News Rounds: Fake news causes Pakistan to rattle nuclear sword at Israel

When fake news was real. Cartoon critiquing the 'yellow journalism' of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in drumming up public support for starting the Spanish-American War in 1898 aimed at gaining control of Cuba. Wikimedia

Fake news creates real news as Pakistan threatens to retaliate in kind to an Israeli nuclear strike after apparently being tricked by a fake news site. Pakistan’s Minister of Defense Khawaja Asif was responding to an invented story published on the website AWDNews with the headline: “Israeli Defense Minister: If Pakistan send ground troops into Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack.” Asif responded by sending out a Twitter threat to Israel mentioning Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. This tweet from Asif prompted a clarification from Israel’s Ministry of Defense, which responded to him on Saturday: “The statement attributed to (former defense minister) Yaalon re Pakistan was never said … (and the) reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false.” Israel was careful to neither confirm or deny it has nukes in this exchange. And as the above historical cartoon notes (not to mention the false claims of WMDs in Iraq that led to war), fake news can have real and deadly consequences. (Telegraph)

Russia discounts terrorism as likely cause of airplane crash in Black Sea. As the BBC reports, a huge search continues for the wreckage and remains, including the so-called ‘black box,’ from the military airplane carrying 92 people that crashed en route to Syria.  (New York Times)

Typhoon kills 6, disrupts Christmas holiday in Philippines. A typhoon blew out of the northern Philippines on Monday after killing at least six people and spoiling Christmas in several provinces, where more than 380,000 people abandoned celebrations at home to reach emergency shelters and other safer grounds. (LA Times)

Biggest story continues to be that George Michael has died. In the not-fake-news category, here is a story that appears to contend the pop star helped transform China. Sigh.

Top Stories

Fleeing war, South Sudanese create booming refugee camps in Uganda. More than one million refugees have fled South Sudan, spilling across borders in East Africa as the international community warns that the conflict and its ethnic violence could destabilize the region. (NY Times)

Danish entrepreneur likes Africa better. Martin Nielsen never planned to live in Africa…. but he soon relocated to Kenya after finding the local and regional market a much more attractive place for entrepreneurs. (Forbes)

Dozens dead from violence in Eastern DR Congo. Up to 34 civilians have been killed in the restive North Kivu province after a Muslim rebel group stormed Eringeti town. (Deutsche Welle)

Myanmar says Muslim man with links to government murdered in Rakhine – A man has been found dead with stab wounds in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, in what the government said on Monday was the second murder in under a week of a Rohingya who cooperated with authorities as they crack down on suspected insurgents. (Reuters)

Six decapitated heads found in Mexico on Christmas Day. Drug violence continues to take its toll, with the discovery of six heads of unidentified men discovered in one state and seven killed in another. (Guardian)

Cuban President Raul Castro faces what could be his toughest year since he took power in 2006. 2017 brings a possible economic recession and a U.S. president-elect who has promised to undo Obama’s normalization unless the Cuban government makes new concessions on civil rights. (AP)

Strapped Brazilian governments turn to privatization. Brazil’s brutal recession, having decimated tax revenue and exposed years of profligate spending, is now fueling one of the biggest privatization binges in years. (WSJ)

China’s giant cow farms leave residents up milk creek. Giant piles of black manure towering over cornfields, while rancid-smelling effluent from thousands of cows spills onto the land — this is the price of a glass of milk in China today. (AFP)

Mass graves and booby traps found in Aleppo by Russian and Syrian troops (Fox News)

Turkish authorities detain more than 1600 for militant links. (Reuters)

Opinion/Blogs

The year the world as we know it ended. Yeah, 2016. Simon Tisdall writes in The Guardian that the election of Donald Trump to become the defacto leader of the free world, Brexit and other events hint at some fundamental changes afoot, many but not all of them dark and foreboding. (The Guardian)

The Republican quest to defund the UN may hurt the US more than the UN – Hrafnkell Haraldsson (that’s a mouthful) argues that the GOP’s hostility to the UN may play well at home but it won’t do much to advance American interests worldwide (Politicususa.com)

China will be both a threat and opportunity for Trump Administration. On the campaign trail Trump talked tough on China, accused it of “raping” the U.S. economy and threatened to slap huge tariffs on Chinese imports. Then he called the President of Taiwan, breaking from the (somewhat awkward and timid) US government’s previous “One China” stance. (NBC News)

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