An Iraq Vet And A Mother Of 2 Were Victims Of Planned Parenthood Shooting

Compliments of NPR

The two civilians killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday were Ke’Arre Stewart, a father of two and Army veteran who served in Iraq, and Jennifer Markovsky, a mother of two who was reportedly at the clinic to support a friend.

The attack, which lasted several hours, also killed police officer Garrett Swasey, a father of two. Suspect Robert Lewis Dear is in custody. Dear referenced “baby parts”when he spoke to police after the attack, but police stress that his motives are still unclear.

Police have confirmed that the two civilians killed were “preliminarily identified” as Markovsky and Stewart.

Ke’Arre Stewart, 29, was an Army veteran who served one tour in Iraq, reports The Denver Post. He was originally from Texas, the newspaper says, and leaves behind two children.

His wife told KKTV that all the family wants is justice. On Facebook, Stewart’s brother asked for help and support for the family.

My big brother, Ke’Arre Stewart who was killed in the #BLACKFRIDAYSHOOTING @ Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs,…

Posted by Leyonte Ripkearrestewart Chandler on Sunday, November 29, 2015

“He was caring, giving, funny and just a damn good person,” Stewart’s friend Amburh Butler wrote on a GoFundMe page raising money for his funeral expenses.

Jennifer Markovsky, born in Waianae, Hawaii, also leaves behind two children,reports Hawaii News Now.

“Her family said she was at the Planned Parenthood clinic supporting a friend,” HNN reports. “Her friend was shot in the hand.”

Markovsky, 36, was “a stay-at-home mom who was devoted to her children,” reports The Denver Post. She leaves behind a young son, daughter and her husband, her family tells the paper.

I’m miss you my daughter, life was to short ,

Posted by John Ah-King on Sunday, November 29, 2015

Markovsky’s father, John Ah-King, says she was “the most lovable person,” the paper reports:

“I couldn’t believe it,” Ah-King said through sobs. “I just messaged her Thursday to say happy Thanksgiving.”

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey, 44, was killed in Friday’s attack.

Courtesy UCCS

Garrett Swasey, the police officer killed in the attack, also leaves behind two children, a son and a daughter. He was an elder at an evangelical church in Colorado Springs.

Swasey was a champion ice dancer in his youth, reports The Denver Post. After his successful skating career, he found his calling in police work, his wife said in a statement.

“Helping others brought him deep satisfaction and being a police officer was a part of him,” she wrote. “In the end, his last act was for the safety and wellbeing of others and was a tribute to his life.”

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Chicago Police Officer Charged With Murder in Shooting of Black Teenager

Compliments of Washington Post 

A Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a 17-year-old last year, authorities said Tuesday.

The charges were announced a day before the city plans to release a video that captured the shooting, footage that officials worry could lead to intense protests.

Officer Jason Van Dyke turned himself in to authorities Tuesday morning, before a scheduled appearance in bond court at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, according to Anita Alvarez, the state’s attorney for Cook County, Ill.

Van Dyke shot and killed Laquan McDonald, 17, on Oct. 20, 2014, after Chicago police officers encountered the teenager on the southwest side of the city. McDonald was holding a knife, which police said he used to slash the tires of one squad car.

But the shooting, which involved a barrage of bullets fired at McDonald even after he fell to the ground, was “not justified,” Alvarez said during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Van Dyke was on the scene for less than 30 seconds before he began firing a total of 16 shots, Alvarez said. His actions “were not a proper use of deadly force,” she said.

“He abused his authority, and I don’t believe the use of force was necessary,” Alvarez said. She also said: “With these charges, we are bringing a full measure of justice that this demands.”

A judge recently ordered the release of the video showing McDonald’s shooting, saying that it had to be made public by Wednesday, and officials in Chicago say they are worried about the reaction to the video.

“It is everything it has been described to be by the news accounts,” Alvarez said. “It is graphic, it is violent, it is chilling. I’ve been a prosecutor for nearly 30 years … to watch a 17-year-old, young man die in such a violent manner is deeply disturbing.”

Van Dyke could face between 20 years and life in prison, Alvarez said.

An attorney for Van Dyke has said the officer feared for his life when he opened fire.

“The video is graphic,” Daniel Herbert, an attorney for Van Dyke, said in anews conference before the charges were announced. “It’s violent, and it’s difficult to watch at some points.”

Herbert also said the video alone was not enough to show that Van Dyke “acted inappropriately in any way,” saying that he believed, based on the evidence he had seen, that the officer’s actions were legal and followed departmental policy.

“Police officers are entrusted to uphold the law, and to provide safety to our residents,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said in a statement. “In this case unfortunately, it appears an officer violated that trust at every level.”

Emanuel said that he hoped the video’s release and the end of the investigation could allow the city to begin to heal.

Even as investigations into the shooting continued, the city agreed that it would pay millions of dollars, even before any lawsuit was filed in the case. In April, the Chicago City Council approved a $5 million dollar settlement to McDonald’s relatives.

Demonstrations have erupted nationwide in response to the deaths of black adults and youths during and after encounters with police. The charges against Van Dyke were announced on the first anniversary of a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to charge a police officer for shooting and killing an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo.

Protests have continued to crop up in cities after deaths at the hands of police officers. In Minneapolis, where a recent police shooting there has sparked days of demonstrations at a police building, five protesters were shot late Monday. Authorities said they were searching Tuesday for multiple suspects in that shooting.

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US Issues Worldwide Travel Alert Over Terror Threats

Compliments of BBC 

The state department said “current information” suggested the Islamic State [IS] group, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others continued “to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions”.

The alert, it said, will remain in place until 24 February 2016.

France, Russia, Mali and several other countries have seen deadly attacks in the past month.

A US state department representative told BBC News there was “currently… no reason to believe that US citizens would be specifically targeted”.

Meanwhile Belgium announced the capital Brussels would stay at the highest level of alert for another week over fears of militant attacks like those that killed 130 people in Paris on 13 November.

In other developments

  • An apparent explosives belt was found in a bin in the Paris suburb of Montrouge, which a fugitive suspect is believed to have passed through on the night of the Paris attacks
  • France carried out its first air strikes against IS from its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, newly deployed in the eastern Mediterranean, reportedly hitting targets in Iraq and Syria, including the IS stronghold of Raqqa

The travel alert advises US citizens to “exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation”.

They are also advised to “be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places”.

“Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh [IS] return from Syria and Iraq,” the state department said.

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Siege of luxury Radisson hotel in Mali by Islamic militants ends, at least 18 killed

Compliments of RT 

A 190-room Radisson hotel in the capital city of Bamako in Mali, West Africa, came under attack from jihadists on Friday, leaving at least 18 people dead. Shooting and blasts rocked the building, where 170 people were held hostage for hours.

Two terrorists were holding 140 visitors and 30 hotel employees hostage, RTL France quoted Carlson Rezidor Group, the owners of the hotel, as saying. However, a senior security source put the number of gunmen in the hotel at 10, Reuters reported.

The siege continued for some seven hours, but with conflicting reports coming from the scene, it isn’t clear whether the attackers are still inside the hotel building.

At least 18 bodies were found at the hotel after the hostage situation ended, national broadcaster ORTM reported, citing security officials, while a UN official told Reuters that peacekeepers have seen 27.

Gunfire continues to be heard at the scene, AP reported, citing Malian army commander Modibo Nama Traore, who said that operations are still ongoing.

A group of Islamist gunmen involved in the attack continue to hold out against security forces, a security ministry spokesman told Reuters. “They are dug in in the upper floors. They are alone with the Malian special forces who are trying to dislodge them,” spokesman Amadou Sangho said.

An extremist group known as the Mourabitounes, which split from al-Qaida’s North Africa branch two years ago, claimed responsibility for the attack, AP reported, citing a recorded statement carried by Al-Jazeera.

The guests caught up in the hostage situation come from 14 different countries, according to media reports, including Germany, Belgium, Canada, Spain, America, France, and Russia.

The hotel has been approved by the UN for their personnel, and crew members of a number of international airlines also stay there. Air France said it had 12 airline crew members staying at the besieged hotel, who are now safe. At least five Turkish Airlines crew members have also been rescued, according to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

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Booby-trapped dolls seized in Baghdad; Isis planned bomb blasts during Arbaeen

Compliments of International Business TImes 

The Iraqi police have foiled a major bombing plot in Baghdad, where 18 dolls stuffed with bombs were seized by the security forces, which were meant to be scattered on the roads leading to Karbala during Arbaeen – a Shia Muslim religious observance.

Arbaeen, which this year will be held on December 3,  is a Shia religious observance that occurs forty days after the Day of Ashura to commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

During Arbaeen at least 20 million people walk to the city of Karbala in Iraq, making it one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth.

The booby-trapped bombs were discovered by the security forces in al-Husseiniya – a predominantly Shiite suburb in northeastern Baghdad, Kuwait News agency (KUNA) reported.

According to Press TV, Isis was planning to plant the bomb on a roads towards Karbala from Baghdad.

The explosive-laden dolls were later dismantled and destroyed. At least 26 people were killed and dozens were injured on 13 November, after two Isis bombings in Baghdad.

Twenty-one people were killed after an Isis suicide bomber struck a funeral procession for a Shiite militia fighter killed in the Baghdad suburb of Hay al-Amal.The same day a roadside bomb planted near a Shiite shrine in Sadr City, killed at least five people and injured 15,New York Times had reported.

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Michigan residents sue local government over lead in tap water

Compliments of The Independent 

Residents of a city in Michigan have filed a class action lawsuit – accusing the city and state of endangering their health by exposing them to dangerous levels of lead in their water.

The class action lawsuit challenges a decision taken last year to switch the city’s supply to water sourced from the Flint River rather than Detroit’s water system in an attempt to save money.

Residents complained of various health problems from using the local water, including respiratory disorders and skin lesions, despite officials’ assurances that the water was safe, Reutersreported.

A federal lawsuit filed last week said the measure was taken after Governor Rick Snyder placed the city of about 99,000 people under emergency financial management.

Mr Snyder decided last month to switch Flint residents back to Detroit’s water system. But the lawsuit said the damage had already been done, and that it would take time to fix pipes and service lines corroded by Flint River water.

“Defendants’ conduct in exposing Flint residents to toxic water was so egregious and so outrageous that it shocks the conscience,” said the lawsuit.

“For more than 18 months, state and local government officials ignored irrefutable evidence that the water pumped from the Flint River exposed users to extreme toxicity.”

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council said they also intend to sue if problems are not fixed.

“This action is about holding the government accountable for failing to protect the public health of an entire community,” said Anjali Waikar, an environmental justice staff attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“This case also highlights a troubling trend in which the government is willing to cut costs at the expense of its most vulnerable citizens.”

Michael Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU of Michigan, said: “In their short-sighted effort to save a buck, the leaders who were supposed to be protecting Flint’s citizens instead left them exposed to dangerously high levels of lead contamination.”

The crisis has had considerable fall-out. Earlier this week, the engineer in charge of the city’s water supply, Howard Croft, resigned from his position in order to regain public trust.

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