Ban Ki-moon, the outgoing United Nations secretary general, apologized Thursday to the people of Haiti for the role the international organization played in bringing cholera to the impoverished country. The deadly outbreak, which has been blamed on Nepalese peacekeepers, has killed more than 9,300 people since 2010. U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal allegedly dumped infected sewage in a river that has since sickened 800,000 people. This is the first time the U.N. has apologized for the incident. “The United Nations deeply regrets the loss of life and suffering caused by the cholera outbreak,” Ban said Thursday. He delivered the message in Creole, English, and French. He continued, “We simply did not do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti. We are profoundly sorry for our role.” Ban did not blame any specific peacekeepers. He leaves his post at the end of this year.
—President-elect Donald Trump has tapped James Mattis, a retired Marine general, as his secretary of defense. More here
—With 77 more homicides in November, Chicago passed yet another grim milestone last month: 700 homicides in 2016. More here
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
United Nations Leader Apologizes for Haitian Cholera Outbreak
Chicago Surpasses 700 Homicides in 2016
More than 700 people have been killed in Chicago this year. With 77 more homicides in November, Chicago passed yet another grim milestone last month. This year is by far the deadliest in recent decades. By the end of the month, there were 714 homicides, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. November was just the third-deadliest month of 2016—in August, 90 people were killed. But there were twice as many shooting victims in November as there were the same month last year. So far this year, there have been 3,315 shooting incidents in Chicago and 4,048 shooting victims. Most of the violence was concentrated on the South and West sides. If this level of violence continues, Chicago may have 300 more homicides than last year. To combat this rise in crime, Chicago plans to hire nearly 1,000 more police officers over the next two years.
The Next U.S. Secretary of Defense
President-elect Donald Trump will nominate James “Mad Dog” Mattis to be the next U.S. secretary of defense. Speaking to a crowd in Cincinnati, Trump said Mattis, a retired Marine general, is “the closest thing we have to General George Patton of our time.” Mattis served in the Marine Corps from 1969 until 2013, when he left his post as the commander of the U.S. Central Command. Since leaving the military, he has been a fierce critic of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy, especially toward ISIS and Iran. More on the Mattis pick here
Obama Administration Now Supports Requiring Women to Register for Military Draft
President Obama supports requiring women to register for the military draft when they turn 18, according to a White House statement provided to USA Today Thursday. “As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports—as a logical next step—women registering for the Selective Service,” Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said. Current law requires men between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for involuntary military service. Discussion over whether women should be subject to this law goes back decades, but it intensified last December when the Pentagon opened all combat jobs in every branch of the armed forces to women for the first time in American history. The exclusion of women from these types of jobs was the main reason they were not subject to conscription. The Obama administration did not support or oppose this requirement until now. The decision is largely symbolic, coming a day before the House votes on a defense policy bill that, until early this week, included a provision requiring women to sign up for the draft. Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate objected to the measure, and it was dropped and replaced with a provision calling for a review of the Selective Service System, the agency that maintains the database of male U.S. citizens eligible for service.
The Death Toll in the Tennessee Wildfires Is Now 11
Updated at 9:35 p.m. Thursday
Four more people were confirmed dead in the wildfires that spread across Tennessee this week, bringing the death toll to 11, officials said Thursday. One of the victims, 70-year-old Alice Hagler, was identified Thursday by family members, though the identities of the other victims have not been released. The announcement comes one day after the area surrounding the resort city of Gatlinburg received its first rainfall since the start of the fires, which scorched more than 15,000 acres and destroyed more than 700 structures. Though the rain has helped slow down the blaze, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials warned that the threat of the fire, which was only 10 percent contained as of Wednesday, remains.
Howard Schultz, National Progressive Voice, Will Step Down as Starbucks CEO
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks who became a leading national voice on progressive policy issues like gun control and gay rights, said Thursday he will step down from his top position on April 3. Kevin Johnson, his friend and chosen successor, will be the next chief executive. Schultz, who built Starbucks into the world’s largest coffee company, told The New York Times Johnson is “better equipped” to run the company. He said he will now focus on developing high-end coffee and coffee shops for the business. There is also speculation that he may run for office in the near future, possibly even the presidency. Johnson joined Starbucks from the tech world, working for Microsoft and Juniper Networks.
French President Hollande Says He Won't Seek Reelection
French President François Hollande announced Thursday he will not seek reelection.
Aussi, j'ai décidé de ne pas être candidat au renouvellement de mon mandat— François Hollande (@fhollande) December 1, 2016
In a series of tweets, Hollande, who has been hobbled by low approval ratings, acknowledged the successes and failures of his presidency, admitting that while he could run the state as president, he could not, as a Socialist, “solve the dissolution within the left.” He cautioned voters against choosing isolationism—an apparent jab at Marine Le Pen, the far-right presidential candidate who has called for France to follow Brexit’s example and leave the European Union. Hollande’s announcement comes one month ahead of the French Socialist Party’s primary to determine its candidate for next year’s presidential election. The Socialist candidate will face François Fillon, the Republican, Emmanuel Macron, the independent, and Le Pen of the National Front.
A Russian Spacecraft Headed for the ISS Has Burned Up in the Atmosphere
A Russian uncrewed spacecraft destined for the International Space Station burned up in the atmosphere and crashed in Siberia on Thursday, according to Roscomos, the Russian space agency. Mission control lost contact with the Progress 65 spacecraft about six minutes into its flight aboard a Soyuz rocket. Here’s the craft at liftoff:
Roscosmos is investigating the incident. The spacecraft was loaded with more than 2.6 tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the six astronauts on board the ISS. NASA says the crew has enough supplies for now. Cargo shipments to the ISS are routine and usually successful, but fatal glitches can occur. In 2014, a rocket developed by an American commercial aerospace company exploded at liftoff, destroying the 5,000 pounds of cargo it was carrying.
Thai Crown Prince Ascends to the Throne
Maha Vajiralongkorn, Thailand’s crown prince, accepted Thursday an invitation from the country’s parliament to become the new king. The 10th king of the Chakri Dynasty will be known as His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, or Rama X. He succeeds his father, Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch until his death in October at the age of 88. The late king was revered in Thailand and seen as a symbol of stability in the Southeast Asian country. His 64-year-old son, the new king, is a lesser-known entity in Thailand and has spent much of his time overseas—but Western media accounts have depicted him as a “scandal-plagued … playboy.” Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws make any criticism of the king a criminal offense.
China Creates a Special Tax on Elite 'Super Cars' Like Ferarri and Rolls-Royce
China will now tax “super cars” like Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Rolls-Royce, an additional 10 percent in a move meant to restrain exorbitant spending. The tax was not leveled against specific brands, but instead will be applied to any car that costs more than $190,000. The news came the same day the Communist Party issued a statement saying political officials should “travel without pomp” and that “whatever you demand others do, you should first do yourself.” There were not specific examples, or requirements listed, but the statements falls in line with President Xi Jinping’s fight against party corruption. The tax on super cars was set to begin Thursday, but its effectiveness is already being questioned as those who can afford to spend $190,000 on a car are unlikely to be deterred from paying an extra 10 percent.
Activists Protest Australia's Off-Shore Detention of Asylum Seekers
Activists staged a second day of demonstrations outside Australia’s Parliament House Thursday demanding the closure of the country’s offshore detention centers for asylum seekers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea. The camps, which serve as “Refugee Processing Centers” for asylum seekers attempting to come to Australia by boat, are part of a policy enacted by the government to curb immigration. Under this policy, the Australian military intercepts migrant boats and transfers them to offshore centers—a move the government says intends to deter asylum seekers from making the often-deadly journey. But critics have condemned the camps’ treatment of migrants as inhumane, and an October report by Amnesty International likened the centers to open-air prisons “that people cannot leave, even when they have been officially recognized as refugees.”
UPDATE: Suspect in Custody, Hostages Freed in Jacksonville, Florida, Bank Standoff
Updated at 11: 24 a.m.
The Jacksonville, Florida, Sheriff’s Office says all 11 hostages inside a bank have been freed, and the suspect in the robbery is in custody.
A SWAT team and hostage negotiators were at the scene, negotiating with the hostage-taker. They eventually persuaded the suspect to release the hostages, before detaining the person.
Breitbart Declares War on Kellogg's for Pulling Ads
Breitbart, the right-wing website, has declared war on Kellogg’s and asked its readers to boycott the brand after the cereal-maker pulled ads from the site. Kellogg’s withdrew its ads Tuesday, saying Breitbart wasn’t “aligned with our values.” Breitbart, which has published stories criticizing feminism, casting doubts on Muslims, and praising the Confederate flag, published a story in response Wednesday, saying Kellogg’s decision “declares hate” for the site’s 45 million unique visitors, and the act is intended to “smear the hard working Americans that populate this nation’s heartland.” Alexander Marlow, Breitbart’s editor in chief, said “boycotting Breitbart News for presenting mainstream American ideas is an act of discrimination and intense prejudice. If you serve Kellogg’s products to your family, you are serving up bigotry at your breakfast table.” He then listed a bunch of Kellogg’s brands, ending the statement with: “#War.” On Thursday morning, anti-Kellogg’s articles made up the majority of lead posts on Breitbart’s homepage.
Trump's Victory Tour
President-elect Donald Trump will leave his eponymous tower in New York and head to Indiana where he will announce that Carrier won’t close a factory in the state—an oft-repeated campaign promise that will save about 1,000 jobs that were due to be moved to Mexico. The terms under which the jobs are being kept in Indiana aren’t known, but as my colleague David Graham noted yesterday the announcement will be a “major political win” for Trump. The president-elect then heads to Ohio as part of his victory tour of states that propelled him to victory on November 8.
Buzz Aldrin Is Evacuated From the South Pole Due to a Medical Condition
Buzz Aldrin, who in 1969 became the second man to walk on the moon, was evacuated Thursday from a research station in the South Pole. The National Science Foundation, the organization that manages the U.S Antarctic Program, said in a statement that Aldrin will be flown from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to a site near the coastline, then to New Zealand. The statement said the request for the evacuation came from the Antarctic Company, a private tourism firm based in South Africa. Nothing further was said about the 86-year-old Aldrin’s medical condition nor is it clear what he was doing in the South Pole.
Deadly Tennessee Wildfires Were Likely 'Human-Caused'
The Tennessee wildfires that killed seven people and sent dozens to hospital was “likely to be human-caused,” Cassius Cash, the superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, said Wednesday. The blaze began Monday in the National Park and spread across 15,000 acres into areas surrounding the resort city of Gatlinburg. As my colleague Yasmeen Serhan noted yesterday, the blaze destroyed 400 structures, displaced more than 14,000 people, and threatened a popular aquarium in the resort city. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam called the wildfire the worst in the state in a century.
Troopers walked into areas of Gatlinburg, Tn that were surrounded by fire to remove those who were trapped by flames. pic.twitter.com/9r2lkAVy19— TN Highway Patrol (@TNHighwayPatrol) November 29, 2016