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What's Going On Around The World Today

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday. He was 79. The Republican candidates had their nastiest debate yet. And Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has turned the life vests of thousands of refugees into art.

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Antonin Scalia’s death has created a complicated political situation concerning his replacement.

Scalia served almost 30 years on the U.S. Supreme Court. He was appointed under President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and was one of the court’s most prominent and influential conservative voices.

In death, Scalia has created an unprecedented situation in American politics, BuzzFeed News’ Chris Geidner writes. Supreme Court justices are appointed, for life, by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Some Senate Republicans have already said they would not approve an appointment by President Barack Obama this year.

What this could mean for the 2016 presidential race.

Even before Scalia’s death, the fate of the Supreme Court had been a major theme for the presidential candidates. “Hillary Clinton has regularly warned voters that that the next president could appoint as many as three justices to the bench, meaning the ideological makeup of the court — and high-stakes issues like voting rights and abortion — hang in the balance,” BuzzFeed News’ McKay Coppins writes.

“The politics of the Supreme Court could take center stage in a way no one alive today has ever seen, in the midst of an already unconventional presidential primary, at a time when social media rapidly changes the way people, interest groups, and grassroots movements interact with politics,” Geidner writes.

Scalia and fellow Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, but they were “best buddies.” “As annoyed as you might be about his zinging dissent, he’s so utterly charming, so amusing, so sometimes outrageous you can’t help but say, ‘I’m glad that he’s my friend or colleague,’” Ginsburg said.

Via Twitter

While discussing this picture at an event last year, Scalia teased Ginsburg that her “feminist friends” were upset at her for riding behind him. Not missing a beat, Ginsburg struck back, telling him the driver decided their seats based on weight distribution, BuzzFeed News’ Salvador Hernandez writes.



The Republican presidential candidates had their nastiest debate yet over the weekend.

Here we go, the recap of Republican debate number nine:

  • Trump got his feelings hurt: Jeb Bush called Donald Trump’s plan to combat ISIS “ludicrous” and when Ted Cruz went after Trump for his past positions on social issues, Trump fired back, “Why do you lie? Why do you lie?”

  • Trump also went after Jeb’s brother George W. Bush, attacking the former president’s handling of the Iraq War. The billionaire has repeatedly attacked the Iraq War over the past year, but there’s no record of Trump opposing it before it started.

  • Marco Rubio accused Cruz of not being able to speak Spanish, so Cruz fired back in Spanish. “Marco, if you want, say it right now, say it now, in Spanish,” Cruz stammered in Spanish.

  • Bush was the only candidate who said President Obama has “every right” to nominate a Supreme Court justice during his final year in office. (He may even have emerged as the night’s winner.)

  • And finally, Ben Carson closed the night with a fake quote he attributed to former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

What’s next?

Mark Saturday, Feb. 20. on your election calendar: That’s the day of the Nevada caucus for the Democrats and the South Carolina primary for the Republicans.

For the latest news about the U.S. presidential elections and other stories, download the BuzzFeed News app for iOS and Android (in U.S. app stores only).


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has wrapped the columns of a Berlin concert hall with thousands of refugee life vests.

The life vests were used by people who crossed the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores. China’s most acclaimed contemporary artist has been working on the Greek islands that are the arrival point for thousands of refugees who have poured into Europe over the past year, BuzzFeed News’ David Mack writes.

People who succeed often leave behind the life vests they used to make the crossing. Many are mass-produced in Turkey and are often defective. Germany has been a preferred country for many of the tens of thousands of refugees who have fled war, Mack writes.

At least 374 people died at sea while trying to cross into Europe in the first five weeks of 2016. During the same period last year, 69 people drowned.

Quick things to know:

  • At least two hospitals have been hit in new airstrikes in northern Syria. The bombings come days after world powers, including the U.S. and Russia, agreed to a limited “cessation of hostilities” in Syria. (BBC News)

  • All four members of British indie band Viola Beach and their manager died in a car crash in Sweden on Saturday morning. (BuzzFeed News)

  • The National Crime Agency, Britain’s elite crime-fighting agency, secretly assisted the Royal Thai Police with a controversial murder investigation that put two Burmese migrants on death row despite government rules designed to stop British law enforcement contributing to capital punishment convictions overseas. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Bitterly cold temperatures and Arctic winds came to large swaths of the U.S. Northeast over the weekend. And New York's Central Park reached the lowest recorded Valentine's Day temperature ever. (BuzzFeed News)

  • The 40-day armed standoff at a wildlife refuge in Oregon to protest the federal government’s control of public wild lands is over, but many in the West remain frustrated with the federal government. And rural sheriffs are among the surprising supporters of those who are fed up. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Deadpool, the Ryan Reynolds-led superhero movie, made $135 million at the U.S. box office this weekend, the best ever U.S. debut for an R-rated film. That is a lot of chimichangas. (BuzzFeed News)

  • The Revenant stole the show at yesterday’s BAFTA Awards in London by winning five awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Leading Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio. Here’s a full list of winners. (BuzzFeed News) Kate Winslet won for best supporting actress in Steve Jobs, and delivered an acceptance speech where she shared how a drama teacher once told her to “settle for the fat girl parts.” (BuzzFeed News) But the highlight of the night seems to have been the BAFTA kiss cam. (BuzzFeed News)

Happy Monday

Jordan Raskopolous, lead singer of Australian comedy band Axis of Awesome, has come out as transgender in a new video titled “What’s Happened to Jordan’s Beard?” She initially thought she might have to give up performing. But after finding inspiration in the stories of other prominent trans women in entertainment, including film director Lana Wachowski and Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, Raskopoulos decided to keep going full steam ahead with her career, BuzzFeed’s Lane Sainty writes. “Being trans does not mean you have to give up on your life, your friends, your family, your career, or your achievements,” Raskopolous said. Keep slaying, Jordan!

This letter was edited and brought to you by Natasha Japanwala and Claire Moses. You can always reach us here.

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