Over Easy

In tribute to Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner, today we review news and media from outside the U.S.

In the possibilities for cybercrime and laundering of monies, the shutdown of Liberty Reserve made a large crimp. The founder of the business was jailed.

Budovsky, a Ukranian who has been reported to be a naturalized Costa Rican citizen, is thought to have financed a number of businesses in Costa Rica with proceeds that are claimed to originate through child pornography sites and drug traffickers who used the Liberty Reserve service.

Liberty Reserve was an unregulated money transfer business where users could keep their identity hidden.  Authorities allege that a large portion if its user base came from underground economies and cybercrime.

However, the Internet has been abuzz since news broke of Liberty Reserve’s shutdown, with hundreds, if not thousands of former users claiming they were not involved in illegal activity, and that their businesses could be devastated should the funds in their Liberty Reserve accounts not be returned.

The region around Syria grew more tense as Russia sent in weaponry to the government forces, Israel talked about neutralizing activities there, and Assad threatened back. Assad claimed dominance of power in the wake of the receipt of Russian aid.

The Syrian army has scored “major victories” against rebels and now holds “the balance of power” in the conflict, President Bashar al-Assad has reportedly told a Lebanese TV station.

In Jordan, the influx of refugees from wartorn Syria increased existing water shortages and stressed the growing population. Meantime, peace conferencing pressure grew for the attendance of government officials from Syria with pressure from the same ally arming them, Russia.

On May 7, Kerry met Lavrov in Moscow. They agreed to another Geneva meeting – but this time with the ambitious goal of face-to-face talks to form that “transitional governing body”. Lavrov would persuade the regime to attend. Kerry would lead western efforts to get the divided opposition to the table at Geneva.

A tight timeline was set. Initially, it was proposed the conference should be held by the end of May. That date has slipped and it is now proposed that the conference should be held during the week of June 10. The idea is to create momentum, which could become unstoppable. It is also considered helpful that the talks take place the week before world leaders meet in Northern Ireland for the annual G8 gathering. The idea, one diplomat said, is that the G8 would be able to, “build on any progress, or if Geneva fails, to pick up the pieces.”

The first wedding in France under new laws allowing gay marriage was celebrated in Montpelier. Scattered demonstrations did not stop the ceremony which drew large media attention and crowds.

In his wedding speech, Autin referred to Martin Luther King. “The law may not be able to make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me.” Boileau added: “After the hatred, it’s time to talk of love.”

It had been billed as the French “wedding of the century” in a southern city which calls itself France’s most gay-friendly place. When France’sgay marriage and adoption law was passed 10 days ago following months of demonstrations, Autin, 40, a gay rights activist who works for the Montpellier tourist office, and Boileau, 30, a civil servant, swiftly published their banns, booked the outfits, organised the rings, the DJ, the car, the sit-down dinner and the honeymoon.

Never.Give.Up.