Chatter: Syria will be 'purged'




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Syria will be "purged." So promises President Bashar al-Assad, who says he will wipe out the Muslim extremists he blames for yesterday's suicide bombing in Damascus. Around 50 people were reported killed in the explosion, including a prominent Sunni preacher who happened to be a big fan of Assad's rule.

In a statement today, the president said that Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti's death would not be in vain, since the government would continue his mission to clear "the forces of darkness" out of Syria.

Emergency in Myanmar. The government has declared a state of emergency in the central town of Meiktila, where fighting between Buddhists and Muslims has killed at least 20 people in the past three days. Witnesses report seeing charred bodies strewn by the roadside.

The government says the emergency measures will allow the military to go in and begin restoring order.

Cyber confusion. South Korean investigators now say the series of cyber attacks on its internet servers this week may not have come, as they claimed, from China. The IP address used in the incident was originally identified as Chinese, but in fact appears to have been an internal address at one of the banks affected by the attack.

Investigators say from now on they will make statements "only if our evidence is certain." Which still hasn't stopped anyone pointing the finger at North Korea.


Semper Fi? Three US Marines are dead after a late-night shooting at the Quantico military base in Virginia. Reports say the suspect, a male marine, shot one fellow service member then barricaded himself inside a barracks, where he and another marine were later found dead. It's believed the shooter killed himself.

None of the dead have been named, nor any possible motive revealed. The Marine Corps says the investigation remains in "the very early stages."

What is it with marines? The two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen are on their way to Delhi to face trial. The surprise move comes after India assured the Italian government that, if found guilty, the pair would not face the death penalty.

The marines themselves apparently agreed to the return, which the Italian government said was in their best interest. Not to mention the, er, Italian government's: the case had the source of an unprecedented diplomatic spat between Italy and India, with Delhi's supreme court even placing a travel ban on Rome's ambassador.

Welcome to Chollywood. China is now the world's second-biggest movie market after the US, according to the latest box office receipts. The country's movie theatres took a record $2.7 billion last year.

That's not just good news for Chinese filmmakers: China's appetite for movies extends to American-made fare, which is why cash-trapped US filmmakers are increasingly looking east – even if that means playing by China's rules.


That could have been awkward. According to a new book, the US Secret Service nearly accidentally killed Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a visit to the United Nations in 2006.

The authors, citing intelligence briefs, a Secret Service agent, "in an apparent accident," discharged his shotgun as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was loading his motorcade outside a New York hotel. Ahmadinejad apparently turned and looked at the agent and got in his car without saying anything. Um, phew?