Chatter: The Democrats get their convention underway in Charlotte




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Need to know:

In the United States, the Democrats launched their national convention yesterday in what promises to be three days dedicated to defending President Barack Obama's record and rebutting claims made during the recent GOP convention.

Tuesday's most important speech came from Michelle Obama, who sought to assure voters that her husband was pretty much like the rest of us — except for the president part, of course. "Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it," the first lady said.

Aside from politics, the convention was kicked off around Charlotte with "Carolinafest" — a one day celebration of all things, well, Carolina: James Taylor, lemonade, and, apparently, Jeff Bridges with his guitar.

Want to know:

China warned US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not to meddle in its affairs, just hours before she was set to arrive there Tuesday night. The warning came through state media amid an ASEAN summit that has seen members accuse China of trying to expand its power and influence in the South China Sea. The US has not taken a formal position on the maritime territorial disputes between China and its neighbors, but the Chinese government obviously feels the US is trying to play to its own advantage.

Clinton spoke diplomatically about her Chinese counterparts and said the US-China relationship was maturing. Mysteriously, however, her meeting with the Vice President, Xi Jinping — widely expected to be China's next president — was cancelled, causing speculation of a snub.

Dull but important:

A book written by a US Navy Seal who helped kill Osama Bin Laden is said to contain classified material. The book, released on Tuesday, is reported to contain material describing how SEAL units are organized and trained and how they operate on the battlefield. Pentagon officials complain the author did not follow pre-publication protocol, though his lawyer maintains his client did not breach any agreement.

The book was number one on Amazon's bestseller list in pre-order for the two weeks before its official release. The title of the likely gripping tome: “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden.”  

Just because:

The queen of cocaine is dead. Griselda Blanco, 69, was apparently murdered execution-style with two bullets at close range in the city of Medellin, officials said. A fitting end to someone who put to rest so many of her enemies in the same way — she herself is said to have ordered the killings of as many as 250 people and even three of her late husbands.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Blanco was said to be one of the main players in the Colombia to Miami drug trade. She was jailed in the United States for trafficking cocaine and ordering the deaths of rivals, and was eventually deported to Colombia in 2004. On Tuesday, she was shot dead by gunmen on a motorbike, an execution style that her own murderous team popularized.

Strange but true:

A convicted murderer in Massachusetts is having his sex change surgery paid for by the state while serving time in prison. A judge ruled that the procedure was the only adequate treatment for what he considered a "serious medical need." The inmate was put in prison in 1990 for the murder of his wife after she caught him wearing her clothes.