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Chatter: North Korea sentences American for 'hostile acts'

North Korea sends an American to a gulag for unspecified crimes, police say the Boston bomb suspects had help, life isn't rosy in the new Myanmar, and the names so bad New Zealand had to ban them.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

Welcome to the gulag. North Korea has sentenced a US citizen, Kenneth Bae, to 15 years' forced labor for unspecified "hostile acts" against the regime. Bae, who was detained after entering the country as a tourist in November, has admitted to "crimes aimed at toppling" North Korea.

At least, that's what state media tells us. Others suspect he's being used as a human bargaining chip, one that will force the US to send a high-profile figure to North Korea to negotiate his release and allow Pyongyang to claim a diplomatic triumph even as it clambers down from its untenable war-like posturing. Washington may find itself with little choice but to play the game and unleash the big guns. That's right: Jimmy Carter.

WANT TO KNOW

Who would help the Boston bombers? According to police, at least three people are accused of helping the younger of the two suspects to cover his tracks after the marathon attack. Three 19-year-old men, college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, allegedly removed crucial evidence from his dorm room and lied to police in the days following the bombing.

They were taken into custody yesterday and now face charges of obstructing an investigation. Their lawyers say they didn't realize the items they took, including a backpack full of fireworks emptied of their explosives, were anything suspicious; investigators say they couldn't have thought otherwise.

Beware Greeks bearing gifts – when they're only for other Greeks. Police in Athens used tear gas to prevent the far-right Golden Dawn party distributing food parcels to Greek nationals only. The thoroughly uncharming anti-immigration movement has been known to check ID cards to ensure its hand-outs go exclusively to "real" Greeks.

"Thuggery will not prevail," declared the capital's mayor. But as the fifth-largest political party in Greece, not all of Golden Dawn's initiatives can be blocked with brute strength.

Myanmar rising? After decades of human rights abuses, Myanmar's generals have recently freed political prisoners, reduced censorship and held limited elections, prompting other countries to lift sanctions. But a year-long GlobalPost investigation has found that protests, violence and cronyism are testing Myanmar's reforms – and tarnishing the reputation of global icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a new, in-depth series, GlobalPost reports what happens when Myanmar emerges.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

What's in a name? Oh, nothing much, so long as that name doesn't stand to expose you to life-long ridicule. Or a lawsuit. Like "4Real," for example. Or "Bishop." Or "Anal." Or "."

Those are some pretty terrible names, am I right? And yet. It didn't stop people in New Zealand – several people – attempting to give them to their children. Happily, for the kids at least, the government stepped in to stop them. (Full list of the offending monikers here.) Those children might not be stuck with that name, but lordy, they're stuck with those parents.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-north-korea-sentences-american-hostile-acts