World News

CARACAS, Venezuela, Dec. 4 (UPI) — The Central Bank of Venezuela said it will issue new higher-value currency to aid consumers who are dealing with unprecedented inflation. Six new Venezuelan bolivar, or Bs., bank notes and three new coins will enter circulation starting Dec. 15, the bank, known as BCV, said in a statement. The largest Venezuelan bolivar currently is the 100 note. “The circulation of the new notes of Bs. 500, Bs. 1,000, Bs. 2,000, Bs. 5,000, Bs. 10,000 and Bs. 20,000 is a decision of the monetary authority … to optimize the current monetary cone,” the statement reads. “The BCV performed technical studies, which are also used by other central banks, to determine the optimal set of denominations required by the national economy. The coins, which will also begin to circulate during the period indicated, are Bs. 10, Bs. 50 and Bs. 100.” Last week, the Venezuelan bolivar fell to an all-time low …

MOSCOW, Dec. 4 (UPI) — The leader of a branch of the Islamic State operating in the North Caucasus was killed, Russia security officials said Sunday. Rustam Aselderov, also known as Abu Muhammad, was one of five militants killed near Makhachkala, the capital of the Republic of Dagestan, RIA Novosti news agency reported. The region is between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea within European Russia. Aselderov, 35, was described as the ringleader of provincial Islamic State operations in a statement from the Federal Security Service, once known as the KGB. He was linked to two separate suicide bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd that killed more than 30 people in December 2013 and two car bomb attacks in Dagestan in May 2012 that killed 14 and injured at least 120. He was fighting for a different militant group then and switched his allegiance to Islamic State leader leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in …

CHAPECó, Brazil, Dec. 4 (UPI) — Funeral burials began on Sunday for the Brazilian victims killed in the LaMia Flight 2933 plane crash in Colombia in which 71 people died. A charter plane headed from Bolivia to Medellin for the championship match of the Copa Sudamericana crashed Monday night into mountainous terrain near Rionegro, Colombia. Most of the victims were members of the Chapecoense Brazilian soccer team — 19 of which were players and 25 of which were team executives. The funeral for Sandro Luiz Pallaoro, president of Chapecoense, was held Sunday in Chapecó — the team’s hometown, the team said. The funerals for other victims will be held in their respective communities, such as in Campos dos Goytacazes, where the funeral of Chapecoense’s player Bruno Rangel was also held Sunday. The South American Football Confederation said Chapecoense will be awarded the Copa Sudamericana title. “CONMEBOL have testified that they will crown Chapecoense as champions …

VIENNA, Dec. 4 (UPI) — Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer conceded defeat against independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen in a re-run election Sunday. Official results are not expected until Monday, but exit polls announced by state broadcaster ORD showed with Van der Bellen with 53.6 percent of the vote compared with 46.4 for Hofer. Polls before Sunday’s vote suggested the result was too close to call. In May, Van der Bellen, a former Green Party leader, defeated Hofer by little more than 30,000 votes in a tightly fought contest decided by mail-in ballots. But Hofer and his party challenged the results and they were annulled because of concerns of how the ballots were handled. “I am incredibly sad it didn’t work out,” Hofer wrote in a concession statement on Facebook. “I would have loved to look after Austria. I congratulate Alexander Van der Bellen to his success and ask all Austrians to stick together … …

IMATRA, Finland, Dec. 4 (UPI) — Police in Finland said three women — a local politician and two journalists — were killed late Saturday by a 23-year-old gunman in the city of Imatra. Police said they believe the chair of the Imatra City Council and the two local print journalists who were killed were chosen at random by the gunman. Officials are working to determine a motive for the shooting, which occurred at the Vuoksenvahti restaurant, Yle reported. The weapon used in the shooting had a permit but the weapon did not belong to the gunman, police said. Some police officers were less than 1,000 feet away when emergency services were called at about midnight to respond to the shooting. The victims were shot as they left the restaurant. The alleged shooter, who waited in his car for police after shooting, was arrested without incident. “Deeply saddened by the triple murder in Imatra last night …

BAGHDAD, Dec. 4 (UPI) — The United Nations mission in Iraq said it will stop reporting military casualty figures after Iraq’s military complained the numbers were exaggerated. In a press release published Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, or UNAMI, said it “acknowledges that the military figures were largely unverified.” The agency said it will discontinue the reporting “unless a sound methodology of verification can be found to better substantiate the figures being reported.” UNAMI said it will continue to publish civilian casualty figures because they are “subjected to a rigorous methodology based on a range of sources, triangulation of sources and assessment of credibility, among other things.” It noted its figures are “conservative” because they “do not include many of the reports received by the Mission that do not meet verification criteria, and hence should be considered as minimums.” On Thursday, UNAMI reported 1,959 Iraqi security forces, including army, police and Kurdish …

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba, Dec. 4 (UPI) — The ashes of Fidel Castro were interred alongside Cuba’s most revered national heroes on Sunday in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba following a five-day memorial journey. Thousands of Cubans on Saturday gathered in Santiago de Cuba’s Antonio Maceo plaza where the late leader’s brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, delivered a final homage. “The permanent teaching of Fidel is that ‘yes, you can;’ that man is able to overcome the harshest conditions if his will to defeat does not faint, he makes an evaluation of each situation and does not renounce his noble and just principles,” Raul Castro said in a speech, a transcript of which was provided by Granma, the Cuban government’s official media agency. “He showed that yes we could, yes we can and yes we can overcome any obstacle, threat or turbulence in our firm commitment to build socialism in Cuba.” The ashes …

ALEPPO, Syria, Dec. 3 (UPI) — Syrian government forces have taken about half of the rebel-held portion of Aleppo, military leaders said, bringing an end in sight to the bloody six-year stalemate in the city. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have held the gains made in the week since they took control of a key housing district at the center of the eastern portion of the war-torn city. A top Syrian general told the BBC that government forces have reduced by half the amount of territory in the city under rebel control. The government’s advances came after two weeks of what witnesses described as the heaviest aerial bombardment since the civil war began. Relentless air strikes reigned bombs over the city, bringing what little was left of ordinary life to a standstill. The hospitals and stores closed and the bombing was so intense aid workers could not reach the rebel portion with food …

ROME, Dec. 3 (UPI) — Italians head to the polls Sunday to decide the fate of a series of constitutional reforms — and likely the fate of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s reform-minded government, depending on the outcome. Renzi proposed a major overhaul of the Italian constitution that supporters say would streamline the nation’s Byzantine legislative process. Opponents, riding a populist tide sweeping over Europe and the United States, are leery of more power concentrated in Rome’s central government. Renzi has promised he will resign if the proposal fails, making the vote as much a referendum on his leadership as the proposal itself. At its core, several changes are being proposed as a bloc: — The Italian Senate would be reduced from 315 elected members to 95 and would mostly be converted to an advisory role in the legislative process, with most bills only requiring approval by the lower house to become law. At present, in …

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Dec. 3 (UPI) — Peng Chang-kuei, the chef credited with inventing General Tso’s chicken, a dish that has come to define Chinese food for generations of Americans — though not for the Chinese themselves — died Wednesday, his son confirmed. His age was variously reported as 97 and 98 in conflicting media reports. The cause of death was a lung infection, his son told the Washington Post. Peng, who was born in China’s Hunan province, created the first iteration of General Tso’s chicken in 1955, while serving as the head chef for the Nationalist government in Taiwan when an American general visited the island during the Taiwan Strait Crisis. The dish as first created bore virtually no resemblance to the one that has become a staple of Chinese buffets and takeout joints across America in the decades since. Peng’s original creation was sautéed bone-in dark meat chicken with the skin still attached. It …

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