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Chatter: The pope has quit

The Vatican makes a surprise announcement, there's a mining disaster in Russia, Europe's horsemeat scandal trots on, and the world's largest crocodile is an ex-largest crocodile.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

It's time to pick a new pope. Breaking reports from the Vatican say that Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month.

We didn't see that one coming. There's no official word yet as to why – but as to who's next, the speculation begins now.

Mali's army has won the battle for Gao – for now. Malian and French troops say they are back in control of the northern city, after fending off yesterday's surprise attack by Islamist militants. In an attempt to recapture their former stronghold from government forces, the rebels paddled into the city in boats and unleashed several hours of fierce fighting that left numerous fighters and at least two civilians dead.

Malian soldiers are now going door to door to hunt down any rebels who survived.

Mining's a dangerous business, especially in Russia. At least 10 miners are dead after an explosion at a coal mine in the country's far north. Around 250 people escaped from the mine near Vorkuta in the Russian Arctic, but seven are still feared trapped underground.

The blast has been blamed on a build-up of methane gas, the same problem that has caused deadly explosions in the past at other Russian mines.

WANT TO KNOW

After the tragedy, the blame. The head of the committee in charge of organizing India's Kumbh Mela festival has resigned, the day after at least 36 people were killed trying to make their way home from the holy Ganges river. A stampede broke out at the train station in Allahabad, in northern India, as tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims returned from the festival's main day of ritual bathing.

The chair of the Kumbh Mela committee said today he would quit "on moral grounds."

So hungry you could eat a horse? If you live in one of the 16 European countries where "beef" turned out to be horsemeat, perhaps you already have. As supermarkets pull more and more processed meat from their shelves, authorities are scrambling to determine how and where horses first galloped into the food chain – no easy task, it turns out, since the EU supply network is almost comically complex.

A French company says it bought frozen meat from a Cypriot trader, who got it from a Dutch firm, who got it from a slaughterhouse in Romania (who got it from... a paddock?). We'll know more when France releases the results of its investigation on Wednesday.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

So long, Lolong. The world's largest crocodile – at least, the largest we know about – has died in his pen in the Philippines. Lolong, who measured just shy of 21 foot and is accused of eating several water buffalo and at least one man in his time, snapped his last on Sunday night. It's thought that eating a nylon cord may have proved fatal for the toothy beast, though we'll have to await the results of an autopsy for the official cause of death.

First the world's longest cat, now the world's largest croc? World's tallest dog, you stay safe, y'hear?

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