Internal Shift – Der Spiegel takes stock of last week’s gathering of E.U. leaders. Its assessment: “Chancellor Merkel suffered a bruising defeat at last week’s Brussels summit after the leaders of Italy, Spain and France ganged up on her,” it wrote. “Europe’s power relations have shifted as a result. It looks like Germany will no longer be calling the shots in the E.U.”
Dire Straits – The New York Times reports Iranian defiance in the face of intensified Western sanctions aimed at stifling its oil exports, with the country “announcing legislation intended to disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital Persian Gulf shipping lane, and testing missiles in a desert drill clearly intended as a warning to Israel and the United States.”
Bird Flu – With all eyes on the election of the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto, Al Jazeera English reports the Mexican government has declared a national animal health emergency “in the face of an aggressive bird flu epidemic that has infected nearly 1.7 million poultry.” It added: “The agriculture ministry said… the ‘economic loss’ from this epidemic ‘is and will be irreparable.”
Damning Damascus – A new report presents strong evidence that “Syrian intelligence agencies systematically use torture and ill treatment that constitutes a crime against humanity,” the Guardian writes. The 81-page report, compiled by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, stems from over 200 interviews carried out since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011.
Resetting the Agenda – Reuters analyzes the “biggest task yet” for the Burmese parliament, which reconvenes this week: “Debating an ambitious set of laws to reshape an economy that wilted during half a century of military rule.” Despite being “written off as a sham” when it first opened in January 2011, Reuters speculates that “the new session will be a test of their reformist mettle.” It coincides with reports that President Thein Sein has granted amnesty to 46 prisoners.
Maritime Ties – Australia and Indonesia have “pledged increased co-operation on people smuggling,” the BBC reports, after the sinking of two asylum-seeker boats between the two countries in June. The assurance comes during a two-day meeting in Darwin between Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on trade and regional security.