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Chatter: Obama weighs action in Syria

No decision yet on Western military action in Syria, a report claims that Kim Jong-un's rumored ex-girlfriend was executed, and in a less than shocking revelation, Toronto's mayor admits to having smoked a lot of pot.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

The wrangling continues. While Barack Obama has concluded that Syrian government forces did carry out a chemical weapons attack near Damascus, the US president says he has not yet decided on retaliatory military action.

In a TV interview, Obama said that sending "a shot across the bow" could have a positive impact on the war in Syria, and would send Bashar al-Assad's regime "a pretty strong signal that they better not do it again."

But at the UN Security Council, Syrian ally Russia refused to agree to a resolution which would have authorized measures to protect Syrian civilians.

As the potential for Western military strikes grows, Damascus residents are fearful, angry and have little hope for the future. “Syrians have spoken a lot, but no one listens,” one woman told GlobalPost. “Syrians feel that everyone benefits from their pain.”

WANT TO KNOW

Colombia is ready to talk. After half a century of war in his country, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said he is ready to start peace talks with the National Liberation Army, the smaller of two leftist rebels groups.

The move toward dialogue comes after the group, known as the ELN, freed a Canadian geologist this week, having held him hostage for seven months. Santos began peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in November.

Did Kim Jong-un have his ex-lover killed? A South Korean newspaper has claimed the young North Korean leader's rumored ex-girlfriend was among a dozen people executed by firing squad nine days ago.

Hyon Song-wol, a singer known for her 2005 hit "Excellent Horse-Like Lady," is said to have been arrested on August 17 with 11 other performers, for violating laws against pornography.

Specifically, they were accused of making videos of themselves performing sex acts, and then selling the recordings, though a source reportedly told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper that some had bibles in their possession, and all were treated as political dissidents.

Given the news vacuum in North Korea, we have no idea if the report is true. But dissidents are routinely executed at North Korea's horrific prison camps, according to accounts from former inmates. 

STRANGE BUT TRUE

It must be 4:20 in Toronto. So what if Canada's biggest city lagged in fourth place on the Economist's 2013 list of most livable cities in the world. If there was an international ranking of colorful mayors, Toronto would smoke the competition.

Rob Ford, the rotund mayor best known for the alleged crack-smoking video scandal earlier this year, has now publicly admitted to smoking "a lot" of marijuana.

"Oh yeah ... I smoked a lot of it," Ford told reporters, leaving out when exactly he had last partaken in the plant.

Earlier this month Ford was back in the spotlight for appearing to stumble and slur his speech while attending a Greek food festival in Toronto. There's a video. But surely he was just tired and emotional.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-obama-weighs-action-syria