Top news: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill that makes it illegal for Americans to adopt Russian children. Russian lawmakers had initially drafted a law that mirrored the U.S. Magnitsky Act -- which bars entry to officials accused of involvement in the death of whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky -- but additional restrictions on adoption and NGO activity were tacked onto the bill. The law, which goes into effect on Jan.1, is likely to strain the already rocky relationship between Russia and the United States.
Last year, Americans adopted close to 1,000 Russians, according to U.S. State Department figures, and the new law would halt the pending adoption of 46 children. A State Department spokesman said the United States was "concerned" by the new law, while U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tweeted that it "saddens" him.
China: The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress issued new regulations on Friday, further restricting Internet use. The new rules require websites to assume responsibility for deleting forbidden content and compel Chinese citizens to give their real names to Internet providers.
- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sacked his only female cabinet minister on Thursday.
- Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was moved from prison to a military hospital because of concerns about his health.
- Iran started six days of naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz, according to the state news agency.
- Nigerian security forces detained two journalists without charge after they published an article alleging military abuse.
- An explosion at a warehouse in Lagos, Nigeria killed at least one person.
- The president of Central African Republic called for international help to fend off rebels who are rapidly approaching the capital city.
- The Pakistani Taliban captured at least 22 men from a regional paramilitary force in northern Pakistan.
- The son of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto launched his political career with a speech commemorating his mother's death.
- A spokesman for Japan's new government hinted that it may reverse a decades-old apology to women forced into sexual slavery during World War II.
- The Vatican newspaper lauded Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's potential bid to seek a second term as "an appeal to recover the higher and more noble sense of politics."
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he is willing to hold talks with the Syrian opposition.
- The Belgian king drew sharp criticism for his Christmas speech, in which he compared contemporary populist rhetoric to the rise of fascism in the 1930s.
- A court in Argentina sentenced former finance minister Felisa Miceli to four years in prison for corruption.
- Brazil plans to require doctors to report every HIV case to authorities in an effort to strengthen its anti-AIDS program.
- Argentina's Federal Court of Cassation unanimously ruled to dismiss criminal charges against former President Fernando De la Rua for his role in the deadly 2001 riots.
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