Chatter: CIA stops latest 'underwear bomber'




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Need to know:
More details are emerging of an underwear bomb plot foiled by the CIA.

The FBI is now examining the device the CIA recovered, which is described as an improved version of the bomb carried by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his underwear on an airplane near Detroit at Christmas 2009. The device is said to bear the hallmarks of previous devices used by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"These terrorists keep trying," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said from India today. "It's a reminder as to why we have to remain vigilant at home and abroad in protecting our nation and in protecting friendly nations."

Want to know:
Counting is underway in Syria, after parliamentary elections yesterday that were widely boycotted by the opposition.

For President Bashar al-Assad's allies, the polls were proof that the regime is committed to democratic reforms. For protesters, however, the whole enterprise was a farce – much like February's "sham" constitution referendum. "The parliamentary elections were the last card Assad had in his hand and he did not play it well," one Damascus-based analyst told GlobalPost. "Even independent citizens who were gambling on Assad's reforms will lose their last hope."

Special envoy Kofi Annan is due to brief the UN Security Council on Syria later today.

Dull but important:
Rick Santorum has formally endorsed Mitt Romney for US president, despite once describing him as "the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama."

But, y'know, that was then. Now, in an email sent out last night, Santorum has urged his supporters to get aboard the Romney Express: "Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated. The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Gov. Romney will be that nominee and he has my endorsement and support to win this the most critical election of our lifetime."

Before we make it sound like Romney has the nomination in his paws, in the interests of fairness we should point out that Ron Paul is still kicking. He even won some delegates yesterday. Consider yourself impartially informed.

Just because:
Sudan is bombing its own people in the Nuba Mountains. As Sudan's army fights the rebels of South Kordofan, an estimated 1 million civilians are suffering from daily air attacks that prevent them from growing crops. The situation is fast becoming another crisis to equal Darfur.

In an in-depth series, GlobalPost reports on Sudan's latest humanitarian disaster – from the refugees fleeing the fighting to the defiant rebels determined to continue it.

Part 1: stories from the caves where starving locals take shelter from Khartoum's bombs.

Strange but true:
Is this man the world's most prolific sperm donor?

Let's check the numbers: 42 (his age, i.e. too old to donate to sperm clinics); 34 (age at which he lost his virginity); 82 (number of children he has fathered since then); 10 (number on the way); 100 million (his sperm count per milliliter of ejaculate, which is perhaps the key here).

Well, Ed Houben of Maastricht, in the Netherlands, you've certainly made a lot of babies – and probably provided the material for an entire season's worth of Jerry Springer shows in, oh, 16 years' time.