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April 1, 2013

South Korean president responds to North Korea\’s nuclear constitution change

Filed under: Archived,North Korea — admin @ 5:00 am

South Korean president responds to North Korea’s nuclear constitution change

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Monday, April 1, 2013

North Korea’s ruling party yesterday unveiled a plan to sign its right to build a nuclear bomb into its constitution. South Korea’s President Park Geun-Hye responded by saying that provocations from North Korea would trigger decisive military action as the war-like rhetoric on the peninsula intensifies.

North Korea’s declaration that it is pursuing to enshrine its right to make nuclear weapons in its constitution was coupled with a message that strengthening its economy was a priority. This is perceived by some experts as an effort by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to temper the tensions.

“I believe that we should make a strong and immediate retaliation without any other political considerations if (the North) stages any provocation against our people”, the South Korean president said at a meeting with military officials and Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin earlier today, while reaffirming she was taking North Korea’s threats very seriously. The Defence Minister did not rule out pre-emptive strikes against the North’s nuclear and missile installations if need be.

The United States responded by sending stealth fighters to South Korea to take part in military drills.

North Korea, whose parliament is scheduled to hold its annual parliamentary session later today, had issued a series of threats over the past months, including a declaration over the weekend that it was entering a “state of war” with the South. The tension escalated following Pyongyang’s suspected ballistic missile test in December and a nuclear test in February. The United Nations imposed fresh sanctions following these moves, much to the North’s irritation.

“There was a danger that this was getting to the point … of a permanent war footing,” John Delury, an analyst at Seoul’s Yonsei University specialising in North Korea, told the Associated Press. “In the midst of this tension and militant rhetoric and posturing, Kim Jong Un is saying, Look, we’re still focused on the economy, but we’re doing it with our nuclear deterrent intact.”

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se is expected to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry this week in Washington to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Yonhap news agency reported.



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Quakes push Canary Islands up eleven centimetres

Quakes push Canary Islands up eleven centimetres

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Monday, April 1, 2013

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A submarine volcano explosion near El Hierro Island in 2011
Image: NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Multiple earthquakes over the Easter weekend around El Hierro Island, one of the Canary Islands, have raised some parts of the island by as much as 11 centimetres (4.3 inches). This includes a 4.9 magnitude earthquake Sunday, following 129 quakes below 1.3 magnitude through Saturday.

The majority of quakes making up this seismic event occurred at depths between 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) and 15 kilometers (9.3 miles), and ranged between 2.0 and 4.5 on the Richter Scale. VolcanoDiscovery reports this may be a sign magma is rising to the surface, but stuck around 20km deep where the 4.9 quake took place; these are signals there may be a volcanic eruption in the near future.

The 4.9 magnitude quake occurred roughly 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) off shore of El Hierro Island, the southern-most of the Canary Islands chain. It was felt by around 10,000 residents of the island. In response, local authorities closed western roads on the island, and other steps, after raising the alert level on the island to the second-highest civil level.

El Hierro, itself, was likely created as a result of volcanic activity taking place over a million years ago.



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Interview: University of Guam\’s Ron McNinch on North Korea\’s nuclear threats

Filed under: Archived,Asia,Interview,North Korea,Original reporting — admin @ 5:00 am

Interview: University of Guam’s Ron McNinch on North Korea’s nuclear threats

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Monday, April 1, 2013

With North Korea talking about nuclear weapons which may be capable of reaching the United States territory of Guam, Wikinews interviewed Dr. Ron McNinch, a specialist in East Asian governments, and the chair of Public Administration and Legal Studies at the University of Guam, to learn more about the impact of the latest news on the island.

An aerial view of Guam
Image: [NASA’s Earth Observatory http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasaearthobservatory/].

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Is the current North Korean threat to Guam and other United States holdings in the Pacific one which is treated as a credible threat of potential nuclear action by the Guamanian and United States government?

Ron McNinch: Threats from a location such as North Korea should always be taken seriously, but to be frank, if North Korea wanted to attack the United States, there are far higher priority targets than Guam. Also, if North Korea is considering an attack, it is much more likely in the form of cyber or special operations disruptions, rather than nuclear strikes. Once a nation uses nuclear weapons, they lose the value of the weapon. It is the threat the weapon holds that expresses power, not using it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Has the current North Korean threat to Guam impacted the daily lives of people living on Guam? Do the locals take it seriously?

RM: In my own assessment of the social effects of this rhetoric, the people of Guam use a pragmatic approach based around typhoon preparation. We prepare of course, but to be frank, the North Korean sabre-rattling last week was drowned out by small children on easter egg hunts and holiday barbeques with beer.
In the Marianas Variety April 1 edition, the threat was lampooned by the editors. This parody could readily sum up the effects of the North Korean threats. [See external links, Ed]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Is there potentially economic consequences for Guam as a result of this in terms of tourism dollars or the United States military presence changing?

RM: Our main tourism markets are Japan and Korea, both of which are under the same guns, no pun intended. Therefore, it will not likely affect our tourism.The US military presence is a form of stable tourism-like dollars and the effect of the military build up is best expressed in those terms.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In terms of Guam, how does this latest situation differ from past situations where North Korea has engaged in saber rattling?

RM: The difference this time is that North Korea claim to have or might have missles that can reach Guam.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What do you think will likely happen regarding North Korea in the coming weeks and months?

RM: Usually, North Korea engages in this sort of behavior when it feels that the international community is ignoring it. Therefore, this rhetoric will likely ratchet down once China tells them to back off. This is a common pattern in the past. This bad behavior affects China more than the United States.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What do you think of the how the current situation with North Korea has evolved to date?

RM: The problem with this current rhetoric is that the movie “Olympus has Fallen,” which describes a North Korean action in Washington DC. The real threat from North Korea is the unconventional warfare techniques that they can use on US soil, not convention or nuclear threats. Disrupting basic power, water, medical or transportation services is a far greater threat than a nuclear threat.



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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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Wikinews interviews British scientist Dr Sally Williamson about effect of neonicotinoid pesticides on bee brains

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Monday, April 1, 2013

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File photo of honeybee collecting nectar and pollen from a flower.
Image: Bob Peterson.

Scientists at the UK’s Newcastle University have published their research into the effect of neonicotinoid chemicals on the brains of honeybees in the Journal of Expirimental Biology. The findings determined that chemicals such as imidacloprid and coumaphos did impair bee learning and memory.

Wikinews interviewed Dr. Sally Williamson, who co-authored the findings with Dr. Geraldine Wright, about how they went about confirming their hypothesis regarding the effects of different pesticides on honeybees and their learning abilities.

The Wikinews Q&A can be read below:

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What is your role at the Newcastle University? And are you the lead study? When and where did you publish your findings?

Dr. Sally Williamson: I am a research associate in the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, working in the laboratory of Dr. Geraldine Wright. The paper was co-authored by myself and Dr. Wright, and was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology last month.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What did your research involve?

DSW: The research involved feeding the pesticide imidacloprid, and the mite treatment coumaphos, to honeybees, then carrying out a learning and memory experiment. The learning experiment relies on a phenomenon called the Proboscis Extension Reflex (PER) whereby the bee extends its proboscis (sticks out its tongue) to receive a meal when the antennae are touched with sugar solution. In the lab, we can blow a floral scent at the bee at the same time as delivering the sugar solution- soon, the bee learns to extend its proboscis in response to the scent, having learned that this particular scent indicates a sugar reward. We then tested the bees’ memory, by comparing the PER response to both the trained scent, and a different novel scent.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What prompted your research into the effect of chemicals such as neonicotinoids and coumaphos with regards to the interference of insect’s ability to learn?

DSW: The target of the pesticide imidacloprid is an acetylcholine receptor which is found in brain regions associated with learning and remembering olfactory information. Coumaphos inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine at these same synapses. Therefore, we predicted that both compounds would affect olfactory learning, and that the effects of both compounds delivered together would be additive.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What conditions did you test your hypothesis under?

DSW: We had a control group of bees fed sugar solution alone, then we had a group fed sugar solution containing low levels of imidacloprid, a group fed sugar solution containing coumaphos, and a group of bees fed sugar solution containing both imidacloprid and coumaphos. The pesticides were present at very low levels, similar to those which might be present in the nectar of flowers treated with imidacloprid, or to the levels of coumaphos which might be in the pollen and honey stores of a coumaphos-treated hive.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png For how long have you been conducting your investigation?

DSW: The investigation was mainly carried out from June-September 2011, then the data analysis and interpretation was carried out during the winter. In bee research, most of the lab work is carried out in a summer season when the bees are flying, then we spend the winter doing statistical analysis and writing up our results.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Was the outcome as you expected?

DSW: We found that imidacloprid and coumaphos both impaired learning, and that they did indeed have an additive effect on learning impairment when administered together. A rather surprising finding on the memory test results was, that the bees could not tell the training odour, and a novel odour, apart- they responded to both equally, not preferring the odour associated with the sugar reward over the other odour which should have no rewarding associations.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Did you work alongside anyone else in your research? Was any part of the investigation most difficult?

DSW: I worked alongside Dr. Wright who is the head of our research group, and also alongside students and staff performing different bee experiments focused on bee nutrition. We also had close links with our collaborators Dr Chris Connelly and Dr Mary Palmer at Dundee University, who have recently published a study on actual bee brains, supplying data about what the same pesticides do to the neurons when actually applied directly to the brain areas of the bee involved in learning and memory. The main difficulty involved in our study was that it involved a 6-day experimental protocol, performed every week for several months, so it was quite intensive! Another difficulty of bee work is, it is very weather dependant- if it rains or is cold, the bees aren’t out foraging and the experiment has to be postponed until the weather improves.



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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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Two weekends of mountain bike racing in Canberra

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Mount Stromlo, Canberra —

24 Hour Solo at Stromlo. Eventual race winner Jason English.
Image: Hawkeye7.

24 Hour Solo at Stromlo. Solo riders.
Image: Hawkeye7.

24 Hour Solo at Stromlo. In mountain bike riding, three riders is practically a peloton.

Image: Hawkeye7.]]

24 Hour Solo at Stromlo. Support crews for the riders provide food, liquids and mechanical assistance to the riders.
Image: Hawkeye7.

This Easter weekend, elite mountain bike riders competed in the Australian 24-hour solo championships at Canberra’s Stromlo Forest Park.

The men’s race was won by Jason English from Port MacQuarie, who rode 33 laps. The women’s race was won by Liz Smith from Wollongong, who rode 25 laps.

Races are won by riding the most laps. If two riders complete the same number of laps in 24-hours, the winner is the one who has ridden them in the shortest time.

Riders wear lights on their helmets and bicycles during night laps. Due to the time of year, there is roughly 12 hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness each day.

The event is a curtain raiser for the WEMBO World Solo 24 hour Mountain Bike Championships, which will be held at Stromlo Forest Park on 12 and 13 October 2013.


Mont24 at Kowen. Riders go past on the first lap
Image: Hawkeye7.

Mont24 at Kowen. Riders with cramps receive a massage
Image: Hawkeye7.

Mont24 at Kowen. General announcements are made, including a review of the race rules

Image: Hawkeye7.]]

Mont24 at Kowen. A typical team tent layout
Image: Hawkeye7.

The race was for solo riders only. The weekend before, the teams of riders took to the track at the Mont 24 hour race at Canberra’s Kowen forest. With over 3,000 riders participating, it is now Australia’s largest cycling race.

In the team version of the race, favoured by the weekend warriors, but which also attracts more than a few elite athletes, laps are ridden in relay fashion, with each rider handing over the baton (which looked like a credit card) to another member of the team after riding one or more laps.

The track was in excellent condition, running through the trees. Without steep climbs or overly difficult technical sections, it permitted fast lap times.

No injuries were reported.



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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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