"So far, most of the damage sustained by the U.S. and UK has been reputational and rhetorical. Some of the accusers, Hollande in particular, are well aware that their own intelligence services are up to the same tricks, if not quite so adept and well-equipped. Essential national interests demand that the core relationship is maintained," writes Julian Borger in the Guardian.
"The real battle—the NSA's war against sacred civil rights—will have to be won in Congress. Ms. Merkel would do better to call Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, than chastise the US ambassador. When Americans see the NSA as a threat to their own freedoms, they will act to leash it," writes Jose Joffe in the Financial Times.
"The perception here is of a United States where security has trumped liberty, intelligence agencies run amok (vacuuming up data of friend and foe alike), and the once-admired "checks and balances" built into American governance and studied by European schoolchildren have become, at best, secret reviews of secret activities where opposing arguments get no hearing," writes Roger Cohen in the New York Times.
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Chinese Court Upholds Bo Xilai Life Sentence
A Chinese court rejected the appeal of former Chongqing Communist Party leader Bo Xilai and upheld his life sentence for bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power (AFP). He was removed from office amid a scandal in which his wife was convicted of a British businessman's murder.
This CFR Backgrounder explains China's ruling party's origins and the challenges it faces.
CFR's Isobel Coleman explains Saudi Arabia's slow-motion reform and expansion of women's rights in this blog post.
SYRIA: Some five million Syrians who are refugees within their own country are struggling to find food and shelter as winter closes in (NYT). More than twice as many Syrians are displaced within their own country as are refugees abroad.
French, Malian, and UN forces launched a major offensive in the north of the country to prevent the resurgence of militant Islamist organizations (France24). After the jihadists were ousted in January, attacks against government and international forces have picked up in recent months.