World News at a Glance
Posted January 3, 2018 10:12 p.m. EST
As Two Koreas Open Dialogue, U.S. Watches From Sideline
While the two Koreas were gingerly reopening a border hotline, President Donald Trump was gleefully taunting Kim Jong Un about the relative size of their nuclear launch buttons. That, in a nutshell, captures the challenge facing the Trump administration as South Korea embarks on fragile new talks with North Korea. The United States views the overture with deep suspicion. For months, it has said that talks with North Korea would make no sense until its leader, Kim, at least curbs his provocative behavior, or at best agrees to relinquish his nuclear arsenal. Trump recently has talked about the potential for war, not a diplomatic breakthrough.
As Iran Erupts in Protest, Tehran Is Notably Quiet
When they stepped through the gates of Tehran University last week, the student protesters had every expectation of igniting an impassioned rally against the government. After all, the university grounds had long been a flash point for demonstrations. But this time, their exhortations went unheeded. The protests that broke out a week ago in other parts of Iran — but never gained traction in Tehran — have shown some signs of abating, though demonstrators are still taking to the streets after dark in many outlying provinces. Elite forces with the Revolutionary Guards Corps were deployed to three of them Wednesday to help quell uprisings there.
WHO Approves a Safe, Inexpensive Typhoid Vaccine
A new, highly effective typhoid vaccine — the only one safe for infants — has been approved for global use by the World Health Organization. The approval was given in December but announced Wednesday. Typhoid fever, caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria in sewage and contaminated food, infects up to 20 million people a year and kills up to 160,000 of them, mostly young children. The disease is found mostly in Africa and Asia. Approval means the new vaccine, named Typbar TCV and made by Bharat Biotech of Hyderabad, India, can be purchased by donors, including United Nations agencies, for use in poor countries.
Peru Bans Buses From Road Where Bus Plunged, Killing 51
Peru’s government on Wednesday banned buses from a notorious stretch of road where an intercity bus plunged off a cliff and onto a beach on Tuesday, killing 51 passengers in the deadliest traffic accident in Peru since 2013. Even as emergency workers continued on Wednesday to retrieve bodies from the bus in Pasamayo, anger mounted over the government’s failure to find an alternative to a road so dangerous that for decades it has been called “the Devil’s curve.” The road — 40 miles north of Lima, the capital — is often so foggy that drivers cannot see the vehicles in front of them.
Ethiopia Says It Will Close Notorious Prison and Release Some Prisoners
The prime minister of Ethiopia announced Wednesday that the government would close a notorious detention center, the Maekelawi prison in Addis Ababa, and release some prisoners across the country, including some members of political parties. The announcement was hailed by human rights groups as an amnesty for the country’s political prisoners, who are estimated to number in the thousands, even though Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister, did not explicitly mention political prisoners in his address. Some wondered exactly whom the prime minister intended to release.
British Health System Creaks ‘Under Pressure as Never Before’
Cuts to the National Health Service budget in Britain have left hospitals stretched over the winter for years, but this time a flu outbreak, colder weather and high levels of respiratory illnesses have put the NHS under the highest strain in decades. The situation has become so dire that the head of the health service is warning that the system is overwhelmed. Some doctors took to Twitter to vent their frustrations publicly. One complained of having to practice “battlefield medicine,” while another apologized for the “3rd world conditions” caused by overcrowding.
Storm Eleanor Batters Europe
Storm Eleanor tore through Europe on Wednesday with winds of up to 100 mph, bringing lightning and heavy rain, battering houses with hail, flooding streets and uprooting trees. The storm — named Burglind in Austria, Germany and Switzerland — arrived in tandem with a cold front, hitting Ireland before passing through Britain and on to the Continent. Travelers were delayed, and the storm was expected to be felt as far north as the Baltics and as far south as Italy. Weather warnings were the order of the day, with forecasts of violent winds, mostly in coastal areas.