Chatter: On Syria, united we wait, divided we strike




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Syria isn't a one-man show. Russia's President Vladimir Putin, the villain to Barack Obama's hero — or vice versa, as you could just as glibly put it — has warned his American counterpart not to go it alone. Any military action in Syria without the support of the full UN Security Council would constitute "aggression," the Russian president has warned in a terse interview ahead of this week's G20 summit.

The US and France — for the moment the only two major powers seriously considering the use of force — would, presumably, love to have their fellow Council members' backing. But Putin says they'll get Russia's vote only if they can prove "beyond doubt" that Syria's government ordered chemical weapons fired on its own people. 

The degree of doubt is a question for the philosophers, perhaps, but Paris and Washington say they have evidence enough to the case against Bashar al-Assad a strong one. So far Obama's administration has convinced key members of Senate and Congress of the need for a strike; both houses will continue debating until full votes on Monday. France's parliament will give its verdict sooner: lawmakers are due to vote on the Syria question later today.


Justice served, or denied? Ariel Castro, the man who imprisoned three women at his home in Ohio for a decade, is dead. He was found hanged in his prison cell last night in what appears to have been suicide.

A judge had ordered Castro, 53, to spend the rest of his life in prison for the hundreds of rapes, beatings, forced abortions and other abuses to which he subjected his captives. "Your hell is just beginning," one of the three told him then. But that "hell" was over just a month after the sentence was passed. How was he able to kill himself, when he was supposed to be held in protective, closely watched custody? The Ohio corrections department says a "thorough review" has been ordered.

Sex workin' 9 to 5. In the UK, the world's oldest profession is just that: a profession. It's perfectly legal for an individual working in private premises to sell sexual services for a living, and for a client to purchase them. Independent sex workers pay taxes, manage their time and hone their customer relations skills just like any other freelancer.

And just like other industries, the sex business is feeling the effects of Europe's ongoing debt crisis, migration and rapidly shifting technology. But unlike other industries, those challenges come on top of the traditional risks of violence, disease and stigmatization. In a new, in-depth series, GlobalPost investigates the changing nature of red-light London.


The reptiles are up to something. First, not one but two record-breaking alligators were captured in Mississippi last weekend. Then four foolhardy college students had a close encounter with man-eating gators in a Georgia swamp. To top it all, a freakishly patient crocodile stalked a hapless New Zealand tourist, trapping him on an island off Australia for two entire weeks. 

Coincidence? Animal nature? That time of the year? We're not taking any chances. Never trust an iguana, don't look a chameleon in the eye, and beware the reptile apocalypse.