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Chatter: South Korea's president-to-be promises 'new era'

South Korea's president-elect looks forward to better relations with North Korea, Vladimir Putin doesn't want Americans adopting Russian kids, and it's the last day on Earth! Why are you still reading this?
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Need to know:
The day after South Korea elected Park Geun-hye as its next president, a "new era" – her words – has begun.

That's not just because she's the first woman ever to clinch the job (though she is), and in spite of the fact that her late father held it, strongman-style, for almost two decades (though he did). No, instead Park was talking about a new era of relations with North Korea, which is a matter of pressing concern to its nearest neighbor and to the world.

Madam President-Elect said the threat from the North was "grave," but should be tackled with "trust-based diplomacy." Sounds reasonable. How did Pyongyang respond? It hasn't deigned to yet, but state media earlier called Park's conservative Saenuri Party "maniacs" and "traitors." This new era is off to a great start.

Want to know:
Vladimir Putin
doesn't want Americans adopting Russia's children.

The Russian president has backed the ban on US adoptions that lawmakers gave their approval to yesterday. The bill outlaws not only the thousands of adoptions that take place each year, but forbids US adoption agencies from working in Russia.

The move is widely seen as Moscow's retaliation to the newly passed Magnitsky Act, which bars Russians suspected of human rights violations from entering the US. Putin today described the American legislation as "unfriendly" and "poison." And banning parentless Russian children from finding new homes in the US? Well, Vlad the Merciless says, that's an "emotional," but "appropriate" response.

Dull but important:
Less than a mile from the main border crossing between Lebanon and Syria, the steady thud of shells can be heard day and night.

As the struggle for Damascus intensifies, control of Lebanon's porous border with Syria is a priority for both the Syrian regime and the rebels seeking its overthrow. Damascus, after all, is a mere 15 miles from the frontier; if it falls, so could the regime.

GlobalPost reports from the key borderlands known as "the backyard of the Syrian capital."

Just because:
The horrors of Sandy Hook have led to some painful reflections on gun violence and where it comes from, in the US and all over the world.

In the latest installment of our global coverage of the massacre's aftermath, GlobalPost goes to Mexico, where children, sadly, are no strangers to shootings. Though rarely if ever directly targeted, Mexico's students, teachers and schools too frequently find themselves in the crossfire from the country's deadly war on drugs.

Officials have responded with Safe Schools programs, instructing teachers and pupils on what to do if gun battles erupt nearby. (Drop to the ground. Keep your head down. Sing.) Sensible, perhaps. But they're not lessons children should have to learn.

Strange but true:
This is the last time you'll hear from us, since our giant ticking clock informs us that it's now less than 12 hours until the world ends. (Unless, of course, it doesn't. In which case... er... see you tomorrow.)

Yet it's come to our attention, via our poll, that most of you intend to do precisely nothing to mark this momentous occasion. No, no, no, no, no. Could it be that you're not taking this stuff seriously? Please, we urge you, take a leaf out of this guy's book o' wacky and build yourself an underground bunker. Nice work, fella: his new home has copper-lined walls to ward off the radiation, oxygen tanks, and even a stock of seeds with which to replant the barren, post-apocalypse Earth.

Further tips on outfitting your fallout shelter can be found here. Now if you'll excuse us, we've got some digging to do.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/news/regions/asia-pacific/south-korea/chatter-south-korea-president-promises-new-era