Chatter: Mexico picks Enrique Pena Nieto for president




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Need to know:
He's young, he's telegenic, and he's president-to-be: Enrique Pena Nieto has won Mexico's presidential election.

With 38 percent of the vote, the candidate of the center-left Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, finished several points ahead of his rivals from the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party and the National Action Party of sitting President Felipe Calderon.

It marks a return to power for the PRI, which ruled Mexico with an iron fist for most of the 20th century and subsequently became a symbol for corruption, repression, economic mismanagement and electoral fraud. It hasn't been the ruling party since 2000.

"We will launch a new era for the country," Pena Nieto pledged in his victory speech. But if some things change, others look set to stay the same – notably Mexico's trade with the US, and its war on drugs.

Want to know:
Millions in the eastern US begin their week without electricity, after a weekend of sudden, violent storms that toppled trees and downed power lines.

Nearly 2.7 million people from Virginia to New Jersey, DC to Ohio, remained without power last night, in the midst of sweltering summer temperatures. The outages are expected to cause new problems this morning when commuters take to the roads, many of which are closed and others whose signals are blacked out.

The National Weather Service is warning of more "strong to severe thunderstorms" in the mid-Atlantic and north-central US, while the heat wave will continue and even intensify into next week.

Dull but important:
The chairman of Barclays has resigned after the firm was fined for attempting to fix inter-bank lending rates.

Barclays was ordered to pay $450 million by US and UK regulators after its traders were found to have lied about the interest rate other banks in London were charging Barclays for loans – thus making the firm look like a better lending prospect than it really was. 

Chairman Marcus Agius says the buck stops with him. He has apologized, quit, and announced an audit into Barclays' business practices. Will it be enough to stop others calling for the head of chief executive Bob Diamond?

Just because:
Timbuktu is a real place – but for how much longer? Islamist militants this morning destroyed the entrance to one of its three sacred mosques, part of a rampage that has already wrecked several ancient Muslim shrines.

The Ansar Dine Salafist group spent the weekend attacking the unique, centuries-old monuments with pick axes, hoes and chisels, claiming the shrines to be idolatrous. Today, they tore off the door to the Sidi Yahya mosque, which has been kept closed for centuries in the belief that to open it would bring misfortune.

UN cultural agency UNESCO warned last week that the survival of Timbuktu's treasures was threatened by the armed conflict in the region between Islamist forces and secular Tuareg rebels. The International Criminal Court has called the destruction a "war crime." Ansar Dine, meanwhile, says it hopes to "destroy every masoleum in the city – all of them, without exception."

Strange but true:
It was a modern-day Pied Piper story... except it wasn't

Hamelin, the German town made famous by the story of the roving pipe player who rid the locals of their rodents and then their children, hit the headlines last month with the news that a town fountain had been put out of action by – of all things – rats.

The reality turned out to be much more mundane. It was just some fountain on the edge of the city, a bemused Hamelin spokesman tells GlobalPost, and a few rats attracted by crumbs left by people sitting on a nearby bench.

It's not the first time the media has exaggerated rumors of a "rodent plague" hitting the town at the first sign of a twitching nose and pair of whiskers. On behalf of the good people of Hamelin, we say: the rats are not coming.