Chatter: Another day, another Syrian massacre?




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Need to know:
Syrian security forces are accused of massacring more than 150 people in central Hama province.

That's the conservative estimate. Some opposition sources say more than 200 people are dead.

They were killed, according to reports, in the village of Tremseh. Syrian soldiers allegedly sought to take back the town from rebel forces first by bombarding it and then by sending in pro-regime militiamen. State media, however, claims "terrorists" shot dead civilians before the army pushed them back.

Both sides will no doubt attempt to convince the world of their rival accounts before the UN Security Council meets on Syria shortly. The opposition Syrian National Council has already demanded a binding resolution following the latest deaths. 

Want to know:
More than 30 people were killed and several injured this morning in South Africa, when a train crashed into a truck carrying farm workers. 

Witnesses described horrific scenes at the site of the accident, in the eastern Mpumalanga province.  The truck, which had as many as 50 farm workers on board, reportedly split in two and was flung from the railway line by the force of the impact.

The driver is suspected of crossing the railway line without properly looking.

Dull but important:
No economic power is an island, and it was only a matter of time before China felt some of its trading partners' pain.

The latest figures confirm it: Chinese growth is slowing down. In the second quarter, gross domestic product grew by 7.6 percent compared with the same period last year. That's down from 8.1 percent in the first quarter, and 9.5 percent in the second quarter of 2011. 

But is the global recession the only brake on China's breakneck growth? As GlobalPost has reported, much of this growth has been fueled by investment – so much so that some experts say China's economy is not only imbalanced, but may actually be smaller than previously thought.

Just because:
Or, for this edition only, "Don't Want to Know." For lo: the Italian city of Naples is currently in the grip of an infestation of giant, red cockroaches.

A combination of unusually hot weather and poor sanitation has been blamed. Exasperated residents report seeing roaches come crawling out of the drains; there are so many of them, Green Party city councillor Diana Pezza Borrelli says, that "walking down certain streets is like stepping on a carpet of disgusting crunchy cookies."

The city's mayor, however, refutes the horror stories – not surprisingly, given recent efforts to promote Naples as a holiday destination. Authorities will have to act quickly, however, if they want to avoid another batch of eggs being laid in September.

Strange but true:
Yeah, we know, that cockroach story was really gross. So now, allow us to bring you the altogether fluffier news that scientists have filmed the first ever images of the inside of a snow leopard den.

Conservation organizations Panthera and the Snow Leopard Trust captured the notoriously shy cats on camera in the remote Tost Mountains of Mongolia. Their video shows a mother tending to her two cubs. You can see it online here

Because it's Friday. And because it's all so very, very furry.