The News January 31-February 5: Zika Panic

Stories of the Week

Zika continues. The outbreak is causing alarm all over the Americas, and the virus is moving around the globe. News broke mid-week that Zika could be transmitted sexually, leading to even more concern. American panic over sexually transmitted diseases has slowed significantly since the height of the AIDS epidemic, but it is possible Zika could cause anxiety surrounding the topic to spike.

Syria talks falter. Syrian rebels agreed early this week to  participate in proximity talks in Geneva, but  they have not been going well. Late in the week the talks were suspended for another three weeks, as relations between rebel groups and the government of Bashar al-Assad deteriorated even more severely. Going forward, things aren't looking super positive -- which is a terrible sign for the rebels.

Lead beyond Flint. The US has been rocked by the news that the residents of Flint, Michigan, have been consuming lead-tainted water for the past two years. Unfortunately, it seems Flint is only one of several cities in the country experiencing this problem. Eighteen areas in Pennsylvania reportedly have an even higher level of lead in their water, and other cities have comparable numbers. No amount of lead consumption is safe, so this is pretty horrifying news.

The United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (cometstarmoon via Flickr)

The United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (cometstarmoon via Flickr)

Blues Buzz

Regional Updates

South Asia:

  • A suicide bomber struck a police station in Kabul.
  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has issued a decree aimed at protecting journalists in Afghanistan.
  • The US bombed an Islamic State-fronted Afghan radio station.
  • Karachi gang leader Uzair Baluch has been arrested. Baluch has been linked to the deaths of numerous politicians and other individuals, and asserts control over Lyari, a famous slum in Karachi.
  • The leader of the Bacha Khan University massacre has been arrested.
  • India may reconsider a 2013 law criminalizing same-sex relations. 

Southeast & East Asia:

  • Burma's somewhat-freely elected parliament is officially open. However, the role of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's opposition leader of many years, is still being hotly debated. Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from the presidency because her children are British, not Burmese (a clause many believe directly targeted her.) She has claimed that she will be "above the president", indicating that titles may only be a formality in the new government.
  • A missing Chinese journalist's wife has claimed he is being held in China. The journalist disappeared in Thailand last month, and speculation has pointed to his being held by Chinese authorities.

Europe & Eurasia:

Middle East & North Africa:

Sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Boko Haram's killing sprees in Nigeria continue to leave behind dozens upon dozens of casualties.
  • An explosion on an air craft flying out of Somalia was likely a bomb, according to experts.



  • Australia's controversial policy regarding the detention of refugees and migrants has been upheld.


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