Tunisia: Violent protests after journalist sets himself on fire; Journalist Abderrazak Zorgui set himself on fire and called for a revolution over poor living conditions and corruption. His death has triggered protests in a provincial city that threaten to spread. Clashes between protesters and police erupted for the second day in Tunisia on Tuesday after a journalist set himself on fire to protest poor living conditions in the North African state. Journalist Abderrazak Zorgui posted a video online before his self-immolation in the provincial city of Kasserine, in which he lamented unemployment, poverty and corruption. “For the sons of Kasserine who have no means of subsistence, today I start a revolution. I am going to set myself on fire,” Zorgui said in the video. He died Monday after being taken to the hospital.
Syrian air defense respond to suspected Israeli attack; Suspected Israeli warplanes have attacked Iranian and Hezbollah targets near Damascus. It comes days after Netanyahu said Israel may expand military action against Iran.Syrian air defenses “intercepted hostile targets” west of Damascus on Tuesday night, Syrian state media SANA reported. There were reports of loud explosions through the Syrian capital and videos shared on social media showed Syrian surface-to-air missiles being fired into the sky. SANA said “most” of the incoming fire was shot down and three Syrian soldiers were injured. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said Israeli air raids targeted Iranian and Hezbollah arms warehouses. “Missiles fired from Israeli planes targeted … arms depots southwest and south of Damascus that belong to Hezbollah or Iranian forces,” the head of the Syrian Observatory Abdel Rahman said.
40 migrants rescued from boats in English Channel; Forty migrants have been rescued from five boats in the English Channel. The Christmas Day rescues come amid a spike in migrant boats trying to cross the dangerous waters. British and French maritime authorities intercepted 40 migrants trying to cross the English Channel on Tuesday.The British Home Office, which oversees immigration, said the migrants were from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan
German police find ‘Islamic State’ flag after suspected attack on Berlin railway track; The flag and a text in Arabic were found close to the site where an overhead contact wire was found damaged. It is unclear if the propaganda objects were related to the damage caused to the overhead power cable.German police said on Tuesday they had recovered a flag of the “Islamic State” (IS) group and a text in Arabic close to a railway track in Berlin where an overhead power cable was found to be damaged on Sunday. Investigators are trying to ascertain if the propaganda objects were linked to the damage caused to the overhead contact wire. They are also examining if the perpetrators had any political motives. “Since the beginning of the investigation, several pieces of evidence have been secured,” police said, adding that investigators found a torn steel cable and the damaged overhead contact wire at the train track on Sunday.
Japan officially announces departure from IWC; Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has announced Japan is withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission, or IWC. Suga said in a news conference on Wednesday that Japan plans to resume commercial whaling from July. He said Japan has sought ways to promote sustainable whaling for more than 30 years, but has been unable to find common ground with anti-whaling countries. He said the outcome of the IWC’s September general meeting made clear it was impossible for pro and anti-whaling countries to coexist in the forum. Suga said Japan will hunt for whales only in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. He said the country would not hunt in the Antarctic Ocean and other parts of the Southern Hemisphere. He also said Japan will use the IWC’s method for calculating quotas to determine the number of whales it catches. Japan suspended commercial whaling in 1988, in line with a 1982 IWC moratorium. The country currently says it catches whales for research purposes only.
Kelly being treated in hospital; A close aide to former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn is in a hospital being treated for a neck problem. Greg Kelly was released from detention on Tuesday. He and Ghosn were arrested more than a month ago over alleged financial misconduct. Ghosn is still being detained. Kelly posted bail for about 635,000 dollars. His release was on the conditions that he cannot leave Japan and that his contact with those involved in the case be restricted. Kelly’s release comes after the Tokyo District Court rejected a request by prosecutors last week to continue holding him and Ghosn. Kelly’s lawyer says his client may remain in hospital for about a week with the court’s permission, which he must get before spending a night away from his house.
Nissan bans employees from contacting Ghosn, Kelly; Nissan Motor has instructed all its employees not to contact former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, his aide Greg Kelly or their lawyers. Nissan sent an e-mail addressed to all employees. The notice was dated December 24. It says that Ghosn was rearrested for a “severe breach of the law,” and that Kelly, a former representative director, has been indicted of a crime. It says that it is a notice to all Nissan employees instructing them not to speak or engage with Ghosn, Kelly, their attorneys or other related persons. It says employees should not meet them, either face to face or by other means such as videoconference systems. The instruction says if employees are contacted by those mentioned by phone, they should say communication is not permitted. Employees are also told not to respond to e-mails or letters from the named parties.
Nikkei recovers after plunge; Tokyo stocks bounced back a day after a strong sell-off saw the Nikkei Average fall 5 percent. But gains were capped as some traders maintain a pessimistic outlook on global markets. The Nikkei ended Wednesday’s morning session at 19,241. The benchmark rose 86 points, or 0.45 percent, from the previous day’s close. It was briefly up 300 points, or 1.5 percent. On Tuesday, the index plummeted more than 1,000 points. It finished below the key 20,000-mark for the first time since September 2017. Political turmoil in the US was one reason for the global plunge.And analysts say sentiment will remain cautious when markets over there re-open on Wednesday following the Christmas holiday.
Abe Cabinet faces new challenge in its 7th year; Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing a challenge of keeping the country’s economy on track to allow the implementation of a planned consumption tax hike, in his seventh year in office. Wednesday marks six years after Abe formed a coalition Cabinet, following a landslide victory in the general election in 2012. Abe told reporters on Tuesday that he will continue to do his utmost for the state and the public in his seventh year. The government plans to raise the consumption tax from 8 to 10 percent in October. The government hopes to enact its largest-ever budget as early as possible in January’s ordinary Diet session, to maintain what Abe calls a virtuous cycle of the economy. The government stresses the fundamentals of the country’s economy are solid. But Japan’s stock prices plummeted on Tuesday, amid the growing uncertainties about the global economic outlook.