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Syrian Factions Meet, Trump's "New Furor," U2 Lifts Paris

Syrian Factions Meet, Trump's "New Furor," U2 Lifts Paris


Syrian armed and political opposition groups are set to meet in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh today as part of a three-day conference aimed at finding a common position ahead of potential peace talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government, Al Jazeera reports.

  • The talks will include a dozen Free Syrian Army groups as well as the powerful Jaish al-Islam group that controls most of the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus.
  • According to the BBC, the Ahrar al-Sham group, which has fought alongside the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, has also been invited to the talks but has not yet said if it will attend.
  • The Kurdish group Democratic Union Party, its armed wing the YPG and their allies the Syrian Democratic Forces weren't invited, which could undermine the talks. Instead, they are set to hold a separate meeting in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah.
  • The al-Nusra Front and ISIS will not attend the talks.
  • The conference comes amid international efforts to restart peace talks in Syria, which could include negotiating with Assad's government, The Guardian reports.
  • Amnesty International called today for an embargo on arming all forces fighting in Syria in order to stop weapon proliferation.


"I am hereby barring Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps," Rick Kriseman, the Democratic mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., joked in a tweet today, joining a wave of reactions to Donald Trump's call to "ban" all Muslims from entering the U.S. Other Republican figures were quick to react, with Jeb Bush describing Trump as "unhinged," Dick Cheney saying this "goes against everything we believe in," and the Philadelphia Daily News even comparing Trump to Hitler on its front page.


Photo: Shen Bohan/Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese authorities issued the first-ever pollution "red alert" in Beijing late yesterday as the intensity of tiny particles reached record levels, China Daily reports. It has brought the Chinese capital to a partial halt, as half of the city's cars have been ordered off the streets, schools have been closed and many factories have been forced to stop operations until midday Thursday. According to the U.S. embassy's air pollution monitor in Beijing, the air pollution levels that are more than 12 times the maximum exposure recommended by the World Health Organization. This is the first time China has declared a red alert under the four-tier alert system it adopted in October 2013. But the BBC reports that these record pollution levels are far from being the city's worst.


As many as 43,000 homes were still without electricity in northern England last night after storm Desmond left severe flooding in the region over the weekend, the BBC reports. More rain is expected this week, and about 100 flood warnings have been issued across Great Britain.


Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi confirmed Monday that he asked the Saudi-led coalition carrying out airstrikes in the country to begin a week-long ceasefire beginning Dec. 15 to coincide with U.N.-sponsored peace talks that will aim to end months of deadly conflict, Al Jazeera reports. This comes after the United Nations said Yemen's warring parties could meet for talks in Switzerland.


John Lennon was assassinated in New York 35 years ago today. That, and more, in today's 57-second shot of history.


South African athlete Oscar Pistorius will remain under house arrest with electronic monitoring while he awaits sentencing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the high court in Pretoria ruled this morning, News24 reports. His manslaughter conviction was changed to murder last week, and he now faces a 15-year sentence for the crime. The verdict is set to be delivered on April 18, 2016.


Europe is increasingly turning to the so-called attachment parenting approach to child rearing, which sees kids and adults as equals. It may have unforeseen effects on children, as Die Welt reports, but even more so on parents. "Children aren't the only one with needs. Parents have them too, and it is these needs that children have to accept as they get older, critics say. The demands placed on parents, and especially mothers, are burdensome with attachment parenting. Always being present imposes restrictions on women and forces them back into traditional female roles."

Read the full article, Hidden Perils Of The Attachment Parenting Movement.



U2 invited the Eagles Of Death Metal onto the stage at their Paris concert last night. It's the first time the U.S. band played in the French capital since terrorists killed 90 people at their Nov. 13 concert at the Bataclan, NME reports. The two bands performed a cover of Patti Smith's "People Have The Power" together, before Eagles Of Death Metal closed the show with their own track "I Love You All The Time."

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Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

Keep reading...Show less

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