THE SIX-PARTY TALKS ON ICE
The politics: North Korea's nuclear program has destabilized the Asian political scene for years. The six-party talks aimed at resolving the crisis -- between North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, Japan, and Russia -- have continued intermittently, with no final, satisfactory result. The Hermit Kingdom regularly fires off ballistic missiles, enraging and scaring the interested parties, and has conducted nuclear tests to widespread international condemnation. And Barack Obama's administration has had no more luck than its predecessor in getting Kim Jong Il to play nice.
The Olympics: Women's speed skating may be a long way from the negotiating table. But every representative of the six-party talks competed in the women's speed skating 500-meter race on Feb. 16, and five of the six countries finished among the top 10 places. South Korean skater Sang-Hwa Lee won the gold, Beixing Wang of China took bronze, Japan's Sayuri Yoshii finished fifth, Heather Richardson of the United States placed sixth, and North Korean speedster Hyon-Suk Ko placed ninth. Russian skater Olga Fatkulina finished a disappointing 20th.