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News Now

  • US: Worldwide travel alert
  • Russian jet shot down in Syria
  • Obama/Hollande meet today at WH
  • WH pushes gun laws for terror watch lists
  • Trump triples down on 9/11 nonsense
  • Dems slam Pfizer-Allergan merger
  • Clock kid threatens to sue city, school
US: Worldwide Travel Alert (AP, me)
• Americans should be alert to the possible travel risks, especially during the holidays, following increased threats from militant groups around the world, the State Dept warned on Monday
• A travel alert, in effect until 24 Feb, said current info suggests that militants with ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram and other groups will continue to plan attacks in multiple regions. U.S. authorities said the likelihood of such attacks will continue as members of ISIS return from Syria and Iraq – and other individuals not affiliated with terror groups engage in violence alone
• Extremists have targeted sporting events, theaters, open markets and aviation targets. In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Lebanon, Turkey and Mali. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the 31 Oct bombing of a Russian airlines in Egypt, killing 224 people
• “U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation” the alert said. “Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.”
• The travel alert was issued the same day that Belgium’s PM announced that Brussels would remain at the highest alert level for at least another week. The increased security measures following the 13 Nov attacks in Paris that killed 130 people have virtually shut down the Belgian capital


Russian jet shot down in Syria (BBC, me)
• Turkish warplanes have reportedly shot down a Russian military aircraft on the border with Syria. Russia’s Interfax news agency cited the Russian defense ministry as saying that a Su-24 had crashed in northern Syria, and that its two – maybe three – pilots had ejected (international s#it is going to hit the fan over this – which was entirely predictable)
• Turkish military officials said Turkish F-16s had shot down the plane after repeatedly warning – 10 times at least in the space of five minutes – its pilots that they were violating Turkish airspace. Russia says it didn’t violate Turkish airspace. Syrian activists say one of the Russian pilots has been captured and is being held hostage by Turkmen fighters

Video footage showed the plane crashing into mountains in Latakia province

• Russia launched an air campaign to bolster Syrian President Bashar Assad’s govt in late Sept. It says it has targeted only “terrorists,” but activists say its targets have mainly hit Western-backed rebel groups
• Turkey, a staunch critic of Assad, has warned against violations of its airspace by Russian and Syrian aircraft. Last month, Ankara said Turkish F-16s had intercepted a Russian jet that crossed its border and two Turkish jets had been harassed by an unidentified Mig-29. (Turkey is s NATO ally – so did NATO shoot down a Russian plane?)
Obama/Hollande Meet Today at WH (AP, Vice News, me)
• The WH urged allies on Monday to do more in the campaign against ISIS. Requests for more counterintelligence, military and humanitarian assistance came a day before French President Francois Hollande was to arrive at the WH today to discuss the fight against the extremists believed to be behind the 13 Nov attacks that killed 130 people. Downed warplane will come up
• Hollande, who next visits Russian President Vladimir Putin, is expected to seek more coordinated military operations that would include both the U.S. and Moscow. President Obama has shown no inclination to rethink the U.S. strategy or significantly expand America’s commitment. The WH is skeptical that Putin will focus the fight on the common enemy
• The U.S. is “pulling more than our weight” in the coalition, WH spox Josh Earnest said. “And we believe that there is more that can be done if countries are willing to contribute additional resources.” VP Joe Biden sought those resources from allies at a meeting with ambassadors from 59 of the 65 countries in the coalition on Monday
• Separately, the U.S. said it had destroyed 283 tanker trucks used by ISIS militants to transport oil from producing fields in eastern Syria to smuggling points, an acceleration of attacks aimed at crippling the group’s oil revenues
• Meanwhile, a group of refugees/migrants on Greece’s border with Macedonia have sewn their mouths shut in protest of policies in Balkan countries, particularly Slovenia, that it would only grant passage to those fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and all others would be sent back. “I cannot go back,” an Iranian man said. “I will be hanged.” (pics in Vice article)


• GOP 2016er former Gov Mike Huckabee (R- Ark) wrote in an op-ed for Fox News on Monday that President Obama’s “new domestic terrorism plan probably requires Americans to memorize Qu’ran verses.” (a lie, which he knows, doesn’t care, and is in competition with Trump to the bottom of the heap – on your way, then) (Politico, me)

WH Pushes Gun Laws for Terror Watch Lists (Hill, AP, me)

• WH spox Josh Earnest on Monday opened up a new fight with Republicans in Congress, challenging them to pass laws to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing guns. “Members of Congress are prepared to allow those individuals who are already in the U.S. and are suspected of having links to terrorism of going and purchasing a firearm,” he told reporters

• “I think that is a pretty clear indication that Republicans in Congress are more interested in playing politics and more scared of the NRA than they are concerned about doing the right thing for our national security.” He suggested people talk about the issue at Thanksgiving dinner – LOL

• A March analysis by the GAO found that people on the FBI’s consolidated Terrorist Watchlist successfully passed the background check required to purchase firearms more than 90% of the time, with more than 2,043 approvals between 2004 and 2014. The office is an investigative branch of Congress (it’s stunning and ridiculous and a joke)

• Under current federal law, association with a terrorist organization doesn’t prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives. Legislation proposed by Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) would let the AG compile a list of known and suspected terrorists. Federally licensed gun dealers would be barred from selling firearms to them – like they are with felony convictions

• House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) dodged Thursday when asked if he favored barring people on the watch list from buying guns, saying, “We are just beginning this process of reassessing all of our security stances.” The NRA says it’s “appalling that anti-gun politicians are exploiting the Paris terrorist attacks to push their gun control agenda.”


• SecState John Kerry has made his first trip to Israel in more than a year, arriving today in the midst of a new rash of deadly attacks that have dampened hopes for peace mediation. The visit is primarily focused on ending the terror. Kerry will meet with PM Netanyahu then travel to the West Bank for discussions with Palestinian President Abbas (AP)
Trump Triples Down on 9/11 Nonsense (Hill, CNN, Politico, TRNS, me)
• Donald Trump on Monday tripled down on his untrue claim that he “watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” He said it was “a heavy Arab population.” He also claimed to have the “world’s best memory” (confirming – so he must be a – – – fantasist)
• He cited a WaPo article from shortly after 9/11 as support, which said that law enforcement detained people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks (didn’t say they were on TV). But WaPo interviewed the reporters who wrote the article; both said they couldn’t remember thousands or even hundreds celebrating the 9/11 attacks
• Rival Ben Carson got in on the act, first of all saying he saw “the film of it” too, and then his campaign later apologized. “He doesn’t stand behind his comments to New Jersey and American Muslims. He was rather thinking of the protests going on in the Middle East.” (huh – sooo easy to conflate Jersey City and the Middle East. I do it all the time)
• Trump added to his claims about 9/11 on Monday. “Many people jumped and I witnessed it, I watched that. I have a view – a view in my apartment that was specifically aimed at the World Trade Center.” Trump has lived in Trump Tower, four miles away from where the World Trade Center once stood since before the attacks. Unclear how he could see four miles…
• In the same speech in Ohio, Trump doubled down on his support for waterboarding as a form of torture. “You bet your ass I would … in a heartbeat.” “If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway for what they do to us.” (just a general roughing up, near drowning as punishment, before any trial – just – – – coz, why not?)


• Republican donors with links to several presidential candidates – as well as a prominent GOP operative – are pooling their resources in a new effort to go after Donald Trump and keep the presidential front runner from winning the nomination. (so he’s threatened to go independent LOL)  (WSJ)

Dems Slam Pfizer-Allergan Merger (Reuters, AP, me)

• Democratic politicians condemned Pfizer’s tax-avoiding “inversion” deal with Ireland’s Allergan on Monday, bringing another round of Washington hand-wringing over corporate taxes, but probably no immediate legislative action – likely higher prices for drugs, though, as well as lay-offs within the company

• Democratic 2016 front-runner Hillary Clinton blasted Pfizer for for a deal she said “will leave U.S. taxpayers holding the bag.” Rival Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) said in a statement that the deal “would allow another major American corporation to hide its profits overseas.”

• In a $160-billion transaction, Pfizer plans to move its tax address from the U.S. to Ireland, if only on paper, by buying out a smaller, Dublin-based competitor, Allergan. Executive management will remain in New York and Pfizer will keep extensive operations across the U.S., but the company will no longer have to pay taxes as a U.S. company (we can’t do it, though..)

• WH spox Josh Earnest declined to comment on the acquisition but said at the briefing that Congress should take action to prevent inversions. Congress, deeply divided over fiscal issues, was widely seen by policy analysts as unlikely to overhaul the tax code before the 2016 elections

• The Treasury Dept last week unveiled new rules to clamp down on inversions, its second attempt to do so since a wave of the deals peaked in Sept 2014. The latest rules wouldn’t impact the Pfizer-Allergan deal, analysts said (pity)


• Texas asked the Supreme Court Monday for more time to answer the Obama admin’s immigration appeal, a delay that probably would prevent the plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation from taking effect during Barack Obama’s presidency (AP)

Clock Kid Threatens to Sue City, School (WaPo, Dallas Morning News, TRNS, me)

• New details of the controversial arrest of “clock kid” Ahmed Mohamed emerged Monday in a letter his lawyer sent to school and city officials in Irving, Tex. As many as seven adults teamed up to interrogate the 14-year-old boy after a teacher mistook his homemade clock for a bomb and pressured him to sign a confession

• That’s according to the “letter of demand” from his attorney warning of plans to file a $15 million lawsuit. Ahmed’s September arrest drew extensive news coverage; President Obama invited him to join science-inclined students at the WH’s Astronomy Night last month

• But his family, which shortly thereafter took up a benefactor’s offer to relocate to Qatar, argued in the letter that the boy’s reputation has been “permanently scarred.” They are seeking not only financial reparations but written apologies from the city’s mayor and police chief. A group carrying guns and anti-Muslim signs protested outside a mosque in Irving this past weekend


• The letter states that the principal threatened that Ahmed would be expelled if he didn’t sign the confession. An Irving School District spox said they received the letter Monday morning and that its lawyers would “respond as appropriate, as with any legal matter.” (oh, I don’t think this is any legal matter, you know)

• A week after the arrest, Mayor Beth Van Duyne, popular in anti-Islam circles, told radio host Glenn Beck that another side of the story wasn’t being told. She implied she couldn’t release the info due to privacy laws. She referred to the item as a “hoax bomb” not a clock – but police had already dropped the charge

• The family wants an apology from Van Duyne and others involved because they would like to return to Irving, attorney Kelly Hollingsworth said. “Qatar is nice, but it is not Texas. That is their attitude toward this. They are citizens of Irving, Texas, USA, first.” (details in the DMN story are pretty stunning)

• Let’s get in the eating mood: Recipes to try – you can make some of these ahead of time: 10 most popular Thanksgiving sides – including roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic, mashed potato casserole, corn pudding and Regina’s butter biscuits. Plus, here’s a TRNS Thanksgiving Survival Guide (TRNS, NYT)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Ellen Ratner, Anthony Herrera and Washington Desk contributed to this report


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