Chatter: No one wins Italy's election




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When no one wins, no one wins. Italy's nail-biter of a parliamentary election has ended in deadlock, with Pier Luigi Bersani's center-left bloc just fractionally ahead of Silvio Berlusconi's center-right alliance. A(nother) joker, comedian Beppe Grillo and his anti-austerity protest movement, isn't far behind.

Bersani has enough votes for a majority in the lower house, but not so in the senate – and any coalition would have to be so disparate that the chances of its survival aren't high. Stocks across Europe are tumbling before the prospect of yet more instability. Mamma mia, etc.

Tourist tragedy in Egypt, where a hot air balloon loaded with sightseers caught fire and crashed during an early-morning flight over the ancient temples of Luxor. At least 19 passengers were killed, including people from Hong Kong, Japan, France, Britain and Egypt.

The tour operator says a gas canister exploded onboard, causing the balloon to plummet almost 1,000 feet to the ground below.

Again with the rockets. A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel this morning, the first such attack since the cease-fire in November that ended eight days of war.

Fatah's armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, has claimed responsibility. The militants say the strike was revenge for the death, in an Israeli jail and under disputed circumstances, of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat. And if this rocket was, as the group claims, a "preliminary response," there's more where that came from.


Talk it out, Iran, talk it out. Tehran's finest negotiators are gathered in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for their latest session with the six world powers attempting to rein in Iran's nuclear program. Western diplomats have hinted that they'll offer to ease sanctions if Iran agrees to halt its potentially troublesome enrichment of uranium.

Iran, however, is famously unmoved by either carrot or stick. And with Iranian politicians taking even harder lines than usual ahead of upcoming elections, only die-hard Pollyannas are expecting a breakthrough from this week's talks.

What's funny about Hugo Chavez's cancer? We don't know – but then, no one knows much about the Venezuelan president's health. The government maintains a wall of silence on the not-so-strongman's illness, allowing only the occasional photo or tweet to pass.

Faced with an information vacuum, some Venezuelans are using humor to fill it. GlobalPost rounds up some of the best gags about a reality that's stranger than satire.


Ka-POW! Take that, Robin: DC Comics have revealed that Batman's sidekick will die in a forthcoming issue. Writers say that the trusty Boy Wonder dies a hero's death, having saved the world and done "his job as Robin."

That job being, of course, to perish whenever a long-running series needs an adrenalin kick. The sidekick gets it. 'Twas ever thus.