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Curated top stories
- Vladimir Putin announced that he will stand for re-election as president of Russia in elections in March 2018. Putin was widely expected to stand again and most observers expect him to comfortably retain his position, with opposition tightly controlled in Russia. It will be Putin’s fourth term as president, having been in power since 1999, with a period as prime minister after his second term. Observers warn that while the outcome of the election is easy to predict, Putin’s centralisation of power creates uncertainty for any post-Putin Russia. (Read more: How Putin is reshaping Russia in his own image).
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed reports that President Donald J. Trump is expected to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. On a Facebook Live video (see below), Netanyahu said that Israel’s “historical and national identity is receiving important expressions every day, but especially today,” according to Israeli news site Haaretz.
- Trump is expected to announce plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The status of the ancient city – sacred to all three of the Abrahamic faiths — is one of the most disputed issues in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Many people have expressed concern over the potential recognition. (Read more: our explainer on this issue.)
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- Australia’s ongoing controversy over the true nationality – and supposed loyalty – of elected politicians received a fresh boost. The opposition Labor party proposed the nation’s highest court consider the cases of four members of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government and five other lawmakers. Labor senator Katy Gallagher was referred to the court on December 6 to determine whether she holds British citizenship. The Constitution bars dual citizens from elected office, although this is currently being reviewed.
- U.S. bombers will fly over the Korean peninsula as part of aerial combat training with South Korea, state news agency Yonhap reported, citing a military source, despite North Korean warnings that such drills would push the region to the “brink of nuclear war.” The training with the B-1B Lancer bombers came as UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman visited Pyongyang in an effort to defuse rising tensions over North Korea’s recent missile launches. (Read more: What does the latest ICBM tell us about North Korea’s nuclear capacity?)
- A court in Malta charged three men for the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in October by a remote-controlled car bomb. The men, who had previous criminal records, pleaded innocent to charges of murder and possession of explosives. Galizia, an investigative reporter, had written extensively about corruption among Malta’s elite and about Maltese links to offshore financial dealings detailed in the Panama Papers.
- U.S. Congressman John Conyers, an 88-year-old civil rights leader, resigned in the wake of multiple sexual misconduct accusations from women who worked for him on Capitol Hill. The Michigan Democrat denied the allegations, but said he was “retiring” (Detroit Free Press) to preserve his legacy. (Read more: Sex and Power: Is this a turning point?)
What we’re reading
- The case of the wedding cake that triggered a legal battle now before the U.S. Supreme Court, is explored in depth by The New York Times in story that’s as much about America’s culture wars as it is about religious freedom and gay marriage. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is expected to wield the crucial vote in the case that hinges on a Colorado baker’s refusal to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding reception. – Jodie DeJonge
- A richly-worded review from the Dublin Review of Books considers claims that the online revolution has made society a poorer place. Franklin Foer, a former editor at magazine The New Republic, has written a book criticising the Big Tech companies. He writes: “It’s hard not to marvel at these companies and their inventions, which often make life infinitely easier. But we’ve spent too long marveling.”
- In The New York Times, the political editor of The Jewish Journal explained the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish story.
What the WikiTribune community’s up to
- Journalist Michael Field examines the “last great tuna rush” in the South Pacific in his article, “Murder and abuse: the price of your sashimi.” Field reports that at least eight fisheries observers have died in mysterious circumstances over the past five years, based on reports and his own research, as tuna stocks are plundered.