Chatter: Lebanon rocked by car bomb aftermath




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Need to know:
Overnight clashes in Lebanon have left at least three dead and a dozen wounded, as the country reels from the devastating car bomb in Beirut that killed a senior security official.

Heavy gun battles were reported in the northern city of Tripoli, where all three fatalities occurred. One of those killed was a nine-year-old girl. In Beirut, the army was deployed to quell fighting between Sunni and Shiite gunmen, while police used tear gas to disperse crowds of protesters gathered outside Prime Minister Najib Mikati's office to demand his resignation.

The protests followed the funeral of Wissam al-Hassan, the head of Lebanon's internal security service who was killed in Friday's explosion. He was known as a critic of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his allies in Lebanon, and many suspect Damascus may have been involved in his death.

The US government says it will help Lebanon investigate the car bomb that killed him – and which could be the most destabilizing event in Lebanon since the assassination, in 2005, of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

Want to know:
The third time's the charm, so they say, but who'll succeed in charming voters at tonight's final pre-election debate?

Given that the latest polls have President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tied at 47 percent – the irony! – apiece, the face-off in Florida could be a pivotal moment. On the agenda is foreign policy – traditionally less of a vote-swinger than domestic issues, but with the world seemingly imploding (see: Libya, Syria, Iran, etc.), the electorate wants more than ever to hear how America's next commander-in-chief will handle the burgeoning crises.

If you plan to join the millions tuning in tonight, make sure you can tell the truth from the not-quite-truth. From China to Syria to Libya and beyond, GlobalPost's pre-debate fact-check binder will get you up to speed.

Dull but important:
South Korea has prevented activists from sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda into North Korea, fearing it would provoke military retaliation.

A group of North Korean defectors had planned to float 200,000 leaflets across the border via balloon. Ahead of this morning's scheduled launch, however, the South Korean authorities had blocked all access to the tightly guarded border zone.

It follows a threat by North Korea's army to unleash a "merciless military strike" if the drop went ahead. Seoul says it has not sighted any unusual troop movement north of the border, but blocked the launch just in case.

Just because:
Lance Armstrong can no longer claim to have won the Tour de France seven times: he has been stripped of each and every title by cycling's global governing body.

The International Cycling Union ruled this morning that Armstrong should, as recommended by the US Anti-Doping Agency, lose all of his victories since August 1998. He has been banned from competition for life, in the face of what USADA calls "overwhelming" evidence that he participated in one of the most elaborate doping programs in sports history.

"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," said ICU president Pat McQuaid. "He deserves to be forgotten."

Strange but true:
World, how many times does Fidel Castro have to tell you: he is not dead.

Cuba's iconoclastic former leader, now 86, has taken to state media to refute rumors that he no longer exists. The ever-ticking Castro death watch went into overdrive this weekend when a doctor told a Florida paper that Fidel had "suffered an embolic stroke and recognizes absolutely no one."

Venezuela's vice president Elias Jaua said it wasn't so, and now Castro himself has written an article condemning the "liars" who peddle "stupidities" about his health.

"I don't even remember what a headache is," he assured readers – presumably because he hasn't had one in so long, not because he, er, has forgotten everything.