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Chatter: Damascus hit by second bomb in two days

A powerful explosion is reported in the center of Syria's capital, violence flares in Gaza and the West Bank, investigators try to work out whose DNA is on the Boston bombs, and has McDonald's discovered the secret of anti-aging?
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

Damascus bombed, again. At least 13 people are dead after a large explosion in the center of the Syrian capital, according to state media. The blast, which was followed immediately by gunfire, was reportedly caused a car bomb detonated outside the back door of an interior ministry building.

It's the second major explosion to hit the city in two days, after a bombing yesterday that targeted the Syrian prime minister. The war has come to Damascus; it looks like it's settling in.

Two dead, one wounded, one arrested: it's a grim toll from Gaza and the West Bank today. An Israeli airstrike killed one Palestinian and injured another in Gaza City. In the northern West Bank, meanwhile, a Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli settler to death at a bus stop; police shot and then arrested him.

Both incidents represent two unhappy firsts: Israel's first deadly strike against Gaza since its war and cease-fire with Hamas in November, and the first time a Palestinian has killed a settler in the West Bank since 2011.

WANT TO KNOW

Someone else touched the Boston bombs. Investigators say they found DNA on one of the two explosive devices detonated at the Boston Marathon that can't have come from either of the two brothers accused of carrying out the attack: it belongs to a woman.

It's not clear yet whether the DNA is from a spectator at the race, someone who sold the bomb materials, or someone who could have helped suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. While analysts seek to answer those questions, FBI agents have taken DNA samples from Tamerlan Tsarnaev's home and from his widow; but she is not considered a suspect (though perhaps a person of interest) in the attacks.

Who abdicated and made you king? The Netherlands is celebrating a right royal retirement today, as Queen Beatrix signs the deed of abdication that gives her son her crown. All hail Willem-Alexander, the first Dutch king in over 100 years and, at 46, Europe's youngest monarch.

The practice of stepping down to make way for the new generation is apparently something of a tradition for that royal family. We can only imagine what Prince Charles, the UK's eternal king-in-waiting, must make of it.

What does a German auto maker have to do with Argentina's Dirty War? More than you'd think – and soon, they might be forced to pay for it. In the 1970s, when Argentina's ultra-right-wing military regime was "disappearing" thousands of its opponents, nine labor representatives at a car plant owned by Daimler's Mercedes-Benz were seized, never to be seen again. Daimler admits that the plant management cooperated with the authorities, but denies that it wanted or assisted the murder of its workers.

Now the victims' relatives are seeking compensation via US courts, a suit that Daimler is challenging in the Argentine Supreme Court. As both sides await the verdict, GlobalPost delves into the background of a thorny, and tragic, case.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Ever wondered what a McDonald's burger looks like after 14 years? Well, pretty much the same. That disturbing revelation comes courtesy of Utah man David Whipple, who claims to have found an old McDonald's in his coat pocket, where it had languished, uneaten, since 1999. Puzzlingly, there were no signs of decay or mold (making these the only circumstances in which you'd actually long for your Big Mac to show signs of mold, or slime, or some humanity, darn it.)

McDonald's says the burger's unnaturally spry appearance has something to do with the "absence of moisture." Which, frankly, isn't selling it to us either.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-damascus-hit-second-bomb-two-days