Chatter: Solomons quake triggers deadly tsunami




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What's the only thing worse than a massive earthquake? The tsunami that follows. At least five people have been killed in the Solomon Islands after a 8.0-magnitude quake triggered waves up to 5-feet high. As many as 100 homes have been destroyed, though the full extent of the damage to these remote South Pacific islands is hard to determine.

Rescue workers warn the death toll could rise as they finally reach the affected areas.

Politics can be deadly. In Tunisia, the head of an opposition party was shot dead today outside his home. Chokri Belaid, secretary general of the secular, left-wing Democratic Patriotic party and a prominent critic of Tunisia's Islamist-led government, was shot in the head and neck as he left for his office in Tunis.

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has called the assassination an act of terrorism "against the whole of Tunisia." The whole of Tunisia isn't convinced, however. Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets to accuse the government of involvement and demand a "second revolution."


Surprise! The US has a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia. For the past two years, the CIA has been using it to launch kill strikes on Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen, including American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

The New York Times and others have apparently known about the base for a while, but held off reporting on it at the administration's request. It has come to light now in the wake of a leaked Justice Department memo that says the US can kill Americans thought to be Al Qaeda commanders, even if there's no intelligence to suggest they're planning an attack; and the day before John Brennan, an architect of the drone wars and President Barack Obama's nominee for CIA chief, faces his Senate confirmation hearing. It should be a humdinger.

It's OK to be gay in the UK. Same-sex couples are a big step closer to getting the right to marry after lawmakers voted overwhelming in favor of Prime Minister David Cameron's bill reforming British marriage laws.

The support came mainly from Cameron's opponents, however: more than half of his fellow Conservatives opposed the bill. And it still has to clear the notoriously traditional House of Lords before it becomes law.

Looking for a good time? Come to Splendid China Folk Culture Villages, China's first – if not funnest – amusement park. Since 1989, thrill-seekers have enjoyed such attractions as as a minature Great Wall of China and "Trees Planted by the Most Famous People in the World."

Now, though, after two decades of economic and social transformation, Splendid China is trying to adapt to a much different country. GlobalPost's Benjamin Carlson visited before the relaunch, to find out what China's first fun fair still says about the Chinese.


World, breathe easy: Germany's cookie crisis is over. As you'll no doubt remember, this was the story so far: last month, a mystery thief stole the emblematic golden biscuit that had hung outside the Bahlsen baker's headquarters in Hanover for the past 100 years. Then, the company began receiving ransom notes from the "Cookie Monster," offering the biscuit's safe return in exchange for edible donations to a local children's hospital.

Bahlsen said it wouldn't be blackmailed, but offered to send thousands of cookies to 52 different charities. That was evidently good enough for the Cookie Monster: the golden biscuit was retrieved yesterday, having been hung around the neck of a horse statue outside the city's university.