President Trump makes unannounced visit to Afghanistan » President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan on Thursday.
TRUMP: There’s nowhere I’d rather spend Thanksgiving than right here with the toughest, strongest, best and bravest warriors on the face of the earth. You are indeed that.
The president used the trip to announce that peace talks have restarted with the Taliban. Those talks broke down in September when Trump called off a planned summit at Camp David. At the time he said a draft peace proposal conceded too much to the Taliban.
Iraqi forces kill 27 protesters and Iranian embassy burns » Meantime in Iraq, violence in Iraq exploded as security forces shot and killed 27 protesters in a 24-hour period.
AUDIO: [Iraqi protesters clash]
The highest death toll came in the oil-rich provinces in the country’s south where protesters blocked roads.
Protesters in Baghdad also blocked three bridges leading to the heavily fortified Green Zone. That’s where government buildings are located. When they tried to cross the Ahrar Bridge, security forces opened fire.
Anti-government rallies have raged across the country for several months. Protesters are demanding a new government. They are also angry about Iran’s influence over their political leaders.
AUDIO: [Iraqi protesters set fire to consulate]
On Wednesday, protesters set fire to the Iranian consulate in Najaf. It was one of the worst attacks against Iranian interests in the country since the protests started on October 1st. The province that includes Najaf is also home to the country’s Shiite religious authority.
Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the violence and demanded a strong response from the Iraqi government. It said those encouraging violence wanted to harm relations between the two countries.
North Korea test fires projectiles » North Korea fired two short-range projectiles from the northeastern part of the country on Thursday. That according to South Korea’s military.
AUDIO: [Jeon Dong-jinn]
A U.S. military spokesman expressed regret over the launch and urged North Korea to immediately stop acts that escalate military tensions. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launches a “serious challenge” to both Japan and the international community.
The missiles appeared to come from a “super-large” multiple rocket launcher, according to South Korea.
The show of force could be related to the year-end deadline set by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He wants President Trump to offer a new proposal to restart stalled nuclear talks.
The launch also came several days after North Korea conducted military drills on a small island near the border with South Korea.
Chemical plant explosion forces evacuations in Texas » Explosions at a Texas chemical plant near Houston disrupted Thanksgiving plans for thousands of people.
The first explosion on Wednesday morning injured three employees. That was followed by smaller ones. Then an afternoon blast launched a tower into the air.
Fearing more explosions, Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick issued a mandatory evacuation Wednesday night.
BRANICK: Our top priority at the county and the cities is the public safety, and we’ll do our best, our very best to return you to your homes as quickly we can in a safe manner.
About 50,000 people in a four-mile radius of the plant left their homes as government and Red Cross officials scrambled to open shelters.
As of yesterday, fires at the plant continued to burn and the evacuation order remained in effect.
Feds launch criminal probe against pharmaceutical companies » Federal prosecutors have launched a criminal probe to explore whether pharmaceutical companies knowingly flooded communities with prescription opioids.
That’s according to a new Wall Street Journal report.
The Journal reports the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is conducting the investigation and may bring charges based on the Controlled Substances Act. The law is typically used to go after drug dealers, but it also has monitoring and reporting requirements for companies.
News of the probe sparked a drop in stock prices for companies and produce and distribute painkillers. The pharmaceutical industry has consistently denied responsibility for the opioid crisis.
Over the last two decades, some 400,000 people have died from legal and illegal opioids.
Weather/Macy’s parade balloons fly after all » AUDIO: [Sound of parade]
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade goers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday. New York City police cleared the parade’s famous character balloons for flight. High wind forecasts earlier in the week had threatened to ground the massive balloons for only the second time in a century.
Thursday morning Astronaut Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants and Smokey Bear balloons all made their appearance—although high winds still kept some balloons low to the ground.