Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 4, 2015

The FBI investigates San Bernardino suspects' possible militant links, the military opens all combat jobs to women, and more


FBI looks into San Bernardino suspect's contact with extremists

San Bernardino massacre suspect Syed Rizwan Farook was in touch with people being investigated by the FBI for international terrorism, law enforcement officials said Thursday. An F.B.I. official said it would be premature to call the attack terrorism, but the agency is treating the case as a counterterrorism investigation. Investigators found 12 pipe bombs and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the SUV and apartment of Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27. The suspects were both killed in a shootout with police a few hours after the attack, which left 14 victims dead.


U.S. military opens all combat roles to women

The Pentagon is opening all combat jobs in the U.S. military to women, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday. The historic decision came after three years of discussion and research on the integration of women into more roles in the military. Women who meet entry standards will now be able to serve in any unit, including the elite Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces, and the Marine Corps infantry. "There will be no exceptions," Carter said.


Senate passes bill targeting ObamaCare

The Republican-led Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would dismantle key elements of President Obama's health care law and stop federal funding of Planned Parenthood. GOP leaders were not deterred by a certain veto by Obama. "He can defend a status quo that's failed the middle class by vetoing the bill, or he can work toward a new beginning and better care by signing it," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Republicans say ObamaCare is driving up health costs. Democrats say it is providing access to health care for millions who used to be uninsured.


Ex-CEO of mining firm found guilty of conspiracy in explosion

Former Massey Energy Chief Executive Don Blankenship was convicted Thursday of conspiring to violate safety standards at a West Virginia mine where 29 people were killed in a 2010 blast. Relatives of the victims of the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine said the verdict was a victory for those calling for improving coal-mine safety. Despite being found guilty on the misdemeanor charge, Blankenship was cleared of securities fraud and making false statements. Blankenship, 65, faces a maximum $250,000 fine and up to a year in prison when he is sentenced in March.


Senate votes down gun-control measures pitched after mass shooting

The Senate on Thursday voted down two gun control measures proposed by Democrats responding to Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, which left 14 victims dead. One of the proposals would have expanded background checks for guns sold online and at gun shows. The other would have prevented people on the terror watch list from buying guns. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said it was too early to draw conclusions about the California massacre, in which 14 people were killed, except to say the common thread in these tragedies is mental illness.


Firebomb kills 16 at Cairo restaurant

A firebomb attack killed 16 people and wounded three at a small nightclub in Cairo early Friday. The Ministry of Interior said the attack occurred after two young men were refused entry, then allegedly returned and threw Molotov cocktails at the entrance. The club, El Sayad, is officially a restaurant but is among the predominantly Muslim country's small establishments that sidestep taboos on drinking and turn into bars late at night.


November jobs report expected to support case for rate hike

Economists surveyed by Reuters expect federal employment figures being released Friday to show that the economy added 200,000 jobs in November. Another 271,000 were created in October. The unemployment rate is expected to remain at 5 percent, its lowest point in more than seven years. If the numbers come in consistent with the predictions, analysts believe the report will firm up the Federal Reserve's confidence in the recovery enough for it to begin raising interest rates this month.


German Parliament votes to join fight against ISIS

German lawmakers on Friday overwhelmingly approved a proposal to join the international coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria. France requested Germany's help after the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people. Germany will send reconnaissance planes, a frigate, and midair fueling resources, but it won't be directly involved in airstrikes or combat. Supporters said addressing turmoil in the Middle East was a matter of national security and a moral obligation. An opponent on the left said, "War is terror that breeds more terror."


Coldplay to take stage in Super Bowl halftime show

Coldplay is slated to perform as the halftime show act for Super Bowl 50, which will be held at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on February 7, 2016, The Wall Street Journal reports. The band will join the ranks of Prince, U2, Beyoncé, and Michael Jackson, who have all taken the stage for the biggest American television event of the year. The British rock band's newest album, A Head Full of Dreams, is out Friday, December 4.


Ex-Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland dies at 48

Former Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland died Thursday night in Minnesota. He was 48. A post on Weiland's Facebook page said he "passed away in his sleep while on a tour stop in Bloomington, Minnesota, with his band The Wildabouts. At this time we ask that the privacy of Scott's family be respected." The Grammy-winning singer had battled substance abuse. The cause of his death was not immediately known.


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