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Chatter: North Korea parties like it's blast-off

North Korea celebrates its rocket launch, Susan Rice won't be America's next secretary of state, and NASA makes an Everest-size mistake.
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Need to know:
In your face, world. That's more or less what we imagine North Korea to be saying, as Pyongyang parties like it's lift-off.

State TV showed pictures of a huge rally in the capital today to celebrate Wednesday's successful rocket launch. Regime officials told cheering crowds that blasting things into space was "necessary for the building of our national economy" and "the justified, independent right of our people."

Pyongyang also says that the fact it put a satellite into orbit – which may or may not now be tumbling out of control somewhere above our heads – should also prove to "hostile forces," once and for all, that the launch was not a ballistic missile test.

We wouldn't mind getting a second opinion on that. As it happens, South Korea said today it had recovered part of the rocket debris that fell into the sea, and will begin analyzing it shortly.

Want to know:
That short list for America's next secretary of state just got shorter: Susan Rice has officially pulled out of the running.

The US ambassador to the United Nations informed the White House that, while she was "fully confident" she'd make a great secretary of state, the Republicans' hostility to her nomination would make the whole process unjustifiably "lengthy, disruptive and costly."

The GOP has been heavily critical of – some would say "obsessed" with – Rice's early comments about the Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which she incorrectly suggested was triggered by anger at an anti-Islam video.

President Barack Obama said he regretted the "unfair and misleading attacks" on Rice that led her to withdraw. She was hotly tipped to be his favorite candidate; the front-runner gone, it looks like John Kerry could be a strong contender.

Dull but important:
Russia wants to clarify something: when it said, for the first time, that rebels might win Syria, it didn't mean that rebels could win Syria. Got that?

The day after the US congratulated Moscow for "waking up to the reality," the Russian foreign ministry has insisted that it has not changed its position on Syria and "never will." That position being, of course, that overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad's government by force is unacceptable.

Luckily for the rebels, then, they say they don't need Russia's help – or anyone else's – to topple the regime. While the rest of the world is "in a slumber," the leaders of the opposition National Coalition say, "the Syrian people have nothing to lose" and don't need international forces to protect them.

The same can't be said of the Turkish people: Germany, the Netherlands and now the US have agreed to send Patriot missiles to Turkey's southern border, to protect civilians from Syria's increasingly dangerous weapons.

Just because:
We know the news from Egypt lately has been pretty bleak. So hey, GlobalPost thought, why not try to find happy people in Cairo. Maybe there's a couple ecstatic about an impending marriage. Or perhaps a fresh graduate who just landed the job of her dreams. We would even have settled for people who were simply content.

They were nowhere to be found. Wealthy or poor, political or unaffiliated, cleaner or musician, it seems there's no life that is not deeply affected by Egypt's sputtering economy and political chaos.

GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham interviews Cairo residents who've long run out of reasons to be cheerful.

Strange but true:
Mount Everest: that's pretty big, right? Pretty distinctive? Pretty spottable from space?

Not if you're NASA, it seems. The US space, ahem, experts mistakenly publicized a photo taken from the International Space Station as showing the world's tallest peak. It didn't. It showed Saser Muztagh in the Karakoram Range of the Kashmir region of India – a charming mountain, to be sure, but no Everest.

NASA later apologized for its error. So they don't know their Everest from their elbow; well, if we're honest, all those stars look the same to us too.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-north-korea-parties-its-blast

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