It was hardly unexpected that the Syrian peace talks in Geneva would break off in recrimination.
The timing couldn't have appeared worse. North Korea announces it will launch a long-range rocket smack in the middle of a top Chinese envoy's visit to Pyongyang. In diplomatic terms, it was yet another sign of disrespect for North Korea's chief ally.
The Taliban suicide bombing against a bus carrying employees of Afghanistan's biggest media company last month has shocked local journalists, who fear they are now in the cross hairs of an increasingly lethal insurgency.
The Israeli government's decision to allow non-Orthodox Jewish prayer at Jerusalem's Western Wall is a major breakthrough for the country's long-marginalized liberal streams and their powerful supporters in the United States.
Germany is mulling taking away benefits from asylum seekers if they refuse to try to learn the language and integrate; Denmark has just approved a measure to let police seize valuables from migrants to help cover their housing and food costs; and an Austrian province this week is expected to more than halve payments to many refugees.
"The Cowshed: Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution" (New York Review Books), by Ji Xianlin.
European Central Bank head Mario Draghi has warned that the "downside risks" facing Europe's economy have increased due to the recent turmoil in emerging markets.
Five months ago, a 3-year-old Syrian boy's corpse on a Turkish beach galvanized public action for refugees. Now, strikingly similar images are generating little more than a collective shrug.
In a flurry of wins at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Sundance Film Festival, diversity made a comeback.
Fifteen years into the war that few Americans talk about any more, conditions in Afghanistan are getting worse, preventing the clean ending that U.S. President Barack Obama hoped to impose before leaving office.