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Chatter: China's Xi Jinping goes AWOL

Rumors fly after China's president-in-waiting disappears from public view, Al Qaeda's growing influence in Africa, and Stinky the dolphin's unrequited love for scuba divers.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
                           
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Need to know:

China's president-in-waiting has been strangely absent from public view. 

After Xi Jinping canceled a number of recent high-level meetings, including ones with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, rumor mills went into overdrive: What happened to Xi? Was it a car accident? Nasty power struggle? Golf injury? Mild heart attack?

The latest theory is that Xi injured his back while taking his daily swim.

The rumors, on the heels of the Bo Xilai scandal, come at a particularly tense time in Chinese politics: the Communist Party is preparing for its once-a-decade power transition, with China's next top leaders to be unveiled at a party congress next month.

There has been no word on Xi's whereabouts from Beijing — in a stodgy tradition of official secrecy, China's government stays mum over the health of senior leaders.

Want to know:

Thousands will gather today in New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania to mark the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

In a video message coinciding with the anniversary, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri confirmed for the first time that his deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi, was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in June.

Military pressure, drone strikes and the assassination of Osama bin Laden have diminished Al Qaeda globally. But as GlobalPost reports in our in-depth series Al Qaeda in Africa, while Al Qaeda central wanes, affiliates elsewhere are growing stronger. 

In Africa, groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM), Boko Haram and Al Shabaab are finding ways of hitching Al Qaeda's ideology to local struggles.

Dull but important:

China says it has sent patrol ships to islands disputed with Japan.

A Chinese state media report said two ships had reached waters near the East China Sea islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, to "assert the country's sovereignty."

This comes as Japan confirmed it has sealed a deal to purchase three of the islands from their private Japanese owner, a move Beijing said would bring "serious consequences."

Japan controls the uninhabited islands, which are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potentially huge gas and oil deposits, and are also claimed by Taiwan.

Just because:

Andy Murray is celebrating after winning the US Open men’s singles final, capturing his first Grand Slam victory in an epic win over defending champion Novak Djokovic.

The UK is also cheering: Murray is the first British man to win a Grand Slam title since 1936.

Murray was described as looking "relieved and sore, rather than ecstatic" after the grueling match. And no wonder: at four hours and 54 minutes, it was the equal-longest US Open final in history.

Strange but true:

Scuba divers, beware: a randy dolphin named Stinky is looking for love in all the wrong places in waters off the Cayman Islands.

A recent encounter with Stinky, filmed by underwater videographer Michael Maes, shows the lonesome dolphin circling and trying to "ride" Maes before turning to Maes' friend.

Stinky is then seen rubbing his body along the other diver's back before trying to roll him over.

With frisky Stinky on the loose, a Cayman Islands TV station posted a poll on its website asking viewers whether the government should step in to stop the dolphin's advances.

The result was good for Stinky, but bad for divers: Fifty-one percent of respondents said no, 33 percent said yes and 8 percent said they didn't know or didn't care.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-china-xi-jinping-goes-awol