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In a rare live speech from the Oval Office Sunday night, President Obama called Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, an act of terrorism. The shooting killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center, a facility that provides services to people with disabilities. Obama said, in response, he would increase airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, even though he acknowledged there was “no evidence” that ISIS had directed the attack.
President Obama: “So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home.”
Obama also cautioned against Islamophobia and vowed not to get pulled into a ground war in Iraq or Syria.
President Obama: “We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want.”
We’ll get response from Nicolas Hénin, a French journalist who was held hostage by ISIS for 10 months, later in the broadcast.
In London, police are investigating Saturday’s knife attack on a man at an East London metro station as a terrorist attack. The police say they were told the attacker shouted, “This is for Syria.” Richard Walton, counterterrorism police chief, said the attacker’s motives are still unknown.
Richard Walton: “It’s too early to be absolutely certain about the motives for this attack. Obviously, the Counter Terrorism Command is investigating it. We’ve got a number of lines of inquiry, and we’re pursuing this investigation with some speed to determine what happened, how it happened, and particularly the motive that lies behind the attack.”
In Syria, dozens of people have died in airstrikes over the weekend. Syrian government airstrikes killed at least 14 people in Douma and Aleppo. U.S.-led airstrikes have killed at least three Syrian government soldiers in Damascus, according to Assad’s government. U.S.-led strikes have also killed more than 30 people in Raqqa who the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says were ISIS fighters. Meanwhile, the Observatory says that since September 30, Russian airstrikes have killed more than 400 civilians, including nearly 100 children.
In France, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, the National Front, secured 30 percent of the vote in the first round of regional elections on Sunday, marking a major boost for the anti-immigration party. One poll showed the party coming in first place in at least six out of France’s 13 regions. Recent polls have shown anti-immigration parties gaining support across Europe, including in Austria, Czech Republic, Holland, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland.
Meanwhile, in Venezuela, the right-wing opposition party seized a majority in the National Assembly for the first time in years, winning 99 out of the 167 seats in Sunday’s elections. The ruling socialist party won only 46 seats. President Nicolás Maduro accepted the election results, saying they did not signal an end to the Bolivarian revolution that began when Hugo Chávez was elected in 1999.
Here at the U.N. climate change summit in Paris, France, negotiators have approved draft text for what they hope will form an accord to curb global carbon emissions by the end of this week. The lengthy document still contains more than 900 square brackets to signify areas of disagreement that still need to be resolved. Contentious issues include financing for developing countries, the precise carbon emission reduction targets, and whether or not the text will outline different responsibilities for developing and developed countries. We’ll have more on the COP21 later in the broadcast.
Ten thousand people marched in the Belgian city of Ostend on Sunday, calling for an ambitious accord at the U.N. climate summit. Hundreds more people also marched Saturday in the eastern suburbs of Paris. Protests are still banned in downtown Paris and the area surrounding the U.N. climate summit itself.
In India, the air force has resumed rescue operations in the southern state of Tamil Nadu as heavy rains and flooding continue. The state is experiencing the worst flooding in a century, which has killed more than 250 people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has blamed the flooding on climate change. This comes as Britain has also mobilized the army to respond to heavy flooding in the hard-hit northwest town of Cumbria. Local officials say it’s the worst flooding they’ve ever seen.
Off the coast of Azerbaijan, 32 people have died after an offshore oil platform went up in flames in the Caspian Sea Saturday. The rig is operated by Azerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR. The fire started after heavy winds damaged a gas pipeline on the platform. A severe storm hampered rescue operations.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Republican front-runner Donald Trump ended a campaign speech and walked off stage after protesters interrupted him 10 separate times. Some of the protesters chanted “All Lives Will Matter When Black Lives Matter.” Others called on Trump to “Stop the Hate.” Trump repeatedly stopped his speech to respond to the protests.
Donald Trump: “These are not people. Just remember that. Oh, here’s another one. Here’s another one. Look at this guy. Get him out!”
The Justice Department is expected to launch a wide-ranging investigation into the Chicago Police Department, following protests over the police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by white police officer Jason Van Dyke more than a year ago. Dash cam video, only recently released by court order, clearly contradicts police claims about the shooting, showing the teenager posing no threat and walking away from the officers at a distance as Officer Van Dyke jumps out of his police car and opens fire. The controversy has ousted the Chicago police chief and led to growing calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation.
In Australia, an immigration lawyer has posted an open letter signed by hundreds of asylum seekers imprisoned at the Manus Island detention center on an Australian naval base in Papua New Guinea calling for mass assisted suicide by gas chamber, poison injection or being dumped at sea. An asylum seeker said he wrote the open letter because detention authorities recently told him and others that no country in the world would accept them. He said, “So when we found out they will keep doing this and we will be experiencing gradual death for the rest of our lives in here, why not ask them to execute us instead?”
And former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says his recent brain scan showed no signs of cancer. The 91-year-old Carter has been undergoing treatment for liver cancer that had spread to his brain. He revealed his cancer-free scan just before teaching Sunday school class at a Baptist church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia.
Jimmy Carter: “When I went this week, they didn’t find any cancer at all, so I have good news. So a lot of people prayed for me, and I appreciate that. So that’s what we’ve been doing, but I wanted to tell you the good news because that happened this week.”