They might not be bluffing. The announcement followed a 5.1 magnitude earthquake near the same location as a 2013 nuclear test. International officials have expressed doubt over the North’s ability to create a true hydrogen bomb but state television said the act of “self defense” was real. The U.S. says it will send “sniffer” planes over the region to evaluate. South Korea held an emergency meeting after the report and Japanese officials scheduled their own talks for later in the day. Experts say the test could stress relations with China, one of Pyongyang’s rare allies.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Did Tehran just get played by Riyadh? The U.N. Security Council has condemned the attack on Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Iran, saying Iranian officials must “protect diplomatic and consular property and personnel.” But the panel didn’t mention the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, which sparked the violence, and some suggest that Iran’s reaction has played into Saudi hands. Having progressed this past year, most notably signing a nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other global powers, Tehran is now finding itself being isolated again on the international stage.
He’s gunning for change. Today the U.S. president introduced new executive orders that will include licensing requirements and background checks for firearm sales online or at gun shows, funding for mental health care and greater enforcement. Obama is calling on federal agencies to advance technology to prevent guns from being accidentally fired or used by unauthorized persons. The provisions, according to the White House, don’t contradict the Second Amendment — but with Republicans like Rand Paul vowing to fight it “tooth and nail,” it’s certain to face challenges on Capitol Hill and in court.
Think of it as a high-wire act. Beijing is trying to regain its balance after investors dumped shares yesterday, sparking a trading halt and worldwide market woes. China reportedly had a “national team” of state-owned financial firms start buying shares again today while leaders said they’re planning to install new rules to prevent selloffs by major shareholders. This helped the CSI 300 index close slightly higher after yesterday’s 7 percent drop. But with the Shanghai Composite Index falling 0.3 percent, and the Shenzhen Composite down 1.9 percent, global markets remain jittery.
Oops, they did it again. The cash-strapped Caribbean archipelago defaulted yesterday, for the second time in five months, on around $174 million in debt payments. “It’s very simple. We don’t have money to pay,” Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said. The U.S. territory scraped together enough to pay its general obligation bonds but fell short on others, throwing them into default. Padilla is seeking bankruptcy rights — which American territories and states lack — and hopes to owe legislators a debt of gratitude after Congress debates the issue in the coming months.
Trump questions’s Cruz Cadadian birth status (Washington Post)
New ISIS video figure may be Briton, UK officials say. (ABC)
Boat capsizes off of Turkey, killing at least 21. (The Guardian)
Cameron: UK ministers can support either side of EU referendum. (BBC)
Activists continue to occupy Oregon refuge, braving frigid cold. (LA Times)
Maduro undermines central bank’s authority in Venezuela. (FT) sub
U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan. (CNN)
This is upsetting. A new survey says nearly half of U.S. voters are angrier, with whites, Republicans and females blowing the most steam. Researchers had Democrats and Republicans respond to fake headlines to measure emotional responses and found that 49 percent get angrier now over the news than they did a year ago. But women are leading that charge, with 53 percent of females getting upset over current affairs, compared to 44 percent of men. But don’t despair — more than 80 percent were bipartisan in expressing disdain over a poorly behaved CEO.
Do you swear by the geek gods not to be evil? Technology is increasingly engulfing our daily lives, but some folks at the forefront of apps, AI and algorithms are growing concerned that they’re doing more harm than good. To stop the Internet from making our lives worse, some are advocating techie ethics training and a professional code akin to the Hippocratic oath. But some say consuming only ethical tech should be like buying organic, with nascent demand encouraging firms to do well by doing good.
This is bound to cause a reaction … The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has approved elements 113, 115, 117 and 118, completing the seventh row of the ubiquitous science chart. None occurs naturally — they have too many protons to maintain stability, and appeared for less than a millisecond in atom-smashing experiments. But their fleeting existence may lead to heavier, more stable elements. The four newbies are unnamed, but new monikers, which often honor scientists or mythology, can now be submitted by the researchers who discovered them.
Are they distorting the truth? Serialized hit true crime show Making a Murderer focuses on the conviction of Steven Avery for rape and murder and the alleged miscarriage of justice that may have landed him in prison. More than 200,000 people have signed petitions to have Avery released. But prosecutors and other experts say the show has left out salient details in pursuit of a good story, highlighting a major problem with true crime shows that allow viewers to feel like detectives without having all the facts.
He knew when to walk away. Coughlin led them to two Super Bowl victories over 12 years, but it’s been four seasons since they made the playoffs, prompting the 69-year-old to step down. Eli Manning, who has played his entire professional career under the same coach, held back tears, saying Coughlin hadn’t failed his players, but that “We failed him.” Speculation is rife over a replacement, with some endorsing offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who’s helped Manning shine and can’t be blamed for the NFL’s worst defense.