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North Korea Successfully Detonates Nuclear Scientist

PYONGYANG—Hailing it as a significant step forward for their ballistic weapons program just hours after suffering a failed missile launch, North Korean leaders announced Monday they had successfully detonated a nuclear scientist.

Tokyo Portal Outage Delays Millions Of Japanese Warp Commuters

TOKYO—Saying the outdated system needed to be upgraded or replaced to avoid similar problems going forward, millions of inconvenienced Japanese warp commuters expressed frustration Thursday following a Tokyo portal outage that caused delays of up to eight seconds.

Earth Ranked Number One Party Planet

FRAMINGHAM, MA—Noting its high concentration of nightlife, droves of attractive singles, and atmospheric conditions allowing liquid alcohol to exist, the ‘Princeton Review’ on Monday ranked Earth the Milky Way galaxy’s top party planet for the fifth year in a row.

Nuclear Warhead Thrilled For Chance To Finally Escape North Korea

PYONGYANG—Saying its spirits were immediately buoyed upon hearing Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s recent statement that the military was close to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, a North Korean nuclear warhead reported Tuesday that it was thrilled for the chance to finally escape the country.

Pope Francis Carves Roast Cherub For Vatican Christmas Dinner

VATICAN CITY—After pulling a probe thermometer from its thigh and tasting a piece of crispy golden-brown skin, Pope Francis began carving a slow-roasted 18-pound cherub for the Vatican’s annual Christmas feast, sources within the Holy See reported Sunday.

Vatican Putting Out Feelers For How Public Would React To Another Children’s Crusade

VATICAN CITY—Saying they had been giving some thought recently to the idea of sending legions of Christian boys and girls to retake the Holy Land and wanted to gauge the level of support, Vatican officials reportedly began putting out feelers Wednesday to determine how the public might react to another Children’s Crusade, much as was attempted in the year 1212.
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Russia Reiterates Zero-Tolerance Policy For Terrorists, Hostages

MOSCOW (Sept. 3)—In response to the ongoing hostage situation at a middle school in the town of Beslan in North Ossetia, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin firmly reiterated his nation's hard-line policy against terrorists and their hostages Tuesday.

Russian troops prepare to storm the school.

"Russia does not tolerate terrorism," Putin announced at a press conference. "We deal with terrorists swiftly and completely. This is a warning to terrorists, hostages, rescue workers, bystanders...all those involved in terrorist activities: You will be shown no mercy."

The situation in the southern Russian town of Beslan began Wednesday when armed multinational terrorists stormed a small school on the first day of classes, taking more than 1,200 teachers, children, and parents hostage.

Now, on the third day of the conflict, Russian security forces await the command to terminate the standoff.

"The Russian government will not accede to the terrorists' demands, nor will it be swayed by hostage pleas for mercy," Putin said. "Without the parents and children as hostages, the terrorists would be powerless. Anyone who assists terrorist monsters—in any capacity—is an enemy to the Russian people and will be treated as such."

Putin first publicly announced the country's anti-terrorist stance in October 2002, when 40 Chechen terrorists seized a crowded Moscow theater, taking more than 700 hostages and demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya. In accordance with Russia's zero-tolerance policy, government forces from Russia's elite Spetsnaz commando unit of the Federal Security Service pumped an aerosol anaesthetic into the theater, killing all of the terrorists and 128 of the hostages.

"The Moscow theater crisis was a perfect example of my willingness to do everything necessary to battle terrorists," Putin said. "As prime minister, my first job is to keep the Russian people safe. Terrorists want to destroy Russia, but we will not let them. Make no mistake: Terrorists—and those who happen to be near them—will meet with a swift, terrible end."

Although Russian laws limit press coverage of terrorist incidents, citizens who do know about the ongoing crisis have applauded Putin's hardline stance.

"To ensure the stability of our country, we need to take a firm stance against terrorists," said Tamara Dmitriyevna, a professor at Rostov State University. "Yes, we can play intellectual games and draw parallels between Putin and Stalin, but any citizen who is not currently being held hostage will tell you that there is an openness and an honesty in Russia that never existed before. Citizens are not being killed secretly anymore."

Although many international leaders have criticized the Russian government's position, President Bush released a statement commending Putin for his leadership in the war on terror.

"The enemies of freedom have no friend in Vladimir Putin," Bush's statement read. "He goes to any means necessary to protect his people and make the world a safer place. As the world knows, you are either with us or with the terrorists. God help those who are with the terrorists."

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