Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has secured her third consecutive term with a landslide victory, Bangladesh’s Election Commission said on Monday. The opposition has condemned the vote as “farcical,” marred by violence, intimidation and vote rigging claims. At least 17 people have been killed in clashes between ruling party supporters and the opposition. “We urge the election commission to void this farcical result immediately,” opposition leader Kamal Hossain said.
Russia’s domestic security service, the FSB, has detained a US citizen accused of spying, it announced on Monday. The FSB, the successor of the Soviet-era KGB, said in a statement that the American was arrested on Friday “while carrying out an act of espionage”. News of the detention comes on the day after Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, expressed a desire for better relations with the US in 2019. Russia has sought to improve relations with the west after a year in which diplomacy was at its frostiest since the cold war.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent a “conciliatory message” to U.S. President Donald Trump amid stalled nuclear negotiations, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported on Monday. On Sunday, the office of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said Kim had sent a letter to his counterpart in Seoul saying he wants to hold more inter-Korean summits next year to achieve denuclearization of the peninsula. At a summit with Trump in Singapore in June, Kim vowed to work towards denuclearization.
A 14th person was arrested Saturday in connection with the beheading deaths of two Scandinavian tourists, according to the state-run Maghreb Arab Press. The news agency described him as a “Swiss man who holds Spanish nationality with residence in Morocco.” Authorities have already arrested 13 suspects connected to the killings, state-controlled news agency 2M reported. Four were suspected on killing the women, and appeared to pledge allegiance to ISIS in a video.
Tropical Storm Usman, which entered the Philippines on Christmas Day, emerged as the deadliest weather disaster for the country this year following Typhoon Mangkhut in September. Usman, a slow-moving storm with winds of up to 55 kilometers (34 miles) an hour, killed at least 61 people as it triggered floods and landslides and forced thousands to flee to safer grounds. More than 6,600 people were stranded in various ports, while Cebu Air Inc. and Philippine Airlines Inc. canceled more than a dozen flights from Dec. 27 to Dec. 30.
The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus on Thursday, marking a diplomatic boost for President Bashar al-Assad from a U.S.-allied Arab state that once backed rebels fighting him. “The UAE decision … came after a conviction that the next stage requires the Arab presence and communication in the Syrian file,” tweeted Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs.
A partial government shutdown caused by an impasse over Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border will continue into 2019 after both chambers of Congress adjourned on Thursday without acting to end the closure. The president accused the Democrats on Thursday morning of “obstruction” for failing to go along with his wall idea and asserted that Democrats “know it [the wall] is really needed”.
Almost 1,000 North Korean defectors have had their personal data leaked after a computer at a South Korean resettlement center was hacked, the unification ministry said. The ministry said this is thought to be the first large-scale information leak involving North Korean defectors. The North Gyeongsang resettlement center is among 25 institutes the ministry runs to help an estimated 32,000 defectors adjust to life in South Korea.
On Thursday, Indonesia’s National Board for Disaster Management raised the warning level for Anak Krakatau to 3, the second-highest rank. It earlier appeared to be calming down following Saturday’s eruption, which caused a 3-meter (10 foot) high tsunami to sweep through the Sunda Strait, killing more than 430 people and displacing tens of thousands.
Elon Musk has asked a US judge to dismiss a lawsuit by a British diver who helped rescue a boys soccer team trapped in a Thailand cave and said Musk defamed him by calling him a pedophile and child rapist. These statements were “just imaginative attacks; even if offensive, such speculative insults are by their nature opinion and protected by the first amendment,” Musk’s lawyers said.