Chatter: What will be Pope Benedict's legacy in Cuba?




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Need to know:
If Pope Benedict XVI wants to leave a lasting impression on Cuba, today is his final chance

The papal plane is due to whisk him back to Rome this afternoon, and so far, the talk during his visit has all been of "reconciliation," "unity," "freedom" and "greater openness." If critics of Raul Castro's government were looking for something more direct, they haven't heard it yet.

Benedict held a closed-doors meeting with the Cuban president yesterday; it's possible he'll also meet with Fidel Castro, though nothing has yet been confirmed. Before he's even left, the signs from the Cuban side suggest that the pope won't be a motor for change. Vice-president Marino Murillo bluntly told reporters: "There will be no political reform in Cuba." 

Want to know:
Damage to one of Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactors is much worse than we thought. An internal review has revealed that reactor No. 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant still has lethal levels of radiation, and far less cooling water than previously estimated.

According to operating company Tepco, a probe inserted yesterday detected the highest radiation levels yet recorded at the plant – up to 10 times the fatal dose.

Tepco must now carry out further studies to see whether it will still be possible to decommission the reactors as planned within 30 to 40 years.

Dull but important:
The Israeli opposition has a new leader.
 Former defense minister and army chief Shaul Mofaz defeated the incumbent, Tzipi Livni, in a bitterly fought contest for the chairmanship of the Kadima party, Israel's largest

Iranian-born Mofaz took 62 percent of the votes to his long-time rival's 37 percent, finally clinching the win he narrowly missed out on in 2008. In his victory speech, he promised Kadima would lead Israel's next government and reopen peace talks with the Palestinians.

Ex-foreign minister Livni is expected to announce her retirement from politics.

Just because:
"She represents the truth. She’s always doing the right thing," says one Burmese voter. "I trust her like I trust my father."

He's referring to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate and democracy campaigner who is standing for elected office in Myanmar for the first time.

As by-elections approach this Sunday, the country's largest city, Yangon, is in the full grip of Suu Kyi fever. Many of her supporters view her as a national messiah able to overcome any obstacle – to the extent that the main challenge for her party going forward might be how to keep popular expectations in check.

Strange but true:
Sometimes, the only word that's appropriate is: oof. That was certainly our reaction when we saw this video of New Zealand cricketer Kane Williamson getting struck in the crotch by an 86-mph fast ball. 

For those of you not familiar with the game, cricket balls are made of wood and leather. Oof, indeed.