Bitcoin recovers some ground; China sentences activist

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  • Bitcoin recovered about half of the value it lost last week after the cryptocurrency plunged in its worst week since 2013. Bitcoin fell nearly 30 percent at one stage to $11,159.93. However, bitcoin was up 13 percent at $15,630.00 in trading on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange.

  • China sentenced a blogger to eight years in jail for subversion. He had regularly challenged prominent cases of government abuse. Wu Gan is a blogger better known by his online name Super Vulgar Butcher. His lawyer plans to appeal the sentence. The case comes during a crackdown on activism that began two years ago (The Atlantic). The court sentenced Wu for  “carrying out a string of criminal actions to subvert state power and overthrow the socialist system and seriously harming state security and social stability.”
  • Protesters clashed with police after disgraced ex-President Alberto Fujimori was pardoned while serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and human rights abuses. Police fired tear gas into crowds in the capital Lima during a second day of protest that had begun on Christmas Eve. Fujimori was pardoned on humanitarian grounds. President Pablo Kuczynski said the medical pardon was necessary for the 79-year-old Fujimori, whose health had deteriorated. Reuters initially reported Christmas Eve protests in downtown Lima and suggested the pardon could trigger a political realignment in Peru. Two members of President Kuczynski’s party in the congress have resigned in protest. Please TALK about or CONTRIBUTE to this story.

  • Liberians are choosing a new president in a run-off between Vice-President Joseph Boakai and former international footballer George Weah. Weah won the first round but did not secure the 50% needed for an outright victory. Legal challenges have delayed the vote that will replace Africa’s first elected female president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. More than two million people are eligible to vote. This would be the first time in many generations that there is a peaceful transfer of power from one elected leader to another.
  • Three major U.S. cities filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense for failing to manage the national background system that monitors gun ownership. New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia claim shoddy management allowed Devin Patrick Kelley to purchase the automatic weapon used in the mass shooting in a Texas church earlier this year.


  • Pope Francis called for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, using his Christmas Day address at the Vatican, in front of thousands of people, to speak of “the winds of war.” It was the second time the pope had spoken about Jerusalem since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital, a contentious decision that has reverberated across the region.
  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been formally barred from running for president. Navalny, 41 and an anti-corruption crusader, announced his bid days ago on the outskirts of Moscow. But the Central Election Commission ruled he is ineligible, based on a conviction in a fraud case that Navalny has criticized as politically motivated (Washington Post). Navalny now has called for a boycott of the March election, which President Vladimir Putin is expected to win easily.
  • Guatemala announced it will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the first country to support U.S. President Donald Trump’s contentious recognition of the city as the Israeli capital. The Central American nation also backed the U.S. when the U.N. General Assembly denounced the U.S. recognition in a non-binding resolution. Trump had threatened to cut off financial support for countries that didn’t fall in line with the U.S. position.
  • A fire may have killed up to three dozen people trapped inside an office on the top floor of the building at a shopping mall in Davao city in the southern Philippines. Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio told relatives there was no chance of survival for the 36 employees caught in the extreme heat and thick black smoke of the enormous blaze.

What we’re reading

  • 2017 was a very good year for Kim Jong Un, with missile launches, hydrogen bombs, and the deaths of rivals. He also exchanged Twitter tirades with U.S. President Donald Trump who had called him “Little Rocket Man”. Anna Fifield, the Washington Post’s Tokyo bureau chief, takes a look at how Kim has surpassed his resolutions for the year and continued to surprise the rest of the world. – Jodie DeJonge
  • The Taushiro tribe vanished into the jungles of the Amazon basin in Peru generations ago. Amadeo García García is now the last native speaker of their language. Here New York Times reporter Nicholas Casey travels to a remote part of the jungle to meet Amadeo and share his story. — Charles Anderson


What the WikiTribune community’s up to

  • WikiTribune journalist George Engels will be in Uruguay in January to write about the country’s ongoing effort to legalize cannabis, which became available in licensed pharmacies throughout the country earlier this year. He would like to receive your questions, concerns, and story ideas on the subject.

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