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Chatter: Assad says Syrian forces 'need time' to win battle

In a TV interview Syria's beleaguered president says he's in it for the long haul, Hurricane Isaac makes landfall and heads — very, very slowly — toward New Orleans, and Putin's "galley slave" lifestyle revealed.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
                           
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Need to know:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a TV interview to be aired tonight, says his government needs more time to win the battle against rebel forces. 

"We are fighting a regional and global war, so time is needed to win it," Assad said in a clip released by pro-government Dunya TV. "We are moving forward. The situation is practically better but it has not been decided yet. That takes time."

Meanwhile the UN refugee agency has warned that the number of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey could reach 200,000. As many as 5,000 refugees are arriving at the Turkish border every day, compared to about 500 earlier this month, the UNHCR said.

At least 20,000 Syrians have been killed in the 18-month conflict, according to activists. 

Want to know:

Hurricane Isaac has made landfall and is chugging towards New Orleans. Slowly, slowly.

Isaac hit the Louisiana coast late yesterday. The Category 1 hurricane will reach New Orleans exactly seven years after Hurricane Katrina, but it is a much less powerful storm.

Still, Isaac has unleashed fierce winds and rains, knocking out power to more than 200,000 homes and businesses. A main concern is the possibility of storm surge, and resultant flooding.  

Dull but important:

India's Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani national who was the only surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

The 60-hour siege of Mumbai in November 2008 targeted luxury hotels, the main railway station and a Jewish cultural center.

Kasab, 24, was convicted of murder, waging war against India, conspiracy and terrorism, in attacks partially planned in Pakistan.

The death sentence may take years to be carried out. Kasab still has several legal options, including the right to appeal for his case to be reviewed, and to ask India's president for clemency. 

Just because:

Pity poor Vladimir Putin and his "galley slave" lifestyle.

The Russian president gave that self-deprecating description of his job when he swore to step down in 2008. A new report called "Life of a Galley Slave," compiled by opposition politicians, details Putin's grueling conditions, writes GlobalPost's Europe editor Gregory Feifer. 

Turns out he has some 20 residences, including a palace near St. Petersburg that cost tens of millions of dollars to restore, along with 43 airplanes and fleets of luxury cars and yachts.

The report estimates Putin's wristwatches to be worth almost $700,000, six times his annual salary. His lifestyle, the writers conclude, can be compared to a "Persian Gulf monarch's." The poor lamb. 

Strange but true:

After wearing braces for 11 years, Devin Bost finally has straight teeth. The problem is that many are now rotten.

And so Bost, a braceface during those tender years from ages 7 to 18, is suing his orthodontist for $185,100.

His lawyer alleges that some of Bost's teeth need to be extracted and replaced with implants because his "teeth have rotted through to the jaw."

"What I'm told by the experts is, 'You can't do this. You can't keep them on that long. It's just not done'," Bost's Portland attorney David Hollander told The Oregonian.

Americans typically wear braces for one to three years. 

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