Chatter: Fighting spreads to Syria's prisons




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Need to know:
Syria's uprising has spread into the streets, across the country, and now into prisons. 

At least eight inmates were killed in a jailhouse mutiny in Aleppo, the opposition says, while security forces are said to be threatening to storm another prison in Homs, where explosions and fires have been reported. Activists claim prisoners, attempting to stage sit-ins, are at risk of "mass executions."

Meanwhile the rest of the world is nervous about Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons, which is rumored to be redoubtable. The country's foreign ministry confirmed yesterday for the first time that the stockpile does indeed exist, though said it was reserved for use on "external aggressors." Hardly reassuring, from a government that blames the popular unrest on foreign terrorists.

US President Barack Obama has warned Syria's leaders that the rest of the world will be watching – and that unleashing chemical warfare would be a "tragic mistake."

Want to know:
Three weeks after Egypt got its first democratically elected president, it now has a new prime minister: Hesham Kandil, who was appointed by President Mohamed Morsi this morning.

Kandil is a former minister of water resources in the previous government. He will be in charge of forming a new cabinet to replace the current one, which was named by the military.

Morsi made a promise to pick someone outside his own Muslim Brotherhood to lead a new government of unity; by choosing Kandil, he appears to have stuck to it.

Dull but important:
British prosecutors have confirmed that eight people will face charges over phone hacking within Rupert Murdoch's media empire. 

Those to be prosecuted include Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News Corp.'s British newspaper division, News International, and recipient of friendly text messages from Prime Minister David Cameron; and Cameron's ex-head of communications, Andy Coulson, who used to edit the now defunct News of the World tabloid. The rest are other former editors and reporters, and the private investigator accused of carrying out their dirty work.

Just how dirty that work was continues to emerge. Investigators said yesterday that they're now looking at evidence that newspaper staff obtained information not just from cell phones that were hacked, but also from phones that were stolen.

Just because:
Tributes have been flowing in for Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, who died yesterday of cancer. She was 61.

Ride blasted into space – and the history books – aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.

"Her approach to life was fearless," her family said, while NASA Administrator Charles Bolden remembered an astronaut who "broke barriers with grace and professionalism – and literally changed the face of America's space program."

Strange but true:
It's not exactly Grizzly Man, but wildlife officials in Utah are concerned for a guy who's been spotted frolicking with a herd of wild mountain goats.

The individual – nicknamed, imaginatively, "Goat Man" – appears to have fashioned himself a rudimentary goat costume, according to hikers who've encountered him. As you might imagine, getting caught roaming the hills while dressed in a full white body suit, mask with cut-out eye holes and fake horns seemed to make the guy a little embarrassed.

"He kind of slouched down, like was getting nervous or was feeling really self-conscious," said one witness who took the first photographs of the Goat Man. "He actually got off his hands and knees and sat on the hill for several minutes until he thought I was gone."

Whatever his reasons, wildlife officials are worried that Goat Man could be attacked by one of the herd or – worse – accidentally shot when hunting season begins in September. Surely Utahan goat hunters' eyesight isn't that bad?