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Geopolitics

Sharon Legacy, Bangkok Shutdown, Golden Globes

Anti-government rally Monday in Bangkok
Anti-government rally Monday in Bangkok
Worldcrunch

BANGKOK “SHUTDOWN”
Anti-government demonstrators in Bangkok are blocking the main access points to Thailand’s capital as they try to shut down the city to increase pressure on the government and on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign. It comes just a few weeks ahead of a general election,The Bangkok Post reports. According to Reuters, 10,000 police officers and 8,000 soldiers have been deployed, but there are no reports of violence.
For more on the subject, we offer this Le Monde/Worldcrunch piece: Unrest In Bangkok Reveals Thailand's Deep Social Divide.

KERRY TO MEET LAVROV OVER SYRIA PEACE CONFERENCE

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to prepare for the Syrian peace conference, dubbed Geneva 2, scheduled for Jan. 22. Yesterday, the 11 countries that form the “Friends of Syria” urged the Syrian opposition to attend next week’s conference and vowed to exclude Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from a potential transition government. Read more from AFP.

  • On the battleground, near the Turkish border, up to 100 Islamist fighters from the al-Nusra front are thought to have been executed by another al-Qaeda-linked group, the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant, as infighting among different factions of the opposition continue, activists have said. Read the full story from RT.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL TO TAKE EFFECT NEXT WEEK
Iran will begin implementing the nuclear deal it reached with the U.S. and five other powers on Jan. 20 in exchange for relief from some of the sanctions imposed on the country,The Washington Postreports. Under the agreement, Tehran will significantly curb its nuclear activities for six months at the end of which a final deal is to reached. The relief from oil sales is estimated to mean between $4.2 billion and $7 billion for Iran’s economy, according to AP.

ARIEL SHARON’S FUNERAL
One of Israel’s great statesman to some, and an unpunished war criminal to others, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is being buried today in the Negev desert. Several world leaders, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, traveled to Jerusalem to attend a ceremony at the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. Sharon’s coffin will then be taken to his farm in the Negev desert, Sycamore Ranch, where he will be buried.
Follow live updates on Haaretz, and read our exclusive coverage: Ariel Sharon's Legacy, Views From 10 Different Countries.

CRIME INT’L
An Italian man killed his flatmate in Dublin after a late-night chess game turned ugly. The killer reportedly calmly told police over the phone that he had eaten his victim’s heart, but an exam found no damage to his heart. However, one lung is missing.

BY THE NUMBERS
India soon will be officially recognized as polio-free, three years after its last reported case.

GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS (AND CONTROVERSY)
At the Golden Globe ceremony in Beverly Hills yesterday, Breaking Bad was honored with two awards (best drama series and best actor in TV series). But despite seven nominations, the crew behind 12 Years A Slave settled for a single award for best motion picture. Here’s the full list of winners and nominees.

The event also had its share of controversy, as people on Twitter, including Mia and Ronan Farrow, reacted with derision to Woody Allen being awarded the special Cecil B. DeMille award.

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Society

Tales From A Blushing Nation: Exploring India's 'Issues' With Love And Sex

Why is it that this nation of a billion-plus has such problems with intimacy and romance?

Photo of Indian romance statues

Indian romance statues

Sreemanti Sengupta

KOLKATA — To a foreigner, India may seem to be a country obsessed with romance. What with the booming Bollywood film industry which tirelessly churns out tales of love and glory clothed in brilliant dance and action sequences, a history etched with ideal romantics like Laila-Majnu or the fact that the Taj Mahal has immortalised the love between king Shahjahan and queen Mumtaz.

It is difficult to fathom how this country with a billion-plus population routinely gets red in the face at the slightest hint or mention of sex.

It therefore may have come as a shock to many when the ‘couple-friendly’ hospitality brand OYO announced that they are “extremely humbled to share that we observed a record 90.57% increase in Valentine’s Day bookings across India.”

What does that say about India’s romantic culture?

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