Chatter: Multiple bombings kill dozens in Syria




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Need to know:
At least 40 people are dead and dozens more injured after multiple bombings in Syria's largest city, Aleppo.

State TV reported three explosions, while activists say there were as many as five. At least two car bombs were detonated in Aleppo's main Saadallah al-Jabri Square, in front of a military officers' club and not far from the Old City where rebels and government forces have been fighting.

Reports say Aleppo is effectively divided into two, with regime supporters in the west and rebels in the east. Today's explosions, in the government-controlled west, could be a signal that President Bashar al-Assad's opponents are determined to claim ground.

Want to know:
Folks, pop your popcorn, hover a pen over your early ballot slip and practice slapping hand to forehead in disbelief: it's presidential debate season again.

Tonight sees Barack Obama take on Mitt Romney at the University of Denver in the first of three debates. The nominees will do their best to tell each other – in four zingers or more – that it's the economy, stupid, in a domestic-policy opener.

The theory goes that, in a first debate with an incumbent, the challenger has the advantage: all Romney has to do is hold his own against Obama and he scores an automatic point for appearing presidential. But then Obama is Obama, and Romney, more importantly, is Romney. With his campaign going as badly as it has done, the GOP's man needs a knockout tonight. You'll excuse us if we don't bet our grandmas on him getting it.

Dull but important:
Obama might want to take some time out of the debate prep to consult his lawyers: he's being sued by a Chinese firm whose US wind farm project he blocked.

Last week, Obama killed a plan by privately-owned Ralls Corp. to acquire four turbine projects in Oregon, at a spot which just happens to be near a naval training base – which just happens to be where the Navy tests drones. The president judged that the company's investment could threaten US national security, and ordered it to sell.

It was the first time in 22 years that a US president had blocked a foreign business deal, and Ralls Corp. didn't like it one bit. The firm, which is owned by two executives from China's engineering giant Sany Group, has filed a lawsuit accusing Obama of overstepping his authority and treating it unfairly.

Just because:
This week, Belgrade's gay community is holding a Pride Week. In Serbia, where homophobia remains prevalent and violence common, that's no easy thing to do.

LGBT activists have called the event to demand more and better-protected rights, including that hate crimes be criminalized. But they face an uphill battle in a society governed by conservatives and dominated by Orthodox Christian morality.

The week's events are set to culminate with a Pride Parade on Saturday – if it's not canceled by the authorities, that is. Marches were called off in 2009 and 2011 due to security reasons; the last one to go ahead, in 2010, saw participants mobbed by anti-gay rioters whom it took thousands of police to fend off. Stay Proud, Belgrade.

Strange but true:
Parents seeking to warn their progeny of the evils of hair chewing, we've got just the fable for you: a teenager in India had to undergo surgery to have a massive hairball removed from her stomach.

She apparently liked to munch on her barnet during lessons, and look where it got her, children: with four pounds of hardened hair in her stomach, severe belly pain and an inability to eat.

Further terrifying necessary? We'll let this frankly revolting photo do the talking.