Chatter: Twin bombings in Damascus kill dozens




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Need to know:
At least 34 people are dead and dozens more injured after twin explosions in Syria's capital, Damascus.

Two car bombs hit Jaramana, a southeast district home to large Druze and Christian communities, early this morning. Pictures from the scene show columns of smoke, flames, burnt-out vehicles, and pools of blood. Syrian television says the remains of unidentified victims filled 10 bags.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts. In what is by now an all too familiar tale, the government blames "terrorists," while activists speculate that the regime itself orchestrated the bombings. In this case, they say that President Bashar al-Assad's forces wanted to strike fear into the very minorities they claim to be protecting.

Assad needs Syrians to believe that without him, there will be (even worse) chaos. The newly formed coalition of his opponents begins deciding a prospective transitional government in its full meeting later today, in a bid to prove him wrong.

Want to know:
A Saudi military attaché was shot dead today in Yemen.

The unnamed official was travelling to the Saudi embassy in Yemen's capital, Sana'a, when gunmen opened fire on his car. The vehicle flipped over, and both the diplomat and his Yemeni bodyguard were killed.

Reports suggest that the attackers were disguised as members of the security services. It's not yet known who they were or what their affiliation was, but most of the suspicion has fallen on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has a presence in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It has also claimed several attacks in Sana'a in recent months.

Dull but important:
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi remains defiant, six days into protests against the sweeping new powers granted him by... himself. But then, so do the protesters.

Yesterday saw one of the biggest demonstrations in Egypt since the revolution began, and hundreds of protesters are in Cairo's Tahrir Square again today. And now the Supreme Constitutional Court has thrown its hat into the ring: the top judicial body has accused Morsi of waging a "continuous attack" against it. They're not people you want to get on the wrong side of. Back in June, the court declared the parliamentary elections won by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood void, and ordered the entire lower house of parliament dissolved.

A cabinet meeting is scheduled later today to discuss the crisis.

Just because:
In Bangladesh, police have arrested three people responsible for supervising the garment factory where more than 100 people died in a fire last weekend.

The three mid-level managers are accused of preventing workers leaving the Tazreen Fashions building, just outside Dhaka, when flames first broke out there on Saturday night. They reportedly told employees the alarm they could hear was just a drill, and they had nothing to worry about. Witnesses say they even padlocked exits shut.

But if that's true, they weren't acting alone. Activists say the real culprits are the factory bosses, who see workers' safety as just one more cost to be cut in the race to make Bangladesh the cheapest place to make clothes. If they're guilty, so are the Bangladeshi authorities – and let's not forget the many foreign brands who overlook the abysmal conditions in which their products are made, and whose names were on the clothes labels later found amongst the ashes of the Tazreen plant.

Strange but true:
Oh, for a world in which the Onion were true! Happily for us, that world kind of, occasionally, exists, and it's called the internet.

Not one but two online Asian papers fell for the satirical news site's pronouncement that Kim Jong Un was its "Sexiest Man Alive 2012." One of the hapless publications was the People's Daily of China, the official Communist Party paper, which you'd think would know a thing or two about stretching the truth.

We are, however, delighted that there are still people who can't spot a huge wodge of irony when it's, um, declaring ample-tummed, 20-something dictators "heart-throbs." It makes the world a crazier place for them, and a downright hilarious one for us.