Trump signs $1.5 trillion tax bill; Catalonia elects pro-independence parties

  1. Bitcoin price plummets by over 30 percent after warnings from global regulators to be wary of investing in cryptocurrencies
  2. British Foreign Secretary rebukes Moscow over "abundant evidence" of Russian election meddling
  3. Over 120 countries voted for a UN resolution calling on the U.S. to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital
  4. Hungary stands with Poland in dispute with EU over democratic rights

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Curated top stories

  • President Donald Trump signed into law his controversial $1.5 trillion tax reform bill today. The tax bill was opposed by all Senate Democrats who said it would only benefit the rich; Republicans say it will boost the economy.  (Read more: our explainer on what the tax bill will change).
  • Fugitive Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called for talks with Spain after successionist parties won a narrow majority in Catalonia’s regional election. Puigdemont, who fled to Brussels two months ago to avoid arrest for pushing independence, said the results signaled a “new era” for Catalonia and added that he would return to Barcelona if chosen as leader by the Catalan parliament. The election results, on a record turnout of more than 80 percent, could mean a return to the instability that surrounded the province’s independence referendum on October 1. The referendum led the central government to dissolve the region’s parliament and issue an arrest warrant for Puigdemont. (Read more: WikiTribune’s full coverage of the results).
  • The price of Bitcoin fell by a third as warnings came from global regulators that it was not a secure investment. The cryptocurrency began the year priced at $1,000 and recently rose to its highest value of nearly $20,000. Regulators have been warning that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are risky investments. The Monetary Authority of Singapore on Tuesday warned investors to be aware of the “significant risks” of cryptocurrencies, while the head of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority told the BBC bitcoin was not a secure investment. (Read more: Bitcoin boomed in 2017, where will it go next?)
People react to results in Catalonia’s regional elections at a gathering of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) in Barcelona, Spain Dec. 21, 2017 REUTERS/Albert Gea

Earlier

  • During a visit to Moscow, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said there was “abundant evidence” that Russia had sought to influence the results of elections in Europe and the U.S., adding that relations between London and Moscow were at a “low point.” In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the UK of making “aggressive and insulting” statements about Russia but said he trusted Johnson and had agreed to work with him. Prior to the meeting, the UK government said it would “retaliate” in kind to Russia cyber attacks and that the UK had strong capabilities to do so. Johnson’s comments come after British Prime Minister Theresa May said last month that Russia was using cyber espionage to “sow discord in the West.”
    • Associated Press reports that “Fancy Bear,” the infamous hacking group, aggressively targeted journalists who’s reporting was critical of the Russian government.
  • Over 120 countries voted to support a UN General Assembly resolution calling on the U.S. to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite President Donald Trump threatening to withhold financial support for countries that voted for the resolution. The vote came despite the U.S. exercising its veto, which makes the resolution non-binding. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, also suggested that the U.S. could rethink its financial support of the institution itself. (Read moreWikiTribune coverage of the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel).
  • Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban said his country will block any move by the EU to sanction Poland over judicial independence. On December 20, the European Commission began disciplinary measures against the Polish government for passing legislation that restricts the independence of the judiciary. (Read and contribute to WikiTribune’s coverage here)

What we are reading

  • Karlin Lillington has been reporting on Silicon Valley and all things internet for years. Her take on the recent decision on net neutrality (see WikiTribune coverage) by the Federal Communications Commission, published in The Irish Times, is a calmer take than much of the “end of the world is nigh” commentary. Lillington notes that there are still legislative options to overturning the FFC vote, which went on party lines, to allow ISPs discretion on access and speed. Also, change will happen slowly. She is thankful for the more secure environment in the European Union. – Angela Long

What the WikiTribune community’s up to

  • WikiTribune staff journalist George Engels is reporting on Uruguay’s decision to legalize cannabis, looking at both the political fallout of the rejection of the U.S.’s war on drugs and the social impact for the country. To collaborate on the story, take a look here.
  • Community member and veteran diplomat Jean-Jacques Subrenat has been working on a fascinating series on what to expect in geopolitics in 2018. He begins with an overview of developments in 2017. Pieces on the years ahead for the U.S., China, the EU and others will be published in the coming weeks.

Take part

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