Chatter: Hamas leader sets foot in Gaza for the first time



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Need to know:
After 45 years in exile from the Palestinian territories, the political leader of Hamas has made a symbolic return to Gaza.

Symbolic, because Khaled Meshaal has never set foot in the Gaza Strip before; symbolic also because until recently, such a visit would barely have been thinkable. Meshaal crossed into Gaza through Egypt, a route previously barred to him by former president Hosni Mubarak; meanwhile Israel appears to have made no effort to stop him entering, even as he leads fresh celebrations of the Hamas "victory" in last month's conflict.

Meshaal will spend three days in Gaza, and is expected to draw huge crowds when he makes a public address tomorrow. You can bet it'll be a barn-stormer. Crossing the border today, Meshaal knelt to kiss the ground of Gaza; he proclaimed the moment a re-birth.

Want to know:
Japan is braced for a possible tsunami, after a powerful earthquake struck off the east coast of its main island.

If that sounds like a horrible flashback to March 2011, be assured that the latest quake was, at least, smaller (magnitude 7.3) than the one that caused the devastating tsunami in the same region a year and nine months ago (magnitude 9.0). Any tsunami is expected to be correspondingly weaker too: so far there are reports of a 3-foot wave in northeast Miyagi prefecture, while forecasters say they don't expect the water to top 6.5 feet.

So far, no one is reported dead. But much of Honshu island's east coast has been placed under tsunami alert and evacuation orders issued, in a country that's still understandably nervous about any shaking under its feet.

Dull but important:
Egypt's crisis looks no closer to ending, despite President Mohamed Morsi's calls for national dialogue.

"Why can't we all just get along?" Morsi wondered in a televised address to the nation last night (we're paraphrasing). Well, responded his diverse opponents, probably because you're still hanging on to all those extra powers we don't like and insisting that a draft constitution we didn't write go to referendum next week.

Egypt's biggest opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, will meet today to decide whether to accept Morsi's invitation to talks. But in the meantime, it and other groups have called for protests to continue across the country. And if tanks, soldiers and barbed wire couldn't shift Morsi's opponents from outside his palace last night, the shrinking hope of dialogue isn't likely to do it today.

Just because:
Costa Rica is the only country in the Western Hemisphere where in-vitro fertilization is banned, putting it on a par with Libya, Iran and the Vatican.

That could be about to change. This month, an international court is due to decide whether Costa Rica violated human rights laws by forbidding IVF. If the Inter-American Court on Human Rights rules in favor of the nine couples who brought the complaint, Costa Rica will be obligated to legalize the fertility treatment and will likely face fines for ever prohibiting it.

For would-be parents, the ruling could be the difference between having children or not. But campaigners hope that the court's decision will have an even broader impact. What's at stake, they tell GlobalPost, are reproductive rights like emergency birth control and abortion throughout Latin America – and this ruling could be the first step toward making sure that those who want children can have them, and those who don't, don't have to.

Strange but true:
Listen, we know you're busy people, so we wouldn't ask you to spend 1 minute 24 seconds of your life watching a video that wasn't really worth it.

This one is, and how. Let's just say if your interests include dogs, cars, dogs and cars, cars and dogs, the judicious dispensing of dog treats, things you never thought you'd see and/or giant schnauzers practicing their parallel parking, we're pretty sure you'll want to see this.

You'll never look at Fido the same way again.

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