US, UK, AND FRANCE LAUNCH MISSILE ATTACK ON OUTSKIRTS OF DAMASCUS: The United States, France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again, but also stirred up angry responses from Syria's allies and ignited a debate over whether the attacks were justified. Pentagon officials said the attacks targeted the heart of Assad's programs to develop and produce chemical weapons. Defense officials from the countries involved in the attack gave differing accounts of how much warning was given to the Russians, Syria's powerful ally. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. did not coordinate targets with or notify the Russian government of the strikes, beyond normal airspace "de-confliction" communications. But the description from an ally described things differently. But French Defense Minister Florence Parly said that "with our allies, we ensured that the Russians were warned ahead of time."
SYRIA CLAIMS TO HAVE SHOT DOWN MOST OF THE 110 MISSILES TARGETING THEM: A Syrian military statement says the U.S., Britain and France fired 110 missiles during a joint attack on targets in Damascus and outside. Brig. Gen. Ali Mayhoub, who read the statement on Syrian TV, said "our air defenses effectively shot down most of them." He says one of the missiles hit the Scientific Research Center in Barzeh near Damascus, damaging a building. In Homs, one of the missiles was derailed injuring three people, he said. Mayhoub says the attacks "will not deter" the Syrian military from its ongoing war to eradicate "armed terrorists" from Syrian territory. Syria's Foreign Ministry earlier said the attack coincides with the arrival of a fact-finding mission from the international chemical weapons watchdog to inspect the site of the alleged attack in the town of Douma, and "aims to hinder its work." The OPCW had said that its experts would be visiting Douma on Saturday.
HAWKS IN TRUMP'S ADMINISTRATION WANT HIM TO TAKE HARSHER STANCE ON RUSSIA: Even as his administration has implemented sanctions, sent lethal aid to Ukraine and expelled Russian diplomats, Trump has shied away from speaking ill of Putin. Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo told a Senate committee Thursday that he would be willing to break from Trump if necessary, saying he would take a tough line with Russia. “Vladimir Putin has not yet received the message sufficiently,” Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, said this administration has been in the usual place of having a more hawkish Cabinet than the president. "I think there is an 'everybody but Trump' administration policy," McFaul said, noting how Trump had to be convinced to impose tougher sanctions on Russia. "It would appear he has done it reluctantly, but he has been carried further than he was initially intending and further than what one thought he might be persuaded."
ICE RAIDS IN ORANGE COUNTY LEAVE CARRBORO MAYOR CONCERNED: The mayor of Carrboro issued a statement Thursday morning, expressing concerns about recent ICE raids that she said took place across Orange County. According to Mayor Lydia Lavelle, multiple people have been detained in the county in the past two days. ICE representatives say the raids are routine operations and the organization prioritizes detaining those who pose a security threat to their communities. According to Lavelle, who posted on the Town of Carrboro’s Facebook page Thursday morning, at least two town residents have been detained in the last two days and at least four others have been detained in the county. In the case of the 18-year-old, a family advocate said the high school student was simply helping ICE translate so another family member could understand. When it was discovered that he was undocumented, he was arrested too, the advocate said.
HISTORIANS WEIGH IN ON DISPOSITION OF NC'S CONFEDERATE STATUES: “It would seem those monuments to the Confederacy are as public a statement as can possibly be made about who and what North Carolina is,” wrote David Blight, a history professor at Yale University. “If it is possible to move them to a prominent place that would allow their interpretation as part of Southern, American and North Carolina history, it would seem to me to be a good idea. But don’t erase them from the landscape. Replace, but learn. Relocate but do not lose the lessons.” Meanwhile, a legal analysis by the UNC School of Government indicates that altering a statue by providing a plaque or other addition with historical context might be easier than moving the monuments. Sheffield Hale, president and chief executive officer of the Atlanta History Center, wrote that context should be added whether the monuments are moved or not. He wrote that it “must acknowledge slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War and explain how monuments promoted the myth of the Lost Cause and the practice of Jim Crow segregation.”