Must Reads from Around the World: Feb. 6, 2012

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Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs October 27, 2011. The banner reads "The town of Duma is the mother of martyrs". (Photo: Reuters)

Syrian Divide – The Economist blogs on U.N. division following Friday’s security council vetoes over Syria. Its take: “…Moscow is looking increasingly isolated.” Foreign Policy‘s Marc Lynch laments the organization’s failure of Syrians and itself “by revealing its inability to act in defense of the Charter’s promise.” Meanwhile Dmitri Trenin, writing in Foreign Affairs, looks at “why Moscow wants to halt the Arab spring.” Overnight, artillery fire hit the restive Syrian city of Homs, in what anti-government activists labelled one of the fiercest assaults yet.

Tarnished Gold – The Guardian reports on a U.N. probe linking an Obama-appointed U.S. trade adviser to an illegal deal in Congolese gold. The report by the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) alleges that Kase Lawal, a Nigerian-born U.S. oil tycoon, knowingly transferred millions of dollars to the notorious rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda between December 2010 and February 2011.

Content Wars – The Times of India writes about the latest chapter in the battle between the country’s courts and various websites over the thorny issue of content. On December 24 a Delhi court set February 6 as a deadline by which Facebook, Google and a host of other tech companies must remove “objectionable content” amid a row over internet censorship and user-generated content.

Growing Opposition  – Protesters in Moscow braved the bitter cold over the weekend to show their opposition to Valdimir Putin, Foreign Policy reports. This latest round of protests looked markedly different than the previous: The crowd of 100,000 was much more diverse and there may be signs of political organizing within the group in advance of the March 4 elections.

Possible Presidenta -The New York Times  covers the announcement  of Mexico’s first female candidate for president from a major party. The conservative National Action Party selected Josefina Vázquez Mota as their nominee Sunday night. “I am going to be the first woman president in history,’’ Mota told the crowd. The July 1 election will be closely watched by U.S. policy makers.

A Tale of Two Social Networks – Following Facebook’s $5 billion IPO, independent Chinese newspaper the Economic Observer compares the social media giant to the Chinese social network Tencent.  Both boast impressive statistics, but Mark Zukerburg’s Hacker Way would never survive China’s “pirate culture.” The paper concludes, “Chinese Internet firmament would have swallowed up a company like Facebook; only a giant like Tencent could emerge.”