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Chatter: Obama goes to Israel

President Barack Obama makes his debut visit to Israel, Cyprus turns down an EU bailout, and South Korea thinks someone's been all up in its computers.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

Peace in the Middle East? Er, no. Barack Obama has just touched down in Israel for the first visit in his four years as US president, and we're all being warned: don't expect too much.

With war in Syria, uncertainty in Egypt and threats from Iran, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu will have plenty to talk about even before they get round to the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. And when they do, they'll find that the US still opposes settlement building, while Netanyahu's newly formed coalition government supports it.

Instead, Obama is expected to aim for a less ambitious goal: affirming that the US and Israel remain the best of friends. Analysts tell GlobalPost they predict "a workmanlike visit aimed at repairing dinged fences and bringing new life to long established ties."

Cyprus in crisis. The Cypriot government is locked in emergency talks after parliament rejected the European Union's bailout deal. Lawmakers couldn't stomach the tax on bank deposits that it would have required, but now find themselves minus the €10 billion that the EU and IMF would have stumped up to save Cypriot lenders – and, one might say, up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle.

The country's leaders are now scrambling to find an alternative cash dispenser, wooing potential saviors as diverse as the Russian government and the Orthodox Church. Meanwhile the rest of the euro zone, fearing the dangerous precedent a Cyprexit could set, has begrudgingly started to look for an acceptable plan B. Who knew one little island could cause so much trouble?

WANT TO KNOW

Korean tensions go cyber. South Korea is investigating what it suspects was an attack on computer systems at some of its biggest national institutions. At least two banks and three broadcasters reported mysterious malfunctions that brought their networks to a standstill.

By strange coincidence, the incident comes days after North Korea accused its neighbor and the US of waging a cyber war on its own state-run websites. The South Korean government says it is still not clear what caused today's crash, but speculation is rife that the answer lies in Pyongyang.

Let's talk about the way we talk about rape. In a week when a Swiss tourist was gang-raped in India and two high-school football stars were convicted of assaulting an unconscious teenager in the US, it's clear that rape continues to be a major global problem. But the uncomfortable truth is that the US has the highest number of reported rapes in the world – and yet much of the American media persists in treating what is seen as a serious problem in other countries as an exception in its own.

GlobalPost's Jean MacKenzie argues why, when it comes to sex crimes, the US has little room to preach to other countries.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Ladies – and the occasional gentleman – put that wax strip down. A new study has found that Brazilian waxing could leave you more vulnerable to sexually-transmitted disease. A French dermatologist has found that patients coming in with the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) were more often than not cleanly waxed or shaved, a link that he puts down to the fact that removing top layers of skin can transfer the bug to different areas.

If that's not a reason to go au naturel, we don't know what is.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-obama-goes-israel