10 things you need to know today: December 4, 2016
Green Party changes recount tactic in Pennsylvania, at least 9 dead in California warehouse rave fire, and more
Green Party changes recount tactic in Pennsylvania
The Green Party dropped its initial case for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania in court documents released Saturday, but early Sunday the Green Party nominee spearheading the recount campaign, Jill Stein, said she will instead file suit in federal court demanding a recount on constitutional grounds. "PA's election law and recount process raise serious questions about due process and whether fundamental democratic rights are protected," Stein said on Twitter, concluding a series of tweets arguing that a recount process should be accessible and routine. Pennsylvania required a $1 million bond to advance the recount under Stein's previous strategy.
At least 9 dead in California warehouse rave fire
At least nine people were killed and 25 more are missing after a massive fire broke out in a warehouse hosting a dance party Friday night in Oakland, California. The fire started around 11:30 p.m. and may be the deadliest blaze in city history. Crowded with a "maze" of artists' workspaces and illegal dwellings, the building had no sprinkler system and smoke detectors did not activate, firefighters said. "It was too hot, too much smoke, I had to get out of there," said Bob Mule, a photographer who escaped the fire with minor burns. "I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke. I couldn't get the fire extinguisher to work." Authorities say as many as 40 people may be dead, and investigation is slow going thanks to structural instabilities in the warehouse.
Putin: Trump is a 'clever man' who will 'quite quickly understand' how to be president
President-elect Donald Trump "is already a statesman, he is the head of the United States of America, one of the world's leading countries," said Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview aired Sunday. "Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man. And if [he is] a clever man, then he will fully and quite quickly understand another level of responsibility. We assume that he will be acting from these positions," Putin added. Trump has been accused of undue friendliness toward Putin, particularly considering alleged Russian hacking to influence the U.S. election.
Russia seeks negotiations with U.S. for full rebel withdrawal from Aleppo
The rebels who hold the besieged eastern half of Aleppo, Syria, have lost more than half of the territory they once controlled to advancing forces loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime and its Russian allies. Though the opposition groups have been quietly negotiating with Russia in neighboring Turkey, on Saturday Moscow announced it is ready to deal with the United States, which backs some of the militants fighting Assad, to arrange a full withdrawal of Syrian rebel forces from Aleppo. Rebel leaders in Aleppo have reportedly sworn they will not leave the city, and Washington has yet to respond to Moscow's invitation to talks.
Fidel Castro's ashes interred
The ashes of former Cuban President Fidel Castro were interred Sunday morning in Santiago, Cuba, following nine days of national mourning. "Few in the world believed in [Cuba's] ability to resist and overcome," said Fidel's brother, current Cuban President Raúl Castro, at the interment. "Fidel showed us that it was possible." Raúl also announced Cuba would not name streets and landmarks after his deceased brother, insisting that the "leader of the revolution rejected any manifestation of a cult of personality and was consistent in that through the last hours of his life." Cubans who watched a four-day procession of Castro's casket chanted, "I am Fidel!" as it passed.
Iran promises 'firm response' if new U.S. sanctions are enacted
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday urged President Obama to reject a bill extending sanctions on Iran which passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday in a 99-0 vote. "America's president is obliged to exercise his authority by preventing [the bill's] approval and particularly its implementation," Rouhani said in a parliamentary speech, "and if this gross violation is carried out we will firmly respond." The White House has said it does not believe the sanctions violate the Iran deal, as Rouhani claims, and Obama is expected to sign the bill.
Italians vote in constitutional referendum deciding prime minister's fate
Italy votes Sunday in a referendum on constitutional reform, and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has sworn he will resign if the reform effort loses. The proposed changes would curb the power of Italy's upper legislative house and centralize some authority currently held by regional governments. Voter turn-out is expected to be high at 50 to 60 percent, and a "no" vote against the reforms is favored to win. The outcome will be declared sometime after midnight.
Trump attends 'heroes and villains' costume party as himself
President-elect Donald Trump attended a campaign donor's lavish "heroes and villains" costume party on Long Island Saturday evening, and he dressed as himself. While most other attendees donned obvious costumes — top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway went as Superwoman, for example — when Trump arrived in a suit and tie he told attendees he was dressed as "me." Conway described Trump as "the ultimate hero" in a tweet from the party and said the crowd was "thrilled" with Trump's surprise.
Penn State wins Big 10 championship
Penn State football won the Big 10 title in an upset game Saturday night, coming back from a 21-point deficit for a 38-31 victory. This is the school's first conference championship in eight years and gives the team a shot at the playoffs, for which picks will be announced late Sunday morning. "What I do know is that we just won the toughest conference in college football," said Penn State coach James Franklin. "They say you're allowed to overcome minor setbacks, and we've done that. It's up to you, [playoff] committee."
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer drops, inspires love of Baby Groot
Marvel Studios released the first full trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the sequel to the popular 2014 superhero film starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and the voice acting of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper. Stealing the show and much of the screen-time was Baby Groot, the small humanoid tree who is re-growing into the large humanoid tree introduced in the first movie. The trailer also offers a good look at Abilisk, the toothy, tentacled space monster the Guardians will fight. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be released in May.