January 26, 2016
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Evangelical leader and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. announced his endorsement of Donald Trump on Tuesday, The Washington Post reports. Falwell has long been a supporter of the real estate mogul, giving a gushing introduction when Trump spoke at Liberty University earlier this month.

Falwell said in a statement that he considers Trump to be "a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father, and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again." The support comes at a crucial time for Trump, who is locked in a head-to-head battle with Ted Cruz in Iowa less than a week before the caucuses. Jeva Lange

7:59 p.m. ET
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Smokers who think they're playing it safe by lighting up just one cigarette a day are still at much greater risk of dying early than nonsmokers, researchers announced Monday.

Writing in the American Medical Association's JAMA Internal Medicine, a team from the National Cancer Institute said that while looking at surveys submitted by almost 300,000 people who detailed their smoking habits over a lifetime, they found that people who said they smoked an average of less than one cigarette a day had a 64 percent higher risk of dying early than nonsmokers. Smokers who went through up to half a pack a day, when averaged over a lifetime, had an 87 percent higher risk of dying early than people who had never smoked.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans every year. Smoking rates have dropped in the United States, with only about 15 percent of adults partaking, but the number of people who said they smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes a day has jumped from 16 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2014. "The results of this study support health warnings that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke," study leader Maki Inoue-Choi said. "Together, these findings indicate that smoking even a small number of cigarettes per day has substantial negative effects and provide further evidence that smoking cessation benefits all smokers, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke." Catherine Garcia

6:55 p.m. ET
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A U.N. Security Council proposal aimed at ending the fighting in Aleppo, Syria, was vetoed Monday by Russia and China.

Syrian troops and Iranian-backed militias have made huge strides in Aleppo, with rebels boxed into a small area. Russia is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and has vetoed several resolutions attempting to stop the violence. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Monday the proposal did not recognized diplomatic efforts with the United States, and that's why it was vetoed. U.S. Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison called that a "made-up alibi," adding, "We will not let Russia string along the Security Council while waiting for a compromise that never seems to come."

Over the past few weeks, more than 500 civilians have been killed in Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least 50,000 residents fled the rebel-held area of Aleppo last week, with tens of thousands remaining trapped. The fighting continued Monday in the Old City, with heavy bombing in the al-Zubdiyah neighborhood. As the rebels lose ground, The Washington Post reports they have two options — stay in Aleppo, where they will almost certainly be defeated, or go to the neighboring province of Idlib, a hub of the armed opposition. Catherine Garcia

5:38 p.m. ET

On Monday, the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense was named the winner of the South American cup, after many of its players were killed in a plane crash last week. The Chapecoense team was en route to its final match against Medellin's Atletico Nacional team when the plane went down Monday, killing more than 70 people, including 19 of the Brazilian team's players.

The South American Football Confederation's announcement Monday followed a letter sent by Atletico Nacional on Nov. 30 requesting the rival team be named champion "as a laurel honoring their great loss and as a posthumous homage to the victims of the fatal accident that our sport is still mourning."

Brazil's other top club soccer teams have also reached out in the wake of the tragedy. Players have offered to play for the Chapecoense team and clubs have requested the team be "safeguarded from relegation from the top flight for the next three seasons," The Guardian reported.

Only three members of the team survived the crash. Though authorities have confirmed the plane had run out of fuel when it crashed, the incident remains under investigation. Becca Stanek

4:54 p.m. ET

Stephen Moore, economic adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, couldn't care less about what China thinks. In an interview on the Chicago-based Big John and Ray radio show, Moore applauded Trump's controversial phone call with Taiwan on Friday — even if it does rock the boat on U.S. relations with China. "I love the fact that Trump did that," Moore said. "Too many mamby-pamby people in the foreign policy shop are saying, 'Oh my gosh we can't do this, we might insult the Chinese.' I don't care if we insult the Chinese!"

When Trump spoke with Taiwan's president, he broke with the decades-long U.S. policy against officially recognizing Taiwan's government as an entity separate from China's governing body. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a province of the mainland. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest credited the One-China policy with "preserving peace and stability in the Strait" and argued the policy benefits both the U.S. and Taiwan — especially as China is projected to overtake the U.S. as the world's largest economy by 2018.

But Moore seemed to suggest Trump's support of Taiwan is what would really be beneficial. "Taiwan is our ally," Moore said. "That is a country that we have backed because they believe in freedom. We ought to back our ally, and if China doesn't like it, screw 'em."

Catch the rest of Moore's interview below. Becca Stanek

4:14 p.m. ET

The case against Michael Slager, the former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer who shot Walter Scott, ended in a mistrial Monday after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision. Slager, who is white, was charged with murder after a video surfaced of him shooting Scott, a black man, in the back multiple times as Scott ran away after Slager pulled him over for a broken taillight in April 2015.

Judge Clifton Newman made the declaration after 22 hours of deliberation by the jury. Three days ago, the jury revealed it was just one vote away from handing over a guilty verdict. The outlying juror had maintained in a statement that he would not change his vote:

It is not yet clear whether prosecutors will retry Slager. Becca Stanek

3:23 p.m. ET

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) lashed out at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday for criticizing President-elect Donald Trump's choice of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for secretary of Housing and Urban Development:

Pelosi wasn't the only Democrat to suggest Carson — who has himself admitted he may not be qualified to lead a government agency — lacks the experience to oversee a Cabinet department with a budget of $47 billion. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Monday that Trump's selection of someone "woefully unqualified" in Carson to head the department suggests he "has no interest in protecting American homeowners from Wall Street abuses." "Mr. Trump said during the campaign he would support working-class Americans, but his appointments make it clear he intends nothing of the sort," Cummings said.

Though Carson has no prior government experience, The New York Times reported he has said he is "prepared to lead the agency because he grew up 'in the inner city' and because as a physician in Baltimore he has 'dealt with a lot of patients from that area.'" Becca Stanek

2:59 p.m. ET
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Time magazine has announced the finalists for its 2016 Person of the Year, and the short list includes a 19-year-old gymnast, a group of whistleblowers, a Super Bowl halftime performer, and a handful of politicians.

Time annually aims to select the person or idea that has had the greatest impact on the news and world in the past year, a tradition it has followed since 1927. This year, the magazine's 11 finalists are made up of Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles; Hillary Clinton; President-elect Donald Trump; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan; U.K. Independence Party head Nigel Farage; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Russian President Vladimir Putin; Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg; the whistleblowers about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan; musician Beyoncé Knowles; and the CRISPR scientists, who developed technology that can edit DNA.

If Putin were to win the 2016 Person of the Year — for what Time describes as "[making] headlines … with his country's intervention in Syria and evidence showing that Russian operatives were responsible for the hack of Democratic National Committee servers" — it would be his second time with the designation, after being named Person of the Year in 2007. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was Time's Person of the Year in 2015 due to her leadership in the Syrian refugee crisis and the Europe debt crisis; Ebola fighters were the 2014 "person" of the year.

The 2016 Person of the Year will be announced Wednesday morning on the Today show and on Time's website. Learn more about the finalists and the justification for why they are nominated here. Jeva Lange

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