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Far Right Sweeps In France, Spanish Treasure Found, Free Money

FRENCH FAR RIGHT SWEEP REGIONAL VOTE

France's National Front became the country's "first party" Sunday, winning nearly 30% of the vote in the first round of regional elections held just three weeks after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks. The nationalist party finished first in six of France's 13 regions, with party leader Marine Le Pen getting 40.6% of the vote in the north, and her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen garnering about the same in the southeast, Le Figaro reports. A coalition of center-right parties, led by Nicolas Sarkozy's Republicans finished second with 27%, which Le Monde characterized as a "slap in the face" to the former president. The ruling Socialist party (which also holds a majority of regions) finished third with 23% in an election that saw a low turnout of just 51%.

  • Under French regional election rules, all candidates with more than 10% are eligible for next Sunday's second round of voting. Almost every region saw candidates from the three main parties qualify for the runoff. But Socialist candidates who came in third place in the north and southeast have retreated from the race, following party instructions, in a bid to "obstruct" the National Front and prevent it from winning. At least one candidate, in the eastern region, has refused to do so. Sarkozy, eager to distance himself both from the Socialists and the nationalists, ruled out such a move for his party's candidates who finished third, sparking divisions inside his own ranks, Le Parisien reports.
  • See the ominous front page in the left-wing daily Libération.


VERBATIM

"We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam," U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday in a rare Oval Office address aimed at calming "jittery Americans" days after what appears to have been an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack in San Bernardino, The New York Timesreports. Urging people not to give in to fear, he pledged to further intensify airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and renewed calls for gun legislation.


VENEZUELA'S MADURO CONCEDES DEFEAT

The ruling Socialist party of Venezuelan President Nicólas Maduro has suffered its first parliamentary defeat in 16 years at the hands of the country's opposition parties. In a televised address, Maduro recognized his party's defeat and even hailed a "perfect democratic system" before saying that "the economic war has triumphed," as inflation continues to skyrocket. Read more in English from Reuters. Read more about it on Le Blog.


ON THIS DAY


The attack on Pearl Harbor was 74 years ago today. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


60,000 BRITISH HOMES LOSE ELECTRICITY

A storm of rare intensity has left 60,000 homes in northern England without electricity amid floods after more than a month's worth of rain fell in 24 hours, The Guardian reports. The floods cause at least one death, a 90-year-old man.


SNAPSHOT

Photo: Xu Jinquan/Xinhua/ZUMA

Santa Claus is coming to town — or at least to Montreux, Switzerland. The flying sleigh and reindeer are part of the Christmas market animations near Lake Geneva.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

As part of our Green Or Gone series, Les Echos' Joël Cossardeaux looks at how Hungary, a country known for its reliance on coal, uses biomass, or organic fuel: "The energy supplies Hungary's national power network as well as the 1950s-era heating network in Pécs, a fast-growing city that is now the country's fifth largest, with an estimated population of 155,000. The plant's total reliance on biomass is all the more impressive given that, overall, green energy represents just 13% of total electricity output in Hungary, where for decades ‘all things coal,' long extracted in the hills of the Mecsek, along Pécs, and ‘all things gas' reigned supreme."

Read the full article, Scaling Biomass, An Energy Revolution Takes Root In Hungary.


$2 BILLION

Colombian officials said Saturday they had found the shipwreck of the San Jose, a Spanish galleon that sank 307 years ago and became a holy grail for treasure hunters. The gold, silver and gems it contains are worth an estimated loot of $2 billion, with President Juan Manuel Santos calling it the "most valuable treasure that has been found in the history of humanity."


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



FBI PROBES FIFA'S BLATTER

FBI investigators are investigating FIFA President Sepp Blatter's role in a bribe scandal involving as much as $100 million that saw officials at the soccer governing body being paid by a sports marketing company in exchange for television and marketing rights, the BBC reports. Blatter has denied all knowledge of the bribes, but a leaked FBI letter suggests investigators believe he lied.


FREE MONEY FOR THE FINNISH?

A majority of people in Finland support the idea of their government scrapping all social benefits in exchange for a basic national income of $870 per month, which could soon become reality.

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President Vladimir Putin will sign an agreement on the annexation of 18% of Ukrainian territories

Cameron Manley, Chloe Touchard, Sophia Constantino, and Emma Albright

Russian President Vladimir Putin will sign the annexation Friday of four occupied regions of Ukraine to become part of Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced this morning.

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The Kremlin will host a ceremony on Friday where agreements will be signed on the annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Peskov said the ceremony would take place on Friday at 3 p.m. local time. Taken together the regions in the east and south make up 18% of Ukraine’s territory. The move follows the 2014 annexation of Crimea, which many consider the less violent pre-cursor to Russia's all-out invasion of Ukraine.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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