Putin sends air-defense missiles to Syria to deter Turkey In a move raising the potential threat of a Russia-NATO conflict, Russia said Wednesday it will deploy long-range air defense missiles to its base in Syria and destroy any target that may threaten its warplanes following the downing of a Russian military jet by Turkey. The incident is the first time in half a century a NATO member shot down a Russian plane. If Russia responds by downing a Turkish plane, Turkey, a NATO member, could proclaim itself under attack and ask the alliance for military assistance. Most observers believe that while a direct military confrontation is unlikely, the shooting down of the plane will further fuel the Syrian conflict and complicate international peace efforts.
Preventable errors led to hospital attack, military says WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. airstrike that killed 31 civilians at a hospital in Afghanistan last month resulted from preventable errors by soldiers and airmen who violated rules of engagement and have been removed from duty while awaiting further investigation, military officials said Wednesday. A briefing in Kabul provided the latest U.S. explanation but left some questions unanswered about an attack in which an internationally run hospital was subjected to barrages of heavy fire from an AC-130 gunship. Among them: how the attack was ordered in a populated area based on a ground commander's request with little apparent review by higher headquarters.
The Latest: Paris hotel business hit hard by attacks BRUSSELS (AP) - The latest on the attacks in Paris and security alert in Brussels. All times local: 9:15 p.m. Occupancy rates at some Paris hotels have plunged by more than 30 percent in the days since the Nov. 13 attacks, according to a company that tracks hotel industry data. STR Global said that compared with the same dates in 2014, occupancy rates were 39 percent lower last Saturday and 33 percent lower on Sunday, the two most recent days in the STR report. Restaurants, small shops, department stores and tourist sites have also been affected. The French government said after a Cabinet meeting Wednesday that businesses that had suffered a financial hit could get extensions on tax and loan payments as a means of softening the blow.
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Amid Syria's civil war, a James Bond-style rescue operation BEIRUT (AP) - In the whirlwind of Syria's civil war, two Russian pilots parachuted from their aircraft into a chaotic front-line mountainous region near the border with Turkey after their aircraft was hit by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet. As the two figures tumbled, almost serenely, out of the sky, they were spotted by Syrian rebels on the ground, who opened fire in their direction, hitting the pilot, Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, who was dead when he landed in their midst. The co-pilot and navigator, Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin, was luckier, the wind blowing his parachute few miles closer to the front-line, nearer to government troops.
Russia crackdown on Muslims fuels exodus to Islamic State Security forces keep devout Muslims under surveillance in places like Komsomolskoye, raiding their homes and hauling them in to provide DNA samples and fingerprints. Many in Dagestan, however, see the heavy-handed security presence as not only fueling an exodus to Syria of Islamic State recruits, but also serving to rid this part of predominantly Muslim southern Russia of potential militants by encouraging them to flee. The two decades of Russia?s war on Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus, mainly in Chechnya and Dagestan, have fostered a generation of cut-throat Islamist fighters and given rise to a culture of violence and police profiling that has pushed conservative religious groups to the margins of society and into the jaws of the IS.
Travelers take to the roads and the skies for Thanksgiving LOS ANGELES (AP) - The big Thanksgiving getaway went into full swing Wednesday with drivers delighted by the lowest November gas prices in years and many airline passengers undaunted by terrorism fears and long lines at security checkpoints. At the White House, President Barack Obama said there is no "specific and credible" intelligence indicating a plot against the U.S. and assured anxious Americans: "While the threat of terrorism is a troubling reality of our age, we are both equipped to prevent attacks and we are resilient in the face of those who would try to do us harm." "And that's something we can all be thankful for," he added as one of the biggest travel periods of the year got under way.
Protesters to target Chicago shopping area on Black Friday CHICAGO (AP) - Small groups of demonstrators gathered again Wednesday to protest the death of a black teen shot by a white police officer, and they urged supporters to join them in trying to shut down Chicago's famous Michigan Avenue shopping district during the Black Friday shopping bonanza. About two dozen protesters gathered outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office a day after authorities released a graphic squad-car video showing the officer firing an entire magazine into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder. The group held banners showing photos of other black people fatally shot by police in Chicago and elsewhere.
AP Interview: Coke exec on 'adversarial' ties with critics NEW YORK (AP) - Coke says it wants to mend relations with critics of its sugary drinks. Sandy Douglas, president of Coke North America, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Coke is hoping to change its "adversarial" relationship with public health advocates. The phone interview took place Nov. 17, after Coca-Cola Co. learned the AP had obtained emails between the company and leaders of the Global Energy Balance Network, which was founded to fight obesity. The group says on its website that it received an "unrestricted gift" from Coke and that the company has "no input" into its activities.
NY court hears arguments on fantasy sports NEW YORK (AP) - A judge said Wednesday he would not take long to rule on a motion by New York's top law enforcement official to stop the country's two biggest daily fantasy sports companies from operating following two hours of arguments in a packed Manhattan courtroom. Justice Manuel Mendez, of state Supreme Court, told lawyers for FanDuel, DraftKings and an assistant attorney general that his decision would "come very soon." Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent both companies cease-and-desist letters after declaring their businesses illegal gambling operations that should be shut down. The companies have countered that their contests are skill-based, have been around for years and have attracted investments from media companies, sports teams and other others who have deemed them legal.
Pope urges Kenyans to work for peace NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Brushing aside security concerns, Pope Francis arrived in Kenya on Wednesday on his first-ever trip to Africa and urged Kenyans to work for peace and forgiveness amid a wave of extremist violence on the continent that threatens to disrupt his trip. Francis was received upon arrival at Nairobi's airport by President Uhuru Kenyatta and a throng of traditional dancers and singers at the start of a six-day pilgrimage that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic, a country wracked by fighting between Christians and Muslims. Asked en route if he was concerned about his own safety, Francis responded with his typical wry humor: "I'm more worried about the mosquitoes." But he sounded a far more serious note in his speech to Kenyatta and the country's diplomatic corps at Nairobi's State House, urging all Kenyans to work for peace and forgiveness to heal ethnic, religious and economic divisions.