NEED TO KNOW
Some proof is better than others. Two days after a United Nations presented its report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and made the strongest case yet that complex poision-gas missiles were fired there less than one month ago, Russia has announced that it has some evidence of its own. Courtesy of the Syrian government. And — surprise! — it shows it was the other guys who did it.
Fresh from a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle in Damascus, Russia's deputy foreign minister said he had been handed "material evidence" that supports the — it's fair to say, less common — belief that Syrian rebels obtained, hid, positioned, fired and then re-hid sophisticated missile launchers, all right next to known Syrian military bases. Moscow hasn't yet revealed what Damascus has found that UN inspectors haven't, but has called for it to be analyzed as a necessary rejoinder to the UN's "politicized, biased and unilateral" report.
That seems a harsh assessment, given that the report's authors strenuously refrained from assigning any blame for the Syrian attacks. You want a unilateral account, try — oh, I don't know — one given by a government single-mindedly pursuing its own interests. Just ask the US and the UK: they wrote the book, or rather the dossier, on cherry-picking the evidence for or against war. And they could tell Russia: it might help you get what you want, but it doesn't convince anyone.
WANT TO KNOW
Guess who's not coming to dinner? Clue: She's Brazilian, she's pretty important, and the US intelligence services have been spying on her for months. That's right, President Dilma Rousseff has confirmed that she is cancelling her state visit to the US next month in response to the revelations that she and other Brazilians were placed under National Security Agency Surveillance.
The trip was to be the first official visit to Washington by a Brazilian president in almost two decades, and would have set the seal on recent improvements in the two governments' relations. Now, no new meeting has been scheduled. The White House says it understands, but hopes to "move beyond this issue" with Brazil. That's easier for the spier than the spied upon.
Down in Acapulco... is definitely not somewhere you want to be right now. Mexico's most famous beach resort is pretty much underwater after the double whammy of Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid. Thousands of people have been stranded by torrential rain, flooding and landslides, even as the government sends in troops to begin airlifting hapless tourists out.
In total more than 50 people have died since the storms reached Mexico last weekend. Around two thirds of the country is said to have been affected, and forecasters warn that eastern Mexico is still at risk of severe floods and mud slides that could cost yet more lives.
Myanmar emerges. Under half a century of dictatorship in what was then Burma, dissidents used the arts to express the outrage that would otherwise bring them long prison sentences. Now, as the government tentatively democratizes and other countries try out lifting sanctions, Myanmar's creative critics are speaking out again.
In part two of GlobalPost's in-depth series on a changing Myanmar, our reporters track the effect of new freedoms — and the legacy of old repressions — on everyone from dissidents to musicians to children.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
Stares of a clown. Does anyone actually like clowns? We know they're meant to be funny and all, but show us the kid who laughs at a grown adult dressed as a deformed tramp with a perma-leer and we'll show you a future sociopath. That's just our theory, of course, but to judge by reactions to a mysterious clown who's taken to hanging around street corners in one UK town, it's one that most people would back us up on.
The creepy "comic" bears an eerie resemblance to the demonic clown in Stephen King's 'It,' and has been showing up at random places and times all over the town of Northampton. There, he stares. Just stares. And sometimes — the horror — he's carrying a clown teddy bear. We're sorry to say it, Northampton, but this is one staring contest it's best you lose.