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March 30, 2013 at 8:56 AM   |   Comments

N.Korea declares 'state of war' with South

PYONGYANG, North Korea, March 30 (UPI) -- North Korea declared it was in a "state of war" with South Korea Saturday in a statement that said the long-standing truce was at an end.

It was the latest in a series of threats from Pyongyang since a third nuclear test on Feb. 12 led to the imposition of new international sanctions, the BBC reported.

"From this time on, the North-South relations will be entering the state of war and all issues raised between the North and South will be handled accordingly," the statement said. "The long-standing situation of the Korean peninsula being neither at peace nor at war is finally over."

The two Koreas have been in a technical truce since the end of the Korean War. No peace treaty was ever signed.

The South Korean defense ministry denounced the threats, adding in a statement: "Our military is maintaining full preparedness to leave no blind point in safeguarding the lives and safety of the people," Yonhap News Agency reported.


Obama says Holy Days a time for renewal

WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) -- Easter and Passover is a special and sacred time for millions of Americans to reflect on their common values, President Obama said Saturday.

In his weekly address to the nation, Obama noted the Christian and Jewish holidays afford people an opportunity to take a break from their "busy and noisy lives" and "slow down and spend some quiet moments in prayer and reflection."

"This week, Jewish families gathered around the Seder table, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and the triumph of faith over oppression," Obama said. "And this weekend, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will join Christians around the world to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hopeful promise of Easter.

"As Christians, my family and I remember the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for each and every one of us -- how he took on the sins of the world and extended the gift of salvation. And we recommit ourselves to following his example here on Earth.

"To loving our lord and savior. To loving our neighbors. And to seeing in everyone, especially 'the least of these,' as a child of God."

The president noted "those values are at the heart not just of the Christian faith; but of all faiths. From Judaism to Islam; Hinduism to Sikhism; there echoes a powerful call to serve our brothers and sisters. To keep in our hearts a deep and abiding compassion for all. And to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves."

He called it "the common humanity that binds us together."

"And as Americans, we're united by something else, too: faith in the ideals that lie at the heart of our founding; and the belief that, as part of something bigger than ourselves, we have a shared responsibility to look out for our fellow citizens," Obama said.

"So this weekend, I hope we're all able to take a moment to pause and reflect. To embrace our loved ones. To give thanks for our blessings. To rededicate ourselves to interests larger than our own."


GOP urges Obama to OK pipeline permits

WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) -- Republicans called on President Obama Saturday to approve work on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, a project they called a "no brainer."

Delivering the GOP's weekly media address, Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., said the long-delayed pipeline would lower U.S. energy costs, create jobs and boost the economy, The Hill reported.

He said beginning work on the pipeline, that would move oil recovered from tar sands in Canada to refineries in the southern United States, was a "no-brainer" because it had already passed several environmental reviews and had support from "a broad, grassroots coalition of unions and employers."

Polls say 70 percent of U.S. residents support the pipeline, Terry said.

A permit to build the northern leg of the pipeline was rejected by the administration in January 2012. An alternative route has yet to be decided, but the president moved in March 2013 to fast-track the southern section that runs from Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico, CNN reported.

Terry said the initial permits for the pipeline were filed more than 1,600 days ago, noting World War II lasted slightly longer than 1,300 days.

He claimed some 20,000 people would be employed in new jobs in building the pipeline, with another 118,000 jobs created indirectly, ABC News Radio reported.


First body found at Tibet mine landslide

LLASA, Tibet, March 30 (UPI) -- The first body has been recovered at a Tibetan mine, a day and a half after 80 miners were buried in a massive landslide, officials said Saturday.

With rescue work hampered by freezing temperatures, altitude sickness and risks of more landslides, hopes of finding any of the miners alive are fading, the BBC reported.

More than 10.5 million cubic feet of rocks and dirt have already been removed by about 200 bulldozers deployed to the site. Some 2,000 police, firefighters and doctors have been sent to the mine to recover the dead and rescue any survivors.

Temperatures as low as 26 degrees Fahrenheit have stifled the scenting ability of dogs capable of detecting bodies, officials said.

Cracks visible on nearby mountains suggest additional landslides are possible.

The mine in Maizhokunggar county produces copper, silver and gold. It is operated by a subsidiary of a company owned by the Chinese government.

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