Crude oil prices are up about 20 percent over the past two months. On Tuesday, the price of the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, hit $109. Events in Syria are driving the price spike. Syria doesn't produce much oil, but there is great concern that the conflict there might spill over and involve other Persian Gulf nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
A UN weapons inspection team is due to leave Syria on Saturday, but it will take time for them to review all of the material they've gathered about an alleged chemical weapons attack. The British government now says it will wait to hear the report before taking any military action to punish Bashar al-Assad's regime. That leaves the U.S. in an awkward position. It has written off the UN route because of Russia's opposition to any action.
Britain's prime minister called a special gathering of Parliament to argue forcefully for military intervention in Syria in response to the apparent chemical strike that he said killed hundreds there. He met with opposition among legislators who don't want to rush to war.
Such events have been severely muted in recent times amid the country's civil war and speculation about U.S.-led airstrikes. But Thursday's wedding celebration in one Damascus neighborhood drew people to their windows and balconies, and brought traffic to a halt.
Foreign news coverage of China is often deadly serious: corruption, pollution and the like. Then there's the funny and bizarre that often goes viral — like the zoo that swapped a dog for a lion. A number of websites are making these offbeat and satirical tales increasingly available in English.
The Tomatina Festival, the famous free-for-all in which partiers pelt one another with ripe tomatoes, was held in Bunol, Spain, Wednesday. The big party was a bit smaller this year — for the first time, the town sold tickets for 10 euros (about $13.25) to be part of the huge food fight.
The young, secular revolutionaries who led the 2011 uprising against the Hosni Mubarak regime have been pushed to the margins of the current confrontation in Egypt. They also feel they are battling two sets of authoritarian forces — the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
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