The world over the holidays
Iraq's armed forces recaptured Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, which fell to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant last May and is just 60 miles from Baghdad. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said ISIL would be driven from Iraq by the end of 2016. ISIL also suffered fresh reverses in Syria; on Dec. 26 it lost the power-generating Tishreen dam to a mainly Kurdish force.
An outbreak of Ebola that rampaged through three African countries officially ended when the World Health Organization declared that Guinea was free of the disease. The outbreak, which started two years ago, killed some 11,000 people, most of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Martin Shkreli was arrested by the FBI on Dec. 17 and charged with securities fraud. Shkreli made the headlines in 2015 when a drug company he ran bought the rights to a medicine and raised its price by 5,000 percent. The (unrelated) charges against Shkreli, which he denies, pertain to his time as a hedge-fund manager.
Poland's right-wing government passed a law requiring the constitutional court to approve decisions by a two-thirds majority, and with at least 13 of the 15 judges present. The law will force the court to accept disputed new judges whom the government has appointed. It will also make it much harder to strike down new laws. The opposition staged furious demonstrations.
Spain held an election before Christmas, which resulted in no stable majority. The ruling People's Party of Mariano Rajoy finished first and the Socialists second. Two smaller parties took seats, breaking the traditional two-party system.
Brazil's finance minister, Joaquim Levy, resigned on Dec. 18. He came into office in January 2015 with a mandate to slash the budget deficit but was thwarted by a severe recession and political turmoil. His successor is Nelson Barbosa.
A group of Central American countries plus Mexico reached an agreement to allow some of the 7,000 migrants from Cuba who are stuck on Costa Rica's border with Nicaragua to travel to the United States. Nicaragua had blocked their entry. The migrants will now be airlifted to El Salvador and continue by bus. The number of migrants from Cuba has increased since a diplomatic thaw with the United States began in 2014. Many fear that the rapprochement will end the United States' policy of accepting émigrés from Cuba if they reach American soil.
Argentina lifted exchange controls and allowed the peso to float freely, days after the inauguration of its new president, Mauricio Macri. This forms part of a liberalization program to reverse populist policies of the outgoing government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
A landslide in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen killed seven people and left dozens of others missing. Officials called it an "industrial safety accident," caused by a collapsing heap of construction waste. An official who had once overseen the site took his own life.
The chairman of one of China's largest state-owned mobile operators, China Telecom, is being investigated by anti-graft officials. The businessman, Chang Xiaobing, is among several senior executives who have been targeted in an anti- corruption campaign being waged by President Xi Jinping.
Japan and South Korea agreed to settle a long-standing dispute over women forced to work in Japanese brothels during the second world war. Japan apologized and said it would pay ¥1 billion, or about $8.3 million, to help victims.
Carlos Rosales Mendoza, the founder of La Familia Michoacana, a Mexican drug gang, was found dead along with three other people near a motorway in western Mexico. He was on the most-wanted list of the Drug Enforcement Agency in the United States.