North Korea threatens nuclear test and further rocket launches

North Korea says it will carry out further rocket launches and a nuclear test that would target the United States, dramatically stepping up its threats against a country it called its “enemy”.

The announcement by the country’s top military body came a day after the United Nations security council agreed a US-backed resolution to censure and sanction the country for a rocket launch in December that breached UN rules.

“We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States,” North Korea’s national defence commission said, according to state news agency KCNA.

North Korea is believed by South Korea and other observers to be “technically ready” for a third nuclear test, and the decision to go ahead rests with its leader, Kim Jong-un, who pressed ahead with the December rocket launch in defiance of the UN sanctions.

“Whether North Korea tests or not is up to North Korea,” Glyn Davies, the top US envoy for North Korean diplomacy, said in the South Korean capital of Seoul as KCNA released its statement.


State media announce December 2012’s rocket launch Link to video: North Korea launches rocket

“We hope they don’t do it. We call on them not to do it,” Davies said. “This is not a moment to increase tensions on the Korean peninsula.”

The North was banned from developing missile and nuclear technology under sanctions dating from its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

The concern now is that Pyongyang, whose only major diplomatic ally, China, endorsed the latest UN resolution, could undertake a third nuclear test using highly enriched uranium for the first time, opening a second path to a bomb.

Its previous tests have been viewed as limited successes and used plutonium, of which the North has limited stocks.

North Korea gave no time-frame for the coming test and often employs harsh rhetoric in response to UN and US actions.

Its long-range rockets are not seen as capable of reaching the United States mainland and it is not believed to have the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.

“The UNSC [UN security council] resolution masterminded by the US has brought its hostile policy towards the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) to its most dangerous stage,” the commission was quoted as saying.

When it comes to pet health, it's best to be proactive

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One of the most important responsibilities that a pet owner has is to provide regular veterinary care that should begin when the animal is very young and continue throughout its lifetime.

Whether your beloved family companion is a dog, cat, horse or parrot, all of our animals need regular veterinary visits, including preventive care to help avert potentially fatal diseases such as diabetes and cancer that can affect the quality or shorten our pets’ lives.

Dr. Monica Ortiz, who recently joined the medical staff at Capeway Veterinary Hospital in Fairhaven, says that preventive medicine is always discussed with every pet owner during an animal’s initial visit to the clinic. Veterinarians emphasize the benefits of keeping the creature happy and healthy through vaccinations, monthly heartworm, flea and tick prevention, and regular grooming.

“Owners are made aware of the future risks and costs associated with the treatment of these preventable diseases,” she adds.

According to Ortiz, a graduate of St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies, it’s also important for owners to introduce their pets to proper dental hygiene at any early age.

“Ideally, owners should brush their pets’ teeth daily,” she tells, adding that during the initial visit, a veterinarian should discuss the different types of toothbrushes, toothpastes and treats that are available to promote healthy oral care and which options are best for your pet.

Ortiz recommends that as a pet matures, teeth should be inspected during yearly physical examinations to determine if cleaning is required to prevent the development of gingivitis and dental calculus.

“Without proper dental prevention at home, routine dental procedures can be expensive if multiple extractions and radiographs are required,” she warns, noting that foul smelling breath can also be an indication of other medical conditions such as kidney disease.

“Poor dental hygiene can lead to infections ascending into the blood stream and cause severe oral pain,” she emphasizes.

The San Francisco native echoes the sentiments of many of her colleagues when she emphasizes that obesity, which is preventable, is one of the leading causes of many of the medical conditions which cause our pets to suffer.

Complications caused by obesity mirror many of the ailments that plague overweight humans and include arthritis, cardiac disease, diabetes, and cruciate ligament tears, which may require surgery and prolonged confinement to allow healing and the animal to regain its strength.

“In addition, obese pets will have a reduced life expectancy,” the veterinarian warns. “Proper diet and exercise will aid in the future prevention of these diseases.”

Many household cats, she adds, have a tendency to pack on the pounds because they love their food dish and sunny resting places.

“It is important to keep our cats active and trim to avoid diseases such as diabetes,” she advises. Ortiz tells feline owners to offer low calorie treats and provide stimulating toys that will engage the feline in playful exercise that will help prevent obesity.

“Cats can be very particular about their water consumption,” the small animal practitioner observes, noting that “providing fresh water daily, multiple water bowls in different locations and even water fountains can help increase their interest in drinking more water.”

“Keeping a cat indoors allows owners to provide a safe and healthy environment,” she concludes, noting that outdoor cats are at risk for transmissible disease between other felines and injuries caused by encounters with another animals, not to mention frostbite when pets are exposed to low temperatures and severe winter weather.

New Bedford resident and Portuguese water dog breeder Rita Sylvia agrees with Ortiz that diet is important in preventing disease. She supplements her dogs’ diet of quality brand kibble, with canned food, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables,

“I also give them a daily sprinkle of wheat germ, cinnamon and coconut oil on their food and ensure that they have lots of fresh water at all times,” Sylvia notes, adding that she also gives the dogs quality vitamins to maintain their longevity.

“Good hygiene and grooming also come into play, and our weekly check-over to ensure no new bumps or lumps also helps me be alert to anything different,” Sylvia adds. “If there are any problems, I believe in getting the dogs to the veterinarian as soon as possible, rather than to wait.”

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Canadian ‘co-ordinated’ terrorist attack, says Algerian PM – live updates

Here’s an updated summary of today’s key events:

Algeria

• Thirty-seven foreign workers were killed during the four-day siege of the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, the Algerian prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, said. Five foreigners were still missing following the siege, the PM said. David Cameron, the British prime minister, said there were 800 employees on the site when it was attacked, 135 of them foreigners. He said over 40 were taken hostage and at least 12 killed, with a further 20 feared dead – figures lower than Sellal’s. Three Britons have been confirmed dead and three more, along with one Colombian-born British resident, are also thought to have been killed, Cameron said. The US said three Americans had died. Japan’s prime minister confirmed that seven Japanese people had been killed in the raid.

Some 29 Islamist militants were killed in the raid, and the attack was co-ordinated by a Canadian, Sellal said. Three terrorists had been captured, he said. The militants wanted to blow up the gas facility, Sellal said, and planned the attack two months ago in Mali. Islamist militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility on behalf of al-Qaida for the attack on the gas facility on Wednesday – which led to a bloody assault the next day by the Algerian armed forces that lasted until Saturday – in a video, and said about 40 terrorists took part in the attack. The Canadian foreign affairs minister, John Baird, said his country could not confirm that a Canadian was involved but was working to verify this.

Belmokhtar’s group, the Mulathameen Brigade (“the Masked Ones”) – of which the Signatories in Blood group that carried out the Algerian kidnapping seems to have been a sub-group put out a statement through the ANI news agency in Mauritania threatening to carry out more attacks directed at states involved in battling the Islamists in Mali if they did not stop their military involvement there. In the statement, the group gave their account of the siege, saying the operation had been planned a long time ago, that they had tried to negotiate with an oil company, “westerners and Algerians”, and “senior intelligence officials” but the Algerians chose instead to attack. Britain refused to go into details about claims made during the siege by the hostage-takers’ leader, Abdul Rahman al-Nigeri, that he had been in contact with British officials, saying: “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

•  Cameron said that British intelligence and counter-terrorist assets would help find and dismantle the network that launched the attack on In Amenas. He added that the UK was “not seeking a combat role” in Mali, although it would continue to support the French military intervention there. He also rowed back somewhat from last week’s criticisms of Algeria’s handling of the raid (he had said he was disappointed not to have been told about the raid in advance), saying MPs would understand the challenges the Algerians faced, and that the siege would have been a demanding task for any country. The president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has reportedly ordered an investigation into how security forces failed to prevent the attack.

Syria

Syrian opposition leaders meeting in Istanbul have postponed forming a transitional government, the Syrian National Coalition said on Monday, in a setback for efforts to fill a power vacuum in the war-torn country.

The Local Co-ordination Committees, a group affiliated to the SNC, said 50 people had been killed so far today, 1171 of them in Damascus and its suburbs, as well as eight in Hama, in the north-west.  Videos posted by opposition groups purported to show explosions, wounded people and damage to buildings in Hama yesterday.

• Cameron said that he was “extremely concerned” about the fact that al-Qaida jihadists were among the groups making up the Syrian opposition, but it was wrong to characterise all the opposition groups in that way.

Israel

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has been out on the stump today trying to rally his vote in the run-up to tomorrow’s general election, which he is expected to win.

• Religious and ultra-orthodox Jews and inhabitants of West Bank settlements are expected to have disproportionately high representation in the new Israeli parliament, to be elected on Tuesday, writes Harriet Sherwood.

Rumor: Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom “Cheating Scandal”

Khloe Kardashian was “betrayed” by Lamar Odom and allegedly kicked him out after a “cheating scandal,” according to Life Style’s latest cover story.

The magazine, which has previouslypublished false stories about the couple, is apparently undeterred by those past failures of journalism, now claiming that Kardashian told Odom to leave their house “after calling him out over his late-night partying with other women.”

“He’s been withdrawn and staying out with his friends even more than usual lately, and she confronted him about cheating,” a so-called “friend” tells the tabloid.

We wonder if it’s the same insider who fedLife Style a false and embarrassing “divorce drama” story that wrongly predicted Kardashian and Odom were set to divorce last April.

In any case, another dubious “source” informs the magazine that Kardashian is now supposedly living alone after supposedly telling Odom “to get out until he can come back and be a proper husband.”

“Khloe won’t tolerate any wrongdoing on Lamar’s part,” explains the Life Style source.

Riiight…. and, um, what “wrongdoing” was there, again?

Life Style has no clue.

In the most telling line of the story, the magazine tips its hand, indicating that it doesn’t believe its own “cheating” premise.

“Whether her intuition about other women is warranted,” writes the tabloid, “Khloe has become a lower priority than Lamar’s precious partying.”

In other words: Life Style is now blaming its false “infidelity” story on Kardashian’s alleged “intuition” — not on any specifics about there being other women in the first place.

It’s just more shameless, reckless sensationalism from an outlet that’s been proven wrong on Kardashian and Odom time and again.

A source close to the couple tells Gossip Cop, “This is 100 percent bulls**t.”

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Obama inauguration merchandise we found: condoms ‘for hard times’

Saturday saw a fairly slow start to the inauguration festivities on the streets of Washington DC, but the entrepreneurial spirit was alive and kicking – as evidenced by the sale of Obama prophylactics.

“The condom trade is doing fantastically well,” said Benjamin Sherman, who was selling Obama condoms “for hard times”, as he put it.

Sherman and his colleagues received a warm reception from people attending events on the National Mall.

“It’s going to be a novelty item, and nothing that I’ll probably use in my sexual endeavors,” said Bobbi Simpson, from Virginia. She bought four sheaths, one of which claimed to be “the ultimate stimulus package”.

Official inauguration merchandise – which does not include condoms – is for sale in a tent on the Mall, but independent sellers are doing a roaring trade in the open air.