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Thousands Break Into John Lennon's 'Imagine' At Paris Unity Rally: WATCH

Rally

At a unity rally in Paris held to show national solidarity in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in France, thousands burst into singing John Lennon's "Imagine", Mashable reports:

[Redditor] ilHGG, who claims to live near the location of the march, wrote on Reddit that he or she played music, "especially peace songs," from his or her window, so passersby participating in the march could hear.

The poster of the video on YouTube commented,

"As no one could advance, my neighbor opened her windows and started to play classic tunes, to the delight of the audience. A great moment."

The rally in Paris combine with those held across France drew crowds of 3.7 million people, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, President Obama came under criticism for not attending the rally which saw a broad swath of world leaders in attendance including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. As The Washington Post reports, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest commented, “I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile." The U.S. was represented at the rally by Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) said of the President's absence, 

“I understand that when the president travels, he brings with him a security and communications package which is intense. And I understand you drop that into the middle of something like this, it could be disruptive,” Rubio said. “There’s a plethora of people they could have sent. I think in hindsight I hope that they would have done it differently.”

For his part, Secretary of State John Kerry called the hullabaloo surrounding the President's absence, "quibbling a little bit." 

In Paris, however, President Obama's absence was hardly felt, with many dubious of the presence of foreign leaders to begin with:

“I consider these heads of state to be taking part in my march,” said Thierry, a 56-year-old painter, who declined to give his last name because of fears of terrorism. “I’m not taking part in theirs.”

Watch the video of the attendees singing "Imagine", AFTER THE JUMP...

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World Leaders Gather in France for Massive 'Unity Rally' In Response to Terrorist Attacks: VIDEO

Rally

World leaders joined hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Paris today in a "unity rally" in response to the terrorist spree that has taken place across France over the past week. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, British PM David Cameron, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and others were in attendance. 

The U.S. was represented by the Jane Hartley, the ambassador to France. 

CNN reports:

French President Francois Hollande was joined by other heads of state and dignitaries -- several who linked arms.

At the very front of the march was Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris and president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith.

French officials announced "exceptional measures" to protect not only the throngs expected to gather near the Place de la Republique in central Paris, but also a veritable who's who of foreign leaders -- a test of the security forces of a nation rocked by days of terrorist violence.

Watch live footage of the rally as well as video of the world leaders marching together, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Dual Hostage Dramas Unfold As Police Close in On Suspected Charlie Hebdo Gunmen: VIDEO

France

UPDATE: Cherif and Said Kouachi, the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, have been killed in by security forces, Otis Mayor Bernard Corneille said. 

The New York Times reports:

French police on Friday killed the two brothers suspected of murdering 12 people at a Paris newspaper on Wednesday and freed his hostage unharmed, the authorities said. The police launched a simultaneous raid on a kosher supermarket in Paris where an alleged associate of the brothers was holding an unnamed number of hostages. At least some of hostages escaped unharmed, according to the police.

More here. Originial story below. 

France is once again on high alert this morning as two standoffs with gunmen are underway in and around Paris. CNN reports that authorities have not said if and how the situations are related, but one involves the two brothers wanted in the Charlie Hebdo massacre that claimed the lives of 12 people (10 journalists and two police officers) Wednesday. 

The Washington Post reports:

KouachiIn Dammartin-en-Goele, about 25 miles northeast of Paris, thousands of antiterrorism forces encircled a commercial building, where the armed pair suspected in the newspaper massacre was holed up with at least one hostage.

The standoff unfolded with authorities mobilizing commando-style units capable of storming the single-story printing business.

But negotiators also reached out to the brothers, who are believed armed and possibly preparing for a last-stand siege.

Reunters reports on the second hostage crisis:

A police source said several people were taken hostage at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris after a shootout involving a man armed with two guns.

The source said he bore a resemblance to the gunman suspected of killing a policewoman in a separate shooting in southern Paris on Thursday and believed to be a member of the same jihadist group, Butte Chaumont, as the two Hebdo suspects.

Police released pictures of a 32-year-old man, Amedy Coulibaly, and a 26-year-old woman, Hayat Boumeddiene, wanted in connection with the southern Paris incident.

CNN adds that French President Francoise Hollande held a crisis meeting Friday afternoon with senior Cabinet members at the Elysee palace in Paris.

Watch Sky News' live coverage of the developing story, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Google Fund Gears Up To Support Charlie Hebdo's Largest Print Run

Screenshot 2015-01-09 03.59.12

The Google-backed Fund for Digital Innovation is teaming up with with a number of French newspapers in preparation for the largest print run of Charlie Hebdo. Typically Charlie Hebdo has a circulation of about 60,000, but next week the surviving staff of the satirical French magazine will print and distribute 1 million copies of the upcoming issue. The decision for the expanded run comes days after eight staff members and were killed by extremists in an act of terrorism.

Four other victims were also killed in the attack that took place near the magazine’s headquarters. The deaths quickly sparked outcry across the globe in the form of physical protests and digital gathering around the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie. The upcoming issue will feature contributions from journaliss from across Europe. The Fund for Digital Innovation has pledged €250,000 ($300,000), a number French newspapers have agreed to match, in order to assist with the unprecedented release.

"It's very hard. We are all suffering, with grief, with fear, but we will do it anyway because stupidity will not win," Hebdo columnist Patrick Pelloux told Agence France Presse"Stupidity will not win."

 


Catholic League's Bill Donohue Says Charlie Hebdo Cartoonists 'Provoked' Terrorist Attack: VIDEO

Donohue

Vile, anti-gay activist Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, has wasted no time in defending those behind yesterday’s terrorist attack in Paris, France that left twelve people dead, reports The Washington Post.

B6w0fmUCUAAh4_FWhile the rest of the world gathered at protests last night to condemn the attack on the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the #IAmCharlie and #JeSuisCharlie hashtags trended globally, Donohue issued a statement titled “Muslims Are Right To Be Angry” in which he condemned the publication for offending Islam and other world religions.

While Donohue begins his statement by condemning those responsible for “killing in response to insult”, he adds in a big, big “but” by blaming Charlie Hebdo publisher Stephane Charbonnier for his own death:

“What happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.

“Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses.

“Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him.”

Earlier today, we reported on a second shooting in Paris as police continued their search for the gunmen involved in the Charlie Hebdo shooting. 

Watch Donohue's sickening comments via Fox News and see some Charlie Hebdo cartoons in English and global media reactions to the attacks, AFTER THE JUMP...

As a Christmas gift to world, Donohue unveiled a billboard in Los Angeles last month comparing the experiences of American “Christians” - the ones who spend their lives spreading anti-gay messages - and Christians facing persecution in ISIS-controlled territories.

Continue reading "Catholic League's Bill Donohue Says Charlie Hebdo Cartoonists 'Provoked' Terrorist Attack: VIDEO" »


Second Paris Shooting Occurs As Police Continue Manhunt for Gunmen in Attack on Satirical French Newspaper

Kouachi

As French police continue to search for two men involved in the attack on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris Wednesday, a second deadly shooting occurred in the city's southern suburbs on Thursday morning.

CNN reports:

A police officer was shot there, and she died. And about 20 heavily armed police have an apartment building surrounded, pushing crowds back from the area.

Witnesses said the gunman, dressed in black like the Charlie Hebdo attackers and apparently wearing a bulletproof vest, got out of a car as police officers were dealing with a traffic accident and fired at two of them. The suspect hasn't been captured.

It is unclear whether Thursday's shooting in the Montrouge suburb is related to the Wednesday attack.

USA Today has more on the ongoing manhunt for the Charlie Hebdo shooting suspects:

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said there were "several arrests" overnight in the hunt for two terror suspects after three gunmen, wearing hoods and armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles, stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, shouting Islamic phrases and killing 12 people.

Valls told RTL radio that seven people had been arrested since the attack, Reuters reported.

The suspected terrorist shooters are brothers, one of whom is well known to French law enforcement. Cherif Kouachi, now 32, served 18 months in prison on terrorism charges in 2008.

A third suspect, Mourad Hamyd,18, surrendered at a police station in Charleville-Mezieres, a small town in France's eastern Champagne region, Paris prosecutor's spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said, the Associated Press reported. She did not specify his relationship to the Kouachi brothers.

According to The Guardian, Wednesday's attack was not the first of its kind on the newspaper:

HebdoIn November 2011, the magazine’s offices were fire-bombed after it published a special edition, supposedly guest-edited by the prophet Muhammad and temporarily renamed “Charia Hebdo”. The cover was a cartoon of Muhammad threatening readers with “a hundred lashes if you don’t die laughing”.

The petrol bomb attack destroyed the Paris offices, the magazine’s website was hacked and staff including the editor were subjected to death threats. But that did not deter Charbonnier. Six days later, the magazine published a front page depicting a male Charlie Hebdo cartoonist passionately kissing a bearded Muslim man in front of the charred aftermath of the bombing. The headline was “L’Amour plus fort que la haine” – Love is stronger than hate.

Watch a video from The Guardian on the story and the vigils held to pay homage to the 12 victims in the attack, AFTER THE JUMP...

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