Chatter: Another Syrian massacre?




Antler Agency

    Get Chatter in your inbox!        



        *We take your privacy seriously, GlobalPost will not share your information with any other companies.

Need to know:
Syria's government is once again accused of carrying out a massacre, less than two weeks after more than 100 civilians were killed in Houla.

Syrian activists claim around 80 villagers were stabbed and shot to death in al-Qubair in Hama province, more than 40 of them women and children. They accuse pro-government militiamen. Damascus, meanwhile, says only nine people were killed, for which it blamed "terrorists."

Neither account has been confirmed. But GlobalPost reporters in Syria say they see bloodshed continuing daily elsewhere in the country. 

It's a struggle in which both sides are armed. GlobalPost's Tracey Shelton asks where the opposition gets its weapons from – and gets a surprising answer.

Want to know:
The US is reaching the "limits of our patience" with Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said. Speaking on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan this morning, Panetta urged Islamabad to stop terrorists being able to use Pakistan "as a safety net in order to conduct their attacks on our forces."

He referred specifically to the Haqqani network, which is accused of attacking Americans in Afghanistan and having links to the Taliban. The group is believed to have its headquarters in Pakistan's north-west tribal region. 

Panetta, in Afghanistan to discuss the withdrawal of NATO troops amid a rise in attacks by insurgents, said Pakistan's inaction was proving a major obstacle: "It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there is safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan."

Dull but important:
Scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle have mapped the entire genetic code of an unborn baby using DNA taken from its parents.

In what's being hailed as a major scientific breakthrough, researchers took small traces of a male fetus's free-floating DNA from the blood of his 18-week pregnant mother. They then tested DNA from her blood sample and DNA from the father's saliva, and were able to reconstruct the child's entire genetic code.

It's thought that the test will become widely available in future and allow doctors to screen unborn babies for thousands of genetic disorders. There are ethical questions, however, notably whether the results could serve as a basis for abortion.

Just because:
A vast Japanese "ghost" dock has washed up on a beach in Oregon, more than a year after the tsunami that swept it away.

The 66-foot concrete and metal structure beached just north of Newport, bearing a plaque stating that it came from the port of Misawa in northern Japan. It's said to be one of four docks missing since the March 11 disaster.

Japan estimates that as many as 1.5 million tons of tsunami debris could still be afloat, much of it drifting across the Pacific toward North America. Some of it could be dangerous, like this dock or the empty ship that arrived off Alaska; some of it, like the Harley-Davidson that washed up in Canada, is just eerie.

Strange but true:
Well, after a week of talking about body parts it's a relief to get back to the wholesome things in life. Like adults tricking kids into eating poop.

During a school outing in Manitoba, Canada, one waggish father thought he'd tell a couple of students that the bagful of moose droppings he'd collected was delicious trail mix. Two children fell for it, to the amusement of their classmates and three teachers who were watching the whole thing.

While the prankster himself can plead "dad humor," the three teachers should have known better, according to the irate mother of one poop muncher. The staff members now face disciplinary action – while the two kids concerned will probably steer clear of chocolate drops for a while.