Top of the Morning: Security Council Gets Syria Briefing; 40% of Indian Children Suffer Malnutritian

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400 Protesters Killed Since Arab League Monitors Set Foot in Syria

The Security Council received its first briefing on Syria since Arab League monitors strode into the country nearly 14 days ago. The briefer was not from the Arab League, but a top UN official who told the assembled diplomats that 400 protesters have been killed since December 27.  “B. Lynn Pascoe, who addressed the council in a closed-door meeting the same day that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered a combative speech in Damascus, cited figures compiled by the U.N. office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the basis of accounts by local and international human rights groups. Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the rate of killings, about 40 per day, marked an intensification of the crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad’s government since the period preceding the Arab League initiative. ‘Syria, rather than using the opportunity of its commitment to the Arab League to end the violence and fulfill all of its commitments, is stepping up the violence despite the presence of monitors,’ she said. Rice said the United States is concerned by ‘reports that at least two of the monitors of the Arab League today — two Kuwaitis — were roughed up, harmed, harassed, hurt, in the context of their work.’” (WaPo

40% of Indian Children are Malnourished

Some sobering new statistics from India: “The Indian prime minister has called local levels of child malnutrition in the country a “national shame” and pledged stronger action to bring hundreds of millions of his people out of poverty. Manmohan Singh was speaking on Tuesday at the release of a report revealing that despite recent year-on-year GDP growth rates of 8% or 9%, more than four in 10 children under five years old in the emerging economic powerhouse are malnourished and many more suffer from stunted growth. The levels were almost twice as high those found in sub-Saharan Africa, said the report, which is based on data collected by over 1,000 surveyors who interviewed 74,020 mothers and measured 109,093 children.” (Guardian