News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories

France: Paris suffered six coordinated terrorist attacks in one night. More than 125 lives were lost and over 350 people were wounded.

At one scene, gunmen burst into the Bataclan concert hall in the middle of a show, shooting indiscriminately at the crowd for several minutes, killing 89 spectators, and taking the rest hostage until the police stormed the building.

President François Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced the closure of France’s borders. All schools, museums, libraries, town halls, gyms, and markets have been closed.

The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attacks in retaliation for France’s involvement in allied airstrikes against ISIS.

ISIS said that the attacks in the French capital was “just the beginning of the storm,” and warned that, “France and all nations following its path know that they will continue to be at the top of the target list for the Islamic State…”

In a statement, US President Barack Obama said, “This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

Here’s video of President Hollande speaking to his nation right after the attacks:

BBC has a page devoted to live updates. For the latest on this tragedy, please visit:


Myanmar: Burmese opposition politician and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy (NLD) to a decisive victory in the country’s election on Tuesday.

The government’s election commission announced the NLD party had won 348 of the 664 seats in the lower and upper house of parliament.

NLD’s victory over the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) enables the party to form Myanmar’s first democratically elected government, and ends the dominance by the military since the early 1960s.

Despite the hard won majority in the parliament, NLP leader Aung San Suu Kyi cannot assume Myanmar’s presidency according to the current constitution.

But the constitutional sanction has not deterred the Nobel laureate who has vowed to govern from “above the presiden[cy].”

PBS NewsHour produced the following story about the road to democracy:


Business: Sony has decided to kill its Betamax next March.

Betamax was Sony’s cutting edge video recording and reproducing technology four decades ago. At its peak in 1984, Sony shipped some 50 million units of Betamax video cassettes.

Since then, its popularity declined as JVC’s more bulky but much cheaper VHS tapes began to dominate the market.

Sony stopped selling its Betamax video recorder in 2002, after having sold more than 18 million Betamax videotape recorders globally.

What average consumers may not know is, long after VHS tapes disappeared from shop shelves, through the rise and fall of video CD and DVD, and the emergence of latest streaming technologies, Betamax tapes have been in continuous production all these years, all for a bunch of die hard loyalists.

Here’s a great video by the “Engineer Guy” about how Betamax lost the recording wars:


Lifestyle: Starbucks’ eye-catching red Christmas cups fail to excite customers this year.

It has been customary for Starbucks stores to switch to holiday-themed coffee cups during Christmas since 1997. These festival cups had featured designs of snowflakes, ornaments, reindeer, and other symbols that are associated with Christmas.

This year Starbucks used plain red cups bearing the company’s icon without any holiday images.

Critics, including U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, blame the global coffee chain for wiping out important Christmas messages from the design.

But Starbucks explains that the featureless design is intended to encourage customers to “create their own stories” on the cups’ blank canvases.

American comedienne Ellen DeGeneres gives us her take on the controversy:


Aviation: Japan’s heavy industry giant Mitsubishi succeeds in prototyping the country’s first commercial passenger jet since the 64-seat YS-11 entered service 50 years ago.

Mitsubishi has a proven track record of developing planes, having manufactured the legendary Zero fighter during the Second World War.

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet MRJ90 passed its 90-minute maiden flight test after lifting off from the Nagoya airport on Wednesday.

The 35-meter (115 feet) two-engine aircraft — which cost $47 million to build and $1.7 billion to develop — can accommodate about 80 passengers.

The birth of MRJ90 revives Japan’s ambition to rebuild an aircraft industry dismantled after WWII.

Deliveries of the commercial passenger aircraft are expected to begin in 2017.

Here’s footage of the MRJ90’s first test flight:


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Lead-In Art Courtesy of Areuna 16 /