Today's agenda: North Korea's capacity, Palestinian summit, rights in China

Our plans for stories today:

In world news ...

• Korea-based Donald Kirk and Kristen Chick in Boston have put together a briefing page to answer basic questions on North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

Peter Ford in Beijing reports that twenty of China's most outspoken civil rights lawyers face being effective disbarment next Monday, a move that activists say will gut the country's budding rights protection movements.

• On the eve of Obama's visit with the Palestinian president, Secretary of State Clinton made clear there was no wiggle room in the administration's stance on Israeli settlements: no expansion, period – not even "natural" growth. Josh Mitnick updates this story with links to five recent Monitor articles.

• Carol Huang on the World desk is updating the news out of Aung Sun Suu Kyi's trial in Burma/Myanmar.

Ilene Prusher in Jerusalem looks at the woes of the Palestinian Fatah party ahead of Mahmoud Abbas's visit to Washington on Thursday.

Ben Quinn in London writes on a literary scandal. In the land of Shakespeare and Wordsworth, poetry has the power to stir passions – but seldom dominates the news headlines. However, Ruth Padel, the great-great granddaughter of Charles Darwin and the first woman to hold the position at Oxford since its creation in 1708, has been reciting some words of mea culpa after being forced to resign this week.

Andres Calas in Rome covered one of the biggest soccer matches of the year yesterday, but he notes that much of Spain rooted for Manchester United instead of Barcelona. Why? Showing support for Barcelona, it seems, is tantamount to supporting the free Catalonia cause.

Alexandra Marks is visiting the small Italian town that suffered a massive earthquake recently. Prime Minister Berlusconi's recent decision to move the upcoming G-8 Summit to the town is meant to help keep attention on the recovery effort, but life remains a struggle.

In US news ...

• The Supreme Court this week declined to step into a dispute over a Florida sheriff deputy's repeated use of an electroshock gun against a handcuffed, sobbing suspect, an episode captured on camera and available on the Internet. Warren Richey reviews what the law allows and doesn't allow in the use of Taser guns.

Laurent Belsie blogs on some new economic data today, such as the largest rise in durable goods since the recession began.

Patrik Jonsson reports on Republicans in Congress tacking gun rights amendments onto unrelated bills, and Democrats don't appear to have much stomach to put up a fight.

Peter Grier is reviewing what scientists and nuclear experts in the West are gleaning from North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.

Mark Trumbull reports on the deal between key GM bondholders and the company and the US Treasury. It doesn’t prevent a GM bankruptcy, but it does mean the Treasury is pushing hard for a smooth process to preserve as much of GM’s economic value as possible.

Mark Guarino in Chicago talks to Chicagoans about what they think of a newly released tape which casts doubt on Sen. Roland Burris's assertions that he did not engage in any pay for play to win a Senate appointment from Rod Blagojevich.

Gordon Lubold at the Pentagon reviews the military options for sending a message to North Korea as Defense Secretary Gates heads to the region for talks.

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