October 18, 2019

At least 62 people have died and more than 100 others were injured in explosions at a mosque in eastern Afghanistan.

Multiple bombings caused the roof of a mosque in the Nangarhar province to collapse during Friday prayers, Reuters reports. Rescuers are still excavating the site and pulling survivors and bodies out of the destroyed mosque, a member of Nangarhar's provincial council said.

Explosives were put "under a podium in the main atrium of the mosque where people were praying before they exploded," a spokesperson for Nangarhar's governor tells The New York Times. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, though the Deh Bala district does border rural ISIS-held areas. Afghanistan's government has so far blamed the Taliban for the attack, but the Taliban has denied involvement, per Reuters.

The attack comes as the United Nations declares violence against civilians has reached "extreme levels" in Afghanistan, CNN notes. At least 1,174 civilians died in the months of July-September, the largest quarterly total in a decade. The rising conflict largely stems from fighting between rival political groups. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 2, 2019

At least five people are dead and nine more are injured after a vintage World War II plane crashed at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, The Hartford Courant reports.

The Boeing B-17 aircraft took off at 9:45 a.m. ET with 10 people onboard, and 5 minutes later, its pilot reported having flight difficulties. The plane was trying to land when it crashed into a small building and tanks holding deicing fluid, injuring one person on the ground as the plane caught on fire, state public safety Commissioner James Rovella told the Courant.

Six people had already been transferred to a nearby hospital after the crash, and of them, three were listed in critical condition, the Courant continues. Rovella would not give a death toll, but sources said at least five people were dead, and that rescuers hadn't reached the front of the plane where the pilot and co-pilot were seated yet. The crash prompted Bradley to close for about three hours, reopening at 1:48 p.m. ET. Bradley is just outside of Hartford, Connecticut and is the second largest airport in New England.

The plane was in the area as part of the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom tour, which sends vintage aircraft around the country for historical aviation education opportunities, NPR reports. The tour lets members of the public take half-hour rides in the planes. In a statement, the Collings Foundation said it is "fully cooperating with officials to determine the cause of the crash" and extended its "thoughts and prayers" to the victims. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 23, 2019

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is stepping down as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation amid pressure from the group, sources tell BuzzFeed News. The decision comes as Jackson Lee faces a lawsuit from a former staffer, who says the congresswoman retaliated against her plan to sue the CBCF over an alleged rape by one of its ex-employees.

In the lawsuit filed last week, the anonymous plaintiff says she was raped by then-CBCF intern coordinator Damien Jones in October 2015. The woman says she was a 19-year-old CBCF intern at the time, and says she told police and her former boss Rep. Terry Sewell (D-Ala.) about the assault. She did not decide to pursue legal action until years later, when she was working for Jackson Lee, the documents say. When the plaintiff told Jackson Lee's chief of staff about her plans to sue the organization, she was soon fired, per the court filing.

After the lawsuit emerged, the board of the CBC's nonprofit wing — which includes several lawmakers — pushed Jackson Lee to step down, Politico reported last week. Jackson Lee refused, and at least one board member then left the foundation. More were "expected to follow" if Jackson Lee stayed on, Politico writes. The lawsuit also dredged up stories of Jackson Lee's bad reputation among staffers, with reporter Yashar Ali tweeting that it "comes as little surprise to people who have worked with her and around her."

Jackson Lee "deflected questions in person on Tuesday about her resignation plans," BuzzFeed News writes, saying she would address the situation in a statement later this week. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 15, 2019

Somalia-based extremists have claimed responsibility for a fiery attack on Kenya's capital of Nairobi.

Gunshots and fire broke out Tuesday afternoon both in and around an "upscale hotel" in the city, The Washington Post reports. The militant group al-Shabab has since claimed responsibility for what it called "an ongoing operation" in a call to BBC.

"Armed men" entered the hotel in an "affluent" neighborhood, and explosions and gunfire quickly rang out, witnesses tell BBC. Cars surrounding the hotel were burning as Kenyan special forces arrived at the scene. Medics also arrived at the hotel and started carting survivors away as officials evacuated and sealed off nearby buildings. There's no word on how many people are dead or injured.

In 2013, al-Shabab fighters attacked a Kenyan mall and killed 67 people. The Council on Foreign Relations categorizes the group as "capable of carrying out massive attacks in Somalia and surrounding countries despite a long-running African Union offensive against the Islamist group." The attack comes just a day after Al Jazeera published a story detailing how Kenyan soldiers have been "pushing al-Shabab fighters back into Somalia" and largely "oust[ed]" them from the country. Follow along with this story at BBC. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 12, 2018

A photo of nearly every boy in a Wisconsin high school's class of 2019 giving a Nazi salute was posted on Twitter on Sunday. It's now under investigation by the school district and local police.

The photo seems to have been taken before Baraboo High School's junior prom this past spring, the Baraboo News Republic reports. It was tweeted from the @GoBaraboo account, captioned: "We even got the black kid to throw it up #BarabooProud," reports Madison365. Not all the boys in the photo are giving the salute, but one is flashing the "okay" sign, which some far-right trolls have rebranded as a white power symbol.

The photo was originally posted on local motorcycle photographer Peter Gust's website, but was taken down after Young Turks contributor Jules Suzdaltsev tweeted the photo Monday morning, reports Madison365. After posting the photo, Suzdaltsev began receiving messages from current and former Baraboo students who said racism was a pervasive problem in the school. One student said the photographer told the boys to throw up the Nazi salute.

Students are now on a "soft hold" at the high school and can't leave without parental and office permission while local officials investigate the issue, reports the News Republic. The Baraboo School District, several local and state officials, and even the Auschwitz Memorial Museum have condemned the photo. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 14, 2018

The U.S. is ceremoniously opening its new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem at 4 p.m. local time, and by 2:30 p.m., at least 18 Palestinian protesters were shot dead by Israeli police along the Gaza border, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. At least 69 other Palestinians have been wounded by live fire, and 900 were wounded, the health ministry said. Israel's military estimates that 35,000 Palestinians are protesting along the border. Mass protests have been held along the Gaza border for weeks, and with the 16 fatalities reported so far Monday, 60 Palestinians have been killed since late March.

The Palestinians have been protesting the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt, and President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, not the internationally recognized Tel Aviv, has fueled anger. Palestinians claim occupied East Jerusalem as their future capital. Human rights groups have called Israel's allowing live fire against protesters approaching the border as unlawful, but Israel says it will do anything to protect the border along its occupied territories. The Israeli military moved to fortify the border and add troops ahead of Monday's embassy opening, which is happening 70 years after Israel was founded, an occasion Palestinians remember as the "nakba," or catastrophe. Peter Weber

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