U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: December 5, 2016

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1. Federal government blocks Dakota Access oil pipeline route
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Sunday that it would not approve permits to build the Dakota Access oil pipeline under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The decision halted construction, a major victory for members of the tribe and other activists who have been protesting for months to block the project. Opponents of the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile project say it would threaten the tribe’s water supply and sacred Native American sites. The Army said alternative routes would have to be explored. Protesters said they intended to defy an order to leave their camp by Monday, and authorities said they would not forcibly move anyone.

Source: The New York Times, Reuters

2. Trump taps Ben Carson as HUD secretary
President-elect Donald Trump has picked retired neurosurgeon and former rival presidential candidate Ben Carson to be his secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Trump’s transition team announced early Monday. Trump said in a statement that he was “thrilled to nominate” Carson because he “has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.” Carson said shortly after the election that he wasn’t sure he had the background for a Cabinet job, but then he reconsidered. Trump also reportedly has broadened his search for a secretary of state, which previously was believed to have narrowed to four contenders — 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker, and retired general and former CIA director David Petraeus.

Source: The Associated Press, The New York Times

3. Death toll in Oakland fire rises to 33
The death toll from a massive fire that rushed through a warehouse in Oakland, California, during a concert rose to 33 on Sunday, and authorities said it could still go higher as search crews continued to search the scorched structure. Only about 40 percent of the building had been searched by Sunday afternoon, and crews are moving slowly due to the building’s instability. The fire is already one of the deadliest in modern California history. “The number will go up,” County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ray Kelly said. “Firefighters are tired, exhausted. This is very emotional.”

Source: USA Today, Los Angeles Times

4. Trump threatens tariff to punish firms that move jobs overseas
President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday threatened to slap a 35 percent import tariff on U.S. companies that move production overseas when they try to “sell their product, cars, A.C. units etc., back across the border. Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake!” The comments, which Trump posted on Twitter, marked an escalation of his warning of consequences for American companies that send factory jobs overseas. Trump last week announced a deal with air-conditioning manufacturer Carrier to keep 800 jobs at an Indiana plant instead of moving them to Mexico. The company will get $7 million in tax breaks, while still sending about 1,000 jobs from another plant to Mexico.

Source: The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal

5. Italy’s prime minister to quit after voters reject reforms
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said early Monday that he was resigning after voters rejected constitutional reforms he sought. “I have not managed to reach victory,” Renzi said in an emotional statement after conceding defeat. “My government ends today.” The loss marked the latest in a series of upsets for Europe’s political establishment, still rattled by Britain’s vote to exit the European Union. The reforms were meant to streamline government, but their rejection was interpreted as a vote against the establishment’s embrace of globalization, open borders, and the European Union. Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s Northern League, said the “no” vote was a victory of the “people against the strong powers of three quarters of the world.”

Source: Reuters, The New York Times

6. Austrian anti-immigration candidate loses presidential election
Center-left candidate Alexander Van der Bellen defeated the far-right Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer in Austria’s presidential election on Sunday, winning an unexpectedly clear victory in a rerun of a May vote in which Hofer, an anti-immigrant populist, lost by just 31,000 votes. Van der Bellen’s campaign manager, Lothar Lockl, said the result was evidence of a backlash against a nationalist wave credited with the U.K.’s Brexit vote and President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S., although the political establishment’s defeat in Italy’s vote on proposed constitutional reforms suggested Europe’s mainstream leaders still have plenty to worry about.

Source: The Washington Post

7. Judge orders Michigan to start recounting presidential votes
A federal judge late Sunday night ordered Michigan to start recounting its 4.8 million presidential votes at noon Monday. President-elect Donald Trump received 10,704 more votes than Hillary Clinton in the state. Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has demanded recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, swing states where Trump won narrow victories. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Trump campaign filed suits last week trying to block the hand recount. Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled in favor of Stein, who argued that there could be “irreparable harm” if the count is delayed by two days, in accordance with election law, because it would be harder for the state to complete the recount in time to meet a federal Dec. 13 deadline.

Source: The Detroit News, The Associated Press

8. Dylann Roof asks to have his lawyers back for murder trial
Charleston church massacre suspect Dylann Roof on Sunday submitted a handwritten letter to the judge in his murder and hate-crime trial, asking to have his lawyers back after receiving permission last week to represent himself. Roof, 22, asked to have the attorneys represent him during the guilt phase of the trial, scheduled to begin Wednesday, then, if he is found guilty, to let Roof represent himself during the phase when jurors would decide whether to sentence him to death, or life in prison. The self-professed white supremacist is accused of gunning down nine black parishioners at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church last year.

Source: New York Daily News

9. Man arrested for gunfire at D.C. pizza place spotlighted in fake anti-Clinton reports
Police arrested a North Carolina man on Sunday after he allegedly fired at least one shot with an assault-style rifle inside a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant that was linked to an election-season conspiracy theory about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Nobody was hurt in the shooting. Fake news websites circulated bogus reports claiming that Clinton and her campaign chief ran a child sex ring out of the back room of the restaurant, Comet Ping Pong. The suspect, 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, reportedly told police he had gone to the restaurant to “self-investigate” the story. Restaurant owner James Alefantis, who had received threats over social media, said the incident “demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences.”

Source: The Washington Post

10. Japan’s prime minister to make historic Pearl Harbor visit
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that he would make a symbolic visit to Pearl Harbor this month. Abe will be the first sitting Japanese leader to go to the American naval base targeted in the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack that pulled the U.S. into World War II 75 years ago. Abe will visit the site with President Obama during a last summit in Hawaii. Abe said his visit was to “pay tribute” to those who died in the war, and demonstrate the strength of the reconciliation between Japan and the U.S. President Obama in May visited Hiroshima, becoming the first American leader to visit the Japanese city where the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb to end Japan’s participation in the war.

Source: The New York Times, The Washington Post

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