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The U.S. ambassador in China gets cornered; Uruguay pushes ahead with legalizing pot

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Lee Jung-Hoon/Yonhap/Reuters

Ahn Cheol-soo answers reporters' questions after paying respects at the national cemetery in Seoul September 20, 2012.

South Korea Election – South Korean millionaire Ahn Cheol-soo, who founded the country’s largest antivirus software, is campaigning as an independent candidate in the presidential election in December, reports Bloomberg. Ahn is running against the ruling party candidate Park Geun-hye and the main opposition’s Moon Jae-in to govern the Northeast Asian country for a single five-year term. Ahn, a physician turned software creator, “must confront questions about his lack of governing experience to win voters dissatisfied with growing income disparity and rising youth unemployment,” wrote Bloomberg. 

Uruguay’s Drug War — Uruguay’s ruling coalition, reports the Christian Science Monitor, has introduced a radical idea to stem drug-related violence: a state monopoly over the production and distribution of marijuana. The bill, proposed by the center-left Broad Front, would make the South American country the first national government to sell marijuana directly to the public. “The government says the measure is necessary to combat rising drug-related crime, decrease health risks for users, and counter ineffective U.S. policies on drugs,” but interest groups say the bill is totalitarian, wrote CSM.

Extraction IndustriesVOA News notes that Europe is trying to shed light on corruption in extraction industries in developing countries. A European Parliamentary committee has okayed proposed legislation that would require European companies to publish payments they make to governments in exchange for natural resources. Watchdog group Global Witness said many developing countries are victims of “the resource course” — even though they have abundant supplies of “oil, gas, timber or minerals, citizens in those countries often fail to see any benefits when those resources are extracted and sold,” wrote VOA.

U.S.-China Relations – Dozens of angry protesters surrounded the car of U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke in Beijing on Tuesday, CNN reports.  Some protesters threw objects at the vehicle before a security detail intervened. The United States “expressed concern to China about the unusual disturbance,” a move that follows ramped up security initiatives at U.S. embassies after the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya. This incident took place as anti-Japanese protests erupted throughout several Chinese cities over a territorial dispute and as U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the country to discuss cyber terrorism, according to the AP.

Iran Aids Syria – Iran has been shipping large quantities of weapons and military personnel across Iraqi airspace to Syria, Reuters reports.  A Western intelligence report suggests that Iran has been coming to the aid of President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria in order to quell an 18-month uprising against the government. U.S. Senator John Kerry has threatened to halt aid to Baghdad if they do not restrict Iran’s use of Iraq’s airspace; although Iraq claims it doesn’t allow the transport of any weapons through the country.

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