Must-Reads from Around the World: March 6th, 2012

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Alessio Romenzi for TIME

A Free Syrian Army member prepares to fight with a tank whose crew defected from government forces in al-Qsair, Feb. 23. 2012.

Fleeing Syria — Fearing for their lives, hundreds of Syrians are fleeing their country, crossing its western border into neighboring Lebanon, the Associated Press reports (via the Guardian). Urging the U.S. to intervene in the growing humanitarian crisis, Senator John McCain has called for airstrikes on Bashar Assad’s forces. The Obama administration is working towards more cooperation from Russia, who currently stands bitterly opposed to any form of intervention in Syria, according to the Washington Post.

More Votes Than Voters — Amid charges of fraud in the Russian Presidential elections, the New York Times finds that Chechnya recorded an impossible turnout of 107% with only one person voting for a candidate other than Vladimir Putin. In an article titled ‘This Is How You Elect a F___ing President?,’ Foreign Policy describes the police crackdown on anti-government protestors gathered in Moscow to demonstrate against the recently concluded elections.

Declining Growth — Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in his annual report to the National People’s Congress on Monday that the government has reduced its economic growth target to 7.5% this year, down from 8% in previous years. If growth does come in at 7.5%, it will be the slowest pace in 22 years, writes the New York Times. This announcement comes on the heels of a World Bank report urging China to introduce economic reforms that have been the subject of much domestic debate in recent months, the Economist writes. And TIME’s Hannah Beech reflects on the annual confab, noting that, “Even as the NPC deputies showed off their bling and readied their rubber stamps — legislation has a habit of sailing through the Chinese parliament — the mood was far more sober halfway across China.”

Tough Talk — Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words when speaking to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Monday night, telling the pro-Israel lobbying group, “a nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.” Netanyahu can expect a warm response to his position from Capital Hill Tuesday, the Washington Post writes. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell echoed the prime minister’ s support of military force and three of the four Republican presidential candidates (Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich) are scheduled to speak to AIPAC Tuesday. TIME’s Tony Karon explains why war with Iran will have to wait, despite the PM’s fiery speech.

Deadly Attack — More than 100 Yemeni soldiers are dead following a brutal attack by suspected al-Qaeda gunman Sunday night, the Daily Telegraph reports. The attack in the southern Yemen province of Abyan is believed to be the most deadly of any fighting between security forces and al-Qaeda. The violence comes in the wake of President Abd Rabbo Monsour Hadi pledging to eradicate the terrorist group from “every cache, hideout, and hole they might be in.” The English-language newspaper Yemen Post questions if the new president is up to the challenge.

Royal Caribbean — Prince Harry continues his royal tour of the Caribbean by arriving in Jamaica Tuesday. In his first overseas tour representing his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II (as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations), the Prince is set to meet with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, the BBC reports. Miller has been extremely vocal in advance of the royal visit calling for the island nation to cast off the monarchy and become a republic.

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