Associated Press - Symbolism weighs heavy at Iran nuclear talks venue - The venue for talks on Iran's nuclear program between world powers and Tehran carries a symbolism that Western negotiators will hope serves as a positive omen.
Information Clearing House - Israel Instructs Obama: “Iranian And Syrian Sanctions Are Not Painful Enough!” - Israel also demands that the countries meeting in Kazakhstan “make it perfectly clear that slogans such as ‘negotiations can’t go on forever’ are their marching orders to the White House, and they want the Kazakhstan attendees to act “so severely that the Iranians realize that they face a greater threat than just Israeli military action.” “The message must be that this time the entire west, behind Israel’s leadership, is contemplating the launch of a massive military action.” Unsaid is that “the entire West” is expected to confront Iran militarily while Tel Aviv’s forces will mop up Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Syria if necessary.
Reuters - Cuban leader Raul Castro announces he will retire in 2018 - Cuban President Raul Castro announced on Sunday he will step down from power after his second term ends in 2018, and the new parliament named a 52-year-old rising star to become his first vice president and most visible successor.
The Diplomat - 6 Ways to Prevent a Conflict Between Tokyo and Beijing - The ongoing crisis over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands may be bringing Asia to the cusp of war. Trefor Moss recently wrote that a Japan-China war over these disputed islands is very unlikely. That could be right. Or it could be wrong. But even a very small chance of a Sino-Japanese war breaking out in 2013 is enough reason to work to try to prevent it.
The Atlantic - Will We Learn Anything from Afghanistan? - William R. Polk's first appearance as an Atlantic author came 55 years ago. While Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, while Americans were absorbing the impact of the launch of Sputnik, while the showdown over integrating Little Rock Central High School continued, he wrote an article for us in 1958 called [yes] "The Lessons of Iraq." You can read it here and note how much of the analysis still applies.
The Washington Post - For China’s Catholics, new pope brings hope - China presents a challenge for new pope: The two powers have battled for years for control over Catholics in China but the situation has worsened in the past several years.
RIA Novosti - Depardieu Selects Cheese for Cafe in Russia’s Mordovia - French film star Gerard Depardieu, who was recently granted Russian citizenship, has selected cheese for a small restaurant he plans to open in Mordovia
Xinhuanet - China to raise gasoline, diesel prices - China will raise the retail prices of gasoline by 300 yuan (47.8 U.S. dollars) per tonne and diesel by 290 yuan per tonne starting from Monday, the country's top economic planner said Sunday.
Bloomberg - Christoph Waltz, Anne Hathaway Win Best Supporting Oscars - Hathaway won for her portrayal of the ill-fated Fantine in the musical “Les Miserables,” and Waltz played the clever- tongued German bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s drama “Django Unchained.”
Russia Today - Grammar Nazi style: Russian MPs aim to ban foreign words - The legislators suggest Russians use – sometimes archaic – substitutions or face a penalty. Ordinary linguistic offenders would have to pay up to an $80 fine, while organizations would have to fork out as much as $1,650. The latter are even threatened with “confiscation of the object of the administrative violation,” whatever that means.
The Guardian - Pope considering response to alleged 'inappropriate acts' by UK cardinal - The Vatican has confirmed Pope Benedict is considering a response to allegations of 'inappropriate acts' by the UK's most senior Roman Catholic, Cardinal Keith O'Brien
The Daily Mail - Is marriage now just a middle-class institution? Today less than half of working class people wed but rates rise among high income earners - Marriage is in sharp decline among the working classes but on the rise among high income earners, new analysis has revealed.
Turkish Weekly - Turkey’s message to Sargysan irks Azeris - A note of congratulations sent by President Abdullah Gül to his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sargsyan, over his successful re-election has angered a number of Azeri parties.