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Egypt has opened a new front in the war against the Islamic State. On Monday, Egyptian warplanes bombed northeastern Libya after Cairo vowed to avenge the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, shown in an ISIS video. Egypt says it hit ISIS sites “precisely.” But at least seven civilians, including three children, were reportedly killed in the coastal city of Derna. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, meanwhile, called for a U.N. resolution to launch a global coalition to intervene in Libya.
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: “What is going on in Libya could change this country into a breeding ground that will threaten the whole region, and not only Egypt. Egypt, the Mediterranean basin and Europe have to deal with this problem because the mission was unaccomplished, was unfinished by our European friends. We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias.”
The U.S.-led coalition, meanwhile, launched 15 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria on Sunday and Monday.
In Pakistan, at least seven people have been killed in the suicide bombing of a police headquarters in the eastern city of Lahore. A Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility, saying the attack was revenge for Pakistan’s execution of its colleagues.
In breaking news from eastern Ukraine, Russian-backed separatists claim to have seized control of the key city of Debaltseve. Fierce fighting has raged in the area despite a ceasefire agreement.
Talks between Greece and its European creditors have collapsed amid disagreement over the future of German-backed austerity. The Greek Syriza party was elected on a promise to roll back the devastating austerity measures in Greece’s international bailout. At talks in Brussels, Greek negotiators rejected a deal to extend the terms of the current bailout. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said he had tried to negotiate.
Yanis Varoufakis: “We were offering to refrain from effectively implementing our own program, the program that we were elected to implement, for a period of six months. And all we were getting back was a nebulous promise of some flexibility that was never specified. Under those circumstances, ladies and gentlemen, it proved impossible for the Greek government, despite our infinite goodwill, to sign the offered communiqué. And so the discussions continue.”
The breakdown has raised fears Greece may be on the verge of leaving the eurozone. The talks in Brussels came after some 20,000 people rallied in Athens to support Syriza’s stance against austerity.
A CSX train carrying more than 100 cars of crude oil has derailed in West Virginia, sending a massive fireball into the sky and forcing 1,000 people to evacuate. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a state of emergency. At least 14 tankers and a house caught fire, and at least one car went into the Kanawha River, where it was leaking oil. The train was transporting oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota, where a fracking boom has increased oil-by-rail shipments more than 4,000 percent in recent years. The incident came after another oil train derailed in Ontario, Canada, Saturday night, sparking a fire that was still burning on Monday.
Secretary of Labor Tom Perez is due in California today for talks aimed at ending a contract dispute between shipping companies and union dockworkers. For days, the shipping firms have partially shut down activity at 29 West Coast ports handling nearly half of all U.S. maritime trade, after accusing workers of waging a slowdown. But union officials deny the slowdown and blame backups on the companies. The dispute has left dozens of container ships idling off the coast.
A federal judge in Texas has blocked President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. In November, Obama outlined programs aimed at providing relief from deportation to as many as five million people. But Texas and 25 other states sued to oppose the measures. Two days before the first of the programs was due to start taking applications, Judge Andrew Hanen blocked them.
A new probe finds the National Security Agency has embedded spying devices deep inside hard drives in computers around the world. The Russian firm Kaspersky Lab says it uncovered the spyware in personal computers across 30 countries, from Iran, Russia, Pakistan and Libya, to China, Belgium, Ecuador and the United States. The targets include government institutions, oil and gas firms, Islamic activists and scholars, and the media.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Danish Embassy in Paris to express solidarity with Denmark over the weekend attacks on a free speech event and a synagogue. The Danish ambassador to France, Anne Dorte Riggelsen, said the feelings are similar to those that followed last month’s attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.
Anne Dorte Riggelsen: “It’s really moving, because what I feel is that everyone feels Danish, like we all felt French, Charlie, cop, Jew. And this solidarity, that’s almost physical and corporeal, is very, very important for my country, for my people, because today we are in mourning.”
Danish authorities have arrested two people accused of assisting the Copenhagen gunman, Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, who was shot dead by police.
A North Carolina grand jury has indicted Craig Hicks on three counts of murder for killing three Muslim students in Chapel Hill. Police have claimed the shooting stemmed from a parking dispute, but the victims’ family has said it was clearly a hate crime. In a statement, Nihad Awad, head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, “This case is quickly becoming a touchstone for the American-Muslim community’s sense of security and inclusion.”
Authorities in Houston, Texas, have arrested a homeless man for setting a fire at an Islamic center last week. Officials say Darryl Ferguson approached officers and admitted to starting the fire. He told reporters it was an accident.
In Detroit, a federal judge has rejected a bid for a new trial from a Palestinian activist convicted of immigration fraud. Rasmea Odeh was found guilty of concealing her conviction on bombing charges by an Israeli military court more than 40 years ago. She says her confession to the bombings was obtained through torture and sexual assault in Israeli custody. Supporters say she was targeted by U.S. authorities because of her prominent support for Palestinian liberation. She faces up to 10 years in prison and deportation at her sentencing next month.
The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the family of Rachel Corrie, the U.S. activist crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza nearly 12 years ago, as she tried to protect a Palestinian home from demolition. Corrie’s parents had sued the Israeli Ministry of Defense for a symbolic $1 in damages. But a lower court cleared the military of responsibility, saying Corrie’s death had taken place in a “war zone.” Last week, the Supreme Court upheld that decision. The Corrie family said in a statement: “We had hoped for a different outcome, though we have come to see through this experience how deeply all of Israel’s institutions are implicated in the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military.”
Amnesty International has renewed its call for Louisiana to release the longest-serving U.S. prisoner in solitary confinement. Former Black Panther Albert Woodfox’s conviction has been overturned three times, and in November an appeals court upheld the latest court order for his release. But last week, a Louisiana grand jury re-indicted Woodfox for the 1972 murder of a prison guard. He and the late Herman Wallace, another member of the Angola 3, said they were framed for their political activism. In a statement, Amnesty International called for Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to “stop pursuing a campaign of vengeance by trying to re-indict a man who has already spent more than four decades in cruel confinement, after a legal process tainted with flaws.” Woodfox turns 68 this Thursday.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is preparing for his final day in office Wednesday after announcing he would step down amid a public corruption probe. Since Oregon does not have a lieutenant governor, Secretary of State Kate Brown will take his place, becoming the first openly bisexual governor in U.S. history.
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