TOP NEWS: Nat’l Security / Foreign Affairs: August 10, 2012
- UK offers medical supplies to Syria’s opposition
- Egypt arrests 9 militants linked to deadly attack in Sinai
- China’s growth engine starts to sputter
- British Regulators Plan Major Overhaul of Rate System
- Indian PM Likely to Visit Iran
Excerpts and more top stories
SYRIA: UK/SYRIA: UK offers body armor, satellite phones, medical supplies to Syria’s opposition
AP via Washington Post – Britain’s government is giving an extra 5 million pounds (US$7.8 million) worth of aid to Syria’s opposition, supplying items including communications equipment, body armor and medical supplies to non-armed rebel groups, the foreign ministry said Friday.
Hadeel Al Shalchi and Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Washington Post – President Bashar al-Assad named a new prime minister Thursday to replace Syria’s most senior government defector as his forces pushed rebels back from a strategic district in the northern city of Aleppo.
Damien Cave, NY Times – The consequences of the war here have become familiar: neighborhoods shelled, civilians killed and refugees departed. But in the background, many Syrians describe something else that has them cowering with fear: a wave of lawlessness not unlike the crime wave Iraq experienced during the conflict there.
Anne Gearan, Washington Post – The Obama administration is unlikely to broaden military engagement in Syria at least until after the U.S. presidential election, despite rebel military gains, pleas for help from the rebels and criticism at home that President Obama is sitting on the sidelines, current and former U.S. officials said.
FRANCE/SYRIA: French president under attack over leadership on Syria
Edward Cody, Washington Post – President Francois Hollande has come under a withering political attack from his conservative opponents over what they charge is lack of French leadership in dealing with the Syrian civil war.
Roula Khalaf and Abigail Fielding-Smith, FT – A jovial young man with a long bushy beard, he discusses the war the rebels are now waging with one eye shifting to the television screen to keep track of the archery competition at the Olympics, though he says his favourite sport is rifle shooting.
SYRIA: Nearly 150,000 Syrian refugees seek UN help, and the number is growing fast
AP via Washington Post – A rising tide of civilians fleeing Syria’s violence is hitting four neighboring countries where almost 150,000 are being helped in camps run by the U.N. refugee agency and its partners, officials said Friday.
Thomas Erdbrink, NY Times – Shut out of diplomatic meetings on the Syria conflict,Iran convened emergency consultations of its own on Thursday, with participants from nearly 30 countries, including Russia and China, discussing ways to reach a solution. It was the first such gathering since the special representative Kofi Annan resigned as a United Nations and Arab League mediator last week.
EGYPT: Egypt arrests 9 militants linked to deadly weekend attack in Sinai
AP via Washington Post – An Egyptian security official says troops have arrested nine Islamic militants in northern Sinai believed to be behind a deadly attack last weekend that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers.
EGYPT/ISRAEL: Rights groups: Israeli soldiers enter Sinai to stop African migrants, hand them to Egyptians
AP via Washington Post – Israel has been sending soldiers into Egypt’s Sinai desert to stop African migrants before they reach the border, handing them over to Egyptian forces, human rights groups charged in a report released Friday.
Simon Rabinovitch, FT – Chinese export and import growth slowed markedly last month, flashing warning signals about both the domestic and the global economy.
ASIAPACIFIC: Trade Slowdown Squeezes Asia
Alex Frangos, WSJ – China’s July trade figures, out Friday, showed exports at a near standstill, up just 1% from a year earlier. Import growth was also anemic, at 4.7%, a signal that China’s slowdown is rippling through to its buying from other nations.
Bettina Wassener, NY Times – Hopes dimmed for an imminent pickup in China, the world’s growth engine, as a batch of disappointing economic data released Thursday showed industrial production and retail sales falling well short of expectations in July.
Edward Wong and Andrew Jacobs, NY Times – Now that the murder trial of Gu Kailai has been completed, a far more detailed account has emerged from inside the courtroom of the case that prosecutors built against Ms. Gu, the wife of one of China’s most ambitious leaders, that shows how she plotted with her allies, including the local police chief, to protect her son from the blackmail demands of the British business associate she is believed to have killed.
Mark Scott, NY Times – The system at the center of the rate-rigging scandal will be overhauled as regulators respond to public anger over the manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.
Sharlene Goff, FT – The City watchdog on Friday fired the starting shot on a dramatic overhaul of key benchmark borrowing rates with a package of proposals designed to restore trust following the recent Libor scandal.
Jonathan Guthrie, FT – And they’re off! Martin Wheatley of the Financial Services Authority is waving the starter’s flag on his consultation on London Interbank Offered Rates. This will resemble the Wacky Races rather than the Grand Prix, with all manner of hybrid contraptions competing to replace the compromised lending benchmark. A still, small voice should meanwhile warn against mission creep. Mr Wheatley promises “to look beyond Libor … to other price-setting mechanisms”.
INDIA/IRAN: Indian PM Likely to Visit Iran
Biman Mukherji and Rajesh Roy, WSJ – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to visit Iran at the end of this month to attend a Non-Aligned Movement summit, a government official said Friday, spurring hopes of improving trade ties between the two countries.
Nicole Perlroth, NY Times – A security firm said Thursday that it had discovered what it believed was the fourth state-sponsored computer virus to surface in the Middle East in the last three years, apparently aimed at computers in Lebanon.
UK/BANKING: Barclays shares outperform wider market on appointment of new chairman
AP via Washington Post – Investors and analysts reacted positively Friday to Barclays’ appointment of its new chairman, Sir David Walker, an industry veteran who has called for curbs on the banking industry’s excesses.
UK/OLYMPICS: Britain’s Olympics Whiplash
Roger Cohen, Opinion NY Times – We all know those days that begin in virtue with a banana for breakfast, a long session at the gym, a succession of ticks on the to-do list and a world-is-my-oyster feeling but end slouched on the couch plowing a steady course through a family-sized pack of peanut M&M’s, drinking bad white wine, watching “The Real Housewives of New York City” and thinking life is not all it is cracked up to be.
AFGHANISTAN: Attacker in Afghan Uniform Kills 3 U.S. Soldiers
Matthew Rosenberg, NY Times – An Afghan police officer shot and killed at least three American Special Forces soldiers on Friday after inviting them for a meal at a check post in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official said, in what appeared to be premeditated killings of American soldiers by one of their Afghan allies.
Anne Gearan, Washington Post – The Obama administration is renewing an offer to help Nigeria marshal military and intelligence resources against a growing extremist threat that U.S. officials fear could spread to neighboring nations, a U.S. official said Thursday.
Thomas Fuller, NY Times – Forty years after the United States stopped spraying herbicides in the jungles of Southeast Asia in the hopes of denying cover to Vietcong fighters and North Vietnamese troops, an air base here is one of about two dozen former American sites that remain polluted with an especially toxic strain of dioxin, the chemical contaminant in Agent Orange that has been linked to cancers, birth defects and other diseases.
Toko Sekiguchi, WSJ – Japan’s parliament passed a landmark tax bill Friday, finalizing the legal framework to double the nation’s sales tax by 2015 as a step toward fiscal reconstruction.
IAEA: Japan nuclear plant closer than Fukushima to quake epicenter is remarkably undamaged
AP via Washington Post – The Japanese nuclear power plant that was closest to the epicenter of last year’s earthquake suffered more ground shaking than Fukushima but was largely undamaged because it was designed with enough safety margins, nuclear inspectors said Friday.
BELGIUM: Belgium notifies other countries using nuclear power of possible problem in 1 of its reactors
AP via Washington Post – A possible hairline crack in the steel tank containing the reactor at a Belgian nuclear plant poses no danger to the public, the country’s nuclear regulatory agency said Friday.
PALESTINE: Terrorism and Palestinian Statehood
Alan M. Dershowitz – WSJ – As the Palestinian Authority continues to seek recognition by the United Nations as a “state,” the world should consider the implications.
David Jolly, NY Times – Despite criticism from Roma support groups and leftist politicians, President François Hollande’s Socialist government, following a policy adopted by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, is dismantling illegal travelers’ camps and rounding up Roma from Eastern Europe for repatriation.
VENEZUELA: Chavez claims arrested US citizen could be linked to alleged plot to destabilize Venezuela
AP via Washington Post – President Hugo Chavez announced Thursday that security forces arrested a U.S. citizen and suspect he is a mercenary who could be involved in an alleged plot to destabilize Venezuela if the opposition’s candidate loses the upcoming presidential election.
Choe Sang-Hun, NY Times – President Lee Myung-bak of South Koreaflew to a set of islets locked in a territorial dispute with Japan on Friday, dismissing protests from Tokyo and making a trip that was bound to heighten diplomatic tensions between Washington’s two key Asian allies.
COLOMBIA: Colombia legal challenge could set precedent on gay couples’ familial rights in Latin America
Juan Forero, Washington Post – Now in a legal union, Ana Leiderman and Veronica Botero have a young son and daughter. But they are not quite a family under the law. Leiderman, who gave birth after being artificially inseminated, has custody of the children. And Botero has virtually no rights, or legal responsibilities, concerning them
William Wallis and Orla Ryan, FT – African troops plan to launch an attack on a Somali Islamist base in the port of Kismayu next month in an attempt to hasten an end to the insurgency that has troubled the region for more than 20 years, says Raila Odinga, Kenya’s prime minister.
PHILIPPINES: In a City Known for Its Shoes, Water Up to Its Knees
Floyd Whaley, NY Times – Marikina is famed for its cobblers, whose handmade shoes are a source of local pride. Its Shoe Museum is home to a pair of shoes from each president of the Philippines, including 800 of the more than 3,000 pairs in the collection of Imelda R. Marcos.
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