Chatter: A way out for Chen Guangcheng?




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Need to know:
How do you solve a problem like Chen Guangcheng?

One possible answer, hinted at this morning by China's Foreign Ministry, is to allow him to leave the country to study. If Chen wishes to study abroad, a spokesman said, he "can apply through normal channels to the relevant departments in accordance with the law, just like any other Chinese citizen."

That option would have the advantage of granting Chen's forcefully-stated wish to leave China, without making him an asylum seeker – or the US an asylum for people who disagree with Beijing.

Want to know:
At least 20 people are reported dead in a suicide bombing in north-west Pakistan. 

The blast took place near a market in the Bajur region, near the border with Afghanistan. Five local security force members were killed, along with many more passers-by.

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes just a day after US authorities released documents from Osama bin Laden's compound that criticized the group for endangering too many civilians. 

Dull but important:
France's presidential run-off isn't until Sunday, but under French law all campaigning must stop from midnight tonight.

The final polls before the blackout put Socialist challenger François Hollande a narrow five to seven points ahead of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy – but ahead nonetheless.

As a long and bitter campaign draws to its end, voters in Paris tell GlobalPost why they're casting their ballots – and who they think will win.  

Just because:
What could drive parents to kill their children, and then themselves?

In two recent cases in Taiwan, the answer is, at least in part, money troubles. Observers say the murders highlight the dark side of the island's economic miracle: the gaping rich-poor divide.

Taiwan has some of the biggest cash reserves of any economy in the world, and yet an estimated 1.5 million minimum-wage earners can no longer afford basic living costs in its urban centers. In a society which views unemployment benefits as handouts, workers have been left without a safety net – and losing a job can be a fate terrible enough to drive some of the most vulnerable to extremes. 

Strange but true:
Well, this is terrifying. Professional shark botherer Luke Tipple has conducted a trial in which he attached lasers – lasers – to sharks (SHARKS!).

There were scientific justifications for the stunt, not least investigating whether laser beams would act as deterrents to curious sharks. They did not. In fact, "time and again," Tipple says, "sharks were actually attracted to the laser beam."

If that's not reason never, ever again to give a shark a laser, we don't know what is.