UNITED NATIONS: U.S. boycotting racism talks
The Obama administration said Wednesday it will boycott a world conference against racism at UN headquarters in September because of concerns about anti-Semitism. The UN summit marks the 10-year commemoration of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. The United States and Israel walked out of that meeting over a draft resolution that criticized Israel and equated Zionism with racism. The Durban process "included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism," Joseph E. Macmanus, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, wrote to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who welcomed the decision. "It is an insult to America that the United Nations has decided to hold the Durban III conference in New York just days from the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks," she said.
SYRIA: Child victims of crackdown
The images of children activists say were killed in a government crackdown on protests are circulating widely on YouTube and Al-Jazeera, Facebook and opposition websites. The government tried to blunt the anger with promises Wednesday to investigate the killing of Hamza al-Khatib, 13, whose mutilated body turned him into a symbol of the Syrian uprising. Protesters deride that and other government concessions, including an amnesty that freed political prisoners Wednesday, as nothing more than a ploy to buy time for President Bashar Assad. They say at least 25 children are among more than 1,000 dead. Military operations in southern and central Syria killed at least 33 people Tuesday and Wednesday.
BAHRAIN: Emergency rule lifted
Tanks and soldiers left the heart of the capital, Manama, as emergency rule was lifted Wednesday, but authorities warned they were not easing pressure on anti-government groups. At least 30 people have been killed since the protests for greater freedoms began in February in the Western-allied nation, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.