Amazingly, key leaders are still optimistic about Syria talks

GlobalPost
A girl inspects damage in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria Jan. 10, 2016.
Bassam Khabieh

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NEED TO KNOW:

The first blast was a car bomb at a local bus station. As people gathered to help the victims affected by that blast near one of the holiest of Shia shrines near Damascus, two suicide bombers blew themselves up. That's when at least 60 people died and more than 100 were injured.

The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibiity, which is horrible news for all of the obvious reasons and then some. First the obvious: these tragic deaths add to the misery of a now five-year-long war that has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people and made refugees out of 10 million more.

The less obvious: the fact that the attacks occurred today, two days after indirect Syria peace talks got off to a rocky start, makes it even harder for discussions to get off the ground. On Sunday, UN mediator Staffan de Mistura met with the main opposition bloc for the first time, but the opposition said they might still walk away from talks unless their preconditions are met to ease the suffering of civilians in targeted rebel-held areas.

The Syrian regime, meanwhile, said the blasts confirmed the link between the opposition and the Islamic State. Under no circumstances, said the regime, would they negotiate with terrorists. 

Amazingly, some key leaders are still optimistic about talks. John Kerry has urged for talks to carry on despite the attacks, saying there is no military solution in sight. And the UN's Mistura is "optimistic and determined" that "historic" talks are in our midst. Hope so.

WANT TO KNOW:

There are a lot of big numbers flying around as the world struggles to understand and hopefully control the spread of the Zika virus.

The epicenter of this apparent crisis is northeastern Brazil, where there has been a reported surge in children born with abnormally small heads — a condition know as microcephaly.

Media outlets have been quick to jump on a scary connection thought to be between a fast-spreading virus and disfigured babies. But, as GlobalPost's Will Carless reports, a closer look at the numbers and the terminology being used by government officials and the media suggests everybody should stop to take a very deep breath.

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

Get ready for El Chapo-brand luggage, jewelry, toys and more! Somehow, the Mexican druglord's daughter Alejandra Gisselle Guzman was able to trademark her father's nickname.

The Mexican Institute of Industrial Property approved the trademark "El Chapo" through to 2020, authorizing the newly recaptured kingpin’s family to use it for four different lines of products, including jewelry, watches, real and fake leather products, luggage, toys, sportswear and even Christmas tree lights.

Curiously, according to GlobalPost's Simeon Tegel, authorities turned down 20 other requests from family members of El Chapo to register a long list of trademarks — including El Chapo Guzman, Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, El Chapito Guzman and Don Chapo Guzman (one intended for a tequila brand). Guess nothing says "El Chapo" like, um, "El Chapo."