Chatter: North Korea's failed rocket launch




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Need to know:

North Korea's rocket launch was an unambiguous failure. Before invited international media, the long-range Unha-3 rocket broke up soon after launch and crashed into waters off the Korean peninsula.

The question now, analysts say, is what the Hermit Kingdom will do to try and compensate for this embarrassment, intended to mark 100 years since Kim Il Sung's birth and the rise to power of his grandson Kim Jong Un.

Some North Korea watchers say the failed launch boosts the chances of a nuclear test to show military strength.

Want to know:

Will the cease-fire in Syria hold? So far the tentative peace is continuing, with a draft UN resolution circulating that could see an advance mission of observers arrive in the country within days. 

The Syrian government hasn't withdrawn troops and heavy weapons from cities, and the UN's Ban Ki Moon has warned that "another gunshot" could doom the truce.

Opposition activists have called for mass protests to test the regime's resolve to comply with the cease-fire. 

Dull but important:

British Prime Minister David Cameron is in Myanmar on a historic trip to meet President Thein Sein and hold discussions with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Cameron is the first Western leader to visit Myanmar since Suu Kyi's success in parliamentary by-elections, after two decades spent mostly under house arrest.

He described Daw Suu, as she is respectfully known, as "a shining example for people who yearn for freedom, for democracy, for progress."

Just because:

The war on drugs hasn't exactly been a success. Several key US allies say the standard formula of military patrols plus training and counter-narcotics aid from the United States isn't working. So why not try something else?

When heads of state meet this weekend at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, talk of decriminalization will be high on the agenda (pardon the pun) amid a growing backlash against the US-led drug war.

Not surprisingly, the US will be looking to shut down this kind of talk. "It is a totally legitimate debate,'' Vice President Joe Biden said recently. "But there's no possibility the Obama-Biden administration will change its policy on legalization."   

Strange but true:

Baboons are clever creatures. Just ask tourists to South Africa's Cape of Good Hope, where the baboons have learned to open car doors, unzip bags and pilfer wallets and snacks.

Now, French researchers have found that baboons can distinguish between words formed by four letters and nonsense combinations. After training, baboons placed in front of computer screens were able to pick out actual words.

One of the baboons, named Dan, had an accuracy rate of 80 percent in tests and managed to learn 308 four-letter words.

Still, we're not likely to have a "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" moment... yet.