Chatter: Did Russia catch an American spy?




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To catch a spy. Step one: tackle him. Next, show off his "spy kit" of wigs and sunglasses. Release some embarrassing photos of the spy looking unhappy. And then kick him out of the country.

This has been the rough course of events since Russia announced it had caught an alleged CIA spy following a sting operation. It all seems torn from the Cold War era, with Russian state television broadcasting the moment Ryan Christopher Fogle, officially an American diplomat, was jumped by agents.

Russia has accused Fogle of trying to recruit an officer of the Russian secret service, while one report says the suspected agent was likely seeking information about the Boston bombing suspects.

The spy scandal comes as relations between Moscow and Washington appear to be warming, with plans to step up security cooperation. Maybe not any more — the US Ambassador to Russia has been summoned.

Elsewhere in the diplomatic world, Taiwan is recalling its envoy to the Philippines amid a row over the killing of a fisherman — and a lame apology.

The fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng, was shot by the Philippine coast guard last week in the disputed Bashi Strait. Taiwan slammed an apology from the Philippines as insincere and too informal. Say it like you mean it, Manila!


Cyclone Mahasen is coming. Bangladesh has ordered the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from low-lying areas, while neighboring Myanmar says it will move roughly 166,000 people before the cyclonic storm hits early Thursday.

So far, Mahasen is classified as the lowest-level category one on a one-to-five scale, with winds up to 55 miles per hour. But even as a category one storm it could unleash a storm surge of up to seven feet high, and affect millions of people living in low-lying coastal and river areas.

France slips into recession. Hit by sluggish growth, record unemployment and low consumer confidence, France has returned to recession. The country's gross domestic product contracted 0.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, official figures show. 

This is France's second recession in four years, with a recession defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Times are tough across the eurozone, with nine EU members now in recession, according to separate figures. Germany's economy grew by just 0.1 percent in the quarter.


Death and taxes. As the saying goes, these are the only two certainties in life. We at GlobalPost live by a third certainty: The world is a weird and wondrous place.

But who says taxes and weirdness can't overlap? From extra charges on flavored vodka in the US to beards in Russia, check out the top six wackiest taxes we've found around the world.