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The week at a glance ... International

International

Moscow
Honey trap: Russian opposition groups say the Kremlin has deployed a sexy young woman to seduce opposition politicians and journalists, in order to ruin their reputations. Video clips of the woman, an aspiring model named Katya Gerasimova, having sex and doing drugs with various prominent critics of the Russian government were posted online last week, all filmed in the same bedroom. Her targets, who did not know they were being filmed, included opposition figure Eduard Limonov, Russian Newsweek editor Mikhail Fishman, radio host Viktor Shenderovich, and at least three others. Shenderovich said the sting was a Kremlin plot to discredit those who’ve criticized Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. “They answered with their typical, illegal filth,” he said. “I did have Katya—without much pleasure though, as she was as boring as your whole dull Gestapo.”

Beijing
A visit from Kim: North Korea’s reclusive dictator, Kim Jong Il, made a rare visit to China this week, apparently using the trip to demonstrate that he remains in command despite a 2008 stroke. On his previous visits, Kim traveled in the middle of the night and stayed at secluded guesthouses. But this time, his train was greeted by the international press, and he stayed at a five-star hotel. “He’s changing tactics from passive to proactive,” said Koh Yu-Hwan, professor of North Korean Studies at Dongkuk University in Seoul. “He is making a statement to the international world that he is still healthy.” Kim is seeking economic assistance to keep his economy afloat amid a shortage of food, oil, and other commodities. Analysts say he may also be looking for China’s approval to install his youngest son as his successor.

Shandong, China
Children attacked: A string of horrific attacks on elementary schoolchildren has unleashed a wave of recrimination in China. In late March, a man stabbed eight children to death in Fujian province. Now, “copycat” attackers have struck at three schools in three provinces; two used a knife, while one employed a hammer. In all, more than 50 children have been wounded. Blogs and chat sites blamed the assaults on a feeling of powerlessness within the Chinese political system, as well as growing social inequality. “In a society that has no release valve, killing the weakest members of society has become a release,” wrote one of China’s most widely read bloggers, Han Han, in a post that was quickly censored. The government this week posted police at schools and ordered newspapers to stop reporting on the attacks.

Islamabad, Pakistan
Taliban chief still alive: The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, thought to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike, is still alive and threatening attacks on America. Looking spry, Hakimullah Mehsud appeared in a video released this week that was apparently recorded in April. “The time is very near,” he said, “when our suicide bombers will attack the American states in their major cities.” It’s the second time Mehsud has surfaced after being declared dead. He was reportedly killed in a power struggle last August, and then again by a drone strike in January, when the Obama administration said it was all but certain he was dead. Mehsud is “Pakistan’s own version of Freddy Krueger,” said analyst Quatrina Hosain.

Mount Margherita, Uganda
Glacier splits: The massive glacier on Uganda’s Mount Margherita has cracked, blocking access to one of Africa’s most popular summits for mountain climbers. Ugandan authorities say the glacier ruptured because of extensive melting due to global warming. The mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of Uganda’s main tourist destinations and one of the few places near the equator that has ice. But the glacier has shrunk by 75 percent in the past 50 years, and scientists say that if current trends continue, it will disappear completely by 2030.

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