In Response – Under the headline “Nobel Laureates Clueless About Real Tibet,” semi-official mouthpiece Global Times rebuts a recent open letter from 12 Nobel laureates to Chinese leaders raising concerns about the self-immolation of monks and criticizing the country’s Tibet policy. “Ironically few of these 12 Nobel laureates have been to Tibet personally,” it stated, (ironically) neglecting to mention that Beijing restricts access to the restive region.
Iranian Oil – Reuters exclusively reports Thursday that key ship insurer China P&I Club will halt indemnity coverage for tankers carrying Iranian oil from July amid the tightening Western sanctions against OPEC’s second-largest producer. “This is the first sign that refiners in China, Iran’s top crude buyer, may struggle to obtain the shipping and insurance to keep importing from the Middle Eastern country,” says the news agency.
Fits the Bill – Famed Senegalese musician Youssou N’dour has been appointed the country’s new tourism and culture minister in President Macky Sall’s cabinet, writes Agence France Press. “The Grammy-award winning singer, a fierce critic of former leader Abdoulaye Wade, hung up his microphone to campaign for Sall and now forms part of a slimmed-down government of 25 people appointed by Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye,” it says.
Russia Steps Up - The New York Times explores Russia’s increased diplomatic influence in Syria as opposition leaders and the country’s foreign minister are invited to talks in Moscow this month. Russia, a long-time supporter of the Syrian government, is calling for President Bashar al-Assad’s compliance with Kofi Annan’s cease-fire plan by next week’s deadline. CNN reports that despite the high-level diplomacy, violence continues across Syria. At least 60 people were killed Wednesday, according to opposition groups.
Debt Suicide – An elderly man took his own life a few hundred yards from Greek Parliament on Wednesday, the Daily Telegraph reports. Faced with slashed pension payments due to austerity measures, the man reportedly wrote in his suicide note, “I see no other solution than a decent ending before I start looking in the garbage to feed myself.” An impromptu memorial for the man turned into clashes between demonstrators and police.
Bullying Tactics- The Istanbul daily Radikal describes Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish Prime Minister, as a “bully” with the attitude of a “conquering general” after his Justice and Development Party physically prevented opposition members from entering Parliament to debate an education reform bill. According to the paper, the public had not been informed of the bill, which had been pushed through by the ruling party. The paper calls it an “authoritarian” political move reminiscent of “the Turkey of the pre-1950’s era.”