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Starving Syria, David Bowie Dies, Extraditing El Chapo

Starving Syria, David Bowie Dies, Extraditing El Chapo


The United Nations is expected to send an aid convoy to the Syrian town of Madaya, where at least 23 people have recently starved to death. About 42,000 people in Madaya have had little to no access to food for the past two weeks, after government forces sealed off access to the city, demanding that opposition groups lay down their weapons, according to Al Jazeera. The rebel-held town outside Damascus has been under siege by government forces and their Hezbollah allies since July 2015, and emergency food supplies that were set to arrive Sunday were delayed, the BBC reports. Residents have reportedly resorted to eating grass and insects to survive. The UN, along with other aid groups such as Doctors Without Borders, are set to send convoys to two other Syrian cities, Kefraya and Foua, located in the north and besieged by rebel groups. According to the UN, about 400,000 people in 15 Syrian locations have no access to the life-saving aid they urgently need.


Photo: Ben Stevens/i-Images/ZUMA

Beloved British musician David Bowie has died at age 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer. "Very sorry and sad to say it's true," Bowie's son Duncan Jones wrote on Twitter. The singer's official Facebook page said today that his family was with him at the end. Bowie's latest album Blackstar was released Jan. 7 to coincide with his 69th birthday. Tony Visconti, Bowie's longtime friend and producer, wrote in a statement that "he made Blackstar for us, his parting gift." Iggy Pop, also a close friend, wrote "David's friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is." David Bowie's career and influence span almost 50 years, starting with the album Space Oddity.


"We still want all countries, both in Europe and the whole world, to join their efforts to combat these threats," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published today in German tabloid Bild, expressing his wish for a global coalition against terrorism. "Yet this does not mean that it is us who should agree with everything that others decide on these or other matters," he added. The interview is available in English here.


Mexican authorities began U.S. extradition proceedings late Sunday against the world's most prominent drug trafficker, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. He was captured Friday in northwestern Mexico after a manhunt lasting several months. He had escaped from a Mexican maximum-security prison in July. Rolling Stone revealed Saturday that actor Sean Penn met and interviewed Guzman in October while he was on the run. Mexican authorities, who want him to face U.S. justice for the tons of drugs he has exported across the border, say they helped plan meeting between Penn and Guzman, Reuters reports. Read more from Le Blog.


The NBA's "Chocolate Thunder" and the Grand Canyon National Park. We've got that and more in today's shot of history.


German police are investigating whether Sunday's attacks against three foreign men in Cologne by a gang of about 20 people were racially motivated and retaliation for hundreds of New Year's Eve assaults on women. According to the local newspaper Express, the attackers had arranged to meet via Facebook to start a "manhunt" for foreigners. The group reportedly attacked six Pakistani men Sunday evening, injuring two, before wounding a Syrian man a few minutes later. The New Year's Eve assaults on women have now prompted more than 600 complaints. Authorities are focusing the investigation on asylum seekers in the city.



The boom of platforms for freelance workers, on the Uber model, presages a world where the wage system will no longer dominate. This will require new social protections for the good of workers — and the economy, Les Echos writes. "The trend isn't limited to low-skilled jobs: In the U.S., the platform Upwork claims 2.5 million freelance service providers working intellectual jobs (developers, lawyers, graphic designers, assistants, etc.). According to a study commissioned by the Freelancers Union, 53 million people are independent, or one in three working Americans. With rising online platforms, as many as half of American workers will be self-employed by 2020."

Read the full article, Freelance Or Bust? Stitching A Safety Net For Workers 2.0.


Drink in hand, comedian and Golden Globe Awards host Ricky Gervais spared few last night. See the winners and the best Gervais barbs here.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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