World Wrap

Syria death toll climbs to 93,000

UN raises death toll in Syria, Iran’s hardline candidates split the vote, and China stays out of Snowden controversy. Today is Thursday, June 13, a sad milestone in Syria’s civil war. Here is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Syrian refugees wait for treatment at a Doctors of the World medical center at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, June 11, 2013.

Syria death toll hits record high. The United Nations human rights office said at least 93,000 people were killed through April in Syria’s civil war – an increase from the 80,000 figure it released in mid-May – adding that the true number of deaths could be even higher:

The U.N. report said almost 38,000 reported killings had been excluded because records – which require the victim’s full name and date and location of death – were incomplete. “The true number of those killed is potentially much higher,” [U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi] Pillay said. The death toll has averaged more than 5,000 a month since July, and Pillay said this reflected the “drastically deteriorating pattern of the conflict over the past year.” The Damascus region, Homs and Aleppo have been hardest hit. The U.N. figures, based on data from the Syrian government and seven human rights monitoring groups, include civilians and combatants, but give no breakdown. They show that at least 6,561 children were among the dead.

Pro-Assad forces have focused their attention on Syria’s second-largest city, Aleppo, following a victory over rebel forces in Qusair last week. Pillay warns that a battle in Aleppo could lead to more bloodshed and that another win for Assad could decrease the efficacy of any peace talks between opposition and government leaders. An EU arms embargo on Syria was lifted in May, prompting European countries to consider arming the rebels and pressuring the U.S. to decide how to move forward.

Iran, the United States and ‘the cup of poison’

Iranian foreign minister urges “broad discussions” with U.S, a former NSA officer gives Snowden sage advice, and Greece shutters its state media to slash spending. Today is Wednesday, June 12, 49 years after Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for his anti-apartheid efforts. This is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei departs after casting his ballot in the parliamentary election in Tehran, March 2, 2012. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

It’s complicated. Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi wrote five months ago in a previously undisclosed letter to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that Iran should enter into “broad discussions with the United States,” casting light on the surprisingly complex relationship between the two nations:

Shades of gray among Iran’s presidential candidates

Few foreign leaders are as provocative as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Known for railing against the West in U.N. speeches, Ahmadinejad is an internationally recognizable mainstay of Iranian politics. Now his term is coming to a close, and on Friday Iran will choose a new president to lead a country in the throes of nuclear negotiations and hard-hit by sanctions.

The field of candidates has been stripped of any serious reformists who would pose a threat to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who claims his power directly from divine authority. In May, Iran’s conservative Guardian Council vetted a pool of over 600 applicants to produce eight candidates, all of whom are basically acceptable to the supreme leader.

I've got the power.

With no reformists vying for the presidency, it’s tempting to write off the elections as little more than a dog and pony show. However, the various flavors of conservatives in the race could mean different outcomes for Iran’s foreign policy, including negotiations over its nuclear program.

Turkish police clash with protesters in central square

Turkish riots threaten the market, Britain ramps up security ahead of G8 meeting, and Syria’s war enters a new phase. Today is Tuesday, June 11, the 504th  anniversary of the not-so-happy marriage of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Here’s the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Supporters of Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan wave flags in Ankara, June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas. Check out more photos of the clashes in Turkey here.

Battle for Taksim Square. Turkish riot police tried to regain control of Taksim Square, the symbolic center of days of anti-government demonstrations, removing barricades and attempting to forcibly remove hundreds of protesters who were ignoring Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s requests that they exit the square:

NSA whistleblower picks poor hideout

The NSA leaker may not escape U.S. reach, Turkish prime minister plays Islamist card, and Iran’s supreme leader hopes for voter turnout in an election he watered down. Today is Monday, June 10, 261 years after Benjamin Franklin flew his kite in a thunderstorm. Here’s the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defense contractor, is seen in this still image taken from a video during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Courtesy of The Guardian/Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/Handout

Snowden bets on Hong Kong. Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee who revealed classified information to the Guardian and the Washington Post on NSA surveillance last week, may have made a bad call in fleeing to Hong Kong to avoid prosecution:

Hacking allegations on the docket as Obama meets Chinese president

Talks between Obama and Xi could get testy, North Korea’s ready to make nice, and Putin’s strange marriage ends strangely. We hope you enjoy a deep-fried treat on this National Donut Day, Friday, June 7. Here’s the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

President Barack Obama (R) meets with China’s Vice President Xi Jinping in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, February 14, 2012.  REUTERS/Jason Reed.

Hello, pot? Kettle on line 1.  President Barack Obama is expected to address hacking allegations when speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California, though his indignation will likely be undercut by recent reports of the U.S. government’s collection of telephone records as part of counter-terrorism efforts:

from David Rohde:

Iran’s election will not be tweeted

Co-authored by Clare Richardson.

As Iran’s tightly-controlled June 14th presidential election approaches, observers worldwide are scouring the Web for tweets, photos and videos that offer hints of events inside the country. Yet to the dismay of overseas opposition groups, the Iranian government has mounted a sophisticated -- and so far largely successful -- effort to choke off Internet access inside the country.

“More than a month ago, we saw how the speed of the Internet shut down,” said Trita Parsi, president of the Washington-based National Iranian American Council. “They started to make it much more difficult for people to Skype with the outside world.”

A computer engineer checks equipment at an internet service provider in Tehran, February 15, 2011. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Young Tibetan mothers among those who set themselves on fire

A young Tibetan mother’s self immolation is investigated, the ultra-Orthodox clash with secular Jews in Israel, and Erdogan takes a slightly softer attitude towards protesters. Today is Thursday, June 6, commemorated by many as D-Day. This is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

A Tibetan woman walks around a stone carving inscribed with Tibetan words as she prays in Barma township, where Kalkyi had lived and set herself on fire in protest against Chinese rule, May 16, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Devout mother’s self-immolation surprises family. The March suicide of a young mother in Tibet highlights a trend of lay people setting themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule over their country.

Protesters clash with police in protests against Turkish PM

Riots rage despite Turkish deputy prime minister’s apology, Syrian rebels lose strategic town, and U.S. soldier pleads guilty in Afghanistan killing spree. Today is Wednesday, June 5, and we’re wishing the Marshall Plan a happy 66th anniversary. Here’s the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Anti-government protesters kiss inside a damaged public bus, used as a barricade at Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Turkey troubles. Turkish trade unions joined the anti-government riots sweeping Turkey, fanning the flames of protests that started as a demonstration against a construction project and evolved into a call for Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to step down:

Turkish deputy PM apologizes for police force

Turkish deputy PM calls police violence ‘wrong and unfair,’ U.N. believes chemical weapons were used in Syria, and North Korean envoy ignores China’s suggestions. Today is Tuesday, June 4, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

A combination photo shows a Turkish riot policeman using tear gas against a woman in a red dress, who has become a symbol of female protesters during days of violent anti-government demonstrations, in Taksim Square in central Istanbul, May 28, 2013.

With Erdogan away, Turkish government changes its tone. As Turkeys’ most violent riots in decades continue to rage, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc takes a softer tone towards the protesters than the prime minister, apologizing for the harsh police crackdown on what started as a nonviolent demonstration:

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