Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 6, 2017

Details emerge from intelligence report on Russian hacking, Trump says Mexico will repay America for border wall, and more


U.S. spies caught Russian officials celebrating election result

U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted communications in which senior Russian officials celebrated Donald Trump's win over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical victory for them, according to U.S. officials familiar with the classified intelligence report presented to President Obama Thursday on Russia's alleged effort to influence the vote. Trump will be briefed on the report Friday. The Russians' reaction contributed to the conclusion that Russia's alleged pre-election hacking was at least partly aimed at helping Trump's campaign. The Russians "felt pretty good about what they did," a senior U.S. official said. The report also identifies the "actors" Moscow allegedly used as go-betweens to send stolen Democratic emails to the WikiLeaks website.


Trump says Mexico will repay U.S. for border wall

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has let congressional Republican leaders know that Trump plans to ask Congress to provide money to start building the border wall he promised to separate the U.S. and Mexico, according to The Associated Press and CNN. Trump reportedly prefers to fund the project that way, instead of making Mexico pay for it, as he repeatedly vowed during the campaign, because it would let him go through the appropriations process under a 2006 law on building border fencing. That way, he would avoid having to push through a new border-wall bill that could face strong opposition from Democrats and some Republicans. On Friday, Trump tweeted that "any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!"


Spy chiefs rebuff Trump criticism in Senate hearing on Russian hacking

U.S. intelligence chiefs told senators on Thursday that they were more certain than ever that Russia directed the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails to influence the U.S. presidential election, rebuffing President-elect Donald Trump's public criticism of their work. Senators from both parties affirmed the findings. The hearing came a day before spy chiefs were due to present their report to Trump. The intelligence community will release its report to the public by the beginning of next week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee.


Four suspects in Chicago torture video charged with hate crimes

Four African-American suspects were charged with a hate crime, kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on Thursday in connection with an attack on a mentally disabled white teenager. The attack was streamed on Facebook Live on the account of one of the suspects. One high-ranking police official described the video as "sickening." It shows the victim cowering in the corner of a room, bound with tape covering his mouth as his attackers slash his shirt with a knife, beat and kick him, and cut off a piece of his scalp. At one point, one of them shouts, "F-- Donald Trump! F--- white people!"


Russia says it has started withdrawing forces from Syria

Russia has started withdrawing some of its military forces from Syria, Russian news agencies reported Friday, quoting Russian military chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov. The draw down is starting with warships led by Russia's sole aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov. Russia has been backing Syrian government forces with airstrikes against rebels. The announcement about the initial withdrawal came as the United Nations said a nationwide cease-fire, negotiated between Russia, Turkey, and the Syrian government, along with Iran and Syrian rebel groups, has been mostly holding.


Trump threatens Toyota with border tax on cars built in Mexico

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday targeted Toyota with threats similar to those he has made against U.S. companies, threatening the Japanese automaker with heavy fees if it builds small cars in Mexico to be sold in the U.S. "Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax," Trump said via Twitter. The attacks have stirred fears for the future of cross-border production networks crucial to more than $583 billion in annual trade between the two countries. The tensions have dragged down the value of the Mexican peso. Toyota shares dropped by about 3 percent early Friday.


Paul Ryan says ObamaCare vote will defund Planned Parenthood

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Congress will vote to defund Planned Parenthood in the same bill being used to repeal ObamaCare. Republicans will need just a simple majority to pass the measure, rather than a 60-vote supermajority of senators. "I think the anti-choice movement sees smooth sailing," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said last week in anticipation of the move. Planned Parenthood expects about 40 percent of its funding could be cut if the defunding measure passes; the organization received $553 million from the government in 2014. Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider, but also offers many other women's health services.


Ex-CIA director Woolsey quits as Trump transition adviser

Former CIA director James Woolsey resigned as an adviser to President-elect Donald Trump's transition team on Thursday, "effective immediately," a spokesman for Woolsey said. People close to Woolsey said that he had been excluded in recent weeks from intelligence discussions with Trump and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the incoming White House national security adviser. They said that he was not comfortable lending his credibility to the transition team without having input. Woolsey recently told CNN he did not want to "fly under false colors," being portrayed as a Trump adviser when he's "really not anymore."


Victims' families tell of losses in Charleston church massacre

Victim-impact witnesses talked about the nine victims in the July 2015 Charleston church massacre in court on Thursday. The emotional testimony brought tears to the eyes of some of the jurors who will decide whether Dylann Roof, who was convicted of hate crimes for the murders, gets the death penalty or life in prison. Roof said it was "not fair" for prosecutors to present so much evidence about the nine black churchgoers he admitted to killing. "If I don't present any mitigation evidence, the victim-impact evidence will take over the whole sentencing trial and guarantee that I get the death penalty," Roof wrote in a court filing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson, the lead prosecutor, said it was only fair that Roof face the consequences of what he did.


Tucker Carlson to fill departing Megyn Kelly's Fox News primetime spot

Tucker Carlson will fill the 9 p.m. Fox News primetime spot left open by Megyn Kelly's departure from the network. Martha MacCallum, who currently co-anchors the 9 a.m. program America's Newsroom, will fill Carlson's 7 p.m. spot for the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency. Kelly was the second-most watched host on Fox News behind Bill O'Reilly, but announced this week that she will leave the network to join NBC News later this year. Carlson will start in Kelly's time slot Monday.


What Ebrahim Raisi's election means for Iran, U.S.
Ebrahim Raisi.
U.S.-Iran relations

What Ebrahim Raisi's election means for Iran, U.S.

The Week contest: Booze rescue

The Week contest: Booze rescue

Great Britain has its 1st Catholic prime minister. Surprise!
Boris Johnson, Carrie Symonds
Things that make you go hmmmmm...

Great Britain has its 1st Catholic prime minister. Surprise!

Biden suspends Trump's 25 percent tariff on Scotch whisky
Slàinte mhath

Biden suspends Trump's 25 percent tariff on Scotch whisky

Most Popular

RNC slams Biden for meeting with Putin
Vladimir Putin
Geneva summit

RNC slams Biden for meeting with Putin

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now
Bernie Sanders.
Sounds dope

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now