Must-Reads from Around the World, August 7, 2012

Today's required reading: a harrowing account from Syria, searching for the ghosts of the financial crisis and new details in the Bo Xilai scandal

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Citadel of Aleppo

Lone Survivor — The Associated Press provides a rare eyewitness account of a mass killing in Syria. Struggling to speak from a makeshift rebel-run field hospital set up just north of Aleppo, Mahmoud, 21, told the news agency how captives were gunned down Monday in an empty city lot. “That story jibes with activist claims of the increasingly brutal tactics regime forces are using to try to crush the rebellion that has spread to Aleppo, Syria’s largest city,” it wrote.

Haunted Houses — Half a decade since the outset of the global financial crisis, the Guardian searches for the architects of economic meltdown — the “elusive ghosts of the financial feast.” “At the height of a financialized age, it was the done thing to refer to these people as ‘Masters Of The Universe.’ Five years on … the suggestion of omnipotence sounds absurd,” it said. “Meanwhile a very awkward question sits in the public mind: will there ever be any convincing payback?”

Fall Girl — A senior prosecutor has reportedly told the South China Morning Post that Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai, confessed to the murder of a British businessman, as well as economic crimes, but has been charged only with homicide. “If Gu were not charged with economic crimes, Bo won’t face too huge a problem,” Beijing-based lawyer Pu Zhiqiang told the newspaper. “The high-ups want to see an uncomplicated and quick ending.”

Murder City — Al Jazeera English examines the dramatic fall in the number of killings in Juarez, once dubbed’s Mexico’s “murder city.” In the first six months of 2012, there were 42% fewer murders than during the same period a year earlier. In 2011, scenes of “headless bodies appearing in parking lots, shoot-outs with automatic weapons in shopping malls (as customers continued to push their grocery carts)” were not uncommon,  but “changing dynamics within the security services and the cartels” have markedly improved public safety.

Sudan Spring — “Sudan’s young opposition activists want to bring an Arab Spring to their country and end President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s rule,” Reuters reports. Protests have thus far been relatively small, drawing crowds of hundreds, and have been swiftly put down by the government. While mainstream opposition parties have sympathized with protesters, they have “been lukewarm at best in support.” Nevertheless, “a hard core of anti-Bashir activists are trying to spark a popular revolt.”