Top of the Morning: Syria Crackdown In Spite of Arab League Deal; Bill Gates Gets Innovative at the G-20

Top stories from today’s DAWNS Digest.

Bashar al-Assad’s Word is Apparently Not His Bond

On Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed an Arab League brokered plan to stop the violence. One of the key points was that Assad pull his tanks from cities and refrain from shooting protestors. Well, it’s Friday. And lately, Friday + Syria = violence. What happens today will show the world — or, more precisely, the Arab League — if Assad has taken their proposal seriously. It would appear not. “Syrian security forces fired live ammunition to disperse thousands who gathered in the streets in several parts of the country on Friday to test the regime’s commitment to an Arab plan aimed at ending a crackdown on dissent, activists said…So far, the security crackdown does not appear to be any more restrained than it has been on previous Fridays, when anti-regime protests are traditionally at their largest. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees activist network said two people were killed in the morning amid heavy gunfire in the central city of Homs. Several more were wounded in suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus and the coastal town of Latakia as protesters began to gather after midday prayers.” (NPR

Bill Gates Visits the G-20. Ideas in tow.

At the invitation of G-20 host Nicholas Sarkozy, Super-Philonthropist Bill Gates delivered an address that focused on how to raise revenue for global health and development in a period of budget austerity. “Gates has proposed taxes on financial transactions, aviation and shipping fuels, and tobacco as ways to raise new development resources and help countries meet aid promises. Even a small tax of 10 basis points on equities and two basis points on bonds would yield about $48 billion from G20 countries, or $9 billion if only larger European countries adopted the idea, he said. While none of Gates’ tax proposals are likely to be adopted at the Cannes summit, they have generated huge debate especially the thorny issue of taxing financial transactions. The United States and Britain are opposed to a financial tax, dubbed a ‘Tobin Tax’, because of the burden it places on their banks. In new developments in Cannes, EU and development officials said Washington had indicated it would not stand in the way of other countries who wanted to implement such a tax. Gates also proposed that state-owned wealth funds invest in infrastructure in poor countries. If one percent of sovereign wealth fund assets were invested in an infrastructure fund it could reach $100 billion or more over a decade, he said.” (AlertNet