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North Korea

North Korea H-Bomb Claim, Cologne Outcry, Black Hole Burp

North Korea H-Bomb Claim, Cologne Outcry, Black Hole Burp

NORTH KOREA CLAIMS FIRST H-BOMB TEST

Photo: Yonhap News/ImageCollect/Newscom/ZUMA

North Korea claimed Wednesday it had successfully conducted its first hydrogen-bomb test, with the regime's official television network hailing the move as "a world-startling event to be specially recorded in the national history."

  • International condemnation quickly followed the first reports. South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said in a statement: "The test is not only a grave provocation to our national security but also a threat to our future ... and a strong challenge to international peace and stability."
  • The explosion, which took place at the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri provoked an earthquake, the magnitude of which was estimated between 4.8 and 5.1. But experts believe that a genuine hydrogen-bomb explosion should have produced a much stronger quake, leading many, including South Korea's spies, to say that it's likely the test involved a less powerful atomic bomb, AP reports.
  • The UN Security Council has announced an emergency meeting.

VERBATIM

"We know we can't stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence," said a tearful Barack Obama during what CNN describes as "a passionate call for a national "sense of urgency" to limit gun violence." The U.S. President is pushing for Congress to accept improved background checks for gun buyers and he insisted his plan was "not a plot to take away everybody's guns." The Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized Obama's words and plans, which he said amounted to "intimidation that undermines liberty."


SANDERS ATTACKS WALL STREET, CLINTON

Hillary Clinton's main rival for the Democratic nomination for presidency, Bernie Sanders has launched his campaign's most direct attack on Wall Street and "establishment politicians," as he unveiled plans Tuesday to break up "too big to fail" banks. "The reality is that Congress doesn't regulate Wall Street. Wall Street and their lobbyists regulate Congress. We must change that reality, and as president, I will," The New York Timesquotes the Vermont Senator as saying. Sanders saved a harsh note of criticism for Clinton — though without naming her — and those who earned "very generous speaking fees" from bankers.


ON THIS DAY


Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc and more in today's 57-second shot of history.


18 MINUTES

FBI investigators working on the Dec. 2 San Bernardino shooting said they were "missing 18 minutes" during which the actions of attackers Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik are unknown, The Los Angeles Times reports. "We're dark," said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI's L.A. office.


COLOGNE PROTESTS AFTER NEW YEAR'S EVE ASSAULTS

  • Anger is growing in Germany in the wake of revelations that more than 90 crimes — including a rape — were reported around the train station and cathedral area during the end-of-year festivities by suspects reported to be of North African and Arab origin.
  • Germany's interior ministry reported on Wednesday that about 1.1 million migrants had entered and registered in the country in 2015, five times more than in 2014, with some 40% of the refugees arriving from war-torn Syria.
FROM 140 TO 10,000

Twitter could soon scrap its 140-character limit and allow users to post messages with up to 10,000 characters, a move some critics say will ruin the experience of using the platform. In case you're wondering, 10,000 characters really is a lot of text.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Long relied upon to rally against the far-right National Front party, young French people are increasingly seduced by the ideas of Marine Le Pen, Aurélie Collas and Eric Nunès write for Le Monde. And terrorism isn't the only reason: "For some people, in a context where elites appear to be always the same faces, the FN embodies novelty. Take Fabien, 15, also a 10th grader at the lycée Baggio: ‘Why not give it a chance? On the right and left, it's always the same guys, who've never been able to solve problems and have no other program than preventing the FN from accessing power.'"

Read the full article, French Youth And The Far Right, A Budding Love Affair?


NEW ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST UN PEACEKEEPERS

The United Nations are investigating new allegations that peacekeepers sexually abused four underaged girls in the Central African Republic's capital Bangui, Al Jazeera reports. The international body was criticized in a recent report for its response to similar allegations made in the past. At least 480 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse had been made between 2008 and 2013, one-third of them involving minors.


BLACK HOLE "BURP"

Astronomers have spotted what they say are two gas "burps" from a black hole, in evidence that "black holes can create, not just destroy."


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



LORD OF THE GLITCH

A "technical glitch" caused the Ukrainian version of Google Translate to turn "Russian federation" into "Mordor", the territory controlled by evil character Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Decisive Spring? How Ukraine Plans To Beat Back Putin's Coming Offensive

The next months will be decisive in the war between Moscow and Kyiv. From the forests of Polesia to Chernihiv and the Black Sea, Ukraine is looking to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring?

Photo of three ​Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Anna Akage

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

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Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

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