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Funerals were held Tuesday for seven victims of last week’s violence in Paris that began with the massacre at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Three police officers killed in the attacks were laid to rest in France, while four Jews slain in the siege of a kosher supermarket were buried in Israel.
The French Parliament paid tribute to the victims with a moment of silence that spontaneously turned into a singing of France’s national anthem. French lawmakers also overwhelmingly backed an extension of their government’s role in the U.S.-led bombing of the Islamic State. The vote was 488 to 1.
The Yemen-based group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has issued a new statement claiming responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo massacre. In a video posted online, a top AQAP commander, Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, said the organization financed and planned the attack.
Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi: “As for the blessed battle of Paris, we, in the organization of Qa’idatul Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the messenger of Allah. We clarify to the ummah that the one who chose the target, laid the plan, financed the operation and appointed its amir is the leadership of the organization.”
French authorities say they continue to search for any of the gunmen’s associates and potential accomplices. This comes as new video was released of the pair, Chérif and Said Kouachi, in a shootout with police right after the Charlie Hebdo attack. One of them says they avenged the Prophet Muhammad, and shouts the name of al-Qaeda in Yemen. The gunmen fire on a police car, get into their vehicle, and then open fire again as they drive way. The Kouachi brothers died in a shootout with police two days later.
Charlie Hebdo has just published its first issue since the attacks. The cover features the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign that reads, “Je Suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie,” with the headline, “All is forgiven.” At an emotional news conference on Tuesday, the cartoonist who drew the cover, Rénald Luzier, known as Luz, explained its creation.
Rénald Luzier: “Then there was nothing else but that, this idea of drawing Muhammad, I am Charlie. And I looked at him. He was crying. And over it, I wrote, 'All is forgiven.' I cried. And it was the front page. We had found the front page. We had at last found this damned front page. And it was our front page, not the one the world wanted us to do, but the one that we wanted to do. It wasn’t the front page that the terrorists wanted us to do, because there isn’t a terrorist in there. There’s just a man crying, a character crying. It’s Muhammad. I’m sorry, we drew him again, but the Muhammad we drew is a man crying, above all.”
North Korea has offered direct talks with the United States to resolve an impasse over the regime’s nuclear tests and American military drills on its border. The Obama administration has dismissed a North Korean offer to freeze nuclear testing if annual U.S. military drills with South Korea were also suspended. Speaking at the United Nations, North Korea’s deputy ambassador, An Myong Hun, urged the United States to take its offer seriously.
An Myong Hun: “This year we proposed to the United States that United States should at least this year temporarily suspend military exercises. But the United States administration responded by saying that military exercises are different, a separate issue from the nuclear test issue. In other words, they do not want to accept our proposal.”
North Korea has been hit with international sanctions for three nuclear tests since 2006. The United States says it is open to talks in general, but won’t link its annual South Korea war games to North Korea’s nuclear tests. The news of North Korea’s offer came hours after U.S. officials warned of new sanctions in retaliation for the cyber-attack on Sony, which the Obama administration blames on the North Korean regime. North Korea has denied involvement, asked the United States to provide proof, and offered a joint inquiry, which the U.S. rejected.
President Obama hosted top Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner and new Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, at the White House on Tuesday for a meeting aimed at finding common ground. Obama said he expects to work with Republicans on issues including cybersecurity and trade.
President Obama: “I think we agree that this is an area where we can work hard together, get some legislation done, and make sure that we are much more effective in protecting the American people from these kinds of cyber-attacks. I think that there is going to be opportunities for us to work together on trade. There is going to be opportunities for us to work together on simplifying the tax system and making sure everybody is paying their fair share. There are going to be opportunities for us to streamline government so it’s more responsive.”
On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled new cybersecurity rules in the wake of the hack on Sony Pictures and the compromising of the Pentagon’s Twitter account. The proposals would allow for increased information sharing between corporations and agencies, including the National Security Agency, in part to give firms legal immunity for providing their data to the government. The White House says the sharing would not include personal information.
The Obama administration is set to announce new regulations to cut emissions of methane gas. The plan will reportedly seek a 45 percent cut in 2012 methane levels by the year 2025. The Environmental Protection Agency will formally propose the rules this summer, followed by final regulations next year.
Rallies have been held across the United States to oppose a new Republican push for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote for Keystone’s construction this week following House passage on Friday. On Tuesday, activists gathered in cities across the country to urge President Obama to follow through on his threat to veto the Republican bill and to reject the pipeline for good.
Georgia has carried out the nation’s first execution of 2015. On Tuesday, 66-year-old Army veteran Andrew Brannan was killed by lethal injection for the 1998 murder of a sheriff’s deputy. Defense attorneys had unsuccessfully sought clemency by arguing Brannan’s jury was never fully informed of his severe physical and mental damage from serving in the Vietnam War, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Oklahoma is set to be the next state to carry out an execution on Thursday. It will be the first time Oklahoma attempts to kill a prisoner since botching a lethal injection in April.
The New York City Board of Correction has voted to ban solitary confinement for prisoners between the ages of 18 to 21 at Rikers Island. The decision follows scrutiny of the prison’s treatment of young inmates. Calling the rules a “step forward,” the New York Civil Liberties Union said: “An institution as profoundly broken as Rikers Island will require wholesale reform to transform into a humane environment that emphasizes treatment and rehabilitation over punishment and isolation.”
Newly released video shows a police officer breaking down in tears after fatally shooting an unarmed man in Montana. Last week, a coroner’s jury found Billings Police Officer Grant Morrison was justified in shooting Richard Ramirez during a traffic stop last April. Video from the aftermath of the shooting shows Morrison collapsing over the hood of a police cruiser and weeping as his colleagues try to console him. Morrison can be heard saying, “I thought he was going to pull a gun on me. Maybe he was. Maybe he was. (Weeping).”
A federal appeals court has heard from civil rights groups seeking to reinstate a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department over its secret surveillance of Muslims and Arabs in the neighboring state of New Jersey. District Judge William Martini dismissed the lawsuit in February, saying the program’s main harm came not from the anti-Muslim surveillance itself, but from the Associated Press’ exposure of it. Speaking outside the appellate court in Philadelphia, attorney Baher Azmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights said the surveillance was unconstitutional because it focused on religion, nationality and race.
Baher Azmy: “The police have tools to deal with law enforcement problems, but they can’t rely on race or religion or — or to assume that people who are more religious are more dangerous, which is what undergirds the entirety of the NYPD’s program. Religious profiling is just as illegal as racial profiling. And at the Center for Constitutional Rights, we fought against racial profiling and challenged and defeated the city’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices, and we aim to do the same here with respect to the city’s unconstitutional Muslim spying practices.”
A bartender at an Ohio country club has been indicted for an alleged plot to kill House Speaker John Boehner. Michael Robert Hoyt has reportedly served drinks to Boehner at the Wetherington Country Club over the course of five years. Hoyt appears to suffer from mental issues, having blamed Boehner for his recent firing and accusing him of being responsible for the spread of Ebola. Police found weapons and ammunition in his home.
In a follow-up to coverage on Democracy Now! over the past few days, the news network CNN has been given some direct, on-air criticism of its use of so-called terrorism “experts” for discussion of violent attacks like the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Speaking to CNN, The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill was asked about his comments during a Democracy Now! interview on Monday in which he criticized corporate media coverage of the attack’s aftermath. Scahill called out CNN and other networks for using pundits he said have no right to call themselves “terrorism experts.”
Jeremy Scahill: ”CNN and MSNBC and Fox are engaging in the terrorism expert-industrial complex, where you have people on as paid analysts that are largely frauds who have made a lot of money off of portraying themselves as terror experts and have no actual on-the-ground experience. … Some of your paid analysts, that you have on this network or other networks, basically are just making money off of the claim that they’re experts on terrorism and really don’t have the scholarly background or on-the-ground experience to justify being on your network or any other network.”
Click here to watch our interview with Jeremy Scahill from Monday’s broadcast and our follow-up interview with The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald from Tuesday on so-called terrorism experts.
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