Live Coverage

Today's News: April 15, 2017

An Arkansas judge halts the execution of eight people, North Korea flaunts its arsenal and threatens the U.S., the “Mother of All Bombs” death toll rises to more than 90,  and more from the United States and around the world.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

—A federal judge in Arkansas halted the rushed execution of eight prisoners, saying it would expose them to “severe pain.”

—North Korea held a parade to honor the the 105th birthday of Kim Il Sung, the country’s founder, and officials warned the U.S. that they are "ready to hit back with nuclear attacks."

—The death toll from the “Mother of All Bombs” that the U.S. dropped on an underground ISIS structure in eastern Afghanistan rose to more than 90.

—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4).

Updates

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North Korea's Missile Launch Ends in Failure

Wong Maye-E / Reuters

North Korea launched a missile from a site near its eastern coast on Sunday but the test is thought to have failed, according to South Korea’s military. The launch took place in Sinpo a day after the country’s largest holiday celebrating the 105th birthday of the late Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea. The country held a massive parade, which is usually a show of military might, and current leader Kim Jong Un watched as columns of goose-stepping soldiers marched, tanks drove past, and trucks towed several missiles. It’s not certain what type of missile was launched Sunday, but it almost immediately blew up after leaving the ground. Last year the country fired two missiles and conducted a nuclear test to mark the holiday, though no such test was recorded Saturday or Sunday. The country has spent decades developing nuclear technology, but it has so far failed to engineer a intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering such a weapon. As a show of force, the U.S. sent a naval strike fleet led by an aircraft carrier to the area, and there were worries that if North Korea did test a nuclear weapon the U.S. would have to respond in some way. U.S. President Donald Trump has recently asked China, North Korea’s only major ally, to apply political pressure on Kim Jong Un to end the nuclear program, but these attempts have so far failed. Sunday’s launch came as Vice President Mike Pence was headed to South Korea, where he is expected to give Kim Jong Un a strong warning to stop these increasingly provocative tests.

Death Toll From the 'Mother of All Bombs' Rises to 94

Reuters

The death toll of militants killed by the “Mother of All Bombs,” the largest non-nuclear weapon the U.S. has ever used, rose to 94, according to Afghan officials. The U.S. has not released updated casualty tolls, and the 11-ton bomb, dropped on Thursday, is still believed to have only killed ISIS militants, not civilians. The U.S. had targeted a vast underground tunnel network in the Nangarhar province and is believed to have wiped out several mid-level ISIS commanders. “After the bomb, when we checked the tunnels, we took out around 100 dead bodies,” said the deputy spokesman for the Afghanistan’s ministry of defence, Mohammad Radmanesh. The bombing was part of the U.S.-backed campaign to rid Afghanistan of ISIS, and there are believed to be about 600 fighters left in the country. The current president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, said the bombing was done in close coordination with his office. However, the attack was also criticized as an infringement upon the Afghanistan’s sovereignty.

A Federal Judge Halts the Execution of 8 Prisoners in Arkansas

Kelly P. Kissel / Reuters

A federal judge in Arkansas on Saturday halted the rapid execution of eight prisoners, saying it could expose them to “severe pain.” The state said it will appeal the decision, and wants to begin executions Monday so it can use its lethal injection drugs before they expire at the end of the month. Arkansas was trying to execute eight inmates in 11 days. But it has run out of a supply of midazolam, one of the drugs used in its lethal injection cocktail, and U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ordered a preliminary injunction on all executions. The decision came shortly after the state’s supreme court stayed one of the prisoner’s executions. A court will now decide whether the method constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. In the order, the judge said the inmates had a right to challenge the execution and a chance to prove it could cause them undue pain. In the recent past, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Arizona have used midazolam and it has failed to keep inmates unconscious during executions. In the case of Arizona, it took one prisoner nearly two hours to die, and witnesses said the inmate gasped for air more than 600 times as the state struggled to kill him.

North Korea Flaunts Its Arsenal

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

North Korea showed off its military might on Saturday in a parade to honor the 105th birthday of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, flaunting intercontinental ballistic missiles and warning the U.S. that it is "ready to hit back with nuclear attacks." The U.S. had sent a Naval strike group to the area as a show of force, and there were worries that if North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test it would dramatically escalate tension between the two countries. But no tremors were detected while North Korea celebrated its most important holiday, the Day of the Sun. Instead, the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, watched from a platform as columns of soldiers, tanks, and missiles paraded past. Kim did not speak, but a top official warned the country is “prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war," and that if provoked by the U.S., North Korea is "ready to hit back with nuclear attacks."