Chatter: Syria defies expectations, agrees to Eid ceasefire




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Need to know:
The Syrian government has agreed to a ceasefire over the Eid al-Adha holiday, according to the UN's peace envoy.

Lakhdar Brahimi says President Bashar al-Assad's regime and several rebel groups have promised to respect a truce during the Muslim festival, which begins this Friday. He has stressed the importance of a long-term ceasefire to enable a political solution, but Eid lasts only four days.

Few had rated his chances of achieving even the most temporary peace, however, and this development could be major – if, of course, all sides stick to it. Brahimi is due to brief the UN Security Council on the situation later today.

Want to know:
At least four people have been killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, the second round of strikes in as many days.

The Israel Defense Forces were responding to rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, which injured at least three people overnight. The IDF say their air strikes took out Hamas militants as they prepared to fire more rockets across the border.

The hostilities have escalated sharply since the emir of Qatar made a landmark visit to Gaza yesterday. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warns that Israel will do "whatever necessary," including a ground operation, to stop this latest tide of violence.

Dull but important:
Germany has a new Holocaust memorial, this one commemorating the Nazis' Roma and Sinti victims.

The monument, located opposite the Reichstag in Berlin, consists of a dark pool of water set into the ground. In its center is a stone, which will bear a single fresh flower every day. Chancellor Angela Merkel inaugurated the site this morning, watched by some 100 Holocaust survivors.

An estimated half a million Sinti and Roma people were killed by Nazis during World War II, victims, like Jews, of the German regime's murderous concept of "racial inferiority." Their suffering was only officially acknowledged relatively recently, and the community still faces serious discrimination all over Europe to this day.

Just because:
For millions, the American Dream is fading. The middle class – the core of the world's largest economy – is being gutted as incomes fall and once-reliable jobs disappear.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, US outsourcing is creating new middle classes. In China, India and throughout Asia, workers are earning more and living better thanks to what would once have been American jobs.

How is this trend changing lives, in shuttered factory towns across America and in the emerging boomtowns of the developing world? GlobalPost has spent 10 months investigating, and today brings you the human stories behind a macroeconomic phenomenon. From Windsor to Manila, Portland to Shanghai, what workers describe is profound uncertainty for almost everyone.

Welcome to globalization. Welcome to America the Gutted.

Strange but true:
There's something in the air in Italy, and it ain't just love and pizza flour.

A study has found measurable levels of cocaine floating around eight major Italian cities. (That's Rome, Palermo, Bologna, Florence, Turin, Milan, Verona and Naples, just in case anyone was wondering.) Italy's Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research also detected trace amounts of cannabanoids from marijuana, nicotine and caffeine.

If all that leaves you thinking that inhaling in Italy must be something of a rollercoaster ride, breathe freely and without mind-altering effects: researchers say levels of drugs present in the air aren't significant enough to get anyone wasted.