Chatter: South African police clash with miners in 'bloodbath'




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Need to know: 

South Africans are reeling after police clashed with striking workers at a platinum mine, killing at least 30 people in one of the bloodiest incidents since the end of apartheid.

Police opened fire on the miners, armed mostly with machetes and clubs, in a dramatic confrontation captured on video. A week of violence between rival trade unions and workers at the Lonmin-owned Marikana mine had already left 10 people dead, including two police officers.

The tragedy highlights some of South Africa's most intractable problems: unemployment, violence, grinding poverty and growing frustration with a lack of change since 1994.

"It has happened in this country before where the apartheid regime treated black people like objects," the Sowetan newspaper said in a front-page editorial. "It is continuing in a different guise now."

Want to know:

So WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange won his Ecuador asylum bid. But he is still holed up at Ecuador's embassy in London, and the big question remains: can he get out? What happens next?

GlobalPost has been live-blogging l'affaire Assange, and we've pulled together the ultimate explainer on this continuing story. Want to know why people both love and hate Julian Assange? We've got that, in infographic form! Need some background details on the whole crazy WikiLeaks saga? Got that, too!

Are you Julian Assange, and do you need travel tips for Ecuador? Well here you go, sir. Our GlobalPost guide to Ecuador. Yeah, you're welcome.

Dull but important:

The UN has announced the end of its observer mission to Syria, three days before its mandate expired. 

While the UN mission had been part of envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan, continued violence has made the mission near impossible and put observers' lives at risk. Instead, a small, civilian-staffed office will be set up after the mission officially ends Sunday, to maintain key political contacts.

An estimated 18,000 people have been killed since the uprising in Syria began in March 2011, with President Bashar al-Assad locked in an increasingly bloody fight for control of the country.  

Just because:

A Russian court is due to deliver a verdict in the Pussy Riot trial.

Three young women who are members of the Russian punk band were charged with hooliganism after their band performed an anti-Vladimir Putin song in the Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

Protests are to take place in dozens of cities around the world today to support the women, with the judge expected to begin reading the verdict in the next hour.

The women have become martyrs for the Russian opposition, and an international cause célèbre during their five months of incarceration. But surprisingly little is known of them, writes Tom Balmforth for GlobalPost, in a profile of Pussy Riot reported from Moscow.

Strange but true:

What is it with bears in Norway? Yesterday we had Norwegian beer-chugging baby bears; today we learn they are all over the road. 

But this story begins with a moose, which is statistically far more likely (Norway has about 100,000 moose compared with just 150 bears, according to Reuters).

A man driving in the countryside north of Oslo spotted a moose on the road. The driver managed to swerve, miss the moose —and promptly hit a bear.

Authorities are now searching for the wounded animal, and have warned local residents that the bear may be angry. The unfortunate driver and his passengers were unharmed.