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Diane A. Wade

Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.

At least 97 people are reported after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia’s northern Aceh province, say local military officials.

The quake struck just off the north-east coast of Sumatra island, where dozens of buildings have collapsed and many people are feared trapped under rubble.

“So far, 97 people have been killed and the number keeps growing,” Aceh military chief Tatang Sulaiman said in a live TV interview.

Hundreds of people have been injured.

In 2004, a huge undersea quake off the coast of Aceh caused a tsunami that killed more than 160,000 people in Indonesia alone.indonesia-earthquake-2016

There was no tsunami after December 7 tremor, which struck just offshore at 05:03 local time at a depth of 8km, according to USGS.

A spokesman for Indonesia’s national disaster agency said more than 200 stores and homes had been destroyed, along with 14 mosques. A hospital and school were also badly damaged.

Maj. Gen. Tatang Sulaiman said four people had been rescued alive from the rubble and he believed there might be four or five more still buried, though he did not say whether they were alive.

Pidie Jaya is along the north coast of Aceh, and has a population of about 150,000.

It is about 68 miles from the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

The quake shook Banda Aceh and prompted many people across the region to flee their homes. Many are said to be reluctant to go back indoors, amid a number of aftershocks.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the Ring of Fire – the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.

Choi Soon-sil, the South Korean president’s friend who is accused of being behind a massive corruption scandal in the country has been ordered to appear before a parliamentary hearing.

She has been charged over allegations she colluded with President Park Geun-hye to gain influence and money for herself.

Park Geu-hye, who denies corruption, faces an impeachment hearing on December 9.

Amid ongoing street protests, Park Geun-hye has said she will resign once parliament finds a way for her to do so smoothly.

The parliamentary hearing in Seoul is questioning the heads of some of South Korea’s biggest companies, including Samsung, Hyundai, SK, Lotte and LG.

All the companies gave large donations to foundations run by Choi Soon-sil. They are being quizzed over whether the donations were used to gain them favorable treatment by the government.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

All have denied improper activity, though suggested there had been pressure to make donations.

One of the corporate bosses acknowledged that it was difficult for companies to say no to government requests.

“It’s a South Korean reality that if there is a government request, it is difficult for companies to decline,” said Huh Chang-soo, head of the GS Group and chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries lobby group.

Choi Soon-sil, who is in police detention along with two other aides of Park Geun-hye, has so far refused to attend the hearing as a witness, citing ill health.

However, on December 7 she and several other key witnesses, including members of her family, were ordered to appear.

“This hearing is being criticized as a Choi Soon-sil trial without Choi Soon-sil,” said the committee chairman Kim Sung-tae, according to the AFP.

Kim Sung-tae said the panel would “undertake all measures” to make her and other witnesses appear, before sending security officers to collect the group.

They could face jail or fines if they refuse.

The extraordinary scenes are being broadcast live on TV. The panel has no power to punish but its chairman has said the hearing is a place for apologies.

President Park Geun-hye has apologized multiple times to the public for allowing Choi Soon-sil inappropriate access to government decisions but has stopped short of resigning.


Michael Flynn Jr., one of Donald Trump’s aides, has lost his job after fanning so-called Pizzagate conspiracy theory that climaxed at the weekend in gunfire at a pizzeria.

The 33-year-old left the president-elect’s transition team on December 6 following his tweets about the Pizzagate fake news story.

His father, Michael Flynn Sr., Donald Trump’s pick to be US national security adviser, has also shared fake news.

The Pizzagate hoax led to a gunman firing shots in a restaurant on December 4.

No one was injured in the incident at Comet Ping Pong in Washington DC.

Image source Flickr

Image source Flickr

The suspect told police he had turned up to “self-investigate” online rumor-mongering that the pizzeria was the nexus of a pedophile ring involving Hillary Clinton and one of her aides, John Podesta.

The bizarre and unfounded theory had been spread online by right-wing blogs.

The claims were also pushed by Michale Flynn Jr., who tweeted after December 4 gunfire that Pizzagate would remain a story until “proven to be false”.

The New York Times reports that he was fired from the Trump transition team on December 6 but, according to CBS News, he resigned before he was sacked.

The Trump team confirmed the departure of Michael Flynn Jr. – who had reportedly been given a .gov email address – but did not confirm it was related to the tweets.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence acknowledged that Michael Flynn Jr. had been helping his father with scheduling and administrative items during the transition but said “that’s no longer the case”.

Asked repeatedly whether a security clearance was requested, Mike Pence refused to answer directly.

Michael Flynn Sr., 57, has also tweeted out unsubstantiated conspiracy theories accusing Hillary Clinton and her aides of child-s** trafficking.

Among the retired lieutenant general’s other tweets was an allegation that President Barack Obama was a “jihadi” who “laundered” money for terrorists.

Critics have said Michael Flynn Sr. is unfit to advise Donald Trump on the veracity of national security threats facing the US.

In December 4 armed confrontation, the suspect allegedly walked into Comet Ping Pong and pointed a rifle at an employee before firing shots into the ground.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, from North Carolina, has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

The Pizzagate theory originated on alternative message board 4chan, based on emails hacked from the Democratic Party and leaked by WikiLeaks.

The restaurant’s owner, James Alefantis, a Democratic Party donor, appears in the emails in relation to organizing a Democratic fundraiser.

Users of 4chan and Reddit had said words in the emails such as cheese, hot dog, and pizza were code for young children and s** acts.


Thousands of Indians are flocking to pay their respects to Jayaram Jayalalitha, one of the country’s most influential and colorful politicians.

J Jayalalitha, the chief minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu suffered a heart attack on December 4 and died at 23:30 local time on December 5 at the age of 68, Chennai’s Apollo Hospital says.

The politician’s body, draped in the Indian flag, is on display at a large public hall.

India’s PM Narendra Modi was among those who visited to pay tribute.

Extra police have been deployed in the state amid fears of unrest.Jayaram Jayalalitha to return as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

The extreme devotion J Jayalalitha inspires among her supporters, many of whom refer to her as “Amma” (mother) have led to concerns that they could resort to self-harm or violence.

Earlier reports of J Jayalalitha’s death, which were swiftly withdrawn, prompted scuffles between police and her supporters outside the private hospital.

However, lines have been orderly so far, despite the visible emotion among the crowds who are queuing up to catch a final glimpse of Jayalalitha. Many are openly weeping while some are beating their heads and chests.

A seven-day period of mourning has been declared in Tamil Nadu. The central government in Delhi has announced that December 6 will be a national holiday as a mark of respect and that J Jayalalitha will be given a funeral with full state honors.

She had been receiving treatment for months.

J Jayalalitha is revered by many but was seen by her critics as having created a cult of personality over the years.

Tributes began to pour in for J Jayalalitha as soon as her death was confirmed by Apollo, which had been treating her since September 22.

Her AIADMK party – which had earlier lowered the flag to half-mast before hoisting it up once more – also confirmed she had died, tweeting “our beloved leader, the Iron lady of India… Amma, is no more”.

“RIP Jayalalitha” has been trending on Twitter, while Facebook is also filled with elegies for a woman who is widely respected for managing to hold her own in the male-dominated world of Tamil Nadu politics.

A senior AIADMK politician, O Panneerselvam, was sworn in as chief of Tamil Nadu within hours of J Jayalalitha’s death, the party’s Twitter account confirmed.


Eight of South Korea’s biggest businesses, including Samsung and Hyundai, are being questioned by parliament in a rare TV hearing as part of a huge corruption inquiry.

The companies admitted giving millions of dollars to funds linked to President Park Geun-hye, but denied seeking favors.

Samsung admitted to giving the daughter of Park Geun-hye’s friend an expensive horse.

Parliament is due to vote on December 9 on the president’s impeachment over her involvement in the scandal.

Massive protests have been held in recent weeks demanding the president’s resignation.

The executives are being questioned by a cross-party committee of lawmakers. The panel has no power to punish but its chairman has said the hearing is a place for apology.

One of the corporate bosses acknowledged that it was difficult for companies to say no to government requests.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

“It’s a South Korean reality that if there is a government request, it is difficult for companies to decline,” said Huh Chang-soo, head of the GS Group and chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries lobby group.

The conglomerates all gave large donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a close confidante of Park Geun-hye.

Choi Soon-sil has been charged with coercion and attempted fraud.

Lawmakers spent the most time grilling Samsung’s Lee Kun-hee. Samsung has been accused of giving donations in exchange for support of a controversial merger that effectively strengthened his position in the company.

Samsung gave a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations.

Like the other leaders, Lee Kun-hee denied the allegations, saying Samsung “never provided support or gave donations in return for something”.

However, he admitted that his company provided a one billion won ($855,000) horse to Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, a professional equestrian, and said he regretted it.

Lee Kun-hee apologized for Samsung’s involvement in the scandal and said his company would “take all responsibility” if there was any.

South Korea’s family-owned conglomerates, known as chaebols, have increasingly been perceived as a symbol of the out-of-touch elite, and have become a target of public fury in recent protests calling for Park Geun-hye’s resignation.

The president has apologized multiple times to the public for allowing Choi Soon-sil inappropriate access to government decisions but has stopped short of resigning.

Last week Parke Geun-hye said she would leave it to parliament to decide her fate, and on December 6 she was quoted by her party’s leader as saying she would accept the outcome of December 9 impeachment vote.

Italy’s PM Matteo Renzi will meet President Sergio Mattarella to hand in his resignation after suffering a defeat in a constitutional referendum.

President Sergio Mattarella must either appoint a new prime minister or call early elections, as demanded by Italy’s opposition anti-establishment parties.

The president might also try to persuade Matteo Renzi to stay in charge until the 2017 budget is passed later this week, reports say.

European leaders have been playing down the risks of fallout from the crisis.

Matteo Renzi’s resignation comes amid fears of long-term instability for Italy’s troubled banking sector in the long-term. Shares in Italian banks lost ground following news of Matteo Renzi’s defeat.

Matteo Renzi is the youngest prime minister in Italy's history, and one of its least experienced

The No vote in December 4 constitutional referendum was widely seen as a rejection of establishment politics in Italy.

Matteo Renzi held a final cabinet meeting on December 5, before traveling to the presidential palace to submit his formal resignation.

In spite of the pressure from the opposition, early elections are thought to be unlikely.

Instead, the president may appoint a caretaker administration led by Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party, which would carry on until an election due in the spring of 2018.

Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan is the favorite to succeed Matteo Renzi as prime minister.

With most ballots counted, the No vote leads with 60% against 40% for Yes, with a 70% turnout, a heavier than expected defeat for the government.

Matteo Renzi staked his political future on his attempt to change Italy’s cumbersome political system. He wanted to strengthen central government and weaken the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

His opponents – including some within his own party – had argued that the reforms would give the prime minister too much power. The electorate agreed.

However, more than a resounding victory for the No camp, it was a chance for a medley of populist parties to reject establishment politics.

The opposition, headed by the Five Star Movement, capitalized on Matteo Renzi’s declining popularity, years of economic stagnation, and the problems caused by tens of thousands of migrants arriving in Italy from Africa.

After the vote, Matteo Renzi defended his record, saying exports and job numbers were up and unemployment was down to 11.7%.

Five Star’s leader, Beppe Grillo, has called for an election “within a week”.

President Sergio Mattarella, who praised the high voter turnout, called for a political climate with “serenity and mutual respect”.

There are obligations and deadlines which Italy’s institutions will have to honor “guaranteeing a response that meets the problems of the moment,” he said.

Donald Trump has picked Ben Carson as secretary of housing and urban development.

“Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities,” the president-elect said in a statement about his former rival for the Republican nomination, adding that the two had discussed his “urban renewal agenda”.

Ben Carson is the first African-American to be nominated for Donald Trump’s cabinet.

The retired neurosurgeon endorsed Donald Trump in March after ending his own bid for the White House.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

“Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans,” Donald Trump’s statement said.

However, Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi criticized the nomination of Ben Carson calling him a “disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice to lead a department as complex and consequential as housing and urban development”.

The agency has an annual budget of about $50 billion.

Donald Trump has not always been so positive about the man he has chosen to join his administration.

In November 2015, when Ben Carson briefly overtook him in the polls for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump launched sustained attacks on his rival’s character.

In one tweet, he brought together three of Ben Carson’s most controversial statements, bringing up Carson’s own admissions about his violent behavior growing up in a poor family in Detroit.

Ben Carson has since reiterated statements about his teenage years first made in his autobiography, in which he admitted to wanting to hit his mother on the head with a hammer and to trying to stab a friend.

His assertion that the Egyptian pyramids were not built to entomb pharaohs but instead by the Biblical figure Joseph to store grain were widely ridiculed when they emerged in November.

Ben Carson is a devout Protestant Christian who is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church.

Cabinet appointments need to be confirmed by the Senate.

There are still major cabinet positions yet to be announced, including the next secretary of state.

As well as his top team, Donald Trump has about 4,000 government positions to fill.

Austria’s far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer has lost the country’s election.

On Facebook, Norbert Hofer described himself as “infinitely sad” and congratulated Alexander Van der Bellen, former head of the Greens, on his victory.

Although the president’s role is ceremonial in Austria, the poll had been seen as a sign of how well populist candidates might do elsewhere in Europe.

Alexander Van der Bellen called the result a vote for a “pro-European” Austria based on “freedom, equality and solidarity”.

Referring to the Austrian flag, he said a “red-white-red signal of hope and change, a red-white-red signal today goes from Austria to all the capitals of the EU.

“Finally, you know, I will try to be an open-minded, a liberal-minded and first of all a pro-European federal president of the Republic of Austria.”

December 4 vote was a re-run of May’s election, which Alexander Van der Bellen narrowly won but was marred by postal vote irregularities.

Photo euractiv.com

Photo euractiv.com

The Green Party’s said there had been significant changes – Brexit, the US election – since then, along with an increase in political interest – “an enormously broad electoral movement”.

Alexander Van der Bellen’s margin in May – 30,000 votes – had now increased tenfold.

EU leaders have been welcoming the result, which comes amid fears of populism undermining established parties.

European Council President Donald Tusk conveyed “wholehearted congratulations” while Germany’s Social Democrat Vice-Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, called the result “a clear victory for reason against right-wing populism”.

France’s President Francois Hollande thanked Austria for “choosing Europe and openness”.

Germany, France and the Netherlands all face elections next year in which anti-mainstream and anti-immigration parties are gaining ground.

A referendum under way in Italy is being closely followed for further signs of anti-establishment populism, with polls suggesting a setback for centre-left PM Matteo Renzi.

But the Austrian results surprised many.

Opinion polls in the run-up to December 4 vote suggested the result was too close to call.

Projections now give Alexander Van der Bellen roughly 53% to 46% for Norbert Hofer.

The election campaign ahead of December 4 vote was bitter, with both candidates trading insults and election posters being defaced.

Norbert Hofer, the candidate for the anti-immigration Freedom Party, conceded within minutes of the first projections in this rerun.

He thanked supporters and described himself as “infinitely sad that it hasn’t worked out”.

Norbert Hofer called on all Austrians to work together, “regardless of how we cast our ballots”.

He had campaigned on an anti-immigration platform amid disquiet in Austria at an influx of refugees. Establishment parties feared a victory for him could give a boost to the Freedom Party in the next parliamentary election.

Norbert Hofer had also suggested Austria could follow the UK’s Brexit with a referendum of its own but later appeared to backtrack, suggesting instead changing the bloc into a purely economic association.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s anti-immigration Front National, congratulated the Freedom Party on its campaign and looked forward to victory in Austria’s parliamentary poll.

Full official results are not expected until December 5 once postal ballots have been counted. Nearly 6.5 million Austrians were eligible to vote.


The ashes of late Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro have been laid to rest in the city of Santiago, nine days after his death at the age of 90.

Crowds lined the streets to see the cortege heading to the Santa Ifigenia cemetery for a private ceremony.

On December 3, Fidel Castro’s brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, promised “to defend the fatherland and socialism”.

In a family ceremony, Fidel Castro’s ashes were interred next to those of the 19th Century Cuban independence hero, Jose Marti.

The city of Santiago is known as the birthplace of the Cuban Revolution.fidel-castro-funeral

The funeral brings an end to nine days of national mourning across Cuba.

Fidel Castro’s remains arrived in December 3 in Santiago after a four-day journey from the capital, Havana.

He was part of the small group of revolutionaries who launched an attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago on July 26, 1953.

The attacked failed, but it was considered the first act of the revolution that would depose the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959.

Opinion on Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century, remains divided.

Raul Castro took over when his brother’s health deteriorated in 2006.

The Cuban president has announced that his government will ban naming any monuments or roads after Fidel Castro, at the request of the late leader who “strongly opposed any manifestation of cult of personality”.

Italy voted in a constitutional referendum which is being closely watched for further signs of anti-establishment sentiment in Europe.

The vote, called by center-left PM Matteo Renzi, is formally on plans to streamline parliament but is expected to be used as a chance to register discontent.

Populist parties support a No vote.

The turnout on December 4 referendum has been very high by Italian standards – about 60% on average.

Nearly two-thirds of the electorate has voted in prosperous northern Italy but the turnout was much lower in the south.

Voting began at 07:00 and ended at 23:00 local time.

Matteo Renzi is the youngest prime minister in Italy's history, and one of its least experienced

PM Matteo Renzi, who has said he will resign if he loses, is set to address the Italian people at midnight.

In brief, the reforms include reducing the power of the Senate. Its members would be cut from 315 to 100, with most drawn from mayors and regional representatives.

Matteo Renzi, 41, says the reforms would speed up the cumbersome law-making process in Italy, which has had 60 governments since 1948.

Opponents say the proposals would concentrate too much power in the prime minister’s hands.

Some 50 million Italians have the right to vote in the referendum – many voters are fed up with years of economic stagnation.

An opinion poll in November gave the No vote a lead of at least five percentage points. But many Italians are thought to be still undecided.

The No campaign in Italy has been spearheaded by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, led by Beppe Grillo. It wants a referendum on whether Italy should keep the euro.

Populists, including the Five Star Movement and the anti-immigrant Northern League, would receive a boost from the prime minister’s defeat.

If Italy votes No, it would follow a similar trend seen with the UK’s vote in June to leave the EU, as well as the rise of the anti-immigrant Front National in France and populist parties elsewhere (along with Donald Trump’s unexpected win in the US presidential election).

The possibility of Matteo Renzi falling from power has reignited concerns about financial stability in the eurozone’s third largest economy.

If Matteo Renzi does lose, it is still not entirely certain that he will be out of power.

President Sergio Mattarella could ask Matteo Renzi to form a new government or appoint a technocratic prime minister to serve until elections due in 2018.

Jill Stein and her party have changed their strategy in seeking a state-wide recount in Pennsylvania.

Her campaign says it will go to the federal courts, hours after dropping an appeal in a Pennsylvania state court.

The Green Party had earlier said voters could not afford the $1 million bond ordered by the state court.

Jill Stein has tried to force recounts in Michigan and Wisconsin as well; all three were narrowly won by Donald Trump.

Image source Flickr

Image source Flickr

The Greens’ decision comes two days before a court hearing was scheduled on the case in Pennsylvania where Donald Trump’s margin of victory was 49,000, or less than 1%.

Donald Trump’s supporters are trying to block the recount bid, which are unlikely to change the polls results if they take place.

“Make no mistake, the Stein campaign will continue to fight for a state-wide recount in Pennsylvania,” recount campaign lawyer Jonathan Abady said in a statement.

“We are committed to this fight to protect the civil and voting rights of all Americans.”

Jonathan Abady said barriers to a recount in Pennsylvania are pervasive and the state court system is ill-equipped to address the problem.

Jill Stein, who was the Green Party’s presidential candidate, says the recount bid is needed to explore whether voting machines and systems had been hacked and the election result manipulated.

Her campaign has so far offered no evidence of hacking, and supporters of Donald Trump have asked the state court to dismiss the case.

A recount has already started in Wisconsin, which Donald Trump won by 22,000 votes. On December 2, a federal court rejected a request by Donald Trump’s supporters to immediately halt the recount there, but allowed a lawsuit to proceed.

In Michigan, Donald Trump’s team filed a complaint with the elections board to block a recount of all 4.8 million ballots cast in the state, which he won by 10,700 votes. A recount there could begin next week.

Hillary Clinton, who lost to Donald Trump, has kept silent on the matter, but her campaign has said it would co-operate with Jill Stein’s recount efforts.

Austria is voting in a re-run of a presidential election which pits the leader of the far-right Freedom Party Norbert Hofer against former Green Party head Alexander Van der Bellen.

Last May’s vote was narrowly won by Alexander Van der Bellen, but the result was overturned by Austria’s highest court because of irregularities in the count.

If Norbert Hofer wins, he will become the EU’s first far-right head of state.

Opinion polls held in November suggest the vote is too close to call.

Although the president’s role is largely ceremonial in Austria, the vote is being watched as a barometer of how well populist candidates will do in upcoming elections.

Photo euractiv.com

Photo euractiv.com

France, the Netherlands and Germany all face elections in 2017 and anti-mainstream and anti-immigration parties are gaining ground.

The direction in which Austria will take with regard to the EU is also closely watched.

Norbert Hofer has campaigned on an anti-immigration platform, and initially said Austria could follow Britain’s vote to leave the EU with a referendum of its own. Alexander Van der Bellen has told Austrians it is proof that Norbert Hofer is in favor of “Oexit” (a reference to Austria’s name in German, Oesterreich).

However, at a party meeting on December 2, Norbert Hofer said opponents who repeatedly accused him of seeking a break with the EU were themselves damaging Austria.

“People who permanently talk about Oexit and accuse others of damaging the country with talk of Oexit should take a look at themselves and think about whether they are the ones damaging Austria the most,” he said.

In April 2015, Norbert Hofer won the first round of presidential elections by knocking out centrist candidates from parties that have dominated Austria since WWII.

Alexander Van der Bellen won the second round, but by just 31,000 votes. The Freedom Party then challenged the result which was then annulled due to irregularities.

The election campaign has been long and bitter, with both men trading insults, and with posters of both being defaced.

In the final TV debate on December 1, Norbert Hofer called Alexander Van der Bellen a liar 24 times, and had the insult returned three times, according to the Kurier newspaper.

Austria’s vote coincides with a closely-watched referendum in Italy, where center-left PM Matteo Renzi is staking his political future on a package of political reforms that is being challenged by the populist Five-Star Movement of Beppe Grillo.


The final tributes to late Cuban leader Fidel Castro have been led by his brother, President Raul Castro, at a ceremony in the city of Santiago.

Tens of thousands of Cubans attended the event, as well as world leaders.

The Cuban president vowed to honor the socialist principles and goals of the revolution led by Fidel Castro, who died on November 25 at the age of 90.

Photo Wikipedia

Photo Wikipedia

Raul Castro also announced that Cuba would ban naming any monuments or roads after Fidel Castro, at the request of the late leader.

“The leader of the revolution strongly opposed any manifestation of cult of personality,” said Raul Castro.

No statues or busts of Fidel Castro will be erected in Cuba, he said.

The urn with his ashes will be interred on December 4 in Santiago, known as the birthplace as the Cuban Revolution.

It arrived on December 3 in Santiago, after a four-day journey from the capital, Havana.

Large crowds shouting “Long live Fidel!” and “I am Fidel!” greeted his funeral cortege through the streets of Santiago.

The leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have attended the ceremony.

Fidel Castro was part of the small group of revolutionaries who launched an attack on the barracks on July 26, 1953.

The attacked failed, but it was considered the first act of the revolution that would depose the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959.

Opinion on Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century, remains divided.

Supporters say Fidel Castro returned Cuba to the people and praise him for some of his social programs, such as public health and education.

However, critics call him a dictator, who led a government that did not tolerate opposition and dissent.

Raul Castro took over when his brother’s health deteriorated in 2006.

Fidel Castro’s ashes will be placed in the Ifigenia Cemetery, where Cuban independence hero Jose Marti is buried.

China’s foreign ministry says it has lodged a complaint with the US after Donald Trump spoke to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in a phone call.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. US policy set in 1979 cut all formal relations with Taiwan.

However, Donald Trump’s transition team said he and Tsai Ing-wen noted “close economic, political, and security ties” in a phone call.

China said it had lodged a “solemn representation” with Washington.

According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, China urged the US “to cautiously, properly handle Taiwan issue to avoid unnecessary disturbance to Sino-US relations”.Taiwan elections Tsai Ing wen

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed the call as a “petty trick” by Taiwan, Chinese state media said.

Donald Trump tweeted on December 2 that Tsai Ing-wen had called Donald Trump to congratulate him on winning the US election.

His team said that the US president-elect had also congratulated Tsai Ing-wen on becoming the president of Taiwan last January.

It is highly unusual for a US president or president-elect to speak to a Taiwanese leader directly.

Following media reports pointing out the risks of angering China, Donald Trump tweeted: “Interesting how the US sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”

The White House has said Donald Trump’s conversation does not signal any change in US policy. And according to media reports, the White House learned of the call only after it had happened.

Donald Trump’s spokeswoman said he was “well aware” of US policy towards Taiwan.

The split between China and Taiwan goes back to 1949, when the Republic of China (ROC) government fled the mainland to Taiwan. After 1945, it held China’s seat on the UN Security Council and was, for a while, recognized by many Western nations as the only Chinese government.

In 1971, the UN switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing and the ROC government was forced out. Only a handful of countries now recognize Taiwan’s government.

The US cut formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, expressing its support for Beijing’s “One China” concept, which states that Taiwan is part of China.

China has hundreds of missiles pointing towards Taiwan, and has threatened to use force if it seeks independence.

President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female leader, led the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to a landslide victory in the January 2016 election.

The DPP has traditionally leaned towards independence from China. President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration does not accept the One China policy.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it opposed any official interaction or military contact between the US and Taiwan, according to the People’s Daily, a Communist Party mouthpiece.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the conversation between Donald Trump and Tsai Ing-wen was “just a petty trick by Taiwan” that he believed would not change US policy toward China, state media reported.

“The One China policy is the cornerstone of the healthy development of China-US relations and we hope this political foundation will not be interfered with or damaged,” he was quoted as saying.

The comment was repeated in a formal statement by the Foreign Ministry reported by Xinhua.

Despite the cut in formal ties nearly four decades ago, the US has still maintained friendly non-official relations with Taiwan.

Following Donald Trump’s phone call, the White House said the US remained firmly committed to its “One China” policy.

According to a new report, President Barack Obama has recommended to President-elect Donald Trump to elect a cybersecurity ambassador to help keep the US secure.

The 100-page document highlights areas where the US falls short and calls on the private sector to help hasten the improvement of digital services.

President Barack Obama set up the commission in preparation for the new administration.Barack Obama blames media for Donald Trump coverage

The outgoing president said its recommendations should be followed within the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“Now it is time for the next administration to take up this charge and ensure that cyberspace can continue to be the driver for prosperity, innovation, and change both in the United States and around the world,” Barack Obama said.

However, the report is only advisory and Donald Trump could choose to ignore its suggestions.

In its 16 recommendations, the Presidential Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity also suggested implementing a kind of “nutritional label” system for devices. The label would contain independent advice on how secure a particular device may or may not be.

The report’s backdrop comes amid ongoing concern about how weak cybersecurity is allowing other nations to interfere with US governance.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has suffered a surprise defeat in the country’s general election.

The authoritarian president for 22 years will be replaced by property developer Adama Barrow, who won more than 45% of the vote.

Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a coup in 1994, has conceded, said electoral commission chief Alieu Momar Njie.

Before announcing the final result, Alieu Momar Njie appealed for calm as Gambia entered unchartered waters.

The African country has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence in 1965.Yahya Jammeh returns to Gambia after coup plot

Mr Barrow won 263,515 votes (45.5%) in Thursday’s election, while President Jammeh took 212,099 (36.7%), according to the electoral commission.

Adama Barrow, who runs his own property company, reportedly used to work as a security guard at an Argos department store on London’s Holloway Road.

On the electoral campaign, he promised to revive Gambia’s economy, which has forced thousands of Gambians to make the perilous journey to Europe.

A devout Muslim, Yahya Jammeh, 51, once said he would rule for “one billion years” if “Allah willed it”.

Human rights groups have accused Yahya Jammeh, who has in the past claimed he can cure AIDS and infertility, of repression and abuses.

Several previous opposition leaders are in jail after taking part in a rare protest in April.

Observers from the EU and the West African regional bloc Ecowas did not attend the vote.

Gambian officials opposed the presence of Western observers, but the EU said it was staying away out of concern about the fairness of the voting process.

However, the African Union did dispatch a handful of observers to supervise the vote.

The Gambia, a tiny country with a population of fewer than two million, is surrounded on three sides by Senegal and has a short Atlantic coastline popular with European tourists.


According to new reports, the pilot of a charter plane that crashed in Colombia on November 28 had been warned before taking off from an airport in Bolivia that he might not have enough fuel.

Bolivia’s Deber newspaper said that an airport official raised the concern after checking the plane’s flight plan.

Seventy-one people died in the plane crash, including members of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team. Six people survived.

Bodies of the victims are due to be repatriated to Brazil.

Colombian authorities have said evidence is growing that the British-made BAE 146 Avro RJ85 aircraft ran out of fuel as it tried to land at Medellin airport. Experts say it was flying at, or very near, its maximum range.

In a leaked tape, pilot Miguel Quiroga can be heard warning of a “total electric failure” and “lack of fuel”.chapecoense-plane-crash

On December 1, Bolivia’s aviation authority suspended the operating license of charter airline LaMia, which was part-owned by Miguel Quiroga, and two other aviation officials.

In the report carried in Deber, the Bolivian airport authority official at Santa Cruz airport said she raised concerns that the plane’s fuel load was only enough for the exact flight time.

The newspaper said she described how the airline’s clerk, who died in the crash, had told her the pilot was confident he had enough fuel. Despite her concerns, the flight plan was passed on to Bolivian air control.

Bolivian officials have not yet commented on the report.

An earlier report carried by Brazil’s O Globo newspaper suggested that because of a delayed departure, a refueling stop in Cobija – on the border between Brazil and Bolivia – was abandoned because the airport did not operate at night.

The pilot had the option to refuel in Bogota, it said, but headed straight to Medellin.

LaMia CEO Gustavo Vargas said on November 30 that the plane should have had enough fuel for about four and a half hours and any decision to refuel was at the pilot’s discretion.

In another development, the Colombian air traffic controller who received the distress call said she had received death threats following the crash.

“I did all that was humanly possible and technically necessary to preserve the lives of the passengers, but unfortunately my efforts weren’t enough,” Yaneth Molina wrote in a letter to her colleagues that was later released to the media.

On the approach to Medellin, the pilot had initially sought permission to land urgently but another plane was given priority because it had suffered a fuel leak. The LaMia flight was told to circle for seven minutes.

Meanwhile, coffins of the Brazilian victims are due to be flown out of Medellin on December 1.

Chapecoense had been due to play a soccer cup final against Atletico Nacional in Medellin.

In the squad’s home town of Chapeco, in southern Brazil, temporary structures have been set up in the football stadium for an open-air wake on December 3.

According to Colombian officials, the plane’s “black boxes”, which record flight details, will be sent to the UK to be opened by investigators.

Donald Trump has appointed General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, a former marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as his defense secretary.

“He’s our best,” the president-elect said, as he announced his pick in a speech in Ohio.

The 66-year-old, who is known as “Mad Dog”, was an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy, particularly on Iran.

He has referred to Iran as “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East”.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

Donald Trump made the announcement in Cincinnati at the start of a “USA Thank You Tour 2016” for his supporters.

“We are going to appoint <<Mad Dog>> Mattis as our secretary of defense,” he told the crowd.

“They say he’s the closest thing to General George Patton [World War Two commander] that we have.”

Donald Trump has previously described James Mattis as “a true general’s general”.

The retired Marine Corps officer led an assault battalion during the first Gulf war in 1991 and commanded a task force into southern Afghanistan in 2001.

Gen. James Mattis also took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and played a key role a year later in the battle of Fallujah against Iraqi insurgents.

He retired in 2013 after serving as the commander of the US Central Command.

Correspondents say his nomination will be popular among US forces.

Gen. James Mattis also received the backing of Senator John McCain, chairman of the armed services committee, who will conduct his confirmation hearing.

“He is without a doubt one of the finest military officers of his generation and an extraordinary leader who inspires a rare and special admiration of his troops,” John McCain said in a statement.

“America will be fortunate to have General Mattis in its service once again.”

However, a legal hurdle must be overcome before he can be appointed.

Under US law, a retired officer must be out of uniform for at least seven years before he or she can serve as defense secretary.

Republican-controlled Congress will have to approve legislation bypassing the requirement so Gen. Mattis can take up the role.


Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has been proclaimed the country’s new king, succeeding his much-revered late father King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The prince accepted the throne in a TV broadcast following an invitation from parliament, formalizing his accession.

King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, died on October 13.

The late king was widely seen as a pillar of stability during seven decades of political turmoil in Thailand.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn had been expected to become the next king the day after his father’s death, but PM Prayuth Chan-ocha at the time said that he had asked to delay the official proclamation so he could mourn.

Instead, the prince was anointed in a special ceremony 50 days after the death of his father.

The crown prince becomes King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, the 10th monarch of the Chakri dynasty, but will also be known as Rama X.

“I would like to accept in order to fulfill his majesty’s wishes and for the benefit of all Thais,” he said in a TV statement.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

The broadcast showed one official shuffling on his knees to hand a microphone to the new king in the ceremony at the palace in Bangkok.

Prayuth Chan-ocha, who was among top government figures attending, said the new king would become the “heart and soul” of the nation.

Maha Vajiralongkorn was given the title of crown prince, making him the official heir, in 1972.

He is yet to enjoy the same level of popularity as his father, and spends much of his time abroad.

The prince’s accession to the throne ends a period of uncertainty during which Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, a 96-year-old former prime minister, has been serving as regent.

Thailand’s monarchy is protected from criticism by tough lèse-majesté laws, which restrict media discussion about the royal family’s role, including in the international press.

Most ordinary Thais know only a few details about who the crown prince is and how he lives his life.

In recent years he has tried to improve his profile – important because the king is traditionally seen as a guiding force in Thai politics, which is highly polarized.

Maha Vajiralongkorn’s coronation will not happen until after King Bhumibol’s cremation, expected next year.

Bhumibol’s own coronation took place four years after his brother King Ananda Mahidol died of gunshot wounds in mysterious circumstances.


President-elect Donald Trump has said Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who went on a rampage at Ohio State University campus on November 28 “should not have been in our country”.

Donald Trump added that “ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack”, which left 11 people injured.

Earlier, a ISIS-affiliated news agency claimed business student Abdul Razak Ali Artan as a “soldier”.

The 18-year-old’s mother says he acted normally on the day of the rampage at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on November 30 that investigators had found “no direct link” between Abdul Razak Ali Artan and any terrorist organization.

FBI special agent in charge Angela Byers said separately that hemay have been inspired by al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a 2011 US drone strike in Yemen.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan was a refugee who moved with his family in 2014 to the US from Pakistan, where he had been living since 2007.

Image source The Lantern

Image source The Lantern

According to US officials, no negative information was found during background checks on Abdul Razak Ali Artan when he was allowed into the US and when he became a legal permanent resident in 2015.

Police say Artan drove his car at a group of people on the campus as students were returning from the Thanksgiving weekend.

After his vehicle jumped the kerb, the student then began attacking them with a “butcher’s knife” before being shot dead by a campus police officer.

Donald Trump has vowed as president to institute an “extreme vetting” program to limit immigration to the US from countries that are believed to be at a heightened risk of terrorism.

He had previously called for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim immigration to the US.

Hassan Omar, president of the Somali Community Association in Columbus, Ohio, spoke to Abdul Razak Ali Artan’s mother, who said he had driven his siblings to school as usual on the day of the attack.

“He woke up and he went to school,” Hassan Omar said, relaying the conversation that he had with Artan’s mother on November 28.

She told him that she did not know anything was wrong until police arrived at her house.

Minutes before the rampage, Abdul Razak Ali Artan posted to Facebook about “lone wolf attacks”.

He said that “we will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims. You will not celebrate or enjoy any holiday”.

Artan’s post also complained about treatment of Muslims around the world.

He warned that some Muslims were in sleeper cells, “waiting for a signal. I am warning you Oh America!”

However, a friend said the attacker “actually loved America”.

Ameer Kadar, who last saw Abdul Razak Ali Artan two weeks ago, told NBC News: “He loved the fact of the opportunity he had here to go to school.

“He loved the fact that he was able to get a college degree.”

Abdul Razak Ali Artan grew up in Somalia, but moved to Pakistan in 2007.

Donald Trump has just announced he will “business in total” to focus on presidency and avoid perceived conflicts of interest.

The president-elect said he would be expanding on his plans at a press conference with his children next month.

Donald Trump previously dismissed concerns over potential conflicts between his businesses and the presidency.

Meanwhile, former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin confirmed he had been picked as treasury secretary.

Steve Mnuchin, who was Donald Trump’s former campaign finance director, also said billionaire investor Wilbur Ross had been chosen for commerce secretary.

Donald Trump and his transition team have yet to confirm the appointments.

Image source Flickr

Image source Flickr

Instead, the president-elect chose to focus on his plans to distance himself from his business in a series of four tweets released over 20 minutes.

The tweets read: “I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

“While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.

“Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!”

There is no legal requirement to liquidate assets but past presidents have set aside their business dealings. Donald Trump’s rivals have raised repeated concerns this may cause problems in the coming months.

Donald Trump, who takes office on January 20, had previously indicated to the New York Times that he was considering separating his two areas of responsibility but was confident he could run both “perfectly”.

The billionaire’s three eldest children already hold roles within the Trump empire which boasts golf clubs, office towers and other properties in several countries.

However, Reince Priebus, Donald Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, refused to say on MSNBC’s Morning Joe whether he was handing the business to his children or putting it into a blind trust, which would place the management of his assets in the hands of other experts.


The late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has been honored with a mass rally in Havana’s Revolution Square.

The gathering began with the national anthem and ended with a tribute from Fidel Castro’s brother, President Raul Castro.

The rallywas attended by a number of world leaders – but some countries sent lower-level officials.

Fidel Castro, who came to power in 1959, died on November 25 at the age of 90. His ashes will be taken to the eastern city of Santiago on November 30.

Opinion on Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century, remains divided.fidel-castro-funeral

Supporters say Fidel Castro returned Cuba to the people and praise him for some of his social programs, such as public health and education.

However, critics call him a dictator, who led a government that did not tolerate opposition and dissent.

This division led to some countries, such as the US, sending lower-ranking emissaries. However, allies including left-wing Latin American leaders were among those attending the ceremony in Revolution Square, where Cubans once gathered to listen to Fidel Castro’s fiery speeches.

On November 29, the crowd chanted “long live the revolution!” and “Fidel! Fidel!” as the rally got under way.

President Raul Castro closed the rally, referring to his brother as the leader of a revolution “for the humble, and by the humble”.

Greece’s left-wing PM Alexis Tsipras was among those who addressed the crowd. The presidents of Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Panama, South Africa and Zimbabwe also attended.

In his speech, South African President Jacob Zuma praised Cuba’s record on health care and education and its support for African countries.

On November 29, the left-wing presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela, Evo Morales and Nicolas Maduro, were among those who signed a book of condolences at the Jose Marti memorial where a photograph flanked by an honor guard has been on display since November 28.

Another admirer of Fidel Castro, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, was joining the two presidents at the commemoration.

However, many Western leaders are not attending the event in person.

The White House announced that its nominee for the post of ambassador to Havana, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes would attend the commemorative event but that it was not sending an “official delegation” to Cuba.

Ben Rhodes was one of the US officials who negotiated the thaw between the United States and the Cuban government announced in December 2014.

On November 28, President-elect Donald Trump threatened to end the detente if Cuba did not offer a “better deal”.

On November 30, Fidel Castro’s ashes will be taken on a journey to Santiago, which is regarded as the Cuba’s 1959 revolution.

Fidel Castro’s ashes will be placed on December 4 in the Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago, where Cuban independence hero Jose Marti is buried.

According to new reports, Donald Trump is expected to pick former Goldman Sachs executive Steve Mnuchin to be treasury secretary.

Steve Mnuchin, who was Donald Trump’s campaign finance chairman and has no government experience, could be named on November 30, according to reports.

On November 29, Donald Trump picked Tom Price as health secretary and Elaine Chao as transportation secretary.

The president-elect is still weighing his options in filling the posts of state and defense.steve-mnuchin-donald-trump

Steve Mnuchin amassed a fortune over 17 years at Goldman Sachs investment bank, before founding a movie production company that was behind such box office hits as the X-Men franchise and American Sniper.

It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump’s first key economic policy move, potentially picking a consummate Wall Street insider to helm the nation’s financial system, will be welcomed by supporters who were energized by the Republican’s vow to “drain the swamp” of special interests.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross – known as “the king of bankruptcy” for his restructuring of failing industries – is tipped to be named as Donald Trump’s commerce secretary.

Also on November 29, Donald Trump met Mitt Romney for a second time despite one of his top aides launching a public campaign against offering the former Massachusetts governor the post of secretary of state.

Donald Trump had dinner with Mitt Romney and the president-elect’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway spoke out against Mitt Romney on November 27, saying Donald Trump’s supporters felt “betrayed” he would consider the 2012 Republican nominee for the prominent role.

Mitt Romney was one of Donald Trump’s harshest critics during the campaign.

The president-elect will also sit down with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.

The two men are leading contenders for the all-important diplomatic post.

Earlier, Donald Trump met retired General David Petraeus.

In a tweet after their meeting on November 28, Donald Trump said he was “very impressed” with the former CIA director.

Donald Trump met Mitt Romney for a second time despite one of his top aides launching a public campaign against offering the former Massachusetts governor the post of secretary of state.

Donald Trump had dinner with Mitt Romney and the president-elect’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway spoke out against Mitt Romney on November 27, saying Donald Trump’s supporters felt “betrayed” he would consider the 2012 Republican nominee for the prominent role.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

Mitt Romney was one of Donald Trump’s harshest critics during the campaign.

The president-elect will also sit down with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.

The two men are leading contenders for the all-important diplomatic post.

Earlier, Donald Trump met retired General David Petraeus.

In a tweet after their meeting on November 28, Donald Trump said he was “very impressed” with the former CIA director.

On November 29, President-elect Donald Trump is expected to meet Mitt Romney for a second time despite one of his top aides launching a public campaign against the former Massachusetts governor’s nomination.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway spoke out against Mitt Romney on November 27, saying Donald Trump’s supporters felt “betrayed” he would consider the 2012 Republican nominee for the prominent role.Mitt Romney Donald Trump indictment

Mitt Romney was one of Donald Trump’s harshest critics during the campaign.

Donald Trump will also sit down with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.

The two men are leading contenders for the all-important diplomatic post.

Earlier, Donald Trump met retired General David Petraeus. He said he was “very impressed” with the former CIA director in a tweet after their meeting on November 28.

David Petraeus pleaded guilty in 2015 to mishandling classified information over documents he had shared with his biographer Paula Broadwell, with whom he was also having an affair.