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In the News

The use of chemical weapons in Syria and brutal crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives, are deeply disturbing events, yet they are just the most glaring examples of a widespread assault on freedom taking place in countries around the world. At times this assault grabs news headlines, as when Russia’s law against “homosexual propaganda” prompted international criticism or a prominent dissident is put on trial. More often, savvy autocrats misuse laws and administrative procedures to subtly restrict civil society groups and silence their critics. Click here to read Daniel Calingaert's op-ed for CNN.

Compared to the G8 meeting in June in Northern Ireland, when he seemed isolated on the issue of Syria, Vladimir Putin seemed to have lots of company in opposing any possible U.S. military action at last week’s G20 meeting in St. Petersburg. Reasonable people can have legitimate differences over what should be done in Syria after Assad’s use of chemical weapons, but before one aligns with Putin on this issue—or accepts at face value his latest proposal on international oversight of Syria’s chemical weapons—it is important to understand that the Russian leader doesn’t merely oppose use of force against his like-minded Syrian colleague.

However, seemingly hamstrung by its limited competencies in this area and preoccupied by the economic crisis, Brussels has been hesitant in its reaction to apparent democratic backsliding. Sooner or later the European Union will be forced to take a firmer stance on the protection of democratic institutions within its member states. Click here to read Sylvana Habdank-Kolaczkowska and Zselyke Csaky's op-ed for the EU Observer.

It is tempting to avoid the graphic photos and heart-wrenching videos making their way out of Syria. But Americans, rightly wary of involvement in yet another Middle East drama, should know that indifference has real, human costs, even if they're played out thousands of miles away, writes Freedom House's Sarah Trister.

The consequences of bad decisions in Egypt have left the country in a trap between the authoritarian leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, observed Nancy Okail on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry Show.

U.S. President Barack Obama's decision Wednesday to cancel the planned bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin in early September was the right thing to do for many reasons. It also marked much-needed corrections in Obama's "reset" policy toward Russia. Click here to read David J. Kramer's Moscow Times op-ed.

Media reports indicate that the White House is rethinking President Obama’s travel to Moscow in early September for a bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin immediately before Russia hosts the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. Obama indeed should not go to meet with Putin, but the reasons for such a cancelation go well beyond those suggested by White House officials, namely the situation involving NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum in Russia. Read David Kramer's American Interest piece on the subject.

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