If anybody was worried that North Korea had calmed down, they can sleep easy again tonight. The regime in Pyongyang announced that the US was now within range of its rockets. North Korea has been accused of carrying out underground nuclear tests in defiance of the international community, including its chief protector, China.
Rebel groups in Syria did an about face by saying that they would now attend internationally sponsored cease fire talks. They had until recently refused to attend. The announcement comes a day after a motor fired from within Syria landed in Israeli occupied Golan. The Israeli Defences Forces confirmed that nobody was injured, but has increased the state of alert of its forces in the area.
Italians went to the polls to decide…not very much. The left leaning coalition had been expecting to take both upper and lower houses of the Italian parliament, but late string showings form the anti-austerity Berlusconi and a comedian turn possible kingmaker, Beppe Grillo resulted in a deadlock. Bond yields on Italian debt rose and markets fell on news of the results. Markets had been hopig for a continuation of the austerity measures imposed by technocratic PM Mario Monti, which has seen the Italian government bring down its debt and deficit over the last year.
Three people have been killed and seven wounded in a shooting in Switzerland, near the city of Lucerne. Reports were still coming in at the time of writing, but the shooter is believed to be among the dead. Switzerland has famously lax gun laws, but has an excellent record on gun crime.
Pope Benedict XVI addressed the faithful in Rome today before his retirement. Crowds gathered outside the Vatican to hear the German’s final words as the Bishop of Rome. The Pope has been commended for being the first Pontif to meet with the victims of sexual abuse, but has been criticised for not doing enough to root out the problem.
Insurgents in central Afghanistan have carried out attacks on police posts, leaving eleven officers and six others dead. The province of Ghazni is a known base of Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliated groups.
Chuck Hagel has been sworn in as the new US Secretary of State of Defence. Hagel had to overcome a stiff challenge from Republicans in the nomination hearings. His first challenge will be the imminent budget cuts which will see ships confined to port, and civilian works put on enforced reduced hours.
John Kerry, newly appointed Secretary of State, visited the UK and Germany, but notably not Brussels during his first tour in the post. Kerry is very popular in Germany, having spent time there as a child in the 1950’s, in what was still bomb damaged Berlin.