Must-Reads from Around the World

North Korea raises the stakes, glacial ice that took 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years in Peru's Andes and a flagship Indian jobs program has been defrauded of around $10 billion by local officials

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KCNA / handout / REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over an urgent operation meeting on the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Force's performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang, on March 29, 2013.

Rogue State — The Economist suggests that the best way to deal with North Korea‘s increasingly provocative rhetoric is to face down the country’s leader Kim Jong Un. Kim, who has said that Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities are non-negotiable, “has raised the stakes [and] it is time to get tougher with the nastiest regime on the planet,” writes the paper. In addition, to destabilize the country from within, the Economist prescribes engaging with North Korea’s new merchant class and other possible agents of change, stopping all commercial favors towards the Kim regime and pressuring China to choke off Pyongyang’s sources of cash.

Melting Andes — Scientists said that glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took 1,600 years to form has melted in no more than 25 years, according to the New York Times. The margins of the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru, the world’s biggest tropical ice sheet, show that rapid melting is exposing plants that were locked in a deep freeze many thousands of years ago. Some scientists believe “the melting now under way appears to be at least as fast, if not faster, than anything in the geological record since the end of the last ice age,” writes the Times. Glacial melting in Peru’s Andes is an indication that global warming has its largest effects at high altitudes and latitudes.

Fukushima Breakdown — A cooling system at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan has failed for the second time in a month, reports the Associated Press. The system is designed to regulate the temperature in a storage pool for spent fuel rods. The breakdown does not present an immediate danger as the system can be turned off for up to two weeks before temperatures in the pool reach hazardous levels, but if the water runs dry then the fuel rods will emit a massive amount of radiation. The plant, which went into multiple meltdowns after the 2011 tsunami damaged backup generators and all cooling systems failed, is currently being decommissioned, but continues to have glitches, writes the AP.

Indian Graft — A flagship Indian jobs program has been defrauded of around $10 billion by local officials, reports Bloomberg. District administrators and village heads have used schemes like ghost workers, fake projects and over-billing to embezzle money from the government’s $33 billion rural workfare initiative, which has been running for seven years. Police are investigating more than 2,000 corruption cases across 100 projects in one district alone. The fraud underlines the challenge posed to anti-poverty efforts in India by the country’s endemic graft. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is trying to stem losses from the welfare program in an effort to reduce India’s budget deficit, writes Bloomberg.

Global Poverty — The head of the World Bank has said that tackling global poverty is a greater challenge than the fight against HIV, reports the Guardian. Jim Yong Kim, a former health activist who once led a global anti-AIDS campaign, said the World Bank’s goal of reducing the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day from 21% to 3% by 2030 is “extraordinarily difficult.” Kim said that economic growth is essential to reducing poverty, but noted that growth on its own was not sufficient, and governments needed to adopt policies that made growth more inclusive. He added that progress in India, sub-Saharan Africa and war-torn states is vital if the poverty target is to be met, writes the Guardian.