Must-Reads from Around the World

In today's choices: the conflict in Syria seeps over its borders, the Latin economies still enjoying the good times and tests of sovereignty in the South China Sea.

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Syrian rebels rush a wounded man into a hospital in Al-Shaar neighbourhood in the northern city of Aleppo, Aug. 3, 2012.

Spillover Effect — The New York Times reports on the “frightening” spillover of the conflict in Syria to neighboring Lebanon following the abduction Wednesday of more than 30 Syrians inside Lebanese territory in apparent revenge for the kidnapping of a relative inside Syria. It wrote: “Extended families with differing allegiances straddle both countries, and the use of hostages signaled the rise of abduction as a tactic by antagonists in the conflict.”

Latin Quarter — A trio of the Guardian‘s south American correspondents explore the continent’s economies that continue to boom amid the global gloom. The focus follows Brazil’s announcement of a $66 billion stimulus plan, which comes in addition to the money it will spend in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics in 2016. “Growth, spending, enviably low public debt – it’s a far cry from the crisis-hit old world,” the newspaper said.

Temperatures Rise — China’s state-run Global Times wades into the increasing furor over the detention by Japan of Chinese activists who landed Wednesday on contested South China Sea islands. “China should by no means accept Japan’s legal step,” it wrote. “No other compromise should be made by the Chinese side either.” The Japan Times said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters: “We will handle this squarely in line with the law.”

Rare Criticism — The Associated Press examines Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence towards the plight of the Rohingya, Burma’s Muslim minority, which has prompted “rare criticism of the woman whose struggle for democracy and human rights” has “earned her a Nobel Peace Prize, and adoration worldwide.” Analysts argue that her stance signals a new phase in Suu Kyi’s political career: “The former political prisoner is now a more calculating politician who is choosing her causes carefully.”

Democracy Imperilled? — The BBC considers how “ethnic and sectarian divisions are limiting the Arab spring.” As has been most clearly demonstrated in Iraq and Lebanon, and more recently in the electorial success of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Tunisia’s Salafists, “the overwhelming desire thus far in democracies in Arab countries has been for representation, first and foremost, on a sectarian or ethnic basis.” Such a trend, by definition, reduces freedom of choice, “a pillar of independent, democratic life.”