The News December 20-25: Something to Read During the "Holiday(s)"

Stories of the Week

Star Wars mania. If you're a human on planet Earth with access to the internet or television, you have likely observed the resurgence of the beloved Star Wars franchise. Star Wars: The Force Awakens pulled in hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars, and reviews have been relatively positive. (TBTN endorsement: Your blogger, a fan of the original trilogy who loathes the prequels, recommends The Force Awakens, and, after you have seen it, advises you to read this great take on the reboot's feminist undertones.)

Christmas mania. For those not observing the West's favorite Christian-inspired pastime, here's a strong rebuttal on Christian privilege. For those observing, here's some Grinch-esque talk about the commercialization of the holiday. And in due deference to those outside of the West, here's a good reminder of the struggles of Christians in other parts of the world, where they are oftentimes marginalized. (And a moment for refugees, many of whom are having a terrible holiday.)

Modi mania. It was quite the week for India's prime minister. First, he jetted off to Russia to put the finishing touches on a coveted defense deal with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Then, in a moment that shocked much of the Subcontinent, he swung by Pakistan to visit Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore. (It was Sharif's birthday, something social media enjoyed playing with.) Shortly thereafter, he returned to India to celebrate the birthday of former Prime Minister Vajpayee. Jetsetter. 

Christmas Eve in Hamra Beirut. (Achim Voss - Flickr)

Christmas Eve in Hamra Beirut. (Achim Voss - Flickr)

 

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Regional Updates

South Asia:

  • The Gandhi family, who hold much of the power in India's Congress party, are fighting corruption charges pushed forward by the rival BJP party (which currently rules the country.)
  • Indians are mass-protesting the release of a rapist who was tried as a juvenile. The man was one of a group responsible for the brutal gang rape and murder of a young woman several years ago; the crime led to protests across the country and garnered global attention. 
  • Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, visited Moscow this week to ink a major defense deal with Russia.
  • The US State Department has issued warnings for the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, observing that people may be targeted during the Christian holiday of Christmas, as well as New Year's Eve.
  • A Taliban attack killed six US soldiers in Afghanistan at the beginning of the week. 
  • The Taliban are also making a play for Sangin, which is notably a leading source of poppy -- through which opium is produced.

Southeast & East Asia:

Europe & Eurasia:

Middle East & North Africa:

Sub-Saharan Africa:

Americas:

Oceania:

Blue Out: Miss Universe mess-up.