Need To Know

In Israel, between Israelis and Palestinians and between Jews and Muslims, a certain amount of tension is an everyday part of life. But some times are worse than others. These are those times.

Fierce clashes recently erupted near a sacred Jerusalem site known by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, home of the Al Aqsa Mosque. The site is also sacred to Jews, who call it the Temple Mount. Extremist Jews have called for Al Aqsa's destruction and the site is not protected by government security forces. On Wednesday someone tried to assassinate a high-profile right-wing Israeli-American activist who had agitated for more Jewish access to the site.

Thursday morning, Israeli police shot and killed that someone, a Palestinian man living in east Jerusalem. A week earlier, another Palestinian man plowed his car into a group of people in the area, apparently on purpose, though we won't know for sure because that man was shot dead by Israeli police at the scene.

Jewish settlers have now also moved into parts of a neighborhood called Silwan, which is close to Al Aqsa Mosque and is land that belongs to Palestinians. Furious Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police.

As a result of all the tension, Israeli authorities closed the holy site to everyone for the first time in a long time. The Israeli parliament is now considering a measure that would reform how the site is shared between Jews and Muslims, a move that could spark further clashes.

Such friction is visible on the world stage, where always tenuous relations between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have become only more tenuous of late. At the heart of the problem is that Netanyahu continues to allow settlement construction on land Palestinians have claimed for a future state. Most recently Netanyahu said he would expedite the building of 1,000 new settler homes in east Jerusalem.

The tension in Jerusalem comes after the summer's war in Gaza, where a massive Israeli bombing campaign and related hostilities killed more than 2,200 people. Almost all of the casualties during 51 days of conflict were Palestinian.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems only to be getting worse.

Want To Know

A blogger in China named Zhou Xiaoping just got the endorsement of a lifetime. Chinese President Xi Jinping singled the writer out in a speech, calling his work “positive energy.” It was a controversial choice.

The blogger writes mostly about the United States, which would be cool if anything he wrote was based in reality.

“One of his best-known pieces, headlined 'Nine Knockout Blows' against America, claims that Hollywood is part of a plot to undermine China and compares American attitudes toward the Chinese to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews,” writes Robert Foyle Hunwick from Beijing.

The craziest part? The blogger has never even been to the United States.

Fang Shimin, China's foremost anti-fraud crusader, trashed Zhou Xiaoping's claims in a post that went viral. That is, until the post was taken down by Chinese censors, and all of Fang Shimin's blogs were deleted.

The famed Chinese writer was essentially erased from the internet because he criticized the president's favorite blogger. Lesson learned? Not really. His blogs erased, he turned to Twitter, where his followers doubled over night.

Strange But True

This one is just in time for Halloween. In a tiny — like, really tiny — village in Ireland there is a cottage, the inhabitants of which have a truly difficult time staying alive. In the last couple decades its former residents have died of smoke inhalation, stabbing and a car accident. One hanged himself.

The latest person to die in the house was a mother of an autistic child. That child is now accused of her murder. But is he really guilty? Couldn't it have also been, say, fairies? Some residents are choosing to believe it. Better safe than sorry, they say.

Industrialization weakened Ireland’s belief in the fairy world but didn’t stamp it out completely, Criostoir Mac Carthaigh, an archivist at the National Folklore Collection in Dublin, told GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Corinne Purtill.

“Irish fairies are no Disneyfied pixies: They hold grudges,” Purtill writes.