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Chatter: Did Syrian rebels use chemical weapons?

A UN investigator says rebels may be using sarin gas in Syria, Malaysia disputes its election results, a neo-Nazi trial makes for uncomfortable viewing in Germany, and moon landing memorabilia to make your heart race.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

Clue, the Syria edition. Was it the army in Homs with a nerve agent, or rebels in Aleppo with sarin gas? The allegations are flying in all directions, as a UN investigator claims to have evidence that suggests opposition forces are using the lethal poison sarinCarla del Ponte, one of the investigators leading the UN's inquiry into suspected war crimes in Syria, says her team does not have "incontrovertible proof" that that's the case, only "strong, concrete suspicions."

The problem with suspicions, however strong, is that they're based on testimonies and interpretations rather than cold, hard evidence, which has so far proved elusive. As GlobalPost has learned, initial blood tests on victims of one suspected chemical weapons attack found no trace of sarin, while other explanations for their symptoms are eminently possible. Before we get to who, what and where, we need to tackle whether. 

Malaysian malaise. The government is urging voters to put their differences behind them after one of the closest elections in Malaysia's history. Prime Minister Najib Razak and his ruling National Front coalition hung on to power despite their worst-ever poll result, and are now promising Malaysians a program of "national reconciliation."

The opposition, however, claims that the incumbents stole the election from them. Their leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has called for a full investigation into what he alleges were widespread irregularities. The voting may be over, but the campaign isn't.

WANT TO KNOW

Not a bargaining chip, just a straight-up criminal: that's Kenneth Bae for you, according to North Korea. The country's secretive regime has denied that it's keeping the US national prisoner in order to use him as a negotiating tool with Washington, and insists it has no plans to free him in exchange for a visit by a high-profile American.

As with most things North Korea says, no one's quite sure whether to believe it. Analysts suspect the country is looking for a way to back up its recent war rhetoric without actually, y'know, going to war; unfortunately for Bae, keeping hold of him could be the way Pyongyang chooses to do it.

Neo-Nuremberg. Germany has begun the trial of a woman believed to be at the heart of a neo-Nazi terror cell responsible for at least 10 deaths. Beate Zschaepe is accused of plotting to murder immigrants as part of a racist killing spree that was allowed to continue for seven long years.

The closely watched trial is expected to make for uncomfortable viewing, not only because of the violent fascist underworld it exposes, but because of the questions it will raise about why it wasn't exposed sooner.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Why honey, it's just what I never wanted. One lucky bidder could soon be the proud owner of a electrocardiogram showing the beat of Neil Armstrong's heart just before he made his historic moon landing in 1969.

The lot, part of an online auction of space memorabilia, is testimony to the astronaut's cool head under pressure: Armstrong's heartbeat, the read-out shows, stayed for the main impressively low, despite a few moments of worry as Apollo 11 began to run low on fuel. One small blip for man, one giant waste of money for whoever buys it.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-did-syrian-rebels-use-chemical-weapons

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