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The 2016 Nobel Prizes will be awarded at lavish functions in Oslo and Stockholm to several unexpected laureates. The Literature prize for American rock legend Bob Dylan counts as the biggest surprise. He becomes the first songwriter to win the prestigious award.
Regular passenger train services through the Gotthard Base Tunnel begin. The longest rail tunnel in the world, it is the centrepiece of the planned AlpTransit rail network that will speed people and cargo through Switzerland and under the Alps. It was inaugurated on Jun 1.
The former Soviet republic votes on amendments to the 2010 constitution that will expand the powers of the prime minister. The proposed amendments have caused the collapse of the government.
The first anniversary of the Paris Agreement, an almost unparalleled negotiating feat, gives new life to the question of whether a flawed climate pact is better than no pact. Temporarily, jubilation muted concerns about the agreement, which entered into force on Nov 4.
The first of Israel's F-35 stealth fighter jets arrive from the United States. Israel, the only country allowed to customize the software and weapons of the F-35s, will be the first U.S. ally to receive the advanced aircraft.
On the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to extol the bravery of the security guards who died preventing the murder of much of the country's elected leadership.
The Geminid meteor shower, considered the most spectacular of the shooting star shows each year, might disappoint sky watchers in 2016. It's the fault of the Moon, which will be shining too brightly to see a peak show of up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Shinzo Abe in the Prime Minister's home prefecture of Yamaguchi. Some reports hold out the possibility of a resolution of their dispute over islands that Russia calls the southern Kurile Islands and Japan calls Northern Territories, and even a World War II peace treaty.
The leaders meeting in Brussels for the last summit of 2016 will be wrestling with the issue of balance when they debate both security and austerity.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrives in cinemas in time to be counted as a tribute to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, which turns 40 in May. Fans have been told to expect an immersive experience while viewing Rogue One, the second chapter in the trilogy that began with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December 2015.
Pope Francis turns 80 without the universal good wishes of his flock. Since his election as leader of the Catholic Church on Mar 13, 2013, he has won over rank-and-file Catholics, but has upset conservatives with his penchant for reforms, his embrace of environmentalism and a taste for making history. He has also scolded recalcitrant bishops, further fanning discontent in the Church hierarchy.
Millions of Americans left polling places in November believing they had chosen the country's next leader, but they were wrong: the outcome of the presidential election is decided in December by the College of Electors. It's an unloved system.
President Joseph Kabila's second term was due to expire on this date following an election in April for a successor, which didn't happen. He has struck a deal that allows him to stay at the helm but which is likely to bring opponents onto the streets in protest.
The Soviet states, minus the Baltics and Georgia, formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 25 years ago in Alma Ata. The Soviet Union fell four days later after a protracted decline. The regional body still struggles to speak with one voice in areas such as foreign relations, defence and immigration.
Project Blue, an ambitious initiative to directly image planets around the double suns of Alpha Centauri, has started crowdfunding for its space telescope.