To usher in the new year, Via Meadia posted ten useful tips on How to get Smart in 2012, and one more in The Most Useful Hangover Cure of All. We rounded out the week with the last five installments of the traditional Yule Blog.Middle Eastern tensions dominated the news this week, especially in Iran. Via Meadia covered the escalation of sanctions on Iran, the gloom of the Iranian street and the tanking of the economy, and Iran’s defiance in the face of international condemnation. Elsewhere in the region, Turkey and Iran jockeyed for influence with Hamas, Turkey jailed more journalists than the Chinese, while revolutions in Egypt and Libya turned sour for liberals.In Asia, the Great Game continued to escalate as China and India got into a spat over diplomatic visas (since resolved) and China complained of “cultural encirclement.” America reaffirmed its determination to project naval power in the Pacific with its new military budget just as North Korea reminded the world why it is important to do so. India also grappled with what some fear could become a full blown financial panic.On our side of the pond, the Iowa Caucus reminded us all that Democrats will be playing defense in 2012. Meanwhile, the Blue Model continued its slow death spiral, leaving none unscathed. The Pentagon proved just as susceptible to blue model problems as other government agencies, while the USPS entered the next act of its tragicomedy. Elsewhere, Indiana continued the national fight over unions, Idaho teachers battled online education, California soured on high-speed rail, and Detroit fought the power of emergency managers. Britain got in on the action by opening a fight against the litigation-industrial complex. All the while, American hipsters were blindly undermining Mexican democracy.All in all, an interesting beginning to what promises to be, as the Broadway critics would put it, a compelling new year. Happy 2012!