Chatter: North Korea nukes it




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North Korea nuked it. After weeks of ominous rumblings and some last-minute double bluffing, the secretive kingdom has carried out its third nuclear test. The latest device was a "miniaturized" version of the ones tested in 2006 and 2009, Pyongyang said, though now with added blast power – so much power, in fact, that it caused a 4.9-magnitude earthquake.

The reaction from the rest of the world has been, to say the least, snappy. President Barack Obama called the test a "threat to US national security," the UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting, heck, even China condemned its ally. But does anyone else get the feeling that North Korea's just not listening?

The pope is retired, long live the pope. While the world reels from Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation, the Vatican has just over two weeks until it's left pontiff-less. The Pope has made clear that he won't be involved in choosing his successor, which he'll leave to the hundred or so cardinals that get to vote on their favorites at a papal conclave. (Here's our guide to the whole process, if that's all Latin to you.)

There are already murmurings that this time things might be different. Could the world see its first South American pope? Its first Asian pope? How about its first African pope? Faster than you can say a Hail Mary, the bets are already on.


How're you doing, America? President Obama is due to inform you, when he delivers his fifth State of the Nation address later today.

The White House has indicated that the economy will once more be the watchword, but you can expect the terms "guns," "violence" and "control" in close succession too. Not least because Michelle Obama will be watching with the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old schoolgirl shot dead just days after performing at Obama's second inauguration. And not least because Ted Nugent will be there and will, no doubt, be mad.

Magic is turning thousands of Nigerian women into sex workers – and keeping them that way. Authorities say tens of thousands of Nigerian women have been trafficked to Europe and bonded to sexual servitude: not with chains, but via juju, an ancient form of West African magic.

The women typically travel willingly, after being promised lucrative jobs. But before they depart, each woman has to swear an oath administered by a traditional priest, vowing to repay a large sum for their passage, or face death. In a new three-part series, GlobalPost's Heather Murdock investigates what happens to the women who break that oath.


Pluto's moons need your help. Space scanners spotted two tiny moons orbiting everyone's favorite former planet back in 2011 and 2012, but no one's yet got round to naming them. Now, the SETI Institute is looking to the public to come up with some catchier titles than "P4" and "P5."

Answers on a long-range space rocket care of Pluto Rocks, please.