SYRIA: A church leader in Syria described last month’s attack on the village of Saddad as “the greatest massacre of Christians in Syria.” About 3,000 people were held for a week as human shields in the ancient village. Most of them eventually fled, while churches, schools, and homes were looted and destroyed. Dozens are reported killed in the attack. Keep in mind that most reporters are not allowed in Syria currently, especially outside Damascus; hard news like this is hard to come by.
Western diplomats have failed to lay the groundwork for a long-awaited peace conference slated for later this month to pave the way for a peace settlement in Syria. Both sides all along have resisted the effort: Rebels say they will not come to the table unless a government transition is imminent, and President Bashar al-Assad has said he has no intention of stepping down.
IRAN: Negotiators do believe a deal can be reached with Iran when they sit down tomorrow in Geneva.
INDIA: Is India’s mission to Mars part of “a delusional quest” for superpower status? This India Today report includes a NASA chart of international missions to Mars.
ERITREA: Up to 3,000 refugees are fleeing Eritrea each month with systematic persecution of Christians and a crackdown on political opponents escalating.
CANADA: The mayor of North America’s fourth largest city admits he has smoked crack cocaine but pledges he won’t resign. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, amid rising questions about his drug habit, admitted yesterday that he smoked the drug “about” a year ago when “in one of my drunken stupors.”