I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas. (A lot, but not all, of the following comes from Steve Benen.)
* Iraq: “At least 34 people were killed in three bombings in Christian areas of Baghdad on Wednesday, including a car bomb that exploded as worshippers were leaving a Christmas service, Iraqi police and medics said. Elsewhere in Iraq, at least 10 people were killed in three attacks that targeted police and Shi’ite pilgrims, police said.”
* In related news, the U.S. is “quietly rushing dozens of Hellfire missiles and low-tech surveillance drones to Iraq to help government forces combat an explosion of violence by a Qaeda-backed insurgency that is gaining territory in both western Iraq and neighboring Syria.”
* One of the truly great things that I have read lately has to do with Sarah Palin. Shortly after this Duck Dynasty nonsense blew up, Fox News trotted out former governor Palin to defend liberty or something like that. When pressed by “hard hitting” Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren, Sarah Palin responded, “I haven’t read the article. I don’t know exactly how he said it.” Priceless!!!
* Delta Air LInes sold round-trip tickets for $25. Some flights were only $5. Wow!! now that’s some “glitch” as the company spokesperson described it.
* The FBI thought that Jimmy Stewart’s holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was some communist propaganda movie.
* Egyptian divisions grow more complex: “The Egyptian government intensified its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday, formally listing the group as a terrorist organization after accusing it of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16 people.”
* Abe managed to offend a broad international audience with this one: “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visited a contentious Tokyo war shrine early on Thursday, provoking swift condemnation from China and South Korea, both victims of Japan’s wartime aggression.”
* Turkey: “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffered the worst blow in his decade in power when an old friend quit the cabinet and called for his resignation—the latest fallout from a corruption investigation that threatens to undermine the leadership of an important strategic partner for the West.”
* Encouraging economic news: “Businesses stepped up their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in November. And a key category that signals business investment plans climbed at the fastest pace in 10 months.”
* A seven-hour operation in space: “Nearly two weeks after a faulty coolant valve crippled the International Space Station, two NASA astronauts took on a rare Christmas Eve spacewalk to get things back to normal.”
* Edward Snowden sat down for a lengthy interview with Barton Gellman and soon after recorded a video message that aired on British television yesterday.
* Keep an eye on this one: “Civil rights leaders and members of the Georgia congressional delegation on Monday called on President Obama to withdraw his nominees for federal courts in the state over concerns about their views and lack of diversity.”