Conflict & Justice

Chatter: Pakistan to attend NATO summit




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Need to know:
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari will attend the NATO summit in Chicago this weekend, his office has confirmed.

Zardari was not expected to receive an invite to the meeting on Afghanistan while crucial war supply routes through Pakistan remain closed. Islamabad cut off NATO's route to Afghanistan six months ago, to protest a US air strike that mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops.

However, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called to invite Zardari personally, and there's speculation that Washington and Islamabad could be close to a deal to reopen the supply routes before the summit starts on Sunday.

Want to know:
For the first time, official data shows that more than half of children born in the United States are from racial and ethnic minorities.

The Census Bureau has released figures from 2011 showing that in the 12-month period to July, 50.4 percent of babies were either black, Hispanic, Asian or of mixed race. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 49.6 percent of all births, the first time they haven't been the majority.

It looks like it's time we started rethinking the term "minority."

Dull but important:
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng says Beijing has agreed to issue passports for him and his family within two weeks.

Chen, who has been in hospital since leaving the US embassy last month, said that immigration officials had helped him fill out the application forms. He is expected to travel to the US, where Washington says all the paperwork is in place for him to study in New York.

He'll be leaving behind him a tense situation in China, where the embarrassment of his case and others has the government looking to reassert authority. One way to do that is to make things harder for foreigners living in China, who as GlobalPost reports, are being warned to keep their own travel documents ready for inspection, or face a crackdown.

Just because:
Foreign fighters linked to Al Qaeda have declared Syria "a land of jihad." A senior Lebanese security official said at least 150 foreign militants have gained a foothold inside the country, while Syrian Islamic fundamentalists are growing in prominence.

It's a volatile mix, similar to the one that upended Iraq during the US-led occupation. But in Syria's case, it's not clear whether the foreign militants are fighting for the regime or against it.

President Bashar al-Assad has long claimed that foreign terrorists are at the heart of the popular uprising. But experts on Syria warn that Assad's regime has a history of manipulating jihadi groups to serve its own political interests – and that it remains unclear who's behind the string of Al Qaeda-style bomb attacks that have rocked Damascus since January.

Strange but true:
Warning: if you don't want Republicans coming any closer to your sex life than they already have done, look away now.

For those of you still reading, we'll let MA student Matthew Epler introduce his project, 'Grand Old Party,' which aims to help you understand the GOP's performance in the polls:

"Grand Old Party is a data visualization of voter-approval rates amongst registered Republicans for each of the GOP candidates.

"They are also butt plugs."

Yes, he makes sex toys shaped like the Republican candidates' poll numbers. Why, you might ask. Well, as Epler puts it: "Democrat or Republican, voting should feel good."