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.
images / nbcnews
- Oliver Sacks has learned he has a few months to live, and his thoughts are beautiful, sad, and powerful.
- In advance of the Oscars, watch Timbuktu.
- The Christian Science Monitor has launched Passcode, a new segment on security and privacy in the digital age.
- Rumor has it that Apple is working on a(n) (i)car. Rumor has it it will be electric. About time, since climate change now pretty unavoidable.
- RIP Lesley Gore.
- Protesting in Pakistan: The rise of Jibran Nasir and the country’s young, progressive protest culture.
- Candies going natural, among other surprising things.
- Being Muslim in America after the Chapel Hill shootings. | How we obsess over and then ignore violence towards Muslim women.
- In debate circles this week: The Atlantic published a controversial and arguably somewhat Islamophobic article entitled “What ISIS really wants.”
- On another note, CNN’s fine journalism rears its head again: Daesh/ISIS are reportedly using kittens and Nutella to lure women to their ranks.
- The world needs STEM majors with liberal arts degrees. (This blog recommends Smith College as a starting place.)
- Walmart is raising its minimum wage. Let us ponder this.
- Black holes are terrifying.
- The strangeness of life for European Jews was featured in New America’s Weekly Wonk this week.
- Tales of co-existence between Israelis and Arabs in the region that have gone underreported.
- 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.
- 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.
- Argentina‘s president remains defiant amidst accusations that she aided the cover-up of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center. She has asked the U.S. to include the topic in its discussions with Iran regarding nuclear energy. Tens of thousands marched in the country in opposition to what they view as a governmental cover-up.
- In Latin America, authoritarian trends have many worried.
- Colombia is retaining its limitations on adoption rights granted to same-sex couples.
- The mayor of Caracas has been arrested following allegations regarding his role in an attempted coup.
- A federal judge in Texas briefly blocked Obama’s executive action on immigration on Tuesday. His opinion is here.
- The Obama administration is paving the way to sell armed drones to allies of the U.S.
- A superbug in Los Angeles has already killed several people and may stem from infected medical equipment.
- The White House wants to avoid the impression that it is at war with Islam, and has gone so far as to carefully inspect grammatical and wording choices when discussing the topic.