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Chatter: Enter Pope Francis

Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio for the win, Xi Jinping completes his rise to the Chinese presidency, death of a Khmer Rouge chief, and the greening of the northern wilds.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

Meet the new pope. With a puff of white smoke, the cardinals sequestered in Rome announced they had a winner: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina, henceforth known as Pope Francis I.

Bergoglio becomes the first Latin American pope, the first Jesuit pope, and the first from outside Europe in more than 1,000 years (kind of — his father was Italian). But same as the old pope, he is old, white and conservative. 

GlobalPost's John Otis writes that Bergoglio has a reputation as a humble servant of God and an advocate for the poor, but is also accused of being an accomplice in Argentina's "Dirty War."

WANT TO KNOW

China's new president. Moving away from Pope Francis, China also has a new leader.

Xi Jinping was similarly chosen in a secret conclave of sorts, though we've pretty much known for the past five years that he was destined to replace Hu Jintao as Chinese president. No smoke, no special robes. 

Sorry, Communist Party of China, but no one does pageantry like the Roman Catholics.

Khmer Rouge leader dies. Ieng Sary, a former top leader of the Khmer Rouge who was on trial for war crimes committed during the Cambodian genocide, has died at the age of 87

Ieng Sary was the second person to be tried by the slow-moving, UN-backed court in Cambodia established to seek justice for the millions who died under the Khmer Rouge.

"One of the most senior leaders is escaping justice, and the rest are old and sick," said Ou Virak, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. "The tribunal is in danger of being a wasteful exercise of hundreds of millions of dollars."

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Is Greenland turning green? Not yet, but other parts of the north are changing dramatically as climate change and warming temperatures mean longer growing seasons, allowing forests and crops to grow further north.

New satellite images from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center show that northern latitudes now look the way places four to six degrees further south (some 250 to 430 miles away) did as recently as 1982.

"It's like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-St. Paul in only 30 years," said Compton Tucker, a co-author of the NASA study.

OK, that might not sound so dramatic, but picture this: new vegetation has sprouted in a third of the northern latitudes in Canada and Russia, equaling some 3.5 million square miles  an area slightly less than the size of the United States.

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