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10 things you need to know today: January 7, 2017

CIA, FBI, NSA agree Putin tried to 'help' Trump's 'election chances,' lone gunman attack in Florida airport leaves 5 dead, and more


CIA, FBI, NSA agree Putin tried to 'help' Trump's 'election chances'

The CIA, FBI, and NSA on Friday released a joint declassified report about the Russian cyberattacks during the 2016 election, including the hacks targeting the Democratic National Committee and the email account of Hillary Clinton's campaign chair. The report concludes that "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election," aspiring to "help President-elect Donald Trump's election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him." After receiving a more detailed, classified report earlier Friday, Trump released a statement asserting "there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election." Saturday morning, he tweeted, "Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!"


Lone gunman attack in Florida airport leaves 5 dead

A lone suspect opened fire at Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday afternoon, killing at least five people. Eight others were injured in the attack, which occurred in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2. The suspect has been identified as Esteban Santiago, and he has been taken into custody. Santiago, 26, is a veteran who deployed to Iraq in 2010 via the Puerto Rico National Guard, serving in an engineering unit before he was discharged for "unsatisfactory performance." He was living in Anchorage, Alaska, with his brother, Bryan Santiago, who said he is in shock and described the suspect as a "serious" and "normal" person. Santiago's aunt said since returning from Iraq he struggled with mental health and "saw things." In November, Santiago reportedly told FBI agents in Anchorage that U.S. spies are controlling his mind and forcing him to watch Islamic State videos.


Trump declines to offer extensions to Obama-appointed ambassadors

President-elect Donald Trump informed all U.S. ambassadors nominated by President Obama that they must resign by Jan. 20 "without exceptions," according to a Dec. 23 State Department cable described to The New York Times. This will leave many key U.S. allies — Britain, Germany, Canada, Japan — without a U.S. ambassador for up to several months, and it also has envoys with school-age children scrambling to figure out what to do. Incoming presidents traditionally replace their predecessors' nominees, many of whom are political picks chosen as a thank-you for their campaign support, but the last two presidents offered extensions to about 10 ambassadors.


Obama vows to support ACA repeal if Republicans present a better plan first

President Obama said Friday he has no problem with Republicans repealing his signature health care law — as long as they come up with a viable replacement plan first. "To every Republican: If you can put a plan together that is demonstrably better than what ObamaCare is doing, I will publicly support [it]," Obama said during a live interview with Vox. Obama made clear his qualms are only over the "repeal first, replace later" strategy, which he called a "huge disservice to the American people. "If it works, I'm for it," Obama said, noting that many Democrats would be as well.


Michelle Obama celebrates America's 'glorious diversity' in final remarks as first lady

Michelle Obama on Friday delivered her final remarks as first lady, appearing at a Reach Higher and Counselor of the Year event at the White House. "With a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is possible — even becoming president," Obama said. "That's what the American Dream is all about." America's "glorious diversity of faiths, colors, and creeds is not a threat to who we are," she continued. "It makes us who we are." Obama wrapped up her remarks with a simple "thank you" to the American people. "Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life," she said, "and I hope I made you proud."


Judge orders Chicago torture suspects held without bail

The four African Americans accused of brutally attacking a mentally disabled white man in Chicago and streaming the incident on Facebook Live will not be permitted to post bail before trial. "I'm looking at each of you and wondering where was the sense of decency that each of you should have had?" asked Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil at the bond court hearing for Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper, and sisters Brittany and Tanishia Covington. "I don't see it," she added. Defense attorneys argued that all four suspects have responsibilities to which they must attend, including Tanishia Covington's two young children, but Ciesil was unconvinced. The four have their next hearing on Jan. 27.


At least 43 killed in Syrian truck bombing near Turkey

At least 43 people were killed and dozens more injured in a car bomb attack in Azaz, Syria, on Saturday. The town is located near the Turkish border and is about 30 miles north of Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that the vehicle used in the blast was a water or oil tanker, the large size of which made it deadlier than a normal car bomb. The Observatory also says six rebel fighters are among the dead, yet many bodies remain unidentified. No group has taken responsibility for the attack so far, but Azaz is a key stronghold of the Turkish-supported Free Syrian Army, which is fighting the Islamic State.


Congress certifies Trump's Electoral College victory

A joint session of Congress certified the Electoral College vote on Friday, marking the final official step in confirming President-elect Donald Trump's victory. Multiple House Democrats stood up to object as the votes for each state were counted, but no Democratic senators joined their protest. Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the tally in his role as president of the Senate, cut off the protesting representatives repeatedly. "There can be no debate," he said. "It is over." Without at least one senator joining the representatives in a written objection, Biden noted, it cannot proceed.


Frigid temperatures, 'historic' snowstorm blanket U.S.

The South, West, and Northeast are bracing for harsh winter weather this weekend, with a winter storm warning in effect through Saturday for areas stretching from "eastern Alabama through north Georgia, including Atlanta, and into the Carolinas and part of Virginia," and anywhere from 3 to 8 inches of snow expected. In Wyoming, temperatures Friday morning dipped as low as negative 44 degrees Fahrenheit, with wind chill factor in some areas dropping temperatures to minus 56 degrees. In the Northeast, the threat of snow has steadily increased, with southeast New England preparing for a possible 6 inches of snow.


Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher laid to rest in joint ceremony

Mother-daughter actresses Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher were laid to rest together Friday in a joint ceremony after dying just one day apart in late December. Fisher was cremated and some of her ashes were placed in her mother's casket. The rest were put in an urn in the shape of an enormous Prozac capsule, a decision her family felt was appropriate given her mental health advocacy and dark sense of humor. "Carrie's favorite possession was a giant Prozac pill that she bought many years ago," said her brother, Todd Fisher. "She loved it, and it was in her house, and [Carrie's daughter] Billie [Lourd] and I felt it was where she'd want to be."


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