Mikhail Khodorkovsky was freed after spending more than 10 years in jail
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was freed after spending more than 10 years in jail
Worldcrunch

KHODORKOVSKY FREE
Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was freed from prison this morning, after Thursday’s surprise announcement by Vladimir Putin that he would sign a decree pardoning him of his convictions for fraud, tax evasion and embezzlement, Ria Novosti reports.
The international cause célèbre spent a total of 3,709 days in prison.

ROOF COLLAPSE AT LONDON’S APOLLO THEATER
At least 76 people were injured as part of the ceiling of London’s Apollo Theater collapsed in the middle of a performance Thursday evening, with more than 700 people inside, the BBC reports. An investigation was launched into the causes of the incident, which happened after a heavy rainstorm.

THREE PEACEKEEPERS KILLED IN SOUTH SUDAN
Three United Nations peacekeepers from India were killed in South Sudan, after rebels attacked their base, The Times Of India reports. Barack Obama announced Thursday the United States had sent 45 military personnel to protect American citizens in the country, saying that “South Sudan stands at the precipice.” Read more from AP.

NORTH KOREA WARNS SOUTH OF STRIKES
The President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, received threats from North Korea of “retaliatory strikes without warning” if the country didn’t stop anti-Pyongyang rallies in Seoul, The New York Times quotes officials as saying. Earlier this week, demonstrators in the South Korean capital burned posters of Kim Jong-un and described him as a “devil.”

PHILIPPINES MAYOR AMONG 4 DEAD IN MANILA AIRPORT ATTACK
The mayor of a southern Philippine town was shot dead along with his wife and two other people, including an 18-month-old baby, in an attack in the airport of Manila, The Inquirer reports. According to the chief of police, the gunmen were riding motorcycles and wearing police uniforms under black jackets. The motive for the killing is still unknown.

A WARM CHRISTMAS

While snow hits northern hemisphere, Argentinian authorities hold heatwave alert as temperatures reach 32 °C in Buenos Aires.

S&P DOWNGRADES EU
Credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s stripped the European Union of its AAA rating, citing disagreements among the 28 countries and an increasingly fragile financial profile, the Financial Times reports.

SPACE SANTA
What does a space robot wish for Christmas? Read it here.

A LOOK BACK ON THE YEAR
Revisit this year’s main events around the world, from the horsemeat and NSA scandals to a papal transition, Typhoon Haiyan and Canada’s singing astronaut: It’s our compilation of top stories from 26 countries.

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Geopolitics

The New Iraq, Signs Of Hope Amid The Rubble And Reconstruction

How do you rebuild a country decimated by four decades of war and embargoes? Following the withdrawal of the U.S. military, Iraq faces many challenges, from oil revenues captured by the militias and endemic corruption to religious segregation. However, there are glimmers of hope for the country's future.

Street scene in Erbil, Iraq

Théophile Simon

BAGHDAD — With a vast office located at the top of a tower fiercely guarded by the army and a bell to call the staff, Khalid Hamza Abbas is obviously a powerful character, decked out in an impeccable suit. Abbas runs the Basra Oil Company (BOC), the national company responsible for the exploitation of the oil fields in the province of Basra, in the very south of Iraq, from which four million barrels of crude oil flow daily. It’s the equivalent of 4% of world demand and 65% of central government revenue concentrated in a region of only four million inhabitants.

As he explains the profit-sharing scheme between the world’s major oil companies and his public enterprise, the 50-year-old with thin glasses is suddenly stopped dead in his tracks by the ringing of his telephone. He tries a joke to mask his suddenly worried face: "I'm going to ask you to leave my office for a few moments. If I haven't called you back in 10 minutes, call the police."

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