Daily briefing

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

The Senate heads into the first Trump Cabinet confirmation hearings, Clemson beats Alabama to win college football championship, and more

1

Senate opens confirmation hearings for Trump Cabinet nominees

The Senate is scheduled to launch three days of confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks on Tuesday. First up in the morning is Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump's nominee for attorney general. Sessions is expected to tout his conservative legal credentials; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will break with Senate tradition by testifying against Sessions as Democrats challenge him for voting against civil rights legislation, which Booker says indicates Sessions is not up to "ensuring the fair administration of justice" for all. The Office of Government Ethics has expressed concern that the fast-moving confirmation schedule puts "undue pressure" on the office to "rush through" its reviews of nominees. Republicans have vowed to press ahead despite warnings from Democrats that they were willing to delay some hearings until the ethics reviews are completed.

2

Clemson beats Alabama to win college football national championship

The Clemson Tigers narrowly defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide, 35-31, on Monday night to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. Clemson (14-1) sealed its come-from-behind upset with quarterback Deshaun Watson's 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with 1 second remaining, after a surprise onside kick. It is Clemson's first national title since 1981. Alabama (14-1) was trying to become the first major team to go 15-0 in a season since Penn in 1897. The championship matchup was a sequel to last year's title game, which Alabama won 45-40.

3

Trump names son-in-law Jared Kushner as senior adviser

President-elect Donald Trump announced Monday that he was naming his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a senior White House adviser. Kushner, the 35-year-old husband of Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, served as a close adviser during the campaign, and has provided input on hiring decisions during the transition. Ivanka Trump will not immediately take on a formal role. Jared Kushner's attorney, WilmerHale partner Jamie Gorelick, said Kushner was prepared to resign as head of his family's real estate business and shed investments before taking on a White House job. Gorelick said she was confident that a federal anti-nepotism law would not be an obstacle, although critics said the legislation was designed to prevent just such a case.

4

Obama farewell address to be call to action

President Obama is scheduled to deliver a farewell address Tuesday night at McCormick Place, a lakefront convention center in his adopted hometown of Chicago. Aides said the speech would be a call to action for a new generation of leaders. "It's a passing of the baton," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said the speech would not be "a victory lap" listing the accomplishments of his eight years in office, but a bid to "motivate people to want to get involved and fight for their democracy."

5

Democrats call for special panel to investigate Russian election meddling

Democratic lawmakers on Monday called for creating an independent commission similar to the 9/11 panel to investigate Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 elections. Democrats introduced Senate and House versions of a bill, the Protecting our Democracy Act, seeking to set up a 12-member, bipartisan independent panel to investigate the hacking and leaking of Democrats' emails allegedly orchestrated by Moscow to help the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump. Russia has denied the allegations, saying they were "reminiscent of a witch-hunt."

6

Manhunt continues for police officer's killer

An Orlando police sergeant was fatally shot, reportedly by a murder suspect, on Monday, and a second local law enforcement officer was killed in a crash during the scramble to catch the killer. Someone at a Walmart told Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, who was at the store, that they had spotted a man they knew to be a murder suspect. She chased the suspect and yelled for him to stop, but he opened fire, fatally wounding her. Hundreds of officers were called in to hunt for the suspect, Markeith Loyd, 41, who was accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend last month. A sheriff's deputy on a motorcycle was killed in a crash during the search.

7

Navy destroyer fires warning shots at Iranian patrol boats

A U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Mahan, fired three warning shots with a .50-caliber machine gun at four Iranian boats that were speeding toward it in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. defense officials said on Monday. The Iranian boats had "their weapons manned." The crew of the Mahan tried to establish contact with the oncoming Iranian vessels and dropped smoke flares. The Iranian boats failed to stop approaching until the warning shots were fired.

8

2016 was America's second warmest year on record

The U.S. posted its second warmest year on record in 2016, with every city and state in the lower 48 states experiencing warmer temperatures than normal, NOAA reported on Monday. Only 2012 was hotter, and only by less than half a degree. "The breadth of the 2016 warmth is unparalleled in the nation's climate history," NOAA said. "No other year had as many states breaking or close to breaking their warmest annual-average temperature."

9

Cost of raising a child rises to $233,610

The cost of raising a child in the U.S. from birth to age 17 rose by three percent in 2015 to $233,610, or nearly $14,000 a year, the Department of Agriculture said Monday. The main line items are housing, food, transportation, health care, education, and clothing. Housing alone accounts for as much as 33 percent of the cost. Child care and education add up to 16 percent, and that is before the bill arrives for college, which the government estimates at $45,370 for a private college and $20,090 for a public one.

10

California loses one of its drive-through giant sequoias in winter storm

A winter storm with heavy rains has brought down one of California's iconic giant ancient sequoias with a hollowed-out tunnel through its base. The tree, 150 feet tall and 33 feet in diameter, was carved out in the 1880s in what is now Calaveras Big Trees State Park. It attracted thousands of visitors a year. Tourists once could pass through the tunnel, although in recent years only hikers could get to it. The tree, known as the Pioneer Cabin tree, was "barely alive" before the storm, a volunteer said. It's age was not confirmed, although sequoias can live 3,000 years. "The storm was just too much for it," the nonprofit Calaveras Big Trees Association said on Facebook.

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