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Hard Numbers: Austin's absence, Sudan's aid, Boeing's woes, Bangladesh's elections, Barbenheimer's 2.0

FILE PHOTO: Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III addresses service members assigned Naval Support Activity, after participating in the Virtual Red Sea Security Summit at NAVCENT headquarters in Manama, Bahrain December 19, 2023.

FILE PHOTO: Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III addresses service members assigned Naval Support Activity, after participating in the Virtual Red Sea Security Summit at NAVCENT headquarters in Manama, Bahrain December 19, 2023.

Chad McNeeley/Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs/Handout via REUTERS

3: Pentagon and White House officials – including President Joe Biden – were unaware for 3 days of the hospitalization of Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin, due to complications following an elective medical procedure. “I could have done a better job ensuring the public was appropriately informed,” admitted Austin, who remains hospitalized. No word on what the medical issue was, but according to a National Security Council spokesperson, Biden “is looking forward to [Austin] getting back to the Pentagon.”


25 million: The United Nations says 25 million Sudanese will need assistance in 2024 as fighting between Sudanese government forces and rebel Rapid Support Forces continues to plague the country. Talks aimed at ending the violence collapsed last Friday after commander-in-chief of the Sudanese armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, stated that war crimes perpetrated by the RSF made any reconciliation or deal with the group unacceptable.

171: Airlines have grounded 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes after a harrowing incident on an Alaska Airlines plane on Friday. A large section of the plane's outer shell fell to the ground shortly after take-off, creating a gap "as wide as a refrigerator" according to one passenger, though no one was seriously injured. The FAA has ordered "immediate inspections" of the planes.

27: Bangladesh's election on Sunday has been described as a “charade” after an opposition boycott produced a scant 27% turnout, compared with an 80% participation rate in 2018. Voting was canceled at three centers due to irregularities, and an independent election observer told Al Jazeera he did not consider the vote a “proper election at all”. The result will give a fourth straight term to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who branded the opposition a “terrorist organization.”

9: It was a reprise of the Barbenheimer phenomenon, as the two summer blockbusters vied for honors Sunday night at the Golden Globes. "Barbie," starring Margot Robbie as Mattel’s iconic doll, had nine nominations but only came away with two awards, while the historical drama "Oppenheimer," the story of the making of the atomic bomb, took home five of the eight categories in which it was nominated.

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