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Government threatens South with 'sea of fire'

SEOUL, South Korea (Bloomberg News) -- North Korea told "the world's foolish politicians" to expect no change from the new regime headed by Kim Jong Un and threatened a "sea of fire" for South Korean President Lee Myung Bak's administration.

Lee had provoked North Korea by raising security alerts and declining to send an official mission to pay condolences over the Dec. 17 death of Kim Jong Il, the National Defense Commission said today.

"The world will witness how millions of North Korean people, who transformed sadness to courage and tears to strength under the pillar of the great leader Kim Jong Un, will achieve final victory," it said.

South Korea announced a low-level alert after news of Kim's death was released and expressed sympathy with the North Korean people, while limiting the number of its citizens who could travel to Pyongyang on condolence visits.

Lee said the measures were to show that his country wasn't hostile toward the North, while Pyongyang threatened "unpredictable catastrophic consequences" over the South's restrictions on visits.


Putin challenger eyes 'global' currency

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Russian billionaire challenging Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in March's presidential election said Thursday that he will push for a common currency with the European Union and liberalize the nation's political scene if elected.

Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns 80 percent of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, didn't detail his proposal for a "common global currency based on the euro and the ruble" in the outline of an election platform on his blog. But he pledged to push for Russia's integration into a "Big Europe."

Prokhorov, 48, who made his $18 billion fortune in metals, banking and media, also vowed to disband the parliament elected in a fraud-tainted vote earlier this month and call for a repeat election next December.

That echoed the demand of protesters spurred by allegations of ballot-stuffing and other violations in the Dec. 4 vote.

Prokhorov attended a Moscow rally last weekend, which drew up to 100,000 people -- the biggest protest in Russia's post-Soviet history.


51,000 without power 3 days after storm

HELSINKI, Finland (Bloomberg News) -- Nordic power companies have failed to restore power to about 51,000 customers three days after a storm named Dagmar swept through the region and damaged power grids.

In Finland, 43,000 homes remain blacked out, according to the utilities.

In Sweden, 7,000 people were without electricity, while about 1,500 were without power in Norway.

The storm lashed the Nordic countries with hurricane-strength winds on Monday and Tuesday, damaging buildings, shutting roads and halting trains.

Winds caused major damage to the Finnish power grid, which needs to be rebuilt in some places, officials said. The repairs may take days in some areas.

Finland's Economy Ministry will assess whether the compensation paid by the power generators is adequate, Economy Minister Jyri Haekaemies said.


To align calendar, Samoa will lose a day

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Bloomberg News) -- The South Pacific nation of Samoa, which straddles the international dateline, will skip today to align its calendar with nearby trading partners Australia and New Zealand.

Samoa will move straight into Saturday at midnight, according to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labor.

"We will be waking up on Saturday and lose one day in our lives, as there will be no Friday (Dec. 30, 2011) in the history of Samoa," the ministry said.

Samoa has lived almost one day behind its largest South Pacific neighbors for more than 120 years after American businessmen convinced officials to align its time closer to theirs.

The nation's government approved the time shift in May after the time difference caused problems in business deals with Australia and New Zealand, according to the government's website. The country effectively had only four working days in which to conduct business with its partners.