Weekly News Round-Up 2/16/14-2/20/14: Year Of The Ram

Residents of the District, we are being mocked by our peers in Boston. That having been said, it’s been a cold and snowy week — and this weekend looks cold too. Stay bundled up. (DC-related: 10 tv shows about us, ranked. This blog debates the presence of Homeland, however.) This week has a wave of technology news (iCars, anyone?), a combination of ISIS-Nutella-Kittens (don’t ask), advice from the dying, ongoing atrocities from militants in MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa, fights over biryani, solidarity between Jews and Muslims, and a weird cloud hanging over a portion of Mars. Repeat: stay bundled up this weekend. (Brightest news of the week: Coffee may be healthy. You heard it here probably not first but definitely most joyfully.) Also a happy Chinese New Year to all celebrating! Year of the Ram/Goat/Sheep, i.e. this blog’s preferred year.

People rush to plant the first joss stick of the Lunar New Year at the stroke of midnight at the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple in Singapore on Feb. 19, 2015. Each year, at the stroke of midnight, hundreds of people vie to be the first to place joss sticks in an urn at the temple to mark an auspicious start to their year. The Chinese Lunar New Year on February 19 welcomed the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram).
People rush to plant the first joss stick of the Lunar New Year at the stroke of midnight at the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple in Singapore on Feb. 19, 2015. Each year, at the stroke of midnight, hundreds of people vie to be the first to place joss sticks in an urn at the temple to mark an auspicious start to their year. The Chinese Lunar New Year on February 19 welcomed the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram).
An injured Myanmar Red Cross volunteer lies on ground after vehicles of a rescue convoy were attacked by Kokang rebels near the self-administered Kokang capital Laukkai, northern Shan State, Myanmar, on Feb. 17.  Myanmar President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency and imposed martial law in a region near the Chinese border after more than 70 people were killed in fighting between the Myanmar army and a rebel group.
An injured Myanmar Red Cross volunteer lies on ground after vehicles of a rescue convoy were attacked by Kokang rebels near the self-administered Kokang capital Laukkai, northern Shan State, Myanmar, on Feb. 17.
Myanmar President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency and imposed martial law in a region near the Chinese border after more than 70 people were killed in fighting between the Myanmar army and a rebel group.
Bulgarian Muslims Azim Liumankov and his bride Fikrie Bindzheva pose in front of their house during their wedding ceremony in the village of Ribnovo, in the Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria on Feb. 15. The remote mountain village of Ribnovo in southwest Bulgaria has kept its traditional winter marriage ceremony alive despite decades of Communist persecution, followed by poverty that forced many men to seek work abroad.  The wedding ritual was resurrected with vigour among the Pomaks - Slavs who converted to Islam under Ottoman rule. The highlight of the ceremony is the painting of the bride's face, where in a private rite open only to female in-laws, her face is covered in thick, chalky white paint and decorated with colourful sequins.
Bulgarian Muslims Azim Liumankov and his bride Fikrie Bindzheva pose in front of their house during their wedding ceremony in the village of Ribnovo, in the Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria on Feb. 15. The remote mountain village of Ribnovo in southwest Bulgaria has kept its traditional winter marriage ceremony alive despite decades of Communist persecution, followed by poverty that forced many men to seek work abroad.
The wedding ritual was resurrected with vigour among the Pomaks – Slavs who converted to Islam under Ottoman rule. The highlight of the ceremony is the painting of the bride’s face, where in a private rite open only to female in-laws, her face is covered in thick, chalky white paint and decorated with colourful sequins.
A slum that hosts Afghan refugees and internally displaced Pakistanis from tribal areas is visible through the windshield and mirrors of a rickshaw on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, on Feb. 15.
A slum that hosts Afghan refugees and internally displaced Pakistanis from tribal areas is visible through the windshield and mirrors of a rickshaw on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, on Feb. 15.
Women cook in the local Palace of Culture which is used as a bomb shelter in Mironovka village, in eastern Ukraine, on Feb. 17.
Women cook in the local Palace of Culture which is used as a bomb shelter in Mironovka village, in eastern Ukraine, on Feb. 17.
Dozens of pilot whales lie beached at Farewell Spit on the northern tip of New Zealand's South Island, on Feb. 13. About 140 pilot whales that stranded themselves on a remote stretch of New Zealand beach died, but conservation workers and volunteers helped refloat the remaining 60 or so with hopes they will survive.
Dozens of pilot whales lie beached at Farewell Spit on the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, on Feb. 13. About 140 pilot whales that stranded themselves on a remote stretch of New Zealand beach died, but conservation workers and volunteers helped refloat the remaining 60 or so with hopes they will survive.
A Kurdish female fighter of the People's Protection Units looks on at a training camp in al-Qahtaniyah, known to Kurds as al-Darbassiyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border on Feb. 13.
A Kurdish female fighter of the People’s Protection Units looks on at a training camp in al-Qahtaniyah, known to Kurds as al-Darbassiyah, near the Syrian-Turkish border on Feb. 13.

images / nbcnews

 

Assorted Stand-Outs:

South Asia:

  • The UN’s report on war crimes in Sri Lanka has been shelved until September of this year.
  • Eight people were killed and more than ten injured in a suicide attack in Lahore, Pakistan.
  • In the wake of the Peshawar attack that killed over 140 students, school-goers in Pakistan are being trained to respond to terrorist advances.
  • Four members of a kidnapped polio vaccine team were found dead in Baluchistan. They are believed to have been murdered by the Pakistani Taliban.
  • Pakistan claims the Afghan Taliban are prepared for talks with the U.S., who denies the claim.
  • A female Afghan politician succumbed to her injuries from a terrorist attack and died this week.
  • Afghanistan’s first lady has her work cut out for her.
  • 2014 was the deadliest year for civilians in Afghanistan with the number killed topping 10,000.
  • The majority of Afghan families conceal rape cases, according to a new report.
  • Afghanistan lost its first cricket match against Bangladesh this past week. It will face Sri Lanka next. This is the country’s first time participating in the ICC games.
  • As its rivals falter, India is surging ahead economically. The country also successfully tested a new missile recently, pushing it forward as its global star rises.
  • Pakistan, India, a fishing boat, biryani. Standard.
  • In other oddball news, one Indian bride didn’t feel like sitting around when her soon-to-be husband suffered an epileptic fit. She promptly married a member of the guest list instead, prompting feuding and thrown spoons.

Southeast & East Asia:

  • Thai students remain the last standing in their refusal to accept the country’s military coup.
  • Ethnic tensions in Burma have led to a mass exodus from the country’s northeastern region.
  • Thailand’s former prime minister will face charges over a rice subsidizing scheme.
  • One man attempted to have a few blunt conversations on classified material relating to North Korea. He’s now in jail due to the Espionage Act.

Europe & Eurasia:

  • A Dane born and raised in the country attacked a free speech event, killing a film director, and attempted to attack a synagogue that same day, killing the Jewish guard outside of it. The man was later killed in an exchange of fire with police.
  • Police are investigating the vandalism of Jewish graves in eastern France.
  • Belfast attempts to be “normal”, years after devastating conflict.
  • Thousands of Turkish women are sharing their stories of harassment following the tragic murder of a 20 year-old woman who was killed during an attempted rape from a driver who then worked to dispose of her body.
  • A controversial police bill in Turkey led to a massive brawl in parliament.
  • Shia-phobia is on the rise in Turkey. Meanwhile many in the country feel the ruling AKP party has sacrificed Turkey’s Ottoman culture in exchange for a growing solidarity with the Middle East.
  • Kurdish militants are demanding progress on peace talks with Turkey or say they will leave the negotiating table.
  • Despite a truce between the Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists, fighting is raging on.  The city of Debaltseve has been the source of much of the trouble; other cities seem to be fairing a bit better. In a major defeat, government troops began withdrawing mid-week. However the Ukraine may have called Russia’s bluff, so to speak — the country has asked that UN peacekeeping troops be sent into the region to demonstrate Russia’s commitment to the ceasefire.
  • Talks to solve Greece‘s financial crisis collapsed early in the week, with the clock ticking and markets terrified. FP Opinion: Greece shouldn’t give in to Germany, due simply to sound economics.
  • Filmmaker Roman Polanski will attend a hearing in Poland on his multi-decade withstanding warrant for child rape.
  • Poland is set to pay fines to inmates held at a CIA black site in the country.
  • In a rather moving symbol of solidarity, a group of Muslims in Oslo are planning to form a peace ring around a Jewish synagogue following a series of antisemitic attacks throughout Europe.

Middle East & North Africa:

  • Over the weekend, a group aligned with Daesh/ISIS released a video purporting to show the executions of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt. In retaliation, Egypt has been bombarding the terrorist group with bombs in Libya. Egypt has called for a UN mandate and a coalition to counter terrorist factions within the nation.
  • The West isn’t the only region struggling with its youth running off to join extremists — Egypt is struggling as well.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is encouraging Danish and French Jews to emigrate to the country. Netanyahu also spent $24,000 on takeout which is a lot for takeout.
  • Israel is refusing to run water to Rawabi, a Palestinian town that desperately needs it.
  • Snow comes to the Holy Land, panic ensues.
  • Haaretz interviewed a 14 year-old Palestinian girl who recently became the youngest person ever to serve time in an Israeli prison.
  • Hamas is preventing an Arabic fiction award finalist from leaving the Gaza strip to receive the award in Morocco, an occurrence that is indicative of a growing trend in the region.
  • A brief truce may be in the works in Aleppo, Syria, as the country’s dictator grapples with both rebel groups and the threat of Daesh/ISIS.
  • Growing tensions between Kurdish fighters and Shia militiamen in Iraq may foreshadow the country’s next civil war.
  • Centcom has detailed a plan for retaking the city of Mosul.
  • Daesh/ISIS militants burned to death 45 people in western Iraq, for unknown reasons, though several may have been security force members.
  • Iran’s President is making accommodations for the country’s Jewish students — they will no longer have to attend school on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.
  • An Iranian MP wants the confession of a Washington Post journalist detained and held in the country for months to be aired to the public.
  • Iran’s Shia militias are terrifying and terrorizing Iraq.
  • Iran’s first female vice president: A woman served as a spokesperson for the hostage takers during the hostage crisis of the 1970s and who also believes the CIA may have created Daesh/ISIS.
  • Qatar has recalled its ambassador to Egypt in a row over strategic bombing in Libya. The Gulf States are for the most part backing Qatar in its spat with the ancient country, the latter of whom is calling for increased intervention in Libya.
  • Sub-Saharan Africans suffer discrimination, racism, and dangerous oppression in Morocco, where their Arab counterparts reign.
  • In feuding Yemen, the UN says political parties have agreed on a transitional council.

Sub-Saharan Africa:

  • At the beginning of the week a teenage girl detonated a suicide bomb near a bus stop in Nigeria, killing predominately children.
  • Boko Haram has made inroads into Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.
  • Sierra Leone has lost track of billions in funds intended to tackle Ebola.
  • There may be enough evidence to try Chad’s former ruler Hissene Habre for crimes against humanity.
  • A Tanzanian albino boy was found brutally murdered shortly after his disappearance. Albino children are prized by witch doctors throughout the region, as their body parts are believed valuable.
  • The giant ghosts of Madagascar’s incredible past loom large in an underwater grave.
  • As the world looks on in terror at the atrocities committed by militants in the Middle East and parts of Western Africa, there has been some discontent over the lack of coverage concerning the ADF — the DRC‘s terrorizing rebels.
  • A peace truce has been brokered in Mali to end years of hostilities and violence.

Americas:

 

Weekly Wow: There’s something weird going on on Mars. | Different ways we could all die.

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