Chatter: Charles Taylor aided Sierra Leone war crimes




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Need to know:

Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, has been found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes during Sierra Leone's brutal Sierra Leone civil war. He was cleared of ordering the crimes.

Taylor, who stood trial at a special court in The Hague, was accused of trading diamonds from Sierra Leone for weapons he channeled to rebels.

The epic case exposed the 'blood diamond' trade and featured testimony from supermodel Naomi Campbell. Taylor had pleaded not guilty to 11 charges that include murder, rape, enslavement, mutilation, pillaging and conscripting child soldiers.

Want to know:

A massive explosion in the Syrian city of Hama has killed up to 70 people, according to activists. State media said 16 people died in accidental blasts by anti-regime bomb-makers.

With restricted access for journalists and other observers, it has been impossible to independently verify the differing accounts.

There is growing international frustration over continuing daily attacks in Syria. France has said the UN should consider a military intervention if the cease-fire brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan fails.

Dull but important:

Pakistan's Supreme Court has found Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt, in a case that has highlighted tensions between the government and judiciary.

Gilani, who denied he had been in contempt for refusing to reopen an old corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, won't face jail time - the court gave him only a symbolic sentence.

But the ruling could still mean trouble for Gilani in the months to come. Because he has been convicted in a court, he could face dismissal from office. Gilani, the longest-serving prime minister in Pakistan's history, has said he will appeal.

Just because:

The Bo Xilai scandal story has legs, as journalists say.

The latest intrigue in the Chinese politician's fall from grace is a New York Times report that Bo, the former Communist Party boss of Chongqing, ran a wire-tapping system extending as high as China's president.

According to the Times, the elaborate wire-tapping scheme began as part of an anti-crime campaign, and was handled by Wang Lijun, the police chief who took refuge at the US consulate in February.

Bo, once expected to join Beijing's top leadership, is being investigated for "serious discipline violations" in the biggest political scandal to hit China in years. His wife is under investigation in the murder of a British businessman.

Strange but true:

An Iraqi adaption of Shakespeare's famous love story opens tonight in the playwright's home town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Spoiler alert: Romeo is Shiite, Juliet is Sunni, and - you guessed it - tragedy unfolds.

"Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad," making its premiere at the World Shakespeare Festival, strays somewhat from the original, infusing the plot with Shiite-Sunni tensions and references to landmark militant attacks in Iraq, according to reports.

Shakespeare is well-read in Iraq, a country with a long literary history that in centuries past played a leading role in developing art and culture throughout the Arab world. Director Monadhil Daood said he hopes his take on the play will showcase Iraq's rich theatrical traditions.