Chatter: UN meets on Syria crisis




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Need to know:
The United Nations' highest human rights body has begun an emergency session on Syria.

The UN Human Rights Council is expected to blame pro-regime militias for last week's massacre in Houla, in which more than 100 people died, many of them stabbed or shot, many of them children. The Syrian government blames armed rebels for the murders.

Opposition activists claim Houla is far from the only atrocity: they have video of what they say is the execution, yesterday, by pro-government militia men, of 13 unarmed civilians. The UN's Ban Ki-moon has already warned that any more massacres could push Syria into "catastrophic civil war."

Want to know:
John Edwards walked free
after the jury in his campaign finance trial acquitted him of one count and the judge declared a mistrial on five others.

After nine days of deliberations, jurors unanimously cleared the ex-senator and former presidential hopeful of receiving contributions from donor Bunny Mellon in excess of federal limits. They didn't decide much else, however, and a mistrial was declared on the remaining charges due to jury deadlock.

A relieved Edwards, who faced up to 30 years in prison if found guilty of all six counts of misusing campaign funds to cover up his mistress's pregnancy during his 2008 run for president, said he had not done anything illegal – but "an awful, awful lot that was wrong." 

Prosecutors now have to decide whether it's worth asking for a retrial on the five outstanding charges.

Dull but important:
Aung San Suu Kyi has cautioned against "reckless optimism" about Myanmar after a string of recent reforms.

Suu Kyi, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Thailand on her first trip abroad in 24 years, said the changes were not irreversible – and that the parliament in which she now sits was still far from democratic. She warned foreign investors to be wary of fueling existing inequalities and corruption in Myanmar – which she still calls Burma – even while calling for investment to tackle critically high youth unemployment.

It's a timely warning for investors, as the US joins the European Union in suspending sanctions against Myanmar and buzz of a gold rush grows louder.

Just because:
If you thought hackers were all anarchic nerds intent on bringing down the system, you haven't heard of Telecomix.

Unlike its more attention-grabbing confrere Anonymous, the Swedish-founded hacktivist group says it isn't just about breaking in and causing trouble. Recent projects include disseminating encryption technology to Tunisian activists, helping them to communicate safely during the 2011 uprising, and exposing the Syrian regime's use of US-bought tools to to spy on dissident citizens.

"Anomymous are kind of destructive," one Telecomix member tells GlobalPost. "We want to be more creative."

Strange but true:
A pair of panties that fell out of a Brazilian legislator's pocket onto the floor of Congress two weeks ago has been burned after no one claimed them.

We'll explain. Two weeks ago, a group of federal deputies came running into Congress to vote. One of those deputies — who he is remains a mystery — put his hands in his pockets near the main entrance  and, without realizing, let the incriminating evidence fall to the floor: a frilly, red and white pair of panties, said to be closer to long johns than a G-string.

The underwear was removed, extensively examined, but never claimed. Unworn, as all who inspected them agreed, the panties were eventually sent to the incinerator – to at least one male legislator's hearty relief.