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Chatter: North Korea takes aim at US

North Korea threatens to carry out a new nuclear test, American women get permission to serve in combat, and Irish councilors say drink-driving is sometimes OK.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
           

                      

   

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NEED TO KNOW

America, North Korea is coming for you. At least, that's what they want you to think: North Korean military chiefs have announced that they'll be carrying out a "high-level" nuclear test and long-range rocket launches, all of them aimed at their "sworn enemy," the US.

The tough talk is in response to the UN Security Council's new resolution condemning North Korea's previous rocket launch, which, you'll remember, worked. It's a mystery when or even whether the country will be in a position to carry out any new tests, but Pyongyang has a nasty way of surprising us.

I am woman, hear me fire a semiautomatic rifle. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is to lift the ban on women serving in combat, potentially opening up hundreds of thousands of front-line positions to female soldiers.

Once the decision is formally announced later today, commanders will be expected to start work immediately on implementing the reform. Or, alternatively, on resisting it: the military will have until January 2016 to make the case for any specific positions to remain off-limits for women.

WANT TO KNOW

Sighs of relief in Paris today, where a French national sentenced to 60 years jail time in Mexico will soon be arriving home a free woman. Florence Cassez always refuted the charges of kidnapping that earned her the hefty sentence, denying all knowledge of the criminal gang allegedly run by her ex-boyfriend. She was backed by the French government, which criticized the Mexican justice system and its sometimes questionable means.

Now, more than six years after her arrest, Mexico's Supreme Court has ordered her immediate release. Expect a rapid up-turn in Franco-Mexican relations.

Is Africa the newest front line in the war on terror? In her testimony to the Senate yesterday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to a "Pandora's box" of deadly weapons coming out of North Africa and the Middle East. It's the latest sign that Washington is turning its attention toward the continent as local militant groups sign on to Al Qaeda's ideology in Somalia, Nigeria, Mali and beyond.

In an in-depth series, GlobalPost traces the international terror franchise's growing influence in Africa.

Love crosses all borders, even the DMZ. There's an old Korean proverb: beautiful ladies come from the north, while dapper males live in the south. And professional matchmakers are seeking to prove it's true.

GlobalPost's Geoffrey Cain meets the husband-and-wife team – he, a South Korean romantic, she, a North Korean defector – helping to pair up single Southerners with Northern refugees.

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Ireland, oh Ireland. A local council in the southwest Irish county of Kerry has backed a motion allowing people living in isolated areas to have "two or three drinks" before driving home. The measure is supposedly intended to combat rural depression and suicide, though it shouldn't shock anyone to hear that three of the five councilors who voted in favor own pubs.

Happily for public health and common sense, the motion has no legal status. The council will have to appeal to Ireland's justice minister to relax the nationwide law on drink-driving – and the chances of the government agreeing to that are said to be "less than the amount of alcohol in a glass of tap water."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-north-korea-takes-aim-at-us

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Featured Slideshow

Women in combat, at home and abroad (PHOTOS)

On the news that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's lifted the military ban on women in combat, GlobalPost took a look at women's wartime roles around the world.