Chatter: Fears of North Korean nuclear test




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Need to know:
North Korea is covertly preparing for a new nuclear test, according to South Korean intelligence.

In a newly released report, the South says that recent satellite images show an underground tunnel is being dug at the same site where the North's two previous tests were carried out in 2006 and 2009. The work is in its final stages, officials say.

The report comes as North Korea prepares to launch a long-range rocket within the next week, which South Korea, the US and its allies say is linked to its missile program. Seoul fears Pyongyang will use the international condemnation attracted by that mission as an excuse to proceed with the even more feared nuclear test. 

Want to know:
Syria's internationally-backed peace plan appears close to collapse, after the Syrian government made new demands just 48 hours before a ceasefire was supposed to begin.

Damascus has said it will not pull back unless rebels provide written guarantees to end attacks and a pledge from foreign states not to fund them. The rebel Free Syrian Army has refused to comply with the demand, since it no longer recognizes the government's authority.

As the rest of the world asks how to end the seemingly unstoppable violence, within Syria others are focusing on what they see as the larger task: protesting peacefully for political change. Even they, however, are forced to admit that a political solution or peaceful uprising no longer seems possible.

Dull but important:
Mali's President Amadou Toumani Touré has formally resigned as part of a deal with coup leaders to restore stability to the country.

"I am doing this without any pressure, and I am doing this in good faith, and I am doing it especially out of love for my country," said Touré, who is currently in hiding.

His resignation is expected to pave the way for the military junta to step aside and the parliamentary speaker to lead a new transitional government. In return for handing over power, the coup leaders are seeking immunity from prosecution and the lifting of sanctions by Mali's neighbors.

Just because:
The Nile River, the world's longest, runs through ten African countries. But for decades, just one has controlled the lion's share of its resources: Egypt.

Now, all that could be changing. Upstream states like Ethiopia and Burundi are seizing on Egypt's post-revolution political uncertainty to wrest at least some control of the waterway. The result could be a food and water crisis, even another revolution.

In a new series, GlobalPost examines the potentially dire consequences for Egypt of losing the Nile.

Strange but true:
How's this for an idea: take the worst-fated voyage of modern history and... sell tickets.

Yep, to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a British cruise ship has set sail to the site of the wreck. The exact same number of passengers are onboard – many of them in period costume – the exact same food will be served, and the same tunes played as when the original went down.

Passengers paid up to £7,995 ($12,675) to travel on the definitely-not-going-to-sink-this-time Titanic 2.0, for which price you'd hope there are, as promised, sufficient lifeboats available.