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Chatter: Tunisia mourns, and protests

Murdered opposition leader Chokri Belaid is laid to rest but Tunisia isn't, Mali's rebels turn suicidal, South Africa faces its own "Delhi moment", and who says old men don't write good romance?
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NEED TO KNOW

Today, Tunisia mourns – and protests. Murdered opposition leader Chokri Belaid will be buried in Tunis after midday prayers, and it won't be a quiet send-off. Tunisia's largest trade union has called a nationwide strike and thousands are expected to turn out for a third day of rallies in the capital and elsewhere.

The unrest has already killed one police officer and thrown the government into turmoil. The crisis won't end when Belaid is laid to rest.

The war in Mali just got even uglier. A bomber blew himself up today in the northern city of Gao, the first time since this latest conflict began that the rebels have resorted to suicide tactics. The target was a group of Malian soldiers, one of whom was injured.

One of Mali's several Islamist rebel groups recently claimed it had opened "a new combat zone" by attacking military convoys and planting landmines. And with four civilians reported killed in a mine blast yesterday, it looks like the new combat zone isn't limited to combatants.

The manhunt continues in California, where a former LA cop is suspected of going on a shooting spree as vengeance for being sacked. Christopher Dorner has allegedly shot dead three people and wounded two others since launching his revenge attack.

Thousands of police officers have been sent to search the Southern California area, where they hope to catch Dorner before he can continue the "war" he has threatened to unleash on them and their families.

WANT TO KNOW

Winter storm Nemo may sound cuddly, but it promises to be anything but. The US northeast is braced for "potentially historic" blizzards as weather-watchers issue warnings from New Jersey to Maine. Ten to 14 inches of snow is expected to fall in New York, while Boston could get 2 feet. Strong winds of up to 45 mph are also predicted, and have already forced the cancellation of 1,700 flights.

Wrap up warm, or even better, stay indoors.

Is this South Africa's "Delhi moment"? Like India, South Africa has a rape problem. Like in India, activists have been trying to do something about it for years – but like in India, it has taken an exceptionally brutal gang rape for the political establishment to accept that the violence cannot be allowed to continue.

From Johannesburg, GlobalPost's Erin Conway-Smith asks whether South Africa's epidemic of sexual violence is finally headed for a cure.

We know we're early, but: Happy New Year! Lunar New Year, that is, which will be celebrated this weekend all over China and beyond. The Spring Festival, as it's also known, officially falls on February 10, but the party starts from the stroke of midnight tonight.

May the Year of the Snake bring you health, happiness, a living wage, fewer flames and not a single regional war.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Age equals experience. So it kind of makes sense that a pensioner would write thrilling romantic novels. Publishers see it differently, though: worried that grandpa romance might be a hard sell, one British company convinced 89-year-old author Bill Spence to sign his novels "Jessica Blair." More than 20 books later, Spence, a former World War II pilot and grandfather of four, has unmasked himself.

Hopefully the revelation won't affect sales of "Blair"'s latest oeuvre: Silence of the Snow is due out this week.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-tunisia-mourns-and-protests