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Nov. 28 2015 1:22 PM

France Uses Emergency Laws to Place Climate Activists Under House Arrest

At least 24 activists who advocate for climate change have been placed under house arrest ahead of the highly anticipated United Nations talks in Paris. France used emergency laws that were implemented after the Paris shootings to arrest the green campaigners, the French government confirmed on Saturday. Earlier, the Guardian had reported the news, noting that the warrants delivered to the activists cited state of emergency laws that were imposed after 130 people were killed in terrorist attacks earlier this month.

Author and activist Naomi Klein, said French leaders are carrying out “a gross abuse of power that risks turning the summit into a farce.” Hearing the voice of activists is important at an event where lots of world leaders will be present, she added. “Climate summits are not photo opportunities to boost the popularity of politicians,” she told the Guardian. “Given the stakes of the climate crisis, they are by their nature highly contested. That is democracy, messy as it may be. The French government, under cover of anti-terrorism laws, seems to be trying to avoid this, shamefully banning peaceful demonstrations and using emergency powers to pre-emptively detain key activists.”


French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve insisted the activits were planning to carry out violent protests at the talks. "These 24 people have been placed under house arrest because they have been violent during demonstrations in the past and because they have said they would not respect the state of emergency," Cazeneuve said in a speech, according to Reuters.

It’s not that the French government thinks green campaigners are tantamount to terrorists, but rather that their actions could distract law enforcement from the most important task. "These people have no connection at all with the terrorist movement, but our forces need to be totally focused on the protection of the French people," Cazeneuve added.

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Nov. 28 2015 12:36 PM

Republican Congressman Blasts Planned Parenthood on TV During Shooting

While police officers were still engaging with the shooter at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on Friday, one Republican lawmaker apparently thought the best thing to do was criticize the organization during an interview on CNN. “We saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concern about,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger said. He was, of course, referring to the widely discredited videos that claim to show Planned Parenthood executives profiting from harvesting fetal tissue.

Kinzinger also criticized Planned Parenthood for issuing a statement on the incident that broadly criticized “extremists” and “a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism.” The Illinois lawmaker said the statement was irresponsible.


“When I heard that statement, I thought that was very premature. We may find out this person was targeting Planned Parenthood. If we find out he was not targeting Planned Parenthood, I would fully expect an apology from the Planned Parenthood director for saying that,” he said. And almost in the same breath, Kinzinger seems to know a lot about the gunman: “Obviously this is a person that has a mental health issue that is to some level psychotic and crazy.” If it turns out that he is targeting the organization, the gunman “has taken a legitimate disagreement with the practice and turned it into an evil response.”

Many were quick to blast not only Kinzinger but also CNN for inviting a known Planned Parenthood critic while police were still trying to apprehend the gunman.

Nov. 28 2015 11:26 AM

Obama Calls for More Gun Control After Planned Parenthood Shooting: “Enough is Enough”

President Obama is once again responding to a mass shooting with calls for increased gun control. "This is not normal. We can't let it become normal," Obama said in a statement. “If we truly care about this—if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience—then 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.”

Obama released his call for more gun control a day after a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs killed three people, including one police officer. The Colorado Springs Police Department confirmed on Saturday morning that the gunman was Robert Lewis Dear, 57, of North Carolina. He is being held behind bars without a bond until a court appearance Monday, according to ABC News. Jail records did not list charges against Dear.


Dear apparently surrendered to police after he realized he was cornered and had nowhere to go, reports CBS News. He is now reportedly cooperating with law enforcement.

Police have released little information about Dear beyond his name so the motive for the shooting remains far from clear. Although Planned Parenthood recognized there is still a lot of information missing, it also did not hesitate to draw a link between anti-abortion rhetoric and terrorist action against reproductive health centers. "We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement.

Dear spent some of his time in a North Carolina cabin with no electricity or running water. His neighbors say he wasn’t very talkative and when he did speak it didn’t quite seem like he was fully there. "If you talked to him, nothing with him was very cognitive—topics all over place," James Russell tells the Associated Press.

Nov. 28 2015 9:55 AM

Support for Trump Plunges 12 Points: Did The Donald Finally Go Too Far?

Donald Trump is still the frontrunner in the GOP presidential contest but support among Republicans has plunged 12 percentage points in less than a week, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll. The drop, which marks the sharpest plunge since Trump became the frontrunner in July, means the real estate mogul was the top choice for 31 percent of Republicans, down from 43 percent on Nov. 22.

Trump’s decline was measured in a five-day rolling poll that ended on Nov. 27. Whether it actually means anything remains to be seen considering Trump has dropped in polls before only to bounce back again. But it’s difficult to ignore that this latest plunge comes shortly after Trump seems to have taken his hateful rhetoric to new highs. After the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, for example, Trump said he would back requiring all Muslims in the United States to register in a database. He was also roundly criticized for mocking a New York Times reporter who has a disability.


Trump is not alone in seeing his support dwindle. Ben Carson also appears to be falling out of favor, dropping to a distant second place with 15-percent support. The retired neurosurgeon was once six points away from Trump. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, meanwhile, are tied for third place with eight percent each.

If his controversial statements did cause Trump’s poll numbers to decline, it would pretty much be a first. After all, Trump started his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists, proceeded to mock John McCain’s war record, made fun of a journalist by referring to her menstruation, and even mocked Iowans for being dumb. And none of that hurt his frontrunner status. The Washington Post’s Phillip Bump writes:

It's certainly possible that Trump will say or do something that finally turns most Republicans against him. But by now, it seems unlikely. Trump has literally called voters stupid and seen his poll numbers rise. By now, mocking or insulting people of whom voters are already skeptical seems like a pretty safe bet.

Nov. 27 2015 10:45 PM

Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Shooting: Three Killed, Nine Injured

UPDATE: After a five-hour standoff, police arrested a gunman who opened fire inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic in an attack that left three people dead and injured nine others. The dead included one police officer for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who joined the city police in responding to the first reports of shots fired. The nine people who were injured with gunshot wounds, including five police officers, are all in good condition.

There is almost no information about the man—wearing a white T-shirt and with a white beard—who was arrested and taken out of the clinic after the standoff. The suspect apparently told the police officers he acted alone, reports the Denver Post. Three sources tell CBS News the suspect is Robert Lewis Dear, 59. Investigators still don’t know the motive of the attack. "To even speculate on a motive would not be reasonable,” a police spokesman said. In a statement, Planned Parenthood urged caution, noting that it was still not clear whether the clinic was the target:


Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record. We don't yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don't yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack. We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.

The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic seems to have been particularly sensitive to safety issues as it had been a target of repeated protests in the past. It had recently moved to a new location that critics said was a “fortress,” notes Reuters. Two months ago, the FBI warned reproductive health providers were likely to see an increase in attacks amid a heated debate in Washington and across the country about funding for Planned Parenthood, reports CBS News.

The shooting in Colorado comes at a time when there has been an increase in violence against women’s health clinics and abortion providers. It’s hardly a coincidence that this spike in violence has coincided with an increase in legislative rhetoric by politicians against abortion and abortion providers, David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon wrote in Slate earlier this year. NARAL Pro-Choice America has called on the media to begin reporting attacks against abortion providers as domestic terrorism, noted Nora Caplan-Bricker last month.

Hostages are escorted to safety during an active shooter situation outside a Planned Parenthood facility on November 27, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Original post at 5:26 p.m.: At least four police officers and an unknown number of civilians were injured Friday afternoon when a gunman opened fire inside a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Commander Kirk Wilson told KKTV that the situation was contained. But that information was contradicted by a different police spokesperson, Lt. Catherine Buckley, who said it was “very much an active situation” because law enforcement “can’t confirm where the shooter is at this point.”

Police engaged with the shooter inside the Planned Parenthood health center and are receiving gunfire. Buckley did not discard the possibility of hostages. "There is that possibility,” Buckley said. “There are a lot of possibilities with this scenario.” The gunman, however, does not appear to have made any demands. “We do not know about this person’s mentality or ideology,” Buckley added.

Planned Parenthood has not said whether the shooting began inside its health center but police say that’s where the initial call to police came from. The manager at a nearby hair salon told the Associated Press that she heard as many as 20 shots in a span of less than five minutes.

Nov. 27 2015 10:26 AM

Black Friday: Watch a Woman Steal From a Child and Shoppers Punch Each Other

Here it is folks. The annual tradition of sitting in front of a computer after Thanksgiving to feel smugly superior to all the people who stood in line for hours to get that special sale on televisions—and vegetable steamers, apparently—has arrived. In one of the first videos to make the rounds, we can see people literally tripping over each other to get to a pile of vegetable steamers. Amid all the chaos, one woman simply decides to take one of the steamers directly from a kid’s hands. A fight obviously ensues. Some, however, immediately raised questions about the video’s authenticity, saying it was a bit too good to be true. The anonymous YouTube user who uploaded the video did not specify where the alleged video was shot.

Whether it’s real or not, it’s hardly the only case of consumerism running amok on Black Friday. Chaos over a sale on televisions led one man at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas to take a swing at a cop.


Also in El Paso, at what may very well have been the same sale, two women came to blows over a television.

Daamm chaos at walmart in the northeast El Paso, Texas by the Street Fredwilson

Posted by Adolfo E. Arzaga on Thursday, November 26, 2015

There were also two videos from Kentucky making the rounds on social media Friday morning. At a mall in Louisville, Kentucky on Thanksgiving night, shoppers punched each other—and knocked a woman to the floor—as they fought in a packed food court.

A second video showed a fight at a mall in Florence, Kentucky. In both videos people can be heard shouting "World Star," in reference to a website that compiles fight videos.

Nov. 27 2015 8:46 AM

Donald Trump Denies Mocking Reporter, Accuses him of “Grandstanding” on Disability

Donald Trump is not giving up. Instead of apologizing for what was his obvious mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski during a speech earlier this week, the real estate mogul is now insisting he has no idea what the journalist looks like. “I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovalski is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence,” Trump said in a statement. “I don’t know if he is J.J. Watt or Muhammad Ali in his prime — or somebody of less athletic or physical ability.” The Republican presidential hopeful apparently knows so little about the reporter who has a congenital condition called arthrogryposis that limits joint movement that he spelled his last name wrong.

Trump seemed to clearly mock Kovaleski’s condition during a speech in South Carolina on Tuesday. “Now, the poor guy — you've got to see this guy, ‘Ah, I don't know what I said! I don't remember!'” Trump said as he flailed his arms in front of his body and distorted his speech. In his statement, Trump said he was simply making fun of the way the reporter was trying to "pull away from" something he had written more than a decade ago.  


Kovaleski insists it is ridiculous for Trump to claim he doesn’t know what he looks like when the two met repeatedly. The reporter covered Trump extensively during the 1980s when he worked for the New York Daily News. “Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years,” Kovaleski told the Times. “I’ve interviewed him in his office.”

Trump, however, said Kovaleski must have a huge ego if he believes a man as important as him would remember a lowly journalist. “Serge Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago—if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did,” Trump said. “He should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes.”

Trump never mentioned Kovaleski by name in South Carolina as he defended previous claims that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The assertions have been widely denied. Trump has pointed to an article by Kovaleski, who was working for the Washington Post back then, about authorities in New Jersey detaining a number of people for allegedly celebrating. In an interview with CNN this week, Kovaleski said that he did not remember “anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating.”

Journalists and activists for people with disabilities quickly criticized Trump for his comments. “We think it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,” a Times spokesman told Politico. Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Family Foundation called on Trump to apologize. “It is unacceptable for a child to mock another child's disability on the playground, never mind a presidential candidate mocking someone's disability as part of a national political discourse,” he said.

Nov. 25 2015 9:45 PM

Obama Admin. Sends Reminder to States: You Don’t Have the Authority to Reject Syrian Refugees

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks earlier this month, dozens of state governments in the U.S., the vast majority of which are led by Republican governors, declared their states closed to Syrian refugees. As Slate’s Josh Keating pointed out at the time: "It’s hard to imagine a more heartbreakingly ironic fate than fleeing violence in your home country only to be vilified for violence perpetrated by some of the same people you were fleeing." On Wednesday, the Obama administration sent a helpful reminder to state officials across the country that they don’t actually have the authority to refuse refugees and doing so would be illegal.

The notice came in the form of a letter from the Office of Refugee Resettlement that serves as a reminder that states may not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, and, most importantly, religion or country of origin. “States that do not comply with the requirement would be breaking the law and could be subject to enforcement action, including suspension or termination of the federally funded program, according to the letter, signed by the director of the federal resettlement office, Robert Carey,” the Associated Press reports.


Three are some 4 million Syrian refugees that have fled and are living outside of the country; most of the refugees live in either Turkey or Jordan, far and away the two largest state recipients. The numbers that have made it to the U.S. are microscopic in comparison: Some 2,200 Syrian refugees have been allowed in the U.S. over the last four years and the Obama administration committed to allowing another 10,000 to resettle in the country before the Paris attacks spooked public opinion and galvanized G.O.P. presidential candidates. “A spokeswoman in the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the resettlement office, said 49 states and the District of Columbia have refugee resettlement programs,” according to the AP. “Wyoming does not have a refugee resettlement program.”

Nov. 25 2015 6:58 PM

ISIS Claims Tunisia Bombing That Killed 12 Members of Presidential Guard

ISIS claimed responsibility on Wednesday for another deadly terrorist strike in a recent string of attacks, this time in Tunisia. The attack took place on Tuesday on a bus carrying presidential guards in the capital of Tunis when a suicide bomber detonated what is believed to be a backpack or a belt, killing 12 officers. Officials say the explosives likely came into the country from Libya.

“An unnamed official with the union representing the presidential guard told the popular Radio Mosaïque FM that witnesses had seen a young man trying to board the bus ahead of others and that when he was confronted, he detonated his bomb,” according to the New York Times. Here’s more from the Times on what is the third major attack by militants in the country so far this year:

The blast, which also wounded 20 others, prompted the government to declare a state of emergency, temporarily close the airport and tourist sites and impose a curfew. Officials also closed Tunisia’s southern border with Libya for 15 days beginning on Wednesday… Tunisia is the lone country that, after the Arab Spring uprisings, established a genuine democratic transition by adopting a new Constitution in 2013 and holding its first national presidential elections in 2014. But the transition has been marred by attacks by extremist Islamist groups, including two this year that killed more than 60 people at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis and at a resort hotel in Sousse, about 87 miles south of Tunis. Many of the victims were foreign tourists.

Nov. 25 2015 5:31 PM

In Worst News Dump Ever, U.S. General Explains Cause of Doctors Without Borders Airstrike

In what amounted to a ridiculous Thanksgiving news dump, U.S. officials issued an explanation on Wednesday for last month’s U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan that killed 30 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital. Ultimately, Gen. John Campbell, the top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said the attack was a matter of American military personnel firing on the wrong target.

More from CNN:

The October 3 mission had several technical and human errors, several administration officials acknowledge. A U.S. military fact-finding investigation into the incident detailed the mistakes and revealed that the U.S. aircraft targeted the wrong facility.
"The proximate cause of this tragedy was the direct result of avoidable human error, compounded by process and equipment failures," Campbell told reporters in Kabul Wednesday.
"U.S. forces would never intentionally (strike) a hospital" or other protected sites, he said.
The report determined that U.S. forces directly involved in the airstrike did not know the compound targeted was the Doctors Without Borders hospital, and that the facility was misidentified as a target by U.S. personnel who believed they were striking a nearby building where there were reports of insurgents taking shelter.

The personnel most closely involved in the accidental strike have been suspended and are awaiting an adjudication process, Campbell announced.

CNN reports that an official familiar with Campbell’s thinking says that he feels further disciplinary action may be warranted. Campbell could discipline the military personnel involved himself, or leave such punishment to the various military services to which each service member belonged.