TOP NEWS: Nat’l Security / Foreign Affairs: August 16th, 2012
- Syrian Conflict Crosses Border Into Lebanon in Abductions
- U.K. Jobs Market Defies Recession
- Israeli minister warns of 30-day Iran war
- Ecuador Grants Asylum to Assange
- Pakistani Air Force Base With Nuclear Ties Is Attacked
Excerpts and more top stories
SYRIA/LEBANON: Syrian Conflict Crosses Border Into Lebanon in Abductions
DALAL MAWAD, DAMIEN CAVE – The kidnapping of more than 20 Syrians in Lebanon, in revenge for a rebel abduction in Damascus, spread fear in Beirut that such kidnappings were just the beginning.
PATRICIA COHEN, NY Times – Fighting in Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital, threatens to damage irreparably the stunning architectural and cultural legacy left by 5,000 years of civilizations.
SYRIA/HSBC: Probe points to former HSBC Syria link
Lina Saigol, Sharlene Goff, FT – HSBC opted to continue with a business relationship with one of the key financiers to the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad even after its own compliance officials raised concerns about a trust linked to him,
SYRIA/WAR CRIMES: Syrian military, militia committed war crimes against civilians
Babak Dehghanpisheh, WP – U.N. Human Rights Council also accuses government forces of crimes against humanity.
SYRIA/JORDAN: Jordan toughens stance on Syria
Tobias Buck, FT – Syria’s neighbour is backing off from its traditionally more cautious stance as the potential for escalation from the clashes rises
SYRIA/REGION: Saudis, Qataris Urged to Leave Lebanon as Threats Grow
Fiona MacDonald, Nayla Razzouk, Bloomberg News – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon (Bloomberg) after kidnapping threats were made against them, amid concerns that the conflict in Syria was leaking across the border.
In this CFR interview, Ed Husain warns of a number of possible flashpoints that could spark wider sectarian violence because of Syria, including Lebanon.
EUROZONE/U.K. JOBS: U.K. Jobs Market Defies Recession
ILONA BILLINGTON, NICHOLAS WINNING, WSJ – U.K. unemployment fell for a fifth straight period in the three months to June, adding to a mixed picture about the fundamental strength of the economy and uncertainty about the best course of action for policy makers.
EUROZONE/FINLAND: Finland Trails Its Nordic Neighbors
DENISE WALL AND CHARLES DUXBURY, WSJ – Finland is an economic power among countries that use the euro, but compared with its neighbors it is slipping.
STEVEN ERLANGER, NY Times – Vows made by President François Hollande to spur economic growth and shrink a budget deficit in France have clashed as an iconic carmaker prepares to lay off thousands of workers.
EUROZONE/UK AUSTERITY: Economists Urge UK Chancellor to Ditch Austerity
GEORGE EATON, New Statesman via CFR – A group of top economists who had previously supported Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s austerity program urged him to abandon spending cuts and adopt pro-growth measures in the face of double-dip recession.
EUROZONE/UK JOBS: Puzzling picture on jobs foxes experts
Norma Cohen, FT – Economists puzzled over why the numbers of employed people are rising and unemployment claims are falling, while the UK economy is contracting
EUROZONE/UK RETAIL: U.K. Retail Sales Buck Gloom
AINSLEY THOMSON AND ALEX BRITTAIN, WSJ – U.K. retail sales increased more than expected in July and figures for June were adjusted to show robust trade, adding to expectations that official data will be revised to show the U.K. isn’t as deeply in recession as estimated.
EUROZONE: Inflation Hovers Above Target
ILONA BILLINGTON, WSJ – Consumer prices in the euro zone held steady for a third straight month in July, just above the European Central Bank’s annual target rate, official data showed.
EUROZONE/STANDARD CHARTERED: StanChart shares bounce after settlement
Sharlene Goff, David Oakley, FT – Stock rose more than 4% on Wednesday, but are still sharply lower than before the New York DFS published its explosive claims.
ISRAEL/IRAN: Israeli minister warns of 30-day Iran war
Tobias Buck, FT – A strike on Iranian nuclear facilities could trigger a broader conflict on a number of fronts, says the official in charge of home defence.
ISRAEL/IRAN: Is Israel Angling for a Vow from Obama on Iran?
TONY KARON, Time – Israeli media reports suggest the country is using renewed threats of action against Iran to limit Obama’s room to maneuver.
UK/ECUADOR/ASSANGE: Ecuador Grants Asylum to Assange
WILLIAM NEUMAN and MAGGY AYALA, NY Times – The government of Ecuador on Thursday said it had decided to grant asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Mr. Assange has been holed up for nearly two months in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where police arrested some of his supporters on Thursday.
UK/ECUADOR/ASSANGE: Ecuador attacked UK over Assange threat
Andres Schipani, Hannah Kuchler, FT – UK warned it had the legal right to raid Ecuador’s London embassy to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange just hours before Quito announced it would grant him asylum
PAKISTAN/MILITANTS: Pakistani Air Force Base With Nuclear Ties Is Attacked
DECLAN WALSH, NY Times – Suspected Islamist militants attacked a major Pakistani air force base with links to the country’s nuclear program in the early hours of Thursday, sparking an exchange of fire that lasted several hours.
PAKISTAN/DRONES: How Drones Changed the Game in Pakistan
Hussain Nadim, The National Interest via CFR – “Regardless of what the news agencies in Pakistan claim about the negative effects of drone strikes, the weapon is proving to be a game changer for the U.S. war on terrorism. And surprisingly, the Pakistani Army quietly admits to this fact.
PAKISTAN/INDIA: Pakistani Hindus flee to India
Rama Lakshmi, WP – More than 250 have arrived over the past two weeks bearing tales of religious persecution, posing a diplomatic quandary for the New Delhi government.
PAKISTAN/DEVELOPMENT: Washington’s Civilian Shortcomings in Pakistan
Milan Vaishnav , The Diplomat via CFR – America’s long-term development partnership with Pakistan warrants a serious new effort to set it back on course.
CHINA/SOUTH SEA: U.S. is right to assail China on its South China Sea claims
WP, Editorial – U.S. fires a warning on South China Sea claims. The United States is neutral on the territorial claims in the South China Sea. But the State Department’s statement was intended to push back against China’s recent harrying of the Philippines and Vietnam over disputed fishing and oil drilling rights.
CHINA/ECONOMY: Wen: China’s Economy Faces Pressure
AARON BACK, WSJ – Following the release of a raft of weak data last week, Premier Wen Jiabao said China’s economy still faces downward pressure and that current economic problems may persist.
CHINA/FOREIGN POLICY: Beijing considers stronger foreign ties
Kathrin Hille, FT – Following the 2008 financial crisis, Arab Spring and US push to reassert its presence in Asia, China is rethinking its policy of non-alignment
CHINA/RETAIL: Price War Rattles Chinese Retailers
LAURIE BURKITT, WSJ – Prospects of a gadget and appliance price war in China spooked investors already worried about the impact of the country’s slumping housing market.
CHINA/AUTO MANUFACTURING: Asbestos in Chinese Cars
GAVIN LOWER, WSJ – An Australian importer recalled 23,000 Great Wall and Chery cars over asbestos–setting back a Chinese auto industry eager to sell cars in developed markets.
CHINA/CONSTRUCTION: Equipment Firms’ Bets on China Sour
BOB TITA, WSJ – Construction equipment makers that pinned much of their hopes for sales growth on a Chinese rebound this year have been left high and dry.
CHINA/MURDER: China’s Murder Details Doubted
JEREMY PAGE, WSJ – Friends of Neil Heywood have questioned the account by Chinese prosecutors during last week’s trial of Gu Kailai of how and why the British businessman was killed.
CHINA/MURDER: A Chinese Murder Mystery, Far From Solved
HO PIN, NY Times – The court that tried Gu Kailai did not even begin to consider the serious legal shortcomings of the case against her.
JAPAN/CHINA: Japan-China Dispute Escalates Over Islands
Ben Blanchard, Linda Sieg, Reuters – The Japanese coast guard arrested fourteen Hong Kong citizens after they tried to plant a Chinese flag on disputed islands in the East China Sea (known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyo in Chinese).
JAPAN/CHINA: Hong Kong Activists May Face Deportation
ALEXANDER MARTIN, WSJ – China is protesting the detention of 14 Hong Kong activists who embarrassed Tokyo with a high-profile landing on a disputed island. Under Japanese law, the group could be prosecuted or deported.
EGYPT: Clampdown on Egypt’s media raises fears
Journalists and press freedom advocates have been alarmed by the curbs, fearing the new authorities will revive the repressive methods of Hosni Mubarak
INDIA/CLASHES: Thousands Flee Bangalore in Fear of Attacks
Aijaz Rahi, AP via CFR – After deadly clashes in Assam between members of the indigenous Bodo tribe and Muslims, thousands of panic-stricken Indians from Assam state began fleeing the southern city on Thursday. The violence has killed more than fifty people and displaced 400,000.
GERALD JEFFRIS, TOM MURPHY AND JEFFREY LEWIS, WSJ – Brazil announced plans to invest $65.5 billion over the next 30 years to beef up its road and rail systems as part of a bid to spur its economy.
AFGHANISTAN/WOMEN: The Women of Afghanistan
NY Times, OPINION – Important gains in women’s rights in Afghanistan could be at risk after American troops leave.
IRAQ: Renewed Violence in Iraq
Douglas A. Ollivant, CFR – Iraq’s internal stability faces serious threats from the overlapping “effects of renewed ethnic or sectarian conflict, on the one hand, and an irreversible breakdown of the current constitutional order, on the other,” says a new CFR Contingency Planning Memo.
IRAQ: The man who dug ‘the hole’ for Saddam
Kevin Sullivan, FT – Driver and aide to former dictator breaks his silence on how he helped his master evade US troops for nearly nine months
HEZBOLLA/EUROPE: Despite Alarm by U.S., Europe Lets Hezbollah Operate Openly
NICHOLAS KULISH, NY Times – Washington and Jerusalem insist Hezbollah is a resurgent terrorist group with Iranian backing, but the European Union treats it as a Lebanese social and political movement.
DEBORAH SONTAG, NY Times – Two and a half years after the earthquake, the pressing need for safe, stable housing for all displaced people in Haiti remains unmet, despite billions of dollars in reconstruction aid.
BURMA: Orwell in Burma
Evan Osnos, New Yorker – Burmese reporters are finding that the new government has adopted more of the vocabulary of freedom than the spirit of it…
GERMAN/FACEBOOK PRIVACY: Germans Reopen Investigation on Facebook Privacy
By KEVIN J. O’BRIEN, NY Times – The data protection commissioner in Hamburg, Johannes Caspar, said the company was illegally compiling a photo database of users without their consent.
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