G8 summit There have already been rifts over the issue of armaments in Syria.
♦ While leaders have been at loggerheads, Assad’s regime has been able to take advantage of the lack of US leadership, writes Roula Khalaf.
♦ The decision to send unspecified military support to the rebels will be dangerous, but it is more risky to stay out, says David Gardner: “Leaving Syria to its present devices will create an Afghanistan in the eastern Mediterranean”.
♦ Maureen Dowd thinks that Obama is being “schooled” by the Clintons: “After dithering for two years over what to do about the slaughter in Syria, the president was finally shoved into action by the past and perhaps future occupant of his bedroom.”
Tax avoidance will be another G8 hot topic: Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, thinks corporate tax systems need to be simplified. If you want to read more about the debate so far, take a look through our reporting on the Great Tax Race.
♦ Mayor Bloomberg takes on a new cause: making it mandatory for New Yorkers to separate their food scraps for composting.
♦ Food for thought: is marriage in decline because there is less demand for husbands?
♦ China plans to move 250m rural residents – that’s about five times the population of South Korea – into newly constructed towns and cities over the next 12 years. Elsewhere in the world, cities are turning into vast gated communities for the one per cent.
♦ The BBC speaks to Sonali Deraniyagala, who lost everything in the 2004 tsunami. Read more
By Aranya Jain
♦ Max Fisher speculates on how the US will react to Syria’s use of chemical weapons – large changes in policy are unlikely – while Geoff Dyer examines the reasons behind the uncertainty of the US response.
♦ Genes isolated directly from humans are no longer patentable, as the US supreme court has ruled that only synthetic versions of DNA, known as complementary DNA, can be patented. New access to previously company owned DNA may improve and lessen the cost of treatment, but the loss of patents may also cause a loss of incentive for companies to conduct new research. For those who have more time this weekend, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a novel that grapples with these issues, examining the legacy of a woman whose DNA has become one of the most important tools in medicine, and yet has remained virtually anonymous, never receiving the rights to her own genes.
♦On a lighter note, the US navy will soon stop shouting its communications as messages no longer have to be written in all capital letters.
♦Foreign Policy brings you the fashion highlights from the Iranian election campaigns.
♦And if you have a spare moment, Satan has a few words to say on the Murdoch divorce.
By Aranya Jain
♦Hassan Rohani, the only moderate candidate left in Iran’s upcoming elections, promised reform and unveiled his past in a documentary aired on state TV.
♦ Japan attempts to increase entrepreneurship by making taking out loans easier and encouraging innovation, but changing the system will not be easy.
♦ We are entering a new age of big data, and have yet to understand what this will mean. Our lack of privacy does not end with the NSA, as many big data companies are also able to collect our data trails, and infer things about us from them.
♦ Post-Arab Spring North Africa remains fragile, and is reminiscent of post-Communist eastern and central Europe, but what Africa needs is a role model for democracy.
♦ Snowden claims that the NSA has been hacking China and Hong Kong for years will test Sino-US ties.
♦ This website, via interactive graphics and charts, allows you to explore information about land deals, from a web of which regions are investing in each other to charts that delineate what the land is being used for.
♦ What Mandela’s legacy can leave behind – Roy Isacowitz argues that Israel should emulate Mandela to pursue peace but that it will not do so. Read more
♦ The NSA whistleblower has revealed himself via a video interview with the Guardian – find out more about Edward Snowden elsewhere on this blog.
♦ Edward Luce argues that President Barack Obama has hurt himself and business over the issue of privacy.
♦ In Turkey, members of every sector of society have united against Erdogan, whose intransigence could split his party.
♦ The Washington Post reports on the mourning parents of Newtown.
♦ The Obama administration has begun helping Middle Eastern allies to build up their defences against Iran’s cyberweapons, and will be doing the same in Asia. Read more
♦ We love our multilateral organisations here at the FT, so we’ve taken a close look at how Roberto Azevêdo managed to win the WTO DG nomination – visiting a mere 47 countries along the way. Mr Azevêdo struck a pragmatic note in an in interview with the FT, saying a year-end Bali meeting would focus on the “do-able”: “It’s… about instilling confidence that we can still negotiate, that we can still deliver multilaterally.”
♦ After David Cameron welcomed Uhuru Kenyatta to London this week, Richard Dowden considers the diplomatic earthquake that could occur when Kenyatta is expected to report to the ICC. Will Britain “abandon the ICC or isolate their closest political and security ally in East and the Horn of Africa”? Will Kenyatta run the country from a Dutch prison using Skype?
♦ Israel has warned the US about an imminent Russian deal to sell ground-to-air missile systems to Syria.
♦ US military camouflage has developed from two types to 10, just one example of inefficient duplication between different government agencies.
♦ Arguably the most haunting photograph of the collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh. Read more
♦ Martin Wolf argues that forcing the eurozone to mimic Germany’s path to adjustment makes stagnation likely.
♦ US intervention in Syria becomes more difficult with time because of sequestration. “If you ask me today, we have forces that can go,” says General Ray Odierno, the army chief of staff. “I think it will change over time because the longer we go cancelling training and reducing our training, the readiness levels go down.”
♦ Researchers have identified two dozen 15,000-year-old “ultraconserved” words, which suggest the existence of a proto-Eurasiatic language that was the root of about 700 contemporary languages.
♦ Film director Ann Shin discusses her film about the human smugglers who extract people from North Korea and why so many of them are women. Read more
Rand Paul (Getty Images)
Rand Paul’s marathon filibuster last week – aimed at holding up the confirmation of John Brennan as head of the CIA – was much more than a parliamentary stunt. It has opened up interesting new debates and divisions on the future direction of US foreign policy.
Senator Paul’s highlighting of the Obama administration’s use of drones for “targeted killings” of terrorist suspects, has established an unlikely alliance between the libertarian right and the liberal left. Until Paul took up the drones issue, it was mainly the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union, who were making the running in criticising the drone strikes. But, as Paul illustrated, there is a good libertarian case for suspicion of the over-mighty covert state. Even more interestingly, Paul’s stand placed him directly at odds with the neoconservative wing of his own Republican Party.
The Wall Street Journal has denounced Paul for appealing to “impressionable libertarian kids” – a condemnation quoted with approval by John McCain, one of the party’s leading foreign-policy hawks.
Conveniently for President Obama, this argument between the two wings of the Republican Party places the president somewhere in the middle. He will never be as hawkish as the Republican neocons, many of whom are pressing for intervention in Syria, an assault on Iran and denouncing cuts in the Pentagon budget. On the other hand, the president’s expansion of the drone war and his unwillingness to rein in the burgeoning national-security apparatus makes him very far from being a “libertarian kid”. Read more