AFGHANISTAN: Seven children were killed today after stepping on a landmine in eastern Afghanistan. The NATO mission confirms 231 children were killed and over 500 injured in Afghanistan during the first six months of this year. The leading causes of children’s deaths there are roadside bombs and mine devices used by insurgent groups.
SYRIA: Russia held separate talks with Iranian and Syrian delegations today in the latest effort to jumpstart a peace conference aimed at ending Syria’s civil war. The Russians say timing of a conference will “depend on how well our Western partners do their homework of persuading the opposition to reject preconditions.” Rebel groups say they won’t come to the table unless Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agrees in advance to step down.
INDONESIA: Thousands of people are preparing to evacuate North Sumatra and Central Java after two volcanoes erupted today.
CUBA: Given a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations—signaled by President Barack Obama at a fundraiser in Miami earlier this month—it’s a wonder whether the misstep by officials with the U.S. Agency for International Development, which disclosed U.S. aid to Cuban dissidents, was a slip-up or a calculated slip.
AMERICAS: Lebanese-born scholar Fouad Ajami recognized from the very beginning “something old and familiar” in Obama’s astonishing rise. Guided “by my immersion in the political history of the Arab world,” he describes, as few others have, this “imperial presidency”:
"If Obama seems like a man alone now that nervous Democrats are running from him in advance of their re-election campaigns, this was the world he made. No advisers of stature can question his policies; the price of access in the Obama court is quiescence before the leader’s will. The imperial presidency is in full bloom."
CANADA: Toronto’s city council meets today to finish business it began on Friday: stripping Mayor Rob Ford of his duties. The mayor has been the definition of recalcitrant since a police investigation revealed, and he admitted, to recent use of crack cocaine and other drugs. Ford, vowing not to step down, spent the weekend launching a current events TV show, Ford Nation, and making an appearance at a Canadian Football League playoff game, even after the CFL commissioner asked him to stay away. His antics even turned him into the subject of this weekend’s Saturday Night Live opening skit.