Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 8, 2017

Florida gunman charged and may face death penalty, Trump transition faces ethics obstacles, and more


Florida gunman charged and may face death penalty

Esteban Santiago, the 26-year-old veteran accused of killing five people and wounding eight more in an attack at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Friday, was charged Saturday with an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death. That makes him eligible for the death penalty, which prosecutors will pursue. Santiago told investigators he planned the attack in advance, but his motives for targeting the Florida airport have not been determined. Santiago, who has a history of mental illness, was already being prosecuted for domestic violence. In November, he told FBI agents he was experiencing delusions and "terroristic thoughts," but authorities ultimately returned his gun because he had no ties to terrorism. It is unclear if the gun that was returned is the gun used in the attack.


Trump transition faces ethics obstacles

The Senate's aggressive schedule of confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump's high-level nominees is of "great concern" and may mean deliberations begin without resolution of some candidates' "potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues," the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) said in a letter to Senate leadership on Friday. The Trump team did not clear any of its selections with the OGE in advance, so many ethics reviews are still underway. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) responded to the letter on Twitter Saturday, saying no confirmation hearings should be held until reviews are complete and accusing Trump's picks of "drag[ging] their feet on ethics paperwork while their Senate friends try to run out the clock."


Trump: Only 'fools' oppose good relations with Russia

President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to criticize those who oppose his efforts to establish positive relations between the United States and Russia. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing," he said. "Only 'stupid' people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We have enough problems around the world without yet another one. When I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now and both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!" His comments come in the wake of Friday's report from the CIA, FBI, and NSA which concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to help Trump's "election chances" and undermine Hillary Clinton's campaign.


Trump nominee accused of plagiarizing 50 passages of her book

President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for director of strategic communications for the National Security Council, Monica Crowley, has been accused of plagiarizing more than 50 passages of her 2012 book, What The (Bleep) Just Happened. A list published by CNN on Saturday compares sections from the conservative media personality's book with online content from sources including Wikipedia, Fox News, Investopedia, National Review, Politico, and more. The book does not have a bibliography. The Trump team stood by Crowley, saying efforts to discredit her are "nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country."


British prime minister says Brexit plans are not 'muddled,' details forthcoming

British Prime Minister Theresa May said in an interview Sunday her plan for Brexit, the United Kingdom's intended departure from the European Union, will be revealed in the next few weeks. "Our thinking on this isn't muddled at all," she said. "Yes, we have been taking time. I said we wouldn't trigger Article 50 immediately — some said we should." May weighed in on President-elect Donald Trump in the same conversation, saying she finds his comments about sexually assaulting women "unacceptable," but that she is "optimistic and positive for the future" of cooperation between her Conservative government and the Trump administration. Trump on Saturday night tweeted, "I look very much forward to meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in Washington in the Spring. Britain, a longtime U.S. ally, is very special!"


Trump confirms Coats pick for intel chief

President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday confirmed Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) is his nominee for director of national intelligence. "Dan has clearly demonstrated the deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment required to lead our intelligence community," the president-elect said in a statement. "If confirmed as director of national intelligence, he will provide unwavering leadership that the entire intelligence community can respect, and will spearhead my administration's ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm." Coats' likely nomination was first reported Thursday in a New York Times story describing him as a "mild-mannered conservative." He served on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees before retiring from the Senate.


EU breakup 'is no longer unthinkable,' says German vice chancellor

The breakup of the European Union in the relative near future is not inconceivable, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told Der Spiegel in an interview published Saturday. "I know that this discussion is extremely unpopular," said Gabriel, who is the German analog to a vice president. "But I also know about the state of the EU. It is no longer unthinkable that it breaks apart." If that happens, he continued, "our children and grandchildren would curse us, because Germany is the biggest beneficiary of the European community — economically and politically." Gabriel is expected to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel for her seat later this year. He argues that German taxpayers should do more to support other European countries, while Merkel leans toward austerity.


ISIS car bomb kills 12 in Baghdad

A suicide car bombing claimed by the Islamic State killed at least 12 people and wounded about 50 more in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, on Sunday. The blast targeted a vegetable market which has been bombed before. ISIS has increasingly shifted toward relatively small-scale attacks like this one as it continues to lose territory in Iraq and Syria. The Shiite area was chosen because ISIS, as Sunni extremists, believe Shiite Muslims are heretics.


The Limited shutters all its stores

Clothing retailer The Limited announced Saturday its final 130 stores will be shut down Sunday. "We're sad to say that all The Limited stores nationwide have officially closed their doors. But this isn't goodbye," said the company's website, which will continue to offer the brand's online shopping until all inventory is sold. Once a popular and growing clothing chain, The Limited has seen its fortunes decline since its 1990s heyday. The closure was blamed on "significant debt obligations" and The Limited's failure to find a buyer that could keep the stores afloat.


SeaWorld San Diego hosts its final killer whale show

Just two days after the death of Tilikum, the SeaWorld Orlando orca who was involved in the death of three people and was the subject of a documentary about SeaWorld's treatment of its killer whales, SeaWorld San Diego hosted its final orca show Sunday. After years of uproar over the large marine mammals' captivity and performance requirements, the park promised in 2015 the shows would be phased out. SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio will end their killer whale shows within the next two years. The signature attraction will be replaced with an educational program about whales and conservation.


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