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No Clear Frontrunner For Next Pope On The Eve Of Cardinals' Conclave

There's a growing sense excitement and trepidation among visitors to St. Peter's Square on the eve of the conclave to elect a new pope. The 115 Catholic cardinals who will cast ballots break down into two groups: the so-called Roman party, members of the Vatican administration known as the curia, and the so-called reformers, cardinals from outside Rome. The cardinals have said there is no strong consensus around any one candidate so there will probably be several rounds of voting over several days. A cardinal must receive two-thirds of the vote to become pope.
NPR

North Korea Severs 'Hotline' Communication With The South After Sanctions

North Korean authorities cut off their "hotline" communication with South Korea on Monday as part of their announced withdrawal from the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953. The move came amid a flurry of bellicose North Korean threats, coinciding with the beginning today of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. The White House also vowed anew to protect U.S. forces and South Korean allies against any threats from the North. Analysts say it is among the most dangerous moments on the Korean peninsula in several years.
NPR

Tibetan Customs Include Horse Races ... And Paramilitary Police?

Inside China, Tibetan "customs" include the Nagqu horse festival, complete with state-sponsored repression. At least that's what's on display in an exhibit at the National Museum Of China.
NPR

With Withdrawal Looming, U.S. Troops Shift Their Aim

U.S. and other NATO troops are spending less time fighting the Taliban and more time making local Afghan governments self-sufficient. It's a slow process.
NPR

Thousands of Dead Pigs Clog Shanghai's Main Water Source

The bloated carcasses were first noticed on Tuesday. Authorities says they appear to have died as a result of a swine virus that cannot be transmitted to humans.
NPR

Edible Bonsai: East Meets West On These Cookie Canvases

Art student Risa Hirai has turned her skills in oil painting to elaborate icing decoration. Her works, on exhibit this week at Gallery Tokyo Humanite, feature traditional Japanese motifs on a very Western canvas: cookies

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