Hell, No, He Won't Go
Though Arab dictators keep toppling around him, Syrian President Bashar Assad is digging in. As Tripoli fell to Libyan rebels and calls for his resignation grew, Assad vowed to fight on, saying he had "no worries" about the future. Assad, who inherited the presidency from his strongman father, insists that Syria's unrest is the product of a foreign plot and says he has the people's support--even though his violent suppression of antigovernment protests has left more than 2,000 dead, prompting an investigation by the U.N.
Assad's opponents have been emboldened by the Libyan rebels' success: "Gaddafi is gone. Now it's your turn, Bashar!" some Syrians chanted. But compared with their Libyan peers, Syria's insurgents are unorganized and poorly armed. They have yet to seize a major city and can't expect NATO's support, while Assad enjoys aid from his patrons in Iran. Which is why this defiant Arab dictator may temporarily escape the fate of his fallen peers.
In Ulan Bator, Vice President Joe Biden met with Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold and paid tribute to the mineral-rich country's transition to democracy. More critical than his stop on the steppes was his visit to fast-rising China, where he got to know Xi Jinping, almost certain to be the next President, and assured Beijing that its vast holdings of U.S. Treasuries were safe despite America's debt woes. On his return, the VP revised his comment made there that he was "not second-guessing" China's one-child policy, adding that he considers measures like forced abortion "repugnant."
World by the Numbers
[The following text appears within a map. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual map.]
Height, in feet (168 m), of what will be the world's tallest Ferris wheel, Las Vegas' High Roller
Number of tourists rescued by military planes after the Peruvian Airlines fleet was grounded over safety concerns
Age, in years, of a fossil that scientists claim is the oldest ever found
(185 m.p.h.) Reduced top speed at which some bullet trains will travel, after a recent crash killed 40 people
Bar tab left by Russian tourists partying on Sardinia; they fled by mega-yacht
Harsh Sentence For Hikers
Americans Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were sentenced to eight years in prison for spying and illegal entry. The 29-year-olds, who say they unwittingly strayed across an unmarked border while hiking, have spent two years in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. The unexpectedly tough ruling raised questions about the independence of Iran's judiciary and fueled speculation that the men are being used as chips for bargaining with the U.S.
'If a new country is born and no one sees it online, does it really exist?'