. 2 arms seller, far behind with $15 billion. Developing nations continued to rank as the top buyers, led by Qatar with more than $17 billion in weapons purchases, followed by Egypt with $12 billion, and Saudi Arabia with more than $8 billion.
Despite ongoing terrorism threats, total sales in 2015 dropped to $80 billion from $89 billion the year before, “due, in part, to the weakened state of the global economy,” wrote Catherine A. Theohary, a national security policy specialist at the bipartisan Congressional Research Service and author of the study. The New York Times
Taiwan warns threats growing from China
Taiwan’s defense minister warned Tuesday of growing threats from China after a group of warships led by China’s first aircraft carrier sailed south of the island nation in the South China Sea during routine military exercises. The exercises were conducted on Monday, more than three weeks after President-elect Donald Trump placed an unusual telephone call to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, prompting a diplomatic protest from China.
Because of Trump’s actions, political observers in Taiwan believe China is increasing pressure on the island nation, which China claims as its territory, even though the two countries have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949. VOA
Crashed Russian plane’s data recorder found
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday search teams have found the main flight data recorder from a military passenger plane that crashed over the weekend in the Black Sea. Russian news agencies said the device would be delivered to Moscow for analysis, as investigators try to figure out what caused the crash.
Officials say that terrorism has not been ruled out in Sunday’s crash, but that it is extremely unlikely. All 92 people on board the plane were killed. The Defense Ministry said that as of early Tuesday, search crews had found 12 bodies and many more body parts. VOA
South Korean ruling party splits into two
Twenty nine legislators have split from South Korea’s ruling Saenuri Party over a corruption scandal centered on impeached President Park Geun-hye. The lawmakers established a new party, unofficially named the New Conservative Party for Reform, that will launch on January 24.
The new party hopes to win the support of conservative voters who are displeased with the ruling party before the next presidential election. As part of the effort, the new party may try to convince outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be its presidential candidate. VOA
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