Midday Roundup: North Korea’s all-out, merciless, sacred war

Newsworthy | Leigh Jones

Midday Roundup: North Korea’s all-out, merciless, sacred war

Kim Jong Un looks out at South Korea from a military installation in North Korea.
Associated Press/Photo by KCNA via KNS

More threats. North Korea continues to hint at war, warning all foreigners to leave South Korea to avoid being caught up in a “thermonuclear” conflict. Despite the daily escalating rhetoric, the country’s military shows no sign of preparing for battle, according to Western intelligence sources. Experts suggest the threats and posturing could be more about boosting the popularity of leader Kim Jong Un at home. The country’s state-run news agency said once war broke out it would be all-out, merciless, sacred, and retaliatory. None of the foreign embassies in South Korea have issued directives encouraging their citizens to leave the country. 

Embarrassing tape. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s aides are fuming after someone in their camp released a recording of a campaign strategy session during which they discussed ways to smear potential challenger Ashley Judd. The actress, known for her liberal activism, has since decided not to run for McConnell’s Kentucky Senate seat. Mother Jones, the same publication that posted the video of Mitt Romney talking about the “47 percent,” obtained the McConnell strategy session audio recording from a secret source and posted it yesterday. In the recording, McConnell’s aides discuss Judd’s history of depression and her comments about religion. They appear to focus only on interviews she did and a memoir she released several years ago. The McConnell camp is now trying to ferret out the leak and promises a criminal investigation.

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Define that, please. Organizers of the Scripps National Spelling Bee announced today they will add a vocabulary test to the semifinal and championship final rounds of this year’s competition. The test will not be televised but will count for 50 percent of a contestant’s overall score. The director of the competition said it was a natural progression for the event: “It represents a deepening of the Bee’s commitment to its purpose: to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.”

Pastor punked. Megachurch pastor and televangelist Joel Osteen is laughing off an elaborate internet hoax that claimed he had renounced his faith and was leaving the church. Osteen, known for his prosperity gospel message, said yesterday he was just “too blessed” to worry about pursuing the hoaxers. The domain name for the fake website announcing Osteen’s supposed change of heart was registered on April Fool’s Day. It included a rambling message allegedly written by Osteen. The message said the pastor, who inherited the pulpit at Houston’s Lakewood Church from his father, had decided the Bible wasn’t true and he could find no evidence that God was real.

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