Stories of the Week
Iran v. Saudi Arabia. Two of the MENA region's greatest powers faced off this week (see below under Regional Updates for links.) Following the execution of a prominent Shia cleric in majority-Sunni Saudi Arabia, majority-Shia Iran reacted violently, with protesters setting fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The Saudis responded by expelling all Iranian diplomats, and were quickly joined by several regional allies (most loudly: Bahrain.) All of this spells nothing good for the Syria talks, which in turn benefits the Islamic State, so...this is not good (Of note, though, the Iran-Saudi drama is not necessarily a giant sectarian split.) Later in the week, Iran claimed the Saudis had bombed their embassy in Yemen.
North Korea says it detonated a hydrogen bomb. The severely isolated nation claims it has detonated a bomb unlike any it has attempted before. But not so fast - South Korean officials are skeptical that it was a hydrogen bomb, and it's hard to verify just how successful the detonation even was (as the North Korean government is hardly a reliable source.)
Standoff in Oregon. A group of armed men (white Americans, by all accounts) took hold of a government building over the weekend. Among them are the sons of notorious Nevada anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy. Their demands? A bit sweeping, but a lot of it is wrapped up in 1) a defense of the Hammond brothers, two ranchers accused of arson on federal lands, and 2) an overarching sentiment that the government should not be overseeing the swathes of land it oversees to begin with.
- If you want to check out erotica at the New York Public Library, now's your chance.
- Without really informing many people, the TSA (US) instituted a new set of rules relating to its bodyscanners. This has implications for a lot of people traveling to, from, and within the US, so read up.
- 1) It is true that women feel they should say sorry constantly, and that it is very unhealthy. But, 2) policing women's language habits is also a no-no.
- All hail the US Post Office.
- The new Periodic Table of the Elements.
- Charlie Hebdo, one year after a massacre.
- What happens when a notoriously slow FDA regulator watches his wife die of cancer?
- Netflix: now for (almost) everyone.
- The Taliban attacked a restaurant in Kabul, killing a young boy and injuring more than a dozen other customers.
- Two more suicide attacks rocked the city later in the week, injuring dozens. A third followed shortly afterwards.
- An American soldier was killed in Afghanistan following a burst of violence.
- An airbase near the Indian-Pakistani border was attacked on the Indian side, with the hunt for the gunmen raging into the week.
- Numerous Pakistanis in Punjab province have been arrested for their alleged ties to the Islamic State.
- An earthquake hit northeast India, killing several people.
- India is opening the world's first slum museum.
- The chief minister of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir died from complications stemming from a lung infection.
- Human rights violations towards Tamils in Sri Lanka have not stopped, according to recent reports.
Southeast & East Asia:
- China's homeless population has taken to finding refuge in McDonald's locations.
- China landed a test flight on a disputed island in the South China Sea. Vietnam and the Philippines also have claims to the islands in the area.
- Global markets are feeling the weight of China's economic slowdown.
- Five staffers at a Hong Kong publisher have gone missing; they are known for producing work critical of mainland China.
Europe & Eurasia:
- Turkey's President Erdogan has been walking back comments seen as complimentary of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
- Munich has been on high alert all week after a New Year's Eve terror threat.
- Catalonia, a separatist region in Spain, may be headed for new elections.
- A series of coordinated sexual assaults on women occurred on New Year's Eve in the German city of Cologne, and sparking outrage. Witnesses claim the attackers were men of North African/Middle Eastern origin, which is adding fuel to the fire for Germany's refugee debacle. (As an additional aside, the mayor of Cologne went so far as to suggest women should stand at arm's length from men in order to avoid assault. This understandably has been met with backlash.)
- Poland's war on the press has sparked concern across Europe.
- Paris saw heightened anxiety after a man with a knife and fake explosives approached a police station. He was shot and killed.
Middle East & North Africa:
- A shooting in Tel Aviv left two dead and seven wounded.
- In the Israeli city of Haifa, a liberal Palestinian culture is blooming.
- A 63-story hotel in Dubai caught fire early in the week, injuring numerous people.
- The Saudi government executed a prominent Shia cleric, a move that has led to heightened tensions with Iran, as well as Shias across the Middle East. Over the weekend, Iranians set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran, spurring a series of events detailed above in the Top Stories segment.
- Iran also revealed an underground missile depot that isn't going over well with the international community.
- The Islamic State claims to have executed five British spies. The group also reportedly killed a female Syrian journalist, Ruqia Hassan, in September.
- Egypt is cracking down on liberal intellectuals and social media users.
- A large truck bomb targeted a Libyan police academy. At least 50 people were killed and around 130 were injured.
- Garissa University College in Kenya has reopened, following a horrifying attack last April.
- Burundi's government is holding out on joining peace talks to end the violence currently engulfing the nation.
- Zambia's presidential election will be August 11.
- The mosquito-born Zika virus has traveled from Brazil to Puerto Rico.
- The newly-elected mayor of a town in Mexico was shot dead on her first day in office.
- Puerto Rico missed its second major debt payment.
- RIP Natalie Cole.
- American President Barack Obama is preparing an executive order on gun control, following numerous violent incidents in 2015 and no action from congress. He also cried while announcing this, which made headlines and streaming video pretty quickly.
- The Obama administration is carrying out raids that are deporting hundreds of Central Americans, destroying families and sending many back to an uncertain life and the prospect of violence.
- The Texas trooper who pulled over Sandra Bland (an African American woman who reportedly killed herself in her jail cell) has been charged with perjury.
- A six year-old refugee was sexually assaulted on the island of Nauru.