U.S.

Four non-white young adults tied up and tortured a disabled white young man, forcing him to speak against Trump and say he loved black people, and they streamed the video to Facebook Live. They were charged with hate crimes (significant as a rare instance of non-white Americans charged with a crime usually applied to white people who hate on blacks and other races).

“Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville; Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago; Brittany Covington, 18, of Chicago; and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago; were each charged with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and residential burglary, according to the Cook County state’s attorney. Hill was also charged with robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.” Read more

Fort Lauderdale Airport (not the main Florida airport, which is in Miami, but 45 KMs north, but still a very busy U.S. hub) was the scene of a shooting that killed 5, injured 8. The shooting took place in a baggage claim area, which, although airport security has been increased since 9-11, is an area where people can access relatively easily. Read more

President Obama had the U.S. ambassador to the UN allow Israel to be found guilty of breaking international law in its continued settlements in Palestinian territory. This move was criticized by many Democrats as well as Republicans, and is significant because America has traditionally supported Israel at the UN. Israel was not pleased, and reminded the world that there had been an agreement that the UN was not the place to deal with these matters. Israel, the only democracy in the region, continues to be singled out for special critical treatment while Muslim nations do not suffer the same criticism at the UN, and this was later re-stated as American policy by Ambassador Samantha Power.

The US government is still figuring out what it’s going to do to respond to the Russian hacking / leaking activities that may have swayed the election away from Hillary Clinton. Obama already kicked out some Russian diplomats.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump still picking people for his staff. Democrats not happy with choices. His Tweeting communication method still much discussed.

Ford has decided to not open a new plant in Mexico. Instead, it will invest in an existing plant in Michigan. This is being considered to possibly be related to Trumps threats of tariffs / potential incentives for businesses that try to move out of the U.S. / stay in the U.S.

Dylann Roof does not want to be considered insane by the court, although it would reduce his sentence. “I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”

Chicago tallied 762 homicides for the year 2016.

Pop singer George Michael passed away at home, age 53.

Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher passed away at age 60, followed by her mother actress Debbie Reynolds the next day, age 84.

WORLD

The Battle of Mosul continues in Iraq: ISIS holds the city, but the Iraqi government teamed up with allied militias, Iraqi Kurdistan, Hezbollah (a Shia Islamist militant/political party based in Lebanon), and international forces (US, France, UK) are continuing to take ground.

Another Islamist attack (one of hundreds per year, but significant for the amount of death and the location) killed 39, injured 70 in a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey.

German police in Cologne on New Year’s Eve targeted North African men for detainment in order to prevent the mass sexual assaults infamously reported the year before. The move was controversial and some German politicians criticized them for it.

A Russian military passenger plane crashed, killing 92 people including 64 from a famous musical performance group. Russia said foul play was not suspected, but its crash investigation is ongoing.

A new organ has been “identified” in our bodies. It’s been known for years, though not confirmed as a single organ until now. It’s called the “mesentery” and its function is not currently fully understood. Read more

Use of solar, tidal, and other alternative energy sources continued to be popular in the news as they are becoming more used and more effective.

Several countries are beginning to try out “universal basic income,” including Finland, Scotland and Canada.

France joined the what is now more than 50 countries that have made spanking of children illegal.

French law now protects workers from having to check email after work hours.

Norway switched off FM radio, the first country in the world to do so. Read more