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Belgian Terror Arrests, Britain's Flooding, Saudi Austerity

Belgian Terror Arrests, Britain's Flooding, Saudi Austerity


Belgian police have arrested two suspected terrorists who were reportedly planning New Year's Eve attacks on "symbolic targets" in Brussels, newspaper Le Soir reports. The arrests came Sunday and Monday after police raids in the provinces of Brabant and Liège. Police said they hadn't found any weapons or explosives during the raids, but they seized computer equipment, military clothing and ISIS propaganda material. They also said there was no connection between this investigation and the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, in which several Belgian citizens or residents had participated.


"2016 will be the year of the big and final victory, when Daesh's presence in Iraq will be terminated," a triumphant Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said today, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS, after government forces recaptured the city of Ramadi from the terror group. And he promised more successes ahead. "We are coming to liberate Mosul, and it will be the fatal and final blow to Daesh."


The January terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo made France the third-deadliest country for journalists in 2015, behind Iraq and Syria, an annual round-up from Reporters Without Borders shows. A total 110 journalists across the world were killed in connection with their work (eight of them in Paris) this year, and the group notes that 2015 marks a shift from last year, when two-thirds of the deaths happened in war zones. This year, two-thirds of the journalists were killed in countries "at peace."


Cleanup of the unprecedented flooding in Britain over the Christmas weekend will cost more than $7.45 billion, and widespread lack of insurance will leave many families and businesses financially ruined, The Guardian reports. Prime Minister David Cameron was heckled by flood victims yesterday during a visit to hard-hit Yorkshire, where politicians are accusing him of leaving the north with fewer flood defenses than the richer south. Yesterday's respite is forecast to end later today with another storm heading towards northern England and Scotland.


Already very active within the country, Chinese censorship is now being applied outside its borders, and via the Internet, Murong Xuecun writes in an essay for Le Monde. What are the implications for China, and the rest of us? "If the Internet has imposed itself as the place of freedom where resistance to censorship in China is expressed, it is also spreading the battle beyond our borders at a time when Chinese state-owned companies are networking around the world and when Confucius Institutes for the promotion of Chinese culture and language are being established in many different countries. Soon, the shadows of censorship will not only hang over we Chinese citizens, but will also catch up to you who are living far away, always believing you are safe from its reach."

Read the full article, How China Tries To Censor The Whole World.


James Joyce, Jude Law and the first-ever YMCA (not to mention a little ditty from the Village People). We've got all that and more in today's shot of history.


Gasoline, electricity and water prices in Saudi Arabia will rise starting today and will continue to do so "gradually over the next five years," King Salman announced yesterday. The oil-rich country registered a 2015 deficit equivalent to $97.9 billion, 15% of its GDP, Al Arabiya reports. With oil as its main source of revenue, falling oil prices have hit Saudi Arabia's finances hard, in large part because of its decision to keep production levels high despite falling demand, as part of its "war on shale oil." According to theFinancial Times, the "radical austerity measures" also include major privatization plans.


Photo: Nancy Stone/TNS/ZUMA

The winter storm Goliath, engulfing a large part of the United States, killing at least 24 people, is "entering its final chapter" as it moves into the Northeast, The Weather Channel reports. Severe weather across the U.S. over the past week has already killed 43 people and caused extensive damage.


Israel's Supreme Court has reduced former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's jail sentence from six years to 18 months, but the 70-year-old will still become Israel's first ex-PM to go to prison, The Jerusalem Post reports. Olmert was found guilty of bribery in a real estate deal during his tenure as Jerusalem mayor, before winning the country's top job. He's expected to begin his sentence in February.



Lemmy Kilmister, the frontman of hard rock band Motörhead, has died at age 70, two days after being diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. As the famous rocker had prophesied, "the only time I'm gonna be easy's when I'm killed expand=1] by death."

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For Seniors, Friendship May Be More Important Than Family

Even if the aging and elderly tend to wind up confined to family circles, Argentine academics Laura Belli and Danila Suárez explore the often untapped benefits of friendship in our later years.

Photograph of two elderly women and an elderly man walking arm in arm. Behind the, there are adverts for famous football players.

Two elderly women and a man walk arm in arm

Philippe Leone/Unsplash
Laura F. Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé

Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 10:10 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — What kind of friendship do people most talk about? Most often it is childhood or teenage friendships, while friendships between men and women are repeatedly analyzed. What about friendships among the elderly? How are they affected when friends disappear, at a stage when grieving is already more frequent?

Argentines Laura Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé, two friends with PhDs in philosophy, explore the challenges and benefits of friendship in their book Filosofía de la amistad (Friendship Philosophy).

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They consider how friendships can emerge later in life, in profoundly altered circumstances from those of our youth, with people living through events like retirement, widowhood, reduced autonomy or to a greater or lesser degree, personal deterioration. All these can affect older people's ability to form and keep friendships, even if changes happen at any stage in life.

Filosofía de la amistadexplores the place of friendships amid daunting changes. These are not just the result of ageing itself but also of how one is perceived, nor will they affect everyone exactly the same way. Aging has firstly become a far more diverse experience, with increasing lifespans and better healthcare everywhere, and despite an inevitable restriction in life opportunities, a good many seniors enjoy far greater freedom and life choices than before.

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