Chatter: Delhi gang rape suspects in court




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Need to know:
Five men accused of raping and fatally wounding a 23-year-old Indian woman have appeared in court in Delhi.

As part of fast-track proceedings set up to prosecute the case, the accused were formally charged with abduction, rape and murder in a pre-trial hearing today. A sixth suspect, believed to be a minor, will face separate proceedings.

The hearing had been due to take place in open court, but had to be moved behind closed doors after chaotic scenes. In a measure of the outrage the case has provoked, lawyers turned on the defense attorneys for representing "those barbarians."

The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 10.

Want to know:
John Brennan
is President Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA. White House officials have disclosed that Obama will nominate Brennan, currently his top counterterrorism adviser, later today.

Like Chuck Hagel's nomination as defense secretary, which will also be announced today, the choice of Brennan will likely prove controversial. He was considered for director of CIA in 2008, but withdrew his name after questions were raised about his connection to "enhanced interrogation techniques." (He denied any involvement.) He has also defended drone warfare and peddled some significant untruths about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Will any of that bother the Senate? We'll see when it comes to getting Brennan's nomination confirmed.

Dull but important:
As a journalist, how do you protest if the government censors everything you write? You stop writing.

That's what staff at Southern Weekend, one of China's most liberal newspapers, have done. In a rare protest against government interference with the press, the paper is on strike and supporters have gathered outside its offices to demand greater freedom of speech.

The standoff began last week, when authorities replaced the paper's New Year editorial, which called for a constitutional government, with a piece that praised the Communist Party's accomplishments. It was the final straw for Southern Weekend journalists, after a year in which they say more than 1,000 of their articles were censored.

What happens next could be the first test of just how much openness new President Xi Jinping and his government are prepared to allow.

Just because:
In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, some 3,000 square miles of rivers, glaciers, savannah, jungle and volcanoes make up Virunga National Park. It's Africa's oldest and most diverse nature reserve, home to a vast array of wildlife that includes at least a quarter of the world's endangered mountain gorillas.

It's also a breeding ground for insecurity. The region that surrounds Virunga has been almost continually in crisis since the mid-1990s. Most recently, the M23 rebel group seized swathes of territory, forcing thousands to flee and making Virunga and its animals even harder to protect.

And it's not just war threatening the park: oil is too. Large deposits are believed to lie under the reserve, and with a British company granted exploration rights, environmentalists warn of potentially devastating effects for Virunga's ecosystems and the local people who depend on them.

In a new series, GlobalPost's Tristan McConnell reports on the chaos in Congo.

Strange but true:
Fellas, if you've ever secretly resented a colleague for being better-looking than you are, prepare to hate him even more – because he's probably earning thousands of dollars more than you.

Australian researchers have found evidence that a man's salary is linked to his attractiveness, with hotties commanding over $30,000 more on average than plain Dwaynes. (The effect is less pronounced in ladies – something to do with the persistent belief that a woman can't be good-looking and intelligent, apparently. Sigh.)

The researchers even found that looks matter more than self-confidence when it comes to high earnings, which is the most unfair thing we've heard since, oh, I don't know, women being paid less than men for doing the same job. Yep, life's tough. It's a handsome man's world.