World Wrap: September 11, 2013
President Obama appeals to Congress to delay vote on military action in Syria, adopted children who survived the online child exchange speak out, and a car bomb explodes in Benghazi. On this Wednesday, we mark the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attack on the U.S. This is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Obama asks Congress to delay Syria vote, pledges to consider diplomatic options
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the nation about the situation in Syria from the East Room at the White House in Washington, September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Evan Vucci/POOL
Buying time. President Barack Obama vowed to explore diplomatic options in Syria in a televised address on Tuesday night, while still pushing for support for a possible military strike. Now considering a Russian plan for oversight of Syria’s chemical weapons, Obama asked leaders in Congress to put off a vote on whether to authorize use of military force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:
[Obama] said U.S. Navy ships in the eastern Mediterranean and other forces in the region are in place and ready to respond should diplomacy fail. The Russian initiative gave Obama some breathing space since it has been far from certain whether he would win a vote in Congress on attacking Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack last month that Washington has blamed on Assad’s forces. In a speech of only 16 minutes, Obama gave perhaps the most coherent expression of his Syria policy to date following weeks of muddled messages by his administration as opposition to a U.S. military strike mounted. “If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons,” said Obama. “As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them.”
France drafted an initial U.N. Security Council resolution that would give Syria 15 days to declare its chemical weapons program and make all related sites accessible to U.N. inspectors, or face punishment. Russia’s proposal shifted U.S. foreign policy away from considering imminent military intervention and made unlikely partners of Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Tension between the two leaders has been high this year, but now Obama needs his Russian counterpart to wield influence in Syria. On Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said that Syria is ready to “provid[e] all information about these [chemical] weapons,” in the closest intimation from a high-level official that Syria has chemical weapon stores. The U.N. said on Wednesday that war crimes have been perpetrated by both sides in battles over territory.
Inga Whatcott, adopted from Russia, holds two stuffed dolls she saved from her orphanage in Russia, outside her apartment in Battle Creek, Michigan, in this May 26, 2013. REUTERS/ Rebecca Cook
Orphaned repeatedly. Adopted from Russia by American parents in 1997, 12-year-old Inga was unprepared for the years of abuse that would follow as she moved from home to home, passed along to new parents through shady online channels. In the final installation of a Reuters report chronicling the practice of private re-homing – transferring legal guardianship of an adopted child without official oversight – young survivors tell their stories:
Inga spent most of her childhood in a Russian orphanage, longing for parents who would protect her. Her biological mother, a prostitute, had abandoned her when she was a baby. She never knew her father. At the age of 12, her life was about to change. It was 1997, and an American couple was adopting her. “My picture was, I’m gonna have family, I’m gonna go to school, I’m gonna have friends,” Inga says today. Less than a year after bringing Inga home, her new parents, Priscilla and Neal Whatcott, gave up trying to raise her. They say the adoption agency never told them that Inga struggled to read or write, that she suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, that she smoked. The Whatcotts say they tried therapy and support groups. They even reached out to a Russian judge to undo the adoption. When nothing worked, they turned to what Priscilla now calls “the underground network.” In an early example of adoptive parents using the Internet to seek a new home for an unwanted child, Inga was orphaned repeatedly.
People look at the site of an explosion at a Libyan Foreign Ministry building in Benghazi September 11, 2013. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
Benghazi struck. An explosion damaged foreign ministry buildings in Benghazi early this morning, one year after an attack on the U.S. embassy killed four American officials:
Local security officials said a car packed with explosives was left beside the ministry building where it detonated at dawn, badly damaging it and several other buildings in the center of Benghazi. There were no reports of casualties. A few hours before the Benghazi explosion, security forces defused a large bomb placed near the foreign ministry headquarters in the eastern Zawyat al Dahmani district of the capital Tripoli, the government said. ”Libyans cannot ignore the timing of this explosion. It’s a clear message by the forces of terror that they do not want the state or the army to stand on its feet,” Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told reporters.
Zeidan did not blame a specific group for the attack, which coincides with the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attack on the U.S.
Nota Bene: Spanish Catalonia pushes for independence with human chain.
Moot vote - Reuters columnist Ian Bremmer argues that Congress’ Syria vote hardly matters. (Reuters)
Hidden hydration - Kenya discovers a huge water source in the arid Turkana region. (BBC)
Pirating privacy - German encryption pirates give the NSA the slip. (The Atlantic)
Hitler dishonored - A town in Germany strips Hitler of his honorary citizenship. (Associated Press)
Crying sabotage - Venezuela’s president blames conspiracies for his country’s problems. (New York Times)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: September 10, 2013
Russia’s plan for international oversight of Syria’s weapons moves forward, a Reuters report looks at the middlemen in the online exchange of adopted children, and four Indian men are found guilty of murder in gang-rape case. Today is Tuesday, September 10, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
World leaders discuss Russian plan to avoid military strike in Syria
Free Syrian Army fighters take positions as they aim their weapons during what the FSA said were clashes with forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Idlib, September 9, 2013. REUTERS//Muhammad Qadour
Russia throws a wrench in Obama’s Syria plan. Syria accepted a Russian plan for the war-torn country to place its chemical arms under international control, offering an unexpected alternative to military action that President Barack Obama called a possible breakthrough, although he plans to proceed with a vote in Congress to authorize force:
With veto-wielding China also backing it, it would be the rare Syria initiative to unite global powers whose divisions have so far blocked Security Council action. Assad’s main regional backer Iran has also signalled support, as has U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon…. Moscow unveiled its proposal on Monday after Kerry, speaking in London, said the only way to halt strikes would be for Assad to give up his chemical arsenal. The State Department said his remarks were rhetorical and not meant as a serious proposal. But hours later Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for Assad’s government to do just that.
Western leaders seized the opportunity to make a concrete plan based on Russia’s proposal. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country will push for a U.N. resolution setting out terms for destruction of Syria’s chemical arms and warning of “serious consequences” if Syria violates resolution conditions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia is also working on a concrete plan which “stems from contacts we have had with our American colleagues.” Still, some are skeptical of the success of any resolution, fearing it could be a stalling tactic by Assad’s government to fend off U.S. military action. The Syrian government carried out an aerial strike against rebels on Tuesday for the first time since an apparent poison gas attack on August 21, for which Assad again denied responsibility in a Monday interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose. Opposition leaders, who have lobbied for military aid from the U.S. and others, cited today’s strike as a sign that Assad no longer feels international pressure. Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel appear today before a House hearing to discuss Russia’s proposal and the use of military force against Syria.
Megan Exon stands for a portrait at her home in Hickory, North Carolina, August 12, 2013. REUTERS/John Adkisson
Child brokers. Megan Exon was only trying to help families when she began moderating an online message board where adoptive parents advertised children they no longer wanted to care for. But her experience with a couple, Nicole and Calvin Eason, who had hidden a history of taking and mistreating children, made her reconsider the dangers of unauthorized child exchanges:
Exon would come to regret her role in the re-homing network, a collection of Internet forums where people seeking children can find one quickly. They are able to do so without involving the government and sometimes with the help of middlemen whose activities can be naïve, reckless or illegal, a Reuters investigation has found… Exon grew alarmed on April 5, 2007, when she took a phone call from Lynne Banks, a woman in South Dakota who followed the activity on the online adoption boards. Banks warned of an Illinois couple using the Internet to obtain children. The woman sometimes called herself Big Momma. Her real name was Nicole Eason. In her conversation with Exon, Banks said she believed that Eason and her husband, Calvin, were lying about being approved by the government to take in children. While surfing the Internet, Banks also came to suspect that a man who’d been living with Nicole was possibly a sex offender.
Adoption laws differ from state to state, making it easier for adults to exchange children without oversight and without official vetting of new parents. Click through an extensive Reuters report for more stories about disruptive adoptions, and the middlemen who facilitate the dangerous transactions.
Police escort men (face covered) accused of a gang rape, outside a police station in Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi, August 31, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
Indian gang-rapers charged. Four men were convicted of raping and torturing a woman who later died of her injuries, concluding a high-profile case that shed light on sexual violence in the country:
The case has resonated with thousands of urban Indians who took to the streets in fury after the attack. The victim’s path through education onto the first rungs of middle-class life seemed to epitomize the aspirations of millions of young women in a society where many men believe women should stay at home…The verdict capped a seven-month trial, often held behind closed doors, that was punctuated dramatically by a fifth defendant hanging himself in his jail cell. A sixth, who was under 18 at the time of the attack, was earlier sentenced to three years detention, the maximum allowed under juvenile law.
The men face death by hanging, the maximum penalty for murder. The trial judge could decide their sentence as soon as Wednesday.
Nota Bene: Kenya’s deputy president pleads not guilty to charges of crimes against humanity.
Chatty Francis - The Pope is making cold phone calls to strangers. (New York Times)
Nosebleed recess - Chinese authorities close schools after pollution prompts mass nosebleeds. (Global Times)
Beyond poppy - Afghanistan’s cannabis production rises this year. (The Guardian)
Sexy spring - Iran and China see a sexual revolution. (Salon)
Social sentence - In China, 500 retweets could send you to prison. (Quartz)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a news conference with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague on the situation in Syria. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
World Wrap: September 9, 2013
A Reuters report details the dangerous world of trading adopted children, Obama faces uphill battle on Syria strike, and Tokyo’s Olympics triumph sheds light on Fukushima fallout. Today is Monday, September 9, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
Inside the black market for adopted children
Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Jeffrey Phel
Traded online. When Liberan-born Quita’s adoptive parents decided they could no longer care for her, they took to a Yahoo chat room to find new guardians. After two days, a couple responded that they would take Quita, providing little more than a fabricated document as evidence that they were qualified to care for the teenager. Quita’s life in the United States quickly became a nightmare:
Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple in their 30s, saw the ad and a picture of the smiling 16-year-old. They were eager to take Quita, even though the ad warned that she had been diagnosed with severe health and behavioral problems. In emails, Nicole Eason assured [adoptive parent] Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl. “People that are around me think I am awesome with kids,” Eason wrote…. Had [Melissa Puchalla] vetted them more closely, she might have discovered what Reuters would learn: Child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children years earlier. After a sheriff’s deputy helped remove the Easons’ second child, a newborn baby boy, the deputy wrote in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies.” The Easons each had been accused by children they were babysitting of sexual abuse, police reports show. They say they did nothing wrong, and neither was charged.
An extensive Reuters report exposes the online black market for adopted children – most of them foreign-born – where guardians can discard adoptees without official oversight and at great risk to the children. A year-long effort including analysis of more than 5,000 posts in a now-defunct Yahoo chat room reveals that a child was advertised for re-homing on an average of once a week. Click through the Reuters special series to learn more about Quita and other victims of the shadowy online child exchange.
A Free Syrian Army fighter sets up homemade rockets to be launched towards forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad based in the Kwers military airport in Aleppo, September 9, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie
Losing steam on Syria. As Congress returns from its summer recess to discuss Syria, Obama faces an uphill battle to convince lawmakers to agree to military action against Assad:
During the break, their constituents voiced strong objections to the action, worrying that it would drag the country into another costly, and broader, Middle East conflict. Opinion polls show most Americans oppose a strike. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll said 56 percent of Americans believed the United States should not intervene in Syria; 19 percent backed action. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, led the administration’s lobbying effort on Sunday, part of an intensive push for support that will continue on Monday when Obama sits for six network television interviews and culminate with an address to the country on Tuesday night.
Members of Congress could make a decision on the strike as soon as Wednesday, around the same time U.N. chemical weapons investigators are expected to turn over their report on the attack. In an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied responsibility for last month’s apparent chemical attack that, according to the U.S., killed more than 1,400 people. CBS and PBS will air the interview tonight.
An aerial view shows people sitting in formation to the words “thank you” and displaying signs that collectively read “arigato” (thank uou) during an event celebrating Tokyo being chosen to host the 2020 Olympic Games, at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in this photo taken by Kyodo, September 8, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo
Tokyo’s a go. The International Olympic Committee picked Tokyo to host the Olympic Games in 2020, paving the way for an economic boost to the country while highlighting its worst nuclear disaster in decades:
While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bold gamble to throw himself into the Tokyo bid paid off handsomely, his claims to have the problems of the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor under control ran into fresh resistance… “I would like to state clearly that there has not been, is not now and will not be any health problems whatsoever,” Abe told a news conference. “Furthermore, the government has already decided a program to make sure there is absolutely no problem, and we have already started.” Tokyo pledged last week to spend nearly half a billion dollars on cleaning up the plant, with critics saying the announcement was aimed at the Olympic vote. But a poll by the Asahi newspaper over the weekend found that 72 percent of the respondents thought the government’s response was too late, while 95 percent thought Fukushima was a serious problem.
Some hope that the national attention will force Japan to deal with the nuclear fallout from Fukushima. Madrid was first contender to be eliminated from the race, and Istanbul lost by a large margin in a head-to-head vote.
Nota Bene: Opposition leader Navalny accuses the Kremlin of rigging Moscow’s mayoral race.
Benefit breakdown - Reuters editor Hugo Dixon argues that the EU should change its welfare policy. (Reuters)
Visa diet - South African man facing deportation for being too fat gets a 23-month reprieve. (BBC)
Join jaunt - Jamaica now offers marijuana farm tours. (Associated Press)
Iran intricacies - Tehran’s new government debates what to do about Syria. (Time)
Presidential precedent - Pakistan’s president is the first to complete a full term in office. (New York Times)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: September 4, 2013
Key lawmakers back Obama’s call for action in Syria, troubled cities vie to host 2020 Olympics, and dissident’s mayor race rattles Moscow. Today is Wednesday, September 4, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
Obama secures Congressional leadership support for Syria
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin E. Dempsey (L), John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State (C), and Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, present the administration’s case for U.S. military action against Syria to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington, September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
No boots on the ground. Republican and Democratic leaders lent support to President Obama’s call for a limited military strike on Syria Tuesday, agreeing on a draft resolution that rules out the deployment of American troops and sets a 60-day limit on military action in Syria, with a possibility of one 30-day extension:
John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor both pledged their support for military action after the meeting. Votes are expected to be held in the Senate and House next week, with the Republican-led House presenting the tougher challenge for Obama. The House leadership has indicated the votes will be “conscience votes,” meaning they will not seek to influence members’ votes on party lines. All the same, it would have been a blow to Obama if he had not secured the backing of the top two Republicans.
Secretary of State John Kerry said he wouldn’t take the option of ground troops off the table, but quickly walked back the statement when pressed by Republican Senator Bob Corker, saying he was merely “thinking out loud.” Members of Congress appear to be divided based on experience rather than party affiliation, with veteran lawmakers siding with Obama and newcomers taking a stance against intervention. Russia said it sent a warship to the eastern Mediterranean, however President Putin showed a sliver of willingness to compromise by saying he has not ruled out involvement in a strike if given more proof the regime carried out a chemical attack. Tensions between Moscow and Washington have been especially strained this year, due in part to Russia granting asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden and Putin’s unwavering support for the Syrian government. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that U.S. action against Syria without support from the U.N. could be illegal. He added that samples collected by the U.N. chemical weapons inspectors are expected to reach European labs on Wednesday.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures as he speaks during Tokyo 2020 kick-off rally in Tokyo, August 23, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino
Let the games begin. On Saturday, the International Olympic Committee will decide whether Madrid, Istanbul, or Tokyo gets to host the 2020 Olympics. Each of the candidates, however, has issues that could hamper its chances. Spain continues to suffer from the country’s economic crisis, and faces opposition from its citizens:
Struggling Spanish taxpayers, and particularly residents of the capital, must be persuaded that the long-term benefits of hosting the Olympics outweigh the economic cost. At the same time, IOC members must be convinced that a Madrid Olympics will be a resounding success — something like the Barcelona Games in 1992 — despite the drive to keep a lid on spending.
Meanwhile, instability in the region stemming from the conflict in Syria could pose a safety risk in Istanbul:
The possibility of a U.S. military strike against the Syrian government has prompted questions about whether Istanbul could be a risky choice… Istanbul is vying to be the first Muslim country to stage the Olympics and Arat said the Games would be a boon for the Middle East.
The leader of Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympics has written to IOC members, trying to reassure them that the city is “completely unaffected” by the leak of radiation-contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Tsunekazu Takeda says in the letter that life is “completely normal and safe” in Tokyo and the city’s air and water are not affected by the leak from the crippled plant.
On Wednesday, radiation readings hit record levels near crippled tanks at Fukushima.
Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny (L) addresses his supporters after arriving from Kirov, with his wife Yulia standing nearby, at a railway station in Moscow, July 20, 2013. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Navalny needles Moscow. Anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny is standing his ground against Kremlin candidate Sergei Sobyanin in Moscow’s mayoral race, shaking up a historically staid campaign up ahead of the weekend election:
Navalny’s campaign, based on working crowds, mobilizing thousands of volunteers and pressing the flesh, is still a novelty in Russia more than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The stakes in Sunday’s election are high – both for the opposition, which is struggling to revive the momentum of its challenge to Putin, and for the Kremlin. After a trial that he and his supporters say was politically motivated, Navalny was convicted in July of stealing timber from a state firm and sentenced to five years in prison. In a highly unusual ruling, a judge released him on bail the following day. Many political observers say the Kremlin wanted Navalny to run in Moscow because it expected him to be humiliated, and believed this would remove him as a political threat.
Navalny’s ambitions were nearly quashed earlier this summer, when he faced jail time and possible expulsion from Russia’s political sphere.
Nota Bene: A top Palestinian aide says peace talks with Israel are going nowhere.
Wishful thinking - Reuters columnist David Rohde discusses the fallacy of a quick-fix for Syria. (Reuters)
Party in Pyongyang - A night out in North Korea features artisanal beer. (The Atlantic)
Soil reveals - Richard III suffered from a roundworm infection. (BBC)
Putin points - Ten interesting things Putin said during his interview with the AP. (Associated Press)
Moscow Shield - An isolationist Russian youth group targets illegal immigrants. (New York Times)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: September 3, 2013
Obama tries to convince Congress to strike Syria, Japan makes conveniently-timed pledge, and Chinese land grabs turn ugly. Today is Tuesday, September 3, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
Obama lobbies lawmakers for Syria strike
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington to discuss a military response to Syria, September 3, 2013. From L-R are: National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell. Vice President Joseph Biden is in the foreground. REUTERS/Larry Downing
Reputation roulette. After announcing on Saturday that he will seek congressional approval to strike Syria, President Obama is trying to convince lawmakers to agree to military action. A failed vote may further damage the United States’ credibility in the Middle East:
Obama’s abrupt decision on Saturday to halt plans to punish Assad for using poison gas and instead wait for congressional approval momentarily united a fractious region in astonishment. Reflecting a widespread view voiced in interviews by Reuters across the region, Algeria’s El Watan newspaper said Assad’s foes seemed riven with doubt in their confrontation with the embattled Syrian leader, fearing intervention would be a “flop”…. Used to the uncompromising approach of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who proclaimed “You are either with us or you are with the terrorists” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks of 2001 and went on to invade Iraq in 2003, many Arabs tend to see Obama’s apparent distaste for war as unusual, even exceptional.
In his appeal, Obama will target Democrats - some of whom see his draft resolution as too broad to preclude the possibility of a long military engagement in Syria - and “Tea Party” Republicans, who oppose more involvement in the Middle East. According to the New York Times, divisions in the GOP between non-interventions and military hawks could lead to clashes. Although Britain withdrew its support after the UK parliament voted against authorizing strikes, France has said it would support military action. A French intelligence report released Monday suggested the Syrian government was behind the Aug. 21 chemical attack, prompting Syrian President Bashar al-Assadto threaten retaliatory action against Paris. Obama will head to Russia on Thursday for the annual G20 meeting, where he will meet with human rights groups instead of Putin. Today marked another grim landmark in Syria’s conflict, as the U.N. announced two million refugees have fled Syria since the conflict began. Nearly one-third of the population has left their homes – the highest number of displaced people in the world.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka (L) is seen in front of a screen showing the current situation of the contaminated water leakage in Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, September 2, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Fixing Fukushima. The Japanese government announced a $500 million commitment to contain radioactive leaks and decontaminate water coming from the Fukushima nuclear plant:
The government intervention represents only a tiny slice of the response to the Fukushima crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which caused reactor meltdowns at the plant. The clean-up, including decommissioning the ruined reactors, will take decades and rely on unproven technology. The measures do not address the full problem of water management at the plant or the bigger issue of decommissioning. The sensitive job of removing spent fuel rods is to start in the coming months. The ultimate fate of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), also remains unclear, as does the question of who will eventually foot the bill – Japanese taxpayers, or the embattled Tepco.
The announcement of funding to stem the effects of the worst nuclear meltdown in 25 years comes days before the International Olympic Committee’s decision on whether Tokyo will host the 2020 Games.
Xu Haifeng poses at a construction site area where her house stood in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, August 20, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Government grab. In Wuxi, China, complaining about government land grabs leads to beatings, kidnappings, and threats:
Family members have been kidnapped at least 18 times, typically having black bags thrust over their heads before being taken to a hotel-turned-illegal jail in the eastern city of Wuxi and locked for weeks in a tiny, windowless room. Xu’s story is shocking even in a country that has become used to tales of arbitrary and sometimes violent land expropriations. It illustrates how the stresses from the deep indebtedness of China’s local governments extend beyond banks into the lives of ordinary Chinese, as hard-up authorities resort to any means they can in a desperate scramble for funds.
Aggressive land seizures are a major source of social tension in China, where economic pressure has led to desperate measures to spur urbanization. The practice contributes to tens of thousands of protests across the country every year.
Nota Bene: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman returns to North Korea on his own mission.
Common ground - The Kennan Institute’s William E. Pomeranz says Obama and Putin can agree on something. (Reuters)
“Uhh, dad, I’m gay” - Unilever pulls a homophobic ad in South Africa. (BBC)
Toxic tanneries - Bangladesh’s booming leather industry hurts workers and the environment. (Time)
Hooking up Africa - Entrepreneurs tackle Africa’s connectivity problem. (Al Jazeera)
Class experiment - Chinese educators veer away from the memorization model. (New York Times)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
The first million fled Syria in two years. The second million fled Syria in six months" - U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres
Of the total Syrian population of about 20 million, either inside or outside the country, one third is displaced and almost half is in need of assistance, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres told a news conference.
Video: Russian legislators told President Vladimir Putin they want to fly to Washington, DC and meet with U.S. lawmakers ahead of a critical vote on whether the U.S. should carry out military strikes on Syria. Reuters Deborah Gembara reports.
Obama is seeking a congressional debate and vote to consider any military action.
The deadly attacks in and around Damascus occurred on August 21, and reportedly killed more than 1,400 people, including more than 400 children, according to U.S. intelligence findings. The United Nations is still investigating the exact nature and type of weapons that were used, but their investigation would not determine who used them.
Earlier this past week, Britain’s House of Commons struck down a key vote that would have allowed Prime Minister David Cameron to pursue future military actions. In his statement on Saturday, Obama referenced this vote, which may have in some way influenced his decision to pursue congressional favor in the U.S.
“We cannot and will not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus,” Obama said in statement at the White House Rose Garden.
Photo: REUTERS/Kevin LaMarque
A new U.S. intelligence report says that 1,429 people were killed in a chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, on August 21 outside Damascus, Syria.
"Read for yourself, everyone, those listening, all of you, read for yourselves the evidence from thousands of sources, evidence that is already publicly available" - US Secretary of State Kerry
DOCUMENT: U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons
Photo: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes case for limited U.S. military action against Syria for its suspected use of chemical weapons. REUTERS/Larry Downing