News You Should Read Today – January 8 – 2016

South Korea’s loudspeakers blast NorthSouth Korea’s loudspeakers blast North

The South reactivated its propaganda speakers near its heavily fortified border with North Korea on Friday following Pyongyang‘s announcement about its purported H-bomb test earlier in the week.

Seoul announced that, as of midday Friday local time (10 p.m. Thursday evening ET), it has resumed broadcasting propaganda using loudspeakers over the demilitarized zone, the heavily guarded buffer between the two Koreas. It has also confirmed an increase in the level of cybersecurity defense.

North Korea considers the broadcasts tantamount to an act of war, and at times has responded to them with artillery fire.

In the North Korean capital, where CNN is the only U.S. broadcaster operating, officials say the announcement successful hydrogen bomb test has triggered an outpouring of national pride. Outside the hermit kingdom, however, Pyongyang’s hydrogen bomb claims are being treated with skepticism. Outside the hermit kingdom, however, Pyongyang’s hydrogen bomb claims are being treated with skepticism.

Count Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the nonpartisan Rand research group, among the skeptics. He said North Korea has had trouble “mastering even the basics of a fission weapon,” so it’s a big leap to think it could create an even more complicated hydrogen bomb. It’s possible North Korea tested a “boosted” weapon, one that uses a small amount of fusion to boost the fission process, but is not a hydrogen bomb. CNN



Barack Obama accuses NRA of misleading US over gunsBarack Obama accuses NRA of misleading US over guns

US President Barack Obama has strongly criticized the most powerful US gun lobby during a televised public forum. He said the National Rifle Association (NRA) had deliberately misrepresented proposed legislation on gun control. The NRA declined to take part in the discussion, which it called a public relations spectacle.

Meanwhile, US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump said he would eliminate gun-free zones in schools on his first day in office, if elected.

Addressing the audience at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, Mr Obama blamed the NRA and others for suggesting that “somebody’s going to come grab your guns”.

He said that all he was seeking to do was strengthen background checks – not seize all firearms. BBC



2 Iraqi refugees arrested in US on terrorism charges2 Iraqi refugees arrested in US on terrorism charges

Two refugees from Iraq have been arrested on terrorism-related charges by U.S. federal authorities, prompting renewed criticism of a White House plan to accept thousands of refugees from war-torn parts of the Middle East.

Both men were Palestinians from Iraq who have been in the U.S. for several years. 23-year-old Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab was arrested Thursday in Sacramento, California, where he was charged with making false statements involving international terrorism. He came to the U.S. from Syria in 2012 as a refugee.

Omar Faraj Saeed Al-Hardan, 24, was arrested in Houston, Texas. He is accused of attempting to provide material support, including “training, and expert advice and assistance” to the Islamic State group. Al-Hardan, who entered the U.S. as a refugee from Iraq in 2009 and later gained permanent residence status, is also accused of making false statement to naturalization officials about his links to terrorist groups.

Both men are set to appear in courts Friday. VOA



Oklahoma hit with 70 quakes in a weekOklahoma hit with 70 quakes in a week

A swarm of more than 70 small earthquakes has rattled Oklahoma in the past week, raising concerns that the state’s quake problem is getting worse. The largest quake measured magnitude-4.8 and struck around midnight Wednesday near the town of Fairview. No significant damage has been reported, although it shook pictures and crockery.

“It was felt all over the county, pretty much all over the state,” Major County Undersherrif Darin Reams said. “This one rattled a little bit.” Smaller quakes continued Thursday.

Oklahoma in 2014 had at least 5,415 earthquakes; 585 of them were magnitude-3 or greater. In comparison, the state had just 109 magnitude-3 quakes in 2013, according to the Oklahoma Geologic Survey (OGS). Statistics for 2015 are still being compiled.

“The OGS considers it very likely that the majority of recent earthquakes, particularly those in central and north-central Oklahoma, are triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells,” the agency said. USA Today

Islamic State militant 'executes own mother'Islamic State militant ‘executes own mother’

An Islamic State militant carried out a public “execution” of his mother because she asked him to leave the group, activists say. Ali Saqr, 21, killed his mother, Lena al-Qasem, 45, outside the post office in Raqqa, Syria, eyewitnesses said.

Raqqa has served as IS’ de facto capital since the group captured the city in August 2013. IS does not tolerate any dissent and imposes brutal punishments, often carried out in public. The UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and the activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently reported the incident.

Lena al-Qasem had reportedly told her son that the US-led military alliance fighting IS would “wipe out” the group, and tried to convince him to leave the city with her. Her son is then said to have informed the group of her comment, and they ordered her killed. Ali Saqr is reported to have shot her outside the post office where she worked, in front of hundreds of people.

IS, a jihadist group which follows its own extreme version of Sunni Islam, took over large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Since then the group has killed more than 2,000 people for reasons including homosexuality, and for the alleged practice of magic and apostasy, according to the SOHR. BBC

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