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Kim Jong Un tries to launch his rocket

North Korea, the world's poorest, most maddeningly opaque nuclear power, has just launched a long-range rocket. Or at least it was supposed to be a long-range rocket.

Both the Pentagon and the South Korean defense ministry have confirmed that the rocket was launched at 7:39am Seoul time, or 6:49pm Washington, D.C. time; a spokesman for the South Korean defense ministry said that a few minutes after the launch the rocket had broken up and crashed into the sea.  North Korea hasn't commented yet, either through official channels or the usually feisty (and congratulatory) Korean Central News Agency of the DPRK.

North Korea announced the plan for the satellite launch, which it claimed was for peaceful purposes, on March 16, less than three weeks after it had signed a deal with the United States in which it promised to stop nuclear and long-range missile tests. Even U.S. officials and long-term North Korea watchers used to dealing with a mercurial Pyongyang were surprised by the speed at which the country reneged on the agreement.

The fear is that, were Pyongyang successful in actually launching a long-range missile, North Korea could eventually load a nuclear warhead on a rocket and send it as far as Alaska or Hawaii. Seoul, the South Korean capital of over ten million people which is only dozens of miles from the DMZ, has been well within striking range of North Korea's artillery for decades.

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Welcome to IKEAville

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has begun work on a 26-acre self-contained neighborhood in Stratford, East London - just in time for the 2012 Olympics.

The town will be called Strand East and will contain 1,200 new homes, 480,000 square feet of office space, and a 350 bedroom hotel. The development's canal side location -- nicknamed "mini Venice" -- will feature a water-taxi service and floating cocktail bar. It is the first major development for LandProp, which owns the intellectual assets of the furniture company. The development group already operates in Holland, Lithuania, Poland, and Latvia, according to the Daily Globe and Mail.

The announcement comes shortly after the British government's agreement last month to slim down urban planning laws in order to encourage more sustainable projects, like this one. In what was a bitter dispute with countryside campaigners, the reforms represent a huge step along the way to reviving Britain's struggling rural economy.

Andrew Cobden, a spokesman for the project, also described a 40-meter illuminated tower that will be visible across the East London skyline - meant to emulate the Olympic torch. Like all things IKEA, the tower will be made from relatively "simple" materials, a wooden lattice of 72 diagonal laths, 16 horizontal steel rings, and held together by 32,000 trusty steel bolts.

The development will accommodate residents at a range of income levels. IKEA's first pre-fabricated home debuted last month in Portland, at an all-inclusive price of just $86,000. You might need more than a tiny Allen wrench to build this one.

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