IRAN VIOLATED MISSILE BAN, UN SAYS
A United Nations Security Council's Panel of Experts has accused Iran of violating a UN resolution by test-firing a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead on Oct. 10, Al Jazeera reports. "On the basis of its analysis and findings, the Panel concludes that Emad launch is a violation by Iran of paragraph 9 of Security Council resolution 1929," Reuters quoted the panel's report. This could trigger new Security Council sanctions on Iran, although they would require Russia and China's agreement. Tehran has disputed the assessment that the missile could carry a nuclear warhead and says that the rocket test was not a violation of the historic nuclear deal signed in July by Iran and world powers. Iran added that new sanctions would jeopardize the deal.
NIGERIA ACCUSED OF SHIA MASSACRE
Nigerian authorities have been accused in recent days of having killed hundreds of Shia protesters on Saturday in the northern town of Zaria, as France 24 reports. Police spokesman Zubairu Abdullahi, quoted by Al Jazeera, has denied these killings, instead accusing the protesters of attacking a police station. "We only repelled the sect who attempted to attack our station," he said. Some reports mention "hundreds" of Shia Muslims killed by Nigerian authorities in three days, others say up to 1,000 protesters may have been killed. The television network Press TV in Shia-dominated Iran describes the situation as a "plot to exterminate African Muslims."
U.S. REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES DEBATE SECURITY
The fifth Republican presidential debate took place last night in Las Vegas, focusing on national security, foreign policy, surveillance and immigration in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. Among the many heated exchanges between candidates, Donald Trump stood by his declaration that he would ban Muslims from entering the U.S. if elected. Rival Jeb Bush called Trump the "chaos candidate," who would be a "chaos president."
The Washington Post writes that the candidates "framed their final debate of the year around a single question: Which of them is best equipped — by background, tough-mindedness and leadership abilities — to protect the country against terrorism?"
ON THIS DAY
Dasvidaniya, Rasputin â€¦ Moscow's mad monk is in your 57-second shot of history.
FED WATCH: INTEREST RATES TO RISE AFTER 7 YEARS
The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates for the first time since 2008, when they were cut to almost 0% in response to the financial crisis, Bloomberg reports. The rate is expected be raised gradually, at 0.25 percentage points at a time. Federal Reserve officials have been signaling the move for several weeks as to not cause turmoil in markets around the world.
An Indonesian woman works in a field in Probolinggo, East Java, as Mount Bromo spews columns of ash up to 1.5 km high. The volcano, one of Indonesia's 129 active volcanoes, erupted Tuesday, and though it caused no damage, authorities warned residents about the risks of an ever larger eruption.
PAKISTAN REMEMBERS PESHAWAR SCHOOL MASSACRE
Pakistan is observing the first anniversary of the Peshawar school massacre in which Taliban gunmen killed 144 people, including 122 children, on this day last year. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared Dec. 16 a day of "national educational resolve," The Express Tribune reports. This is how national daily Dawn covered the news.
A slow, half-hearted response to Brazil's worst-ever ecological disaster is producing immeasurable damage to the environment and to the indigenous communities, Thiago Amâncio writes for Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo: "Mining company Samarco, which controlled the dam, has taken some measures since the Nov. 5 collapse. But the response has been piecemeal, and came only after the company — a joint-venture owned by Vale and the Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton — was pressured to do so by the Brazilian Justice Department, local authorities, environmental organizations and the prosecutor's office. Samarco's actions have been mostly aimed at limiting the impact caused by the toxic mud. ... But the concrete actions to try and ease the damage and destruction only came after urgent calls by environmental officials in the neighboring coastal state of Espirito Santo, where the mud was flowing."
Read the full article, After Brazil Dam Burst, Mining Company's Feeble Response.
U.S. DEFENSE CHIEF IN BAGHDAD TO STEP UP ISIS FIGHT
The U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Baghdad Wednesday morning to meet with his commanders on the ground about stepping up the fight against ISIS, NBC News reports. Carter is also set to ask U.S. allies for a greater contribution in the anti-ISIS military campaign. The visit comes after U.S. authorities announced plans earlier this month to deploy elite teams to carry out raids against ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria.
LOS ANGELES SCHOOLS REOPEN AFTER THREATS
Authorities in Los Angeles decided the city's 900 schools would reopen Wednesday after shutting them down Tuesday due to what was described as a credible terrorist threat, the Los Angeles Times reports. The threat, mentioning explosive devices, assault rifles and machine pistols, had been made via email to the Los Angeles Board of Education. Authorities in New York had dismissed a similar threat from the same sender as a hoax. This comes less than two weeks after two Islamic extremists killed 14 people in nearby San Bernardino.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
A restaurant in the Chinese city of Zhangjiagang, near Shanghai, has decided to make its customers pay a "clean air fee" of 1 renminbi, or about $0.15, according to The New York Times. Clean air appears to be turning into a luxury in the over-polluted country.