Chatter: Deadly fighting in Kenya as elections approach




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Need to know:
At least 39 people have been killed and dozens more injured in fighting in the Tana River district, in southern Kenya.

Police say broke out this morning when armed farmers from the Pokomo community attacked a village belonging to a rival ethnic group, the Orma. The villagers were said to have been braced for the assault, and there were deaths on both sides. They included at least 13 children.

The two groups have clashed before, often over access to resources. But recently the tensions have risen to their deadliest level in years – no coincidence, observers say, when Kenya's elections are coming up in March.

Want to know:
What comes after Plan B? Plan F-and-three-quarters looks closer than ever to being a real possibility, after Republicans last night called off the vote on their own bid to avert America's towering fiscal cliff.

House speaker John Boehner was forced to admit that he couldn't persuade enough members of his party to vote for his proposals – namely, raising taxes on anyone earning more than $1 million a year. With Democrats also unsatisfied, the plan was set to die a lonely death in the Senate anyhow; but getting it through Congress would have at least bolstered Boehner's hand in ongoing negotiations.

Alas for him, that hand now looks weaker than ever. And alas for everyone else, the fiscal cliff now looks closer than ever.

Dull but important:
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi: he's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, as Winston Churchill might have put it (had he taken to repeating himself in his dotage).

At the very least, Morsi is the most enigmatic man in the Middle East today. Egypt's first-ever democratically elected leader; and a divisive figure with unprecedented powers. The civilian whose ascension ended six decades of military rule; and the president who has since plunged his country into its deepest political crisis in years.

Today, on the eve of the final round of voting on the controversial new constitution that Morsi backs but millions of Egyptians don't, his erratic leadership is more than ever in the spotlight. As Egypt's future hangs in the balance, GlobalPost goes in search of the real President Morsi.

Just because:
Thousands of church bells across the US will ring out today in memory of the victims of one of the country's worst ever mass shootings, one week ago.

It is exactly seven days since Adam Lanza shot dead his mother, 20 schoolchildren, six school staff, and finally himself in Newtown, Connecticut. At 9:30 this morning, churches nationwide will ring their bells 26 times, once for each of those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School. At least 28 states have declared a minute's silence at the same time.

Breaking its silence, meanwhile, will be the NRA, which is due to hold its first press conference since the massacre, a little over an hour after today's commemorations.

Whatever they have to say, arguably the best tribute to the victims' memory will come next month – the date by which President Barack Obama has promised to present new, concrete proposals to reduce gun violence.

Strange but true:
Congratulations, you survived the apocalypse! (Unless the world ends at 11:11 a.m. Mexican time, in which case: we're not making any promises.)

It's a little awkward for the people who traveled to far-flung places to shelter in their "positive energies." And everyone getting cramp in their survival pod. And all those believers arrested in China.

So while the seers who saw the end adjust their spectacles, it might be time, finally, to listen to listen to this guy – who says the Mayans prophesied hope, not doom, for Dec. 21, 2012. That's a message we can get on board with. Plus we hear nuclear bunkers make lovely holiday homes.