10 things you need to know today: December 9, 2016
Ex-senator and astronaut John Glenn dies at 95, Trump picks a fast-food executive as labor secretary, and more
John Glenn, ex-senator and astronaut, dies at 95
Former astronaut and senator John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, died Thursday in Ohio. He was 95. Glenn, a clean-cut Midwesterner, had already served as a Marine Corps test pilot when he climbed into the Friendship 7, a small Mercury capsule on the tip of an Atlas rocket that blasted him into space on Feb. 20, 1962. His five-hour, three-orbit trip helped the U.S. catch up to the Soviet Union, which had pulled ahead in the space race by sending two astronauts into orbit the year before. After serving as one of the first seven U.S. astronauts, Glenn went on to represent Ohio for 24 years in the Senate, making one final trip into orbit on a space shuttle at age 77.
Trump chooses anti-regulation Labor Department secretary
President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that he would nominate fast-food executive Andrew Puzder to be the next Labor Department secretary. Puzder, CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. parent CKE Restaurants, is a vocal critic of the protest movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a change he says would kill jobs. He also has been an outspoken business advocate and critic of government regulations. He has criticized everything from the Affordable Care Act to the recently delayed Labor Department rule making millions more workers eligible for overtime pay. His nomination was interpreted as a signal that Trump's Labor Department would undo Obama administration initiatives.
South Korean lawmakers impeach President Park
South Korean lawmakers on Friday voted overwhelmingly to impeach President Park Geun-hye over an influence peddling scandal involving her closest friend and confidante, Choi Soon-sil. Park was the country's first female president, and now she will be its first leader to be forced to step down. Park will be stripped of power and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will take over until the Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently resign. Park apologized at a Cabinet meeting after the vote. "I'm deeply sorry to the people because the nation has to experience this turmoil because of my negligence and lack of virtue," she said.
Clinton decries 'fake news' in first post-election Capitol Hill speech
Top Democrats and Republicans gathered Thursday to bid farewell to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is retiring after more than 30 years in Congress. Hillary Clinton, in her first Capitol Hill appearance since losing the presidential election, praised Reid, but also used the occasion to challenge Congress to address the "epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda" that has flooded social media. Bogus reports damaged Clinton's campaign. Also, this week a North Carolina man fired a gun inside Comet Ping Pong, a Washington pizza joint, because he believed false online reports that members of Clinton's campaign ran a child sex ring out of the restaurant. "It's now clear that so-called fake news can have real-world consequences," Clinton said.
Senate Democrats threaten government shutdown over coal miner health care
Coal-state Democratic senators threatened a partial government shutdown over a provision to fund the health care of retired coal miners hours ahead of a Friday midnight deadline. The House on Thursday approved a bill to finance the federal government until April 28, by a 329-96 vote. The bill includes a four-month extension of the miners' health benefits, set to lapse on Jan. 1 for at least 12,500 union miners and their families. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says he will "do everything I can to stop" the spending bill if it doesn't have a one-year extension. Manchin has support from other Democrats and even some Republicans, but Republican leaders say the Democrats lost all leverage after the House passed the spending bill and left town for the Christmas holiday.
Fighting resumes after humanitarian pause in Aleppo
Shelling resumed in the remaining rebel-held areas in Aleppo, Syria, on Friday after a brief humanitarian pause, according to a monitoring group. Russia said Thursday that Syrian government forces had suspended fire in Aleppo to allow civilians to leave the war-ravaged city, and Russia's military said later that about 8,000 people, including 3,000 children, had left. Moscow also said it had reached an agreement with the U.S. to permit remaining rebel forces to evacuate the city. Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, have retaken about 75 percent of east Aleppo, where rebels have controlled some neighborhoods for four years, in a recent offensive.
Alabama executes man for fatal 1994 shooting of store clerk
Alabama executed Ronald Bert Smith Jr., 45, late Thursday for the 1994 murder of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson. Smith coughed repeatedly at the beginning of the lethal injection process. Guards checked his consciousness twice before administering the final two lethal drugs. At his trial, the jury voted 7-5 to recommend life in prison, but a judge sentenced Smith to die. His lawyers argued that the judge should not have been able to override the jury's recommendation. The Supreme Court, which struck down Florida's death penalty structure in January because it gave judges too much power, twice paused the execution. Four liberal justices, one short of the majority needed, said they would have halted it.
Southwest Pacific earthquake triggers brief tsunami warning
A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit near the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean on Thursday. A tsunami watch was briefly ordered for Hawaii immediately after the quake, although authorities later determined the state was not in danger. The massive quake was followed by a 5.5-magnitude temblor and several weaker aftershocks. There were no immediate reports of deaths, injuries, or damage. Another quake — magnitude 6.5 — struck off the coast of California on Thursday, but it did not shake the state violently.
Trump to remain a Celebrity Apprentice executive producer
President-elect Donald Trump will remain an executive producer of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice after taking office in January. The reality TV series, which Trump hosted and helped develop, ends a two-year hiatus and returns for a 15th season starting Jan. 2, with movie star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as host. Trump, whose last show as host aired in early 2015, likely will receive a fee in the low five figures per episode, although his exact share of the income has not been revealed, Variety reported. "Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show," Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said.
Greg Lake, a prog rock founder, dies at 69
Greg Lake, considered one of the founders of progressive rock, died Thursday after what his manager called "a long and stubborn battle with cancer." He was 69. Lake was best known as a founder and bassist for King Crimson, and guitarist and singer for Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He also left a mark with his biggest and most enduring solo hit I Believe in Father Christmas in 1975. "His music can now live forever in the hearts of all who loved him," former bandmate Carl Palmer said. Lake's death came nine months after bandmate Keith Emerson's suicide.