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Curated top stories
- Tens of thousands of pro-government supporters demonstrated across Iran. They accused the U.S. of being behind the previous anti-regime protests, that resulted in over 1,000 arrests and 22 deaths, the most significant uprising since the Green Movement in 2009, according to state television reported by Reuters. (Read more of our coverage of Iran here).
- The unrest started on December 28 and was initially over economic hardship but then turn into sentiments against the government. In response, the government has postponed plans to increase fuel prices and cut welfare payments, decisions that initially sparked the public outrage.
- For the first time in more than two years, North Korea accepted an invitation for official talks with South Korea. The decision came hours after the United States and South Korea delayed a joint military exercise. The border truce village of Panmunjom will host the talks and officials from both sides are expected to discuss the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February and the improvement of inter-Korean relations.
- A report by the United States Labor Department said that U.S. economy created 148,000 jobs in December, fewer than the predicted 190,000 by economists polled by Reuters. The unemployment rate remains at 4.1 percent, the lowest since 2001. In December, Donald Trump’s administration signed a new tax bill into law which it claims will boost the economy. Senate Democrats have argued that it’ll only benefit the rich. The new law cuts corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 21 percent. (Read more: What Trump’s $1.5 billion tax bill will change.)
- Apple revealed that two major security flaws, known as Spectre and Meltdown, affect all of its phones and computers. It emerged earlier this week that nearly all computer chips contain the flaws, which make most modern devices potentially vulnerable to hacking, though there is no evidence yet that anyone has yet been able to take advantage of the faults and tech companies have been issuing patches to combat the issues. Apple said it had already released some patches and there was no evidence the faults had been exploited. (Read more: Virtually all computer chips reported vulnerable to hacks; some security patches.)
- Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, a new tell-all book that purports to reveal the chaotic nature of Donald Trump’s presidency, was published today, despite threats of legal actions from Trump’s lawyers. (WikiTribune has a copy of the book now too so let us know what you’d like to know here: Updated: ‘Fire and Fury’- Michael Wolff depicts ignorance and chaos in Trump White House) Extracts of the book were released to several news organizations on January 3, describing feuds and allegations of incompetence, with striking revelations from Trump Campaign insiders including former strategist Steve Bannon. On January 4, Trump tweeted that the book was “phony” and “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.”
I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!
- The U.S. suspended a tranche of security aid, potentially worth up to $900 million, to Pakistan, saying the country had failed to tackle the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani militant groups that operate across its border with Afghanistan. The move follows a warning earlier this week from Trump via Twitter, where he said the U.S. “foolishly” gave aid to Pakistan, in exchange for “nothing but lies and deceit.” The U.S. State Department also placed Pakistan on a watch list of countries it suspects of “severe violations of religious freedom.”
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit out at the U.S. after a federal court found an executive from Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank guilty of conspiring to evade sanctions against Iran. Erdogan told a news conference that bilateral accords with the U.S. were losing validity, and repeated his assertions that the charges against Mehmet Hakan Atilla were politically motivated. The testimony that the conviction rested upon also implicates Erdogan and other senior Turkish officials, according to Reuters. Erdogan has repeatedly accused the U.S. government of protecting Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric he blames for inciting an attempted coup against his government in 2016.
What we’re reading
- Refugee-led walking tours of Berlin aim to put a personal face to the humanitarian crisis. 890,000 refugees have crossed Germany’s borders in 2015, 280,000 in 2016. By the end of 2016, 1.6 million refugees were living in Germany, 82,500 of them in Berlin, changing the city’s ethnic makeup. Syrians are now the third-largest group of foreigners. New, refugee-owned businesses, such as walking tours have popped up. But as this piece in the Guardian reports, is it just misery tourism? – Charles Anderson
What the WikiTribune community’s up to
- The EU and countries in the Horn of Africa are combining to try to combat illegal migration but there’s mixed results. As WikiTribune member Mohamed Salih reports, there is criticism from some who say that countries which have a responsibility for people fleeing their lands should not be in charge of solving the issue. This is a developing story which Mohamed will update as he reports more.