10 things you need to know today: December 16, 2016
Obama vows retaliation for alleged Russian election meddling, Dylann Roof convicted for Charleston church massacre, and more
Obama promises retaliation for suspected Russian election meddling
President Obama on Thursday vowed to "take action" against Russia in retaliation for its alleged cyberattacks aiming to "impact the integrity of our elections." The CIA has concluded that Russia leaked material hacked from Democrats to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. President-elect Donald Trump has called the CIA's conclusion that Russia attempted to manipulate the election to help him win "ridiculous." On Thursday, he repeated his refusal to accept the accusation against Moscow, asking why the Obama administration had waited "so long to act" if it knew Russia was carrying out cyberattacks. Obama said he had already talked directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the matter.
Dylann Roof found guilty of Charleston church massacre
A federal jury in South Carolina on Thursday found self-declared white supremacist Dylann Roof, 22, guilty of 33 federal charges in the killing of nine black parishioners at Charleston's historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a weekly Bible study last year. The charges include deadly hate crimes, obstruction of religion, and firearms violations. Felicia Sanders, one of two survivors of the attack, said she never doubted how the trial would end. "I knew it was going to be guilty, guilty, guilty, all the way through," she said. Roof reiterated his plan to represent himself when the court reconvenes on Jan. 3 to consider whether he should be sentenced to death, or life without parole. He also faces murder charges in state court.
Facebook enlists fact-checkers' help to flag fake news
Facebook announced Thursday that it was starting to weed out fake news posts by partnering with third-party fact-checkers. As part of its new policies to flag fabricated stories, the world's largest social network said it would work with organizations that have signed the International Fact-Checking Network's code of principles established by the Poynter media institute in Florida. Groups that have signed the code include Snopes, PolitiFact, The Washington Post Fact Checker, The Associated Press, and ABC News. Facebook also said it was adjusting its News Feed algorithm to lower the ranking of fake news, focusing on what one executive called "clear hoaxes."
Aleppo evacuation suspended after gunfire erupts
The Syrian government suspended the evacuation of rebels and civilians from the last rebel-held part of eastern Aleppo early Friday after gunmen opened fire on a convoy of people leaving the war-torn city. The government blamed rebels; Turkey's state-owned news agency blamed "pro-regime terrorist groups." On Thursday, thousands of rebel fighters and civilians were evacuated in green Syrian government buses and ambulances, under the terms of a cease-fire negotiated earlier in the week by Russia and Turkey. Thousands more were lined up to leave Friday to travel through government-held areas of Aleppo to rural Idlib province before the operation was suspended.
Trump adds another retired general and a Fox News contributor to national security team
President-elect Donald Trump has named retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, and frequent Fox News commentator Monica Crowley, to his national security team, the presidential transition office said Thursday. Kellogg will be the National Security Council's chief of staff and executive secretary, while Crowley will be its senior director of strategic communications. Kellogg and Crowley, both critics of President Obama on foreign policy, will serve under retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser.
Trump aide says Ivanka Trump can work in White House despite anti-nepotism law
Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Donald Trump, said that the president-elect's oldest daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, would likely be able to take on formal jobs at the White House. Democrats are considered likely to object due to the federal anti-nepotism law, but Conway said the transition team believed the law does not apply to the White House. "The anti-nepotism law apparently has an exception if you want to work in the West Wing, because the president is able to appoint his own staff," Conway said.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez officially launches run for DNC chair
Labor Secretary Tom Perez on Thursday officially joined the race to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. Perez immediately became the most formidable rival of the most high-profile candidate, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). Ellison has been endorsed by 15 state party chairs and vice chairs, and by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who lost a hard-fought battle against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, and Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, also are in the race.
Incoming N.C. governor threatens to sue Republicans if they strip his powers
North Carolina's governor-elect, Roy Cooper, on Thursday threatened to sue the Republican-led state legislature over proposals that would strip away some of his powers before he takes office in January. Republican lawmakers, in surprise amendments to a special session bill on disaster relief, proposed cutting the staff he has control over from 1,500 to 300, making him get state Senate approval for his Cabinet picks, and taking away his ability to appoint University of North Carolina trustees. "If I believe that laws passed by the legislature hurt working families and are unconstitutional, they will see me in court," Cooper said.
Trump chooses West Bank settlement supporter as Israel ambassador
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen New York bankruptcy lawyer David M. Friedman as his ambassador to Israel. Friedman is aligned with Israel's hawkish right and has said that Jewish West Bank settlements — deemed illegitimate by previous administrations — are "legal." He did not wait long to indicate that he intended to shift strategies in Israel, saying he looked forward to strengthening America's "unbreakable bond" with Israel "from the U.S. embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem." For decades, Republican and Democratic administrations have operated the embassy in Tel Aviv. Both Israel and the Palestinians see Jerusalem as their rightful capital, and the State Department says the city's status must be determined as part of a negotiated peace deal.
Longtime Turner broadcaster Craig Sager dies at 65
NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager died Thursday at the age of 65 after a years-long battle with leukemia. Sager, a longtime Turner Sports broadcaster, was known for his unique, colorful suits over a career that spanned more than 40 years. He publicly announced his leukemia diagnosis in 2014, and at the 2016 ESPY awards he emotionally expressed that "over the last two years, I've done everything in my power to live my life as normally as possible but at times, you need support. And I'm so thankful to everyone who has been there for me."