In this occasional series, The Washington Post brings you up to speed on some of the biggest stories of the week. First up: After six tests, the mountain hosting North Korea’s nuclear blasts may be exhausted.
The biggest story: North Korea’s possible ‘tired mountain’ problem
Have North Korea’s nuclear tests become so big that they’re altering the geological structure of the land? Some analysts now see signs that Mount Mantap, the 7,200-foot-high peak under which North Korea detonates its nuclear bombs, is suffering from “tired mountain syndrome.”
Since a Sept. 3 nuclear test, there have been three quakes at the site in the 2- to 3-magnitude range, each of them prompting fears that North Korea had conducted another nuclear test that perhaps had gone wrong. Chinese scientists already have warned that further nuclear tests could cause the mountain to collapse and release the radiation from the blast.
Read the full the full story by Anna Fifield in Tokyo.
What the regime would like you to look at instead
A Singaporean photographer flew over Pyongyang in a microlight plane last month, filming video and taking photos the whole way. In the video, Pyongyang looks like a modern and thriving city — which is exactly what the North Korean regime wants people to think it is. The video offers amazing views over the capital, which is home to the 2 million North Koreans most loyal to the regime.
View the video here.
Five other important stories
North Korea’s nuclear tests have recently also raised more concerns in neighboring China, which continued to discuss its own future at a major party congress this week.
1. China’s leader elevated to the level of Mao in Communist pantheon
The move will make President Xi Jinping the most powerful Chinese leader in decades and boost his ambitions to tighten party control over society and make China a true superpower, writes Simon Denyer in Beijing.
Of course, the extent to which the Chinese model is successful or applicable to other countries is questionable. But China is officially in the business of styling itself as a polestar for the world, with a markedly different political, economic and cultural model than the U.S. Read the full analysis.
2. Putin talks like Russia’s next president but stays silent on whether he’ll run again
Xi Jinping’s personalized leadership style has been compared to that of another leader opposed to many U.S. objectives: Vladimir Putin. The Russian president was expected to announce that he would run for reelection again next year, but he stopped short of doing so, writes David Filipov in Sochi.
3. How fake news continues to influence European elections
The Russian leader dedicated a large portion of his speech to Russia’s grievances against the United States. Allegations of election interference have further strained U.S.-Russian relations, but they have also complicated Moscow’s dealings with other nations.
Last weekend’s Czech elections showed how difficult it is to fix the fake news problem. Like other countries, the Czech Republic has avoided deleting content for fear it might open itself up to censorship accusations. There aren’t many alternatives, though. Read the full analysis.
Fake news also appeared in the lead-up to the Catalan independence referendum, although it’s not clear whether Russia was involved, writes Amanda Erickson.
4. Nobel Peace Price winner Suu Kyi is no longer a ‘bright light’ for Rohingya who supported her
Over the past two months, the decades-old cycle of violence between Burma’s Buddhist majority and the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority has reached a bloody apex. More than half a million Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh. Thousands more continue to escape by the day.
Nobel Peace Price winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been Burma’s de facto leader since 2016, but she has said nothing to quell intensifying bouts of violence against the Rohingya. For decades, her name was synonymous with the struggle for human rights. In retrospect, however, it is unlikely that Suu Kyi ever had much sympathy for the Rohingya, writes Max Bearak from Bangladesh.
5. Colombians have for years grown amazing coffee. Finally, they’re drinking it.
For decades, Colombia harbored a dirty secret. In the land of Juan Valdez and his mule, Conchita — the fictional characters from advertisements who have hooked the world on rich mugs of Colombian coffee since the 1950s — it was nearly impossible to get a good cup of local brew.
Globalization is changing that — specifically a wave of well-traveled Colombian entrepreneurs who, along with a number of foreign investors, are upping the quality of domestic coffee roasting and brewing. Together, they are fomenting a revolution in Colombia’s coffee-drinking culture.
Read the full story by Anthony Faiola in Bogota.