Globe Trot
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus Sunday.
Associated Press/SANA
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus Sunday.

Globe Trot: Defiant Assad, Chavez’s rule, brutal Burma crackdowns …

International

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave a defiant speech on Sunday—his first public address in six months—defending his harsh crackdown that has brought on nearly two years of civil war. Assad offered a “peace plan” that could include a new constitution, but gave no hint of stepping down.

Venezuela is headed toward a political showdown over whether ailing President Hugo Chavez must be sworn in Jan. 10, as scheduled, in order to continue as head of state. Chavez is in Cuba for cancer treatment and hasn’t been seen in public in a month.

The military government in Burma, also known as Myanmar, is getting good marks for opening up the country. But brutal military crackdowns on minority enclaves continue, the latest in the Kachin area last month. Warning: The linked report contains a graphic image of a medic injured in a land mine explosion.

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Reports of Christmas violence in northern Nigeria have been confusing, but an attack on Christians in a village near Maiduguri, the headquarters of the Boko Haram terrorist group, appears to have killed between five and 15 Christians.

This weekend Regent University School of Law hosts its second annual symposium on international and domestic justice issues. I attended the very stimulating symposium last year, and commend this year’s lineup.

President Obama will nominate two Vietnam War Purple Heart recipients to lead national security and foreign policy in his second term. Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska, is expected to be named to head the Defense Department along with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as secretary of state. The president also will name John Brennan to head the CIA.

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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