Chatter: Trouble returns to Taksim Square




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Tears in Taksim. Protesters in Istanbul's Taksim Square were in for a rude awakening this morning, when riot police swept through their camp with water cannon and armored vehicles. "Let's quit fighting," the officers pleaded via loudspeaker, while, er, firing rubber bullets and tear gas.

Demonstrators weren't too keen to accept that particularly spiky olive branch, and some responded with stones and fire bombs. Why send the riot squad in the day before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet with protest organizers? Some speculate it's to show the authorities' muscle; others wonder whether the TV pictures of Molotov cocktail-wielding protesters is exactly what the government wants.

Syrian suicide bombs. As many as 14 people are reported dead in Syria's capital, Damascus, after a pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up in a busy downtown square. Dozens of others were injured.

Such attacks are an all-too-common occurrence in Damascus, which remains mostly under government control; just three weeks ago, the same square was the scene of a car bombing in which 13 people were killed.


And then there were six. One of Iran's rare pro-reform presidential candidates has withdrawn from the race, leaving it almost exclusively to conservatives to compete to replace Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in this Friday's vote.

Mohammed Reza Aref announced his withdrawal this morning, following calls for reformists to avoid splitting the vote and rally around another moderate candidate, Hassan Rouhani. Here's our guide to the six candidates now left.

Where in the world is Edward Snowden? The NSA whistleblower, first reported to be hunkering down at a luxury Hong Kong hotel, is now whereabouts unknown. The hotel he is believed to have stayed at said he checked out on Monday, but the smart money says he hasn't left Hong Kong. 

More than 25,000 people have already signed an online petition urging the White House to grant Snowden a presidential pardon, before he's even been charged with any wrongdoing. Will he find any such support in Washington — or, more urgently, in Beijing?


Some political animals are more animal than others. To wit, Morris the Cat, a feline candidate running for mayor in Veracruz, Mexico. His campaign slogan: "He doesn't do anything either." He's got my vote!

If elected, Morris will have a whole network of furry rulers with whom to forge diplomatic relations. There's natural ally Stubbs the tail-less cat, mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska ("probably the best we've ever had," according to one contented resident), and potential minion Lucy Lou the border collie, who governs Rabbit Hash, Kentucky (she's "a bitch you can count on," so they say). Bo 2020, anyone?