Chatter: Zimbabwe votes




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It's election day in Zimbabwe. Polls have opened and Zimbabweans are casting their votes for parliament and for president. Gosh, we wonder who'll win. Will it be Robert Mugabe, in power at the head of the Zanu-PF party for 33 long years, or Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader who's been repeatedly arrested, reportedly tortured, and withdrew from the last presidential run-off despite having won the most votes because of death threats against his supporters? It's a nail-biter, this.

Mugabe has promised he will indeed go if he loses this time round. (Good of him.) But that's a big "if" — especially when Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has accused Zanu-PF of adding the names of thousands of long-dead voters to the electoral roll. We should know the final result by Monday. 


Not guilty but guilty. Yesterday, Bradley Manning learned the verdict against him; now, he's waiting to hear how long it'll earn him in jail. A court martial yesterday found the US Army private guilty of six counts of theft and espionage for passing classified documents to WikiLeaks, but cleared him of the more serious charge of aiding America's enemies. That means that he'll escape the maximum sentence of life imprisonment; though the 136 years the other charges could still carry may well amount to the same thing.

An Army judge is due to open sentencing hearings this morning. However long Manning is put away, the case will continue to cast a long shadow over the Obama administration

China is so hot right now. No, really: the authorities have issued a level-two national heat alert for the first time in China's history. Nine provinces are currently in an official heat emergency; in the hottest of all, Shanghai, at least 10 people have died.

Temperatures are forecast to remain at 95 degrees Fahrenheit or over for another week. Hey, when the sun shines, make, er, char siu: some enterprising people have been taking advantage of the burning asphalt to fry food without even a flame. 

Don't go west, young man. Edward Snowden's father has issued his fugitive son some paternal advice: stay put. In an interview with Russian TV, Lonnie Snowden said he hoped Moscow would grant the National Security Agency whistleblower asylum so that he could remain in Russia, and thanked President Vladimir Putin and co. for "their courage and strength and conviction to keep my son safe."

So warm was Snowden Senior's praise, in fact, that you might think he would be keen to go to Moscow himself — and funnily enough, he revealed that the FBI had asked him to do just that. Sensibly, he's asked them to explain what's in for them before he'll agree to visit his son on their behalf.


Finally, a drone we can get behind. (As well as the ones that give us sushi. Those can stay.) A wildlife sanctuary in Kenya is preparing to launch a surveillance drone that will keep a watchful robotic eye over its endangered rhinos. 

Using thermal imaging to track the animals and radio signals to detect their individual ID tags, the unmanned aircraft will help the reserve protect rhinos from poachers across its full, 36,000-hectare expanse. While there's still time for a few last-minute modifications, we'd like to draw their attention to this drone modified to look like a creepy clown up front and waft pain relievers from behind. Why just watch poachers when you could drug and terrify them at the same time?