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France Deploys 10,000 Troops to Guard Sites After Attacks

Jan 13, 2015

France is deploying an unprecedented 10,000 soldiers inside its own country in the wake of last week’s deadly shootings at a kosher grocery store and the magazine Charlie Hebdo. The soldiers will join nearly 5,000 police officers mobilized to guard Jewish schools, train stations and other sites. France is also taking steps to increase electronic spying. Authorities say several members of a terrorist cell suspected in the attacks may still be at large. Video footage appears to show Hayat Boumeddiene, the partner of supermarket shooter Amedy Coulibaly, arriving in Turkey days before the attack. Turkish authorities say she went to a part of Syria controlled by the Islamic State. As the victims of the killings are laid to rest, the magazine Charlie Hebdo is preparing to publish its first post-attack issue on Wednesday. The cover features the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign that reads, “Je Suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie,” with the headline, “All is forgiven.”

White House Admits Top Official Should Have Joined Paris March

Jan 13, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry has announced he will fly to Paris later this week in a show of support for France. The Obama administration has come under fire after Obama declined to join 40 world leaders and 1.7 million people at a free speech rally in Paris Sunday. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged the administration should have sent a top official.

Josh Earnest: “Some have asked whether or not the United States should have sent someone with a higher profile than the ambassador to France. And I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there. That said, there is no doubt that the American people and this administration stand four-square behind our allies in France as they face down this threat.”

It is unclear why Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris for meetings, did not attend the rally.

Record 25,000 Join Anti-Islam Rally in Germany; 100,000 Join Counter-Protests

Jan 13, 2015

In Germany, a record 25,000 people joined an anti-Islam rally in the city of Dresden. The far-right group Pegida has held weekly rallies against Islam, but Monday’s was the largest to date. Some marchers carried sign that read “Je suis Charlie,” in purported solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo victims. The anti-Islam movement appears to be spreading after last week’s attacks, with hundreds rallying in Oslo, Norway, Monday and more actions planned in Austria and Switzerland. But across Germany, an estimated 100,000 people joined counter-protests against Islamophobia, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for unity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “I would like to add that our former president, Christian Wulff, said that Islam belongs to Germany. This is true. I share this view. That’s why we are doing everything we can to make integration a success.”

Merkel attended Sunday’s rally in Paris and is expected to attend a rally today in Berlin organized by Muslim groups to denounce both terrorism and intolerance.

Nigeria: Gov’t Claims 150, Not 2,000, Killed by Boko Haram

Jan 13, 2015

Nigeria has said the death toll from an attack by Boko Haram in the northeast stands at 150, including a number of militants, despite reports the toll may be far higher. The government has previously been accused of downplaying such tolls. Local officials say as many as 2,000 people may have been killed when Boko Haram attacked Baga and the surrounding area — in what may be its deadliest attack to date. The Islamist militant group is also suspected in a pair of suicide attacks over the weekend where explosives were strapped to young girls. Cameroon, meanwhile, says it killed 143 Boko Haram militants who attacked a base near the Nigerian border.

U.S. Drops Bid to Force Journalist James Risen to Testify

Jan 13, 2015

The Obama administration will not force New York Times investigative reporter James Risen to testify at the trial of his alleged source. Jeffrey Sterling, whose trial is set to open today, is accused of giving Risen secret information that revealed a botched CIA plot to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. Risen had risked jail time as part of a seven-year legal battle with the administration in a case that came to symbolize its crackdown on whistleblowers. The Obama administration has pursued more leak cases than all its predecessors combined.

U.S. Central Command’s Social Media Hacked by Apparent ISIS Sympathizers

Jan 13, 2015

Hackers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State have penetrated the social media accounts of the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria. Central Command shut down its YouTube and Twitter accounts after a series of posts sympathetic to ISIS. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest downplayed comparisons between Monday’s hack and the earlier data breach against Sony Pictures, which the administration blames on North Korea.

Josh Earnest: “I can tell you this is something that we’re obviously looking into and something that we take seriously. However, just a note of caution to folks as they’re covering this story: There’s a pretty significant difference between what is a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account.”

New Mexico: 2 Police Face Murder Charges for Shooting of Homeless Man

Jan 13, 2015

A New Mexico prosecutor has filed murder charges against two police officers for the killing of a mentally ill homeless man which ignited protests against the Albuquerque Police Department. The officers, Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez, will now face a public, preliminary hearing before a judge for the killing of James Boyd last March. Boyd had been confronted by police for sleeping in an unauthorized campsite. Police say he was armed with knives, but video from a police helmet camera shows Boyd apparently agreeing to surrender and turning away to pick up his belongings before officers fire a flashbang grenade, release a dog on him and open fire. At a news conference, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said proceedings against the officers would be more transparent than the secret grand juries in other states, which declined to indict the officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Kari Brandenburg: “Unlike Ferguson and unlike in New York City, some recent high-profile cases, we’re going to know, the public is going to have that information, you all are going to have seen the witnesses, heard the arguments, and you’ll understand, hopefully, perhaps, why the judge made the decision that he or she made.”

Albuquerque police have been involved in more than 40 shootings since 2010, 27 of them fatal. Last year a scathing Justice Department probe found most of the department’s fatal shootings were unconstitutional. It is the first time Albuquerque police involved in a shooting have faced murder charges.

Report: NYPD Use of Banned Chokeholds Goes Unpunished

Jan 13, 2015

In New York City, a new report has found police have continued to use chokeholds like the one used against Eric Garner, even though they have been banned for more than 20 years. The report by the NYPD inspector general looked at 10 cases of banned chokeholds over the past five years. While a review board had recommended the highest levels of punishment in nine of the cases, the most officers ever faced was a loss of vacation days.

Senate Advances Bill to Approve Keystone XL Pipeline

Jan 13, 2015

Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate have advanced legislation to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline despite a vow by President Obama to veto it. A final vote is expected on Friday.

Romney Takes Steps Toward 2016 Presidential Bid; Ryan Drops Out

Jan 13, 2015

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan has announced he will not run for president in 2016. The former vice-presidential candidate, known for promoting deep cuts in public spending, says he wants to pay “undivided attention” to his new post as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Ryan’s former running mate, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has signaled he may run again and has reportedly begun contacting backers in key states.

Treasury Nominee Withdraws After Warren-Led Opposition over Wall Street Ties

Jan 13, 2015

A Wall Street banker tapped by President Obama for a top post at the Treasury Department has removed himself from the running following opposition from progressives led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren had criticized the nomination of Antonio Weiss, who has spent 20 years at the financial firm Lazard, where he worked on so-called tax inversions, whereby companies like Burger King have moved overseas to dodge U.S. taxes. More than 160,000 people had signed a petition calling for the Senate to reject Weiss’ nomination to the third highest post at Treasury. After withdrawing from consideration for that post, he has taken a job as counselor to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

Judge Strikes Down South Dakota Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Jan 13, 2015

A federal judge has struck down South Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriage. Judge Karen Schreier found the ban “deprives same-sex citizens of a fundamental right,” but placed her ruling on hold pending an appeal. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C.

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