Chatter: US ambassador to Libya killed in consulate attack




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Need to know:
Reports say the US ambassador to Libya and at least three of his staff have been killed in protests against a US-made video that attacks Islam. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and colleagues died during a fierce assault yesterday on the US consulate in Benghazi. There was also violence at the US embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, where a crowd tore down American flags and hung black Islamic ones in their place.

The outrage centers on a nasty little video doing the virtual rounds, reportedly produced by an Israeli-American and promoted by radical Christian pastor Terry "Koran Burner" Jones. The clips posted online defy painfully low production values to deliver a payload of personal slurs against Islam's Prophet Mohammed.

Speaking last night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deplored attempts to incite religious hatred. "But let me be clear," she continued: "There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."

Want to know:
More than 200 people are feared dead in a factory fire in Karachi, southern Pakistan. Bodies are still being pulled out of the remains of the garment factory where the blaze broke out last night.

The same evening, another 25 workers died in a fire in a shoe factory in the eastern city of Lahore. In each case, poor safety standards are believed to have contributed to the deaths. 

These are not the first fatal accidents to befall Pakistan's factories; workers can only hope that the tragedies focus attention on improving their conditions.

Dull but important:
The indebted of Europe are breathing a sigh of relief this morning, after Germany's highest court gave the green light to a permanent euro-zone rescue fund and European fiscal pact.

Thousands of German voters and lawmakers, you'll recall, had asked federal judges to rule the schemes unconstitutional on the grounds that they would undermine Germany's sovereignty and leave Europe's biggest economy liable for other EU members' debts. A judgment in the skeptics' favor would have removed the cornerstone of joint efforts to save the euro.

Thankfully for Chancellor Angela Merkel et al., the ruling went the other way. The Constitutional Court did, however, impose certain conditions: judges said there should be a cap on German contributions to the fund, which could be increased only with parliament's express consent. 

Just because:
Apple is set to release its next great thing today, with the launch of the iPhone 5.

Maybe you care, maybe you don't, but if nothing else won't it be funny to watch all the tech heads drool. (People famously get a bit, well, weird about Apple stuff.)

GlobalPost reviews the rumors about what to expect from the hottest incoming talky-texty-picturey thing.

Strange but true:
One of Japan's most iconic survivors is receiving a little assistance to, er, survive.

Iwate Prefecture's "miracle pine," so called for remaining upright throughout the tsunami that felled 70,000 of its neighbouring trees, has been chopped down to prevent it rotting as salt water destroys its roots. The tree will be sliced into pieces and treated with preservatives before being reassembled around a carbon spine.

The multi-million-dollar process is designed to allow the pine to stay standing as a symbol of post-tsunami reconstruction.