Top News: President Obama was met with a skeptical crowd of world leaders as he made the case for military strikes in Syria at the meeting of the G20 yesterday in St. Petersburg, Russia. China and Russia issued sharp rebukes, with Russian President Vladimir Putin going so far to say that Secretary of State John Kerry deliberately misled members of Congress in his testimony this week. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need for any intervention to have the approval of the U.N. Security Council, though U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told reporters yesterday that the United States will not press for such a resolution given Russia and China's obstinacy. Members of the European Union questioned the likely effectiveness of planned strikes, and the Catholic Church called for the international community to use peaceful means to resolve the Syrian civil war.
In other discussions at the G20 summit, Russia warned that the international community must guard against a potential relapse into an economic crisis as the United States begins selling foreign currency reserves. The United States, Russia, and China signaled that they would be less receptive to future proposals for bailouts for faltering countries and called on developing nations to restructure their economies before its too late. The BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa -- announced a plan for a $100 billion currency reserve to be tapped in the event of a balance of payments crisis.
Syria: President Obama instructed planners at the Pentagon to expand its list of potential targets based on new intelligence of Syrian troop movements. On Capitol Hill, where debates continue as to whether Congress should authorize the use of military force against Syria, some lawmakers are casting doubts on Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's testimony that strike would cost only "tens of millions of dollars."
- Brazil is accelerating a new information security regime for government communications in light of recent revelations that it was a target of NSA spying.
- Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden demonstrate that the NSA can break powerful encryption technology, prompting new concerns from digital privacy experts..
- Jose Trevino Morales, brother of two leaders of Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, was convicted by a U.S. court to 20 years in prison for money laundering in a horse racing scheme.
- The South Korean parliament voted to allow riot police to arrest extreme left-wing politician Lee Seok-Ki on charges of sedition.
- Sushmita Banerjee, whose memoir of her marriage and escape from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was an Indian bestseller, was assassinated by Taliban gunmen in Paktika Province.
- South Korea has banned the import of fish from eight Japanese prefectures in response to concerns about leaking radiation from the damaged Fukushima plant.
- The United States government has intercepted an Iranian order to attack U.S. interests in Iraq in the event of a U.S. strike in Syria, the Wall Street Journal reports.
- The Syrian government has deployed reinforcements to the predominantly Christian town of Maaloula, north of Damascus, which was attacked by Islamic extremist rebels this week.
- A spokesman for the Egyptian government denied that a decision to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood has been reached.
- Kenyan lawmakers have passed a preliminary motion to withdraw from the International Criminal Court in response to ICC charges against Kenya's president and deputy president; passage of a bill formalizing the withdrawal is forthcoming.
- Oil company Shell has announced it will negotiate compensation for 15,000 Nigerians who were affected by oil spills from Shell-operated pipelines in 2008.
- The leaders of several Central African nations have called for the resumption of peace talks between the Congolese government and the M23 rebels in the next three days.
- A new bill proposed in the Russian Duma would allow the government to take custody of the children of gay parents.
- German police raided the enclave of a Christian religious sect on grounds of suspected child abuse, taking custody of 40 children.
- The European Union threatened to bring legal action against Croatia if it does not alter extradition laws protecting figures from the country's 1990s war for independence.
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