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Chatter: What we're hearing

Need to know: The U.S. is using a new strategy in its current offensive against the Taliban. Its troops will stay in the Marjah area to support Afghan police and government administration.

The U.S. and NATO offensive http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8513849.stm ">is making progress, say military sources. More than 15,000 U.S., U.K. and Afghan troops swept into the Helmand districts of Marjah and Nad Ali to secure government control. The drive against the Taliban is being led by 4,000 U.S. Marines, supported by 4,000 British troops, with smaller numbers of Canadians, Danes and Estonians.

In other news, a bomb blast ripped through a popular restaurant in Pune, India, killing at least 8 people and wounding more than forty others. The bombing is the first major attack of its kind in India since the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Want to know: What goes on to create the stupendous floats for Rio's wild Carnaval? Brazilian in samba schools work for months to create the colorful, mind-boggling floats that are the platforms for their provocative dances. Take a look.

Dull but important: Zimbabwe's unwieldy power-sharing government is threatened by the deadlock in negotiations between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe has stubbornly refused to budge and Tsvangirai has called for new elections.

Just because: A sign of possible progress in Myanmar is the release of  the deputy leader of the pro-democracy party Saturday. Tin Oo was released by the military regime after almost seven years in detention. Oo, 82, said he hoped the party's leader Aung San Suu Kyi would also soon gain freedom. Speaking after police officers entered his house and announced his release, a defiant Oo told reporters, "I will continue to work for democracy."

Wacky: Italian police seized 500,000 tons of counterfeit designer clothes, leather goods, jewelry and watches, which officers say are of excellent quality. The fake goods were discovered in eight industrial hangars east of Rome.

It is believed that the items would have been given Italian designer labels and sold in markets and on the streets of Italy's cities, where fake handbags, wallets and belts can be seen around tourist attractions. It is the latest in a massive haul of counterfeit goods in recent years. Italy's national retailers association say around 6.9bn euros ($9.3bn) of fake products are sold each year.

http://www.globalpost.com/notebook/africa/100213/chatter-what-were-hearing