Around the world in news

As the glow from the holidays wears off, here's a quick round-up of what's going on around the world. First of all, today we reflect on the 2004 Tsunami in graphics ten years later (2,300+ shares) as Thailand's prime minister joined relatives at an official ceremony. Meanwhile, Washington Post's Liz Sly reports that the Islamic State is failing at being a state (3,200+ shares). "Totally surprising that parts of Iraq would prove easier to conquer than to occupy/govern," Washingtonian Magazine's Michael Schaffer dryly remarks. Simultaneously, NYT's Michiko Kakutani records the human costs of "the forever wars" as the UN prepares to cut forces in Darfur as fighting increases.

In Saudi Arabia, an antiterrorism court is preparing to try two women held for driving. "Really, driving while female is a terror offense?" asks CNN's Christiane Amanpour. In Russia, Vladimir Putin cancels vacations for Kremlin officials amid an economic crisis. In Sri Lanka, a president renounced by aides loses loses confidence in re-election. In Japan, wages decline the most since 2009.

And for an extra dose of crazy, peer into the surprisingly lax requirements for volunteers licensed to drive in the presidential motorcade. "Obama's hands 'are very soft,' says volunteer limo driver who may or may not be a national security threat," quips Foreign Policy's Ty McCormick

In spite of all this, Telegraph's Fraser Nelson makes the case that we're still bidding goodbye to one of the best years in history.

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