The News February 21-26: Books, Brexit, and Bombs

Stories of the Week

Literary giants leave us. Harper Lee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill A Mockingbird, passed away last Friday, as did Umberto Eco, the Italian writer who won garnered considerable praise for his mystery novel The Name of the Rose. Both writers left behind a tremendous void, and in Lee's case some turmoil. Her work immortalized race issues in the American South, but the fame-averse author lived in seclusion following Mockingbird's publication, and her later years were plagued by controversy.

Brexit. Hold on, everyone, the next few months will be tense: Brits will vote this summer on whether or not to leave the EU. Polls indicate the British public is split on the issue, and arguments from both sides of the divide are pouring in. While the EU has been plagued by trouble in recent years, a British exit could throw the Eurozone and global markets in general into a tailspin. It would also make it much easier for other countries to leave the EU, something European leaders are not pleased with. Not helping matters: London's mayor, Boris Johnson, is pro-Brexit.

American showdown. The race for the Republican and Democratic nominations for the US presidential election has been heated, and the past week offered a preview of what is to come. Hillary Clinton edged out Bernie Sanders to win the Nevada caucus despite confusion as to who might triumph (Sanders fares better with caucus-style voting, while Clinton does well with Latino voters, a mighty demographic in Nevada.) Clinton is expected to defeat Sanders in South Carolina's primary next, at which point both candidates move on to Super Tuesday, where numerous states will vote. On the GOP end, Jeb Bush concluded his campaign after a devastating loss in South Carolina's Republican primary. Ted Cruz was narrowly beaten by Marco Rubio, the latter of whom came in second. First place went to Donald Trump, who insiders are arguing could be on his way to securing the nomination, something that has been hotly debated since he announced his candidacy. Update: Trump secured a victory in Nevada, with Rubio coming in second.

Syria, always. The US and Russia brokered a ceasefire early in the week, which is supposed to go into effect this Saturday. That could happen, and it could not happen. It will also only apply to the parties who agree to it, meaning groups like the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda (and their affiliates) are probably not opting in. This in turn means both the Syrian government and Russia are likely to keep bombing areas where those groups have strongholds.

Harper Lee, author of  To Kill A Mockingbird , has frequently been on banned book lists. (Flickr - Kennedy Center)

Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, has frequently been on banned book lists. (Flickr - Kennedy Center)


Blues Buzz


Regional Updates

South Asia:

Southeast & East Asia:

Europe & Eurasia:

  • A Welsh town is leading a revolt against taxes and corruption.
  • Ukraine is once again slipping into violence as Russian separatists battle those loyal to the government.
  • Europe wants to block refugees from entering, or at the very least stem their flow. Multiple nations met in Brussels to discuss the escalating crisis.
  • Switzerland will vote on whether or not the country will deport any foreign resident who breaks the law.

Middle East & North Africa:

Sub-Saharan Africa:

  • In the CAR's presidential election, Faustin-Archange Touadéra defeated Anicet Georges Doléguélé.
  • Burundi's president has agreed to engage in talks to end the country's political polarization. Numerous human rights organizations have expressed concern over the past few months regarding the escalating violence within the country.



  • In Fiji, the death toll from Cyclone Winston hovered around 30 at the beginning of the week.

Quote of the Week:

The notion that what the powerful, growing population of unmarried American women needs from the government is a husband (or a gynecologist, as was the case with one horrifying 2013 Koch-funded anti-Obamacare ad that featured a grotesque Uncle Sam popping up leeringly from a pelvic exam) is of course problematic. It reduces all relationships women have to marital, sexual, hetero ones and suggests that they are, by nature, dependent beings, in search of someone—if not a ­husband then an elected official or a set of public policies — to support or care for them. - The Single American Woman (Rebecca Traister for The Cut)

Blue Out: Popcorn was a favorite for indigenous peoples long before anyone else caught on.