Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 5, 2017

Obama urges Democrats to fight for ObamaCare, Trump works on plan to revamp intelligence agencies, and more


Obama urges Democrats to fight GOP effort to scrap ObamaCare

President Obama went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to urge his fellow Democrats to "stay strong" in the face of Republican efforts to repeal his signature health care reform law. Obama, making a final push to protect central components of his legacy less than three weeks before he leaves office, told Democratic lawmakers they did not have to "rescue" Republicans by helping them replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. His visit came as Republicans, controlling both houses of the new Congress and soon the White House, began debate on dismantling the law. Vice President-elect Mike Pence joined House Republicans in the Capitol basement to discuss how to dismantle the law. President-elect Donald Trump fired off several tweets warning his fellow Republicans to "be careful" because Democrats "own" the law and it "will fall of its own weight."


Trump reportedly plans to revamp spy agencies

President-elect Donald Trump is working on a plan to restructure the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency, The Wall Street Journal reports. "The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world [is] becoming completely politicized," an individual close to Trump's transition operation said. "They all need to be slimmed down." The news came as Trump publicly questions the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia orchestrated the hacking of Democrats in the 2016 presidential election, and leaked emails to help his White House bid.


House passes bill seeking to fast-track bid to dismantle Obama rules

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill seeking to fast-track Republicans' effort to undo "midnight rules" enacted by President Obama near the end of his term. The legislation would give Congress the power to kill dozens of such regulations at once. The GOP-controlled House passed similar legislation in the last Congress, but it would have faced a certain veto by Obama. A similar bill is under consideration in the Senate, where it faces more Democratic resistance. Another measure, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, would require approval from Congress before rules can take effect. It is unclear how President-elect Donald Trump feels about the bills, which would limit his executive authority, too.


Dylann Roof tells jurors he is mentally sound

Dylann Roof on Wednesday told jurors, who will decide whether to sentence him to death for the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre, that "there's nothing wrong with me psychologically." Roof, an admitted white supremacist, is representing himself in the trial's final phase. In his five-minute opening statement, he said he regretted nothing and had "not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed." The jury last month found Roof guilty of hate and anti-religion crimes for fatally shooting nine black churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Prosecutors are asking for the death penalty rather than life in prison.


More than 100 injured in New York commuter train derailment

A packed Long Island Rail Road commuter train derailed on Wednesday during the morning rush hour in Brooklyn, injuring more than 100 of the estimated 450 people aboard. All of the injuries were minor, with the worst being a broken leg. The train crashed at Atlantic Terminal near Brooklyn's Barclays Center, one of the city's busiest stations, with connections to nine subway lines. New York's Office of Emergency Management said the train was moving "at a very low speed" when it derailed. The station filled with smoke after the wreck, which is under investigation.


California hires Eric Holder for looming battles with Trump administration

Democratic leaders of California's Legislature announced Wednesday that they had hired Eric Holder, who served as President Obama's attorney general, to represent them in possible legal battles with the incoming Trump administration. Democratic state Senate leader Kevin de León said California, a Democratic state where Hillary Clinton beat President-elect Donald Trump by four million votes, expects to challenge Washington on many issues, including the environment and immigration. "Having the former attorney general of the United States brings us a lot of firepower in order to prepare to safeguard the values of the people of California," de León said. "This means we are very, very serious."


Chicago police arrest four over Facebook Live torture video

Chicago police said Wednesday that they had detained two men and two women, all 18, in connection with the beating and racial taunting of a mentally disabled man, also 18, that was broadcast on Facebook Live. In the disturbing 30-minute video, people can be heard cursing President-elect Donald Trump and "white people" as they hit the victim. Police are investigating possible hate crime charges, because the victim is white and the alleged tormentors in the video are black, but still are trying to determine whether the language in the video "is sincere or just stupid ranting and raving," said Chicago Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin.


Ex-Mexican minister pushed out over Trump meeting gets new job

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Wednesday appointed former finance secretary Luis Videgaray, once his liaison with Donald Trump's campaign, to be his country's new foreign relations secretary. In September of 2016, Videgaray stepped down after arranging a controversial meeting with now President-elect Trump, facing angry criticism for reaching out to Trump despite his negative comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants. Pena Nieto now is giving Videgaray the task of establishing a relationship with the incoming Trump administration that "allows us to strengthen bilateral ties in security, trade, migration, and investment," without undermining Mexico's "sovereignty or the dignity of Mexicans."


December sales push automakers to record year

U.S. automaker shares surged on Wednesday following reports that aggressive December dealmaking helped lift total sales to a record 17.55 million cars and light trucks in 2016. The monthly annualized sales rate shot to 18.4 million in December, the fastest pace since July 2005. At the start of the month the industry was nearly on pace to beat 2015's record of 17.47 million vehicles. The 2016 high point marks the eighth consecutive full-year increase following the Great Recession, which nearly wiped out General Motors and Chrysler.


NASA to launch two asteroid exploration missions

NASA is planning two missions to asteroids in the early 2020s to find clues on the solar system's origins, the space agency announced Wednesday. The first mission, Lucy, will explore the Trojan asteroids in Jupiter's orbit in 2021. Then, in 2023, the Psyche mission will launch to what NASA describes as a "giant metal asteroid" nearly three times farther from the sun than Earth. "Lucy will observe primitive remnants from farther out in the solar system, while Psyche will directly observe the interior of a planetary body," said NASA planetary science director Jim Green.


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