Chatter: Israel returns Palestinian bodies




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Need to know:
The Israeli government has handed over the remains of almost 100 Palestinians who died carrying out attacks against Israel.

Around 80 of the bodies – which include those of militants and suicide bombers who died in attacks up to four decades ago – were given to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Another 11 will be transferred to Hamas in Gaza, where they are due to receive military funerals.

The repatriation is part a deal struck earlier this month to end a mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Israel describes it as "a confidence-building measure," and says it hopes the gesture will help get peace talks back on track.

Want to know:
Two US tourists
 have been kidnapped in Egypt by Bedouin tribesman, security officials say.

Gunmen reportedly abducted the two men – who are both in their early 30s – while they were traveling by car in the southeast Sinai Peninsula. According to the Interior Ministry, the kidnappers are demanding the release of one of their fellow tribesmen, detained for alleged drug dealing.

The abduction occurred near the area where two American women were seized from a tour bus in February; they were released shortly afterwards when the Egyptian authorities freed four Bedouins from custody.

Dull but important:
Ireland votes today on the Fiscal Treaty, the pact that requires EU members to balance their budgets or face heavy penalties.

So far five European governments have ratified the pact. Each time the choice has been lawmakers', but in Ireland, it's being put to the public in a referendum

Turn-out today isn't expected to be high, but the latest polls suggest those who do vote will say yes – not necessarily because they're austerity enthusiasts, but more likely out of fear that saying no will cut them off from European allies and, crucially, loans.

Results are expected late Friday. 

Just because:
A Tibetan mother of three has died after setting herself on fire.

According to reports, the woman, who was in her 30s, set herself alight yesterday outside a monastery in China's Sichuan province. Hers is believed to be the 38th self-immolation in Tibetan areas of China since 2009.

It comes days after a similar protest by two Tibetan Buddhist monks, who set themselves on fire in Lhasa on Sunday in the first reported self-immolations in the capital of China's Tibet Autonomous Region. Chinese security forces have reportedly since launched a crackdown in Lhasa.

Strange but true:
So, remember that foot that got mailed to the Conservative Party of Canada? Just when you thought the story couldn't get any weirder, it did, and how.

First, police found a hand awaiting delivery, this time to the Liberals. Then, they found a headless torso in a discarded suitcase in Montreal. Then – they launched a manhunt for one Rocco Luka Magnotta, prime suspect and star of online gay porn. He's also notorious for allegedly dating a serial killer and killing kittens.

People cutting up people, gunmen shooting strangersmen eating other men's faces... This is all getting a bit much. You'll excuse us if we take the next week off to look at puppies and restore our faith in the world.