Chatter: Francis becomes Pope




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You ain't pope 'til you've had a mass. Jorge Mario Bergoglio officially became Pope Francis today at his inaugural service in St Peter's Square. An estimated one million people turned out to watch the Argentine former cardinal turned into the world's first New World Holy Father (now that's what we call transubstantiation). 

Today's obligatory pomp aside, the 266th pope has said he wants to see "a poor Church, for the poor." A new papacy starts here.

Bombs over Baghdad, still. Ten years to the day since the invasion of Iraq, at least 23 people are reported killed in a series of car and suicide bombings in Shiite areas of the capital. Another 88 people are injured.

No one has yet claimed responsibility – but Sunni extremists with links to Al Qaeda are considered the most likely suspects, given their track record of sectarian attacks aimed at destabilising Iraq's Shiite-led government. One war ends; another begins.


A new deal for Cyprus? Rumor has it that the island's finance ministry has revised its controversial proposal to tax bank deposits in order to spare smaller savers. Under the redraft, only deposits of €20,000 or over would face the new 6.75-percent levy, which the EU and IMF have made a condition of the €10-billion emergency bailout Cyprus needs. 

The Cypriot parliament is due to vote on the plan tonight, having put off the decision yesterday. Second time lucky?

Syria has another prime minister. Ghassan Hitto, an American-educated IT executive, was named premier of territories under rebel control by the Syrian National Coalition this morning.

Hitto, until recently a resident of Texas, now faces the task of forming an opposition government to help provide basic services in rebel-held areas – and of convincing the various factions on the ground to recognize it. It's a daunting challenge, not least because Syria's official government is thought to be targeting those same areas with devastating ballistic missiles and cluster bombs. Read GlobalPost's investigation here.


Well, this is mean. The latest blow to our faith in humanity comes from Oregon, where two Girl Scouts were the victims of a ginormous fake order for thousands of their cookies. The kids thought they'd sold 6,000 boxes of the biscuits in one go, raising $24,000 for their troop's summer camp and a nearby homeless shelter. Alas, the order turned out to be a misguided prank allegedly placed by a local company.

"They placed a fake order on us and they didn't know that it hurt our feelings a lot," said Girl Scout Erin Donnelly, 8 years old (eight!). Thankfully, news of the scam broke hearts nationwide, and the girls have since received thousands of orders from across the US. We'll take five.