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Chatter: Typhoon Bopha kills hundreds in the Philippines

A deadly typhoon wreaks havoc in the Philippines, Egyptian protesters take the fight right to President Morsi's door, and they don't make French men like they used to.
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Need to know:
More than 200 people are feared dead
in the Philippines after a powerful typhoon.

An average of 20 storms batter the Philippines each year, but, with gusts of up to 93 mph, Typhoon Bopha is the biggest of 2012. The death toll has more than doubled since Bopha first made landfall in the south of the country yesterday, and hundreds more are still missing amid landslides and flash floods.

The storm is now weakening and moving west, out into the South China Sea. But it leaves behind a trail of lasting destruction: thousands of people are displaced, power and communication lines are down, roads and bridges are in ruins, and millions of dollars' worth of crops have been destroyed.

Want to know:
It's fair to assume that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is keeping his curtains drawn today, as just outside the presidential palace are camped hundreds of protesters demanding that he quit.

As many as 100,000 demonstrators surrounded the palace last night, at one point forcing Morsi to leave the premises via a back door (he has since returned).

"The people want the downfall of the regime," the crowd chanted, a refrain heard nonstop in Cairo and other cities since Morsi granted himself supra-legal powers almost two weeks ago. A controversial, hastily approved draft constitution hasn't helped matters, either.

But as protesters besiege the president – literally – the fear is that he will use his new authority to enact a serious crackdown. As GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham warns from Cairo, the rhetoric from each side wil only get harder – and that doesn't bode well for Egypt's upcoming referendum on its new constitution.

Dull but important:
Corruption is a problem, well, pretty much everywhere. 

That's what we learn from Transparency International's latest global index, which ranks perceptions of public-sector corruption in 176 of the world's countries. There was little movement at the top and bottom of the chart: New Zealand, Denmark and Finland remain the least corrupt countries, while Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are still seen as the worst. (See the full ranking here.)

Worryingly, though, several European countries slid downward – notably Greece, which, at 94th place, is now ranked level with Colombia, India and Moldova. Is honesty the latest casualty of the euro-zone crisis?

Just because:
As Farida Afridi walked to work from her house in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan, two men on motorcycles stopped her, drew their guns and opened fire. She was hit five times in her chest and head. She was 25.

What makes Afridi's murder all the worse is that it came as no surprise. She started a nonprofit that organized seminars on female empowerment, a project that she and her family knew would put her in the crosshairs of local militants affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Yet, women's right advocates tell GlobalPost, they are just as angry at the Pakistani government as they are at the militants. Pakistani authorities are unable – or unwilling – to protect women advocating for human rights, they say, with the result that fewer and fewer women are working in the field. GlobalPost's Mariya Karimjee meets some of the people engaged in what is all too often a deadly fight for rights.

Strange but true:
Like "mademoiselle" and heterosexual-only marriage, does the cliché of the virile Frenchman belong to a temps perdu?

A nationwide study has found that France's sperm count is in decline. After testing the semen of 26,600 men, researchers say the collective sperm count fell by one third between 1989 and 2005.

The scientists aren't sure what's causing it – diet? Lifestyle? Chemicals? – but they say the drop is severe enough to constitute "a serious public health warning." Zut, alors.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-typhoon-bopha-kills-hundreds-the-philippines