Syrian rebels inside Aleppo Part Two
The CIA confirmed that Russia had tried to influence the result of the presidential election by hacking and leaking sensitive Democratic e-mails. The allegations were rubbished by Donald Trump’s team. America’s spooks are sure that Russia did try to intervene in the election; some are less certain than the CIA about the intent behind its actions. See article.
Mr Trump nominated Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, a surprise choice given that the chief executive of ExxonMobil has no experience of formal diplomacy, though he does have friendly ties with Russia. Rick Perry, a former governor of oil-rich Texas, is to head the Department of Energy, which he once forgot he wanted to abolish.
There have been so many
Paolo Gentiloni was sworn in as Italy’s new prime minister following Matteo Renzi’s resignation after his defeat in a referendum on political reforms. Mr Gentiloni’s new cabinet got to work as Mr Renzi retreated to his home in Tuscany. He may not be gone for long. He signed off with: “Back in touch soon, friends.”
In Turkey a bombing outside a football stadium in Istanbul killed at least 44 people and left scores wounded. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons claimed responsibility, the second attack it has carried out in the city this year.
A Dutch court convicted Geert Wilders, a populist politician, for inciting racial discrimination in a speech from 2014 in which he asked, “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans?” Mr Wilders described the decision as “a great loss for democracy and freedom of expression”. He leads the polls for next year’s election. See article.
South Korea’s National Assembly voted to impeach Park Geun-hye, the president. The Constitutional Court now has six months to review the charges against her. See article.
In Indonesia the governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as Ahok), went on trial for insulting Islam. The case has thrown open the election for governor.
Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, told a group of businessmen that he had personally killed suspected criminals in an effort to encourage vigilantism while mayor of the city of Davao. See article.
Japan’s parliament passed a bill to overturn a ban on casinos, taking a punt that rich gamblers can be lured away from Macau and Singapore.
Donald Trump angered China by challenging the “one China” policy. Some Taiwanese are glad that the idea of “one China” has been questioned—they disagree with China’s assertion that Taiwan is part of it. Some also fear, however, that their island may become a bargaining chip. See article.
A US think-tank reported that China appeared to have put anti-aircraft systems on the seven artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea. The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative used satellite imagery to track their construction. China has always denied that the islands were built for military purposes.
Hong Kong’s unpopular chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, said he would not run for a second term. His successor will be chosen in March by a 1,200-strong committee packed with loyalists of the Communist Party in Beijing. See article.
Venezuela withdrew the 100-bolívar bill, its highest-valued banknote, from circulation. It represented 77% of the country’s cash. Savers formed hours-long queues to deposit the nearly worthless bills in banks. See article.
Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, struck a deal with the leaders of 11 provinces and territories to start a carbon-pricing scheme nationwide. If implemented, it would put the country on track to meet its emissions targets under the Paris agreement. See article.
Just in time for Christmas
Consumer prices in Britain rose to 1.2% in November, a two-year high. The increase, driven mainly by the higher cost of petrol and clothing, puts inflation at more than twice the level it was at in June, when Britain voted to leave the EU. With pay stagnant, inflation is eating into real wages. Meanwhile, the government said that it would not publish its Brexit plan until February.
A strike by train drivers on one of Britain’s busiest railway networks gave commuters the winter blues. Those trying to get away from it all will have to contend with industrial action called by British Airways’ cabin crews. But Post Office workers could deliver some festive cheer. They are also threatening to strike, so any future union ballots might get lost in the post before they do more damage to the economy.