The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for Americans traveling to Europe in the coming weeks. The alert, which comes after French officials arrested seven ISIS-linked people Sunday who were planning an attack, warns U.S. nationals of holiday festivals, events, and outdoor markets. U.S. officials say Islamists tied to ISIS and al Qaeda continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe and could strike without warning. The travel alert expires on February 20. Europe has experienced several devastating attacks in the last year, including in Paris, Brussels, and Nice that have killed hundreds.
Today's News: Nov. 21, 2016
Six children die in Tennessee school bus crash, a powerful earthquake in Japan, U.S. Soccer fires Jurgen Klinsmann, and more from the United States and around the world.
—At least six children were killed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in a school bus crash Monday. More here
—An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 struck Japan early Tuesday morning, prompting a tsunami warning. More here
—U.S. Soccer fires Jurgen Klinsmann . More here
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
State Department Issues Travel Alert for Americans in Europe
Multiple Children Killed in Tennessee School Bus Crash
At least six children were killed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in a school bus crash Monday. The bus, carrying 35 elementary school children, appears to have hit a utility pole and overturned. A local official said there were “multiple fatalities.” After the crash, 23 children were transported to area hospitals. “Our hearts go out, as well as the heart’s of all the people around me, to the family, the neighborhood, the school and all the people involved in this,” Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher told reporters.
This story is ongoing and will be updated.
Japanese Troops Authorized to Use Deadly Force for the First Time Since World War II
For the first time since World War II, Japanese troops are authorized to use deadly force. Peacekeepers from Japan landed in Juba, South Sudan on Monday, assisting in ongoing United Nations mission in the war-torn African nation. After Japan’s defeat to the Allies, the country adopted a pacifist constitution that stated “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Last year, though, legislators passed a controversial new law making it possible for troops to use force. The measure was strongly backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The six-month mission mandate for the 130 troops is to “use weapons to defend people, including aid workers, and cooperate with other foreign peacekeepers to protect their camps.” The troops are forbidden from engaging with an opposing army, focusing instead on building roads and infrastructure.
Powerful Earthquake Hits Japan, Prompting Tsunami Warning
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 struck Japan early Tuesday morning, prompting a tsunami warning for waves of up to three meters (10 feet) in the Fukushima area, AP reports. The U.S. Geological Survey now puts the earthquake’s magnitude at 6.9.
The earthquake hit at about 6 a.m. local time. Its epicenter was off the coast of the Fukushima prefecture, Reuters reports, citing the Japan Meteorological Agency. The quake was felt across Fukushima and as far away as Tokyo, located about 185 kilometers (115 miles) south of the epicenter.
People have been advised to evacuate coastal areas immediately, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK. In the city of Iwaki, alarms rang to warn residents of the tsunami:
小名浜は町中に津波警報が鳴り響いてる。 pic.twitter.com/ZZpbYA24cO— 小松 理虔 (@riken_komatsu) November 21, 2016
There have been no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Seismic activity is common in Japan. In 2011, a 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people and destroyed a nuclear power plant located in Fukushima prefecture.
Tsunami warnings were later lifted.
U.S. Soccer Fires Jurgen Klinsmann as Coach of the Men's Team
Jurgen Klinsmann is reportedly out as coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team. The announcement, which came Monday from U.S. Soccer, did not name a replacement. The news wasn’t unexpected, however: A string of poor performances by the men’s team culminated in a 4-0 loss to Costa Rica last week that severely dented the team’s chances of qualifying for the next World Cup. Klinsmann, the German soccer great, was a divisive figure in the U.S. almost as soon as he was named coach in 2011. His emphasis on European-born American players at the expense of homegrown talent was widely criticized.
Satellite Images Show Widespread Destruction of Rohingya Homes in Burma
More than 1,200 Rohingya homes in Burma’s western Rakhine state have been destroyed in the past six weeks, according to Human Rights Watch. The aid group used satellite images to look at homes destroyed since October, allegedly by Burmese soldiers. Burmese forces were accused last week of shooting people as they ran away, and more than 130 Rohingya have been reported killed. The military began a crackdown last month after the deaths of nine Burmese officers was blamed on the Rohingya. The Muslim ethnic group is viewed as an illegal-immigrant minority in the predominantly Buddhist country that is also known as Myanmar. This is the worst violence against Rohingya since 2012, when riots broke out and displaced more than 100,000 people, many of whom still live in makeshift camps. Human Rights Watch, as well as Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, have called for international observers to be allowed to investigate.
Daily Brief: Syria strikes; minority fears under Trump; Iraq's mass graves: Burma denies HRW Rohingya research; more https://t.co/1YZFLtuqZN pic.twitter.com/G8jH3d8t47— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) November 17, 2016
French Police Arrest Seven in Foiled Terrorist Plot
Seven people were arrested in connection with a foiled terrorist plot in France over the weekend, the government announced Monday. The alleged plotters, who are between 29 and 37 years old and of French, Moroccan, and Afghan origin, were apprehended in Marseilles and Strasbourg as part of an anti-terrorist operation by the country’s intelligence agency to prevent “a long-planned terror attack on our soil,” according to Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister. Only one of them had been previously known to security forces. French officials did not describe the nature of the planned attack. The country has been under a nationwide state of emergency since last November’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people. Under the state of emergency, which allows police to carry out raids without a warrant, more than 400 people have been arrested for suspected links to terror networks. François Hollande, the French president, proposed last week to extend the state of emergency until after next year’s presidential election, in which security has become a major campaign issue.
Rescuers Stop Looking for Survivors in India's Train Crash
Rescue workers have finished combing through the wreckage of a train that derailed in northern India early Sunday, and have called off the search for survivors. The crash of the Indore-Patna Express killed at least 142 people and injured about 180, at least 58 of whom are in critical condition, according to India's railway ministry. Hundreds of workers spent Sunday and Monday cutting through mangled metal. The cause of the derailment, which sent 14 carriages off the tracks, is not yet known. The carriages were outdated models that the rail ministry had recently promised to phase out, according to The Indian Express. Rail accidents are common in India; there were more than 27,500 railway-related deaths in 2014 alone, according to the BBC. Sunday’s crash is the deadliest since a train derailed on a bridge in 2002, killing 130 people.
New York Police to Create New Unit to Investigate Hate Crimes
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he has instructed state police to form a new unit to investigate hate crimes following a spike in reported incidents nationwide after this month’s presidential election. “We are in a whirlwind of hate and division all across the country,” Cuomo said Sunday at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, citing the more than 400 incidents of harassment and intimidation recorded by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the week following the victory of President-elect Donald Trump. “The divisiveness must stop and New Yorkers will not be bystanders to injustice.” Cuomo said he would propose legislation to expand the protections against discrimination under New York State’s human-rights law so they apply to students in both public and private schools (under the current law, only private school students are protected). The state will also establish a legal defense fund for immigrants. Last week, the FBI reported a 6 percent increase in hate crimes in 2015 from the previous year, with anti-Muslim hate crimes rising by 67 percent.
Police Officers Appear to Be Targeted in 3 Shootings Across the U.S.
An officer in Texas died Sunday, and two were injured in Missouri and Florida in ambush-style shootings that appear unrelated. The first shooting occurred Sunday morning in San Antonio, Texas, after Benjamin Marconi, a 20-year veteran of the police force, was shot dead after he pulled a car over during a routine traffic stop. The shooter parked another car, a black Mitsubishi Galant, behind Marconi as he sat in his squad car writing the ticket, shot him in the head through the window, then sped away. Hours later in St. Louis, Missouri, a gunman shot an officer stopped at an intersection. The officer survived; the suspect was killed later in a shootout with police. On Sunday evening, in Sanibel Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, another gunman shot an officer during a traffic stop. That officer was treated for a shoulder wound and released from the hospital. No link has been drawn to any of the three shooters.
Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy Concedes in French Primary
Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president and conservative primary contender, conceded Sunday after coming in third in his party’s presidential primary behind former prime ministers François Fillon and Alain Juppé. Sarkozy praised both men as contenders who “honor France’s political right” before ultimately throwing his support behind Fillon, the prime minister under his presidency whose more conservative political leanings Sarkozy said were closer to his than that of Juppé, who is considered more centrist. Fillon and Juppé, who earned 44.2 percent and 28.4 percent of the vote, respectively, will proceed to the right’s primary runoff next Sunday.
Clashes Between Ethnic Libyan Tribes Have Killed 20 People
Days of fighting between tribal groups in Libya has left at least 20 people dead and 50 injured near the town of Sabha, a neglected southern hub used by migrants and arms smugglers. The two groups fighting, the Gaddadfa and the Awlad Suleiman, are the most powerful armed tribes in the region. They used tanks, mortars, and heavy weapons in the fight. The conflict began late last week, according to Reuters, after a pet monkey belonging to someone from the Gaddadfa tribe attacked a young girl belonging to the Awlad Suleiman tribe and ripped off her headscarf. The girl’s family retaliated with force against members of the Gaddadfa tribe, causing the violence to spread. By Sunday, the Sabha Medical Center had received 16 bodies of people killed in the clashes, many of whom died from mortar blasts.
Police Spray Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters With a Water Cannon
The Morton County, North Dakota, Sheriff's Department, citing an “ongoing riot,” used water cannons Sunday night to spray hundreds of people protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline as temperatures dropped overnight into the 20s. About 400 protesters moved toward the Backwater bridge on Highway 1806 at 6 p.m. local time to remove several burned out vehicles they say have blocked emergency-service responders, as well as the access to the main oil pipeline construction site. The vehicles have remained on the bridge since October 27, when protesters set them on fire during a clash with police. Since then, the bridge has been closed. Police say the water cannons were used to extinguish fires the protesters had set. Protesters said they’d started the fires near the bridge to warm people after they were doused. There were also reports police shot rubber bullets and mace into the crowd.
Video of water cannons being used on protectors in 26°F/-3°C at barricades at barricades in North Dakota 📷: @johnkdangers #NoDAPL pic.twitter.com/L8gYUglJ9v— IndigenousEnviroNet (@IENearth) November 21, 2016
There Are Reportedly No Hospitals Left in Aleppo
Russian and Syrian strikes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo have reportedly taken out the last hospitals that serve the 250,000 civilians who still live in the city. That news comes after a weekend of intensified attacks on Aleppo. Death tolls range from 27 to 58. The city, once Syria’s largest, has been divided since 2012, and its residents are now out of food. It is the last major stronghold of the rebels who oppose President Bashar al-Assad’s government. After a weeks-long lull, Assad and Russia began re-targeting the city last week in an attempt to seize it. Human-rights groups and others have criticized the targeting of civilian facilities, but Assad and Russia insist they are only targeting terrorists.
Eastern #Aleppo, #Syria, without any hospitals for more than 250,000 residents https://t.co/u2EQnVld9Z— WHO (@WHO) November 21, 2016
Pope Francis Indefinitely Allows Priests to Absolve the Sin of Abortion
Pope Francis has permanently granted all priests the ability “to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion.” The pontiff first made this allowance during a yearlong celebration of mercy and forgiveness, called the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which came to a close Sunday. Although the special year of mercy is over, Francis decided to extend his original dispensation on abortion indefinitely, writing that “the sacrament of reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life.” The Roman Catholic Church is not endorsing abortion or softening its position on the procedure: “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life,” said Francis in an apostolic letter, Misericordia et misera, written to mark the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This apostolic letter is in true Francis form: While it does not change the core teachings of the Church, it marks a tonal shift from previous popes’ writing on abortion, such as John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae. While John Paul II chose to focus primarily on the nature and seriousness of the sin, Francis instead chose to focus on paths for forgiveness for the sin. The doctrine is the same. The emphasis is different. In his letter, the pope also extended priests’ ability to grant absolution for other sins, including those who have celebrated mass with priests of a breakaway Catholic sect, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X.
Suicide Attack on Shia Mosque in Kabul Kills 27
A suicide bomber blew himself up inside the Baqir ul Olum mosque in Kabul, killing 27 Shia worshippers and injuring dozens of others. Officials said the attacker blew himself up toward the end of a service to mark the death of Imam Hussein, who is revered by Shiites. There was no claim of responsibility, but the attack is the latest in Afghanistan against the country’s Shia minority. Previous attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State. The Taliban, which is fighting the Afghan government throughout the country, condemned the attack and said it had nothing to do with it. Shiites make up about 15 percent of Afghanistan’s population.
What to Read on Trump's Transition Efforts
President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday on Twitter he was considering James Mattis, the retired Marine Corps general, for the post of defense secretary. Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, said on CBS’s Face the Nation that Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential nominee in 2012, was being considered for the post of secretary of state. Public announcements of potential Cabinet positions are highly unusual. Such news is typically leaked to the media before a final announcement is made. As you might imagine, Trump’s transition efforts over the weekend received a lot of attention. Here’s what to read:
All the President-elect’s Conflicts of Interest (The Atlantic)
Trump Turns Staid Cabinet Process Into Spectacle (The New York Times)
Inside Donald Trump’s Economic Team, Two Very Different Views (The Wall Street Journal)
Trump’s Business Empire Raises Concerns About Foreign Influence (Washington Post)
The Aftermath of the 'Hamilton'-Trump Feud Turns Ugly in Chicago, Gets Weird in Canada (Washington Post)