Must-Reads from Around the World

In today's offerings: the U.S. and China's increasing military competition, Ai Weiwei's protege and Palestinian politics intersect with regional realities.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at-Borg al-Arab Airport on July 15, 2012 in Alexandria. Clinton is visiting Egypt to meet with the nation's newly elected president and other government and civil leaders to speak about the relationship between the United States and the new democracy.

Pivot Politics — As Reuters reports U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will take the Obama Administration’s pivot to Asia to the South Pacific this week, it also analyses expected delays to China’s first aircraft carrier. But as an op-ed last week in state-run Global Times made clear, Beijing’s intent is undoubted: “If a big power wants to become a strong power, it has to develop aircraft carriers,” wrote Li Jie, a senior researcher at the Chinese Naval Research Institute.

Politely Declined –– Israel’s Haaretz newspaper (registration required) explores why Hamas canceled its participation in Iran’s Non-Aligned Movement summit, reportedly after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had refused to attend if Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh took up his invitation. “Palestinian unity was a factor,” it wrote. “But the bloodshed in Syria is really straining the relations between Gaza and Iran.”

Art Attack — Germany’s Der Spiegel profiles Chinese artist Zhao Zhao — who it labels a protege of Ai Weiwei.”There’s plenty that suggests Zhao will one day become just as famous as his mentor,” the magazine said. “But the Chinese government doesn’t want another Ai, another globally admired rebel artist. It would rather the young artist Zhao simply fade into oblivion. Zhao isn’t afraid of those in power, but those in power seem to be afraid of Zhao.”

Assad Optimistic — Al Jazeera English reports on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s defiant interview with the pro-government Addounia channel. Assad said: “I can summarise in one phrase: we are progressing, the situation on the ground is better but we have not yet won. This will take more time.” Assad also dismissed talk of buffer zones as “an unrealistic idea by hostile countries and the enemies of Syria,” and stated it is “not on the table.” Thus far, only short excerpts of of the interview have been released, but it will be aired in full Wednesday night.

Death Penalty Upheld — The BBC states that India’s Supreme Court has “upheld the death sentence of Pakistani national Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, the sole surviving gunman of the 2008 attacks on Mumbai.” Although rarely used in India, Supreme Court Justices Aftab Alam and CK Prasad ruled, “In view of the nature of the gravity of his crime and the fact that he participated in waging war against the country, we have no option but to uphold his death penalty.” 166 people were killed in the November 2008 attacks.

Rausing Revelation — The Guardian writes that Eva Rausing, the deceased wife of Tetra Pak heir Hans Kristian Rausing, “had passed on information about the unsolved 1986 murder of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme, Swedish prosecutors have revealed.” Kerstin Skarp, Sweden’s deputy prosecutor general, confirmed that Rausing “contacted the Palme investigators” and that they’ve since received information from British authorities, but he said he could not disclose any further information regarding the status of the investigation.