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We begin with Russia a day after President Obama announced sanctions against the Kremlin for allegedly interfering in U.S. elections. Among other measures, Obama ordered out 35 Russian diplomats believed to be intelligence agents.

'Panda Grandpa' Pan Pan Dies In China

Dec 30, 2016

In the final days of a year that has become known for a number of celebrity deaths, 2016 struck again. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported this week that what is thought to be the world's oldest male panda has died in China at the age of 31 — around 100 in human years.

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Professor Kimberly Marten of Barnard College is a scholar of U.S.-Russia relations, and she joins us now. Welcome to the program once again.

KIMBERLY MARTEN: Thank you.

SIEGEL: What effect do you expect these sanctions would have on Russia?

China's police are under fire this week as citizens blast Beijing authorities' decision not to prosecute police following the death of a 28-year-old environmentalist, Lei Yang.

Many observers see this as a landmark case that flies in the face of pledges by China's leaders to prevent miscarriages of justice and curb the arbitrary exercise of state power.

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It seems everything today has a flavor wheel, that color-coded, adjective-rich circle used to convey the sensory qualities of a product. There's the popular wine wheel, of course, but spices, oysters, beef, chocolate, coffee, bread and cigars also spin to their own wheels.

Now Edgar Chambers is out to rock the sensory world. What Chambers has in mind is a flavor tree.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man of many surprises, has delivered yet another one this morning. He is not following the recommendation of his foreign minister to expel American diplomats in response to the U.S. expulsion of Russian diplomats.

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Here's a timely reminder for all you would-be revelers out there: Be careful with your countdowns this New Year's Eve. There will be a little extra time to bask in the glow of a retreating 2016 — or curse its name, as the case may be.

Whatever your inclination may be, one thing is certain: Before the year is out, the world's foremost authority on time will be adding one more second to the clock.

When Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War, no Israeli citizens lived in the territory. The following year, a small group of religious Jews rented rooms at the Park Hotel in Hebron for Passover, saying they wanted to be near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, one of the holiest sites in Judaism (as well as Islam and Christianity).

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Zika - a little more than a year ago, most people had never heard of it. Then doctors in Brazil started to see lots of babies being born with malformed heads. They had microcephaly, a rare birth defect.

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It's been a lively year for social media mavens as they hashtagged their way through the ups, the downs and the downright silly.

Updated at 6:15 p.m.

The White House has announced new actions targeting Russia in response to what U.S. officials say were cyberattacks intended to interfere with the U.S. election.

Russian authorities say that there was no explosion onboard the plane that crashed earlier this week, killing 92, though some prominent officials have yet to rule out terrorism.

In a press conference Thursday, members of a Russian government commission investigating the crash told reporters it could have been one of several factors, but that data from the crash ruled out an explosion.

"After deciphering the first flight recorder we have made a conclusion that there was no explosion onboard," said Lt. Gen. Sergei Bainetov, head of the air force's flight safety division.

When a political scandal explodes in France, there's a good chance it's Wednesday. That's the day satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé hits newsstands.

The fiercely independent weekly, known for its incisive and derisive reporting and more than its share of scoops and bombshells, turns 100 this year.

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As U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon prepares to hand the baton to his successor, Portugal's Antonio Guterres, on New Year's Day, he is lamenting "unfinished business" in a key U.N. doctrine meant to stop genocidal acts.

Ban has described Syria as a "gaping hole in the global conscience." The U.N. fears that South Sudan is on the brink of genocide and that "fires are still burning" in Yemen, Mali and the Central African Republic.

President-elect Donald Trump has used Twitter — his preferred means of communication — to weigh in on a swath of foreign policy issues over the past few weeks.

When Almothana Alhamoud, a 31-year-old Syrian data analyst, arrived in Chicago two years ago after fleeing the Syrian war, he jumped at his first job offer, a nightshift cashier at a convenience store.

"When I came over here I just want to find anything to survive," he says over dinner with his family in Chicago. His parents and two sisters fled Damascus six months after he did. The family has applied for asylum in the U.S.

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Vegan schnitzel? Veggie würst? Soy-sauge and meatless meatballs?

There's no such thing, says Germany's agricultural minister. He's crying fowl over product packaging, and is calling for a ban on using meat-centric terms to describe meatless products.

With his tenure as secretary of state rapidly pulling to a close, John Kerry made an impassioned defense for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday.

Kerry said he is concerned that some Israeli politicians are rejecting it.

"If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic; it cannot be both, and it won't ever really be at peace," said Kerry.

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