The UN peacekeeping chief in Syria made official what many observers already knew: Syria is now in a full-scale civil war. "Clearly what is happening is that the government of Syria lost some large chunks of territory, several cities to the opposition, and wants to retake control," said Herve Ladsous, the UN chief. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syria and warned that the use of aerial firepower "will escalate the conflict quite dramatically." But the administration continues to portray itself as hand-tied on what to do about Syria-and its choices are more limited with the precipitous pullout from Iraq last year. Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton argued the obvious-"the United Nations has failed, is failing, and will continue to fail to resolve the Syria conflict"-and calls for more complex diplomacy than the Obama administration is likely up to: pressuring Russia and China to do the right thing.
There's more evidence of diplomacy failure in Pakistan, where a U.S. team walked out of negotiations to end a blockade of trucks entering Afghanistan. For more about what happened read this Wall Street Journal report.
When it comes to the European economic crisis, "the buck stops in Berlin."
How did Uganda get mixed up in Europe's economic woes? Spain Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy provoked online outrage from the east African nation after allegations emerged that he compared his country's economic state to that of Uganda's in a text message to his finance minister. Africans have responded fiercely on Twitter and elsewhere with #UgandaisnotSpain posts.
#hello1937 is the trending hashtag on Twitter for protesters in Moscow, as tens of thousands turned out yesterday to demonstrate against punitive laws already coming down from President Vladimir Putin, who was inaugurated to another term just over a month ago.
In a follow-up to church attacks in Nigeria, former Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria Peter Akinola wrote to me this week, adding his voice to the "general and universal conspiracy of silence when it comes to Islamic persecution of the Church." In Nigeria, he said, "Islamic aggression aims at having an Islamic Republic of Nigeria where all activities conform to Islamic principles … fine, but must that be at the expense of over 75 million Nigerian Christians? Isn't it time all concerned parties come to a roundtable conference to discuss the kind of Nigeria they want?"
I also heard from Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein concerning Monday's Globe Trot item on her post and the EEOC lawsuit filed by Safiya Ghori-Ahmad alleging discrimination by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) because she's a Muslim. "Your depiction of this situation is not accurate," said Boorstein.
I said on Monday that Boorstein "erroneously" quoted former commissioner Nina Shea. Here's what Boorstein wrote:
"The suit quotes Shea as writing that 'hiring a Muslim like Ms. Ghori-Ahmad to analyze religious freedom in Pakistan would be like "hiring an IRA activist to research the UK twenty years ago."'"
Shea claims that the placement of quotes in Boorstein's piece makes it appear that Shea said all that's within the quotes, which she denies. I tend to agree with Shea. Boorstein has declined to issue a correction, though she did update the post, saying she was simply quoting from the complaint. But she would have been clearer, and perhaps fairer, if she had quoted more of the passage from the complaint, which reads:
"Internal USCIRF email and discussions make clear that Ms. Ghori-Ahmad's national origin and religion drove USCIRF's ultimate decision to rescind its job offer. For example, Commissioner Shea, a particularly influential voice with long tenure on the Commission, wrote that hiring a Muslim like Ms. Ghori-Ahmad to analyze religious freedom in Pakistan would be like 'hiring an IRA activist to research the UK twenty years ago.'"
The complaint raises major questions about the conduct of USCIRF staff and key commissioners in handling Ghori-Ahmad's hiring-and thus far neither USCIRF nor Shea has responded to my requests for clarification and sourcing on the allegations contained in Ghori-Ahmad's filing. More to come.
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