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Chatter: A Syrian exodus

The two-millionth Syrian flees Syria, Israel tests a missile in the Med, Microsoft snaps up Nokia's phones, and you know things are bad when Dennis Rodman is your man in North Korea.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

Syria is a sinking ship. And everyone knows what you do when you're on one of those: you get off it. By boat, by car or by foot, Syrians are fleeing Syria, in their millions. As Western countries debate whether to send in their forces, the United Nations says the number of Syrians who have left their homeland to escape civil war topped 2 million today. 

The country is "hemorrhaging" its women, men and children, the UN's refugee agency says. (Here's the story of just a few of those people, who GlobalPost filmed as they got out by boat.) It took two years for the number of refugees to reach 1 million; it took six months for it to hit 2 million. If the United States approves the military strike that the White House is preparing to lobby Congress for — or indeed, if it doesn't — how long will it be before two becomes three?

Nice day for a missile test. That use of force in Syria everyone's talking about? It looks like words are coming scarily close to action, even before anything's been officially decided. Russia today reported that its early-warning systems had detected two ballistic "objects" fired toward the eastern Mediterranean Sea; and after a flurry of conflicting reports, Israel's Defense Ministry said that it had carried out a missile test.

It's unclear whether the US, which has been building up its naval forces in the Med, was also involved. The navy says no; Israel claims otherwise. We'll be following the latest accusations, denials and all the rest of it, here.   

WANT TO KNOW

Microsoft: Nokia's knight in shining armor, or its Trojan horse? Microsoft has acquired the once mighty Finnish company's main cellphone business for just over $7 billion. For the US software giant, it's a bold move into the mobile market; for Nokia, it's the conclusion to a long decline that has seen its share of the handset market more than halve in recent years. 

Is now the time to mention that, back in 2011, GlobalPost heard from Nokia employees who feared their newest CEO and former Microsoft man Stephen Elop was a mole, planted to drive the company into ruin so that Microsoft could buy it on the cheap? It surely is. 

Would everyone please stop buying Dennis Rodman plane tickets to North Korea? The excitingly-haired one is back in Pyongyang for the second time this year on another trip aimed at raising publicity for Rodman and his corporate sponsors and... er... that's it.

It certainly won't serve to help free Rodman's fellow American Kenneth Bae, who's been languishing in a North Korean labor camp since spring: Rodman announced that he had no plans to raise the topic of Bae's plight with his "friend," supreme leader Kim Jong Un. "I'm just going there on another basketball diplomacy tour," the former NBA star told reporters. "Try to start a basketball league over there, something like that." Um, thanks? 

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Behold the humble goldfish. Not so humble, as it turns out, but something of a snob: according to a new study, the famously forgetful fish can not only detect and recognize classical music, they even have a favorite composer. Scientists say their scaly subjects were consistently able to tell their Stravinsky from their Bach in underwater tests — and what's more, they demonstrated a marked preference (don't ask us how) for the German maestro.

And here was us thinking they'd prefer something with more — ahem — bass. Manta Ray Charles? Eella Fitzgerald? Catfish Stevens? Forgive us, do.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-syrian-exodus