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Chatter: World leaders agree to contain 'vulnerable nuclear material' but fail to draft concrete steps

Fifty world leaders at the nuclear summit in South Korea agreed nuclear terrorism is a high threat but fell short of devising concrete steps on closer cooperation.

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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
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Need to know:
"Nuclear terrorism continues to be one of the most challenging threats to international security," according to world leaders meeting at the nuclear security summit in South Korea. 

The heads of some 50 countries released a joint statement this morning in which they called for closer cooperation to secure "vulnerable nuclear material" that, according to President Barack Obama, could kill "hundreds of thousands of innocent people."

However, the final communiqué apparently omitted an earlier draft's reference to "concrete steps" toward a world without nuclear weapons. Because some nukes are good nukes...?

Want to know:
The grubby saga of Dominique Strauss-Kahn continues: the former head of the International Monetary Fund and one-time presidential hopeful has been handed preliminary charges over his alleged involvement in a French prostitution ring.

As of last night, he is under formal investigation for procuring prostitutes and involvement in an "organized gang" that supposedly supplied sex workers for orgies in Lille, Paris and Washington. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in jail.

Strauss-Kahn admits attending the soirées but denies knowing the women he, ahem, met were paid to be there. His lawyer, speaking before the charges were issued, gave a clue to the likely defense: "I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman."

Dull but important:
US support for the Afghanistan war has plummeted, according to a new poll, with more than 69 percent of Americans saying that the US should not be at war with Afghanistan.

The number is a significant increase from last month, when 53 percent of those surveyed said that Americans should not be fighting in Afghanistan.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they would like US troops to leave Afghanistan ahead of the current timetable for withdrawal. Given recent, violent events – the Quran burning at Bagram Air Base, revenge murders of NATO troops, a US soldier's shooting rampage – it's not surprising.

Just because:
At the height of the Libyan uprising, the country's prisons were in chaos. Hundreds of guards had left their posts to help control the streets; others fled for fear of reprisals by a population angry after decades of oppression.

In the midst of the upheaval, thousands of criminals escaped or were simply allowed to walk free. Hundreds joined the rebel frontlines. Several climbed the ranks to become commanders. Many were killed in battle. Others simply fled, their whereabouts unknown.

Today, they remain free and, with weapons rife on Libya's streets, probably armed. And there's nothing the police can do about it.

Strange but true:
Who doesn't enjoy a good microphone slip-up? Whenever world leaders prove incapable of switching off their mikes – which they seem to do a lot – and/or refraining from undiplomatic remarks (which they must do even more often), the resulting indiscretions are always reported with glee.

The latest one – Barack Obama to Dmitri Medvedev, overheard at the nuclear summit in Seoul – isn't all that juicy. Discussing the US defense missile program, Obama asked the Russian president for "space" in the run-up to November's US presidential election, after which point he promised he'd have more "flexibility." 

Not necessarily something Obama would like to be heard saying, sure, but it's a lot less embarrassing than calling the Israeli prime minister a "liar" or the German chancellor... something worse.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/south-korea/120327/chatter-what-were-hearing