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More than half a million people took part in rallies around the world ahead of today’s opening of the 21st United Nations climate change summit here in Paris, France. World leaders have arrived for two weeks of negotiations aimed at reaching an accord on global warming. In London, the musician and artist Peter Gabriel said citizens around the world are calling out for a binding and just agreement.
Peter Gabriel: “I think the politicians are certainly becoming aware that a lot of the people of the planet are really worried about this issue and really feel it’s a serious threat. So, hopefully, they will respond. And I think that’s part of the aim of this march and these marches going on all over the world.”
A major rally was canceled here after authorities banned public protests in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. But tens of thousands of people formed a human chain stretching down the sidewalk for blocks. After the human chain action ended, thousands of Parisians and international activists defied the French ban on protests and tried to march through the downtown streets. They were met by hundreds of riot police, who used tear gas, sound bombs and pepper spray. More than 200 protesters were arrested.
Friday’s deadly mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado has sparked new calls for confronting anti-choice extremism and the nation’s lax gun laws. Three people were killed and nine injured when a gunman identified as Robert Lewis Dear opened fire at the Colorado Springs facility. Dear was taken into custody after a multi-hour gunfight with police. While investigators claim his motive remains unknown, he reportedly invoked an anti-abortion talking point, saying “no more baby parts.” Republicans have falsely accused Planned Parenthood of selling organs from aborted fetuses for profit, basing their claims on doctored videos. Since July, when the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress began releasing the heavily edited videos, at least five other Planned Parenthood locations have been attacked by vandals.
In the wake of the shooting, Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains CEO Vicki Cowart said in a statement: “We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country.” At a vigil on Saturday, Cowart said Planned Parenthood will not be intimidated into abandoning its work for women’s health.
Vicki Cowart: “What happened yesterday was a terrible crime, resulted in terrible tragedy, and we will never forget it. But we will adapt, we will square our shoulders, we will go on, we will show up for work on Monday, and we will begin again. And we invite all of you to be with us, more resolve than ever that providing healthcare and education for the people across our community is the right thing to do.”
The three slain victims were officer Garrett Swasey, a father of two; Ke’Arre Stewart, a father of two and Iraq War veteran; and Jennifer Markovsky, a mother of two who was at the clinic in support of a friend. All of the nine injured victims are said to be in good condition and expected to recover. One survivor, Ozy Licano, described the shooting.
Ozy Licano: “As I was looking at him, I saw blood. I didn’t know if it was coming from my neck or my lip or what. I felt stuff hit me, and I felt a pain here, a pain here. So I thought my jugular vein or my—I was bleeding internally, so I just thought instead of trying to do something to him, I just needed to get out of there. I ended up in the King Soopers parking lot, bleeding everywhere. I got out of the car, yelled for help, told them to call 911. A lady responded immediately. And then I sat down, and I told them there’s something bad going on over there at the Planned Parenthood.”
The National Abortion Federation says attacks linked to anti-abortion extremism have killed at least eight people since 1993. The Colorado Springs shooting comes as far-right Republicans seek a government shutdown unless a new budget deal defunds Planned Parenthood.
The Colorado shooting also comes amid continued congressional inaction on gun control despite repeated mass shootings. In a statement, President Obama said: “We have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them, period. Enough is enough.”
On Sunday, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper joined with voices calling the clinic shooting an act of “terrorism.” This comes as a new study finds white Americans are the biggest terror threat in the United States. The New America Foundation says that of 26 acts of terrorism in the U.S. since 9/11, most were carried out by whites. The list does not include several mass shootings carried out by whites, including Sandy Hook or the Aurora movie theater, because they lacked political motivation.
A Russian airstrike in Syria has reportedly killed dozens of people. Activists say at least 44 people died when Russian bombs hit a crowded marketplace in the province of Idlib. Russia has claimed it is targeting the Islamic State, but Idlib is not under the group’s control.
The British Parliament is expected to vote this week on joining the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Ahead of the vote, thousands rallied across Britain on Saturday against the plan.
Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition: “Well, we are very much opposed to David Cameron’s plan to have a vote in Parliament to bomb Syria. The bombing has already been going on for more than a year by other forces. At the moment, Syria is being bombed by the two biggest military powers in the world—the United States and Russia. So there is no case for it actually solving the problem. ISIS is as strong as it was before the bombing started.”
Thousands of people gathered in Turkey on Sunday for the funeral of Tahir Elçi, a leading Kurdish lawyer and human rights activist. Elçi was gunned down on Saturday in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. He had been awaiting trial for public comments in which he said the Kurdistan Workers’ Party is not a terrorist group. Hundreds of people have died since a ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government broke down in July. Elçi’s killing came one day after thousands rallied in Istanbul against the government’s arrest of two prominent journalists. The pair is accused of espionage after publishing a report claiming Turkish intelligence sent weapons to militant extremists inside Syria.
Turkey and the European Union have reached an agreement on limiting the flow of refugees trying to reach Europe. Turkey will receive over $3.2 billion and closer EU ties in return for efforts to stop migrants from leaving its shores.
The National Security Agency has formally ended the bulk collection of phone records more than two years after Edward Snowden exposed it. The NSA says that as of midnight Sunday, the mass surveillance of metadata is no longer in place. The NSA will instead ask companies for a specific user’s data rather than vacuuming up all the records at once.
Protests continue in Chicago over the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old African-American teen, Laquan McDonald. Officer Jason Van Dyke was indicted for murder last week just as police finally released video footage of him shooting McDonald 16 times more than a year ago. Police had claimed Laquan McDonald lunged at Van Dyke with a small knife, but the video shows him posing no threat and running many feet away. Protests have been held daily since the video was released. In a Black Friday action targeting a busy shopping district, the Reverend Jesse Jackson joined demonstrators calling for the resignation of Chicago’s police superintendent and a top prosecutor.
Rev. Jesse Jackson: “We need a new police department, a new police culture and a new chief. We also need a special prosecutor to find out who found out about the tapes and suppressed them for 13 months. Until change takes place, we’ll do more of it. There will be more boycotts, and the protests on the mass economic withdrawal will escalate.”
Jay Darshane, the manager of a Burger King that may have captured surveillance video of the shooting, says he’s testified before a grand jury about police potentially deleting the footage. Eighty-six minutes of the surveillance video were erased, including the portion capturing the time of the shooting.
A group of American activists have traveled to Cuba to stage a symbolic fast in solidarity with the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. The group Witness Against Torture set up camp near the Guantánamo prison on Wednesday. On Thanksgiving Day, they sat around an empty table, going without food to show support for the 107 people who remain behind bars. Nearly half have been cleared for release. The activists also called on the Obama administration to deliver on its promise to finally close the prison.
Robert Hinton, a New York City man who recently won a settlement for his abuse at Rikers Island jail, has been shot dead. Hinton was awarded nearly half a million dollars for a beating by Rikers corrections officers in 2012. He was imprisoned in the solitary confinement unit for men with mental illness when the officers hogtied and attacked him, leaving him with a broken nose, a fractured vertebra and a bleeding mouth. His case led to the firing of a captain and five officers involved. On Friday, Hinton was shot dead outside of a Brooklyn housing project. His attorney says he had been planning to buy a new home and had recently sent a text message saying: “I pray I even live long enough to see some sort of happiness.”
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