NEED TO KNOW
The show trial of the century. Bo Xilai stepped into the dock today in what promises to be one of the highest-stake trials in China's modern history. Accused of bribery, graft and abuse of power, the former provincial Communist Party boss — who until today hadn't been seen in public for months — was led into a courtroom in Jinan to hear the state's charges against him. How the mighty have fallen, or been pushed.
For such a heavily stage-managed affair, however, it did bring some surprises: namely that Bo doesn't seem ready to play the role of Guilty Person #1 assigned to him. According to court transcripts, he renounced his confession, accused Party officials of intimidation, and dismissed his wife's admission of murder and other serious crimes as "comical." Then again, skeptics point out, all the courtroom theatrics may just be an artful way of lending the trial a more convincing air of legitimacy.
Whatever happened in Syria? We still don't know. But one thing's clear: it was bad. Opposition activists have put out an ever more disturbing stream of images of what they claim are the victims of a government-ordered chemical weapons attack on the residents of eastern Damascus. And while no independent sources have verified their accounts, several say what they're hearing from eyewitnesses bears the telltale signs of poison gas.
The UN Security Council, gathered for an emergency session, called for "clarity" above all — most likely under the pressure of China and Russia, two of the lone voices suggesting that Syrian rebels might have either made up or orchestrated the attack. UN inspectors have requested President Bashar al-Assad's permission to visit the site and find out once and for all; if he has nothing to hide, why would he say no?
WANT TO KNOW
Zimbabwe has a bad case of déjà vu. This morning, Robert Mugabe was inaugurated as president — just like he was in 1987, 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008. Does anyone spot a pattern?
Today's swearing-in ceremony was just as lavish as you'd expect from a man who's done it five times before. But of the 60,000 seats reserved for guests, none were occupied by members of the opposition, who accuse Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party of rigging the July elections that handed them their latest victory. Mugabe's challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, called the inauguration "a robber's party." Whatever it is, it's the continuation of the past 33 years — and the beginning of the next five.
How Korean filmmakers stormed Hollywood. The summer's biggest blockbuster hasn't even made it to the US yet. Snowpiercer, a dystopic tale of post-apocalyptic survivors who rebel against their oppressive overlords, stars a string of well-known Western actors and is South Korea's most expensive movie ever made. But it still doesn't have a US release date — much to the disappointment of the Korean film industry's growing circle of foreign fans.
A new generation of Korean directors are steadily building up global recognition. Here's GlobalPost's guide to the ones to watch.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
The press vs. the planet. You know what's killing the rainforests? Not drilling for oil, no sir. It's newspapers. That's according to Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, who's threatening to force the country's press to abandon their paper editions in order to "save trees."
Many Ecuadoreans don't have access to computers or smartphones, and observers say getting rid of the news that's fit to print would effectively be the end of a free press. That columnists have been critical of Correa's U-turn on allowing drillers into in the Yasuni national park is, of course, a coincidence.