Why head to the mall when you can go shopping in other people's suitcases? Authorities claim that up to 25 baggage handlers at Los Angeles International Airport did just that, taking what they wanted from passengers' luggage before sending the bags off to the appropriate flight. "Basically everything of value — be it electronics, jewelry, and items — that could be stolen in seconds would be removed from bags," LAX Police Chief Pat Gannon tells the Los Angeles Times. "They'd just open up the suitcases and rifle through them and pocket valuables."
Police are trying to figure out just how long this ring operated and exactly how much was stolen, but they suspect it was thousands of items, with most being sold online. That's why, folks, if you're traveling with something of value, keep it in your carry on. If it's something really impressive, why are you flying commercial? Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert said he hears from a lot of viewers that he's like their TV dad, adding that in unspecified "uncertain times like these," it's important for parents to talk with their kids. "That's right, Dad's calling a family meeting," he said, but he wasn't leading it alone. "You know, I'm merely a father figure, I don't have any real power around here," Colbert said. "That's why I also invited a father figure who has actual authority, your Pops Joe."
"Hey champ, how're you doing?" Vice President Joe Biden said, sitting next to Colbert on the couch in nearly matching blue pullover. "Look, Pops and I, we've been worried about all these sudden changes," Colbert said. "We know that you're worried about the changes the family's going through." "It happens to every family, but I'm telling you, this terrible feeling you're having right now, it isn't permanent," Biden said. "It'll be over in four years, maybe eight." That was the closest the parental chat ever came to explicitly referencing Donald Trump, but there was a lot of tiptoeing up to the line.
"You've got to always do your best to mow the lawn," Colbert said. "Doesn't matter that somebody else is about the get the job of mowing the lawn after you, even though as far as you can tell that person has never touched a lawnmower in his life." "Look, kid, it doesn't matter who's mowing it," Pops Biden agreed. "The point is, it's the greatest lawn in the world, and no matter our differences, we're all responsible for its upkeep. And I've got to believe that in their heart, the next mower is going to do the best they can to make sure that lawn, that everyone feels safe to have a picnic on it." "That's a beautiful metaphor," Colbert said. "Metaphor?" Biden asked. "Metaphor, okay. I'm talking about mowing the lawn. What are you talking about?" "Same thing," Colbert said quickly. Watch the TV dads try to obliquely comfort a hurting national family below. Peter Weber
On Tuesday night in Fayetteville, North Carolina, President-elect Donald Trump held his second "thank you" victory rally at a venue outside Fort Bragg, pledging to unify the country and pour more money into the military, and formally introducing retired Gen. James Mattis as his nominee for defense secretary. He called "Mad Dog Mattis" one of "the most effective generals that we've had in many, many decades," and when Mattis said he hoped Congress would issue him a waiver from the mandatory seven-year gap between military service and serving as defense secretary, Trump concurred. "You'll get that waiver, right?" he said. "If you didn't get that waiver, there will be such a lot of angry people."
The rally was generally more subdued than the one Trump held in Cincinnati last week. Trump did boast about winning North Carolina and other swing states, but he stopped the crowd from booing when he mentioned the news media. He laid out a vision of a militarily restrained foreign policy, as most recent presidents have, and pledged to repeal ObamaCare, stop illegal immigration, and renegotiate trade deals. Peter Weber
For the first time since Gallup began asking 49 years ago, fewer than 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 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 primary, 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 [left] me not able to run," the death of his son, Beau. He said he did think he was the person best prepared 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 popular 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