Venezuela: The ruling socialist party swept mayoral races in most of the state capitals and major cities in elections boycotted by several opposition parties, officials announced. The ruling party won in 41 of 42 cities where a winner was declared, according to early official results. The opposition even lost in strongholds such as Maracaibo and the Caracas-area district of Sucre. Around 47 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Koreas: South Korea has started a joint missile tracking exercise with the US and Japan amid speculation that North Korea may soon test a submarine-launched ballistic missile. The two-day drill is taking place in waters near the peninsula and Japan, the first trilateral military operation since the North's firing of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile in late November.

Australia: Loudspeakers are being installed at more than 90 sites across Melbourne's CBD as part of a terror alert system to be publicly tested after Christmas. Sixty-five speaker sets have been installed at sites including Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and the Bourke Street mall and the remainder will be completed by the end of 2018. The system will be tested on December 28. Along with the speakers, the state government is also rolling our permanent bollards and increasing CCTV coverage. Victoria Police will decide when the speakers are used and what message is broadcast.

Iran: A German electronica band are to perform in Iran's capital Tehran, marking the first concert by a Western pop group since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Tickets to the first two shows by Christopher von Deylen and his band Schiller tomorrow and Wednesday have already sold out, but there are still some tickets remaining for the final three shows, according to the newspaper Tehran Times. Schiller has been popular among Iranian fans of European electronic music for years, but Western music is frowned upon by Iran's clerics.


Britain: Disgraced celebrity publicist Max Clifford, a confidant to the stars who fell from grace amid Britain's investigation of past sexual abuse, has died after collapsing in prison, aged 74. Once one of the most powerful figures in British entertainment, Clifford was convicted in 2014 of eight counts of indecent assault stemming from attacks on teenagers dating back more than 40 years. He was serving an eight year prison sentence at Littlehey Prison in Cambridgeshire when he died, Britain's Ministry of Justice said.

- agencies