Chatter: Did Israel just attack Syria?




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What do you get when you cross Syria, Lebanon, Israel and now Russia? We'd rather not know the answer to that question, but we might be about, reluctantly, to find out. It's still a mystery what even happened: Syria says Israel bombed a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border yesterday, apparently targeting weapons headed to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel, meanwhile, says nothing.

Now Russia has waded in, commenting that if the attack took place, it was a blatant violation of the UN Charter and entirely "unacceptable." We still don't know what happened; we just know it's not good.

France's operation in Mali was a success. We know because the French defense minister said so. But, he stressed, that doesn't mean now is the time to leave.

Defense chief Jean-Yves Le Drian says France would back the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Mali, to maintain control of the territory seized back from rebels and hopefully, to reduce the risk of human rights abuses that some Malian troops are accused of committing. Whether the UN Security Council will agree is another matter.


Apparently, China doesn't forgive and forget. Remember that New York Times story about the "hidden riches" of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao? Yeah, so do mysterious Chinese hackers, who the Times today accuses of repeatedly attacking its computer systems over the past four months. The paper says the hackers appeared to be looking for information on its sources for the Wen story, and their methods were "associated with the Chinese military."

Beijing calls the accusations "groundless" and "totally irresponsible." Word to the wise, Times reporters: change your passwords.

Mr Hagel goes to Washington. President Barack Obama's pick for secretary of defense, Vietnam vet and former senator Chuck Hagel, has his confirmation hearing this morning and is expected to face the obligatory grilling from his fellow Republicans.

Is he anti-Israel? Anti-gay? Is his nomination a concession to the far right? Or a welcome inclusion of a moderate Republican internationalist? All this and more – or possibly, knowing senate hearings, none of the above – coming up on Capitol Hill.


Is Finnegans Wake any easier to read in Mandarin? Presumably not, but that hasn't stopped it becoming the latest literary hit in China. More than 70 years after James Joyce's famously impenetrable work was published, the first ever Chinese edition has sold out its first run. Printing presses are busy churning out new copies to meet demand.

Purchasing isn't the same as finishing, of course. We hope Chinese readers are a lot more dedicated than most of their English-language counterparts – if not, those 600-plus pages make for a great doorstop.