Chatter: The EU wins the Nobel Peace Prize (yes really)




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Need to know:
The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize has gone to the European Union. Yes, really.

Amid the worst economic crisis in the organization's 54-year history, the Nobel committee said the EU had helped transform Europe "from a continent of war to a continent of peace." Sure, there's all that financial uncertainty and social unrest, the panel in non-member Norway acknowledged, but what's really important is the EU's "successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights."

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called it "a great honor for the whole of the EU, all 500 million citizens, to be awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace prize." What a shame, though, that the $1.2 million prize money isn't enough to make a dent in the debt.

Want to know:
Now that's what we call a debate. Thank you, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, for bringing a little more game to the vice-presidential head-to-head than we saw in last week's presidential one.

Knowing that they only get one shot, and in Biden's case, that his guy hadn't done so well in the opening round, the two veep nominees came out swinging. In a 90-minute debate covering ground from taxes to Syria, abortion to Medicare, there was sparring, there was substance, there was theater (we're looking at you, "Smirky O'Smirkerson" Biden).

Of course, when both candidates look like they've had their cornflakes that morning rather than just one, it's harder to say who won. (You can let us know what you think in our poll.) Either way, no one really expects that last night's performance will reverse the campaign's momentum – but it'll give political pundits ample cud to chew on from now until the next presidential debate, on Oct. 16.

Dull but important:
Syria has accused Turkey of lying for claiming to have confiscated Russian-made defense supplies from a Syrian passenger jet.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that "equipment and ammunition" were on board the intercepted Syrian Air flight from Moscow to Damascus, where they were allegedly intended for use by the Syrian defense ministry.

Syria's foreign ministry has challenged Erdogan to produce the disputed cargo, which it vehemently denies exists. Russia, too, has rejected Turkey's accusations and accuses Ankara of endangering Russian passengers' lives.

So far, the incident has drawn only bluster from all sides. But it's a sign of deteriorating relations, and another reminder of the risk that the violence in Syria is becoming a proxy war that may develop into a regional conflict.

Just because:
Today the world remembers the Bali bombings, which killed 202 people exactly 10 years ago today.

Survivors, victims' families and foreign dignitaries have gathered on the Indonesian island for a remembrance service, despite an active terrorist threat and a 6.7-magnitude earthquake. Thousands more were expected to attend commemorations in Australia, which lost 88 of its citizens in the attacks.

Indonesia's foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, said that the Al Qaeda-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, which planted the bombs in two tourist bars, had "utterly failed." Instead, he said, the tragedy had only reinforced "our collective commitment to strengthen the voice of moderation... to fight extremism and intolerance in all its forms.''

Strange but true:
Do you recognize this eyeball? That's the question put to the public in Florida, where a massive, mystery eye washed ashore on a local beach this week.

The eyeball – said to be larger than a softball, and blue – has been sent to biology experts for identification; but in the meantime, ordinary schmoes are being invited to submit their less informed opinions as to what creature it might have come from. (Something big, missing an eyeball, and mad as hell, we'd warrant.)

Wildly speculative answers on a postcard, please.