Thursday's coverage: WHO upgrades H1N1, Peru uprisings, and Holocaust Museum shooter

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In international news today...

• Staff writer Sara Miller Llana and correspondent Lucien Chavin report that Peru’s Congress has backed down under violent pressure from indigenous groups by suspending the law that opens up the Amazon to drilling and farming by multinationals.

• The World Health Organization is announcing a "Level 6" global pandemic, as the H1N1 virus, or "swine flu," spreads through the United States, Europe, Latin America, and now Australia.

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• In North Korea, Donald Kirk explores what a sentence of “hard labor” might actually mean for the two US journalists convicted “hostile acts.”

• In Shanghai, the Chinese government is cracking down on a gay pride festival, even as a state-run newspaper heralds the event as a sign on progress in China.

• In Sweden, Tom Sullivan reports that controversial NATO war games reflect the growing strategic importance of the Arctic – which is estimated to contain a quarter of the Earth’s oil and gas – and warns it may heighten tensions with Russia.

• Marking dramatic shift in policy, correspondent Jane Arraf reports that the US appears prepared to release Sheikh Laith al-Khazali, a major figure accused of masterminding the killing of five American soldiers.

• In anticipation of George Mitchell’s visit to Syria tomorrow, Julien Barnes-Dacey discusses the Middle East envoy’s goals—to transform one of the region’s biggest de-stabilizers into an ally and provide the US with leverage on Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

Scott Peterson is seeing the campaign in Iran become more bitter as fervor rises.

Scott Baldauf reports that the rise of piracy – and the very real threat of an Islamist takeover in the Somali capital of Mogadishu – may be providing the territory of Somaliland with its best argument for recognition as a separate, stable, friendly country in the region.

• What’s behind the anti-Indian attacks in Australia? Janaki Kremmer investigates this complex issue.

• It’s strike season in South Africa and even the national soccer team is rumored to be considering a strike. Read how fans are reacting to the news.

And here in the US:

Patrik Jonsson reports on what law enforcement officials knew about James von Brunn's history of invective, race hatred, and violence before he killed a security guard Wednesday at the Holocaust Museum.

• Continuing west on his Recession Roadtrip, writer Bill Glauber finds himself in New Mexico, where tales of the Old West are painted on the walls of a small town.

Alex Marks explores why someone might want to buy the Boston Globe, given the festering labor dispute and the tide of red ink.

• Four of 17 Chinese Muslims long held at the US terror detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have been released for resettlement in Bermuda. Staff writer Warren Richey explains why they won’t be returning to China.

Mike Farrell writes that Governor Schwarzenegger wants open-source, digital textbooks for high school math and science classes throughout California, a move that he says will help reduce the $350 million that the state spends annually on educational materials.

• In our opinion section, Emily Walshe writes that we need a renaissance of intimacy and commitment given the plethora of self-promoting and moneymaking applications on social networking sites. Giuseppe Cassini examines how can President Obama can translate into concrete policies the impressive rhetoric he dispensed on June 4.

• In today’s Monitor's View, Obama wants strict federal standards for a high school degree as part of his plan to get more students into college, but designing those national standards won't be easy— just look at the controversy over the SATS.

• In our continuing coverage of the Air France crash, Alexandra Marks reports on the new composite materials, supposedly stronger than steel, used in the lost plane. Finding as much of the wreckage as possible will reveal clues about the forces that brought the plane down.

• Finally, we have two stories scheduled for this afternoon about legislation that would allow the FDA to regulate tobacco. What has changed politically that has made this possible? And what difference will it make to consumers?

Also, look for frequent posting in our environment, economy, and innovation blogs.

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