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Archive for December 2016

Government and rebels extend ceasefire

December 31, 2016 - COLOMBIA

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia sign a new, modified peace deal on Nov 25 that extends until Dec 31 the ceasefire incorporated in the original pact.

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Distracted Finland begins centennial year

December 31, 2016 - FINLAND

Finland begins a year of centennial celebrations ahead of its 100th birthday in Dec 2017 potentially distracted by a tug-of-war: Moscow and Brussels pull the European Union member in opposite directions.

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Contenders for Google Lunar XPrize face key deadline

December 31, 2016 - UNITED STATES

Contenders in Google’s U.S. $30 million Lunar XPrize competition must line up a 2017 Moon mission by the end of 2016 to stay in the race. Three teams – Moon Express in the United States, SpaceIL in Israel and Synergy Moon, an international team working in 15 countries – have met the deadline.

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Mikhail Gorbachev killed the Soviet Union 25 years ago

December 25, 2016 - FORMER SOVIET UNION

Twenty-five years ago Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev delivered the coup de grace to the ailing Communist empire, which covered some one-sixth of the Earth’s landmass. His reforms hastened the decline as surely as his dissolution of the venerable body on Dec 25, 1991.

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The Commonwealth of Independent States turns 25

December 21, 2016 - KAZAKHSTAN

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.

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Presidential term expiry date a flashpoint in vast DR Congo

December 19, 2016 - DR CONGO

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.

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Pope Francis turns 80 with some churchmen aghast at his priorities

December 17, 2016 - VATICAN

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.

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