Connect to share and comment

What we're hearing right now.

Chatter: France says Mali campaign 'developing favorably'

France is confident its troops will soon be out of Mali, the crisis in Syria is only getting worse, 'Argo' sweeps the Golden Globes, and the royal baby has a due date.
ChatterEnlarge
Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

        *We take your privacy seriously, GlobalPost will not share your information with any other companies.

NEED TO KNOW

France says its military campaign in Mali is "developing favorably" and should last only "a matter of weeks." French troops are now four days in to their operation to halt the advance of Islamist rebels from northern Mali, and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says they have successfully halted the insurgents' push south. That's with the deaths of one French pilot, 11 Malian soldiers, more than 100 suspected rebels and at least 11 civilians, three of them children.

France has called a meeting of the UN Security Council today to discuss the latest developments.

Dozens of people are reported dead in airstrikes near the Syrian capital, several of them children. Opposition activists say as many as 36 people were killed when government forces bombarded rebel-held areas on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday, including 14 children and five women. Some of the victims were reportedly just six months old.

The bombing campaign is said to be one of the heaviest since the conflict began, 22 months ago. It only adds more weight to the International Rescue Committee's latest warning that the ongoing crisis is turning into a "staggering humanitarian disaster" for the entire Middle East.

WANT TO KNOW

Welcome to "the greatest show on earth." Kumbh Mela, the Hindu festival of purification that takes place once every 12 years, kicked off today in northern India. Over the next 55 days, more than 100 million pilgrims are expected to converge on the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet, in whose holy waters they will bathe themselves to wash away their sins.

It's believed to be the biggest human gathering anywhere on the planet, and as these photos show, it's pretty darn spectacular.

Congratulations, Ben Affleck, who has two shiny new statuettes to add to his awards cabinet after last night's Golden Globes. Affleck's Iran hostage thriller 'Argo' earned him both the Best Director and Best Drama prizes. A sign of things to come at the Oscars? Not exactly, since Affleck isn't nominated in the Academy's directing category.

One award we're pretty confident will be repeated, though, is Best Foreign Film, which went to Michael Haneke's 'Amour' – already the winner of the Cannes Palm d'Or, and surely a shoo-in for the Oscar.

Whatever happened to K-pop? Time was when the "Korean Wave," South Korea's government-sponsored pop culture fad, was the hottest thing from Tokyo to Phnom Penh. But talk to teenagers in Southeast Asia today and they'll tell you that 'Gangnam Style,' the breakout hit that brought K-pop into speakers all over the world, is "so old, so old." Ouch.

GlobalPost's Geoffrey Cain investigates why the craze might be starting to lose steam.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Kate Middleton and Prince William's first child is due in July. True, because the royal spokespeople have confirmed it, though admittedly not that strange to anyone with a basic understanding of birds, bees and the human reproductive cycle.

Definitely strange, however, are the fevered calculations that're sure to follow. Yes, we can all work out what July minus nine months equals, and, if we chose, where exactly the royal couple were at the time. But that doesn't mean we should. Does it?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-france-mali