Must-Reads from Around the World: May 2, 2012

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Supporters of Chen Guangcheng, HO / AP

Blind activist Chen Guangcheng, in an undated photo, in a village in China

On the Defensive – China’s semi-official Global Times breaks the state silence over blind activist Chen Guangcheng’s escape from house arrest with its op-ed “US embassy in a quandary over Chen.” The most apt take: “The US embassy would have no interest in turning itself into a petition office receiving Chinese complaints. It is easier just preaching universal values to the Chinese public, and occasionally, helping a few exemplary cases that best illustrate US intentions.”

Peace Prospects – Germany’s Der Spiegel reports from rural Idlib province in Syria, where it says regime forces have inflicted such brutal destruction that no one there believes peace is possible. “Everyone says that no one wants civil war. But how can civil war be prevented if the officers and regime thugs are almost all Alawites, while their victims are all Sunnis and the undertow of revenge grows stronger with each new wave of murders?” the magazine asks.

The Non-Coup – The Economist covers the “Good Friday coup that wasn’t” in Malawi following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika on April 5. “For more than 48 hours after he died, Malawi teetered on the brink of a coup as members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) plotted to prevent Mrs. Banda, the vice-president, from taking over and to thrust the late president’s elder brother, Peter, into power in her stead,” it says.

Press Gang – In the aftermath of the British parliamentary report into phone-hacking that deemed News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch “not a fit person” to run an international company, the Guardian collates the opinions of major British newspapers on the issue, noting that the Times (owned by News International) said the committee “discredited itself” and the Daily Mail called the MPs’ condemnation “extremely over-the-top.” The piece also praises the headline of the tabloid Daily Mirror: “News Corpse.”

Vote Notes – As the French presidential run-off draws closer, Al Jazeera looks back at the first round of the elections, suggesting that the 80% voter turnout implies “the French really wanted to send a message through the ballots and still believe in the power of democracy.” Although it argues that incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy’s “personal behavior and demeanor” is one reason why he finished second, it concedes that “it is not easy being an incumbent in the current times of economic crisis in Europe.”

Back to Banks – As Spain’s economic crisis becomes more pressing, El País argues the government must consider injecting some public money into the restructuring of the country’s banks, criticizing its financial reforms so far as “ineffective and frustrating.” It calls for the government to “do what has to be done, and the sooner the better.”