Chatter: Egypt votes




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Need to know:
Egypt votes
 today in what is hailed as its first ever free and fair presidential election.

It's a turning point for the country, as its citizens seek to go from the heady days of demonstrations in Tahrir Square to military rule and, now, a new democracy.

As part of an ongoing series on this historic event, GlobalPost investigates what a new president will mean for Egypt's women, who are fighting to secure a role in society at a pivotal time in Egyptian history.

Want to know:
Iran will be talking nuclear to six of the world's biggest powers later today. 

Representatives from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States will meet Iranian negotiators in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, for two days of discussions. The group of six is expected to push Iran to stop enriching uranium to levels higher than needed for power plant fuel, while in return, Iran will ask that sanctions be eased.

The meeting comes a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had agreed to a deal that will allow UN inspectors to investigate whether its nuclear program is peaceful. That agreement, says IAEA leadership, will be signed "quite soon."

Dull but important:
US lawmakers have moved to cut President Barack Obama's requested aid for Pakistan by over half. 

The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations voted yesterday to give Pakistan $1 billion – 58 percent less than what Obama had asked for – and warned of further cuts unless Pakistan opens key supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The final decision still requires approval by the full Appropriations Committee, the Senate and the House of Representatives. But yesterday's move is seen as an indication that cash-conscious Washington may be less generous when it comes to foreign aid, and not just for Pakistan.

Just because:
As of last week, gay couples have permission to hold marriage ceremonies at Disneyland Tokyo. Anyone who takes the park up on the offer will have, in every sense, a fairytale wedding – since same-sex marriage isn't legally recognized in Japan.

Japanese law doesn't forbid homosexuality, but it provides only flimsy protection of LGBT rights. Add to that enduring social stigma, and same-sex couples in Japan know the country has a long way to go before it offers them the rights as it does to heterosexuals.

Come on, Japan, get on the right side of history. Even mutant superheroes are doing it these days.

Strange but true:
Those of us still mourning the loss of Paul the Psychic Octopus (R.I.P.) will meet the latest animal fortune-tellers with trepidation and, yes, glee.

For lo, organizers of next month's Euro 2012 soccer championship have unveiled the beasts that will predict match results. Allow us to introduce Citta the Elephant and Psychic Pig (also trading as Soothsayer Hog).

Whosoever's flag is nearest the treat the animal picks up shall win the game. Or not. It's not an exact science, ok, but just look at Citta kicking her little ball! We're sold.