TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Flooding in California
  2. Dakota Access Pipeline protests continued
  3. Protests held against Republican politicians
  4. German intelligence service reportedly spied on media outlets
  5. Car bombs exploded in Syria and Somalia
  6. The fight to retake Mosul continued
  7. China temporarily banned coal imports from North Korea
  8. Famine in South Sudan and Nigeria
  9. Australia plane crash killed 5
  10. NASA discovered 7 potentially habitable exoplanets orbiting one star

Further information and more stories:

UNITED STATES

“California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday proposed spending $437 million for flood control and emergency response and preparedness, days after damage at the country’s tallest dam… led to the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people downstream.” (Reuters)

Flooding in San Jose forced people to temporarily evacuate from over 1,000 homes.

Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline launched protests around the country.

“A driver accused of injuring 28 people in New Orleans after plowing a pickup truck into a crowd watching a Mardi Gras parade had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit soon after the crash….” (Reuters)

Two Jewish cemeteries were vandalized — one in Missouri and another in Pennsylvania.

“The number of deadly heroin overdoses in the United States more than quadrupled from 2010 to 2015, a federal agency said on Friday, as the price of the drug dropped and its potency increased. There were 12,989 overdose deaths involving heroin in 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, compared with 3,036 such fatalities five years earlier.” (Reuters)

UNITED STATES politics

Various town halls across the U.S. were met with protests.

“The Trump administration on Wednesday [scrapped] guidelines telling public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities…. That guidance was never truly implemented, as an August court ruling temporarily stayed its implementation….” (NYDN)

Former Obama Labor secretary Tom Perez became the new head of the DNC.

“Renewed protests against U.S. President Donald Trump flared on the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, with grassroots activists vowing to take to the streets in dozens of cities in ‘Not My President’s Day’ rallies.” (Reuters)

“President Donald Trump’s administration plans to consider almost all illegal immigrants subject to deportation, but will leave protections in place for immigrants known as “dreamers” who entered the United States illegally as children, according to official guidelines released on Tuesday.” (Reuters)

EUROPE

Polls remained semi-divided over who will be the likely winner of France’s next election. Some favored independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. Others favored the far-right Marine Le Pen. Candidate Francois Fillon is expected to fall in the polls following a possible scandal.

“Germany’s foreign intelligence service BND spied on media e-mails, faxes and phone calls, including more than a dozen BBC numbers in London and Afghanistan, Spiegel news reported. The surveillance, which began in 1999, also extended to Reuters news agency and the New York Times, it is alleged.” (BBC)

MIDDLE EAST

A car bomb killed at least 50 people in a Syrian village held “by rebels fighting under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner.”

The Islamic State lost more ground in Mosul, as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces advanced on several districts, even retaking the city’s airport.

Afghanistan

“Afghanistan is set to criminalise the practice of ‘bacha bazi’ — the sexual exploitation of boys — with a slew of stringent punishments laid out for the first time in a revised penal code.” (AFP)

ASIA

A bus crash killed at least 14 people in the Philippines.

“China banned all coal imports from North Korea starting Sunday, a move that steps up a prohibition Beijing enacted last year and comes as recent actions by Pyongyang test relations between the two allies. The temporary ban, which the Ministry of Commerce said would remain through the end of this year, follows North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan this month, in defiance of international sanctions.” (WSJ)

AFRICA

Millions of people risk starvation in South Sudan and Nigeria, mostly due to drought, war, and poor economic conditions.

“A car bomb ripped through a market in Mogadishu on Sunday, killing 39 people and injuring around 50, a local official said, days after Somalia elected a new president.” (Reuters)

“South African police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse rival marches by hundreds of [anti-immigrant] protesters in Pretoria on Friday, after mobs looted stores this week believed to belong to immigrants.” (Reuters)

“Militants ambushed an army patrol in Niger on Thursday, killing 15 soldiers and wounding 19, the Defense Ministry said, occurring in an area near the border with Mali where violent Islamists have been seeking to expand their reach.” (Reuters)

AUSTRALIA

“A small plane crashed into a shopping mall in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday, killing four American tourists and the pilot, the police said.” (NYT)

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

“NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system.” (NASA) The planets orbit a star 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius.

“Germany is going to sail its 120m-long research vessel, the Polarstern, into the sea-ice at the top of the world and just let it get stuck so it can drift across the north pole…. Researchers hope to gather valuable new insights on the region where Earth’s climate is changing fastest.” (BBC)

UPS is running tests with drone deliveries.