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Fukushima 5 Years On, Taiwan-U.S. Deal, Toblerone In Pyongyang

MORE NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR BOMBAST

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered further nuclear tests to improve attack capabilities, national news agency KCNA reports today. Pyongyang has stepped up its threats and statements boasting about its nuclear capabilities since the U.S. and South Korea initiated joint military exercises on Monday. Today's statement was made three days after Kim Jong-un posed with what national media described as a miniature nuclear warhead. The North Korean dictator said the warhead required further testing and ordered "more nuclear explosion tests to estimate the destructive power of the newly produced nuclear warheads."


FUKUSHIMA FIVE YEARS LATER

Japan marks five years since the deadly earthquake and tsunami that triggered the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union. Ceremonies were held today to remember more than 18,000 people killed in the disaster. Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined crowds in bowing their heads to mark 2:46 p.m. local time, when the 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck on March 11, 2011, under the Pacific Ocean.

GOP DEBATE STAYS CALM

Photo: Pedro Portal/TNS/ZUMA

In a primary campaign characterized by vulgarity and pie toss, the Republican presidential contenders offered an unusually restrained debate in Miami last night as they all gave clear signals of where their candidacies are headed, CNN reports. Key contests are slated for Tuesday in Florida and Ohio with billionaire outsider Donald Trump leading the pack.


EUROPEAN TRADING STEADIES

The euro steadied and European shares and bonds rebounded this morning after being savaged following the European Central Bank's announcement of a huge new stimulus plan, Reuters reports.


ON THIS DAY


Beyond the Fukushima‬ disaster, find out what else happened on March 11 on today's 57-second shot of history.


CHINA ANGERED OVER U.S.-TAIWAN MILITARY AFFAIRS

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei reacted angrily after the U.S. State Department authorized the sale of two Navy frigates to Taiwan, Reuters reports. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan always attract strong opposition from Beijing as China considers self-ruled Taiwan a wayward province. The sale of the two frigates, which is still subject to Congressional approval, further exacerbates the current U.S.-China tensions in the South China Sea.


MYSTERY OVER RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRE'S DEATH DEEPENS

A Washington medical examiner announced yesterday that Russian billionaire and former aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin died from blunt force to the head, and not of a heart attack as first stated by Russian media, the New York Times reports. There had been much speculation about the death of Mikhail Lesin since he was found unresponsive in the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington more than four months ago. Lesin ran the media wing of the Russian energy giant Gazprom until late 2014 when he was presumably forced out and ended up in the U.S. The police has not yet declared his death a criminal act, but an official states that Lesin's body showed signs of blunt trauma to his neck, torso, arms and legs — the result, according to the official, of some sort of altercation occurring before he returned to his hotel room where he died at the age of 59.


EXTRA!


Next Tuesday will see five years since the start of the Syrian civil war, which has killed some 250,000 people and displaced more than half the pre-war population of 23 million. To mark the grim anniversary, French daily Libération has renamed itself in Arabic (Tahrir), and dedicated its pages to the many ways the conflict has changed the lives for ordinary citizens. Read more about the striking front page here.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

From our Rue Amelot collection of personal essays comes this story about Switzerland-born globetrotter Olivier Racine who just wanted to give North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un two gifts from his country: a giant Toblerone chocolate bar and a piece of the Matterhorn mountain. "judging by the dumbstruck expression of the soldier in front of me, I'm not sure he understands what I want to say. And you can't blame him. But no way can he open my Toblerone to make sure it doesn't contain a rifle or something, even if the exaggerated length of the packet renders his suspicions reasonable. My mission would be immediately aborted if he did. ... I don't speak Korean, and they don't speak English. But I hold on. There are now five soldiers around me, who eventually start arguing about what they should do with me."

Read the full article, A Swiss Man's Bizarre Quest To Give Kim Jong-Un A Toblerone


MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

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Vladimir Putin delivers a speech to Russian people following the results of the referendum dealing with the annexation in four regions of Ukraine partly controlled by Moscow

Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger, Chloe Touchard, and Emma Albright

In a wide-ranging and provocative speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the annexation of four Ukraine regions, which Putin says now make Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson officially part of Russia.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Speaking in the Kremlin’s St George’s Hall, the much-anticipated address to the Russian nation follows the so-called "referendums" in the occupied areas of the four Ukrainian regions — which the West condemned as shams held under gunpoint. Friday’s annexation comes as Russia is losing territory on the ground following a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Putin directly addressed the leaders of Ukraine and "their real masters in the West," that the annexation was "for everyone to remember. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever."

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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