Over Easy

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

Traveling abroad, Pres. Obama has received welcome from most fronts, but in the Kremlin his proposal of nuclear disarmament is stirring resentments.

Obama’s disarmament initiative, which was celebrated during his speech in Berlin on Wednesday, has been met with little enthusiasm in political backrooms in Moscow. During the Gottemoeller talk efforts, Russian defense experts were already pointing out the “monstrous military imbalance” between the US and Russia. In other words, Russia dislikes the disarmament plans because nuclear weapons are one area in which the Kremlin still sees itself as being on a par with Washington. Russia’s military is in the midst of a lengthy reform, and its conventional forces are years behind the US military and those of many other NATO countries.

It’s still accepted wisdom within the Russian establishment that nuclear weapons are the true guarantor of peace. But behind this assumption, the interests of the Russian defense industry shine through.

Fires in nearby Indonesia brought a record breaking haze to Singapore that has that city engulfed in a cloud.

At 13:00 local time (05:00 GMT) Singapore’s pollution standards index reached 371, breaking all previous records and reaching hazardous levels.

The haze is caused by illegal forest fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

Naming itself “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the Taliban has made initial difficulties in any peace talks between itself and the U.S.

Karzai has said he will boycott any peace talks unless they were led by his government.

“As long as the peace process is not Afghan-led, the High Peace Council will not participate in the talks in Qatar,” he said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to a body he set up in 2010 to seek a negotiated peace with the Taliban.

The G-8 meeting concluded in Ireland without condemnation of Syrian chemical weapon use because of Russian opposition, but did call for an investigation.  Agreements reached concerned looting of natural resources and tax avoidance.

The G-8 leaders agreed on strategies to prevent multinational corporations from indulging in pervasive tax evasion and supported a move to change the rules, which allow companies to shift their profits across borders to avoid taxes, and to make it mandatory for multinational entities to provide a detailed report on their tax burdens around the world.

Never.Give.Up.