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Thursday, April 4, 2013

North Korea Moves Missile to East Coast

South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin said on Thursday that North Korea had moved a missile with “considerable range” to its east coast, a deployment that came hours after the North Korean military had confirmed it had been authorised to attack the US with nuclear weapons. Kim dismissed media speculation that the missile deployed was the KN-08, which could hit the US mainland, but said it could be a Musudan, which could reach South Korea, Japan and US bases in these countries. The South Korean official added that the move was likely part of a test or a drill. “These are rethorical threats. I believe the odds of a full-scale provocation are small”, said Kim. The North Korean activity came a day after the US annouced it would deploy a missile defence system to Guam to strengthen regional protection against a possible missile strike, an indication that the Obama administration regards North Korea’s recent actions as more than bellicose rethoric.

It Would Be ‘Foolish’ To Abandon Nuclear Deterrent, Says UK Prime Minister

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said it would be “foolish” if the United Kingdom chose to abandon its Trident nuclear deterrent in the face of potential threats from North Korea and Iran. “Every hour of every day, one of these submarines is patrolling the oceans – silent and invisible, armed and alert, our ultimate insurance against nuclear attack”, wrote the prime minister in The Daily Telegraph. “Iran continues to defy the will of the international community in its attempts to develop its nuclear capabilities, while the highly unpredictable and aggressive regime in North Korea recently conducted its third nuclear test and could already have enough fissile material to produce more than a dozen nuclear weapons”, continued Cameron, adding that relying on the United States for protection would not be a viable option. The Liberal Democrats, part of the governing coalition, want the UK to find a cheaper alternative to the current £20 billion plan to replace Trident, including cheaper submarines, land-based options or the abandonment of round-the-clock patrols.

Former Aide Suggests Pope Francis Could Shut Vatican Bank

A former top aide to Pope Francis during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires has signalled that the pontiff may decide to shut down the Vatican Bank, formally known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR). The bank has been plagued by scandals over the years and was facing renewed scrutiny at the time of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. “I think he’ll move everything to the Bank of Italy, or something like that”, said Federico Wals, who used to be the pontiff’s spokesman in Buenos Aires. “We had the same issues as the Vatican Bank is facing today”, said Wals. “It was a black hole, so there were basically no limits on what we could spend.” The former spokesman added that the pontiff decided to divest the archdiocese’s share in a host of local banks because the entity had been using that position to borrow money on highly favourable terms, a situation that didn’t encourage fiscal discipline.

EU to Investigate Football Clubs for Illegal State Aid

The European Union is to investigate allegations that some of the continent’s top football clubs, including Spanish club side Real Madrid, have received state aid in violation of EU rules. Documents seen by EU’s competition office could demonstrate that the Spanish club was favoured by the Madrid city council in a deal for land around the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, which is to be redeveloped into a larger entertainment complex. The transaction would be illegal under article 87 of the Treaty of the European Community and it is alleged that the council hugely overestimated a debt it had with the football club in order to give Real Madrid prime real estate in the city centre, therefore allowing the stadium redevelopment to commence. Another five continental clubs are also to be investigated, all of them from the Netherlands, including PSV Eindhoven. The allegation is that they too received illegal state aid from their local councils.

Breaths Found to Be Unique as Fingerprints

A team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich has discovered that compounds in exhaled air produce a unique and stable molecular autograph, something as unique as a person’s fingerprint. Renato Zenobi, one of the team’s members, said that the team discovered this by analysing the breaths of 11 healthy individuals four times a day over nine days. The team was interested in compounds produced by the body’s metabolism, which are small enough to pass from the blood into the alveoli in the lungs and out when a person exhaled. “You need to show there is a core individual signal that is stable over time. If it changes a lot during the course of the day or after you’ve had a coffee or smoked a cigarette, you can just forget about it”, said Prof Zenobi. The ‘breathprint’ could be used to detect compounds associated with diseases, resulting in an immediate diagnosis. Prof Zenobi has already demonstrated that breath samples can show if a person suffers from chronic bronchitis.

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