Seoul, South Korea – The dissipation of tension with North Korea from earlier this year seems to have been short-lived, especially when recent signs have indicated that the country has restarted its nuclear reactor. Observed and monitored via commercial satellite imagery, North Korea’s main nuclear complex was allegedly viewed to be discharging hot water. The nuclear complex, located in Yongbyon, just north of the capital Pyongyang, has been under close surveillance since late August, when satellite images showed steam rising from a generator building.
It seems that North Korea is keeping its promise to restart the nuclear reactor, which means that the country can obtain plutonium fuel for the production of atomic bombs. Over the last week, North Korean diplomats have argued that the country must have nuclear capabilities to deter against the United States’ “hostile policy.” Fortunately, North Korea has also recently stated its willingness to rejoin six-nations and talks intended to end its nuclear weapons program, especially since the country’s primary ally, China, has pushed for negotiations. Washington is unyielding, demanding that North Korea must surrender its nuclear weapons before any such discussion takes place.
Lampedusa, Italy – A fishing boat accident has gained international attention across the world. The accident occurred before dawn on Thursday morning and involved a ramshackle boat overcrowded with African migrants. The boat was out in the Mediterranean for at least two days, when it approached Sicily, (which was about a quarter mile away) but rather than sending a signal, someone sparked a match to a blanket.
The fire had an unintended effect: the flames from the blanket ignited gasoline, causing the boat to capsize and catch fire. Many of the migrants were either caught in the blaze or tossed into the sea. There were approximately 500 people estimated to have been on the boat, with a rising count of 111 dead and up to 250 missing. Italy’s Coast Guard has rescued at least 154 survivors, and the search still continues. This incident underlines the dangerous efforts of thousands of refugees each year who hope to enter the European Union, and is additionally drawing criticism to the volatile European immigration policy.
Johannesburg, South Africa – Half a year after the death of model Reeva Steenkamp, the infamous “blade runner” Oscar Pistorius, remains in the spotlight. Pistorius, a South African Olympic track star, whose legs are amputated below the knee, (he received his nickname for the prosthetic legs he runs with) was charged with premeditated murder after admitting to fatally shooting his Steenkamp in his home on Valentine’s Day. He denies the charge, claiming it was an accident and that he mistook his girlfriend for an invader when he fired shots through a bathroom door that she was behind. The murder trial is approaching in March and, facing the pressure, Pistorius has hired an American forensic team to give testimony and potentially cast doubt on the evidence against him. The unidentified forensics team is already in South Africa and has met with Pistorius’ legal team.
Nosy Be, Madagascar – Two European men were burned alive by a crowd of Malagasy people after allegedly admitting to the murder and subsequent trafficking of a child’s organs.
“They (the crowd) suspected them of organ trafficking,” Madagascar police chief Desire Johnson Rakotondratsima said. “It appears that one of the foreigners admitted it in front of the local residents after they found the dead body of a child.”
A third man, a local Malagasy, was also killed after being implicated in the foreigners’ confession.
One of the Europeans was French, and this incident has caused an alert to be sent to all traveling French citizens to avoid any activity in that country. This is potentially dangerous to Madagascar’s economy, as the area is highly dependent on tourism, and this event could exacerbate the pervasive poverty that locals are experiencing.