Must-Reads from Around the World

American ideals versus interests in Ethiopia, Apple and Foxconn told to do more on labor conditions in Chinese factories and François Hollande faces criticism over treatment of the Roma

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Les Nauheus / AP

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at his offices in the capital, Addis Ababa, Jan. 10, 2007.

Realpolitik — The New York Times explores the battle between U.S. interests and ideals following the death of Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi. “He extracted prized intelligence, serious diplomatic support and millions of dollars in aid from the United States in exchange for his cooperation against militants in the volatile Horn of Africa, an area of prime concern for Washington,” it wrote. “But he was notoriously repressive …”

Labored Response — Reuters reports that an auditors’ probe has concluded Apple and production partner Foxconn have improved working conditions at Chinese factories making iPads and iPhones, but the toughest tasks still remain. “The Fair Labor Association said on Tuesday local labor laws require the companies … to reduce hours by almost a third by 2013 for the hundreds of thousands working in Foxconn plants across Southern China,” the news agency said.

Roma Back on Agenda — The Guardian says France’s new Socialist government is to hold emergency talks on the plight of the country’s Roma after a wave of evictions of makeshift camps prompted accusations that President François Hollande was following Nicolas Sarkozy’s lead in persecuting the ethnic minority. “Human rights groups expressed outrage at a recent dawn raids and forced evacuations of caravan sites and squats across France,” it reported.

Sectarian Conflict — As fighting over Syria spills further into Lebanon, the BBC examines how ethnic and religious minorities within Syria are being drawn into the increasingly sectarian conflict. The Christian and Druze communities, who form 10% and 4-5% of Syria’s population respectively, had thus far avoided taking sides, but have come under pressure to join the government’s “Popular Committees” which are “tasked with protecting neighbourhoods from attack.” But to many, they are seen as “just groups of pro-government thugs.”

Forgotten War — The Associated Press considers how the Afghan conflict, once dubbed a “war of necessity,” is becoming “America’s forgotten war.” It has been scarcely mentioned in the U.S. presidential campaign trail or in congress, “even though more than 80,000 American troops are still fighting here and dying at a rate of one a day.” Americans now “show more interest in the economy and taxes than the latest suicide bombings in a different, distant land.”

Women in the Military — The Sydney Morning Herald writes that Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said she is “not confident” women serving in the Australian Defence Force “can and will flourish” in their military careers. Her findings form the second part of a review into the Australian Defence Force’s treatment of women, released Wednesday. The first part, which came out in November 2011, found that 75% of female students at the Australian Defence Force Academy were victims of sexual harassment or gender discrimination.