Bannon backtracks, explosion in rebel-held Syrian city

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  1. Iran says protests suppressed
  2. Sexual misconduct scandal dominates Golden Globes

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Curated top stories

  • Facing a backlash over his criticism of Donald Trump in a controversial tell-all book, ex-presidential strategist Steve Bannon released a statement offering “unwavering” support for his former boss and regret for his delay in responding to what he described as “inaccurate reporting” about the president’s son. Bannon praised Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, as a “patriot and good man” in the statement, first obtained by the news site Axios, in response to journalist Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Bannon’s comments followed Sunday television appearances from White House insiders who criticized the book, which offered a critical portrayal of the president’s competence. (See more excerpts from the book here.) Wolff’s book describes a June 2016 meeting at New York’s Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer, and quotes Bannon as saying it was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” In his statement, Bannon said his description was aimed at Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign manager, and not Trump’s son, and he should have addressed that issue sooner.
  • car bomb exploded in Syria’s provincial capital of Idlib, starting fires, damaging buildings and killing at least 23 people in a rebel-held city where government forces have been seeking inroads. It was not immediately known who was behind the attack, which followed the Syrian military’s announcement that it had recaptured a strategically important town in eastern Idlib province. However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the explosion targeted the headquarters of a minor rebel faction, Reuters reported.
  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it has suppressed the anti-government protests that sprang up on December 28 and spread across 80 cities and towns over the course of a week. In a statement carried on the Guards’ Sepahnews website, they blamed the U.S., Britain, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Iranian diaspora for stirring up unrest. People across Iran confirmed to Reuters that the unrest appears to have died down. (Read more: The ‘revolution’ will not be Telegrammed)
  • Sexual misconduct and broader issues related to gender inequality dominated the Golden Globes. Many attendees wore black as a statement of support for women who have revealed a culture of sexual harassment in Hollywood, and award presenters and winners used the stage as a platform to highlight gender inequality issues.

What we’re reading

  • Abraham Lincoln often wept in public and recited maudlin poetry. He told jokes and stories at odd times – he needed the laughs, he said, for his survival. “As a young man he talked more than once of suicide, and as he grew older he said he saw the world as hard and grim, full of misery, made that way by fate and the forces of God,” writes Atlantic contributor Joshua Wolf Shenk in this 2005 piece. Shenk argues that Lincoln’s condition was a “character issue,” that “gave him the tools to save the nation.” – Charles Anderson
  • The esteemed author of the boundary-breaking autobiographical fiction series “My Struggle,” Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard, penned an essay on the paradoxes of fame published in the New York Times magazine. Using his own distorted view of fame – until very recently, wanting to be famous or perceived as special was highly frowned upon in Norway – and status as a celebrity author – he’s now a bona fide superstar across the world – Knausgaard looks at the close links between fame and childhood, ideology, identity and the idea of the self, all while analyzing his own yearning for public recognition since his teenage years. A must-read for any Knausgaard fans and those interested in the constructs of fame. – Lydia Morrish
  • French president Emmanuel Macron is currently on tour, charming the Chinese. His philosophy of the power of the individual seems to be paying off, as this New York Times piece says. Macron’s remodelling of French labour regulations, an entrenched and behemothic system, raised “barely a whimper”. And Macron has been lecturing the media, calling for ethics, even from the same publications which enabled his ascendancy. – Angela Long

What the WikiTribune community’s up to

  • Mexico City is going through a political contest that seems more heated than usual, with some appearing to resort to physical violence to sabotage their rivals. The latest incident ended with one dead and several people wounded. Here WikiTribune member Miguel Torres outlines the situation.

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