10 things you need to know today: December 6, 2016
A judge declares a mistrial in Michael Slager's murder trial, Trump talks environment with Al Gore, and more
Mistrial declared in Michael Slager's murder trial
A judge in South Carolina on Monday declared a mistrial in the case of a former North Charleston police officer, Michael Slager, charged with murder for fatally shooting motorist Walter Scott after a traffic stop. The jury could have convicted Slager of murder or manslaughter, or acquitted him, but could not come to a unanimous decision. Slager, who is white, pulled over Scott, who was black, for a broken taillight. Scott fled on foot and Slager caught up with him nearby, then shot him as he ran away. A witness captured a cellphone video of the shooting, which sparked widespread outrage. Slager's lawyers said he feared for his life because he thought Scott had taken his Taser and would use the stun gun on him.
Trump discusses climate change with Al Gore
President-elect Donald Trump on Monday met with former Vice President Al Gore, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning climate advocate, to discuss climate issues. In the past, Trump has called the idea of human-made climate change a hoax spread by China. His children reportedly are pushing him to support environmental conservation as president, people familiar with the discussions have said, and the effort led to the meeting. Gore, who was in New York for the Climate Reality Project's 24 Hours of Reality live broadcast, said he and Trump had a "lengthy and very productive session... To be continued."
North Carolina's governor concedes four weeks after election
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on Monday conceded the state's gubernatorial election to challenger Roy Cooper, the state's attorney general. McCrory refused to give in after the original count showed him trailing Cooper, a Democrat, by fewer than 5,000 votes. As counties continued to tally ballots, Cooper's lead grew to 10,263. McCrory would have been entitled to a recount if he had remained within 10,000 votes. The Nov. 8 vote was widely seen to be partly a referendum on a controversial law pushed through by the GOP-led legislature and defended by McCrory limiting transgender public-bathroom rights.
Georgia father sentenced to life for son's death in hot car
A judge on Monday sentenced Justin Ross Harris to life in prison without parole for leaving his 22-month-old son, Cooper, to die in a hot car in June 2014. Harris was found guilty last month on all eight charges he faced, including three murder counts. In addition to the life term, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark gave Harris 20 years for cruelty to a child, and 10 years for sexual exploitation of children for trying to convince a child to text him nude photos. Harris left his son in a car for seven hours while he was at work, and investigators later discovered that Harris had been having sexually charged online communication with several people, including two underage girls.
Report: Pentagon hid study suggesting wasted spending
The Pentagon hid a 2015 internal study that found evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste in its business operations, according to The Washington Post. Officials reportedly feared that lawmakers would use the information to justify cutting the defense budget. The study, undertaken by the Defense Business Board, found that the Pentagon was spending $134 billion of its $580 billion budget on overhead and operations — human resources, accounting, property management — and that more than 1 million people work in the Defense Department's business operations, as compared to the 1.3 million active-duty troops. To save $125 billion, the report suggested early retirement, attrition, and using fewer contractors and more technology. The Pentagon first released a summary of the report, then pulled that from its website.
Oil industry urges Trump to approve Dakota Access Pipeline
Oil industry leaders on Monday called on President-elect Donald Trump to push through approval for the Dakota Access Pipeline when he takes office in January, despite a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision not to approve permits for the proposed route in North Dakota. The pipeline was to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, but protesters objected, saying the project could damage the tribe's water supply and destroy sacred Native American sites. Trump, who owns stock in Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, has expressed desire to see the pipeline completed, as has House Speaker Paul Ryan. The Army said alternative routes for the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile project would have to be explored.
Biden suggests he is open to 2020 presidential bid
Vice President Joe Biden on Monday opened the door to possibly running for the White House in 2020. Biden was in the Senate to preside over a measure naming a medical research bill after Biden's late son, Beau, who died of brain cancer last year. Biden decided not to run for president in 2016 after long deliberations following his son's death. Reporters asked Biden, 74, whether he would ever run again, and he replied, "I am going to run in 2020." Reporters pressed him, asking whether he was serious. "I'm not committing not to run. I'm not committing to anything," Biden said. "I learned a long time ago fate has a strange way of intervening."
Amazon experiments with smart grocery shop
Amazon.com on Monday unveiled its first brick-and-mortar convenience store, an 1,800-square-foot small-format grocery store in downtown Seattle it calls Amazon Go. The smart retail outlet allows customers to use an Amazon app to grab items and check themselves out without going through a register. It hopes to open more than 2,000 grocery stores if the test goes well. Amazon also is experimenting with a drive-through format, and plans to open two drive-through outlets in Seattle over the coming weeks. The e-commerce giant already has tested brick-and-mortar bookstores.
Death toll rises in Oakland warehouse fire
The death toll from a massive fire at an Oakland, California, warehouse that had been transformed into an arts space rose to 36 on Monday, and authorities said it could climb higher as search crews carefully work their way through the scorched building, known as the Ghost Ship. The search was limited on Monday as firefighters avoided areas near an exterior wall in danger of collapse, and other parts of the structure that were hanging precariously. "We will not put our firefighters in danger at this point," said Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton.
Judge says Cosby deposition can be used in sexual assault trial
A judge ruled Monday that a deposition comedian Bill Cosby gave in an accuser's lawsuit can be used in his Pennsylvania sexual assault trial. In a deposition, Cosby talked about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex. He also said he had made secret payments to former lovers. Cosby also said he hosted his accuser in the case, Andrea Constand, at his home in 2004. Constand met Cosby at Temple University, where he served as a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team, and she would come to see him as a mentor. Constand now says Cosby drugged and assaulted her, a story similar to accusations made by five dozen other women.