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In San Bernardino, California, thousands gathered Thursday night at a local stadium for a candlelight vigil to mourn those killed in Wednesday’s mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center, a facility that provides services to people with disabilities. President Obama ordered flags lowered to half-staff at public buildings across Washington, D.C. The FBI counterterrorism unit is overseeing the investigation, although the agency has said it has not yet determined whether terrorism was a motive in the shooting. One of the suspected gunmen in Wednesday’s shooting, Syed Rizwan Farook, was a county health department employee who had attended a department holiday party at the center earlier in the day and left after some kind of dispute. He allegedly returned to the party with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, and a cache of weapons and opened fire. It was the worst mass shooting in the United States since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when a gunman killed 20 children, six adults, his mother and himself. On Thursday, members of the largest mosque in San Bernardino County held a vigil for the massacre’s victims. Local Muslim leader Ahsan Khan expressed the community’s grief.
Ahsan Khan: “We, as Muslims of the Ahmadiyya Community, are gathered here tonight in a state of grief after the horrific events that transpired in our neighborhood of San Bernardino County yesterday. First and foremost, our message is to the victims and their loved ones. We extend our heartfelt condolences to you and everyone who suffered yesterday. The Holy Qur’an, the book of God that you just heard recited, it teaches us that the killing of an innocent is like the destruction of all of mankind.”
The New York Post is facing criticism after it changed its front-page headline on the San Bernardino mass shooting from “Murder Mission” to “Muslim Killers,” after the suspects were identified as Muslims. The early edition of Thursday’s Post read: “Shooters slaughter 14 in California.” By the afternoon, after police identified the suspects as Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the subheadline had changed to “Terror eyed as couple slaughters 14 in California.” The change came as Assistant FBI Director David Bowdich said, “We do not yet know the motive.”
The German Parliament has voted to provide military support to the U.S.-led fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, only two days after the British Parliament voted to join the bombing campaign in Syria. Germany says it will not actively engage in combat. It will provide warplanes, a tank aircraft and a warship. Before the 445-146 vote, antiwar protesters rallied outside the Parliament.
Martina Pankowski: “There are more and more terrorists, there are more and more attacks such as the one in Paris, and no one is thinking about where this might really originate and what can be done about it. All they ever do is drop more bombs.”
Germany says it will not engage in an active combat role.
The Pentagon has opened all combat roles in the U.S. military to women. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the shift Thursday. It overturns the longstanding policy of restricting women from holding combat positions, even though they have effectively served in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Eight top FIFA officials have pleaded guilty to corruption charges, agreeing to pay a total of $40 million in penalties. None of the eight officials are slated to serve time in prison. On Thursday, 16 more officials were indicted by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on charges of also participating in the decades-long, multimillion-dollar corruption scheme that has thrown soccer’s world governing body into turmoil.
In Chicago, court records show that police officer Jason Van Dyke, who has been indicted for shooting African-American teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, may have also played a role in the cover-up of another fatal police shooting a decade ago. The family of Emmanuel Lopez says that in 2005, five Chicago police officers shot Lopez 16 times and then falsely claimed he had tried to run over an officer with his car. In a deposition, Van Dyke admitted that he copied the statements of his fellow police officers in order to corroborate their story. Lopez’s family has brought a lawsuit over the killing, which goes to trial in February.
A 22-year-old Moroccan refugee has died after being electrocuted by a border fence between Greece and Macedonia. The incident sparked protests by refugees stranded in Greece. The man was electrocuted Thursday. His charred body was later carried during a protest march. Human rights groups say he is the first refugee to be killed at the Greek-Macedonian border.
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, Israeli soldiers have shot and killed two Palestinians they say were involved in stabbing and wounding a soldier in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron Friday. The killings came one day after Israeli police in Jerusalem shot and killed two more Palestinians who they say had carried out nonfatal attacks on Israeli authorities. The latest killings bring the last two months’ death toll to at least 100 Palestinians and 19 Israelis. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities say they arrested several young people in connection with the July firebombing of a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank, which killed an 18-month-old child and his parents.
In Yemen, Doctors Without Borders has accused the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition of bombing its mobile clinic in Taiz, injuring nine people, including two staff members. Doctors Without Borders says it had provided the GPS coordinates of the clinic in advance. Wednesday’s bombing was the fourth attack on a Doctors Without Borders facility in recent weeks. In October, U.S. airstrikes leveled a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing at least 30 people, including 14 staff members.
In Somalia, a journalist was killed when a bomb planted under the seat of her car exploded Thursday. Hindia Haji Mohamed was a producer and reporter for the state-run media outlets Radio Mogadishu and Somali National TV. The Committee to Protect Journalists says she is the 25th journalist in Somalia to be killed for their work in the past five years. No one took responsibility for the bombing, but the committee says journalists for state-run media outlets are often targeted by militants. Her late husband, journalist Liban Ali Nur, also worked for Radio Mogadishu and Somali National TV before he was murdered in 2012.
In Ecuador, protests have erupted in Quito after the National Assembly approved controversial constitutional reforms that permit the indefinite re-election of public officials, including the president. The reforms also grant the military increased power and strip away some collective bargaining rights for unionized public workers. At the protest, opposition lawmaker Ramiro Aguilar called for the measures to be put to a national referendum.
Ramiro Aguilar: “The decision is not to validate—not with presence, nor with our votes—this spurious process that started in the Constitutional Court, the Constitutional Court which is controlled by the government. And so, we will stand firm, democratic, but in absolute respect of the popular decision based on a referendum.”
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has vowed not to seek re-election in 2017.
In West Virginia, former coal company CEO Don Blankenship has been found guilty of a conspiracy to violate federal mine safety laws in a trial over the 2010 explosion at a Massey Energy coal mine that killed 29 workers. It was the worst coal disaster in the United States in 40 years. Blankenship was acquitted of the more serious charges of lying to regulators and investors. The conspiracy charge is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum prison sentence of one year. He is expected to be sentenced in March.
Here in Paris, a group of mayors from around the world have issued an open letter calling on cities to divest from fossil fuels. The mayors represent a dozen cities, from Portland, Oregon, to Oslo, Norway, to Moreland City, Australia. All of the mayors who have signed the letter have already committed to either fully or partially divesting the city’s investments and pension funds from fossil fuels. They are part of a global movement in which more than 500 institutions with $3.4 trillion in assets have committed to fossil fuel divestment.