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.
- Indian women are seeking jobs, but they are coming up against severe challenges.
- In American politics: the NYT's ringing endorsement of Democrat Hillary Clinton stands in stark contrast to its warnings to Republicans.
- 100 times white people played people of color in a movie.
- The CDC (US) wants American women to not drink unless they are on birth control, lest it affect their potential unborn children. This is, of course, problematic.
- A reporter bids goodbye to South Asia.
- Sparkling water is bad for you. Apologies for this potentially crushing blow.
- 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:
- Masked men are attacking refugees in Sweden, following heightened tensions between Europeans around the continent and the newcomers, many of whom are fleeing violence in other areas.
- Britain is being offered numerous concessions in an effort to keep the kingdom in the Eurozone. Were Britain to depart, the whole of the EU would be enormously impacted.
- Irish parliamentary elections will take place on February 26.
Middle East & North Africa:
- Israel has approved a plan to construct a plaza permitting mixed-gender worship at the Western Wall, long a point of conflict.
- Iraqis in Fallujah are dying of starvation as a blockade by Iraqi troops attempting to drive out the Islamic State continues.
- An Italian PhD student who went missing in Cairo was found dead. His body showed signs of torture, and the Italian government wants an investigation into his death.
- Drone strikes in Yemen killed 12 people, who have been listed as 'suspected jihadists.'
- Morocco has switched on the world's largest solar panel.
- 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.
- The Americas continue to fend off the Zika virus, as the WHO called an emergency meeting to discuss responses to the outbreak.
- Ted Cruz won the Republican Iowa caucus Monday night, while Hillary Clinton narrowly edged out a win over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic caucus. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, and Mike Huckabee, a Republican, both dropped out of the race. Soon after, Republican Rand Paul also departed the race.
- For the first time in his presidency,. Barack Obama visited an American mosque. There were a range of reactions from Muslims, many of whom feel he unfairly expects Muslims to fix a problem that is the fault of a small minority.
- A Black Lives Matter activist is running for mayor of Baltimore.
- Australia's controversial policy regarding the detention of refugees and migrants has been upheld.
Blue Out: 23 descriptions.