Chatter: French anti-terror police arrest Islamist suspects




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Need to know:
Police in France have arrested 19 suspected Islamist radicals in a series of dawn raids. 

The arrests were made several cities, including Toulouse – though police say there is no direct link with Mohammed Merah, the self-proclaimed member of Al Qaeda who shot dead seven people in or near the southern city.

This morning's raids, in which a number of weapons were seized, are said to be part of a strategy to "dismantle terrorist networks." Other operations will follow, according to President Nicolas Sarkozy. "It's our duty to guarantee the security of the French people," he said. "We have no choice."

Want to know:
Satellite pictures appear to show North Korea's preparations for a long-range missile launch well underway. 

A privately-operated US satellite captured images of trucks and fuel tanks outside two large buildings that are believed to store propellant for the rocket. The rocket itself is not yet visible, but analysts say work seems to be on schedule for the planned launch next month.

Japan has issued orders to shoot down the rocket if it threatens Japanese territory. South Korea is considering doing the same, while the US has scrapped plans to send 240,000 tonnes of food aid to North Korea in response to the country's defiant stance.

Dull but important:
Apple has pledged to improve conditions at its largest supplier's factories in China, after the Fair Labor Association reported excess overtime and minimal wages at Foxconn plants where iPhones and iPads are made.

Apple announced yesterday that Foxconn would hire tens of thousands of new workers, crack down on illegal overtime and improve safety and worker amenities.

Read more about conditions in Chinese factories in GlobalPost's special series, Silicon Sweatshops.

Just because:
Today is Land Day – the anniversary of the death, in 1976, of six Israeli Arabs, killed by Israeli police in a protest against government confiscation of Arab-owned land.

Every year, the date is marked with rallies by protesters who claim that Israel has deprived its Palestinian population of the right to own and use land.

As demonstrators gather today in Israel and elsewhere, is it time for the Israeli government to reconsider its land-use policies?

Strange but true:
Some South African Christians don't want Muslims eating their buns.

Retail chain Woolworths has created controversy by placing a halal certification mark on its hot cross buns, traditionally eaten to mark Easter. The buns have been halal for years, the company says, it's just that this year they decided to make that clear on the packaging – which some Christian customers felt was inappropriate.

A spokesman for the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference dismissed their complaints as "nothing more than a storm in a baking pan." Cue jokes about hot cross Christians.