HK children rate the government
Hong Kong youth will weigh in on the pressing issues in the past year, in the Annual Report of the Civil Children's Ombudsman which the Society for Community Organisation releases today. Underprivileged children rate the government's performance and evaluate its policies for the youth in 2012. They will also list their top 10 concerns for the coming year.
UN team ties loose ends in East Timor
A United Nations "liquidation team" will take over in East Timor after the pull-out of peacekeepers, 13 years after the country won independence from Indonesia in a UN-led referendum. Australian and New Zealand troops have gone, and only a few UN police remain in Dili. UN officials, who view the peacekeeping mission as a rare success, are confident they will be leaving a stable nation under President Taur Matan Ruak.
WTO lists possible next leaders
The World Trade Organisation will come up with a final list of candidates for its top post. Observers are expecting a break from tradition with the selection of a non-European and non-American director general. So far, South Korea, Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Jordan, Ghana, Costa Rica, Mexico and New Zealand have put forward candidates - a handful of whom are women. The WTO general council will interview the hopefuls next month.
Tax cuts expire amid US fiscal cliffhanger
America faces a far less celebratory countdown on New Year's Eve, with key economic policies set to expire tonight, including Bush-era tax cuts and benefits for more than two million unemployed people. Upon the urging of President Barack Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, has promised to hold an urgent "yes or no" vote today in the sharply divided upper house to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff".
New Canterbury archbishop rises
A new spiritual leader takes charge of a flock of around 85 million Anglicans, as Rowan Williams officially steps down as Archbishop of Canterbury and is succeeded by Justin Whelby. Among the last controversies Williams oversaw was opposition to the ordination of women bishops, which he called "wilfully blind". Whelby is seen as being similarly open-minded, and though he opposes same-sex marriage, says he will "listen attentively" to the LGBT community.
Bring on the New Year's Eve revelry
The world is gearing up for a sparkling New Year's Eve. In Hong Kong, highlights are the countdown party at Times Square and the Jardines midnight gun salute in Causeway Bay, and the pyrotechnics at the Exhibition and Convention Centre in Wan Chai. But not all are taking the occasion lightly. The Philippines, for one, has put out warnings against firecrackers and celebratory gunfire, which have injured hundreds this season.