Chatter: Mitt Romney scores a hat trick




Antler Agency

Need to know:
Mitt Romney can check three more states off his to-do list, after winning the Republican primaries in Maryland, DC and Wisconsin last night. 

With Romney now more than half way to the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, it looks like someone will have to stage an intervention to drag the other candidates off the campaign trail. Rick Santorum is still talking about "charging out of the locker room," Newt Gingrich believes he can charm delegates away Pied Piper-like, and Ron Paul (Ron Paul!)... well, maybe he's just forgotten his name's still in there.

Romney is the only one Barack Obama thinks he needs to remember. The Democratic candidate (who got his party's nomination sewn up in less than a year, thanks very much) has now started criticizing Romney by name. What bigger endorsement for a GOP presidential hopeful?

Want to know:
A motorcycle suicide bombing in the north of Afghanistan has killed at least 10 people. Four of the victims were police officers, the rest were civilians – two of them children.

The attacker was apparently targeting officials meeting today in Maimanah, the capital of Faryab province. 

Such attacks are rarer in the north than in the south or east of the country. NATO said earlier that two of its troops had been killed in another explosion in northern Afghanistan; it's not yet clear whether the incidents were related.

Dull but important:
The Syrian government claims it has begun withdrawing troops from the streets in compliance with an internationally-brokered peace plan. Activists continue to report explosions, raids and machine-gun fire in Homs and other cities, however.

The United Nations and Arab Lague have given President Bashar Al Assad until April 10 to call off his forces and implement a ceasefire. 

But the regime's record gives little reason to hope that commitment will be kept. In a measure of its brutality, human rights groups say the Syrian government has systematically targeted and tortured hundreds of children during the uprising. GlobalPost heard some of the accounts; they're not for the fainthearted.

Just because:
The announcement, last week, that Foxconn would bump up pay, reduce overtime and improve living conditions and safety protocols for its legions of Chinese workers producing Apple products sounded a lot like good news.

For years, the Taiwanese electronics giant has been dodging accusations of bad labor practices, charges that have tarnished the reputation of the world's hottest gadget retailer.

But guilt-ridden iPad users should be careful about celebrating too soon. Electronics industry insiders say it will only be a matter of time before contract suppliers simply shift operations to cheaper Asian destinations and replace hundreds of thousands of Chinese jobs with robots – leaving current employees even worse off than before.

Strange but true:
Could building your own robot one day be as simple as putting together flat-pack furniture?

That's what US researchers hope: they're working on a $10-million project to design an "IKEA-style" robot that can be printed off and assembled at home.

The first two prototypes are apparently an insect-like machine that could be sent to explore a contaminated area, and an arm-extension device to help people grip things beyond their reach. No word on whether it will help you assemble your bleached-pine shelving unit, though.