Must-Reads from Around the World, August 1, 2012

Today's picks include a regional dispute and the whaling industry.

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Adnan Abidi / Reuters

Passengers sit on a platform for their train to arrive as they wait for electricity to be restored at a railway station in New Delhi on July 31, 2012.

Economic Blackout – The Washington Post examines India’s two days of blackout, which has “reinforced concerns that industry leaders had been raising for years — that the nation’s horribly inefficient power sector could undermine its long-term economic ambitions.” 600 million people across northern and eastern India were left without power after the overstrained electrical grid collapsed. Affecting 10% of the world’s population, it was the largest blackout in history. Power has since been restored.

Suffering in Sahel – The Guardian responds to a just-released report detailing how administrative and bureaucratic failings have marred the humanitarian efforts in Sahel — a biogeographical region stretching from parts of Senegal in the west to Eritrea in the east. The area is stuck in a state of “permanent food crisis” and an estimated 645,000 children die of mostly preventable and treatable causes on a good year. “There are many international institutions that have nutrition and hunger as part of their mandate, but there is no clear leader or co-ordination,” the report said.

Japanese Revenge? – Militant environmentalist Paul Watson — the head of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd — told the AFP that he believes the Japanese government is seeking revenge, not justice, on him. “We have confronted the Japanese whalers for eight seasons and we have humiliated them at sea and more importantly we have frustrated their illegal profiteering from the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” he said. “This is not about justice; it is about revenge.”

Whose Side Are You On? – After the Cambodian ambassador to the Philippines wrote a letter to the Philippine Star accusing his host country and Vietnam of playing “dirty politics” with Beijing in the South China Sea, he was immediately summoned to explain his comments. The ambassador, Hos Sereythonh, did not show up on Tuesday, however, claiming that he was sick. The government in Manila will continue to request his presence, a spokesperson told the BBC, as his assertion that the Philippines and Vietnam attempted to “sabotage and hijack the joint communique” during last month’s Asean meeting could mean serious discord in the region.

Burma’s Persecuted Muslims — A report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch has slammed Burmese security forces for having “killed, raped or carried out mass arrests of Rohingya Muslims after deadly sectarian riots in the northeast in June,” Al Jazeera English writes. Burmese authorities were also criticized for not doing enough to prevent the initial unrest. There are at least 800,000 Rohingya Muslims in Burma, but they are not officially recognized as one of its ethnic groups.

Taliban Peace Signals –  While the Taliban has been “sending signals that they are ready to sit down” with the U.S, America appears “unwilling to act, particularly as the presidential election nears.” The BBC analyzes “what this means for Afghanistan’s future.” Any possibility for talks will be after November, as neither President Obama nor his Republican rival Mitt Romney want to be seen as conciliatory towards the Taliban. Representatives from the U.S. and Taliban have reportedly taken part in at least seven secret talks in Germany and Qatar, but they stalled back in January.

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