Must-Reads from Around the World, May 22, 2012

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Benjamin Hiller/Corbis

German Chancellor Merkel welcomes French President Hollande in Berlin, Germany

Summit Struggle – Ahead of Wednesday’s crunch E.U. summit, Der Spiegel reports that new French President François Hollande will pressure German Chancellor Angela Merkel to agree to euro bonds, which she has so far strictly opposed. “Italy and Britain are expected to back Hollande in a further sign that Merkel is increasingly isolated in Europe with her austerity plan for saving the euro,” the German news magazine predicts.

Syrian Conflict – The Guardian has a special report from Jebel al-Zawiya, Syria, where sectarian divisions continue to result in deadly daily violence. “During 16 months of revolt, this vast tract of high ground has become one of four main nationwide hubs of the Syrian uprising. In the view of the regime in Damascus, it is a hotbed of Islamic militancy – a center of a foreign-backed insurgency that wants to oust Assad and weaken its key patron, Iran,” it says.

Table Talk – Reuters reports from Macau, where global gaming executives are gathering for an annual casino convention amid signs that gambling growth in the Chinese enclave may finally be slowing after several years of extraordinary rises. “As China’s economic expansion slows and high rollers from the mainland become more cautious, growth in Macau’s gambling revenue could ease to around 11 percent year-on-year in May, analysts say,” the agency writes.

War On Women – As President Obama announces his plan to remove combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, the Chicago Tribune warns that when the U.S. and NATO forces leave the country, the “whims of the bloodthirsty Taliban” will be released upon the female population, resulting in a “scourge against women.” The piece is skeptical about Obama’s ability to “talk” the Taliban out of their repressive tendencies.

Russian Boycott – In the aftermath of the G8 summit, the Moscow Times argues that Russia’s right to sit at the G8 negotiating table “delivers nothing” for President Vladimir Putin, who made his excuses and did not attend the summit. It suggests that “haggling” and the “few problems” that were actually solved at the summit has led Putin “to belittle” Western leaders, rather than attempting to influence them.

Facebook Wedding – Although Facebook saw its shares tumble on its second day of trading on the stock market, the British publication Business Report explains that Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to marry his girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, the day after the company’s IPO was a “smart business move” as the couple is likely to have agreed exactly how to split assets in the event of a divorce.