Syrian Soldier: Troops ‘Refused to Fire on Protesters’

As Syria intensifies its clampdown on anti-government protesters, international pressure on the regime is being stepped up. It comes as new amateur video whose authenticity cannot be verified purports to show mass arrests in Deraa.

China’s long-awaited census results, finally released last week, put the Chinese population at 1.37 billion, an increase of only about 74 million people over the past decade. That represents a low annual growth rate of 0.57 percent, which has resulted in the premature aging of China: Those older than 60 now account for more than 13.3 percent of the population, while those younger than 14 make up 16.6 percent. But probably the most unwelcome aspect of the census results is that China’s sex ratio at birth has risen once again. There are normally between 105 and 107 baby boys born […]

Since February, Burkina Faso has been shaken by major protests led by students, merchants and members of the country’s security forces. President Blaise Compaoré has responded with a combination of government reshuffles, outreach to aggrieved factions and repression. Yet unrest has increased, with a large crowd gathering in the capital Ouagadougou on Saturday to demand Compaoré’s departure. The protests reflect both economic and political frustration. Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation whose economy relies on cotton and gold exports, is one of the poorest countries in West Africa, with an average life expectancy of less than 54 years and a per […]

While pessimism is not in short supply in Pakistan, other resources are increasingly scarce. This is driving the country toward a crisis characterized by interlocking economic, political and security dimensions, and has already brought the government close to fiscal collapse. Yet the dangers are poorly understood. Few of the country’s policy elite fully grasp how Pakistan’s energy, food and fiscal challenges intersect, nor how quickly problems will spiral as the country’s population grows. Meanwhile, the international community is equally fragmented and short-term in its outlook, still working through sector-based silos that leave it unable to see the big picture. With […]

Not surprisingly, people in the Taliban-controlled areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have turned out — some of their own volition, many under duress — to mourn Osama bin Laden’s death and to threaten the United States and its allies. Yet, as a Pew survey documented, the idolization once lavished upon bin Laden seems to have waned in recent years among Muslim polities. The sociopolitical change now being sought by Middle Eastern masses protesting their countries’ secular and religious autocracies is a far cry from the caliphate that bin Laden envisioned. Islamist militant groups like Hamas in Gaza have condemned the […]

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