Must-Reads from Around the World, August 6, 2012

Today's picks: resistance to Islamism in Mali, the illegal organs trade and more recriminations between China and the U.S. over the South China Sea.

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Malian Militias — The New York Times reports from Mopti in Mali where hundreds of poorly armed civilians are training to wage war. “[They] have something the regular Malian Army here appears to lack: a fierce will to undo the jihadist conquest of northern Mali that has alarmed governments across the world, spurred threats of a regional intervention force and imposed a repressive regimen of public beatings, whippings and even stonings on the local people,” it said.

Organ Mafias — Germany’s Der Spiegel reports on a months-long investigation into the “thriving” illegal organs trade, shining light on this murky world through the story of a poor Russian immigrant in Israel and a well-off German businessman. “It’s a business, says [Canadian] Special Prosecutor [Jonathan] Ratel, in which ‘obscene profits’ can be made,” it wrote. “And, as Europol warns, it’s also a ‘rapidly growing’ commerce involving criminal gangs.”

Stormy Waters — Reuters reports on the escalating war of words between China and the United States over contested sovereignty in the South China Sea. This follows a flurry of angry Chinese state media denunciations of America after a U.S. State Department statement said Washington was closely monitoring the region’s territorial disputes, and that China’s establishment of a military garrison for the area risks “further escalating tensions in the region.”

History Destroyed — The Independent examines how Syria’s “extraordinarily rich historical heritage is falling victim to the looting of war.”  Although “the monuments and museums of the two great cities of Damascus and Aleppo have so far largely been spared, reports from across Syria tell of irreparable damage to heritage sites that have no equal in the Middle East.” The destruction has drawn similarities to the looting of  heritage sites across Iraq in wake of the 2003 Iraq War.

Riots Revisited — Exactly one year later, the BBC reveals that looters and rioters in the 2011 England Riots have been given prison sentences totalling over 1,800 years. The riots began in Tottenham, north London in reaction to police shooting dead a local man, and they rapidly spread across England. Returning to Tottenham, the BBC also finds that “although re-development work is under way, local traders say they have struggled to get compensation for the damage done to their businesses during the riots.”