Globe Trot

Globe Trot 08.01

International

U.S. President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on Monday "to co-ordinate efforts to accelerate a political transition in Syria," the White House said. But mediation efforts are having little effect on fighting for Aleppo, where the rebel Free Syrian Army brigades claim to control nine neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city and three in the west. Amateur videos posted at The Guardian and elsewhere are gruesome, and one medic in Aleppo tweeted this morning: "Being caught with medical supplies is worse than being caught with weapons."

Mitt Romney's overseas excursion has been a preview of how the press plans to go after the GOP candidate, facts notwithstanding. In Poland reporters dogged him with questions about his statements on Israel vs. the Palestinian economy, playing shamelessly to the Fatah/Hamas/PNA tune (never mind that more Israeli companies are listed on the NASDAQ exchange than all companies from the entire European continent-why would anyone want to talk about the Israeli economic miracle, when Europe is doing so well?) For an excellent book-length reality check, read Dan Senor's Start-Up Nation.

And here's why Poles extended a warmer welcome to Romney than his U.S. media escort revealed.

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In the 2012 Olympics medal count, the United States has edged slightly ahead of China after the two countries stayed tied throughout the early days of competition.

How do the Olympics' 3,500 Muslim athletes keep Ramadan and still compete? Strict observance would this week require that they abstain from food and drink from 2:44 a.m. to 8:53 p.m.-more than 18 hours of the day. Mark Durie, an expert on Islam, explains Islam's "Law of Necessity," which permits Muslims to find practical go-arounds to the strict demands of Sharia law.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, testifying at a little noted congressional hearing last week, made a worth-noting statement: "We still know that violent extremism can be inspired by various religious, political or ideological beliefs." Remember when this administration made it off-limits to speak of "Islamic terrorism"? Here's a worth-reading summary of the hearing, showing apparent growing tension between Homeland Security and State Department officials.

The State Department's annual report on international religious freedom, released on Monday, is long on good intentions and short on policy follow-through, according to Thomas Farr, the first director of the State Department's office of international religious freedom (created by Congress in 1999) and now a visiting professor at Georgetown. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave "her strongest speech to date" on the importance of religious freedom-but her department has done little, he noted, "to marry powerful rhetoric with a strategy and policy action worthy of the stakes raised by world increasingly bereft of religious liberty."

Across India power has been restored after more than half of the country's 1.2 billion people-meaning about 10 percent of the world's population-suffered a blackout yesterday.

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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