Chatter: Suicide bomber kills dozens at Afghanistan mosque




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Need to know:
At least 40 people are dead and dozens more wounded after a suicide bombing at a mosque in northern Afghanistan.

The bomber chose the first day of Muslims' Eid al-Adha festival to strike the mosque in Maymana, the capital of Faryab province. Worshippers had just attended prayers and were gathered outside the building to exchange holiday greetings when the attacker triggered the blast.

Reports say a large number of policemen were among those killed. Their commanding officers, plus local government officials also present, may have been the intended targets; they appear to have escaped without serious injury.

The local police chief has blamed the Taliban for the attack, though a spokesman for the group said they didn't know who was responsible.

Want to know:
All in all Eid isn't off to a peaceful start. In Syria, where both rebel groups and government forces are supposed to be observing a ceasefire over the four-day holiday, there are already reports of violations by both sides.

The truce officially began at 6 a.m. this morning, after Damascus signed off on it yesterday. But since then, activists say, rebels have attempted to storm an army base between Aleppo and Damascus, while troops fired artillery on a village nearby. The government's armed opponents say there is no Eid for them but liberation; and as long as they continue fighting for it, the Syrian army reserves itself the "right to reply to terrorist attacks."

Not that you'd know it from Syrian TV: state media taken up today with pictures of President Bashar al-Assad calmly attending Eid prayers and receiving worthies' best wishes.

The ceasefire, such as it is, lasts until Oct. 29.

Dull but important:
When the New York Times announced it was launching a Chinese version back in June, its foreign editor said it would not be "tailoring it to the demands of the Chinese government," but hoped nonetheless that Beijing would "welcome what we're doing."

And so it did – until what the Old Gray Lady was doing was investigating the Chinese premier's finances. In a lengthy article published today, the Times details more than $2 billion of assets that it says have been accumulated by relatives of Wen Jiabao during his 10 years as prime minister.

China promptly blocked the newspaper's website, in Chinese and in English, and erased references to the report on social media networks. Even the BBC's site was barred for reporting on it (so long, Chinese Chatter readers!). China's Foreign Ministry called the Times investigation a "smear," and has accused its editors of "ulterior motives."

Just because:
Girls in Pakistan's Swat Valley will soon be attending classes at the Malala Yousafzai College.

In a show of defiance to the Taliban gunmen that shot the teenage activist in the head for advocating women's education, a government-run high school has decided to change its name in Malala's honor. Local officials say they want to send the militants a clear message: "We will not be deterred by their actions."

Admirable, to be sure, but are such gestures enough? What about the security of pupils and teachers, who are now more than ever Taliban targets? This year alone, 96 schools have been attacked by militants in Pakistan, parts of which are among the most dangerous places in the world to go to class. Activists say it's only when the government stops talking about outrage and starts punishing abusers that Pakistani children will get the education they deserve.

Strange but true:
Oh come on, people. Records show that "password" has topped the list of 25 most common online passwords, for the second year in a row. "123456" was the next most popular log-in in 2012, followed by – *palm to forehead* – "12345678."

This is all according to "password management" company SplashData, which admittedly seems like it shouldn't be, er, splashing everyone's data around like that; but frankly if your password is "password" you get what you deserve.

"Just a little bit more effort in choosing better passwords will go a long way toward making you safer online," SplashData coaxes. And no, "654321" does not count.