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Wall Street surged again on Thursday with U.S stock markets reaching new highs as the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed 25,000 points. The Dow Jones already climbed about 25 per cent last year, adding nearly 5,000 points and crossed the 24,000-mark at the end of November. Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, told the BBC that the gains were “no surprise.” An expanding economy, continued job growth, low interest rates and tax reform that promises to boost corporate earnings, were all contributors, he said. The markets got a boost before the opening bell with ADP and Moody’s Analytics reporting (CNBC) the private sector added 250,000 jobs in December. The U.S. is due to release official job figures on Friday.
A suicide attack in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, left at least 11 people dead and injured 25 others. The attack happened near police officers who were managing a protest at the time, the interior ministry said. Islamic State says it is behind the attack.
- Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump threatened the author and publisher of a new tell-all book with legal action after trying to stop Stephen Bannon, his former campaign and White House strategist, from making what they said were disparaging and defamatory statements. The cease-and-desist letter, first reported by the Washington Post, follows Bannon’s interviews for a new book (The Guardian) in which he referred to Donald Trump Junior’s meetings with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” The comments are included in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by journalist Michael Wolff. In response, Trump has attacked Bannon, (New York Times) saying, “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” (Read the WikiTribune story: “Fire and Fury greet book of the same title.”) (Corrected: previously suggested the book referred to a meeting between Donald Trump and Russian officials, it refers to his son, Donald Jr).
- Two major security flaws in nearly all modern computing devices – from phones and computers to internet servers – could put sensitive information in the hands of hackers. Security researchers said processing chips from Intel Corp, Advanced Micro Devices and ARM Holdings all have bugs that will require a patch to make them safe from hackers. In an interview with Reuters, researcher Daniel Gruss of Graz University of Technology described the problem as “probably one of the worst CPU bugs ever found.” Fixes should come in the next few days, BBC reported. (Read more and collaborate: “Virtually all computer chips reported vulnerable to hacks”).
- Iran accused the U.S. government of “grotesque” meddling in its internal affairs, in a letter sent to the UN Secretary General and released to the Iranian state-owned PressTV. Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, said tweets by President Donald Trump in support of protestors were “absurd” and “incited Iranians to engage in disruptive acts”. (Read more on WikiTribune and collaborate: “Twitter diplomacy ups tempo of foreign relations”; “Views on Iran protests – widespread discontent that will not subside”).
- Syrian opposition groups have urged the UN special envoy to the country not to attend a peace conference hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea city of Sochi at the end of January. According to The Guardian, 120 civil society organizations inside the Working Group for Syria have said that if the UN envoy attends it would represent a “dangerous departure from the [UN-led] Geneva process” and will keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. The envoy, Staffan de Mistura, has not confirmed whether or not he will go.
- Trump scrapped the voter fraud commission which he initially set up after alleging that Hillary Clinton, his presidential competitor in the 2016 election, only won the popular vote by three million because of fraud and illegal voting. A White House statement said the reason for Trump’s decision was because many U.S. states had refused to cooperate with the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The statement said Trump dissolved the commission “rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense.”
- Paul Manafort, a former campaign chairman to President Donald Trump sued special counsel Robert Mueller and the Justice Department on Wednesday, accusing prosecutors of stepping outside their mandate by charging him for issues that he says are unrelated to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller is leading an investigation into possible meddling by the Russian government and whether anyone in the Trump campaign was involved. As part of that probe, prosecutors charged Manafort with money laundering and charges related to years of foreign lobbying. However, they did not relate to Russian election interference or the Trump campaign.
What we’re reading
- Autonomous drones deliver 20 percent of Rwanda’s national medical blood supply. Payloads are delivered on-demand and gently airdropped onto hospital doorsteps. In this Techcrunch interview, the CEO of Zipline, Keller Rinaudo, outlines how the drones, which weigh about 13 kilograms and fly at about 100 kilometers an hour, deliver life-saving blood. “Our mission is to deliver urgent medical products to people in difficult to reach and remote places.” He explains that it could be an important part of the future of healthcare. — Charles Anderson
- The Trump Doctrine is not better than you think, it’s worse and the real-world consequences are piling up, contends Susan Glasser, the chief international affairs columnist at Politico, in a comprehensive insiders’ look at the U.S. president’s “Year of Living Dangerously.” It pulls together the myriad threads of Donald Trump’s first year – the tweets, the threats, the shocked diplomats from around the globe, the infighting and the ignorance – and how the dysfunctional White House has created a leadership vacuum in the world that other countries are preparing to further exploit. – Jodie DeJonge
What the WikiTribune community’s up to
- Riots and demonstrations took place across the Indian state of Maharastra after commemorations of a battle that took place 200-years ago, between Indian upper and lower castes, went sour. But as WikiTribune member Mourya Biswas reports, not many Indians knew of the 1818 Battle of Koregaon which pitted lower caste Dalit troops employed by the British East India Company, against the Peshwa, backed by upper class Brahmins. Even today the battle is seen as a moment of self-assertion by Dalits, who are among the most oppressed classes in India.