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Chatter: Rebels bomb Syrian army headquarters

Syrian rebels say they bombed the army's headquarters, Greeks go back to striking, and South Africa's political provocateur extraordinaire is in court.
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Need to know:
Two large explosions
have hit the Syrian army's headquarters in Damascus. The rebel Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the attack, which it says killed dozens of people.

The Syrian government says there were no casualties and the "terrorists" failed to achieve their aim. Reports suggest that a gun battle continues in the area between regime and rebel forces.

Despite the conflicting accounts, it seems that at least one person was killed as a result of today's violence: journalist Maya Naser, a correspondent for Iran's state-owned Press TV. His network says he was shot dead by a sniper while covering the bombings.

Want to know:
You're not a Greek government unless unions have called a strike against you. So, er, congratulations to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is confronted today with Greece's first general strike since he and his coalition came to power in June. 

The 24-hour walkout is a protest against a new wave of austerity measures, which are designed to satisfy the international creditors bailing Greece out. Samaras and co. propose to shave €11.5 billion euros ($15 billion) off their spending by cutting pension payments and raising the retirement age to 67. 

Greeks, already struggling under record unemployment and soaring poverty, are not surprisingly less than enthusiastic. Mass demonstrations are expected throughout the day in Athens and elsewhere.

Dull but important:
South Africa's political provocateur extraordinaire, Julius Malema, has been charged with money laundering.

"Juju" is accused of abusing his former position as the head of the ruling ANC party's Youth League to make millions for a company in which his family trust holds shares. He was initially cited for additional charges of fraud and corruption, but they appear to have been dropped.

Malema, who was expelled from the ANC earlier this year for "sowing divisions" and bringing the party into disrepute, remained defiant after today's court hearing, telling a crowd of his supporters that he would continue to fight for "economic freedom." He maintains that the charges are an attempt to silence his criticism of President Jacob Zuma.

Just because:
Iran has unveiled a long-range drone that it says is capable of reaching most of the Middle East. State media report that the Shahed 129 has a range of more than 1,200 miles, flies for 24 hours non-stop, and can carry out combat and reconnaissance missions. What's more, Iran's Revolutionary Guards say they built the whole thing themselves.

Iran has been accused of shipping the drones it already has to conflict zones, notably Syria. With the global market for drones booming, what does the proliferation of this technology mean for the future of warfare?

GlobalPost's ongoing series, The Drone Age, seeks to answer that question. In our latest report, Jason Barry examines the moral implications of programming machines to drop bombs – the pioneer and main practioner of which, lest we forget, remains the United States.

Strange but true:
To the list of people you'd never want to be your parent (Tom Cruise; Joan Crawford; Woody Allen; did we mention Tom Cruise?) can now be added Hong Kong businessman Cecil Chao, who is offering a $65-million bounty to the man who'll marry his openly lesbian daughter.

Gigi Chao is in fact already married, to her long-time female partner. But that hasn't gone down too well with papa – who's known, incidentally, as the "playboy tycoon" for his claim to have bedded 10,000 women.

"I don't mind whether he is rich or poor," says Chao of his prospective son-in-law. "The important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted." ... And a man. Mainly, he has to be a man.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-bomb-syrian-army-headquarters