Saudi-Iran Fissure, China’s Stock Plunge, Star Wars In Ice

Saudi-Iran Fissure, China’s Stock Plunge, Star Wars In Ice


In a development that global leaders warn is particularly troublesome for the future of the Mideast, Saudi Arabia has cut diplomatic ties with Iran after its embassy in Tehran was attacked yesterday by Iranian protesters upset by the Saudi execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Iran is accusing its nemesis of using the embassy attack as a pretext for prolonging tensions between the two countries, Reuters reports. Iranian diplomats were given 48 hours to leave Riyadh, Al Jazeera reports, and Saudi diplomats were likewise recalled from Tehran.

  • Meanwhile, Bahrain also cut all diplomatic ties with Iran today, the BBC reports.
  • Fears of sectarian violence are rising in the region following Saturday’s execution of al-Nimr and 46 other people convicted of terror-related offenses.
  • The White House has urged both countries to explore diplomatic steps, expressing fears that the abrupt escalation of tension between Riyadh and Tehran could affect the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, The Washington Post reports.


“One year later, the assassin is still on the run,” this week’s special edition of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo reads, as it depicts a fugitive, bloodstained God figure carrying a Kalashnikov. The issue marks the Jan. 7 anniversary of the deadly terror attack on Charlie Hebdo"s newsroom in Paris. Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen claimed last year's horrific murders of eight staff members at the hands of two gunmen, saying it was retaliation for the publication of caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed. See the cover image in Le Blog.


Heavily armed gunmen inside an air base in the Indian town of Pathankot, near the Pakistan border, exchanged gunfire today with the Indian military, The Times of India reports. An unclear number of armed men entered the military air base early Saturday, wearing Indian uniforms, before launching an attack. At least five of the attackers and seven Indian soldiers have been killed so far. According to The Hindu, at least two gunmen were still holed up in the building this morning. Indian officials pledged to kill any of the remaining men. Al Jazeera quoted Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi as saying that the attackers had been cornered and were soon to be “neutralized.”


Chinese stock markets plunged by 7% today, the first day of trading in the new year, as the country’s economy continues to struggle, the Financial Times reports. The drop is being attributed to weak factory activity and a weak currency, and it forced Chinese authorities to halt trading for the rest of the day for the first time. So-called “circuit breakers,” designed to curb volatility, were also introduced into Chinese markets today.


The pursuit of happiness has been the endeavor of all people since the dawn of time. But can work, the central value of modern civilization, be the answer? “Nowadays, work is considered a personal development and self-fulfillment tool,” journalist Amanda Castillo writes for Le Temps. “It’s intrinsically linked to our sense of identity â€" after all, don’t we say ‘I’m a lawyer, doctor or architect’ and not ‘I work as a lawyer, doctor or architect’? Some consider it the pivotal point around which our self-construction is organized. The most insistent question that is asked when meeting someone isn’t about hobbies or favorite books, but about what that person ‘does for a living.’ But must a life necessarily include a job to be fully meaningful?”

Read the full article, Can Work Make Us Happy?


A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck South Asia early today, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 200, Channel News Asia reports. The quake struck 29 kilometers west of Imphal, the capital of India’s Manipur state, near the border with Myanmar. Search and rescue efforts are underway but are hampered by severed power supplies and telecommunication links.


Jan. 4 marks the anniversary of the New York Stock Exchange’s opening, the Spirit rover’s landing on Mars and the death of Albert Camus. All that and more in today’s shot of history.


Swedish authorities reintroduced identification controls at its border with Denmark today in a move to stem the influx of refugees, the AFP reports. It’s the first time in half a century that Sweden is demanding photo identification at its border, and the move is seen as a huge blow to Europe’s open-border Schengen Area. In November, Swedish authorities began monitoring trains and ferries to stop asylum seekers who lacked appropriate travel documents.



“We will be here for as long as it takes,” Ryan Payne, a U.S. army veteran and part of an armed militia occupying an Oregon national wildlife refuge, told Oregon Public Broadcasting Saturday. The group of activists commandeered the refuge in support of two local ranchers who were to begin a prison sentence today for arson, after fires they set on their property reached federal lands. Defining the group’s move as an act of liberation, Payne added that “people have talked about returning land to the people for a long time,” according to The New York Times. “Finally, someone is making an effort in that direction.”


Photo: Wiktor Dabkowski/ZUMA

Thirty artists from 12 different countries have recreated the Star Wars universe for this year’s International Ice Sculpture Festival in Liège, Belgium, which lasts until Jan. 31.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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