White House has no clear plan for next steps in Syria after missile strike

Tensions mount with Russia as Sean Spicer says Assad must ‘abide by agreements not to use chemical weapons’ but fails to outline US objectives

The White House appeared to back away from wider military involvement in Syria less than 24 hours after launching Tomahawk missiles at one of Bashar al-Assad’s airbases.

The press secretary, Sean Spicer, refused to discuss any next steps – military or diplomatic – by the US in Syria, as the world struggled to understand Trump’s policy toward the grueling civil war.

Meanwhile, Syrian warplanes were reported to have taken off from the airbase targeted by the US missiles, suggesting that the military impact of the overnight attack had been minimal. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that government aircraft had bombed the outskirts of Khan Sheikhun, the town targeted in Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack

Spicer called the missile strike on the airbase “very decisive, justified and proportional” and entirely justified by “humanitarian purposes”.

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Opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained amid protests across Russia

Crowds gather in major cities to protest against corruption in largest anti-government demonstrations for five years, with over a hundred detained

Alexei Navalny is arrested at a rally in Moscow on Sunday.

Police detained over a hundred people in Moscow and dozens in other Russian cities, as some of the biggest protests against the Kremlin in several years were held across the country on Sunday.

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Trump says cyberattacks had “no effect” on election outcome after briefing

Four top intelligence officials briefed the president-elect Friday on a classified report on Russian hacking and interference in the election

 

Top intelligence officials briefed President-elect Donald Trump Friday on Russia’s hacking efforts to interfere with the U.S. election.

Following the briefing at Trump Tower in New York, Mr. Trump released a statement on what he called a “constructive meeting and conversation” saying that the cyberattacks had “no effect on the outcome of the election.”

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German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel calls for ban on Islamist mosques

Social Democrats leader and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has called for tougher measures against Islamist trends in Germany. His demands come just weeks after the “Islamic State”-claimed terror attack in Berlin.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel

In an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that “Salafist mosques must be banned, communities dissolved, and the preachers should be expelled as soon as possible.”

“Those who encourage violence do not enjoy the protection of religious freedom,” the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) added, stressing that he had “zero tolerance” in combating Islamism.

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Terror attack on Istanbul nightclub leaves 35 dead

Terror attack on Istanbul nightclub leaves 35 dead

An assailant dressed in a Santa Claus costume opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year’s celebrations, killing at least 35 people and wounding several others, Istanbul governor Vasip Şahin said early Sunday.

A police officer was among the killed in the attack targeting the popular Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortaköy district. More than one assailant may have been involved in the attack, sources said. Over 500 people were inside the club at the time.

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What’s their angle? Breaking down the Putin, Trump and Obama spy games

A tweet from the Russian government responding to US sanctions is shown.

President Barack Obama and his first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, entered the White House in 2009 with visions of a “Russian reset.” But Obama will leave office next month in the midst of a shadowy Cold War-era fever dream, as Washington and Moscow are, once again, beset by accusations of diplomatic chicanery and outright espionage.

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Obama announces sanctions for Russian election hacking

The Obama administration announced today that it will impose sanctions on Russian intelligence services and officials in response to the hacks of American political institutions during the election season.

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Trump announces plans to dissolve his family’s foundation

President-elect Donald Trump announced Saturday afternoon that he plans to dissolve his family’s foundation in the wake of questions regarding possible conflicts of interest once he takes office.

Mr. Trump issued the decision in a press release, which said the Donald J. Trump Foundation has contributed millions of dollars to groups that support veterans, law enforcement officers and children.

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Russian ambassador to Turkey dies after gun attack in Ankara – Foreign Ministry

A body lies on the ground as a man with a pistol gestures at the scene of a shooting in Ankara, Turkey, on December 19.

The Russian ambassador to Turkey has died after being shot by a gunman in Ankara, where he was attending a photo exhibition, the Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed.

“This is a tragic day in the history of Russian diplomacy. Today, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov died after being shot at during a public event in Ankara,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Monday evening.

The assault on the Russian ambassador is an “act of terrorism,” she added.

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President Obama signs nationwide ticket-bot ban into law

The bill aims to ensure equal access to popular events for the general public.

New York already passed legislation banning the use of ticket buying bots, but President Obama has just made the ban a nationwide law. Today, the president signed the “Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016” which makes it illegal to use software to purchase tickets to popular events. Of course, the end goal of doing so is to resell them at a higher price. As you might expect, the law aims to give the general public a fair shot at concerts, sporting events and more that sell out quickly.

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