Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 27, 2016

Obama says he would have beaten Trump, Russia finds crashed military plane's flight-data recorder, and more


Obama says he would have beaten Trump

President Obama said in an interview released Monday that he was "confident" he would have beaten President-elect Donald Trump in November if he could have run for a third term. Obama praised his fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton and said she had faced unfair attacks, but that she campaigned too cautiously out of a belief that she was certain to beat Trump. "If you think you're winning, then you have a tendency, just like in sports, maybe to play it safer," Obama said to his former adviser David Axelrod for his The Axe Files podcast. Obama said Clinton's defeat was not a rejection of his legacy. Trump responded via Twitter, saying, "I say NO WAY! — jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc."


Russia finds flight-data recorder of crashed plane

Search crews have found the flight-data recorder of the Russian military plane that crashed Sunday in the Black Sea, killing all 92 people on board, Russia's Defense Ministry said Tuesday. Divers on Monday found several pieces of the jet in about 80 feet of water a mile from shore. The plane crashed shortly taking off from the Russian city of Sochi, carrying military personnel and journalists. Among the people on board were members of a famed Russian army choir heading to Syria to perform for Russian troops. Russia has said early evidence indicates human or mechanical error, not terrorism, probably caused the crash.


Japan's Shinzo Abe arrives in Hawaii for historic Pearl Harbor visit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit Pearl Harbor on Tuesday with President Obama in what will be the first such public visit by a sitting Japanese leader to the site of the 1941 surprise Japanese air attack that pulled the U.S. into World War II. They also will meet privately to discuss the U.S.-Japan alliance, which could be in for changes under President-elect Donald Trump, who has called for renegotiating U.S. trade deals and making allies like Japan pay more for their own defense. Abe landed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Monday to start his landmark visit, which comes after Obama's visit earlier this year to Hiroshima, the Japanese city hit with the first U.S. atomic attack at the end of the war in 1945.


Russia: Mass graves found in Aleppo

Syrian residents, fleeing violence.

Getty Images

Russia's military said Monday that its troops had found mass graves with dozens of bodies in Aleppo following the evacuation of rebels from the long-divided Syrian city. Some of the bodies in the graves showed signs of torture, said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov. Russia dispatched military police to the city, once Syria's largest, after the Russian Air Force helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces reclaim the last opposition strongholds.


Colombia blames Chapecoense team's plane crash on human error

Colombian authorities on Monday blamed human error for the crash of a charter plane operated by the Bolivian company LaMia that killed 71 people last month. The jet was carrying dozens of players from Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team to Medellin, where they were scheduled to play in the biggest game in their team's history, the final of the Copa Sudamericana. Colombian investigators concluded that the pilot, LaMia co-owner Miguel Quiroga, the airline, and Bolivian authorities all went along with a flight plan that was "unacceptable." The pilot failed to refuel, and reported electrical failures due to the lack of fuel too late.


U.S. led global arms sales with $40 billion last year

The U.S. signed weapon-sale deals worth about $40 billion last year, ranking it first in the world, according to a new congressional study. France ranked as the No. 2 arms seller, far behind with $15 billion. Developing nations continued to rank as the top buyers, led by Qatar with more than $17 billion in weapons purchases, followed by Egypt with $12 billion, and Saudi Arabia with more than $8 billion. Despite ongoing terrorism threats, total sales in 2015 dropped to $80 billion from $89 billion the year before, "due, in part, to the weakened state of the global economy," wrote Catherine A. Theohary, a national security policy specialist at the bipartisan Congressional Research Service and author of the study.


Trump transition team 'war room' to push through Cabinet picks

Donald Trump's transition team is preparing a "war room" of consultants and media experts to fight for the confirmation of the president-elect's Cabinet picks. While Trump's Cabinet nominees will benefit from a friendly Republican-controlled Senate, critics can make the confirmation rough going. "One of the things Americans wanted was a change election, so you have some unconventional candidates," one senior transition official said. The war room will be stocked with people to defend the nominees as well as "media sherpas" to coach the nominees on how to field difficult questions. Each candidate "is being viewed as its own special project," according to a GOP strategist familiar with the plans.


Israel moves ahead with East Jerusalem settlement plan despite U.N. vote

Israel said Monday that it would proceed with plans for 5,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, undeterred by a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the building of Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas. Israel said it does not "turn the other cheek." In the past, the U.S. used its veto power to shield Israel from such criticism at the Security Council, but this time the Obama administration abstained. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials accused President Obama of orchestrating the resolution, and President-elect Donald Trump said things will be different when he takes office in January.


Indian police arrest four over rape reported by U.S. tourist

Indian police said Monday that they had arrested four men suspected in the rape of an American tourist earlier this year. The woman, who is 25, filed a complaint in October saying that she had been drugged and raped in April in her room at the five-star Connaught Place hotel in New Delhi. The four men arrested included a tour guide and his associate, a driver, and a hotel worker. The suspects denied the accusations in the case, the latest in a series of sexual assaults that have sparked widespread outrage in India.


Cheetah population crashes, raising threat of extinction

The world's cheetah population is crashing, leaving the world's fastest land animal approaching extinction, according to new research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. There are now about 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild, the report said, down from an estimated 100,000 at the end of the 19th century. Cheetahs once roamed Africa and Asia, but they have lost an estimated 91 percent of their habitat. Most of the remaining cheetahs are in Africa, with about 50 remaining in Iran. In Africa, 14 of 18 groups studied were decreasing. Zimbabwe's cheetah population has fallen from 1,200 to 170 in 16 years.


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