Chatter: Outrage at Syria's Houla massacre




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Need to know:
The United Nations has blamed the Syrian government for many of the more than 100 deaths last Friday in what's been dubbed the Houla massacre.

The UN Security Council has issued a statement accusing Bashar al-Assad's forces of firing artillery and tank shells at civilians in Houla, near Homs. UN observers reported seeing 108 bodies in the town. Forty-nine of them belonged to children, many less than 10 years old.

The Syrian government has denied all responsibility and blamed the atrocity on "terrorists."

Special envoy Kofi Annan is due back Damascus today for more talks. What can he say?

Want to know:
Tropical Storm Beryl
reached the US coast early this morning, bringing heavy rains and near-hurricane-strength winds.

The storm hit north-east Florida shortly after midnight and is expected to continue moving inland. Parts of Georgia and South Carolina have also been placed on alert.

Forecasters say Beryl will weaken as it reaches the interior, becoming a tropical depression by tonight – but not before making for a wet, windy and possibly wild Memorial Day.

Dull but important:
Tony Blair
is testifying today at the UK's inquiry into press ethics.

The former prime minister, who once described the British press as a "feral beast," has told the Leveson Inquiry that a close relationship between politicians and media has become "essential and crucial," if potentially "unhealthy."

The panel is expected to quiz Blair on his notoriously friendly relations with News Corp. mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Just because: 
Two men set themselves on fire in Lhasa yesterday, in what are believed to be the first self-immolations in the Tibetan capital.

The men, reportedly Buddhist monks, set themselves alight outside the famous Jokhang temple. It's unclear what became of them. They were removed by authorities, and at least one is reported to have died of his injuries.

Most self-immolations to date have taken place in ethnically Tibetan areas of China; only one had been reported in Tibet itself before now. It's a worrying new development in what's become a deadly trend.

Strange but true:
Here's something no one expects to hear their doctor say: "Sir, I think you might be a woman."

That, however, is exactly what – in so many words – Steve Crecelius of Colorado was told when he went to get a kidney stone removed. An ultrasound revealed he was born intersex, with both male and female sex organs.

Crecelius, who has since decided to live as a woman and prefers to be known as Stevie, says her wife and six children have embraced the new her. Interview here.