NORTH KOREA: For a second time, North Korea has rescinded its invitation for a U.S. envoy to visit imprisoned American Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for plotting to “destroy our system through religious activities against our republic.”
SOCHI OLYMPICS: NASA has some amazing images from space of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the warmest city ever to host the games. Satellite shots from previous Winter Games also are a study in contrasts. On Twitter, #SochiProblems continues to outpace #Sochi2014 as a trending topic.
SYRIA: The kidnapped nuns of Maaloula showed up in a Feb. 5 video broadcast on Al Jazeera this weekend (apparently no English translation is available). The 12 Greek Orthodox nuns taken last year from the Christian village reportedly demanded their release and thanked those working on their behalf.
The evacuation of Homs, once a majority Christian city, continues despite sniper fire and mortar shells. Photos here. On Friday, Syrian clergy told me that no Christians had yet been evacuated despite the massive effort, and they continue to depend on food parcels to keep from starving to death.
JAPAN:Over the weekend, 11 inches of snow fell in Tokyo, its largest snowfallin nearly half a century.
UN: The UN is challenging the Vatican to be more transparent on clergy sex abuse, while hiding records of its own troubles with sex abuse stemming from UN peacekeeping missions.
GDP: In a graphic display of the massiveness of the U.S. economy, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and its economy reporter Adam Belz (disclosure: WJI grad and my nephew) have produced the most up-to-date map yet of the GDP in the 50 states, compared to states around the world. Who knew Tennessee’s economy is roughly the same size as Singapore’s?