Top 5 Live-WURD Tuesday November 17
1. Paris Attacks: Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud Is Reportedly Mastermind
A leading Belgian jihadist who is one of the most active ISIS operators in Syria is the suspected mastermind behind the Paris massacre, according to reports.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who once boasted about evading Western intelligence, is also said to be linked to the thwarted attacks on a Paris-bound high-speed train and a church near the French capital earlier this year.
“He appears to be the brains behind several planned attacks in Europe,” a source told Reuters, adding that the 27-year-old was investigators’ best lead as the person likely behind the killing of at least 129 people in Paris on Friday. NBC News could not independently confirm the reports, but a U.S. counterterrorism official confirmed Abaaoud had a leading role in the attacks.
Abaaoud, whose parents are Moroccan immigrants, emerged in recent years as Belgium’s most notorious jihadist. A French official with direct knowledge of the investigation but who was not authorized to be publicly identified as speaking about the probe also told The Associated Press that Abaaoud was the likely mastermind.
2. State Sen. Williams calls for Eakin’s resignation
State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams called for the resignation Monday of state Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin in connection with offensive emails he received and, in some cases, distributed.
Williams also said those involved in reviewing Eakin’s emails last year – including Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board Chief Counsel Robert Graci and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Special Counsel Robert Byer should also step down. Both concluded the messages did not warrant action to be taken against the supreme court justice.
Eakin’s emails, exchanged with a small circle of friends, are being reviewed anew.
In calling for the resignations Monday, Williams showed reporters and others examples of messages that were sent or received by Eakin, who has already apologized for the material.
“This isn’t porngate, this is hategate,” Williams said Monday. “These emails . . . undermine the integrity of our judiciary.”
A woman who answered Eakin’s office phone said he would have no comment.
Williams called for a special prosecutor to investigate the materials and any cover-ups. He said he would draft legislation to ensure offensive content not be transmitted over publicly-owned computer networks.
3. Protests Erupt After Black Man Shot by Police in Minneapolis
A Minnesota agency is investigating the shooting by a Minneapolis police officer of a black man suspected in an assault, an incident that prompted protests and led to a community forum with the mayor and police chief Sunday.
Accounts from some witnesses that the man was handcuffed when he was shot sparked outrage. Police said their preliminary investigation shows the man was not handcuffed but the investigation is ongoing.
Jason Sole, chair of the Minneapolis NAACP’s criminal justice committee, said many black residents of north Minneapolis are upset.
“We have been saying for a significant amount of time that Minneapolis is one bullet away from Ferguson,” he said referring to the shooting by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri last year of black 18-year-old Michael Brown, which sparked nationwide protests. “That bullet was fired last night. We want justice immediately,” Sole told Minnesota Public Radio News.
The shooting happened after police said they were called to north Minneapolis at about 12:45 a.m. Sunday for a report of an assault.
4. Babies found in Kensington were ‘medical specimens’
The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday that the bodies of two newborn babies found in Kensington over the weekend were “medical specimens.”
The bodies, of a girl and a boy, were preserved in formaldehyde and showed signs of post-mortem examination, said Jeff Moran, a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office.
“They were medical specimens such as one might find in an academic institution,” he said. “Now the question really is, where did they come from, and why were they disposed in this way?”
That’s what police were working to determine Monday, as investigators said they planned to review security footage from the area.
On the 1800 block of N. Palethorp Street, the alley where the babies were found, neighbors Theresa Cabeza, and John DeShields left messages at a makeshift memorial set up in the trash-strewn street.
“To have this happen in your backyard hurts,” Cabeza said. “It just breaks my heart.”
5. Some governors aim to resist accepting refugees
A growing number of states are refusing to take in Syrian refugees amid heightened security concerns following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, but they may have no choice but to accept them.
Michigan and Alabama were the first states to refuse relocating Syrian refugees on Sunday, and they’ve been joined by Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Georgia, Maine, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Iowa.
Govs. Rick Snyder of Michigan, Robert Bentley of Alabama, Greg Abbott of Texas, and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said in separate statements that their states would not be relocating refugees from the war-torn country until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security fully reviewed its screening procedures.
“Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration,” Snyder said. “But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.”
However, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said refugee status gives individuals both legal status in the U.S. and freedom to move from state to state, making it unclear that the states refusing to take in Syrian refugees could in fact reject them.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon