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Chatter: G8 talks Syria, North Korea

The Group of Eight meets in London, Japanese automakers recall millions of cars, women face off with police at Jerusalem's Western Wall, and Vladimir Putin is a wanted man - in Finland.
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NEED TO KNOW

The G8 has got plenty to talk about. Meeting today in London, foreign ministers from eight of the world's most powerful countries will get their teeth into matters of "conflict prevention and conflict resolution" – aka, the crises in Syria and North Korea.

Japan is said to be seeking a strong statement of solidarity against North Korea's threats, while Syrian rebels want the G8 powers to supply them with weapons. Both questions, if anyone needs reminding, are urgent: just today, Guam raised its alert level in the face of a potential North Korean missile launch, while Human Rights Watch accused Damascus of "willfully" killing thousands of of its own civilians in air strikes.

Stuck inside an automobile with the recall blues again. Japan's four biggest carmarkers are recalling almost 3.4 million vehicles worldwide because of faulty airbags.

Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda say the airbag has a defective part that could cause them to deploy abnormally or even catch alight, though no one has so far been injured as a result. The airbags were all made by one company, Tokyo-based Takata Corp., which has also supplied a number of foreign automakers. You wouldn't want to be them right now.

WANT TO KNOW

Women aren't welcome at the Western Wall. Israeli police detained five women today for wearing the prayer shawls and phylacteries traditionally reserved for men at the holiest of Jewish sites, Jerusalem's Western Wall. One ultra-Orthodox man was also arrested for setting fire to a woman's book.

The women's prayer protests, and the ensuring clashes, are nothing new. Women have been pushing for more religious rights in Israel for decades, to the point where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently formed a task force on ways to make the wall a place that unites, rather than divides, Jews. Just yesterday, the Wall's rabbi endorsed a proposal to set aside a section where men and women can pray together. Today's arrests show just how badly a compromise is needed.

Whose war is it anyway? Western countries, wary of sinking their troops into potential quagmires, have little desire to intervene in African conflicts. But with the rise of Al Qaeda in Africa, they have little choice. Could a new, cooperative model – where African armies supply the soldiers and the West provides the rest – be the answer?

With Somalia and Mali as case studies, GlobalPost ponders how to fight Africa's wars.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Cold wars have been started for less. Finland has apologized to Russia after President Vladimir Putin somehow found his way onto the Finnish authorities' most-wanted list. Putin's spot on the secret criminal blacklist meant he could, in theory, have been arrested at the border – though for what, no one's exactly sure.

Finnish TV attributed the move to Putin's alleged contact with the Russian motorcycle gang Night Wolves (I know, right?), but police say they have no idea how his name got on there. The mistake was "not under any circumstance acceptable," said one very nervous Finnish police chief who, like everyone else, knows that no one messes with Vlad.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-g8-talks-syria-north-korea

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