Record for U.S. gun background checks set on Black Friday
More U.S. residents applied to purchase handguns, rifles and other firearms from licensed dealers on Black Friday than any other day on record, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data released this week.
Black Friday, the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, is the traditional start of the U.S. holiday shopping season, with sharp retail discounts on merchandise. On Nov. 27, a total of 185,345 applicants were processed through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which determines whether a person is eligible to purchase guns from a licensed dealership, the FBI said in a statement.
The FBI background check system, launched in 1998, allows gun retailers to clear prospective buyers via phone or computer. Firearm background checks are not required for sales or transfers online, between two individuals or at gun shows.
The number of background checks on Black Friday marked a 5.5 percent increase from the 175,754 a year ago. Reuters
A late morning shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California has left at least 14 dead and 17 wounded, according to police officials who spoke at an afternoon press conference.
Police said there are as many as three suspected shooters who may have fled the scene in a dark van; details as to who the shooters are, if the shooting was an act of terrorism, and the motive behind the shooting remain unclear. “These were people who came prepared,” San Bernardino Chief Jarrod Burguan said, adding that the attackers were believed to have used “long guns,” not hand guns. No weapons were recovered at the scene.
The suspects in the shooting have been identified by police as Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27. Family representatives say Farook and Malik were married and had a 6-month-old daughter, and both parents were killed during a police shootout Wednesday afternoon in San Bernardino, after a short pursuit starting in the nearby city of Redlands.
Farook, born and raised in the U.S., was a San Bernardino County health department employee for the past five years; the mass shooting happened at his office holiday party, which coworkers said he attended and left before the shooting began.
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley once again called for action to end gun violence Wednesday as police in San Bernardino responded to an active shooter situation. Los Angeles Times
Britain strikes first ISIS airstrikes in Syria
About an hour after Britain’s Parliament approved airstrikes on the Islamic State inside Syria on Wednesday night, two Royal Air Force Tornado fighter jets took off from a British air base in Cyprus, followed by two others. Each jet was carrying three 500-pound Paveway bombs, and the Ministry of Defense confirmed that the jets had conducted Britain’s “first offensive operation in Syria,” with more details to come later on Thursday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron had asked Parliament to approve the strikes, expanding Britain’s air campaign against ISIS from Iraq, and the House of Commons approved the request by a wider-than-expected 397-223 vote, with 66 Labour MPs voting in favor.
The strikes targeted the Omar oil fields in eastern Syria, which is under IS control, and were “successful”, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said. BBC
The former Republican congressman who pushed legislation nearly 20 years ago that effectively banned the federal government from funding research on gun violence is calling on Congress to reverse that law.
In a letter to the chair of House Democrats’ task force on gun violence prevention, former Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas called for the government to fund research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine the causes of gun violence in the U.S. and expressed “regrets” for his part in stopping that research.
“It is my position that somehow or someway we should slowly but methodically fund such research until a solution is reached. Doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution,” Dickey wrote in a letter dated Tuesday.
Rep. Mike Thompson, chairman of the House Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force that was created in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, released the letter on Wednesday, hours after news broke of a shooting in San Bernardino, California, where at least 14 people were killed and another 17 injured. CNN
An unlicensed Cambodian doctor has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for infecting about 200 people with HIV, some of whom later died. A court found that Yem Chrin, 56, had reused dirty needles when treating patients in the village of Roka in north-western Battambang province.
Yem Chrin’s charge had been reduced from murder to manslaughter. He said he was only trying to help the community. Unlicensed doctors provide care in many parts of rural Cambodia. Many are self-taught but poor medical facilities and funding mean they are often the only healthcare option for millions of Cambodians.
The number of people infected in the case has not been exactly determined. Estimates range from more than 100 to more than 270. The deaths of 10 people, mostly elderly, have been attributed to the infections.
Authorities detected the scale of the infections after a 74-year-old man tested positive for HIV in November last year. BBC
A year after pro-democracy protests filled the streets of Hong Kong, the city has become a target of multiple, and sophisticated, cyber attacks. Hong Kong cyber security watchdog Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team said there has been a 38 percent rise in hacking attacks since last year.
Nicholas Thomas, a Professor at the City University of Hong Kong, said it is unclear who is behind these cyber attacks. VOA
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