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Chatter: Egypt expects

Egypt is set for a day of rival protests, Edward Snowden may — or may not — be taking meetings, Ireland allows abortions that can save lives, and Italy proves that not having a house can't get you out of house arrest.
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NEED TO KNOW

Egypt is a tinderbox. It's Friday. It's Ramadan. There's been something that fits almost every definition of a coup. The president's somewhere in custody and hundreds of his party's members have warrants out for their arrest. Really, who wouldn't protest?

Supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi are gathering in east Cairo, while thousands of the protesters who called for his removal are due in Tahrir Square. Both sides have called on demonstrators to keep things non-violent; only a true gambler would bet on it.

When rebels rebel. According to a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, militants also fighting Syria's government but linked to Al Qaeda have killed one of the top commanders in the internationally backed rebel army. Extremists belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacked FSA commander Kamal Hamami as he met them to discuss battle plans, the FSA said.

If confirmed, the attack could signal a growing rift between the various factions in the armed Syrian opposition. The political opposition is hardly united either, as the resignation this week of rebel prime minister Ghassan Hitto amply demonstrates. In a GlobalPost interview, Hitto describes the crises that led him to quit — and how other countries ought to be tackling them.

WANT TO KNOW

Would the real Edward Snowden please stand up? A number of Russian human rights activists received a curious email yesterday. Sent from an address claiming to belong to one "Ed Snowden," it complained of a campaign of harrassment by the US government against the National Security Agency whistleblower — and invited them to meet him at his headquarters by default, Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

Airport officials say that the meeting is due to take place at 5 p.m. today. But invitees — and any CIA agents lurking in the wings — would do well to remember what happened last time Russian officials said Snowden would be somewhere: Seat 17A, anyone? We hear it isn't taken. 

Ireland legalizes abortion, a little. For the first time in Ireland's history, a woman can now terminate her pregnancy if doing so will save her life. After days of emotional debate, the Irish parliament has passed a law to allow a crucial exception to its longstanding ban on abortion.

The reform is a landmark for the Catholic country. It comes, ironically enough, nine months after the tragic death of a woman denied a termination as her fetus bled out gave Ireland the "never-again" moment that added fresh urgency to the long campaign to overhaul Ireland's abortion laws. Women's rights campaigners say this new medical exemption is a start — but only a start.

Happy birthday, Malala. How's this for a teen birthday party: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by Taliban for advocating education rights, will address the United Nations headquarters in New York today, the day she turns all of 16 years old.

"One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world," she is due to say, in a speech that's due to focus on making education free and compulsory for all children. "Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons." 

STRANGE BUT TRUE

No house? No problem! In Italy, police won't let a little detail like that stop them from putting you under house arrest. Or more accurately, sidewalk arrestThat's where one homeless offender finds himself after one misdemeanour too many.

Domenico Codispoti has been ordered to serve out his sentence on the closest thing he has to a premanent address: a strip of Milan sidewalk. Officers will check to make sure he's there by sundown, and stays put until 7 a.m. the following day. Codispoti has requested jail time instead in order to have a roof over his head; the court tells him he has to sleep rough until at least April 2014. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-egypt-expects

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