Must Reads from Around the World: Feb. 1, 2012

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An image taken from a video on YouTube shows protesters shouting slogans against Syrian President Bashar Assad and waving Syria's old, pre-Baathist flag, along with green Islamic banners, during a demonstration in Maaret al-Noman, Idlib province, near the border with Turkey, on Jan. 31, 2011

Found WantingForeign Policy has exclusive details from a leaked report on the failed Arab League monitoring mission in Syria – and it’s grim reading for the organization. “Regrettably, some observers thought that their visit to Syria was for pleasure,” wrote Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa Al-Dabi, the mission’s chief, who added that some participants were simply not qualified for the job.

Calling Out Canada – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges poses the question: “what happened to Canada?” Noting a enviable history of liberal tolerance, universal health care and environmental consideration, Hedges argues that under Prime Minister Stephen Harper – branded “a diminished version of George W. Bush” – the country’s record is decaying on numerous counts.

Thai Tragedy – The Nation newspaper in Thailand reports that the country’s army commander has apologized for the fatal shooting of five innocent villagers Sunday night in an insurgency-wracked southern province. The Bangkok Post notes conflicting accounts of the incident and calls for “a thorough investigation … with the participation of impartial organizations and the victims’ representatives.”

Border Crossing The Times of India reports India’s military is preparing for “limited conflict” with China. Issues surrounding the disputed shared boarder and China’s perceived aggression in the region are the driving factors, according to U.S. intelligence. India is also straightening its air force, recently entering the final stages of talks with French firm Dassault Aviation for 126 fighter jets.

Princely Ire – The assignment of Prince William to a six-week mission to the Falkland Islands has accelerated political rhetoric from both sides. Argentine officials released a statement stating that Prince WIlliam will arrive in the island nation wearing “the uniform of the conquerer,” The Guardian reports. British Prime Minster David Cameron and Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner continue trading barbs as the 30th anniversary of Argentine invasion of the islands approaches this April.

Changes in Burma – Sebastian Strangio paints a portrait of a city – and nation – in flux from Burma. The contrast of current capital Naypyidaw and former capital Rangoon, underscores the country’s evolution.