News You Should Read Today – January 4 – 2016

CNN to host Obama town hall on gunsCNN to host Obama town hall on guns

President Barack Obama is mounting a final-year push to make gun control part of his legacy despite Republican opposition and is expected to announce unilateral action early this week.

He will join CNN’s Anderson Cooper Thursday for an exclusive one-hour live town hall on gun control at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, in hopes of mounting a final pitch to the public.

It’s an issue he has had zero success on so far in his presidency, despite his repeated, emotional appeals for change. Congress has remained a roadblock even in the face of widespread public support for Obama’s past calls for universal background checks or bolstered mental health support, with near uniform opposition from Republicans and a split on the issue among Democrats.

Gun control advocates and White House officials say the focus remains on the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows certain sellers of guns — at gun shows and elsewhere — to avoid conducting background checks before making sales.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said the White House hasn’t contacted them about potential new legislation yet. CNN



Saudi cut off diplomatic ties with Iran (AP)Saudi cut off diplomatic ties with Iran

Saudi Arabia‘s foreign minister announced Sunday that the kingdom cut off diplomatic relations with Iran, following protests at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran condemning Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

On Saturday, 47 people were executed in Saudi prisons, including 56-year-old Shiite leader Sheik Nimr al-Nimr, who called for equality between Shiites and Sunnis in Saudi Arabia. In response, hundreds of people, some hurling Molotov cocktails, protested outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, with many calling for the “Wahhabi embassy” to be shut down.

On Twitter, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, called Nimr a martyr and said “divine revenge will seize Saudi politicians.” Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel Jubair, said the Iranian government has 48 hours to close down its offices and remove all diplomats from the country.

Oil prices were volatile Monday after Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran. After spiking by nearly 3% in early trading, crude prices retreated to around $37. Los Angeles Times , CNN



Oregon militia seeks to overthrow governmentOregon militia seeks to overthrow government

Sheriff David Ward of Harney County, Oregon, said Sunday that militia members who seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters on Saturday are not there to show solidarity with a local ranching family.

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” he said in a statement, “when in reality these men had alternative motives to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.

“The militia members say they were protesting the fact that Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steve, of nearby Burns, were convicted of arson after burning 139 acres of federal land, and federal land use policy more generally. The Oregonian via The Week



Deadly quake strikes India (screenshot from quake strikes India

A 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit India’s remote northeast region before dawn on Monday, killing at least eight people, injuring 100 others and causing damage to several buildings. Five were killed in India, the government said, while three people died in Bangladesh after suffering strokes or heart attacks following the early-morning quake.

Many of the deaths and injuries were caused by falling debris in and around Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, police said. The powerful tremor left large cracks in walls and a portion of a popular market building collapsed in the state capital. A newly constructed six-storey building also collapsed in Imphal, the police control room said.

India’s meteorological department said the epicenter of the quake was in Tamenglong region of Manipur state, near the country’s borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh. The US Geological Survey said the depth of the quake was 55km (34 miles).

There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Myanmar side of the border, a remote and sparsely populated area that suffered widespread damage this summer from landslides caused by torrential monsoon rains. The Gurdian

Sweden imposes border controlsSweden imposes border controls

Travelers passing from Denmark into Sweden will have to show photo identification starting Monday.

The move by Sweden is an attempt to stop the flow of undocumented migrants into the country known for its generous welfare system. The new measure means Sweden is closing its open-door migrant policy after receiving 160,000 migrants last year. Neighboring Denmark only took in 18,000.

Travelers have been warned to expect long lines on the Danish side of the Oresund Bridge, a major entry point for migrants seeking a new life in Sweden.

The re-introduction of the border controls between Sweden and Denmark means that travelers between the two Nordic countries will have to show their passports for the first time in more than 50 years. VOA

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