Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Jane Chong
Friday, May 16, 2014, 8:35 AM

Despite pressure from the international community to go away already, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is calling for a June 3 presidential "election," an idea UK Foreign Secretary William Hague blasted yesterday as a "parody of democracy." So says BBC.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Iran has been recruiting Afghan refugees to fight for the Assad regime in exchange for $500 a month and Iranian residency.
Thousands of steelworkers took control of the streets of Mariupol yesterday, banishing the pro-Kremlin militants and "possibly reversing the momentum in eastern Ukraine." The New York Times speculates.
The Times also reported yesterday on confidential diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks, which reveal that in 2010, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates was trying to persuade France not to sell two warships to Russia.
A confidential UN report says Iran is pursuing development of its ballistic missile capabilities, reports Reuters.
On Thursday Washington issued a strong warning to China that its "provocative" actions in the South China Sea are straining its ties with the U.S.; Reuters has more. Deadly anti-China riots broke out in Vietnam this week after China towed an oil rig into waters claimed by both Hanoi and Beijing.
Yesterday the Times Editorial Board criticized the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal for seeking contempt charges against David Bergman, a Bangladesh-based British journalist, after he questioned the court's proceedings in his blog. Last year the court pulled the same stunt against Human Rights Watch.
The 550 million votes are coming in--and the Indian National Congress is going out. Preliminary results show India's opposition leader Narendra Modi and his party have won national elections in a landslide, says the AP. The Times has an interactive feature on what the outcome means for voters. Check out the live vote count from the BBC.
Thirty-seven Republican senators signed off on a letter urging Majority Leader Harry Reid to establish a committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks, notes Politico.
On Wednesday Britain enacted legislation that allows the government to strip terrorism suspects of their citizenship even if it leaves them stateless, reports the Times---one year after the House of Lords defeated the government's attempt to do just this.
The U.S. seeks to share intelligence with the Nigerian military on Boko Haram to help with the search for more than 250 abducted schoolgirls---but also is concerned about misuse of the information, given the Nigerian military's record of atrocities committed against insurgents, says the Washington Post.
Also from the Washington Post: Uruguayan President José Mujica has offered to accept six Guantanamo detainees, if the U.S. moves within the few months he has left in office.
The annual Bitcoin conference starts today. Former Disney child star Brock Pierce was elected head of the nonprofit Bitcoin Foundation last week, leading 10 members to resign. Reuters has details.
That's Dr. Snowden to you. That's right---the Washington Post reported yesterday via the AP that the University of Rostock in Germany just voted to grant NSA leaker Edward Snowden an honorary doctorate.
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