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Saudi women Olympians, arming Syrian rebels, and Romney goes home
The world’s papers sweep from embattled Saudi Olympians to an argument for arming Syrian rebels, with a glance at a tour just wrapped up by US presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Former director of policy planning of the US state department Anne-Marie Slaughter writes in the Financial Times, warning the West will pay a high price if they don’t arm Syria’s rebels.
Yes, she admits, any intervention carries risks: getting involved could harm President Barack Obama’s re-election chances, sending arms without UN approval goes against the grain of international law, and doing so while Russia and Iran arm the regime could drag the US into a kind of proxy war. Nevertheless, she calls for bold action: a coalition of countries providing heavy weapons and possibly air cover to commanders on the ground.
It’s hard for Saudi women to play sports, reports the Guardian, not least at the Olympic level. The Ministry of Education bans physical education for girls, and the Saudi Olympic Committee had resisted calls for women to join its delegation. But the country is sending a woman runner and judoka this year, making this Olympiad, the Guardian says, the first to see women competitors from every country in the world.
And what about all the hype about how the Olympics would transform London? The Independent reports on an empty capital, which tells the world "we're still open for business".
Business is booming across town in Stratford in the East End – areas that used to be wastelands. But in the West End - famous for shopping, dining, theatre and night clubs - tourists are suddenly scarce. According to The Independent, restaurant turnover is down 60%, shopping is down 11% and even box office takings are down.
Tourists have been scared off by repeated warnings of chaos in the city centre, hotels hiking their rates, and transport problems. Those fears are now being reported on by…the same media that brought you the original warnings. No fingers being pointed, mind.