Belgian authorities have arrested 16 people in a series of overnight raids as residents of the capital Brussels remain locked in their homes. Belgium has imposed the highest threat level for Brussels as officials scour the city for Salah Abdeslam, a main suspect in the deadly attacks in Paris. Residents have been told to stay away from the windows as public transportation, schools and museums have all been shut down. A spokesperson for the Belgian federal prosecutor said Abdeslam was not among those arrested in last night’s raids.
Eric Van Der Sypt: “The federal prosecutions office and the Brussels investigating judge, specialized in terrorist cases, ordered a total of 19 house searches in the Brussels region. Until now, no firearms or explosives were found. Salah Abdeslam is not—not—among the persons arrested during the searches.”
Mali has begun three days of national mourning after at least 19 victims and two gunmen were killed in an assault on the Radisson Blu hotel Friday in the capital Bamako. Six of the victims were Malian, while 13 were foreign nationals, including U.S. aid worker Anita Datar. Three Islamist militant groups have claimed responsibility for the attack, including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Islamophobic incidents have continued in the United States following the attacks in Paris. On Thursday, two men were temporarily barred from boarding a Southwest flight from Chicago to Philadelphia after a passenger heard them speaking Arabic. In Texas, meanwhile, armed protesters rallied outside the Islamic Center of Irving, decrying the “Islamization of America.”
Speaking in Malaysia at a summit of Southeast Asian nations, President Obama said prejudice and discrimination would only aid the Islamic State—which he pledged to “hunt down” and “destroy.”
President Obama: “Even as we destroy ISIL on the battlefield—and we will destroy them: We will take back land that they are currently in, we will cut off their financing, we will hunt down their leadership, we will dismantle their networks and their supply lines, and we will ultimately destroy them. Even as we are in the process of doing that, we want to make sure that we don’t lose our own values and our own principles.”
Republican front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson have both indicated they would revive waterboarding and other forms of Bush-era torture as part of the fight against ISIL. Trump also said he wanted “surveillance of certain mosques” and falsely claimed “thousands” of people in Jersey City, New Jersey, cheered after the 9/11 attacks. On Saturday, Trump’s remarks at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama, were interrupted by an African-American activist who shouted, “Black lives matter.” Trump shouted, “Get him the hell out of here,” and a group of Trump’s supporters surrounded the activist, Mercutio Southall Jr., kicking and punching him. Trump defended their actions in a Fox News interview Sunday.
Donald Trump: “I don’t know, rough up, he should have been—maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing. This was not handled the way Bernie Sanders handled his problem, I will tell you, but I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy, who was a troublemaker, who was looking to make trouble. But I didn’t get to see the event.”
Donald Trump also retweeted a graphic of racially biased, fabricated crime statistics, which falsely claimed, for example, that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by African Americans; actually, 82 percent of white murder victims are killed by other whites.
In northern Burma, at least 100 people have been killed in a massive landslide near a jade mine. The landslide engulfed a settlement of sleeping mine workers, killing entire families. About 100 more people remain missing.
In Argentina, right-wing Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri has won the presidential race, ending 12 years of leftist government. Macri will replace President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner next month after defeating her chosen successor. His victory is seen as a boon for U.S. hedge funds who have sought to profit off Argentina’s debt.
In Iran, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been sentenced to an unspecified prison term. Rezaian has been jailed for the past 16 months on charges including espionage. The Washington Post has maintained his innocence, and the Obama administration has called for his immediate release.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has sealed a more than $150 billion merger with fellow drug maker Allergan, marking one of the largest takeovers in the history of the healthcare industry. Because Allergan is headquartered in Ireland, the deal will allow Pfizer to avoid billions in U.S. taxes. It’s believed to be the largest example to date of a so-called tax inversion—where a U.S. firm acquires a firm based overseas in order to dodge U.S. taxes.
In Louisiana, Democratic candidate John Bel Edwards has defeated U.S. Senator David Vitter in a surprise victory to become the next governor of Louisiana. Edwards has pledged to sign an executive order authorizing the expansion of Medicaid, extending insurance coverage to an estimated 225,000 people. Edwards opposes abortion and gun control. His election comes as at least 16 people have been injured in a shooting in New Orleans.
Doug Hughes, the Florida mailman who landed a gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in April to call for campaign finance reform, has pleaded guilty to a single felony count of operating the tiny personal aircraft without a license. Hughes faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 at his sentencing in April. Hughes landed on the Capitol lawn carrying letters to every member of Congress urging them to pass campaign finance reform. Speaking Friday, Hughes said his flight exposed security gaps—and brought attention to money in politics.
Doug Hughes: “I don’t think there is any security breach now. I don’t think anybody can do what I did. So what I did, did the country a favor in terms of security, but I didn’t do it over security. I did it because I wanted to bring attention to getting the money out of politics and restoring democracy. That is the biggest threat we face.”
A new estimate by Wells Fargo projects a record $6 billion will be spent on political advertising in the 2016 election season—a 16 percent increase over 2012.
Human rights activists converged in Georgia over the weekend for the annual protest calling for the closure of the U.S. military training school known as School of the Americas. Now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or WISC, the school at Fort Benning, Georgia, has trained Latin American military leaders and dictators accused of presiding over massacres and torture. This year, protesters also called for the closure of Stewart Immigrant Detention Center in Lumpkin; 11 people were arrested for civil disobedience at the private prison. The protests come as newly released documents show the FBI monitored and infiltrated the peace group School of the Americas Watch, which organizes the annual rally. Documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund show that despite repeatedly acknowledging its activities were peaceful, the FBI spied on the group for a decade, using counterterrorism units and confidential informants.
In Cleveland, Ohio, family members and supporters gathered Sunday at the park where the 12-year-old African-American boy Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a white police officer one year ago. Rice was playing with a toy gun when police pulled up and shot him within two seconds of their arrival. A 911 caller had reported seeing Rice with a gun but noted the gun was “probably fake.” A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case. Last month, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office released an expert report, calling the shooting “clearly objectively reasonable.” Tamir Rice’s mother Samaria addressed supporters at the vigil for Tamir.
Samaria Rice: “I thank you guys for all the warm love and thoughts, as well. I encourage you guys to get involved in the movement, and I’m fighting for justice for all our children.”
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Justice Department says it will investigate the police shooting of 24-year-old African American Jamar Clark. Authorities said Clark was shot after a scuffle with officers following a report of an assault. Multiple witnesses have said Clark was shot while handcuffed.