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- Many House Republicans want refugee restrictions in spending bill
By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly one-third of the Republicans in the House of Representatives signed a letter calling on party leaders to ensure that a must-pass spending bill block any use of federal funding to resettle refugees from Syria and nearby countries, the bill's sponsor said on Tuesday. Seventy-four of the 246 House Republicans signed the letter, which was circulated by Republican Representative Brian Babin. It urges Speaker Paul Ryan and other House leaders to include a provision in an upcoming appropriations bill that would block President Barack Obama's plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year.
- U.S., France agree to scale up fight against Islamic State
By John Irish and Julia Edwards WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and France agreed on Tuesday to ramp up military operations against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and coordinate intelligence on domestic threats following the worst attacks to hit France since World War Two. Relations between the two allies over Syrian policy have been strained since August 2013 when U.S. President Barack Obama canceled a plan to strike Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces over the use of chemical weapons. French warplanes were ready on the runway when the word came from Washington that Obama had decided against action.
- Clinton wins another union endorsement in U.S. presidential race
By Alana Wise WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Hillary Clinton on Tuesday won the endorsement of the 500,000-member Laborers' International Union of North America, bolstering her lead for the party's nomination in the November 2016 presidential race. “LIUNA members and leadership believe that Secretary Clinton is the right leader to move our country forward and the most qualified candidate to address the many challenges facing the United States,” the union, which represents construction workers and public service employees, said in a statement. "Secretary Clinton’s record proves that she is a tough and tested fighter for our nation and for working men and women." The latest endorsement boosts the former U.S. secretary of state's hold on Democratic support over her closest rival, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has struggled to lock down major union support despite longstanding ties with the labor movement.
- Trump lawyer warns Republicans about Super PAC attack ads
Donald Trump's presidential campaign warned the Republican Party on Tuesday about donors pooling funds for attack ads, saying Republicans must treat him fairly if they want to keep him from launching an independent bid. Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told CNN that if Republican donors backing different presidential candidates come together for an anti-Trump advertising campaign, it would be a "bad, bad decision." The Super PAC planning the attack is New Day for America, which is supporting Ohio Governor John Kasich's presidential bid.
- US Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise An estimated 2.4 million Americans used prescription drugs nonmedically for the first time in 2010, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). And most abusers start the habit in their teenage years.
- Data Visualizations: Police Officers Feloniously Killed in the Line of Duty Statistics released by the FBI show that 51 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2014, which has increased almost 89 percent when compared to the 27 officers killed in 2013. The 2013 total, 27, was the lowest during s 35-year period. By region, 17 officers died as a result of criminal acts that occurred in the South, 14 officers in the West, eight officers in the Midwest, eight in the Northeast, and four in Puerto Rico. The following visualizations show a map of the number of officers feloniously killed by state over time and a bar chart of officers feloniously killed by year.
- Data Visualizations: A Look at Fatal Police Shootings Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Tamir Rice, the Cleveland boy who was shot by a white police officer while he was carrying a toy pellet gun. Vigils were held in Cleveland and other cities to commemorate the 12-year-old black boy.
- Tension Rise After Five Shot Near Black Lives Matter Protest In Minneapolis Five people were shot by unidentified suspects today at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis. The protest was sparked by the police shooting and killing of Jamar Clark on November 15. Police say that none of the five injuries that were sustained are life-threatening. This story is unfolding at the same time as news is being released that a Chicago police officer is expected to face murder charges in the shooting of Laquan McDonald, leading some community leaders to believe that Chicago will be experiencing protests similar to those in Minneapolis. The following visualizations show a breakdown of racial hate crimes by victim group, a racial breakdown of people killed by police, a map of people killed by police by state and a poll showing police attitudes towards abuse of authority.
- Canada to Bring in 10,000 Syrian Refugees, Push Back Deadline for 25,000 The Canadian government announced today that it will be pushing back its deadline for bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees, and will only be able to bring in 10,000 by the end of the year. The rest will be brought in by the end of February, according to the Associated Press. The following visualizations show the number of asylum seekers in Canada over time, as well as to show maps of where Syrian refugees are being relocated to and where Canada's refugees come from.
- Paris Ringleader Planned Another Attack on Major Business District for Days Later, Prosecutor Says
The suspected ringleader of the deadly Paris terror attacks planned to strike again on a major business district in the city's metropolitan area just days later, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said today. Molins also released further details on the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 dead, including how Abaaoud and another man came back to the scene of the attacks later that night.
- Police Searching for 'Dangerous' Man Seen With Fugitive Salah Abdeslam Days Before Paris Attacks
Authorities in Belgium and France are looking for a man Belgian authorities say was seen with suspected Paris attacker and fugitive Salah Abdeslam two days before the massacre. Mohamed Abrini, 30, was caught on camera at a gas station with Abdeslam on Nov. 11, two days before the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Belgian authorities said. Abrini was driving a Renault Clio that was used two days later to commit the attacks in Paris, authorities said.
- Al Qaeda Agent Convicted in Shopping Mall Plot Gets 40 Years
An al Qaeda operative convicted of planning to bomb a U.K. shopping mall and accused of working with men who conspired to attack the New York City subway was sentenced to 40 years in prison today in a Brooklyn court, federal officials said. Abid Naseer, a Pakistani national, was found guilty on three terror-related charges, including conspiracy to use a destructive device, in March.
- Juror rebels at NY Assembly speaker's trial NEW YORK (AP) — Deliberations in the corruption trial of ex-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver began with drama on Tuesday when a juror wrote a note saying she wanted off the case because she was at odds with other jurors and, after the day ended without a verdict, asked in a second note to meet privately with the judge.
- New Jersey's Chris Christie: Obama 'naive' on IS threat
- Obama and Hollande pledge solidarity against Islamic State
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a show of Western solidarity, President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande vowed Tuesday to escalate airstrikes against the Islamic State and bolster intelligence sharing following the deadly attacks in Paris. They called on Russia to join the international efforts, but only if Moscow ends its support for Syria's embattled president.
- Opponents ask high court to block Native Hawaiian vote count
HONOLULU (AP) — Opponents of an election designed to be a significant step toward Native Hawaiian self-governance are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block votes from being counted in what they argue is an unconstitutional, racially exclusive process.
- Republican campaign rhetoric has Muslim-Americans on edge
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Muslim-Americans who sued the New York Police Department over a surveillance program launched after 9/11 say calls from the Republican presidential campaign to put them under more scrutiny are recklessly seizing on public fears and distressing Muslims in the U.S.
- Auto-dealing congressman draws complaint Congressman who offered amendment exempting dealerships from safety regulation draws ethics complaint.
- Watchdog asks for criminal probe of conservatives tied to nonprofit Letter alleges trio misled election authorities over involvement with organization.
- Mysterious pro-Mitch McConnell group bankrolled by megadonors Kentucky Opportunity Coalition raised more money than Kentucky Republican’s challenger, new documents show.
- Vanuatu president calls snap election: report
Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale has dissolved parliament and called a snap election after a corruption scandal destabilised the government, local media reported Wednesday. Lonsdale addressed the nation late Tuesday, calling the situation a "man-made disaster", the Vanuatu Post reported. It said the president announced he was using his constitutional powers to dissolve parliament and call an election on a date yet to be set.
- Under junta rule, Thailand pivots towards China
For the last two weeks Thai and Chinese planes have been taking part in the inaugural joint air force drill, an exercise culminating later this week with a performance by Beijing's acrobatic air team. For Group Captain Chanon Mungthanya, a Royal Thai Air Force spokesman involved in the drill at Korat, it is a valuable opportunity to interact with his Chinese counterparts. Historically, Thailand has been one of Washington's staunchest military allies in Southeast Asia and could have expected to see that relationship blossom under US President Barack Obama's "pivot" to Asia.
- China says Communist Party officials among Xinjiang attackers
Officials from China's ruling Communist Party have supported violent attacks in restive Xinjiang, a top regional official said in remarks highlighting internal opposition to tough local policies. China blames the violence on Islamist separatists but rights groups point to Beijing's own actions as a driver. Xu Hairong, the region's top anti-graft official, accused some local party members of participating in the unrest, pointing to a division in implementing Beijing's anti-separatist stance.
- Xi to bring no new concessions to Paris climate summit
China's President Xi Jinping will bring no new concessions to the negotiating table when he attends key UN climate change talks in Paris next week, a senior Chinese diplomat said Thursday. China pledged last year to peak carbon output by "around 2030" -- suggesting at least another decade of growing emissions. The Asian giant is estimated to have released nine to 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2013, nearly twice as much as the United States and around two and a half times the European Union figure.
- Tunisia declares state of emergency after deadly bus blast
Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a nationwide state of emergency and a curfew in the capital after a bomb attack on a presidential guard bus killed at least 12 people. A security source at the site said "most of the agents who were on the bus are dead" after the attack in Tunis, which has become a target of jihadist violence since the 2011 revolution. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, which a ministry official said also wounded 20 people when it went off on Mohamed V Avenue, just as this year's 26th Carthage Film Festival was in full swing.
- Tensions soar as Turkey shoots down Russian plane
Turkey shot down a Russian war plane on the Syrian border, sending tensions spiralling as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Ankara its "stab in the back" would have serious consequences. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance stood by member Turkey after the incident, but echoed appeals for calm from other world leaders as fears grow of clashes between coalition and Russian planes in the skies over Syria. "We stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO ally, Turkey," Stoltenberg said after an emergency meeting of all 28 members requested by Ankara.
- Hollande, Obama vow unity against IS, appeal to Russia
France and the United States pledged to step up the fight against the Islamic State group, urging Russia to throw its weight behind global efforts to resolve the four-year Syrian conflict. President Francois Hollande met his US counterpart Barack Obama at the White House as Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane dealt a severe blow to efforts to coordinate the fight against IS. Speaking 11 days after jihadists killed 130 people in the French capital, Hollande urged an "implacable" joint response to crush the group in Syria and Iraq.
- Chicago on edge after police shooting video
Racial tensions soared as officials released a graphic video of a police officer shooting a black teen, shortly after he was charged for the death. Crowds of demonstrators gathered for an organized protest in Chicago, but there were only small scuffles with law enforcement. Shot from an approaching cruiser, it shows McDonald run down the middle of the street towards a cruiser, hitch up his pants and then start to walk away from Van Dyke and his partner.
- Osborne sharpens axe for austerity spending plan
The finance minister will on Wednesday unveil budgets for government departments over the next five years, in a spending review expected to herald further austerity measures and bitter recriminations. George Osborne, a possible successor to Prime Minister David Cameron and his de facto deputy, is aiming to eliminate Britain's budget deficit and run a surplus by the end of the current parliament in 2020. "As a nation determined to live within our means, we are facing painful choices, and the hardest of decisions," he said last week, referring to the spending review.
- UK's Osborne sharpens axe for austerity spending plan
Britain's finance minister will on Wednesday unveil budgets for government departments over the next five years, in a spending review expected to herald further austerity measures and bitter recriminations. George Osborne, a possible successor to Prime Minister David Cameron and his de facto deputy, is aiming to eliminate Britain's budget deficit and run a surplus by the end of the current parliament in 2020. "As a nation determined to live within our means, we are facing painful choices, and the hardest of decisions," he said last week, referring to the spending review.
- Australia-led group wins $7 bn electricity deal over China bid
An Australia-led consortium of investment funds from Canada and the Middle East won the bid for electricity transmission network TransGrid Wednesday, beating a Chinese challenger in a deal worth Aus$10 billion (US$7.3 billion). China's State Grid was considered a frontrunner but the New South Wales state government said the strongest bid belonged to the locally led NSW Electricity Networks consortium. "The transaction will deliver gross proceeds of Aus$10.258 billion which will help fund a raft of infrastructure projects across the state," NSW Premier Mike Baird said in a statement.
- Kerry readies wide-ranging European tour
Secretary of State John Kerry sets out on a European tour, stopping in Paris for a week for a UN climate summit, before heading to a NATO meet and traveling across the continent. Kerry will be joining US President Barack Obama at the 12-day, 195-nation UN climate forum. World powers are negotiating a universal pact to cap global warming at two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above mid-19th century levels, and lock in financial support for poor and vulnerable countries most exposed to rising seas, superstorms and crippling drought.
- 'No specific, credible threat' to US from IS: White House
President Barack Obama's national security team believes there is "no specific, credible threat" to the United States from Islamic State, the White House said, amid stepped up coalition strikes on the extremist group. Obama convened his National Security Council to discuss the recent string of attacks by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which claims it has created a caliphate taking in huge swathes of Iraq and Syria. Washington and Paris have stepped up their fight against IS, with France launching its first strikes from a newly deployed aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean and the United States calling for more international cooperation against the group.
- LatAm states fail to find solution for Cuban migrants
Latin American ministers failed in two rounds of meetings to find a solution for thousands of US-bound Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica, the foreign minister of that country said. "One country, Nicaragua... blocked the possibility of reaching a reasonable agreement," Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez told reporters as he left the talks in El Salvador. The impasse means that nearly 3,000 Cubans aiming to travel through Central America to get to the United States remain stuck in Costa Rica.
- UN staffer killed in Mali attack on peacekeeping convoy
A UN employee was killed Tuesday in an attack on a peacekeeping convoy in northern Mali, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. Northern Mali fell under the control of Tuareg rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in mid-2012 before they were beaten back by a French-led operation in early 2013. Two separate jihadist groups have claimed responsibility for the assault on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Friday: the Al-Murabitoun group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate led by notorious one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and the Macina Liberation Front (LWF) from central Mali.
- Developing-nation climate-adaptation cost to hit $790B a year
Developing countries could face a bill of $790 billion (741 billion euros) per year by 2050 for adapting to climate change, anti-poverty agency Oxfam said Wednesday. Carbon-curbing pledges which form the cornerstone of a climate rescue pact to be sealed at a UN summit opening in Paris next week are insufficient, it said in a report. Unless much more is done, developing nations will end up spending about 50 percent more on climate adaptation by mid-century than they would under a 2 C scenario, the report said.
- One killed as hostage standoff ends in French town
French police killed one man after his heavily armed group took the family of a bank manager hostage in a northern town on Tuesday, officials said, adding that there was no terrorist link. A group of heavily armed men wielding Kalashnikovs tried to seize the manager of a local bank branch in Roubaix to make him open the safe, local prosecutor Frederic Fevre said. When police arrived, the manager escaped and the assailants instead holed up in his house in an upmarket neighbourhood of the town, taking his wife, their daughter and their 11-month-old baby hostage.
- 'Intransigent' Nicaragua refuses transit to US-bound Cubans
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez said on his Twitter account that a second meeting, expanded to also include representatives from Cuba, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador, would be held later Tuesday to try to break the impasse. Nearly 3,000 Cubans are stranded Costa Rica on the border with Nicaragua, unable to cross the border which more than a week ago was reinforced with Nicaraguan soldiers and police.
- Two guards, three staff among dead in Mali hotel siege, CEO says
Two armed guards and three employees, all locals, were among the 20 victims of a jihadist attack on a Mali hotel last week, the chief executive of the hotel's owners said Tuesday. "We have lost three staff members and two members of our security service," said Wolfgang Neumann, CEO of the Rezidor Hotel Group, which owns the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako. There had been three armed guards on duty on the morning of the siege, he told a press conference.
- Canada delays Syrian refugee influx
The Liberal administration, which had pledged to take in the full number of refugees from camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon this year, said 15,000 would now arrive in the first two months of 2016. Officials said communities across Canada where the refugees will be resettled also need more time to prepare for their arrival, McCallum said. Under the plan, all 25,000 refugees would be identified by December 31 from lists prepared by the UN refugee agency and the government of Turkey, and invited to apply for relocation to Canada.