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Propaganda Alert! North Korea rocket strike threat targets US

Kim Jong-Un
© KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is pictured visiting troops and watching the exercise from a vantage point above the unidentified beach on the country's east coast.
North Korea has ordered its military to be ready to strike US bases in Guam, Hawaii and mainland America, according to state TV.

"The Korea People's Army top command declares that all artillery troops including strategic rocket units and long-range artillery units are to be placed under class-A combat readiness," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The announcement came as images were released showing a new round of military exercises by the isolated state.

The still photographs show what appears to be a sea-borne assault using hovercraft and an artillery drill using multiple rocket launchers - none of which would have the capacity to reach more than a dozen or so miles.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is pictured visiting troops and watching the exercise from a vantage point above the unidentified beach on the country's east coast.

The photographs, released by KCNA, are accompanied by language which matches weeks of rhetoric.

According to the news agency, Mr Kim "stressed the need to destroy and wipe away any enemy who lands on their coast through strong firepower and ordered the soldiers of the heroic Korean People's Army to display their mettle in the great war against the enemies".

Comment: The article quotes the Jane's Defence Weekly editor saying, "I can categorically state that multiple rocket launchers and 'long-range artillery' are not going to threaten the US mainland, Guam or Hawaii, unless they are put on a ship and sailed to within firing distance (which I doubt the North Koreans are about to do)." Yet the article on Sky News is almost suggesting North Korea is about to attack the US. They are simply just not in any position to do so. Further indicator of the propaganda nature of this article is that it appeared as featured news at the top of Yahoo.co.uk - a space normally reserved for celebrity gossip and irrelevant trash to detract from stories that do matter.


Dollar Gold

Cyprus and international lenders reach agreement on a bailout loan

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© Christina Avraam
Authorities from Cyprus and the so-called troika of international lenders - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - reached agreement on a bailout loan for the country of up to 10 billion euros. A look at key parts of the deal:

-The agreement doesn't need to be voted on by the Cyprus parliament, explains Business Insider.

-Cyprus had to come up with 5.8 billion euros somehow to secure the bailout.

-Depositors in the country's second-largest bank, Laiki, with accounts of more than 100,000 euros will lose an unspecified amount of their money. The move is expected to yield 4.2 billion euros overall - or most of the needed amount.

Wall Street

Entire British defense staff to meet US counterparts for rare 'strategy' meeting

Martin Dempsey
© Agence France-Presse
The Washington meetings will include the top members of the staffs of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, top, and British Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Sir David Richards.
Washington - In what is believed to be the first time since the 1940s, the entire British defense staff will be here March 25 to discuss long-range strategy and the impact of budget cuts with their U.S. counterparts, according to U.S. and British sources.

The meeting is reminiscent of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, when British and American military leaders joined forces during World War II. Both nations are undergoing significant budgetary reductions and will continue to rely on each other in future years for support. Understanding what capabilities will survive and won't is essential to long-term strategic planning.

"The relationship military to military is very strong. We have common interest in how we meet the financial constraints placed on both nations, but also on issues like how we manage the drawdown in Afghanistan and also how we reconfigure post Afghanistan," said Sir Gerald Howarth, a member of parliament and the ex-defense minister responsible for international security affairs from 2010 to 2012.

"We have a huge amount of strategic issues to discuss where we have a very large level of common interest," he said.

A Defence Ministry spokesman characterized the meeting as private and declined further comment.

Comment: Something wicked this way comes? Very interesting that a meeting like this hasn't occurred since the second world war. Would budget discussions really require the involvement of ALL the top military staff from the US and the UK?


Dollar Gold

Have the Russians already quietly withdrawn all their cash from Cyprus?

Merkel cyprus
© unknown
Yesterday, we first reported on something very disturbing (at least to Cyprus' citizens): despite the closed banks (which will mostly reopen tomorrow, while the two biggest soon to be liquidated banks Laiki and BoC will be shuttered until Thursday) and the capital controls, the local financial system has been leaking cash. Lots and lots of cash.

Alas, we did not have much granularity or details on who or where these illegal transfers were conducted with. Today, courtesy of a follow up by Reuters, we do.

The result, at least for Europe, is quite scary because let's recall that the primary political purpose of destroying the Cyprus financial system was simply to punish and humiliate Russian billionaire oligarchs who held tens of billions in "unsecured" deposits with the island nation's two biggest banks.

As it turns out, these same oligrachs may have used the one week hiatus period of total chaos in the banking system to transfer the bulk of the cash they had deposited with one of the two main Cypriot banks, in the process making the whole punitive point of collapsing the Cyprus financial system entirely moot.

Propaganda

Did Saddam Hussein Really Gas His Own People?

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© Unknown
Halabja (pop. 80,000) is a small Kurdish city in northern Iraq. On Wednesday, the Star reminded readers that Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army killed 5,000 Kurds in a 1988 chemical weapons attack on Halabja near the end of a bloody, eight-year war with Iran.

The statement that Saddam was responsible for gassing the Kurds - his own people - was straightforward.

Indeed, U.S. President George W. Bush has used similar language about the disaster at Halabja in making a case for a military strike to oust Saddam.

Yet the Star also reported, in a Jan. 31 Opinion page column, that there's reason to believe the story about Saddam "gassing his own people" at Halabja may not even be true.

Pirates

'Monsanto Protection Act' sneaks through Senate

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© Cristian Baitg/Getty Images
An earmark on the budget bill passed this week in Washington will allow GMO crops to be harvested and sold even if a court has ruled that their patents were obtained illegally.
Non-GMO groups are furious over the measure, saying it backs biotech and agribusiness over farmer and consumer safety.

When the Senate passed a budget resolution Wednesday that appears to prevent some of the potential damage from sequestration, the Continuing Resolution included several food- and agriculture-related earmarks.

But one inclusion in particular is especially controversial. The "biotech rider" would require the USDA to approve the harvest and sale of crops from genetically modified seed even if a court has ruled the environmental studies on the crop were inadequate. This aspect of the bill infuriated many sustainable food and agriculture groups, who nicknamed the bill the "Monsanto Protection Act."

If signed into law by President Obama, here's what the rider would do: It will allow farmers to plant, harvest and sell genetically engineered plants even if the crops have been ruled upon unfavorably in court. A Center for Food Safety statement called the rider "an unprecedented attack on U.S. judicial review of agency actions" and " a major violation of the separation of powers."

Comment: Meet Monsanto's Number One Lobbyist: Barack Obama
During his 2008 campaign for president, Barack Obama transmitted signals that he understood the GMO issue. Several key anti-GMO activists were impressed. They thought Obama, once in the White House, would listen to their concerns and act on them.

These activists weren't just reading tea leaves. On the campaign trail, Obama said:
"Let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they're buying."
Making the distinction between GMO and non-GMO was certainly an indication that Obama, unlike the FDA and USDA, saw there was an important line to draw in the sand.

Beyond that, Obama was promising a new era of transparency in government. He was adamant in promising that, if elected, his administration wouldn't do business in "the old way." He would be "responsive to people's needs."

Then came the reality.




Cow Skull

Boris Berezovsky found dead

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Boris Berezovsky. Now he's dead, we may never know who killed Alexander Litvinenko.
Speculation that Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky may have taken his own life after losing much of his personal fortune

Comment: For some background on Berezovsky, read Joe Quinn series of articles: Litvinenko: By Way of Deception


Target

War Propaganda: 'Very high probability' Iraq hid WMDs in syria

A Fox News military analyst who has previously justified the U.S. invasion in Iraq by asserting that Russia conspired to hide Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) now says that there is a "very high probability" that those WMDs are in Syria.

Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney
© Unknown
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on Friday spoke to retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney about recent rumors of a chemical attack near Aleppo, Syria.

"What are the chances of the return address on these chemicals being from Iraq?" Kilmeade wondered.

"Well, I think there is a high probability of that," McInerney declared. "That's conjecture, but we do know prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, there was a lot of vehicles crossing the border into Syria. And there was a great deal of conjecture. A Iraqi major general swore by it. He said he delivered it."

"And so I think that it would be a very high probability if we could get into those bunkers that they would have Iraqi signatures on them."

In 2006, McInerney told Newsmax that there was "clear evidence" that Iraq had WMDs before the war and that the Bush administration "ignored Russia's involvement" in helping to hide the weapons.

Calculator

Iraq War deaths exceed Vietnam War numbers

Department of Veterans Affairs Reports 73 Thousand U.S. Gulf War Deaths

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More Gulf War Veterans have died than Vietnam Veterans. This probably is news to you. But the truth has been hidden by a technicality. So here is the truth.

The casualties in the Vietnam War were pretty simple to understand. If a soldier was dead from his combat tour, he was a war casualty. There are 58,195 names recorded on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.

Some of these brave men died in the jungles of Vietnam while others died in Medivac units or hospitals in Japan and America. A dead soldier can surrender his life anywhere in service to his country. It really doesn't matter where this happens. The location of a soldier's death in no way colors his sacrifice.

But something odd has happened with the Iraq War. The government, under the Bush administration, did something dishonest that resulted in a lie that's persisted since the war began -- and continues to this very day. They decided to report the war deaths in Iraq only if the soldier died with his boots on the ground in a combat situation.

What's the difference, you might ask?

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Chess

US extracts Netanyahu apology to Turkish PM for Israeli role in Gaza flotilla raid

Turkish activists
© AFP/Getty Images
Nine Turkish activists were killed when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara in 2010 to stop a it reaching Gaza.
Israel has apologised to the Turkish government for the deaths of nine people on board the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in a flotilla attempting to breach the blockade of Gaza three years ago, in a move to repair a damaging diplomatic breach between the two countries.

The move, apparently brokered by US president Barack Obama during his three-day trip to Israel, has long been resisted by the government in Tel Aviv despite pressure from the international community.

According to White House officials aboard Air Force One, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu placed a call to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan while closeted with Obama in a trailer on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport in the last minutes before the president's departure for Jordan. Obama joined the call at one point.

The Israeli prime minister's office said Netanyahu "apologised to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to the loss of life". Erdogan accepted the apology, White House officials said.

This was the "first step" towards normalisation of relations between the two countries, US officials said, and had been the subject of talks between Obama and Netanyahu in Jerusalem this week.

Comment: So just before Obama is about to fly off, Bibi phones Erdogan to say sorry. It sounds like the behaviour of school children in a playground. The US/Israeli discussion obviously concluded they needed Turkish support for the next leg of their empirical warmongering. Whether that be escalation in Syria or Iran. Also possible is countering Turkey's potential positioning over Cypriot gas resources.
It gets worse. Very large underwater gas deposits were recently discovered between Cyprus and Israel. Both Cyprus and Israel, who are to jointly develop them, could become energy exporters. They have become very close allies.

"Not so fast" say Cyprus' Turkish minority. 'That gas also belongs in part to us!" Ankara insists the gas must be shared and has sent ships to back its claim.

Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria are also advancing claims to the "Aphrodite" gas field off Cyprus -shades of the tense South China Sea. But most likely to clash are the Turks and Israelis.