World News in Brief: December 11-12

Thursday, 2019-12-12 16:18:00
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Polling stations opened in 650 constituencies across Britain at 7 a.m. (0700 GMT) Thursday (December 12) in the country's general elections. This is the second general election Britain has witnessed since its Brexit referendum in 2016.

* Two more people died overnight in hospital following the volcanic eruption on White Island, New Zealand, bringing the death toll to eight, local police said in a statement Thursday morning.

* Heavy fog has enveloped Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Uygur Autonomous Region, over the past three days, affecting over 900 flights at the city's airport. The heavy fog is forecast to last till Saturday (December 14), according to the Xinjiang meteorological center.

* Russian and Syrian representatives condemned on Wednesday (December 11) US military presence and oil plunder in Syria.

* US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved a bill to impose sanctions on Turkey because of its military operations in Syria and the purchase of Russia air defense system.

* The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a compromise US$738 billion defense policy bill that would create the Space Force, a new US military branch, and give federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2020 will also increase US defense spending by about US$20 billion, or about 2.8 percent. US President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he will sign the policy bill.

* US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which directs the Trump administration to impose sanctions against the Russian gas pipeline project beneath the Baltic Sea.

* President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky discussed over the phone the conflict resolution process with the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the Ukrainian president's office said on Wednesday.

* Polling centers were opened on Thursday in Algeria's presidential election. Some 24.5 million Algerians are eligible to cast their vote, according to the National Independent Authority of the Elections. A total of five candidates are running for the presidency for a five-year term.

* Iraqi President Barham Salih on Wednesday said it is necessary for the candidate for prime minister to have the approval of the Iraqi people.

* Growth in annual visitor arrivals in New Zealand dropped to its lowest level in seven years, as the number of visitors from Asia continued to fall, New Zealand statistics department Stats NZ said on Thursday. The total number of overseas visitor arrivals increased 2.1 percent to 3.9 million for the year ended October 2019, compared with the year ended October 2018, Stats NZ said.

* The African Development Bank (AfDB) said on Wednesday that it would lend Morocco US$270 million for electricity infrastructure projects.

* The United Nations Higher Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday announced evacuation of 72 refugees from Libya to Romania.

* Militants detonated a massive car bomb and seized a building outside a main US and NATO military base in Afghanistan's Bagram on Wednesday morning, pushing security forces to respond, officials and witnesses said.

Xinhua