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Chatter: Horror in Nairobi

Kenyan forces attempt to free the hostages still trapped inside a Nairobi mall with armed Islamist extremists, Angela Merkel wins a third term as Germany's chancellor — but not an outright majority, Pakistan's minorities protest after suicide bombers kill more than 80 Christians, and the key to getting good service, as per German psychologists.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

Crisis in Kenya. Imagine you're shopping one weekend in the middle of a busy mall. Imagine you suddenly hear bangs. Imagine it's gun shots and grenade explosions, launched by radical Islamists who make clear they'll kill you without a moment's thought. Imagine they take you hostage. And imagine they keep you there for almost 48 hours.

That's the frankly unimaginable situation an unknown number of people are in, right now, inside Nairobi's Westgate Mall. At least 68 have been killed; the true figure is almost certainly more. The latest reports indicate that Kenyan troops — with back-up from American, Israeli and British forces — are attempting to finally bring the crisis to an end. Several large explosions have been heard in the past hour, and pictures show smoke billowing from the mall where the attackers are believed to be surrounded. GlobalPost's senior correspondent is there, and will have all the latest developments on our live blog. Whatever comes of this latest operation, one thing is already clear: the human cost will be huge.

WANT TO KNOW

Make hers a triple. Angela Merkel and the conservative bloc she heads have won Germany's general election for a historic third time in a row. We say won: the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their regional partners in fact fell short of an absolute majority. But only just, and nowhere near enough to have "Mummy" Merkel clearing out her desk at the Chancellery. We call that #winning.

One woman does not a Bundestag make, however, and Merkel is a little lonelier there at the top. Her party's junior coalition partner took a beating, failing to win the minimum 5 percent required to sit in parliament. That means they're in the market for a new ally, with the Social Democrats, the center-left opposition — and second-place runner-up — the most likely candidates. The invitation to sit at the CDU's table has proved something of a poisoned chalice to the previous two parties who accepted it, however, and the Social Democrats' leader is currently playing coy. Let the horse trading begin.

Killing in the name of. Pakistan has begun three days of national mourning for the 81 people killed in a double suicide bombing at a Peshawar church. The attack, which targeted hundreds of worshippers leaving Sunday mass in supposed revenge for US drone strikes, is said to be the deadliest ever on the country's Christians.

As families bury their dead, there's anger amid the grief. Christians — and other religious minorities, for that matter — complain that the authorities have done little to protect them against extremists who find ever more brutal ways, and ever more dubious reasons, to kill people. After protests in four of Pakistan's cities yesterday, more rallies are expected nationwide today.

Go East, young man. More and more Americans are seeking their fortune in China. They're in it for the adventure, the money — or to escape declining opportunities in the US.

In a new series, GlobalPost profiles average Americans who relocated to China and (mainly) succeeded. From the Bostonian who helped fuel a Beijing start-up frenzy to the Floridian who spotted the money to be made in cleaning up China's air, here's how they did it, and what they learned.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Want to get served sharpish at the bar? Forget leaning forward, waving your cash or even (shudder) clicking your fingers: researchers say the quickest way to get a drink is to act, well, sort of creepy. Psychologists in Germany found that people who stationed themselves near the bartender and fixed them with a stare got their orders sooner than those amateurs who wasted time talking to friends or reading the menu.

The researchers — who, by the by, are looking into this as part of their quest to build, oh, just a cocktail-serving robot — say sustained eye contact is one of the clearest signals that you want someone's attention. We say: the bartender probably just wants to get rid of the creepster giving them the death stare. Either way, bottoms up.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-horror-nairobi

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