TOP NEWS: Nat’l Security / Foreign Affairs: May 30, 2012

Excerpts below

Judge Gives Taylor 50 Years for ‘Heinous’ Crimes in War – J. David Goodman, NY Times
Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia and the first head of state convicted in an international court since World War II, was sentenced for his role in atrocities in Sierra Leone’s civil war.

In Yemen, U.S. airstrikes breed anger, and sympathy for al-Qaeda – Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post
Across the vast, rugged terrain of southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States.

U.N. monitors say 13 killed in cold blood in Syria – Dominic Evans, Reuters via Yahoo News
U.N. observers said on Wednesday 13 bodies had been discovered bound and shot in eastern Syria, days after a massacre of 108 civilians, nearly half of them children, ignited a world outcry.

3 Things Flame Tells Us About The Future Of Cyber Warfare – Parmy Olson, Forbes
Though some say Kaspersky has probably overhyped the significance of Flame, others in the world of cybersecurity say it marks a possible inflection point, or spark, (sorry) in the growth of cyber warfare tactics between nation states.

Egypt’s Islamist candidate reassures women, Copts, while challenger’s HQ burned down – Associated Press via Fox News
The presidential candidate for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood wooed Christians, women and supporters of the ruling military Tuesday in a bid to expand his base of support and he also played up the stigma attached to his challenger, a senior figure in the old regime whose headquarters was burned down by angry protesters overnight.

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How China Flouts Its Laws – Chen Guangcheng, NY Times
The fundamental question the Chinese government must face is lawlessness. China does not lack laws, but rather the rule of law.

India’s Economy Slows, With Global Implications – Jim Yardley and Vikas Bajaj, NY Times
India’s problems have dampened hopes that it, along with China and other non-Western economies, might help revive global growth.

Panetta Heads To Asia To Back Allies, Avoid Riling China – Gopal Ratnam, Bloomberg
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta leaves today on his first visit to Asia since the Pentagon said in January it would “rebalance” military strategy toward a region President Barack Obama has called critical to U.S. interests.

Egypt: Europe’s Economic Cousin – Michael Tanner, National Review
The unstable nation suffers from the same problems, and lacks leadership. Whatever the outcome of the June 15–17 runoff, it is apparent that Egypt needs a healthy dose of economic liberalism.

EU Says Hello Again To Putin – Laurence Norman, Wall Street Journal
On June 3-4, the European Union’s top dogs will head to St. Petersburg to meet with Russia’s leaders. The latest of the twice yearly EU-Russia summits is particularly important […] Above all, it is the first chance for the West to engage with Vladimir Putin since he returned to the presidency in May.

Euro Approaches Two-Year Low On Spanish Banks Concern – Catarina Saraiva and Lucy Meakin, Bloomberg
The euro fell to the lowest in almost two years against the dollar as Spain struggled to rescue its troubled banks, adding to signs the European debt crisis is spreading to the region’s larger economies.

In Greece, church’s tangled ties with government raise questions – Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post
During a crisis that has already created widespread poverty, priests say they are serving the needs of hard-hit citizens whose government has failed them. But critics say that the church’s tax breaks and its tangled relationship with the political leadership here are starving the country of revenue at a moment when time and money are running short.

Pope attacks leaks scandal coverage, backs aides – Barry Moody, Reuters via Yahoo News
Pope Benedict on Wednesday angrily denounced what he called false media coverage of a leaks scandal shaking the Vatican and expressed full trust in close aides under fire over the worst crisis in his papacy.

Saudi Arabia, Women, and Judicial Reform - Isobel Coleman, Council on Foreign Relations

Sheikh Abdel Mohsen Obeikan was an advisor to the royal court until last week when, in a single line, the king ordered that the sheikh resign from his post.  Of course, this brouhaha is about much more than Sheikh Obeikan’s fate, or even women mixing with men and Saudi’s legal system. It’s a skirmish in the larger battle over whether Saudi Arabia will cling to its medieval ways or gradually adopt a more modern perspective.