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Indonesian rescuers have found dozens of bodies and debris from a passenger plane that was carrying 162 people when it disappeared on the way to Singapore Sunday. The remains were found in the Karimata Strait off the coast of Borneo. AirAsia Flight 8501 had requested permission to climb to a higher altitude amidst bad weather, but the response was delayed due to heavy air traffic, and the plane disappeared.
Leftists in Greece appear poised for a historic victory after lawmakers rejected the prime minister’s nominee for president, setting the stage for early elections next month. The failed vote for president triggers the dissolution of Parliament and comes amidst mounting outrage over austerity policies which have come as part of Greece’s international bailout. The left-wing Syriza party is leading in polls, paving the way for Europe’s first election of an anti-bailout party bent on reversing deep cuts demanded by international lenders. Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza party, and likely the next prime minister of Greece, celebrated Monday’s outcome.
Alexis Tsipras: “Today, my friends, is the beginning of the end of the regime that sunk the country into poverty, unemployment, grief and desperation — the beginning of the end of those who were shamelessly servants of catastrophic policies.”
Tsipras has pledged to provide aid to the poor and renegotiate the terms of Greece’s bailout, raising the prospect of a showdown with European lenders that could renew economic uncertainty.
The U.S. military has carried out a drone strike in Somalia targeting a senior leader of the militant group al-Shabab. The Pentagon has said it does not believe any civilians were killed in the strike, but did not say whether the target was killed. Last week, on Christmas, al-Shabab attacked the African Union base in Mogadishu, killing nine people in what it said was retaliation for another U.S. drone strike which killed the group’s leader in September. On Saturday, another top al-Shabab figure who was the subject of a $3 million U.S. bounty surrendered to authorities in Somalia.
U.S.-led forces have also continued their bombardment of Islamic State militants, with 12 air strikes in Syria and six in Iraq on Monday.
A new report has revealed a kill list used by the U.S.-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan targeted not only high-level commanders of the Taliban, but mid- and lower-level operatives and even drug dealers. The secret documents, at least some of which came from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, span from 2009 to 2011. According to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which reviewed them, they show targeted killings were “not just viewed as a last resort to prevent attacks, but were in fact part of everyday life in the guerilla war in Afghanistan.” In one case, a young boy was killed and his father injured by a British helicopter pilot who was targeting a suspected mid-level Taliban commander.
Another round of documents from Edward Snowden published by Der Spiegel show some encryption tactics have successfully thwarted spying by the National Security Agency. An NSA document describes “catastrophic” levels of difficulty penetrating the communications of users who employed a combination of different encryption technologies.
Liberian officials are reporting a new flare-up of Ebola cases along the border with Sierra Leone. The announcement of dozens of new cases comes after Liberia reported strides in combating the virus. The news comes as the death toll in the three worst-hit countries in West Africa has topped 7,800, with more than 20,000 infected. In Britain, meanwhile, a nurse who recently returned to Scotland from Sierra Leone has been flown to London for treatment after she was diagnosed with Ebola. Pauline Cafferkey is the first person diagnosed with Ebola on British soil. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the risk to the public is minimal.
Nicola Sturgeon: “I think it’s very important to stress, particularly for the benefit of those watching, that the risk to other people as a result of this confirmed Ebola case is deemed to be extremely low. Given the early stage of diagnosis, the patient was displaying no symptoms of the kind that would lead to onward transmission and put other people at risk, before she reported this morning as being unwell.”
In the United States, a technician may have been exposed to Ebola at a facility run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The worker is under observation after handling samples which were supposed to have been deactivated.
An autopsy report shows an unarmed African-American man killed by Los Angeles police was shot three times. The coroner’s report shows 25-year-old Ezell Ford was shot in the right side, right arm and the back, where the imprint of a gun muzzle was found, showing he was shot at very close range. Police allege that Ford, who suffered from mental illness, tried to grab an officer’s gun during a confrontation. But his family members and at least one eyewitness say he was complying with police and lying on the ground when he was shot. The police and district attorney are conducting an investigation into the shooting, which happened in August, and Ford’s family has filed a civil rights lawsuit.
The Israeli military has shot and killed a 17-year-old in the West Bank. The military says soldiers opened fire on a group of people who were throwing rocks, killing a teenager identified as Imam Jamil Ahmad Dweikat. But a friend of the deceased who was injured in the attack denied the pair were throwing rocks, and told the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency his friend was killed “in cold blood.”
The news comes after more than 50 alumni, former educators and staff of the prestigious Israel Arts and Sciences Academy in Jerusalem have issued a call for graduates to refuse service in the Israeli military. Such service is mandatory in Israel, and those who refuse may face jail. The letter calls military refusal a “moral stance against a collective mood manifested in racism and violence on every street these days.”
One of the top Republicans in Congress has acknowledged he spoke to a gathering of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in 2002 while he was serving as a state representative in Louisiana. Rep. Steve Scalise, who serves as House majority whip, has confirmed reports he spoke at a convention organized by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise told the New Orleans Times-Picayune he did not recall the conference and “didn’t know who all of these groups were.” “For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous,” Scalise said.
New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm has announced he will resign after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion at his New York City fast-food restaurant Healthalicious. After entering the plea last week, Grimm had said he would “absolutely not” resign, but he reportedly reversed himself after speaking with Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Monday. The probe into Grimm’s finances made national headlines earlier this year when he threatened to break a local TV reporter in half and throw him over a balcony for asking him about it.
The resignation of Rep. Michael Grimm comes as federal authorities are reportedly investigating a top Democrat in New York state over payments he received from a law firm that specializes in real-estate tax reductions. According to The New York Times, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver did not disclose the payments as required.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is due to meet with police union leaders today, a day after he was booed by some graduates at police graduation. De Blasio faces tensions with the unions over contract negotiations and his comments about racial profiling and police brutality, including saying he feared for his biracial son, Dante. As he took the stage to speak at police academy graduation Monday, de Blasio faced both applause and booing.
Bill de Blasio: “Congratulations, officers. It is an honor to call you officers. You have reached this moment in your lives through hard work, and I want to congratulate you all for what you have achieved. This is a historic day in your lives. It is a day your city thanks you.”
The fast-food chain Chipotle has apologized to police officers after an employee made a “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture at officers who entered a restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Since the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, the hands-up gesture has become a symbol for police killings of unarmed African Americans. Chipotle’s CEOs said they had taken “appropriate actions” against the employee.
One of the nation’s oldest and most controversial nuclear power plants has gone offline following decades of protests against it. The Vermont Yankee plant, which ran for more than 40 years, had faced a series of radioactive tritium leaks. Its operator, Entergy, announced plans to close it last year, citing financial reasons.
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