Chatter: Syria mostly quiet as cease-fire begins




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Need to know:

A fragile cease-fire has taken hold in Syria, with regime forces halting widespread attacks on the opposition.

There were reports of isolated gunfire and shelling, but the relative quiet represents the first brief lull in weeks of bloodshed, opposition activists said.

The Syrian government has said it will abide by the UN-brokered cease-fire, but it has yet to withdraw troops from population centers. Western countries have expressed doubts about the government's willingness to stick to the truce.

Want to know:

George Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, more than six weeks after the Florida man shot and killed the unarmed black teenager.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, claimed he shot and killed Martin in self-defense, in a case that has sparked nation-wide debate about racial profiling and self-defense laws.

But legal experts say prosecutors will face steep hurdles to win a second-degree murder conviction. They will have to prove Zimmerman intentionally went after Martin instead of shooting him in self-defense, which is allowed under Florida law.

Dull but important:

Is China's runaway growth finally slowing down? New figures released by the World Bank suggest economic growth in the world's second-largest economy will unexpectedly slow to a 13-year low in 2012.

The World Bank predicts growth will shrink to 8.2 percent this year, due to government efforts to slow overheated economy, as well as the continuing economic crisis in key export markets such as Europe. 

While prospects for a soft landing remain high, the bank said, there are growing concerns that China's economy might slow too abruptly.

Just because:

Pity the poor lumberjack

A ranking by CareerCast.com suggests lumberjack is the worst job you could have in 2012, thanks to work described as "physically demanding, precarious, low-paying" and with "a weak hiring outlook." On the upside, there's logrolling and wearing on-trend lumberjack jackets.

And the best job? Software engineer, followed by actuary, human resources manager, dental hygienist and financial planner. 

Also ranked among the worst jobs are dairy farmer, enlisted military soldier, oil rig worker — and newspaper reporter (it's not so bad, really!). 

Strange but true:

Oh, McDonald's. Did you really think the French would love your "McBaguette"?

The hot beef sandwich, featuring French-made Emmental cheese and mustard on a baguette instead of a bun, will be trialed in 1,230 test restaurants around the country, but so far reaction isn't good.

A French magazine called the McBaguette "an assault by McDonald's on bakeries," while an industry expert accused the American fast food chain of "attacking a jewel of French gastronomy." Yeah, good luck with that, Mickey D's.