Chatter: India tests long-range missile




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Need to know:

India has successfully launched a long-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead deep into China.

The smooth test-firing of the Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile is a "major milestone," an adviser to India's defense minister said. The only other countries with this expertise are the US, UK, Russia, France, China and possibly Israel.

India's missile has a range of more than 3,100 miles, meaning it could hit the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai. The test missile landed somewhere near Indonesia in the Indian Ocean.

The missile is widely thought to be mainly aimed at deterring China, although India has denied this. Chinese state TV called the test "a historic moment for India" - but then listed some of the missile's shortcomings and said "it does not pose a threat in reality."

Want to know:

The UN secretary general says Syria is failing to keep to the peace plan. 

In a letter to the UN Security Council, Ban Ki Moon said Syria has failed to comply with almost every part of a six-point peace plan, including a requirement to pull troops from urban areas. Ban also urged for the number of UN cease-fire observers to be expanded to 300.

The Security Council is due to discuss the observer mission today, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with foreign ministers in Paris for a "Friends of Syria" meeting to discuss the crisis.

Dull but important:

The EU has reached a preliminary agreement to suspend sanctions against Myanmar.

The suspension would reportedly be for a year, allowing time for Myanmar's political reform process to be monitored. The arms embargo would remain in place. But the agreement still needs formal approval from EU foreign ministers.

The US and Australia have already eased some sanctions in recognition of the country's steps in transitioning from military to civilian rule, notably the opposition victory in free and open by-elections early this month. 

Just because:

For some rich Chinese, moving vast sums of money out of the mainland can be a matter of life and death.

Take, for example, the case of Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced Communist party boss Bo Xilai. According to new, unconfirmed reports, Gu killed British businessman Neil Heywood after he threatened to expose her shady financial offshoring network.

Chinese citizens rank first in the world in illicit financial outflows, despite the fact that China still sentences perpetrators to death for some financial crimes.

Despite the risks, with China’s wealthy class swelling, along with concerns about the regime’s stability as it approaches a once-a-decade transfer of power, experts say the hot money will keep flowing.

Strange but true:

Scientists in Japan have managed to cure baldness.... in mice. 

Of course, the Tokyo University of Science research team is hoping this discovery means they are one step closer to curing baldness in humans, and more importantly, ending the scourge of combovers, toupees and hair plugs.

Researchers were able to bioengineer hair follicles and transplant them into the skin of hairless mice. The mice eventually grew hair, which regenerated after old hairs fell out.

But most significant was that scientists also used human stem cells taken from the scalp of a balding man, with the same results. Scientists were even able to modify the density and color of the hair by changing the type of cells they transplanted.

So far this has just resulted in some pretty hilarious-looking mice, but the research results are giving hope to middle-aged men the world over.