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What's Going On Around The World Today

Winter Storm Jonas dumped more than 2 feet of snow on much of the U.S. East Coast. Women in some Latin American countries have been asked not to get pregnant until 2018. And a trans woman gave up makeup for a year.

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At least 25 people have died after severe winter storms battered the U.S. East Coast over the weekend.

The historic winter storm pummeled the Mid-Atlantic with heavy snow, wind, and coastal flooding. The storm buried parts of the nation in 2 feet of snow and triggered emergency declarations from Virginia to New Jersey. In New York City, 26.8 inches of snow accumulated in Central Park, BuzzFeed News reports.

What’s next?

The blizzard is done, but now shoveling begins. Cleanup efforts after such a heavy storm are expected to last into the workweek. Authorities have also urged drivers to stay off the roads and pedestrians to stay out of the streets, the Washington Post reports.

Meanwhile, the storm is making its way across the Atlantic Ocean. It’s expected to bring heavy rain and strong winds to the U.K. on Tuesday, BBC News reports.

Zika virus: Women in four Latin American and Caribbean countries have been asked not to get pregnant until 2018.

Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Jamaica have asked women to hold off on getting pregnant for up to two years in “an extraordinary precaution aimed at avoiding birth defects” that are believed to be linked to the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that has caused brain deformities in babies, the Washington Post reports.


The virus triggered an epidemic in Brazil and other parts of South and Central America in May 2015. And infectious disease experts have said it poses real risks of spreading to the U.S., BuzzFeed News’ Dan Vergano writes. In the U.K., three travelers who returned from South and Central America have been diagnosed with the disease, according to The Guardian.

Zika’s recent spread has infected a large population in Brazil, including many fertile women without any childhood immunity to the disease. Zika — for which there’s no vaccine or treatment and which can cause mild flu symptoms — wasn’t viewed as a major concern until the reports of birth defects in Brazil. The virus was first discovered five decades ago in an infected monkey in Uganda. “One mystery in the current outbreak is why a link to birth defects has not been observed sooner, given how long the disease has been around,” Vergano writes.

What’s next?

Zika is likely to spread to all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile, according to the World Health Organization, The Guardian reports.

Thousands of athletes and visitors are scheduled to travel to Brazil in August for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Four months before the start of the Games, the Olympic facilities will be inspected “to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds.” During the event, there will be daily sweeps, BBC News reports. August is also a drier, cooler month during which there are fewer mosquitoes and fewer cases of mosquito-borne viruses.


Haiti’s presidential election has been called off indefinitely.

The election, which has been postponed twice before, was called off on Friday “over concerns of escalating violence sparked by the opposition candidate's refusal to take part in a process he said was riddled with fraud,” Reuters reports.

Since Friday, demonstrators have been demanding the ousting of sitting President Michel Martelly. Martelly’s supporters protested back on Sunday, vowing to keep him in office, the New York Times reports.

A bit of background.

The impoverished country in the Caribbean is still recovering from a devastating earthquake that hit in 2010. It has struggled to build a stable democracy and has been beset by military coups and election fraud for decades, according to Reuters.

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A trans woman spent a year without makeup.

When a friend asked BuzzFeed’s Meredith Talusan a little over a year ago about her 2015 New Year’s resolution, Talusan resolved to give up being conventionally feminine. So, she put away her makeup. Here’s what happened:

“Those first few weeks I stopped wearing makeup were remarkable not in what people said, but what they didn’t say. People no longer called me fabulous or gorgeous, or mentioned my full lips or high cheekbones, those parts of my face I used to overemphasize because people who knew makeup advised me they were striking.

“By not wearing makeup, it felt like I was giving up an advantage for no good reason, and I was tempted to slather it back on. I began to wonder how much of the measure of success I had achieved up to that point – like having stable jobs and advanced degrees – can be attributed not to my intelligence or hard work, but to people’s perceptions of me as passable and attractive. But I tried to quiet these voices in my head, resolving to give myself time to acclimate and understand what makeup was really about for me.

“It was during this period that I remembered what it was like before I felt all this pressure to look good. I spent an entire childhood to early adulthood hardly ever wondering whether I was attractive enough, because being attractive had little to do with my worth as a human being who was perceived as male. Being smart and talented were the most important qualities I needed to possess, and if I was cute, that was just a bonus. Had I grown up being perceived as a girl, it would have been drilled into me from the beginning that my looks are vital to my self-worth.” — Meredith Talusan

Three inmates charged with violent crimes escaped from a high-security jail in Southern California and are still on the run.

The three men cut through half-inch steel bars and climbed through plumbing. Somehow they ended up on the roof of the high-security jail before scaling down five stories and escaping on Friday night, BuzzFeed News’ Salvador Hernandez and Claudia Koerner report.

It’s unclear which tools the men used to get out, but on Sunday, authorities released an image of the makeshift rope the men created from linens.

The FBI is offering up to a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of any of the three inmates.

Quick things to know:

  • Center-right politician and television pundit Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has won Portugal’s presidential elections. The presidential post is mostly ceremonial. (BBC News)

  • An effort is launching to urge former New York City Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg to run for U.S. president. “Join the movement,” the opening page of the Bloomberg Nation website proclaims. “Save the nation.” (BuzzFeed News)

  • Online betting on a tennis mixed doubles match at the Australian Open was suspended after a major gambling website detected irregular patterns in bets placed. (New York Times) And Australian former professional tennis player Nick Lindahl has pleaded guilty to deliberately losing a match in 2013 in order to obtain financial advantage. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Egypt is marking the fifth anniversary today of the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak. (BBC News)

  • #OscarsSoWhite: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to approve changes to double “the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.” The vote comes after years of criticism over the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees. (BuzzFeed News)

  • From celebrities discussing their identities on Snapchat, to a new generation embracing a “no labels” approach to sexuality, coming out looks different in 2016 than ever before. (BuzzFeed)

  • Zayn Malik's first solo single, “Pillowtalk,” comes out this Friday. The 23-year-old left One Direction last March. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Executive turmoil and turnover at Twitter: The company’s heads of product, media, and engineering are all on the way out, and two new board members are joining. (BuzzFeed News) And a Dutch company is trying to build the world’s first ethical smartphone. (Quartz)

Happy Monday

When it’s cold outside, most people choose to stay indoors. But Tian Tian, the male giant panda who lives at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., couldn’t resist the winter wonderland he encountered. His thick fur coat allowed him to roll around in the snow like it was NBD. SO HAPPY!

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

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