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Europe’s ‘Minority Report’ Raids on Future Terrorists

Europe’s ‘Minority Report’ Raids on Future Terrorists

Christopher Dickey

Terrified by homegrown terrorists hoping to emulate the gun attacks in Paris, Europe is trying to round up its jihadis before they strike.

PARIS — In a stunning wave of arrests, the security forces of France, Belgium, and Germany are rounding up suspected jihadis all over the map, especially those who have returned from the Syrian and Iraqi war zones.

In one case, in the small Belgian town of Verviers near the German border, two alleged jihadis were shot dead and one was wounded in a Thursday night firefight.

A spokesperson for Belgian prosecutor’s office, Eric van der Sypt, said Friday that the Verviers suspects were believed to be on the verge of launching an attack. Four Kalashnikov automatic rifles were found in their possession along with bomb-making materials. Tellingly, they also had police uniforms. Phone taps of conversations among the suspects reportedly indicated the assault was only hours away.

“They had the intention to kill police, targeting them in the streets and at their offices,” van der Sypt said in Brussels on Friday. “We had been following the cell for a while but decided to intervene because the threat seemed imminent.”

He said this was a strictly Belgian cell, but all of this is taking place in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris last week, when known jihadis who had been under surveillance in the past somehow slipped the attention of law enforcement, acquired weapons of war (reportedly in Belgium), and launched a killing spree that took the lives of 17 victims, including journalists at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, police, and Jewish shoppers at a kosher grocery.

What is clear is that the authorities in Europe now believe it is too dangerous to let potential terrorists who have fought and trained abroad continue to roam the streets. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, in the aftermath of last week’s attacks, said flatly that his nation is in a state of war. But the legal foundation for detaining suspects varies from country to country, and may yet create loopholes through which potential attacks can be organized.


“Counterterrorism used to be like counternarcotics,” says Bauer. “You wait and you wait, and then you get another guy, with the idea that you are working your way eventually to the boss. But time, which was the ally of counterterrorism in the past, is now the enemy.” In the old days, suspects were followed from training camp to training camp, from connection to connection, as authorities mapped out whole networks. But the Internet allows connections to be made very quickly, and inspiration for attacks to take effect without any direct connection at all.

In the wake of the Paris slaughter, the concern is partly that there’s a guiding hand somewhere abroad directing this violence in Europe.


There is also the danger posed by groups that answer to no authority, or follow only vague directives, which could have been the case of the killers in Paris despite the various claims. Other groups or cells, seeing the enormous impact of what happened last week, will simply try to copy them. And the sooner they act, the more impact they are likely to have, with international media and politicians ultra-sensitive at the moment. More than 40 world leaders and more than four million people marched in France last Sunday to show their united opposition to terrorism. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in the French capital today to show Washington’s solidarity. All of which raises the stakes and, unfortunately, the profile of any new terrorist acts.

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Police arrest two dozen as they fan across Europe to prevent fresh violence

Police arrest two dozen as they fan across Europe to prevent fresh violence

European authorities widened crackdowns against suspected Islamist militant networks Friday, arresting at least two dozen people on suspicion of aiding last week’s terrorist bloodshed in Paris or plotting separate attacks possibly disguised as police.

The sweeps followed a raid in eastern Belgium that left two suspected terrorist plotters dead and uncovered weapons and bomb material that officials believe were intended for a “major” attack that was foiled perhaps just hours before it was launched.

The latest counterterrorism operations across three nations — Belgium, France and Germany — underscored mounting security concerns as authorities weigh new threats from radicalized citizens returning after fighting with militants in Syria, where both al-Qaeda-linked groups and the Islamic State hold territory.

It also offered a window into possible deeper complications for European officials with multiple terrorist cells apparently operating autonomously. Such a splintering could require even greater surveillance, border checks and online monitoring for security forces already stretched thin.

“The scale of the problem, the diffuse nature of the network, the scale of the people involved makes this extremely difficult for even very well-functioning counterterrorist agencies, such as we have in France, to stop every attack,” said Rob Wainwright, the head of Europol, an agency that assists European police with anti-terrorist efforts and other major crimes.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Wainwright estimated at least 2,500 and possibly up to 5,000 suspects have traveled from Europe to conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

In Brussels, officials announced that 13 people had been arrested in Belgium and two in France. They said they recovered four Kalashnikov rifles, a cache of small arms, explosives, and several Belgian police uniforms.

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Terrorism Suspects Detained in Police Sweeps Across Europe

Terrorism Suspects Detained in Police Sweeps Across Europe

BRUSSELS — European investigators moved on a broad front Friday to sweep up suspected militants, with the police announcing that 13 Belgians had been detained in this country and two in France, a day after two other Belgians believed to be planning an attack on police officers were killed in a shootout.

In an action that the authorities said was unrelated to events in Belgium, investigators in Paris said 12 people had been detained overnight. Investigators said they might have belonged to a previously undetected cell that supported one of the gunmen in the terrorist attacks that left 17 people dead in and near Paris. And in Berlin, investigators said they had seized two suspected militants in a series of raids.

The scope and breadth of the police actions across much of Western Europe dramatized the diffuse challenges facing a region far from the battlefields of Syria, Iraq and elsewhere as it becomes a reluctant front against Islamic militancy.

The threat sometimes seems hydra-headed. European investigators and counterterrorism forces face a threat from hundreds of citizens returning from jihad in the Middle East with the skills and determination to transpose their war on the West to the cosseted boulevards and suburbs of major European centers.

The authorities are struggling to understand how their hidden adversaries operate. Sometimes they work as so-called lone wolves. Sometimes they work in secretive cells. And in some cases they are inspired by — or directly linked to — militant groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or the Islamic State.

It is battle without clear-cut victories.

“Let’s say we have arrested already the people that we wanted to arrest,” said Eric Van Der Sypt of the office of the Belgian federal prosecutor on Friday, referring to the latest detentions. “But I cannot confirm that we have arrested everybody from this group, of course — that’s for the investigation to show,”

Mr. Van Der Sypt said, “I have no idea if we diminished” the terrorist threat in Belgium. But he said the Belgian authorities had thwarted attacks on Thursday that might have been only hours away. “I think we gave an important blow to terrorism in Belgium,” he said.

In Verviers, the eastern Belgian town where two suspects died in a police shootout on Thursday, the authorities found several police uniforms, walkie-talkies, radios, falsified documents and weapons including four AK-47s. In Molenbeek, on the outskirts of Brussels, the authorities found a firearm, ammunition and a knife.

Mr. Van Der Sypt confirmed “plans to assassinate a policemen in the street,” or at a police station, but could he could not confirm reports in the Belgian media of plans by the suspects to abduct and behead a Belgian law enforcement officer.

He would not comment on links between the suspects with Al Qaeda or with other terrorist groups. Most of the suspects were Belgian citizens, he said, but did not identify them by name. Two of the suspects, also Belgian citizens, were arrested in France after fleeing the raids on Thursday.

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French Rein In Speech Backing Acts of Terror

French Rein In Speech Backing Acts of Terror

PARIS — The French authorities are moving aggressively to rein in speech supporting terrorism, employing a new law to mete out tough prison sentences in a crackdown that is stoking a free-speech debate after last week’s attacks in Paris.

Those swept up under the new law include a 28-year-old man of French-Tunisian background who was sentenced to six months in prison after he was found guilty of shouting support for the attackers as he passed a police station in Bourgoin-Jalieu on Sunday. A 34-year-old man who on Saturday hit a car while drunk, injured the other driver and subsequently praised the acts of the gunmen when the police detained him was sentenced Monday to four years in prison.

All told, up to 100 people are under investigation for making or posting comments that support or try to justify terrorism, according to Cédric Cabut, a prosecutor in Bourgoin-Jalieu, in the east of France. The French news media have reported about cases in Paris, Toulouse, Nice, Strasbourg, Orléans and elsewhere in France.

The arrests have raised questions about a double standard for free speech here, with one set of rules for the cartoonists who freely skewered religions of all kinds, even when Muslims, Catholics and others objected, and yet were defended for their right to do so, and another set for the statements by Muslim supporters of the gunmen, which have led to their prosecution.

But French law does prohibit speech that might invoke or support violence. And prosecutors, who on Wednesday were urged by the Ministry of Justice to fight and prosecute “words or acts of hatred” with “utmost vigor,” are relying particularly on new tools under a law adopted in November to battle the threat of jihadism. The law includes prison sentences up to seven years for backing terrorism.

Some of those who were cited under the new law have already been sentenced, with the criminal justice system greatly accelerated, moving from accusations to trial and imprisonment in as little as three days.

Prosecutors seized on the law in the days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, which left 17 people dead — 12 at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly newspaper that was targeted in retaliation for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. A notice from the Ministry of Justice on Jan. 12 directed prosecutors to react firmly.

The accused did not have to threaten actual violence to run afoul of the law. According to Mr. Cabut, who brought the case in Bourgoin-Jalieu, the man shouted, “They killed Charlie and I had a good laugh. In the past they killed Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Mohammed Merah and many brothers. If I didn’t have a father or mother, I would train in Syria.”


The most prominent case now pending in the French courts is that of Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a provocative humorist who has been a longtime symbol in France of the battle between free speech and public safety. With nearly 40 previous arrests on suspicion of violating antihate laws, for statements usually directed at Jews, he was again arrested on Wednesday, this time for condoning terrorism.

He faces trial in early February in connection with a Facebook message he posted, declaring, “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.” It was a reference to the popular slogan of solidarity for the murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists — “Je suis Charlie” — and one of the attackers, Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman and later four people in a kosher supermarket last Friday.

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Duke University reverses decision, cancels weekly Muslim call to prayer

Duke University reverses decision, cancels weekly Muslim call to prayer

Duke University canceled plans Thursday to begin a weekly Muslim call to prayer from the campus chapel this week, an initiative that had set off debate on social media. A school spokesman and a Duke Muslim leader said that a serious and credible security threat played a role in the decision.

The university had announced that Muslim students would chant the ‘adhan,’ the call to a weekly prayer service, from the Duke University Chapel bell tower each Friday. The sound of the call to prayer in Muslim communities is a standard part of ritual life on Muslims’ main prayer day. Theologically, it reminds Muslims “to worship God and serves as a reminder to serve our brothers and sisters in humanity,” Imam Adeel Zeb, Muslim chaplain at Duke, said in a news release.


Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, called on donors and alumni to withhold support from Duke until the policy was reversed. The hashtag #boycottduke spread quickly, and many of the reactions on Twitter referred to recent terrorist attacks, and interpreted it as an anti-Christian move.

Graham posted strong words about it on his Facebook page: “As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism. I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed.”

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Oscar nominations' lack of diversity is ‘appallingly insulting,’ says Rev. Al Sharpton

Rev. Al Sharpton said he or his colleagues at the  National Action Network could stage ‘actions’ in protest before or during the Feb. 22 Academy Awards.

Oscar nominations' lack of diversity is ‘appallingly insulting,’ says Rev. Al Sharpton

BY Adam Edelman

The slate of nominations for the Feb. 22 award show has been called one of the whitest in years, prompting scathing criticism from the civil rights leader.

The outspoken civil rights activist said Thursday that it was “appallingly insulting in the year of 2015" that the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went only to white actors and actresses.

“In the time of Staten Island and Ferguson, to have one of the most shutout Oscar nights in recent memory is something that is incongruous," Sharpton told The News.

Sharpton, who says he’ll meet next week with allies and colleagues to discuss “potential actions” before or during the nationally televised Feb. 22 award ceremony, was quick to point out the irony of the “Selma” double-snub.

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It’s Time For Islam To Mature Or Perish

It’s Time For Islam To Mature Or Perish

It’s Time For Islam To Mature Or Perish

Authentic Islamic adaptation to the modern world may not actually be possible.

By Rachel Lu

Suddenly, it feels like we all need advanced degrees in theology.

How else are we going to make sense of the violence Muslim extremists perpetrated in Paris last week? In the wake of another round of appalling violence, we again find ourselves pondering hard questions about terrorism and its relationship to Islam. Obviously, there is a connection. But what sort of connection? How curable is the disease that affects at least a significant portion of the Islamic world?

At this point, both conservatives and liberals have pretty thoroughly covered the point that, yes, this is an Islam problem and not just a problem with religion as such. We don’t spend much time worrying about Catholic extremists, Mormon extremists, Hindu extremists, Buddhist extremists, Zoroastrian extremists, Baha’i extremists, or Rastafarian extremists. We worry about Muslims, because they’re the ones who are murdering people in the name of their God.

On the other side, some fairly thoughtful people have insisted that it’s wholly unreasonable to connect Islam as a whole with a problem that is surely restricted to an unfortunate few. It has to be, right? For one thing, many of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims do emphatically share the rest of the world’s horror over the appalling violence recently wreaked by jihadists (which include, let us not forget, horrendous massacres in Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram). Also, as some have observed, all four of the primary schools of Islamic thought (even Wahhabism, the most conservative of the four) have prohibitions on violence against innocents.

As a free society, we believe in protecting freedom of religion, even for those who use it to rail against our society’s core values. We can’t ban the Islamic faith. And we believe in individual responsibility, which means we obviously can’t hold Muslims collectively responsible for the offenses of a few. At the same time, we should also recognize that the above arguments for a “peaceful Islam” are not dispositive. The murder of innocents may technically be “against the rules” within Islam, but obviously it is still happening on a fairly large scale, with the support of even more people than are actually willing to participate. We won’t address this problem just by consulting the rule book. What we need is a deeper understanding of the place of Islam in the modern world. Call in the theologians.

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America Will Miss Obama When He's Gone

America Will Miss Obama When He's Gone

The president may be a polarizing figure right now, but he'll be immensely popular once he leaves office.

By Dominic Tierney

Obama’s approval rating is stuck in the mid-40s, the Tea Party depicts him as an un-American socialist, and progressives tire of endless fighting in the Middle East. Many people have mentally checked out from his presidency. But the way that Americans think about Obama today is not the way they will see him in three or five years’ time.

Ex-presidents often enjoy an uptick in support. After departing the limelight, they become more popular, and people recall their administrations more positively. Today, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter are all viewed favorably by a majority of Americans.

Perhaps the most striking example is George W. Bush. He left office not so much under a cloud, as under a miasma. The trifecta of Iraq, Katrina, and a financial crisis meant that his approval ratings in 2008 barely scraped 30 percent. In an informal poll of around one hundred professional historians in 2008, over 98 percent judged Bush’s presidency as a failure. Nearly two-in-three (61 percent) said Bush was the worst president in American history—worse even than James Buchanan, who is widely blamed for helping to trigger the Civil War.

Since 2008, Americans have fallen prey to Bush Enchantment Syndrome. In 2010, billboards and merchandise started popping up with the slogan “Miss Me Yet?” The number of Americans who rated Bush as an “outstanding” or “above average” president increased from 17 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, by 2014, 53 percent of people held a favorable view of Bush.

There are several things at work here. After leaving Washington D.C. in a helicopter bound for Andrews Air Force Base, and then taking a flight to Texas (like George W. Bush), or a train-ride to Independence, Missouri (like Harry Truman), ex-presidents play new and generally attractive roles. There’s the ceremonial ribbon cutter. There’s the charity fundraiser. And there’s the (often self-serving) memoir writer.

In addition, presidential veterans benefit from retreating from the partisan battlefield. The tribalism of American politics makes it hard to push approval ratings much above 50 percent for long. But after presidents head off into the sunset, half of America is no longer dead set against them.

Ex-presidents also look better in the light of their successors’ sins. The media’s Eye of Sauron turns to the next guy and searches for every imperfection. Americans suddenly remember what they liked about the last president—who is illuminated in the more forgiving sepia glow of retirement.

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How the idea of ‘having it all’ makes women feel terrible about themselves

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How the idea of ‘having it all’ makes women feel terrible about themselves

I'm not a high-powered, corporate mother. Have I failed as a woman?

Not a day goes by when I’m not reading another headline arguing that women can have it all, or, more accurately, why they can’t.

In the New York Times magazine, Jennifer Szalai’s does a fine job deconstructing the very origin of “having it all” as both a myth and misrepresentation of a classic book in the 1970s.

While former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief and author Helen Gurley Brown’s editors coined the title for her 1982 book “Having It All,” the thesis was more self-help than a debate of the sexes, and definitely did not include children in the equation. Originally, Szalai writes, Brown intended to catalyze women to strive for “more love, more money, more stability and, inevitably, more sex” despite what social economic class one was starting from.

Her original title — “The Mouseburger Plan” — represented how she envisioned the book’s thesis: “A book by a near-loser who got to be a winner.” Her editors felt otherwise. Somehow “having it all” seemed more appealing than working toward something from nothing, and 30 years later the phrase has been taken out of context (what little it began in), and conveniently appropriated.

During that time, feminist setbacks and victories have revived the phrase “having it all” for a very narrow definition of women: professional mothers. While bringing to light the sad facts of working mothers struggling to find adequate childcare or help with housework, the concept of having it all and, more accurately, why women can’t, has recently been distilled down to two distinct, and arguably classist, definitions of womanhood: having a career and having children.

Why do feminist authors continue to define womanhood in such narrow and definitive terms?

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A 12-Hour Window for a Healthy Weight

A 12-Hour Window for a Healthy Weight

Scientists, like mothers, have long suspected that midnight snacking is inadvisable. But until a few years ago, there was little in the way of science behind those suspicions. Now, a new study shows that mice prevented from eating at all hours avoided obesity and metabolic problems — even if their diet was sometimes unhealthful.

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego and elsewhere began experimenting with the eating patterns of laboratory mice in a previous study. On that occasion, some mice consumed high-fat food whenever they wanted; others had the same diet but could eat only during an eight-hour window. None exercised. The mice that ate at all hours soon grew chubby and unwell, with symptoms of diabetes. But the mice on the eight-hour schedule gained little weight and developed no metabolic problems. Those results were published in 2012.

For the new study, which appeared in the journal Cell Metabolism in December, Salk scientists fed groups of adult males one of four diets: high-fat, high-fructose, high-fat and high-sucrose, and regular mouse kibble. Some of the mice in each dietary group were allowed to eat whenever they wanted throughout their waking hours; others were restricted to feeding periods of nine, 12 or 15 hours. The caloric intake for all the mice was the same.

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With Rise of Talk Radio, a College Sport Fades as a Staple of the Airwaves

With Rise of Talk Radio, a College Sport Fades as a Staple of the Airwaves

Dave Popkin, the play-by-play announcer for Seton Hall men’s basketball games, knew things would be different when the team switched radio homes three years ago. After almost two decades on the air with WABC-AM, Seton Hall’s games moved to WMTR-AM — a 7,000-watt station based in Morristown, N.J. But fans were finding only static.

“I’d hear it on social media and anecdotally,” Popkin recalled, “that people who lived in certain areas couldn’t get the games as well, because of the signal.”

Seton Hall games had moved from a station that could be heard clearly around the region — WABC has a 50,000-watt signal — to a station fans could not pick up near the university’s South Orange campus. That relationship lasted only one year; Seton Hall switched last season to WNYM-AM. But while Seton Hall’s new home broadcasts at 50,000 watts during the day, it drops to 5,000 at night — when most games are aired.

That leaves Seton Hall in a situation more and more college basketball programs are finding themselves in as stations have found that they can bring in more advertising money with news or talk-radio programs than with sports.

“Certainly, there are a lot of different options for a fan base now,” said Aaron Worsham, senior vice president for affiliate relations of Learfield Sports, which represents the media interests of nearly 100 colleges and universities, including Seton Hall.

“It’s progressed throughout the years, and there are some differences from years past,” he said. “But I’m still a firm believer in college and radio. Tuning into a station — whether it’s AM or FM, whether it’s on an app or being streamed — live content is unique.”

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Battle Over Deportation as Republicans Try to Roll Back Obama Immigration Policies

Battle Over Deportation as Republicans Try to Roll Back Obama Immigration Policies


DENVER — For four years Arturo Hernández García, an immigrant from Mexico, tried every legal move to stop his deportation. As a last resort, he camped out in the basement of a church here, taking sanctuary from federal agents trying to expel him.

Obama administration officials have long said they are not looking to deport undocumented immigrants like Mr. Hernández García — a taxpaying business owner and parent of an American citizen. But after he was arrested over a workplace argument in 2010, the immigration authorities were alerted to his status by a federal monitoring program. They began deportation proceedings that have continued to this day, even though he has been cleared of the criminal charges.

Mr. Hernández García was ensnared by an enforcement program known as Secure Communities, which connected local and state police departments across the country with federal immigration enforcement. Now the program, which generated the majority of the 2.3 million deportations under the Obama administration, is at the center of the battle between the president and Republicans who control Congress over his executive actions to transform the deportation system.

Along with the hotly contested initiatives he announced in November allowing millions of unauthorized immigrants to stay and work legally, President Obama also canceled Secure Communities, replacing it with a new program that will greatly reduce the threat of deportation for immigrants who, like Mr. Hernández García, have no record of serious crimes. Under new, sharply revised priorities that were part of the president’s package, immigration agents will focus almost exclusively on deporting terrorists, gang members and felons who pose security risks.

Republicans describe Mr. Obama’s actions as an unconstitutional overreach and have vowed to reverse them. On Wednesday the House passed a Homeland Security funding bill that would cancel his programs protecting illegal immigrants. The measure would restore Secure Communities and give it increased funding, while taking away the president’s authority to set priorities for deportation. Mr. Obama said Monday that he would veto the measure, which now goes to the Senate.

Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas called it “a reasonable response to the extreme actions the president has taken to undermine and rewrite our immigration laws.” Secure Communities, he said, helped federal agents “successfully remove hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant criminals.”

But to administration officials, Secure Communities had become a liability, causing separations of long-settled immigrant families, fraying relations with local police departments and generating damaging legal challenges. In a Nov. 20 memorandum canceling the program, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said it had “become a symbol for general hostility toward the enforcement of our immigration laws.

For Mr. Hernández García, Secure Communities was the start of a torturous deportation process that continued inexorably even while administration officials insisted that they were going only after dangerous convicts.

Coming as a tourist 15 years ago, Mr. Hernández García stayed and built a business laying floor tiles, now with six employees. At a construction site in 2010, he had an argument with a worker from another crew who had trod on a freshly laid floor. The man called the police and Mr. Hernández García was arrested on an assault charge. His fingerprint check drew the attention of immigration agents.

Insisting on a trial, he was acquitted after witnesses confirmed that there had been no attack. “I’ve had all these problems because one person spoke falsely,” Mr. Hernández García said.

He and his wife, Ana, 40, who is Mexican, applied years ago for green cards through her father, an American citizen. Their applications are buried in processing backlogs. They have a Mexican daughter they brought as a baby; another daughter, 9, was born in the United States. But an immigration judge who heard his deportation case was not persuaded that it would be a hardship for his family if Mr. Hernández García was deported.

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At Least 2 Killed in Antiterror Raid by the Belgian Police

At Least 2 Killed in Antiterror Raid by the Belgian Police

BRUSSELS — Belgium stepped up its efforts against suspected terrorists on Thursday with police raids, arrests and a heightened alert level across the country. Two suspects were killed in a gun battle near the German border, and the authorities said that a man suspected of links to last week’s deadly terror attacks in Paris had been arrested in southern Belgium.

The gun battle happened in Verviers, a town about 75 miles east of Brussels. The police were closing in on several suspects there in the early evening when they were met with bursts of semiautomatic gunfire, according to Eric Van Der Sypt, the state prosecutor. After several minutes, he said, the shooters were “neutralized,” with two suspects dead and a third wounded and in custody. No police officers or civilians were wounded, he said.

Officials who briefed reporters at a news conference in Brussels Thursday evening declined to give many details about the raid, citing a continuing investigation. But they said that the terror alert level for the country had been raised to three on a four-point scale.

Mr. Van der Sypt said at the news conference that the police raids on Thursday were focused on “several people who we think are an operational cell — certain people who came back from Syria.”

“During the investigation, we found that this group was about to commit terrorist attacks in Belgium,” he said, adding that the group’s targets were the Belgian police.

“For the time being, there is no connection with what happened in Paris,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Van Der Sypt said the authorities had a man in custody who had been arrested the day before in Charleroi, south of Brussels, on suspicion of arms dealing. The man surrendered to police on Wednesday after a police raid there on Tuesday. Mr. Van Der Sypt said in a telephone interview before the raid in Verviers that the authorities were investigating whether the activities of the man in Charleroi were linked to the attacks in and near Paris last week. “For the moment, we certainly can’t confirm a link,” he said.

Neither, he said, was any direct link between the raids in Charleroi and Verviers.

Belgian news outlets reported that the police had evidence that the man had arranged a sale of ammunition to Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four people and held others hostage at a kosher supermarket in Paris on Friday until French special forces stormed the market and shot him dead.

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Obama takes executive action on paid family and medical leave

Obama takes executive action on paid family and medical leave

By Linda Feldmann

President Obama signed a memorandum Thursday granting paid leave for federal workers after the birth of a child. But the rest of what he wants requires Congress to pass legislation.

Thursday morning, the president signed a memorandum that grants federal workers six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, plus the right to six additional weeks of unpaid leave. The directive also applies to federal workers caring for ailing family members.

Beyond that, Mr. Obama needs the cooperation of the Republican-controlled House and Senate. He will call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow American workers to earn up to seven days a year of paid sick time. And in his fiscal 2016 budget proposal, to be released Feb. 2, Obama will include $2.2 billion in mandatory funding to reimburse states that set up family leave programs.

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How Online Romance Causes Divorce

How Online Romance Causes Divorce

By Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D.

Young couple in bed while wife cheats on cell phone.

Online relationships can be like Astroturf: it may look greener than your real-life relationship, but it’s not truly alive.

The greener-grass scenario is an interesting one. In it you’re never responsible for the sad state of affairs on your side of the fence. But that’s not true in real life. For those couples whose marriages were in shambles because of emotional adultery, I often wonder what would have happened if all that time, effort, and energy that was sunk into the other relationship had been invested into the marriage instead? Maybe the reason the grass is in such poor condition on this side is because you’ve been neglecting to water, feed, and care for it.

Why Does My Child Worry So Much?

Why Does My Child Worry So Much?

By Dan Peters, Ph.D. 

Comprehensive evaluations can help find the reasons a child is experiencing anxiety. This case study provides an inside look at the process.

Ten Things You Need to Know about Campus Sexual Assault

Ten Things You Need to Know about Campus Sexual Assault

By The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues

Sexaul assault on campus is common--far more common than many people imagine.

7. Alcohol does not cause sexual assault. Alcohol may fuel the intent of those with a propensity to commit a sexual offense, but alcohol use should be seen for what it is: an excuse to blame the victim and excuse the perpetrator 

Raiders Owner Hangs at Hooters with Members of the Team

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Raiders Owner Hangs at Hooters with Members of the Team

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Can Compression Clothing Enhance Your Workout?
House Measure Defies Obama on Immigrants

Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday that by voting to undo major provisions of President Obama’s immigration policy, the House was heeding the will of voters in November.

Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday that by voting to undo major provisions of President Obama’s immigration policy, the House was heeding the will of voters in November.

Some Republican members deserted their party to vote against a bill denying safeguards for undocumented immigrants, including the young known as Dreamers.

The House voted on Wednesday to gut major provisions of President Obama’s immigration policy, approving legislation that would revoke legal protections for millions of unauthorized immigrants, including children, and put them at risk of deportation.

The vote drew condemnation from Democrats and the White House and led more than two dozen Republicans, many worried about the perception that the party is hostile to immigrants, to break away and vote no.

The most contentious measures in the bill are certain to die in the Senate, where Democrats have said they will wage a filibuster and some Republicans are likely to join in opposition. Mr. Obama has said he would not sign legislation that undermined the immigration changes he has carried out through executive action.


The House vote offered the first signs of how the new Republican-led Congress will navigate the bitter debate over the president’s directives, as well as evidence of emerging fissures in a party that has prided itself on nearly unanimous opposition to the president.

Because Republicans have said that they will use the $40 billion funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security as their vehicle for dismantling Mr. Obama’s action, Congress faces another deadline that seems likely to force an accommodation before the department’s money is due to run out at the end of February.

Yet, in just their second week of control on Capitol Hill, Republicans on Wednesday were forced to address questions about whether the party again would be hobbled by internal disagreements over immigration policy. And they were faced with an unwelcome distraction from their message of governing responsibly and cooperatively: explaining why the vote on Wednesday should not be seen as an insult to Hispanics, a constituency Republicans lost by more than two to one in the 2012 presidential election and have been trying to woo since.

In the House, 26 Republicans voted against an amendment to effectively undo Mr. Obama’s 2012 executive action that allowed immigrants who had entered the United States illegally as children to stay. The amendment just barely passed with 218 votes, a few more than it needed. No Democrats voted yes.

The overarching funding bill for Homeland Security passed, 236 to 191, with 10 Republican defections. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, was expected to meet with his members over the next few days to discuss how to move forward with the bill, including whether they could amend it, strip out some of its more contentious amendments and send it back to the House.

Republicans who supported the legislation said there was nothing cruel about their intentions. The debate was not about immigration, many of them insisted on Wednesday, but about a president who had exceeded his authority by rewriting immigration law without Congress’s consent.

“By their votes last November, the people made clear they want more accountability from this president — enough is enough,” said Speaker John A. Boehner before the vote. “By our votes here today, we will heed their will.”

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Economic Lessons From Switzerland’s One-Day, 18% Currency Rise

Economic Lessons From Switzerland’s One-Day, 18 Percent Currency Rise

These are strange and unnerving times in global financial markets, and if Thursday’s jaw-dropping move in the Swiss currency didn’t prove it, nothing will.

It is not every day that the currency of an advanced, economically important country rises by double-digit percentages against the currencies of other such countries within mere hours. But that is what happened to the Swiss franc on Thursday. It is up 18 percent against the euro as of Thursday morning, and at one point was up 39 percent. Currency strategists were searching for any analogue in modern history for a similarly abrupt move in major Western currency and coming up empty.

The Swiss move offers interesting lessons about the oddly precarious state of the global economy, but first it’s worth working through what exactly the Swiss National Bank has done.

Back during the Eurozone debt crisis in 2011, fear was high that banks in countries that use the euro would go belly up. If you were a company or rich person in a country like Greece or Italy or even France or Germany, fearful that the euro could go kablooey and your local banks with it, you were sorely tempted to catch a flight to Zurich or Geneva and deposit your money into a Swiss bank. Amid a general atmosphere of global panic, the same could be said of plenty of savers outside Europe: Russians, Middle Easterners, Chinese, you name it.

All those people looking to park money in Switzerland, a country of only 8 million people, created incredible upward pressure on the Swiss franc. From the start of 2010 to mid-2011, the value of the franc rose 44 percent against the euro.

Think about that for a minute. It would be as if dollars in the state of Virginia (with a population similar to Switzerland) suddenly were worth 44 percent more than the dollars used in the rest of the country. Virginians would be wealthier, but it would be a catastrophe for businesses in the state. Suddenly their costs would be 44 percent higher, effectively, than that of competitors in other states. Tourism would dry up; why go to a Virginia beach when it is 44 percent more expensive than a North Carolina beach?

That’s exactly the situation Swiss businesses faced. Swiss watchmakers, pharmaceutical firms and ski resorts were suffering mightily because a scary global economy made people want to park their money into Swiss banks.

The Swiss National Bank came to the rescue. After its earlier efforts to cut interest rates hadn’t done enough to dampen interest in the franc, it pulled out the big guns, and set a peg, announcing it wouldn’t allow the Swiss franc-euro exchange rate to fall below 1.2. They backed it by going onto foreign exchange markets at will and buying euros as necessary to defend the peg.

It worked for a long time. But now, the European Central Bank looks to be on the verge of an extensive new effort to try to pump money into the European economy to get it out of its doldrums, which is creating downward pressure on the euro. The pressure is particularly pronounced against the dollar, the benchmark of global commerce, which is rising in part because of a strong United States economy and plans by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.


Meanwhile, Russia is a basket case, increasing the desire of Russian oligarchs to avoid exposure to a falling ruble.

All that means that the 1.2 euro peg is becoming more and more expensive to defend. And on Thursday, the Swiss National Bank, led by Thomas Jordan, basically waved the white flag.

In a news release, the bank said that it believed the franc was less overvalued now than it had been when the policy started, so no more peg. “Recently, divergences between the monetary policies of the major currency areas have increased significantly – a trend that is likely to become even more pronounced,” the announcement said.

In other words, this situation is only going to get worse, which means we would be throwing Swiss francs down a money pit if we tried to continue defending the 1.2 currency peg.

The central bank simultaneously cut interest rates, hoping to offset some of the damage in foreign exchange markets. It didn’t work. The Swiss franc-to-euro exchange rate moved back to where it was before the peg was introduced. Shares of major Swiss companies like Nestle plummeted. Exporters in Switzerland (and people thinking of traveling there, such as the global elite soon heading to Davos for the World Economic Forum) are in for serious sticker shock.

One can sympathize with the Swiss National Bank, as defending their peg in the face of mounting potential losses. But the bigger lesson here is this: The six years and counting of aggressive monetary activism out of major central banks like the Fed and E.C.B. may have rescued the global economy over and over. But it has also created a range of spillovers far beyond United States and European borders that people all around the world will be grappling with for a long time to come.

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Chris Christie, odd man out?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pictured. | Getty

Chris Christie, odd man out?

Can the New Jersey governor catch up with Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney on the 2016 front?

By Ben White and Maggie Haberman

As Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush engage in an increasingly bitter fight over big donors and fundraisers, another Republican eyeing the presidency could get squeezed out: Christopher James Christie.

The New Jersey governor is suddenly moving quickly to build a campaign infrastructure in the wake of announcements by Romney and Bush that they are exploring White House bids. Christie has brought on a finance chairman, is launching a leadership PAC and is heading to Iowa for a cattle call later this month. A big chunk of his State of the State speech this week was about the rest of the country.

Even his biggest supporters acknowledge that Christie — who was already burdened by federal investigations, state fiscal problems and fundraising limits — now has a tougher task ahead. Like Christie, Bush and Romney are GOP establishment-favored candidates, and all three will be competing for many of the same donors and bundlers. And the time frame for locking down talent and money is now much shorter.

“Can you do math? Well, you will have less money to go around if you have three people going for it instead of two,” said Ken Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot who is Christie’s biggest supporter on Wall Street and in the broader business community.

Langone insists the governor could nonetheless gather the money needed to compete with the rest of what may shape up to be a very crowded GOP presidential field. The billionaire is planning a dinner for Christie next week with big donors, though he declined to name potential attendees.

“They can say whatever they want,” Langone said of Christie’s doubters. “I could say I’m going to kick King Kong’s ass, but you won’t know until I’ve done it. They could say the sky is going to come up yellow tomorrow. I am going to work my ass off to make sure that Chris Christie never needs money.”

Many others on Wall Street are less optimistic. They may like and admire Christie, and might even support him in a scenario without Romney and Bush, but they now don’t see a path for the New Jersey governor.

“I think Christie is the odd man out right now. He’s in serious trouble,” said one senior Wall Street executive, echoing remarks made by a dozen others who requested anonymity as not to anger Christie. Wall Street executives also are not inclined to criticize Christie on the record because their firms often do business with the state of New Jersey. Another executive said of Christie: “I like him, and under other circumstances, I could support him. But not with Mitt and Jeb in the race. And Christie has so many other issues.”

Christie’s aides have insisted he’s not rushing his time frame, but his moves suggest he’s well aware of the tremors in the GOP field.

The governor has signed on Ray Washburne, a highly respected Dallas investor and former Republican National Committee finance chairman, to lead his presidential fundraising efforts. He is still on the hunt for a finance director, with a limited number of options for people who raise money at the national level. Michael DuHaime, Christie’s top political strategist, declined to comment on the governor’s plans or his fundraising capabilities.

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The Real GOP Split on Immigration

The Real GOP Split on Immigration

The battle isn't in Washington. It's in the Midwest.

You might think that Snyder is a lonesome GOP voice on immigration, especially after the U.S. House voted this week to withhold part of the Department of Homeland Security's budget as a way of rolling back some of the provisions of the president’s executive action, and when Beltway firebrands like Sen. Ted Cruz are calling for presidential judicial and executive nominees to be held hostage to the rescinding of the presidential order. But here in the Midwest, Snyder has plenty of distinguished company. Like-minded Republicans include Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a possible presidential contender, who caused controversy within the Republican Party on Nov. 18 when he said he was open to considering Obama’s citizenship plan for illegal immigrants.

“My sense is I don’t like the idea of citizenship when people jump the line, [but] we may have to do it,” Kasich said at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Florida late last year. “Everybody in this country has to feel as though they have an opportunity.” Another possible presidential prospect from the Midwest—Indiana Gov. Mike Pence—had proposed a comprehensive immigration reform plan in 2006 when he was in Congress, though he appears to be distancing himself from that now that he finds his name mentioned in the Republican presidential talk. 

What Snyder—and Kasich, to some extent—are articulating is a viewpoint on immigration from the Midwest that is different from the national debate, which tends to center on border fences and deportation. In these post-industrial states, which have seen huge population loss and economic distress in cities such as Detroit and Cleveland, Snyder and other Republican political leaders are seeing immigration as a tool to help the region “grow and thrive,” as Snyder said in his statement. Or as Karen Phillippi, deputy director of Michigan’s Office of New Americans, puts it: “The focus of our immigration policy is more on economic impact than on social justice.”

The main thrust of the Midwestern pro-immigration argument is based on two points: first, that immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial than native-borns and therefore are job creators; and second, Midwestern colleges and universities have large numbers of foreign students, and the region wants to keep them after they graduate by opening up the number of visas available.

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French Eye Link Between Suspect and Underwear Bomber

French Eye Link Between Suspect and Underwear Bomber

Said Kouachi, one of the alleged attackers of Charlie Hebdo magazine, had connections with a man who attempted to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner in 2009. WSJ's Margaret Coker reports.

Why 10,000 French Jews Will Move to Israel This Year

Why 10,000 French Jews Will Move to Israel This Year

How has France’s Jewish community changed since World War II? Why are thousands of French Jews now emigrating to Israel? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

ISIS Gaining Ground in Syria, Despite U.S. Strikes

ISIS Gaining Ground in Syria, Despite U.S. Strikes

American jets are pounding Syria. But ISIS is taking key terrain—and putting more and more people under its black banners.

ISIS continues to gain substantial ground in Syria, despite nearly 800 airstrikes in the American-led campaign to break its grip there.

At least one-third of the country’s territory is now under ISIS influence, with recent gains in rural areas that can serve as a conduit to major cities that the so-called Islamic State hopes to eventually claim as part of its caliphate. Meanwhile, the Islamic extremist group does not appear to have suffered any major ground losses since the strikes began. The result is a net ground gain for ISIS, according to information compiled by two groups with on-the-ground sources.

In Syria, ISIS “has not any lost any key terrain,” Jennifer Cafarella, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War who studies the Syrian conflict, explained to The Daily Beast.

Even U.S. military officials privately conceded to The Daily Beast that ISIS has gained ground in some areas, even as the Pentagon claims its seized territory elsewhere, largely around the northern city of Kobani. That’s been the focus of the U.S.-led campaign, and ISIS has not been able to take the town, despite its best efforts.


A map developed by the Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS), a Syrian-American opposition umbrella group, shows that ISIS has nearly doubled the amount of territory it controls since airstrikes began last year.

“Assessing the map, ISIS has almost doubled its territorial control in Syria. But more importantly, the number of people who now live under ISIS control has also increased substantially,” CDS political adviser Mouaz Moustafa said.

With the fall of that much territory into ISIS hands, Syrians who once lived in ungoverned or rebel held areas are now under ISIS’s grip. Of course, in an irregular war like this one, control of people is far more important than control of territory. In that regard, too, things appear to be going in the wrong direction.

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After Paris attacks, Belgian Muslims face renewed fight

After Paris attacks, Belgian Muslims face renewed fight

By Michael Birnbaum

VILVOORDE, Belgium — In a Belgian town where dozens of young people have departed to wage jihad in Syria, the bloody attacks in Paris were the mosque director’s worst nightmare.

Just days after the deadly assaults in the French capital, anti-Muslim graffiti went up at the soccer stadium in this hardscrabble Brussels suburb whose marginalized Muslim youths have proved susceptible to quick radicalization. Far-right Flemish nationalist parties warned of sweeping new security measures aimed at Muslim communities. And after modest success in containing surging Islamist extremism, mosque director Mimoun Aquichouch worried anew about a setback.

The wave of terror last week that killed 17 people plus the perpetrators in and around Paris has French leaders deeming the tragedy their nation’s 9/11. But the reverberations extend far beyond France, as divisions in Europe widen between alienated young Muslims and security officials wary of extremist threats.

Many European countries are confronting the anger and alienation that may have led at least three Frenchmen to unleash violence on their own nation. Nowhere is the fight as intense as in Belgium, which has become Europe’s most fertile recruiting ground for jihadists to join the battle to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The conflict in Syria and Iraq is a cauldron for extremist groups that increasingly threaten to extend their violence into Europe. More than 350 Belgians have gone to Syria, security officials say, the highest number per capita among European countries and a shock for a nation whose population of 11 million is smaller than Ohio’s.

Tensions spiked after the Paris attacks, and members of Muslim communities in Belgium say they feel under siege yet again. Their children are taunted at school, anti-Muslim graffiti has been scrawled near mosques, and lawmakers are debating rules that could strip citizenship from Belgians who take up arms in Syria.

But the anger may be cutting both ways. Four Brussels bookstores on Wednesday received threats telling them not to sell copies of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical newsweekly where 10 staffers and two police officers were killed by two French brothers who said they were acting in concert with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The issue of Charlie Hebdo released Wednesday features a cartoon of a crying prophet Muhammad on the cover. Many Muslims say any depiction of the prophet is offensive.

Some Muslim leaders here are warning that Belgian proposals to crack down on the threat of homegrown Islamist violence may actually worsen the problem. Interior Minister Jan Jambon on Wednesday proposed making it easier to deploy the Belgian army domestically and to give authorities the power to strip citizens of their nationality should they go to fight abroad. Other suggestions include tighter oversight of social networks.

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Crisis in France Is Seen as Sign of Chronic Ills

Crisis in France Is Seen as Sign of Chronic Ills


VAULX-EN-VELIN, France — France may have just hosted its biggest outpouring of solidarity since the end of World War II in response to the terrorist attacks last week in and around Paris that left 17 dead at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

But in the disaffected suburbs, or banlieues, that ring France’s largest cities, those appeals for unity hardly penetrated the sense of isolation, even siege, that has left cities like this one living a parallel existence from the rest of the country.

“I am French, and I feel French,” said Nabil Souidi, 23. “But here you are forbidden to say, ‘I am Charlie,’ ” referring to the rallying cry of solidarity since the attack on the magazine.

Mr. Souidi recently graduated from a trade school and hoped to find a job as a mechanic. Months later, he is still out of work, searching for a Plan B. “I’ll go to Syria,” he said, with a sarcastic laugh in an interview over a plate of French fries and mayonnaise.

For him and many other French Muslims, the nation’s preoccupation with last week’s attacks at the hands of Islamic extremists presents a mere distraction from a fundamental social crisis that has plagued France’s immigrant neighborhoods for decades.

In numerous interviews, community leaders and Muslims and North Africans who largely populate the banlieues expressed concern that last week’s attacks in Paris would intensify an already explosive social and economic situation in the places where they live.

On Tuesday, a French association that represents 120 mayors across France issued a statement warning that the banlieues were “on edge” amid the fallout from the attacks, and said there was an urgent need to address economic, social and educational shortfalls.

Vaulx-en-Velin, a dreary Muslim-majority suburb of Lyon, is France’s third-poorest city and representative of the problems. Many youths simply call it “a ghetto.” It might also be called the Other France.

Here, and in numerous other poor suburbs that ring French cities, joblessness runs around 20 percent, about double the national average. For young people, it can be as high as 40 percent. About half of residents do not have a high school diploma. Police harassment and profiling are taken for granted as the rule.


The men who carried out the attacks — Saïd Kouachi and his brother Chérif, and Amedy Coulibaly, who seized the kosher market — grew up in the French banlieues and had failed to hold down a series of menial jobs in their youth.

All were attracted to Islamic extremism by their teenage years, and many residents in the banlieues consider them bad seeds who were propelled toward the fringe.

Yet the fallout from their attacks, and the response shown by the rest of France, has been Topic A along the gritty streets of many impoverished suburbs from Paris down through the south of France.

Many worried that as Muslims, they would be lumped together with the killers. Others spoke of fears of retaliation against mosques and other Muslim symbols, as well as the specter of reprisals or even a crackdown by the police after officers were murdered in the terrorist attacks.

“People feel like there is no solution — that they are just totally divided from the rest of society,” said Gounedi Traore, 37, a social worker at the Centre Social Intercommunal de la Dhuys, a community center in Clichy-sous-Bois, a suburb outside of Paris that is one of France’s most economically deprived. “After what happened with Charlie Hebdo, I feel that this is going to set off a war.”

Nearly everyone agreed that the fallout from the Charlie Hebdo attacks, including a heightened security response by France and its allies, was a distraction from a larger problem: a sense of increasing social and economic marginalization that many cited as a root cause of young people drifting toward extremism.

“The attacks had a global impact but not local impact,” said Faouzi Hamdi, rector of the Okba Ibn Nafee Mosque in Vaulx-en-Velin.

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15 useful tricks you probably didn't know your iPhone could do.

The iPhone has a lot of nice features, but here are 15 helpful tricks that can help you save battery life, create shortcuts and hide things on your iPhone.

15 useful tricks you probably didn't know your iPhone could do.

BY Alejandro Alba  /  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

If you want to increase your battery life, create shortcuts or hide stuff in your phone—including your location—these 15 iPhone tricks will help you get the most out of your phone on day-to-day basis.

How soccer saved the Seattle Seahawks

Luke Willson

How soccer saved the Seattle Seahawks

When the Seahawks’ potential move to California was put to a referendum, an unlikely voting bloc helped keep the team in Seattle

Les Carpenter

his is the story the loudest crowd in the NFL probably doesn’t want you to know. It is the story of how the Seattle Seahawks nearly disappeared, how the best home-field advantage in professional football almost never happened and how it took a passionate band of soccer fans to save football in Seattle.

On Sunday the Seahawks will host the NFC Championship Game in an attempt to reach their second straight Super Bowl. CenturyLink Field will again be sold out and the 68,000 fans crammed into its stands will try to rattle the Green Bay Packers as they do most opponents who find communications impossible in the face of a roar that has literally triggered seismic events. Flags with the number 12 will flap throughout the city anointing the crowd as an extra, essential 12th man in Seattle blue.

Yet there was a time not that long ago when the Seahawks were not adored in their home city, when the team played before huge swaths of empty metal bleachers and a fleet of moving vans hauled the team’s equipment to California in the first stage of a move to suburban Los Angeles. That was in 1996 and the Seahawks’ presumed departure did not generate much protest. Several losing seasons had been further blemished by a series of off-field troubles and the team’s owner, Ken Behring, was despised as an outsider determined to whisk the Seahawks away.

Hoping to keep the team in Seattle, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen offered to buy the Seahawks but with one caveat: he wanted a new stadium to replace the dreary Kingdome, he wanted $300m of public money to help finance it and he wanted the financing to be approved in a statewide referendum that Allen would pay to hold. If the vote failed, Allen vowed to walk away, returning the Seahawks to Behring who appeared ready to complete the team’s California move.

Winning the election seemed an almost impossible task. Allen’s request came as the city’s baseball team, the Mariners, was prevailing in an ugly fight for a new stadium. The Mariners were far better liked at the time than the Seahawks and few in the state of Washington wished to give Allen — then the world’s seventh-richest man — tax money for a stadium. As the June 1997 vote drew near the Seahawks supporters were desperate for a miracle.

Then Fred Mendoza called Allen’s offices.

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House Votes to Reverse Immigration Policy

House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday. The vote was a glimpse into how the Republican-led Congress will navigate the immigration debate.

Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

House Votes to Reverse Immigration Policy


The vote, which would revoke legal protections for millions of undocumented immigrants, drew outrage from Democrats and led some Republicans to break away from their party.

The House on Wednesday voted to undo major provisions of President Obama’s immigration policy, approving legislation that would revoke legal protections for millions of undocumented immigrants. The vote drew outrage from Democrats and led more than two dozen Republicans, many worried about the perception that their party is hostile to immigrants, to break away.

The most contentious measures in the bill will most likely die in the Senate, where Democrats have said they will wage a filibuster and some Republicans are likely to join in opposition. The White House has said President Obama will not sign any bill that blocks his executive actions on immigration.

But the action in the House on Wednesday was a glimpse into how the new Republican-led Congress will navigate the divisive debate over the president’s immigration actions as lawmakers struggle to reach a compromise on funding the Department of Homeland Security. The department will run out of money at the end of February, and Republicans have said they will use the appropriations process as their vehicle for dismantling Mr. Obama’s directives.

In the House, 26 Republicans voted against an amendment that would effectively end Mr. Obama’s 2012 order that allowed immigrants who entered the country illegally as children, a group known as Dreamers, to stay. The amendment passed by the thinnest of majorities, 218 to 209, with no Democratic Party votes.

The overarching funding bill for Homeland Security passed 236 to 191, with 10 Republican defections. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is expected to meet with his members over the next few days to discuss how to move forward with the bill, including whether they can amend it, strip out some of its more contentious amendments and send it back to the House.

Republicans who supported the legislation said there was nothing cruel about their intentions. The debate was not about immigration, many of them insisted on Wednesday, but about the president’s exceeding his authority by rewriting immigration law on his own.

“By their votes last November, the people made clear they want more accountability from this president — enough is enough,” said Speaker John A. Boehner, addressing the House chamber before the vote. “By our votes here today, we will heed their will.”


Democrats accused Republicans of being indifferent to hard-working immigrants and said they were jeopardizing Homeland Security funds at a time when the country cannot afford to be caught off guard.

“Republicans have only been in control for a week and already they are picking an unnecessary political fight that risks shutting down the Department of Homeland Security,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader. “This is not a game and it is time for Republicans to take their responsibility to govern seriously, instead of playing to the most extreme voices in their party.”

The final outcome will not be resolved for weeks. Wednesday’s vote was just the opening play by House conservatives, who wanted to be on record with a forceful response to the president.

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