North KoreaIn the midst of an economic crisis and worries over a global epidemic, North Korea’s creaky totalitarian state continues to occupy headline news. North Korea, arguably the last Stalinist regime on Earth, has, over the past decade, conducted three long-range missile tests — none of which has come remotely close to demonstrating an ability to reach even western Alaska, much less deliver a payload to the continental United States — and carried out a single, low-yield nuclear test that apparently was only partly successful. Now the North Koreans are threatening more missile and nuclear tests unless the UN Security Council apologizes for tightening sanctions over the latest missile launch.

timal tigersThe long-running war in Sri Lanka, the impoverished Indian Ocean nation suspended like a tropical teardrop below India’s southern tip, appears to be near an end. The secessionist war between the Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) and the majority Sinhalese government has attracted sporadic international attention over the years, but never the sort of sustained intervention that has taken place in the Balkans or in the Middle East.

Iraq Accuses A pre-dawn U.S. military raid on April 26 that had targeted Iranian-backed Shi'ite militiamen but resulted in the deaths of two Iraqi citizens has generated a storm of outrage in Kut, a city in southern Iraq. It also prompted an official statement accusing the United States of violating the security pact between the two nations.

North Korean missilesAs expected, North Korea launched its Taepodong-2 long-range rocket on April 5, a move President Obama called "provocative" and "clear violation" of a United Nations Security Council resolution. While the ostensible purpose of the launch, according to official North Korean statements, was to launch a communications satellite, officials from South Korea, Japan, and the United States have all said that the launch was — in actuality — a test of the missile, itself. The three nations stated in advance of the launch that they wanted to level sanctions against North Korea if it proceeded. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on March 31: "Their missile launch violates UN Security Council Resolution 1718 and there will be consequences, certainly (at) the UN Security Council if they proceed with the launch."

summitLeaders of the 22-member Arab League and 12 South American countries met last week and agreed to an 11-point declaration on everything from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to economic cooperation. The one-day Second Summit of Arab-South American Countries took place in Doha, Qatar, following the Arab League conference. Among the countries attending the summit were some of the world’s largest oil exporting nations, including Venezuela.