France angered by massive U.S. spying claims

October 21, 2013

Le Monde reveals new U.S. spying allegations from Snowden documents, Smog paralyzes Chinese city, and female Pakistani police officers face challenges. Today is Monday, October 21, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

People use masks with pictures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden during Glenn Greenwald’s testimony before a Brazilian Congressional committee on NSA’s surveillance programs in Brasilia, August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Latest Snowden documents roil France. France summoned the U.S. ambassador to speak to allegations by Le Monde that the NSA recorded 70.3 million French phone calls from December 2012 to January 2013, a move French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said would be “totally unacceptable.” Le Monde reports on the latest revelations by wanted NSA leaker Edward Snowden:

Le Monde has been able to obtain access to documents which describe the techniques used to violate the secrets or simply the private life of French people. Some elements of information about this espionage have been referred to by Der Speigel and The Guardian, but others are, to date, unpublished… The documents which Le Monde has been able to see have not enabled the provision of further details on these methods. But they give sufficient explanation to lead us to think that the NSA targets concerned both people suspected of association with terrorist activities as well as people targeted simply because they belong to the worlds of business, politics or French state administration.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story on the NSA’s massive surveillance program Prism, is one of the report’s authors. The accusation comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Paris to discuss the situation in Syria. On Sunday, Mexico criticized the U.S. over a Der Spiegel report saying the NSA hacked into Felipe Calderon’s email account when he was serving as Mexico’s president. France and Mexico join Brazil in anger at the U.S. over its alleged spying program. In September, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff indefinitely postponed a trip to the U.S. over similar spying allegations. French prosecutors began inquiries into Prism in July. Read Le Monde’s full story in English here.

People ride along a street on a smoggy day in Daqing, Heilongjiang province, October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer. Click here for more images of smog in China

Smog day. One of Northeastern China’s largest cities partially closed due to dangerous levels of smog, suspending classes and shuttering its airport in the season’s first pollution crisis. The country’s pollution problem is a contentious subject:

Air quality in Chinese cities is of increasing concern to China’s stability-obsessed leadership because it plays into popular resentment over political privilege and rising inequality in the world’s second-largest economy. Domestic media have run stories describing the expensive air purifiers government officials enjoy in their homes and offices, alongside reports of special organic farms so cadres need not risk suffering from recurring food safety scandals. The government has announced plans over the years to tackle the pollution problem but has made little apparent progress. Users of China’s popular Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging site reacted with both anger and bitter sarcasm over Harbin’s air pollution.

Earlier this month, China offered six regions rewards for fighting pollution. See more images of  hazy Chinese cities here.

Pakistani Police Inspector Shazadi Gillani is pictured during an interview with Reuters at a police station in Abbottabad, September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Female force. Female Pakistani police officers Shazadi Gillani and Rizwana Zafar had to fight their way into the force. Gillani paid for her own training and Zafar, raised as a boy, wears a fake moustache to escort Gillani in public.Today, conditions have slightly improved for Pakistani women seeking work as police officers:

Women make up just 560 of the province’s 60,000-strong force. Police chiefs hope to double that within a year, but tough working conditions make recruitment hard. There have been small victories. Germany funded female dormitories at three training colleges. Women recruits no longer wait years for basic training. This summer, the province opened women’s complaint desks in 60 male-run police stations. Many Pakistani women face horrifying violence and officials hope more abused women will report attacks. Tradition forbids them from speaking to male officers. The province opened two women-only police stations in 1994. But they have long been starved of resources and responsibility. “We are fighting a war in the workplace,” said Zafar, whose uniform sports a karate patch. “We are supporting our juniors. There was no one to support us.”

The women’s police desk receives mostly complaints of domestic violence.

Nota Bene: Residents of a Syrian town besieged by Assad’s forces write an open letter begging readers to “save us from death.”


Coffee knockoff – Starbucks files suit against a Thai coffee stall called Starbung. (The Guardian)

Beijing dreams – North Korean propaganda artists draw a city they’ve never seen. (Quartz)

Agrochemical fears – Argentines worry that poorly regulated pesticides cause disease. (Associated Press)

Anti-hate aria – Hungarian opera fights anti-Semitism. (New York Times)

Loud and clear – Huge purple finger sends Czech president a strong signal. (BBC)

From the File:

  • Italy’s Berlusconi struggles to keep party together after revolt.
  • U.N. criticizes Saudi Arabia over human rights record.
  • Student protesters challenge army in Egypt.
  • Australian wildfires put heat on climate change skeptic PM Abbott.
  • Syrian insurgents say top rebel commander killed.

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