10 things you need to know today: December 14, 2016

Trump praises Paul Ryan, Syrian rebels' evacuation from Aleppo delayed as fighting resumes, and more

Syrians abandon Aleppo
(Image credit: KARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Trump praises Ryan in Wisconsin 'thank you' tour stop

President-elect Donald Trump took his "thank you" tour to Wisconsin on Tuesday, where the state's Republican political leadership joined him as he recalled his surprise election night win. An upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin helped seal Trump's Electoral College majority. Trump called Gov. Scott Walker, once a rival for the GOP nomination, a "tough" competitor and "great governor." He also noted the presence of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who famously balked at backing Trump and differed publicly with him during the campaign. Trump said Ryan will lead his push to cut taxes and replace ObamaCare. "He's like a fine wine," Trump said. "Every day goes by, I get to appreciate his genius more and more. Now if he ever goes against me, I'm not going to say that, okay?"

USA Today

2. Syrian rebels' evacuation delayed as fighting resumes

Syrian rebels in Aleppo surrendered Tuesday under a ceasefire deal allowing them to evacuate the war-ravaged city, but the evacuations were delayed on Wednesday as heavy fighting resumed. Russia said the last formerly rebel-held parts of Aleppo had been retaken by government forces after months of heavy fighting. The reclaiming of Syria's second largest city could be the biggest battlefield victory for President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the country's civil war. The U.N. said Tuesday that it had received reports of 82 civilians being killed, execution-style, as they tried to flee the city.

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BBC News The New York Times

3. Trump picks ex-Texas Governor Rick Perry as energy secretary

President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday morning named former Texas Governor Rick Perry as his energy secretary. If confirmed, Perry would run a department whose name he famously forgot while listing agencies he planned to eliminate as president during his 2012 bid for the White House. On Tuesday, Trump reportedly offered the interior secretary job to Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), which would put the freshman congressman in charge of the department that oversees federal lands. Earlier in the day, Trump announced his selection of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has deep ties to Russia that worry lawmakers from both parties, to be his secretary of state.

Reuters The Associated Press

4. Kasich vetoes 'heartbeat bill' but signs less strict abortion law

Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday vetoed the so-called heartbeat bill, which would have banned most abortions once a fetal heartbeat could be detected, at about six weeks into pregnancy. It would have been the nation's strictest anti-abortion law. Kasich instead signed into law a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The second-term governor and former Republican presidential candidate had expressed doubts about the heartbeat bill's constitutionality — similar measures in other states were struck down by courts. Republican leaders pushed it through in a lame-duck session, saying President-elect Donald Trump's vow to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices increased its chance of survival.

Columbus Dispatch

5. Energy Department rebuffs Trump request for climate worker names

The Energy Department said Tuesday that it would not comply with a request from President-elect Donald Trump's transition team for the names of people who have worked on climate change. In a list of 74 questions submitted to the department, Trump's team also asked for the professional society memberships of lab workers. An Energy Department spokesman, Eben Burnham-Snyder, said some DOE officials were "unsettled" by the request. He said that department staff would release all publicly available information to Trump's team, but also would "respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department," signaling potential clashes with incoming Trump administration leaders and any holdover staffers.

The Washington Post

6. Colombian court accepts plan to expedite peace deal

Colombia's highest court on Tuesday ruled that Congress could fast-track approval of a revised peace agreement with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebels. Voters unexpectedly rejected the first version of the accord by a margin of less than 0.5 percent in an October referendum. President Juan Manuel Santos, who received a Nobel Peace Prize on Saturday, aimed to avoid another defeat by routing the new deal through Congress, where his coalition has a majority and expects to easily win approval, ending a half century of war. The ruling will let Congress cut the approval time to six months, down from a year.


7. Pentagon: 3 ISIS militants killed in Syria airstrike

The Pentagon said Tuesday that an airstrike had killed three Islamic State terrorists who were involved in planning attacks in Europe, including the deadly multi-pronged November 2015 assaults in Paris. The Dec. 4 airstrike hit in Raqqa, ISIS' declared capital in Syria. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said the three men were "leaders, directly involved in facilitating external terror operations and recruiting foreign fighters." Two were reportedly close associates of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the ISIS spokesman and external operations leader reportedly killed in a drone strike in August.

The New York Times

8. Labor Secretary Tom Perez to join DNC race

Labor Secretary Tom Perez is joining the race to become Democratic National Committee chairman, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of his plan. An announcement is expected Thursday. He would be the first strong rival to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who is holding a rally Wednesday with the American Federation of Teachers and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Two others are also in the running: Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, and Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

The Washington Post

9. Polar vortex bringing coldest temperatures in years to Midwest, Northeast

A polar vortex heading south into the Midwest and Northeast this week is expected to push temperatures down to record lows between 20 and 35 degrees below average on Thursday and Friday. The coldest air will cross into the Upper Midwest starting Wednesday night, bringing sub-zero temperatures to Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Iowa. Wind chills could go to minus-20 in what could be the coldest December weather in years.

The Washington Post

10. Growing Pains star Alan Thicke dies at 69

Actor Alan Thicke, best known as the TV dad on the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains, died Tuesday of a heart attack he suffered while playing hockey with his 19-year-old son, Carter. He was 69. Thicke had a wide-ranging career. In addition to acting, he hosted a popular daytime talk show in his native Canada, and a short-lived late night show aimed at an American audience. He also wrote for TV comedies, and composed the theme songs to such sitcoms as Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. Thicke is survived by his wife, Tanya, and sons Brennan, Carter, and singer Robin, who told the Los Angeles Times his dad was "the greatest man I ever met."

The Hollywood Reporter Los Angeles Times

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.