Kodji Siby, et al, of the Washington Post: "Security forces surrounded gunmen inside a luxury hotel in Mali's capital on Friday after attackers stormed past guards, killing at least 20 people and holding hostages as others among the 170 staff and guests fled for safety. Hours after the standoff began, it appeared many people had managed to reach safety outside the besieged hotel compound in a city that serves as a logistics hub for French forces helping fight Islamist insurgents. An al-Qaeda-linked group asserted responsibility." ...
... Dionne Searcey & Adam Nossiter of the New York Times: "A senior United Nations official said that as many as 27 people had been killed, with bodies found in the basement and on the second floor, according to a preliminary assessment of the devastating attack. An unknown number of gunmen, perhaps four or five, took 'about 100 hostages' at the beginning of the siege, said Gen. Didier Dacko of the Malian Army. He said soldiers had sealed the perimeter and were now 'inside looking for the terrorists.' By afternoon, there were no more hostages being held, said Colonel Salif Traore, Mali's minister of interior security, but the operation to retake the hotel was still underway. Two assailants had been killed, he said, and the remaining attackers were holed up in a corner of the hotel." ...
... Mamadou Tapily, et al., of the Guardian: "A nine-hour hostage situation at a high-end hotel in Mali's capital is over after special forces stormed the building, officials said, but an unspecified number of attackers remain on the upper floors and are continuing to resist arrest."
Hamza Hendawi, et al., of the AP: "The Islamic State group is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, according to Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials. Their quest raises an alarming scenario for the West, given the determination to strike major cities that the group showed with its bloody attack last week in Paris."
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), in a New York Times op-ed: "... many of my fellow governors have been quick and loud in proclaiming their states off limits to Syrian refugees -- even though governors lack authority to close state borders to refugees. They spoke before knowing what the review process entailed, and in some cases punctuated their comments with divisive and misguided rhetoric that appeared to saddle all Syrians with the crimes of the Islamic State. The House bill, which President Obama has said he will veto, would essentially halt the resettlement of refugees fleeing Syria. That's a mistake driven by fear, not sound policy making." ...
... ** Still a Hero. Yvonne Abraham of the Boston Globe: "If you want them here so badly, why don't you take in a refugee? That was the inevitable response from some of congressman Seth Moulton's [D-Mass.] critics this week, after he called out Governor Charlie Baker [R-Mass.] for saying he didn't want Syrian refugees coming to Massachusetts until his concerns over security are assuaged. Actually, Moulton has opened his home to a refugee. In this and other ways, the representative from the Sixth District speaks from experience as he takes a blessedly unequivocal stand in favor of compassion and common sense on this issue." Via Charles Pierce. ...
... Maggie Haberman & Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump's remarks Thursday that he would 'absolutely' institute mandatory registration of Muslims drew sharp condemnation from Democrats on Friday, and a number of other Republican rivals spoke out against the idea in more muted tones.... In a Twitter post linking to an article about the remarks, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote, 'This is shocking rhetoric. It should be denounced by all seeking to lead this country.' The post was signed with an 'H,' signaling that the candidate, and not her staff members, had written it." ...
... Greg Sargent: Jeb "Bush unequivocally declares Trump's intentions towards Muslims to be 'wrong,' and doesn't shy away from labeling them demagoguery. Rubio's approach suggests a reluctance to call out Trump in this fashion, which perhaps also reflects a desire to avoid alienating conservative voters. Of course Rubio is rising among GOP voters, and Bush is falling, so maybe Rubio's apparent calculation is right.... The problem with tiptoeing around Trump's various prescriptions is that he is perpetually engaging in 'demagoguery inflation,' which is to say that he’s always calling for something worse than what preceded it."
Yesterday's Comments center on an excellent discussion of the politics of fear. Keep up the good work. I have to finish tiling the bathroom before the plumber comes. I'll be back this afternoon. -- Constant Weader
Jennifer Steinhauer & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to slap stringent -- and difficult to implement -- new screening procedures on refugees from Syria seeking resettlement, seizing on the fear stemming from the Paris attacks and threatening to cloud President Obama's Middle East policy. The bill, which passed 289 to 137, with nearly 50 Democrats supporting it, would require that the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence confirm that each applicant from Syria and Iraq poses no threat, a demand the White House called 'untenable.'" ...
... Charles Pierce: "In the United States House of Representatives on Thursday, 47 Democratic politicians voted for terror. They voted for terror as a useful political emotion in their districts, and they surely voted for terror as a successful tactic abroad. There were 47 Democrats who voted for terror on Thursday. These are their names."...
... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) says a House bill suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees ... will not make it to President Obama's desk.... Reid said at a press conference that Democrats will block the legislation that requires the secretary of Homeland Security to affirm to Congress that every refugee being admitted is not a security threat. Senate Democrats are pushing alternative legislation, to be unveiled after Thanksgiving, that would tighten up security gaps in the visa waiver program.... Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking member of the Democratic leadership, earlier in the week said a pause of the refugee resettlement program may be necessary. On Thursday he took that option off the table."
McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "A leading voice on the religious right sharply criticized the 'dangerous' anti-refugee sentiment that has permeated the recent political debate in the United States -- and warned that some Republican presidential candidates may turn off Christian voters with their lack of compassion. Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, told BuzzFeed News on Thursday that he was shocked by the 'overheated' rhetoric being employed by high-profile politicians in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris."
Eric Beech of Reuters: "Islamic State militants released a video on Thursday threatening the White House with suicide bombings and car blasts and vowing to conduct more attacks on France....The latest threat comes one day after the militant group put out a video showing scenes of New York City, which suggested it was also a target."
Zachary Tracer of Bloomberg: "The biggest U.S. health insurer is considering pulling out of Obamacare as it loses hundreds of millions of dollars on the program, casting a pall over President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement. UnitedHealth Group Inc. has scaled back marketing efforts for plans sold to individuals this year and may quit the business entirely in 2017. It's an abrupt shift from October, when the health insurer said it was planning to sell coverage through the Affordable Care Act in 11 more states next year, bringing its total to 34. The company also cut its 2015 earnings forecast."
Ana Gonzalez-Barrera of the Pew Research Center: "More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from both countries. The same data sources also show the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s, mostly due to a drop in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S."
Digby, in Salon: Winger macho-boy Erick Erickson, who once threatened to take out any U.S. census worker who stepped onto his property, wrote that he was afraid to go to the movies to watch "Star Wars 97" or whatever it is because theaters don't have metal detectors to save him from 3-year-old Syrian refugees. But then he realized big boys pack heat at the movies, so he deleted his remark & now says "he is not afraid to go to the movies because he will be carrying a gun and assumes that others will too. If that's true, a lot of people should rethink their plans to attend Star Wars. With theaters full of armed men who are quivering in fear and ready to fire at the first loud noise, does seem wise to avoid that situation." ...
... Paul Krugman: "... at this point panic is what the right is all about, and the Republican nomination will go to whoever can most effectively channel that panic. Will the same hold true in the general election? Stay tuned."
In a straight news piece, David Fahrenthold & Jose DelReal of the Washington Post outline just how extremely anti-Muslim (mostly Republican) elected leaders & wanna-bes have become. ...
... BUT It's Obama's Fault. Greg Jaffe, in another straight WashPo news report: President "Obama's response to the attacks also raises a more political question: Why hasn't a man known for his rhetorical gifts done more to address the fear the attacks instill in ordinary Americans?"
Brian Beutler on why Republicans insist on using the term "radical Islamic terrorists," but when the shoe is on the other foot, cannot abide the term "right-wing extremists" when applied to this country's right-wing extremists.
Charles Pierce: "Six people were shot to death over the weekend in a place called Palestine. Did you read much about it? No. Because this Palestine is in Texas, and because it was just another example of the price we are expected to pay for our Second Amendment freedoms..., and that is the terrorism that supposedly is the cost of our Constitutional liberties, the terrorism that is our birthright as Americans. It was a land dispute so, naturally, this being America and all, guns had to become involved.... Not much on this from the office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, one of the 20-odd governors currently trembling with fear that the prospect of Syrian toddlers invading their states."
Andrew Pollack of the New York Times: "Federal regulators on Thursday approved a genetically engineered salmon as fit for consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for American supermarkets and dinner tables."
Peter Baker & Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times: "Jonathan J. Pollard, the American convicted of spying on behalf of Israel, walked out of prison early on Friday after 30 years, the Israeli prime minister said, but the Obama administration had no plans to let him leave the country and move to Israel as he requested." ...
... Eric Tucker of the AP: "'The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard,' Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. "As someone who raised Jonathan's case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come,' he said."
Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "The D.C. government will pay $16.65 million to settle a federal lawsuit after a jury found that D.C. police framed an innocent man who served 27 years in prison for a rape and murder. The settlement Thursday in the civil rights case of Donald E. Gates, 64, is the largest in city history, District officials said. A nine-person jury on Wednesday found that two D.C. homicide detectives fabricated all or part of a confession purportedly made by Gates to a paid police informant and withheld other evidence in an attack on a 21-year-old Georgetown University student in Rock Creek Park."
Spencer Hsu: Douglas Hughes, "the Florida postal worker who landed a gyrocopter at the U.S. Capitol to protest campaign finance laws, vowed to continue speaking out against 'wealthy special interests' as he prepared to plead guilty to a felony charge of operating his aircraft without a license Friday morning."
David McCabe of the Hill: "YouTube will pay court costs to the creators of some videos accused of copyright infringement in cases that the online video giant believes represent clear cases of fair use. The company, owned by Google, said Wednesday it will keep those videos online despite copyright takedown notices. It will also cover up to a million dollars in legal costs associated with fighting the takedown." The YouTube statement is here.
The News in Tweets (must be nonpartisan):
Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Gabriel Sherman of New York: NBC News chair Andy Lack "is looking to give a show to the campaign chroniclers John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. According to four media executives, Lack is in talks with Bloomberg Television to simulcast Heilemann and Halperin's politics show With All Due Respect on MSNBC." CW: I can hardly wait. But since I still have no idea where MSNBC is on my cable line-up, I guess I'll have to.
Gabriel Arana of the Huffington Post: "The media's default of erasing distinctions between terrorists and non-terrorists, and between attackers and victims in the Muslim world is why we are currently in the midst of an insane discussion (if you can call it that) about allowing Syrian refugees into the country." And, no, it's not just Fox "News." "A recent survey from the Pew Center of 11 countries with substantial Muslim populations shows widespread negative attitudes toward the terrorist group -- in no country did support for ISIS rise above 15 percent. That's a smaller percentage than Americans who believe in UFOs (21 percent), think there's a link between vaccines and autism (20 percent) and deny climate change (37 percent). Strong majorities in most of these countries also support the recent airstrikes against ISIS."
Amy Chozick & David Sanger of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Thursday for accelerating the American-led operation to defeat the Islamic State, going well beyond what President Obama has proposed by urging a no-fly zone with coalition forces to protect Syrians, more airstrikes and an expanded deployment of special operations troops to assist local ground forces.... Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Mrs. Clinton contrasted her outlook with those of the Republican presidential contenders as 'a choice between fear and resolve.'... Expanding on her previous call for a no-fly zone, Mrs. Clinton said it should be limited to northern Syria, where Turkey has proposed a buffer zone to protect civilians...."
Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders offered a robust defense of democratic socialism on Thursday, defining his political philosophy in explicit terms and arguing that his views would bring economic fairness back to America. Anticipated as a major speech in Mr. Sanders's campaign for the Democratic nomination, the senator from Vermont described his views as being in the mainstream and rooted in the reforms introduced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression."
Gene Robinson: "The impact of the Paris attacks on the Republican presidential race may turn out to be minimal, especially since the establishment candidates aren't making any more sense than outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson."
Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Donald Trump would not rule out tracking Muslim Americans in a database or giving them 'a special form of identification that noted their religion', Yahoo news reports in a long interview with the Republican presidential candidate." CW: The argumentum ad Hilterum just stop being ridiculous....
... The interview, by Hunter Walker is interesting in a Cliff Clavin sort of way. The problem of course is that Cliff was a fictional jerk; Trump is a real one who could be president. ...
CW: I see I'm not alone in being unable to avoid making the Nazi comparison. Vaughn Hillyard of NBC News: "Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, sounded incredulous when he was asked about Trump's comments, telling NBC News: 'We're kind of at a loss for words. What else can you compare this to except to prewar Nazi Germany?' Hooper asked. 'There's no other comparison, and [Trump] seems to think that's perfectly OK.' Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the nonprofit Interfaith Alliance, drew the same comparison Thursday night.... Trump was repeatedly asked to explain how his idea was different. Four times, he responded: 'You tell me.'"
Mad Dogs? Ben Carson Has Been Too Long in the Midday Sun. Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "Ben Carson likened Syrian refugees fleeing the country;s bloody civil war and Islamic State violence to dogs on Thursday.... Speaking to reporters following a campaign stop in Mobile, Alabama, Carson ... noted there should always be a balance between safety and humanitarian concerns. 'For instance, you know, if there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you're probably gonna put your children out of the way,' Carson said. 'Doesn't mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination.' Continuing his analogy, the Republican presidential candidate said that screening refugees is like questioning how you protect your children, even though you love dogs and will call the Humane Society to take the dog away to reestablish a safe environment. 'By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly.'..."
Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Carson both defended his knowledge of foreign affairs and distanced himself from adviser Duane Clarridge, a former CIA agent who publicly raised doubts about Carson's intelligence, as well as Carson's longtime political confidant and business manager, Armstrong Williams.... Carson tried to publicly separate himself from Williams, a longtime adviser who appears frequently on television on Carson's behalf. 'Armstrong is an independent agent,' Carson said. 'He happens to be a friend of mine. He has nothing to do with the campaign.' However, when a reporter asked Carson who he consulted with about his recent op-ed in The Washington Post, the candidate said he sent the column to Williams to edit." CW: It was Williams who suggested the New York Times contact Clarridge. Williams also said that Carson couldn't answer a simple question on "Fox 'News' Sunday" because he "froze."
Politico "Asked Marco Rubio to Lay Out His ISIL Strategy. Here It Is": "Whatever it takes.... Never relent.... Obama ... dithers."
Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "John Kasich has attacked Donald Trump relentlessly in debates and now his super PAC is planning to invest $2.5 million in the most aggressive takedown of the poll leader yet -- on behalf of an increasingly anxious GOP establishment." ...
... Jack Torry of the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch: "One day after urging the creation of a federal agency to promote 'core Judeo-Christian, Western values,' Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said on Wednesday he instead would upgrade the existing Voice of America to 'engage in the war of ideas' against Islamic State.... Critics complained that Kasich wanted to increase the size of the federal government with a new agency and that he wanted the U.S. government to promote religious values.... 'I don't think we should be promoting Judeo-Christian values in the Arab world,' one of Kasich's GOP rivals, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, told Real Clear Politics. 'I think that was the Crusades.'" ...
... CW: I don't think Kasich has backed off the Crusades aspect at all; he is responding only to the criticism that creating a new federal agency would not be "fiscally conservative." Those lucky-ducky kiddies in the Middle East will still get to hear Bible stories on Sunday mornings.
Beyond the Beltway
Steve Annear of the Boston Globe: "Harvard University police are treating the discovery of strips of tape placed across photographs of black professors outside of a lecture hall as an act of hate, officials from the university said Thursday. In an e-mailed statement, Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School, said police are investigating who defaced portraits of black faculty members displayed at Wasserstein Hall."
Molly Redden of the Guardian: "Ohio this week became the latest state poised to defund Planned Parenthood in reaction to dubious videos accusing its employees of violating federal law. But in an apparent first, its lawmakers are not going after the family planning funds that legislators in many other states have targeted. Instead, Ohio abortion foes are taking aim at $1.3m Planned Parenthood uses to conduct STI and HIV tests, and infant mortality reduction programs to supplement the state;s troubled healthcare system.... In defense of the cuts, senators disseminated a list of alternative providers that include dentist offices, school nurses and a food bank as options for Ohio women." (Emphasis added.)
Liam Stack & Gabriel Fisher of the New York Times: "Princeton students ended a 32-hour sit-in in the university president's office on Thursday night after administrators signed a document that committed them to begin conversations about addressing racial tension on campus, including possibly removing the name of former President Woodrow Wilson from some public spaces, the university and students said. The sit-in came amid racial tension and escalating student activism on college campuses nationwide and focused in part on what students called Wilson's legacy of racism. Shortly after the document was signed, an administrator received a bomb or firearm threat by email. It was being investigated late Thursday." ...
... CW: This is fairly quixotic. Almost all of our former presidents were racists (and sexists, too) from slaveholder George Washington to civil rights leaders Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. It's okay with me if people wants to rename Washington, D.C., Washington state & Lincoln, Nebraska. If Americans want to rename all of the places honoring racists, we will forget where we are. (Writing from Lee County, Florida. At least Fort Myers was named for a Jewish man, but oops!, his claims to fame were fighting Seminole Indians & serving in the Confederate army. I rest my case.)
Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "The last execution currently scheduled to take place in the United States this year was carried out Thursday evening when Georgia executed a man [Marcus Jordan] convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1994."
Sarah Larimer of the Washington Post: "Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle was sentenced Thursday to more than 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges related to child pornography and sexual conduct involving minors."
Guardian: "The Paris prosecutor has announced three people died during Wednesday night's raid on an apartment in St-Denis, where Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged ringleader of the Paris attacks, was killed. The third person's identity is not yet known." From the liveblog at 9:51 am GT. ...
... Update: Here's the Washington Post story, by Anthony Faiola & others, with more detail.
Steve Erlanger & Kimoko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times: "Shocked by the carnage of the Paris attacks, France and Belgium moved aggressively on Thursday to strengthen the hand of their security forces, pushing Europe more deeply into a debate that has raged in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001: how to balance counterterrorism efforts and civil liberties. With their populations stunned and nervous and political pressure growing on the right, the French and Belgian governments made it clear that, for now, they would put protecting their citizens ahead of other considerations."
Andrew Higgins & Kimoko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times: "... [Abdelhamid] Abaaoud, 27, is believed to have organized a string of attacks that made him the most talked-about -- and, in jihadist circles, feted -- terrorist since Osama bin Laden. French intelligence officials have concluded that Mr. Abaaoud was involved in at least four of six terrorist plots foiled in France since the spring.... Before his deadly ambitions culminated in the massacres in Paris on Friday that killed 129 people, they included a thwarted attack on a Sunday-morning congregation at a Paris church and an attack on a Paris-bound train this summer that was halted when passengers overpowered the gunman." ...
... Anthony Faiola, et al., of the Washington Post on how French intelligence officers located Abaaoud & his associates in Saint Denis. Also, it turns out the woman who blew herself up during the raid was not Abaaoud's cousin.
Dionne Searcy of the New York Times: "At least two gunmen stormed a Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, on Friday morning and seized 140 guests and 30 staff members as hostages, according to the company that runs the hotel. Northern Mali fell under the control of Islamist militants in 2012, but a French-led offensive ousted them in 2013, although remnants of the group have staged a number of attacks on United Nations peacekeepers and Malian forces. The hotel is known as a popular place for foreigners to stay in Bamako, a city with a population approaching two million that is the capital of Mali, and French and American citizens were among those taken hostage."
Ruth Eglash of the Washington Post: "Two separate attacks by Palestinians against Israelis on Thursday left five people dead, including one American and one Palestinian, and several injured, Israeli authorities said. The killings marked a surge in violence after several days of relative quiet following weeks of near-daily stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks in Israeli towns and cities and violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank."