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Chatter: Nelson Mandela hangs on

The world watches, waits and prays as Nelson Mandela's condition worsens, the EU finally agrees on its budget, John Kerry still hopes for peace in the Middle East, and Japan's one-man campaign against "Engrish."
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

Nelson Mandela is "still there." The former South African president's family, visiting him on his 20th day in hospital, say he remains in critical condition but is, for the moment, stable.

The situation is serious enough that President Jacob Zuma chose to cancel a planned trip to Mozambique to remain in South Africa. "Anything is imminent," according to Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe, "but I want to emphasise again that it is only God who knows when the time to go is."

The EU agrees. The European Union has finally — finally — reached a deal on its next seven-year budget, which lays out how to spend up to 960 euros ($1.3 trillion) across 27 countries between 2014 and 2020. EU leaders agreed on the budget back in February, but it took this long to get the European Parliament to consent to ratify it.

The newfound harmony might bode well for the EU economic summit beginning today in Brussels, which aims to tackle soaring levels of unemployment. Twenty-six million people out of work hope so.

WANT TO KNOW

John Kerry's on a mission. The US Secretary of State is shuttling between Israel and Jordan today in a bid to restart the stalled Middle Eastern peace process.

It's his fifth visit to the region, and like every other before it, the trip has been preceded by the Israelis and the Palestinians blaming each other for the logjam. Kerry, the eternal optimist, remains persistent: he has said he wants progress before the next United Nations General Assembly in September.

No more DOMA. The Supreme Court of the United States yesterday ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, affording same-sex couples who are legally wed the same treatment as their married heterosexual counterparts.

What does that mean in practice? A lot. This American-Brazilian couple can tell you just how much.

Sweet communist beer. For years, North Korea's Taedonggang lager has been the envy of its Southern neighbors, who find themselves stuck with only bland home brews.

But tastes, they are a-changing. South Korean lawmakers are in the process of enacting a major beer reform that will see protective regulations scrapped and smaller, more inventive breweries encouraged. GlobalPost meets the microbrewers hoping to bring craft beers to the Korean peninsula

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Japan is having a spot of language "toraburu." That's "trouble," to the native English speaker, and a major pain in the neck to at least one elderly Japanese man. Hoji Takahashi, 71, is suing state broadcaster NHK for $14,000 to compensate for the "mental stress" of having to listen to the English-origin loan words used more and more by their presenters. 

Japan's institutions have a responsibility to translate into native terms, Takahashi argues, claiming that his country is in danger of becoming "a province of America." We'd love to hear the answers he'd get if he asked the average American for their "conpuraiansu."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-nelson-mandela-still-there

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