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Friday, March 29, 2013

North Korea Enters “War” with South Korea

North Korea said it entered a “state of war” with South Korea in the early hours of Saturday, according to South’s largest news agency Yonhap. Russia has expressed concerns that the increasingly tense exchanges between North Korea and the U.S. could turn into a “vicious circle,” in the words of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un “judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists,” North Korea’s state agency reported. The tone grew more strident after the U.S. flew two B-2 stealth bombers over South Korea yesterday as a signal that their military alliance remains strong, a move Kim described as an ”ultimatum that they will ignite a nuclear war at any cost.” ”We are concerned that… unilateral action is being taken around North Korea that is increasing military activity,” Lavrov said.

Bigger Losses Expected for Cyprus’ Largest Depositors

People with bank accounts larger than €100,000 will probably lose more than initially planned, a source familiar with the terms told Reuters today. Depositors at the Bank of Cyprus, the country’s largest bank, will receive 37.5 percent of their accounts in shares and may well never receive the rest of their money back. At first, depositors were to lose between 30 and 40 percent of their savings, according to earlier talks. The point of stiffer terms is to definitely change the status of Cyprus as an offshore tax haven, even at the cost of a deepening recession and more unemployment. “We have no intention of leaving the euro,” Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said in a conference, as he explained why the nation has to accept the bailout terms. ”In no way will we experiment with the future of our country.”

Obama Fails to Approve Non-Lethal Aid to Syria

President Barack Obama has failed to approve a recommendation by the National Security Council (NSC) that the U.S. provide Syrian rebels with non-lethal military aid, according to Foreign Policy’s blog, The Cable. The “interagency recommendation,” left on Obama’s desk last month, said the U.S. should give body armors, night goggles and other items that are not lethal but could help the rebels defend themselves against the forces of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. While Obama hasn’t explicitly said no to his advisors, his silence on the matter is another signal that he is reluctant to step up support for the insurgency. The NSC includes Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey. Syria’s two-year civil war has already claimed 70,000 lives.

Immigration Deal Is Near as Labor, Business Agree

U.S. business and labor groups are close to agreeing on a program that would allow 200,000 low-skilled immigrants to work in the country temporarily each year to help employers deal with shortages of workers. The discussion, which is taking place between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of labor unions, stalled last week over how much these temporary workers should be paid and what types of jobs to exclude. This agreement may allow the Senate to announce new bipartisan legislation as early as next month.

China Will Spend $16 Billion to Fight Pollution in Beijing

China has agreed to spend $16 Billion over the next three years to fight pollution in Beijing. It will focus on sewage disposal, garbage and air quality, but also on illegal construction, according to the China Daily newspaper. Pollution is one of China’s largest issues and one of the topics of discussion at the National Party Congress at the end of 2012, which saw its first transfer of powers in ten years. The news comes after 16,000 dead pigs were found floating in Shanghai’s main source of water.

Weekend Read: A King With No Country

The last king of Rwanda lives in Virginia in a low-income housing. In the Washingtonian.

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