Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said earlier today the Syrian refugee camp facilities he visited in Jordan were “really quite nice.” The retired neurosurgeon met with refugees at the Zaatari camp over the Thanksgiving weekend and told CNN that “their intense desire is to return to their country and be repatriated.” Carson added that refugees would be “satisfied” to remain in the camps if they were “adequately funded.” The 64-year-old argued the U.S. could help more by boosting funding for refugee camps, but maintained that refugees shouldn’t come to the United States. Carson also pushed back on criticism over his remarks for comparing Syrian refugees with “rabid dogs,” telling NBC’s Meet the Press it was “only the news media” in the U.S. that misinterpreted his comments.
Health officials have determined an E. coli outbreak that left 19 people ill was traced to a celery-and-onion mix used in Costco Wholesale's chicken salad. The California-based maker of the diced vegetable mix, Taylor Farms Pacific Inc., issued a recall on the Food and Drug Administration website early today. Montana state health authorities said the blend tested positive for the E. coli strain, which can be deadly and cause serious gastrointestinal illness. At least five of the 19 people who were sick were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. The outbreak was reported in Montana, Utah, Colorado, California, Missouri, Virginia and Washington state, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Turkish F-16 fighter jets shot a Russian SU-24 warplane out of the sky early today after it ignored warnings for violating the country’s airspace near the Syrian border, a Turkish military official told Reuters. The plane reportedly crashed in the area known by Turks as “Turkmen Mountain” in northern Syria near the border. At least one of the two pilots was reportedly killed. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists.” A U.S. official told The Daily Beast that Turkey had not warned the coalition that it was about to take down a plane. “They just did it,” the official said. “We need to make sure this doesn’t become something worse.” Turkey says its pilots warned the Russian aircraft 10 times before striking it.
A school in Utah has canceled a homework assignment asking ninth-graders to design a propaganda poster for terrorist groups like the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS. Salem Junior High School officials nixed the assignment, which the teacher claimed was meant to help students understand “the goals of terrorist groups and the methods they use to gain support.” The worksheet, which described ISIS and its goals, asked the students to create a “neat, colored, professional” poster, but noted to the kids that “If you are uncomfortable with this assignment you may speak to me about an alternative assignment.”
The U.S. National Institutes of Health retired its controversial program of using chimpanzees for biomedical research. In an email to administrators, NIH Director Francis Collins said yesterday morning the remaining 50 chimpanzees held for medical research will be sent to sanctuaries. The NIH also said it would develop a plan to begin resettling the remaining chimps that are supported by, but not owned by, the agency. The NIH scaled back its use of research chimps in 2013, when it released and resettled about 310 after mounting pressure from animal-welfare activists.
During an interview with conservative talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, Chris Christie joined the chorus of governors yesterday saying that they would not accept Syrian refugees into their states. Because he does not trust President Obama’s vetting ability, Christie said he wouldn’t even “5-year-old orphans” into his state. This is a fairly drastic turn in sentiments given that New Jersey ranks in the top 10 for Syrian refugee admissions in 2015.
At the same time, Ted Cruz took the anti-Syrian refugee rhetoric a step further claiming that he will introduce legislation that bans Muslim Syrian refugees from entering the country. He said that President Obama’s proposal to bring in Syrian refugees is “nothing short of lunacy.” Cruz defended a question about his own Cuban father receiving this kind of treatment. “If my father were part of a theocratic and political movement like radical Islamism, that promotes murdering anyone who doesn’t share your extreme faith, or forcibly converting them, then it would make perfect sense.”
Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said yesterday that three teams of terrorists attacked sites across the French capital, killing 129 people and wounding more than 350 others.
One terrorist was identified as a 30-year-old French national who was tagged as a radical Muslim by police several years ago, but did not serve time in jail, nor was he known to be part of any terrorist network.
The attack began at the Stade de France when a suicide bomber killed himself and another person. That was followed by a gunman using an AK-47 who attacked a Cambodian restaurant from a car, killing 15 and leaving 10 mortally wounded. A second suicide bomber detonated near the Stade de France, and a third at a McDonalds nearby, injuring one. Five were killed in another shooting near a bar, Molins said, adding that 100 rounds were fired. Terrorists entered the Bataclan theater during the middle of a concert and began shooting, mentioning Syria and Iraq as they killed. Three terrorists blew themselves up inside the venue. Eighty-nine people died there, with many others injured.
New federal data released early this morning shows that the percentage of Americans who were obese has not declined in recent years. Despite efforts like first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, about 38 percent of U.S. adults were obese in 2013 and 2014, a slight increase from 35 percent in 2011 and 2012. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey report also found the number of young people considered obese remained unchanged in 2013 and 2014 compared with the previous period. In fact, 17 percent of Americans ages 2 to 19 were obese, which is the same as in 2003 and 2004.
President Obama will appeal a federal appeals court ruling against his plan to shield around five million people living in the United States illegally from deportation. In a 2-1 decision, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a May injunction blocking the president’s immigration action. Republicans decried Obama’s plan as executive overreach while 26 states challenged the initiative in court. The Obama administration has argued it was within its rights to ask the Department of Homeland Security to defer deportation of certain groups of immigrants. The appeals court said it was denying the government’s appeal to stay the injunction “after determining that the appeal was unlikely to succeed on its merits.” As a result, the administration will now appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
Presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio released the receipts for his Florida Republican Party American Express Card Saturday afternoon—bills that were paid in 2005 and 2006 but were long seized upon by political opponents as a point of possible scandal. The Rubio campaign sought to silence those critics yesterday, producing the statements to the press and stats to illustrate it. Over the course of nearly two years, Rubio charged 484 expenses to his AMEX, for a total of nearly $65,000. Of those, eight charges were personal, ammounting to just over $7,000. Rubio paid his personal charges directly, and no taxpayer money was ever used to pay those expenses off.
The newly-released credit card statements show personal charges for a hotel and car rental during a trip to Las Vegas, flooring expenses paid to pavers, auto service and a children's sports activity center. The Republican Party of Florida's chairman and executive director were previously found to have created a fradulent scheme through the use of the organization's funds. The chairman, Jim Greer, was charged with fraud in 2010 and sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2013. Critics had been turning up the heat on Rubio's credit card history in recent weeks—Donald Trump said Rubio "is a disaster with credit cards."
Ben Carson on Wednesday reaffirmed his belief that ancient pyramids in Egypt were used to store grain rather than for pharoah tombs. When asked if he still believed the pyramid theory he outlined in a 1998 commencement speech, Carson told CBS News, “It’s still my belief, yes.” BuzzFeed posted the speech Carson delivered at Andrews University, a college founded by Seventh-day Adventists. “My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” he said. “Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharoahs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.”
John Kasich, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie have all refused to sign the GOP letter proposing debate changes, their campaigns explained late last evening. The letter featured stipulations for future debates, including guaranteed opening and closing statements of at least 30 seconds for each candidate. It threatens that candidates will back out of debates if the demands are not met. Donald Trump similarly rejected the letter as well, opting to negotiate directly with the television networks in question. The letter was originally crafted by the Carson campaign.
Several Republican presidential candidates met privately earlier today to begin drafting a list of demands to negotiate with broadcasters looking to sponsor primary debates, pushing aside the Republican National Committee and aiming for greater control. GOP lawyer and dealmaker Ben Ginsberg reportedly distributed a draft of the list, which included demands on debate format, moderators, and questions. Instead of allowing the RNC to negotiate with media directly, campaigns for 12 of the 14 leading GOP candidates plan to hold a group conference call with the broadcast sponsor before each debate, said the campaign manager for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.