Globe Trot

Globe Trot 08.12


Marine Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley Jr. was only weeks away from returning from southern Afghanistan when he became one of the latest casualties in "blue on green" violence. Ten U.S. military personnel have been killed this month by such insider violence, shot by Afghan military or police they were in charge of training.

More than 2,500 Syrians entered Turkey in a 24-hour period this week, with Syria's neighbor now sheltering about 70,000 Syrians from civil war.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made his first public appearance since a July bomb attack in Damascus, attending prayers marking the Muslim Eid holiday. Fighting between government forces and rebels led by the Syrian Free Army continues in Aleppo, Damascus, and in border areas, particularly near the Syria-Iraq border.

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Mali has formed a unity government, five months after a military coup in the West African nation ushered in Islamist control-and chaos that forced nearly half a million people to flee their homes. Coup leader Capt. Amadou Sanogo handed power to an interim civilian government months ago but still is seen as exerting power behind the scenes. His militants in their quest to implement a strict version of Shariah, or Islamic law, stoned to death an adulterous couple and chopped off the hand of a suspected thief.

Ancient shrines and medieval manuscripts housed in Timbuktu are suffering as a result of the Islamist rampage, according to this BBC slideshow.

The north-south diplomatic squabble over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange continues, with Ecuador promising indefinite asylum and housing in its British embassy, while Britain has threatened to enter the embassy to arrest the hacktivist. Assange faces rape and sexual assault charges in Sweden, and is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Pakistani police last week arrested a Christian girl believed to be 11 years old and with Down syndrome on charges of blasphemy after neighbors insisted she had burned a Quran. Her arrest is sparking reexamination even inside Pakistan of the country's ruthless blasphemy laws.

A number of U.S. embassies around the world, including in countries without Muslim majorities like the Philippines and Nigeria, closed for the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday this week. Surprising? Even the U.S. Embassy in Estonia sent out Eid greetings, and in Kabul an Eid greeting from the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan issued condolences for "Muslim civilians" killed during Ramadan and Eid but no acknowledgement of possible holiday-related fatalities of U.S. troops there, which stand at 42 already for the month of August. I'm curious about how much the Eid-related closures cost the U.S. taxpayer.


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