LOUGH ERNE, NORTHERN IRELAND: People from Downing Street are concerned that disagreements over Syria will overshadow this G8 summit, with its stated agenda of kindling new economic growth by tackling trade, taxes, and transparency.
But is it surprising that this should happen when UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin let rip with a spectacular display of public differences on the issue on Sunday, while US President Barack Obama flew in hot on the heels of announcing that he will arm the opposition to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
The US and UK are looking with renewed urgency at the possibility of sending arms to the Syrian opposition. Insiders say that this comes in response to recent successes by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, notably in Qusair where they were helped by Lebanese Hezbollah militiamen.
However, the briefing about weaponry may also indicate the effective ending of hopes for a Syria peace conference, dubbed Geneva II by diplomats.
The revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA), America's eavesdropping organisation, had asked mobile phone operator Verizon for phone information relating to millions of customers highlights the growing importance of "communications data" in intelligence and forensics work.
Critical to an understanding of these techniques, which have been in use by the NSA on a large scale since 2005, and which the British security authorities would like to employ on the same scale, is that these methods do not in the main relate to what is being said, simply to the details of communications such as which phone number was called by a particular subscriber and for how long.
"There is no nation of Arabs", the explorer and archaeologist Gertrude Bell wrote in 1907, "the Syrian country is inhabited by Arabic speaking races all eager to be at each other's throats."
The current conflict in that country is often branded sectarian too - yet despite the statements of some of the belligerent ideologists many Syrians refuse to accept the characterisation of it as a war based upon religion. So where does the truth lie?
The abandonment of the European Union's arms embargo on Syria is a piece of diplomatic signalling that could prove as confused in its effects as it was in its origins.
If that seems like an unkind interpretation of an attempt to alleviate a human tragedy try to follow this: the embargo was introduced to hurt the Assad regime but is now being lifted to help the opposition, even though the UK currently has no intention of actually sending them any weapons, but the mere possibility of this measure increasing the arms flow to these groups has today caused Russia to threaten to send even more advanced hardware to the Syrian government.
Five things mark out Wednesday's attack in south-east London in which a serving soldier was hacked to death by two assailants outside of an army barracks:
In the jargon on counter-terrorism this attack was not "networked", or rather there is no need for a network in this type of event. The perpetrators do not have to receive bomb-making training in Pakistan as the 7/7 ringleaders did, nor do they actually need any type of support group.
After two years of brutal civil war in Syria there is growing support in Washington for the US taking some action.
The question of what to do about Syria's civil war has rumbled away in this city's foreign policy establishment for the past two years, without reaching any sort of conclusion or touching off military intervention, but in recent weeks the ground has been shifting.
Statements by UN investigator Carla del Ponte that she had, "strong, concrete suspicions, but not yet incontrovertible proof" that Syrian rebels may have used the nerve gas sarin have produced some interesting responses.
They are reminiscent of some earlier conflicts where those who sought engagement on one side or the other wanted to portray the protagonists in simple good-versus-evil terms.
In 2010 the British government designated the protection of computer networks as one of the country's most important national security priorities. In its Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) it pledged, "the National Cyber Security Programme will be supported by £650m of new investment over the next four years".
What exactly has this investment bought, three years on?
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: The debate about who spilt blood in this city and why they might have done it continues - but we should not be surprised, indeed there are still arguments about who fired first at Lexington Green in 1775, triggering the American Revolution.
And actually there is a message in what happened here centuries ago about people believing the truths they choose to.
At this week's upcoming international conference in Rome, the US and UK will try to reassure the main Syrian opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), that further aid is on its way and insist the West has not abandoned the anti-Assad cause.
The Rome meeting, which the SNC had threatened to boycott, comes at a moment of real uncertainty for the opposition.
BRUSSELS - The latest European Union budget summit has brought that well-worn narrative of Britain versus France back into play, but there are fascinating signs of a more emotive battle going on beneath the surface.
That sub-text was less about whether the union's next seven-year budget would end up at euro 913bn or the euro 908bn eventually agreed, a small difference rendered even less significant when one considers that it is dwarfed by what national governments spend, but concerned whether UK Prime Minister David Cameron's recent call for reform - and re-negotiating UK membership - had gained wider traction.
Israel's unacknowledged air strike against Syria was most likely intended as a warning against the Assad regime lest it be tempted to transfer advanced weapons to its allies in the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
It is one more sign of an alarming deterioration of the security situation across the Middle East.
David Cameron's explicit rejection of the idea of "ever closer union" with the words, "for Britain - and perhaps for others - it is not the objective," may prove to be the most historically significant part in his long awaited Europe speech.
Why? When the UK has so often been the European Union's one nation "awkward squad". Doesn't the series of opt outs it has negotiated make this position quite obvious?
HANNOVER, GERMANY: At a campaign gathering held by Germany's Christian Democrats (CDU) a garrulous man slapped me on the shoulder and asked, "How does this compare with your Conservative Party?" It was a knowing question, delivered with wink.
The CDU drive to get their man, David McAllister, re-elected to run the state government of Lower Saxony, is well funded, confident (despite the closeness of opinion polls) and united on the question of Europe.
I recently made some documentaries about the experiences of British tank crews during World War II and in particular a group of men who fought all the way through that terrible conflict - the "tankies" from The Fifth Royal Tank Regiment, also known as the Filthy Fifth.
Both sides in the Gaza fighting are turning their minds to digesting the lessons of this short, sharp, campaign. For the Israeli government, anxious to dismiss the impression that it has not been humiliated by Hamas, much emphasis is being placed on the success of its Iron Dome defence system.
According to figures released by the Israeli defence ministry these new anti-missile batteries opened up 573 times, knocking down 421 out of 1,506 missiles fired from Gaza.
Mark has covered diplomatic and defence matters for more than 20 years at the BBC.
His major stories have included: the 1990 invasion of Iraq and subsequent Desert Storm campaign; the collapse of the Soviet Union; the Oslo peace process in the Middle East; the wars that broke out in the former Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s as well as the diplomacy that stopped them; the Second Palestinian Intifada; 9/11 and its aftermath; the Coalition campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the Arab Spring.
Before joining the BBC as a reporter he was Defence correspondent for The Independent newspaper for four years, covering the end of the Cold War and the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.
He is also the author of several books on military matters, both current and historical. Mark read International Relations at the London School of Economics and served for a short time in the British Army.
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