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North Korea test launch fails just after regime shows off new missiles

News outlets showed images Saturday of North Korea’s annual celebration of its founder, Kim Il Sung, and the exhibition of a long line of missiles through the streets of Pyongyang.

These, when placed alongside comments made by top official Choe Ryong Hae about the United States asking for “nuclear justice,” were a clear attempt by North Korea to display its military might.

>> Read more trending news

Hours later, this appears to have blown up in North Korea’s face.

According to ABC News, a Defense Department official said a ballistic missile launch “blew up almost immediately.”

“U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:21 a.m. Hawaii time April 15. The launch of the ballistic missile occurred near Sinpo,” U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr. David Benham said.

>> Some fast facts about North Korea

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that President Donald Trump has been briefed on the failed launch and has no comment at this time.

“The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment,” he said.

The kind of missile that was launched is still being determined, though earlier in the day it was speculated that North Korea had developed and was showing off its version of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Some fast facts about North Korea

As tensions ramp up near the Korean Peninsula, here is a primer on North Korea, its leader and its people.

Some facts

The name: North Korea -- or formally, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea -- borders China, Russia and South Korea.

Population: 25,115,311 (estimated as of July 2016)

Area: North Korea is a little bigger than Virginia, with 46,000 square miles.

Capital: The capital city is Pyongyang. An interesting fact: Pyongyang runs on its own time zone. It’s about 30 minutes behind Japan and South Korea.

No ties: North Korea does not have diplomatic representation in the United States, nor does the U.S. have diplomatic representation in North Korea.

Median age: North Korea’s median age is estimated to be 33.8 years.

GNP: The gross domestic product, per capita, is $1,800. In the U.S., it’s $51,638.10

Leaders: North Korea is led by Kim Jong-Un. Since 1945, the country has been led by three generations of the same family: Kim Il-Sung, in 1945; then his son, Kim Jong-Il, upon his father’s death in 1994; then the current leader, Kim Jong-Un, upon his father’s death in 2011.

Why are there two Koreas?From 1910 until the end of World War II, Japan controlled the Korean Peninsula. After the Japanese lost the war, the U.S. occupied the southern half of the peninsula and the Russians occupied the north half. 

In 1945, Kim Il-Sung became the country’s first leader. In 1948, separate governments -- one in the north and one in the south -- formed after regional differences went unresolved.

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. The United Nations intervened with troops, and the “police action” (another name for a war), continued until 1953. 

After a peace treaty was brokered, the country broke into two countries. South Korea becomes a prosperous capitalist nation, while North Korea remains a poor country.

Why are tensions high now?The leaders of the country have vowed to test and threatened to use nuclear weapons. The North Korean military has tested nuclear missiles on at least five occasions -- twice in 2016.

Can they attack nearby countries with nuclear weapons?They can when they make a warhead small enough to be delivered on a missile that is fired at an enemy. North Korea says it has done that, but there has been no verification of that by the U.N. or other countries.

What are their neighbors doing?The U.S. has given South Korea an advanced missile defense system. Japan has put its military on high alert. China, which is an ally of North Korea, has warned North Korean officials to step back from provocative actions.

Interesting facts about the country

  • USA Today reports that North Koreans born after the Korean War tend to be shorter than South Koreans of the same age. About 2 inches shorter, in fact. 
  • According to The Chosun Ilbo, men are encouraged to copy the hairstyle of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un. No long hair. Women should copy the style of his wife, he reportedly said.
  • North Korea claims it has a 100 percent literacy rate for both men and women, according to the CIA World Factbook.
  • Only 3 percent of the roads in North Korea are paved. (CIA World Factbook.)
  • You cannot become a citizen of North Korea unless one of your parents is a citizen. (CIA World Factbook.)
  • The last election was held in the country on March 9, 2014. Kim Jong-Il won 100 percent of the vote. The next one is scheduled for March 2019.

7 things to know now: North Korean threat; 'mother of all bombs'; Garner, Affleck divorcing; Coachella begins

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and the world today.What to know now:1. North Korea threat: The U.S. has positioned an aircraft carrier off the coast of the Korean Peninsula amid suggestions from North Korea that a test of a nuclear weapon is imminent. While the U.S. says the ship is there to participate in joint military exercises with South Korean, North Korea says it represents provocative action toward North Korea. The country's military officials say they “will go to war” if the U.S. continues to inflame the situation. The U.S. has warned Korea not to conduct another nuclear weapons test.2. Mother of all bombs: A massive bomb, known as the “mother of all bombs," was dropped by the United States on Afghanistan Thursday, killing at least 36 ISIS fighters and destroying a complex the terror group had been using. It was the first time the bomb had been used in combat. The GBU-43B is an “air blast” weapon that carries with it 11 tons of explosives. 3. Concussion, broken nose: The man who was dragged from a United Airlines plane after refusing to be bumped from the flight to make room for airline employees suffered a concussion and a broken nose in the altercation, according to his attorney. Dr. David Dao has been released from a Chicago hospital, but will require reconstructive facial surgery, his lawyer said. Asked if Dao would be suing the airline, his attorney said yes.4. Coachella: The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival begins Friday. The festival, which is held in the California desert, takes place over two weekends and will feature the likes of Lady Gaga, Lorde and Car Seat Headrest.5. Affleck, Garner to divorce: Both Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner filed divorce petitions on Thursday. The actors cited irreconcilable differences as a reason to end their marriage, and both requested joint custody of their three children. The couple first announced they were separating in June 2015 after 10 years of marriage. And one moreAs Holy Week heads to its close, millions are observing Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Holy week in the Christian church is the week leading up to Easter on Sunday, the day believers say Jesus was resurrected from the dead.In case you missed it


North Korean minister: Trump building ‘vicious cycle’ of tensions

The rhetoric coming out of North Korea continues to heat up as tensions between that Far East nation and the United States rise.

>> Read more trending news

A North Korean foreign minister on Friday accused President Donald Trump of building up a "vicious cycle" of tensions, saying that his “aggressive” tweets were “making trouble.”

In an interview through an interpreter with The Associated Press in Pyongyang, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol also warned the United States that his country would “go to war if they choose.”

"If the U.S. comes with reckless military maneuvers then we will confront it with … the pre-emptive strike," Han said. "We've got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike."

The United States has sent an aircraft carrier to the waters off the Korean peninsula and is conducting its largest-ever joint military exercises with South Korea, the AP reported. North Korea recently launched a ballistic missile and could conduct another test soon.

Han did not dispel that notion. .

"That is something that our headquarters decides," Han said. "At a time and at a place where the headquarters deems necessary, it will take place."

During his 40-minute interview with the AP, Han placed the blame for tensions on Trump. He mentioned a tweet Trump posted Tuesday, in which he said North Korea is “looking for trouble.” 

"Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words," Han said. "So that's why. It's not the (North Korea) but the U.S. and Trump that makes trouble."

Afghan official: 36 ISIS fighters killed by ‘MOAB’

The massive bomb dropped by U.S. forces on an ISIS tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan killed 36 militants, according to the Afghan Ministry of Defense.

>> Read more trending news

The GBU-43B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, also known as MOAB and dubbed the “mother of all bombs,” destroyed three underground tunnels but did not hurt any civilians, CNN reported. The 30-foot-long, 21,600-pound bomb is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. military arsenal, capable of destroying an area equal to nine city blocks. It was dropped in the Nangarhar province near the Pakistan border, CNN reported, adding that it was the first time the bomb had been used in conflict.

>> Read: What is the ‘mother of all bombs, and what does it do?

A local resident living within two miles of the explosion told CNN that he heard an "extremely loud boom that smashed the windows of our house."

"We were all scared and my children and my wife were crying. We thought it had happened right in front of our house," he said.

President Donald Trump said Thursday the bombing was "another successful job." It is the third major military action his administration has taken in recent months, following a military raid in Yemen that killed civilians and a U.S. Marine, and last week's surprise strike on a Syrian airfield, CNN reported.

>> Watch: 5 things to know about the MOAB

On Twitter, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani approved of the strike, saying it was "designed to support the efforts of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and US forces ... conducting clearance operations in the region."

"Precautions were taken to avoid civilian casualties with this air strike," Ghani said.

When asked about Thursday’s use of the most powerful non-nuclear bomb, President Trump did not say whether he gave the approval, CNN reported.

“Everybody knows exactly what happens. So, what I do is I authorize our military,” Trump said.

“We have given them total authorization and that’s what they’re doing.”

Hakim Khan, 50, a resident of Achin district where the attack took place, welcomed the attack on ISIS. 

“I want 100 times more bombings on this group," he told The Associated Press.


Canada introduces bill to legalize marijuana


Canada’s Liberal Party introduced legislation Thursday to allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana in public, USA Today reported. 

>> Read more trending news

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to legalize recreational marijuana use and its sale. If the legislation passes, Canadians would be able to smoke marijuana legally by July 1, 2018. The measure would make Canada the largest developed country to allow recreational marijuana, USA Today reported. 

Uruguay, in South America, is the only nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

The legislation proposes to allow storefront sales of pot, to retain a separate medical marijuana system and create tougher driving laws for drugs and alcohol, the Toronto Star reported. Canada legalized marijuana for selected medicinal uses in 2001.

The legislation sets the minimum age at 18, but allows each province to determine whether the age should be higher. Persons younger than 18 found with small amounts of marijuana would not face criminal charges, USA Today reported. However, those who sell it or give to youths could face up to 14 years in jail.

"It's too easy for our kids to get marijuana. We're going to change that," Trudeau said.

In the United States, seven states allow recreational use of marijuana. Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voted last year to approve recreational use, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Canada’s proposed law allows four plants to be grown at home. 

"If your objective is to protect public health and safety and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors, and stop the flow of profits to organized crime, then the law as it stands today has been an abject failure," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said at a news conference. "Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world ... We simply have to do better."

Goodale said that Canadian officials have been in close touch with the U.S. government on the proposed law, and emphasized that exporting and importing marijuana will continue to be illegal.

"The regime we are setting up in Canada will protect our kids better and stop the flow of illegal dollars to organized crime. Our system will actually be the better one," Goodale said.

What is the ‘mother of all bombs,' and what does it do?

The U.S. on Thursday dropped the most powerful conventional bomb in its arsenal on Nangarhar, Afghanistan. 

The bomb, known in military ranks as “MOAB,” or the “mother of all bombs,” was used Thursday for the first time in combat, though it was developed in the early 2000s.

U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, ordered the bomb dropped, according to reports. The target was believed to be ISIS tunnels and personnel in the Achin district of Nangarhar.

"This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K," he added, using the U.S. military's acronym for the IS affiliate.

According to The Associated Press, the U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday.

Here’s what we know about the MOAB.

What is its name?

The bomb’s technical name is GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb. It became known in military circles as the “mother of all bombs” because of its size and power.

Who makes the bomb?

It was designed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and is manufactured by McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma.

How big is it?

The MOAB is 30 feet long and has a 40.5-inch diameter. The bomb weighs 21,715 pounds. The warhead weighs 18,739 pounds.

How is it dropped?

It is delivered by a C-130 Hercules military transport plane. It’s basically pushed out of the back of the massive plane. It is attached to a parachute.

What kind of blast does it produce?

The “blast yield” of MOAB equals 11 tons. It has a blast radius of 1 mile, meaning that it demolishes everything within 1 square mile.

When was it developed?

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast was developed in 2003. The bomb was developed in only nine weeks to be available for use in the Iraqi War. 

It has been tested only twice, both times at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle.

How many are in existence?

According to the Air Force, 15 units were made at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. One of those was moved to the Persian Gulf in 2003.

When have they been used in combat?

The first and only time that one has been used in combat was on Thursday in Afghanistan. 

Does it penetrate the ground to blow up tunnels?

No. It is an “air-blast” bomb, meaning that the bomb explodes in the air and the blast from the weapon does the damage.

Is the U.S. the only country with the MOAB?

Yes. There have been reports that Russia developed a “father of all bombs” after news of the MOAB broke. It is said to be four times more powerful than the MOAB.


7 things to know now: North Korea; man kills self, daughters; Charlie Murphy dies; Jude Law to play Dumbledore

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Russia vetoes UN vote: A United Nations resolution that would have condemned the chemical attack in Syria last week was vetoed by Russia on Wednesday. The Russian ambassador to the U.N. addressed the Security Council before the vote, saying his country was calling for an investigation into the attack. The vote was 10 in favor of the resolution, Russia and Bolivia against, and China, Ethiopia, and Kazakhstan abstaining. The attack in Syria killed 90 people and sickened more than 100. 2. North Korean mystery: North Korean officials have told foreign journalists working in the country that a “big and important” event will take place Thursday, but gave no details about what it might be. Many of the journalists are in the country to cover the “Day of the Sun,” the annual celebration of North Korea’s founding president, Kim Il-sung, which is Saturday. It is not uncommon for the officials in the country to have a show of military power on that day. Japanese President Shinzo Abe said Thursday that he believes North Korea has the capability to deliver missiles carrying sarin nerve gas, the kind of chemical believed to have been used in the attack on Syrian citizens last week. 3. Murphy dies: Charlie Murphy, a comedian and the older brother of Eddie Murphy, died of leukemia Wednesday. Murphy appeared on “Chappelle’s Show,” and was best remembered for the recurring bit called “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories,” where he talked about the stars he met due to his brother Eddie’s fame. Murphy was 57. 4. Justice's body found: Shelia Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to be appointed to New York’s Supreme Court, was found dead Wednesday, after authorities responded to a report of a body floating in the Hudson River off Manhattan. An autopsy is set for Thursday to determine how she died. Abdus-Salaam was the first Muslim woman to serve as a U.S. judge. Her body showed no obvious signs of trauma, according to authorities. 5. Man kills self, daughters: A man set fire to his SUV in Gresham, Oregon, Wednesday as he was confronted by police in a gas station parking lot. The man, who was armed and said to be suicidal, set the vehicle ablaze with his 8-year-old and 11-year-old daughters in the back seat as police approached the SUV. According to law enforcement authorities, the girls had been killed before the vehicle was burned. The man, who was shot by police, died at the scene. And one moreWarner Bros. announced Tuesday that Jude Law will play a young Albus Dumbledore in the next installment of the "Fantastic Beasts” franchise. Filming begins in the summer on the next chapter of the five-part prequel to the “Harry Potter” movies. It is set for release in November of 2018.

In case you missed it

Hospital grants dying man’s last wish for glass of wine, cigarette

A Danish hospital temporarily suspended its rules last week to allow a dying man his final wish: a glass of white wine and a cigarette.

>> Read more trending stories

Carsten Flemming Hansen, 75, was admitted April 3 to Aarhus University Hospital, suffering from an aortic aneurysm and internal bleeding, Danish newspaper BT reported. He was too ill to undergo surgery, and doctors predicted he had only days left to live.

Hansen told hospital officials that he had one final wish: to have one last Green LA cigarette and a glass of wine.

“It was the best thing for him. It meant a lot to him throughout life,” Hansen’s daughter, Mette Gold Bech Demuth, told BT. “He was annoyed that he wasn’t allowed to smoke inside. He really wanted to have his very last cigarette.”

Despite hospital rules that forbid smoking, nurses in the vascular surgery ward and Hansen’s family “agreed that, in this situation, Carsten Hansen’s wants were more important than treatment, prevention and smoking rules,” the hospital said in a Facebook post. They took Hansen up to a balcony, where he and his family had a view of the sunset while Hansen smoked and drank his wine.

“It was a very cozy and relaxed atmosphere,” nurse Rikke Kvist said, according to The Guardian. “Of course there were relatives also affected by the fact he was going to die, and they were sad.”

Hansen died Friday, officials from the Aarhus University Hospital said.

Demuth said family members were grateful that the hospital was willing to be flexible for her father.

“I can’t thank them enough,” she told BT. “They have really been a great support to my father and the family throughout the process. I am just so grateful.”

7 things to know now: FBI surveillance of Page; Letterman’s mom dies; J. Geils

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.What to know now:

1. FBI monitored Page: According to The Washington Post, the FBI obtained a FISA court order last summer to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a one-time adviser to President Donald Trump. According to the story, the FBI believed Page had engaged in intelligence activities on Russia’s behalf, including meeting with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013. Page told CBS News he was “happy” to hear that the FBI surveillance had been reported by the Post. “It shows how low the Clinton/Obama regime went to destroy our democracy and suppress dissidents who did not fully support their failed foreign policy,” Page said in the statement. 

2. Manafort ledger: Entries from a ledger found in August that appears to show payments from a pro-Russian political party to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort match payments received by Manafort’s consulting firm in the United States, The Associated Press is reporting. Manafort, who worked for the pro-Russia party in the Ukraine, has questioned the ledger’s authenticity. The AP discovered the financial records that appear to match ledger entries.

3. Estes wins Kansas seat: Republican Ron Estes defeated Democrat James Thompson to win a U.S. House seat on Tuesday. The special election was held to fill the Kansas seat made vacant when Mike Pompeo was named to Trump’s cabinet. The election was seen by many as a test of Republican electoral strength. 

4. Spicer apologizes: White House press secretary Sean Spicer has apologized for suggesting that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during World War II. Spicer, when comparing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the German dictator, said, "You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons. So you have to, if you are Russia, ask yourself: Is this a country and a regime that you want to align yourself with?" Hitler used gas chambers to kill millions of German Jews during the war. Spicer said he was not trying to be dismissive of the Holocaust but merely misspoke. 

5. O’Reilly taking a vacation: Fox News host Bill O'Reilly announced Tuesday he is taking a couple of weeks of vacation from his show. The announcement came as 60 companies have said they will no longer advertise on the show amid allegations of sexual harassment by O’Reilly. O’Reilly said the vacation had been booked since late last year and “should be terrific.” He said he will return to the show on April 24.

And one moreDorothy Mengering, the mother of comedian David Letterman, died Tuesday. Mengering became a celebrity after appearing on Letterman’s show in various bits, including the popular “Guess Mom’s Pies,” and serving as a correspondent to three Olympics for “The Late Show.” Mengering was 95. Another celebrity, J. Geils, founder of the J.Geils Band, was found dead in his home on Tuesday. Authorities say they believe his death was from natural causes. Geils is probably best remembered for the hits “Centerfold,” and “Freeze Frame.” He was 71.

In case you  missed it

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