World News at a Glance
Posted December 25, 2017 8:52 p.m. EST
Fight Against ISIS in Afghan Region Torments U.S.
When the U.S. military dropped the largest bomb in its arsenal on an Islamic State cave complex in eastern Afghanistan in April, the generals justified it as part of a campaign to destroy the group’s local affiliate by year’s end. Its force had been reduced to 700 fighters from 3,000, they said. But as the year comes to a close, the Islamic State is far from being vanquished in eastern Afghanistan. It has waged brutal attacks that have displaced thousands of families and forced even some Taliban fighters to seek government protection. The shifting dynamic has, in turn, threatened the U.S.-backed government’s tenuous hold on the region.
Kremlin Critic Is Barred From a Presidential Run
Russian election officials on Monday barred the opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running in next year’s presidential election. Twelve members of the 13-member Central Election Commission voted to bar Navalny, 41, from registering as a presidential candidate, citing his suspended prison sentence in a fraud case, a prosecution he has denounced as politically motivated. One member abstained from voting because of a possible conflict of interest. The decision was not a surprise; election officials had previously said in interviews that he would be ineligible to run. In a video, Navalny called on his supporters to boycott the election, scheduled for March.
A Pakistani Film, Banned Then Revived, Strikes a Timely Nerve
A Pakistani film about a rape victim who fights to bring her politically powerful attacker to justice has rankled Pakistan’s censors but emboldened women to speak out about sexual assault in a country where the discussion of such topics is discouraged. "Verna," which stars Pakistan’s most popular actress, Mahira Khan, overcame an initial ban imposed because of its subject matter. It has inspired Pakistani women to tap into the spirit of the viral #MeToo campaign to expose sexual harassment and create their own public platform for victims and their supporters. “Verna” opened Nov. 17 and has done moderately well at the box office.
Power Prices Go Negative in Germany, a Positive for Consumers
Germany has spent $200 billion over the past two decades to promote cleaner sources of electricity. That enormous investment is now having an unexpected impact — consumers are now actually paid to use power on occasion, as was the case over the weekend. Power prices plunged below zero for much of Sunday and the early hours of Christmas Day on the EPEX Spot, a large European power trading exchange, the result of low demand, unseasonably warm weather and strong breezes that provided an abundance of wind power on the grid. On Sunday, major consumers were at times paid more than 50 euros, about $60, per megawatt-hour to take power.
Duterte’s Son Quits After a Family Spat
The eldest son of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines resigned his post as the vice mayor of the southern Philippine city of Davao on Monday after his teenage daughter implied he had beaten her, prompting an all-out social media war between the two. Paolo Duterte quit his job just days after deadly floods and a large building fire struck Davao, the largest city on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. The city is a stronghold of Rodrigo Duterte, who gained his national reputation for being tough on the drug trade during his long tenure there as mayor.
Rights Lawyers Dispute Medical Pardon in Peru
A day after granting a medical pardon to former President Alberto Fujimori, 79, who has been imprisoned for human-rights abuses, Peru’s current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, came under attack from lawmakers in Peru’s Congress and from human-rights experts. Human-rights lawyers in Lima say pardons and sentence reductions are not permitted for people tried for human-rights violations under the rules of the Inter-American Human Rights Court, which adjudicates some human-rights cases in Peru and other countries that are members of the Organization of American States. The Pro-Human Rights Association, in Lima, was preparing to file a report with the court seeking to have the pardon reversed.
On Christmas Day, Pope Francis Prays for Peace in an Uneasy World
Pope Francis used his annual Christmas Day address on Monday to make clear his concern that serenity is sorely lacking at a time when the “winds of war” and an “outdated model of development” are taking a toll on humanity, society and the environment. Addressing a crowd from a balcony at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, the pope used the opportunity to pray for a positive turn of events, for a resuscitation of a two-state solution in the Middle East to the healing of war-torn Syria and Ukraine, for the easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula to a return to dialogue in Venezuela.