Afghanistan's outgoing president, Hamid Karzai, lost a cousin, Hashmat Khalil Karzai, to a suicide bombing on Tuesday.
The late Karzai was a "staunch supporter of the president," the Associated Press reports, and he was involved in the country's campaign to select Hamid Karzai's successor. The AP notes that Hashmat Karzai was a campaign manager for Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who is competing against Abdullah Abdullah for the Afghan presidency. Afghanistan is currently holding an audit of the 8 million votes that were recently cast in the second round of its presidential election.
Hashmat Karzai was killed by a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his hat, according to a local official. The bomber blew himself and Karzai up when kissing his hand during the Muslim morning prayers for the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
"Just like all other Afghans who are the daily targets of terrorist attacks, our family too is no exception and as every other Afghan, we too will have to bear it," President Karzai said in a statement. Meghan DeMaria
For the first time since Gallup began asking 49 years ago, fewer than a half of Americans say they want to scrap the Electoral College and choose a president though a popular vote. After Donald Trump's election in November, only 49 percent of Americans say they want to amend the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College, down from about 60 percent over the past 16 years and a high of 80 percent in 1968, when Richard Nixon narrowly won both the popular vote and Electoral College. Support for keeping the current system is 47 percent, up from 35 percent.
"The reason for this shift in opinion is clear," says Gallup's Art Swift: "In the aftermath of this year's election, the percentage of Republicans wanting to replace the Electoral College with the popular vote has fallen significantly."
Gallup did not ask why Republicans have suddenly embraced the quirky American system of choosing presidents, but "one possible reason is that Republicans are aware that President-elect Trump would not have won the presidency without winning the Electoral College, and that Republicans possess a state-by-state advantage in this area, at least for now," Swift says. A majority of Republicans, 56 percent, say they know Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, while 23 percent say Trump won, Gallup found. Overall, 66 percent of Americans correctly said that Clinton won the popular vote, versus 15 percent who picked Trump and 18 percent who were unsure. Meanwhile, Clinton's lead in the popular vote keeps on growing:
Hillary Clinton's national popular vote lead just surpassed 2.7 million (1.99%): https://t.co/j58GaxfPmH
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 6, 2016
It now looks quite possible Clinton will end up w/ more votes than Obama 65.9 million in '12. Now ~400k behind: https://t.co/j58GaxfPmH
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 6, 2016
Keep in mind: we're still waiting on 300k-500k uncounted votes (mostly in NYC) that could push Clinton lead into the 2.8-2.9 million range.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 7, 2016
Gallup conducted its poll Nov. 28-29 with 1,021 adults living in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points. Peter Weber
Everyone who works or volunteers on President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has to sign a nondisclosure agreement, Politico reported on Tuesday, after obtaining a copy of the agreement. The document reportedly bars all members of the transition team from disclosing policy briefings, personnel information, budgets, contracts, draft research papers, donor information, or any other information about major parts of transition business. Transition team members are also ordered to inform on any colleges they suspect of leaking information, and anyone found violating the clause is subject to legal orders and job termination.
Trump is famous for using NDAs in his business and even private life, and transparency watchdog groups are concerned that if he carries this practice to the White House — as he has suggested he might for high-ranking appointees — it will obfuscate what's happening in Trump's executive branch. But the transition NDA has at least one omission from Trump's previous nondisclosure agreements: There is apparently no "disparagement" clause. So if you want to know what is going on inside Donald Trump's presidential transition, you're probably out of luck — but the worst thing that can legally happen to a transition staffer who insults Trump is that he or she likely won't get a job in the Trump White House. Peter Weber
A shallow 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck 12 miles off the coast of Indonesia's Aceh province at 5:03 a.m. local time, causing buildings to collapse in Meureudu and other towns in Pidie Jaya district. The Indonesian army chief in Aceh said that at least 54 people were killed in the earthquake, though the number may well rise as search-and-rescue teams recover bodies from the rubble of buildings.
The U.S. Geological Survey said there is no tsunami risk from this earthquake. A massive magnitude 9.2 earthquake off the coast of Aceh in December 2004 caused a tsunami that left massive destruction in towns bordering the Indian Ocean, including killing more than 120,000 people in just Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra island. Peter Weber
On Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump dropped Michael G. Flynn, the son of designated national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, from his transition staff. Transition officials say the cause for the firing was the younger Flynn's social media posts, especially his support for the false "pizzagate" conspiracy theory that Democratic operatives were running a child sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. Flynn, 33, continued to insist the story was true even after police arrested an armed man on Sunday who came to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria and fired at least two rounds, claiming he was there to "self-investigate" the fake story.
Before Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller announced Tuesday morning that Flynn, chief of staff and scheduler for his father, was no longer involved with the transition, Vice President–elect Mike Pence had said on MSNBC's Morning Joe that the younger Flynn had "no involvement in the transition whatsoever." On Tuesday night, CNN's Jake Tapper repeatedly pressed Pence on why Flynn Jr. had a transition email account and if he'd been aware that the transition team had requested security clearance for the younger Flynn, and Pence called the whole story a "distraction" and insisted that Flynn has just been helping his father schedule meetings.
This appears to be the first time Trump has taken action against a Trump insider who has spread fake news stories. Gen. Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is weathering bipartisan criticism over, among other things, his own promotion of false conspiracy theories, though the he has taken to tweeting anodyne messages since Trump's election. Flynn Jr.'s last post before going silent Monday afternoon was a retweet of a fake-news article claiming the Comet Ping Pong gunman is an actor hired to debunk the fake sex-trafficking story. The younger Flynn had reportedly planned to join his father on Trump's National Security Council. Peter Weber
Joe Biden tells Stephen Colbert if he runs in 2020, he'll still be 'in better shape' at 77 than Donald Trump
The last time Vice President Joe Biden was on Stephen Colbert's Late Show, he had not yet decided to sit out the 2016 Democratic nomination, and on Tuesday, Colbert asked Biden about his stated regrets. Colbert added that his specific regret that Biden did not run hit on Nov. 9, when Donald Trump won the presidential election.
"Let me be clear about the regret," Biden said. "I know I made the right decision for my family, I know I made the right decision. I'm not sure I would have been able to put my whole heart into it. But what I regret is the circumstance that let me not able to run," the death of his son, Beau. He said he did think he was the person best prepared at this time to lead the country, but "the decision was the right decision for me to have made — and by the way, you know, I learned, you want to become the most popular guy in America? Announce you're not running. Announce you're not running, and boy, everything moves in a direction. So who the heck knows what would have happened if I'd run."
Colbert pointed out that Biden had just the day before said he is thinking about running for president in 2020, because, as he told a reporter, "What the hell, man." "I did that for one reason," Biden joked: "So I can announce now that I'm not running and be popularly again." "So there's no way — you didn't mean that?" Colbert asked. "What the hell, vice president?" "I'm a great respecter of fate," Biden said. "I don't plan on running again, but to say you know what's going to happen in four years, I just think, is not rational." "That is the sound of a door creaking open," Colbert said, and Biden clarified: "I mean I can't see the circumstances in which I'd run, but what I've learned a long, long time ago, Stephen, is to never say never. You don't know what's going to happen. I mean, hell, Donald Trump's going to be 74, I'll be 77, in better shape, I mean what the hell?" So the presidential debates would definitively include an arm-wrestling section. Watch below. Peter Weber
President-elect Donald Trump's tweets about China and phone call with Taiwan's president have earned him mentions in numerous Chinese state media outlets' editorials. In an editorial published Tuesday, China Daily seemed to give Trump a pass while he's still president-elect — but indicated that would not be the case once he assumes the presidency in January. "To stop acting like the diplomatic rookie he is, the next U.S. president needs help in adapting to his forthcoming role change. Otherwise, he will make costly troubles for his country," the editorial read, warning that a "misstep as president will be far more damaging than one as president-elect."
Meanwhile, People's Daily — which The Washington Examiner described as "an organ of the ruling Communist Party" — warned China could "retaliate if necessary" if Trump attempts to interfere. "An irrational and hasty 'get tough with China' policy would be detrimental to U.S. long-term interests … Not only is the U.S. more dependent on China than Trump seems to realize, but world peace and prosperity depend on the healthy [development] of China-U.S. relations," People's Daily wrote.
Yet another state-run media outlet, the Global Times, slammed Trump for his "reckless" and "outrageous" remarks. "Trump can make a lot of noise," the editorial read, "but that does not exempt him from the rules of the major power game." Becca Stanek
Obama urges continued pursuit of 'smart strategy' in counterterrorism fight in final national security speech
At Florida's MacDill Air Force Base for his final national security speech, President Obama on Tuesday looked back at his administration's progress in the fight against terrorism and outlined the work that still needs to be done going forward. Acknowledging that the threat of terrorism "will endure," Obama emphasized the need to "pursue a smart strategy that can be sustained" — a remark CNN described as an "implicit message" to President-elect Donald Trump, who has suggested he will assume a more aggressive approach than Obama has.
Detailing the foreign policy successes of his administration, Obama advised against offering "false promises that we can eliminate terrorism by dropping more bombs" or taking up practices like torture and waterboarding that are not "true to our laws." Obama also stressed the need for America to remain steadfast in its leadership, and he warned against "the mistake" of elevating terrorists as if they "pose an existential threat to our nation."
“No foreign terrorist organization has planned and executed an attack on our homeland in the last eight years," Obama said. "And it is not because they didn't try." Becca Stanek