The leader of the Brazilian Senate was removed from office Monday night in yet another in a series of corruption scandals that have plagued the South American country. Marco Aurélio Mello, a justice on Brazil’s Supreme Court, ruled that because Renan Calheiros, the Senate leader, was facing a trial for graft, he should be removed from his position. The case alleges Calheiros arranged for a lobbyist to pay for his child support for a daughter conceived in an extramarital affair. Already this year, President Dilma Rousseff was ousted from office and Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the lower house, was jailed. Tensions between the legislature and the judiciary remain high, as the country’s legislature considers a bill that would gut prosecutorial powers in going after graft among public officials. Calheiros, the ousted Senate leader, was gearing up to hold a vote on the bill. On Sunday, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to protest the bill. While he was removed from the leadership position, Calheiros will keep his seat in the Senate.
—The trial of Michael Slager, the former officer who shot and killed Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, ended in a mistrial. More here
—Edgar Welch, the man driven by a far-right conspiracy theory to shoot a gun in a DC pizzeria, was charged. More here
—The leader of the Brazilian Senate was removed from office. More here
—Prosecutors in Bill Cosby’s upcoming sexual-assault trial can use damaging testimony the comedian gave in a 2006 deposition. More here
—President-elect Donald Trump named Ben Carson as his next housing secretary.
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Brazil's Senate Leader Removed From Office
Comet Ping Pong Gunman Charged
Edgar M. Welch, the North Carolina man who walked into a Washington pizzeria with an assault rifle looking to confirm a fake online news story, was charged with four criminal counts Monday. According to court documents, which The New York Times obtained, Welch read that the Comet Ping Pong restaurant was “harboring sex slaves, and he wanted to see for himself if they were there.” He caused panic in Northwest DC Sunday when he fired his gun into the floor of the restaurant. No one was hurt. On Monday, he was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon and carrying an unlicensed gun, among other counts. Welch, a 28-year-old, was driven by a far-right conspiracy theory that has targeted the owner of Comet Ping Pong and top Democrats. He surrendered to police after he said he found no evidence of child sex trafficking, searching the restaurant for 45 minutes.
Prosecutors Can Use Bill Cosby's 2006 Deposition in Sexual-Assault Trial
Prosecutors in Bill Cosby’s upcoming sexual-assault trial can use damaging testimony the comedian gave in a 2006 deposition, a Pennsylvania judge ruled Monday. In the deposition, which the New York Times published excerpts of last year, the 79-year-old comedian confirmed that he had given women drugs and alcohol prior to sexual encounters—testimony Cosby’s lawyers say he gave on the condition that he wouldn’t face criminal charges in the civil case brought by Andrea Constand, one of more than 50 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault. In a pretrial ruling, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill concluded that no such promise was made. The ruling addresses one of two pretrial issues to be determined ahead of Cosby’s June 2017 court date. The other issue will determine how many of Cosby’s accusers will be allowed to testify as part of the prosecution’s case, arguments for which are scheduled to take place next week.
South Carolina Judge Declares a Mistrial for Former Officer Michael Slager
The trial of former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, who shot and killed Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who ran from his vehicle, ended Monday in a mistrial. Slager was charged with three crimes, including murder, for shooting Scott five times in the back shortly after he was pulled over during a traffic stop. The April 2015 incident was caught almost entirely on film, and it spurred protests in the U.S. The jurors—11 of whom were white and one black—told the judge Monday they were unable to reach a unanimous decision on murder and manslaughter charges, prompting a mistrial. The jury had deliberated for four days, and the decision ultimately came down to one juror. On Friday, this juror had passed a note to the judge saying, “I understand the position of the court, but I cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict.” Prosecutors will now decide whether to retry the case. Slager still faces federal civil-rights violation charges, for which he could spend life in prison.
Paris Will Sell 'Love Locks' to Benefit Refugees
The famed “love locks” chained to Paris’s Pont des Arts bridge are once again being removed by the city—this time to benefit refugees. Paris City Hall announced that beginning next year it would sell an estimated 10 tons worth of locks chained to the bridge, the proceeds of which would go toward groups helping refugees in the city. Bruno Julliard, the first deputy mayor of Paris, said Wednesday the sale would be open to the public with the goal of raising up to 100,000 euros ($107,640). The initiative comes one year after the city began installing plastic panels to prevent tourists from taking part in the time-honored tradition that nearly caused the bridge to collapse under the weight of the locks.
North Carolina's Governor McCrory Concedes Race to Roy Cooper
Pat McCrory, the Republican governor of North Carolina, conceded Monday the election to his Democratic challenger, Roy Cooper, bringing an end to the nation’s longest-running governor’s race. As my colleague David Graham writes: “The governor’s concession ends a protracted finish to the campaign, and it comes even as some questions remain outstanding about the race.” Read David’s piece here.
Jayalalitha Jayaram, Chief Minister of India's Tamil Nadu State, Dies
Jayalalitha Jayaram, who for nearly three decades dominated the politics in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state, has died, the hospital where she was being treated in Chennai and the political party she headed confirmed Monday. She was 68 and had been receiving medical treatment since September. Jayalalitha, as she was known, was one of India’s most popular politicians. A former actress, she was chief minister of Tamil Nadu when she died, a position she’d occupied on four occasions since 1991. Her supporters called her “Amma,” Tamil for mother, and her popularity was undiminished despite being jailed for corruption in 2014. Jayalalitha suffered a heart attack on Sunday and there were fears her death could prompt unrest in the state, which saw riots in 1987 when her political mentor (and costar in the movies), M.G. Ramachandran, the former chief minister, died. To explain the esteem in which Jayalalitha was held, consider this: When she was first hospitalized in September, the state government held Cabinet meetings with a photograph of the chief minister in front of her deputy, O.P. Panneerselvam. Critics accused Jayalalitha of fostering a cult of personality, but during her rule, Tamil Nadu became an Indian industrial and software powerhouse.
Manuel Valls Launches Bid for French Presidency
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced Monday his bid to run in the Socialist party’s primary next month, where he will face at least four rivals to lead the Socialist ticket in next year’s presidential election.
Je suis candidat à la présidence de la République. MV— Manuel Valls (@manuelvalls) December 5, 2016
Valls said he would end his role as prime minister Tuesday to focus on his candidacy, which he characterized as “a revolt against the idea that the left is disqualified from this presidential election.” The 54-year-old lawmaker’s bid was widely anticipated after President François Hollande’s announced Thursday that we would not seek reelection, opening the door for Valls to succeed him at the head of the Socialist ticket. If Valls secures the Socialist nomination in next month’s primary, he will face François Fillon, the Republican, Emmanuel Macron, the independent, and Marine Le Pen of the National Front.
Pakistan Hotel Fire Kills at Least 12 People
At least a dozen people were killed and some 75 injured after a fire broke out Monday at the Regent Plaza hotel in Karachi, Pakistan, according to local media. The fire started in the kitchen on the ground floor of the hotel, eventually sweeping through the building with many guests still trapped inside. Tehseen Siddiqui, the chief fire officer, told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper that though the fire was contained “quite early”—it took firefighters approximately three hours to contain the blaze—many guests suffocated from the smoke that was circulated by the hotel’s air-conditioning system. Siddiqui added the Regent lacked a fire exit and was equipped with smoke detectors that didn’t work. Guests who did escape evacuated through the hotel’s windows, with some using bedsheets as ropes to climb down. The hotel countered claims it was unprepared for the fire in a series of tweets Monday, criticizing the fire brigade’s rescue efforts and adding that “had the fire brigade started their operation on time, many precious lives could have been saved today.”
Owner of the Pulse Nightclub Won't Sell Building to Orlando
Barbara Poma, the owner of the Pulse nightclub said Monday she won’t sell the building to the city Orlando, which had planned to turn it into a memorial for the victims of the June 12 shooting that killed 49 people. Poma, in a statement released by her attorney, said she “can’t just walk away” from the club, which “means so very much to my family and to our community.” The Orlando Sentinel quoted Heather Fagan, Mayor Buddy Dyer's deputy chief of staff, as saying the city understood “that this was an incredibly difficult decision for the owners.” As we reported last month, Dyer said Orlando would buy Pulse, keep the site as is for about 12 to 18 months, while it heard from the community about the type of memorial the city should build. The deal was worth about $2.25 million, considerably more than the property’s appraised value. The building has been empty since a gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS opened fire during a dance party at the venue, a pillar of Orlando’s gay community.
Uzbekistan Gets a New President
Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan’s prime minister and interim president, secured a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election Monday, Agence France-Presse reports. Mirziyoyev earned 88.6 percent of the vote, according to the country’s Central Election Commission—a margin not unlike that enjoyed by Islam Karimov, the country’s longtime president who died in September of a stroke after a nearly three-decade rule. Mirziyoyev faced three little-known rivals in the presidential contest, prompting some international observers to criticize the election in the former Soviet Republic as being “devoid of genuine competition.” The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported indications of fraud, including ballot-box stuffing and proxy voting.
Judge Rules Dylann Roof Can Rehire His Lawyers
A federal judge in South Carolina ruled Monday that Dylann Roof, the white man accused of killing nine black churchgoers in June 2015, can rehire his lawyers for the first phase of his trial. Last week, Judge Richard Gergel of the Federal District Court in Charleston ruled that Roof can represent himself in his death-penalty trial. But over the weekend, Roof asked Gergel if he could use his attorneys during the guilt phase, but still represent himself during the penalty phase. Gergel said yes Monday, but warned Roof that he can’t change his mind again. Federal authorities say Roof targeted the parishioners at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston because they were black. Prosecutors have sought the death penalty.
Oakland Fire Toll Rises to 36
The death toll from the fire at a converted warehouse in Oakland, California, has risen to 36 and is expected to increase, Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton of the Oakland Fire Department said early Monday. Between 50 and 100 people were believed to have been inside the warehouse when the fire broke out. Eleven of those victims have so far been identified. Rescue work in the rubble of the two-story building was halted after midnight because of a wall that was leaning precariously, Drayton said. People had gathered at the warehouse Friday night for an electronic dance party. As we reported Sunday, the cause of the fire is not yet known. Officials said no fire alarms appeared to have been activated.
Bob Dylan Sends a Speech to the Nobel Awards Ceremony
Bob Dylan, this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, has sent a speech that will be read at the Nobel banquet in Stockholm on December 10, the committee that awards the prize announced Monday. The famously reclusive singer took days to respond to the prize, eventually saying the news “left me speechless.” But in an interview with The Telegraph in October, he said he would collect the award in Stockholm “if it’s at all possible.” Apparently it is not, but his speech will be read on Saturday. The Nobel committee said Patti Smith will perform Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at the award ceremony.
Court of Arbitration for Sport Upholds Sepp Blatter's Ban
The highest judicial body in sports has upheld the six-year ban imposed by FIFA on Sepp Blatter, the longtime chief of soccer’s governing body. In March Blatter had appealed the ban imposed by FIFA the previous month to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). CAS ruled Monday that it had “determined that the sanction imposed was not disproportionate.” That means the six-year ban imposed on Blatter, as well as the 50,000 Swiss francs fine (about $50,000), will stand. Blatter was found to have made a $1.65 million payment to Michel Platini, the former French soccer great who served as head of UEFA. CAS called that payment “an undue gift” that had “no contractual basis.” The ban on Platini was reduced over the summer from six years to four.
U.K. Supreme Court Hears Brexit Case
U.K.’s Supreme Court heard an appeal Monday on whether Parliament should have say over how to trigger “Brexit.” The U.K. High Court, a lower court, ruled last month that lawmakers must vote on whether to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty—the formal mechanism that would begin negotiations for the country’s departure from the European Union. The government contended Monday that Parliament, when it had agreed to the referendum, had also implicitly agreed that ministers would invoke Article 50. The hearing at the Supreme Court is expected to last four days. A verdict is expected next month, and could have consequences for how Brexit is triggered. Nearly 52 percent of voters chose to leave the EU; about 48 chose to stay. Although those who want the U.K. to remain in the EU are hoping that a victory at the Supreme Court will lead lawmakers to reject the results of the referendum, such an outcome is highly unlikely.
Japan's Prime Minister to Visit Pearl Harbor
Shinzo Abe will become Japan’s first prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor, he announced Monday. “We must never repeat the horrors of war,” Abe said. “Looking to the future, I want to demonstrate that resolve to the world.” President Obama is expected to accompany Abe on his visit to Pearl Harbor, the attack on which by the Japanese military in 1941 resulted in the U.S. entering World War II. Abe is scheduled to visit Hawaii for two days starting December 26. His announcement comes months after Obama became the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima, the Japanese city bombed by the U.S. with an atomic device in 1945, an act that hastened Japan’s surrender in the war.
ICYMI: The Top Stories This Weekend
Here are the stories that made the news this weekend:
Death Toll in Oakland Fire Rises (East Bay Times)
Trump Criticizes China on Currency Devaluation, South China Sea
President-elect Donald Trump used Twitter to criticize China for its devaluation of the yuan and its military activities in the South China Sea, which have worried its neighbors. On Friday, he became the first American president or president-elect to talk to the leader of Taiwan since 1979. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province. The president-elect named Ben Carson to be his housing secretary. He could name a secretary of state this week.
Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016
their country (the U.S. doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016
European Markets Stabilize After Renzi's Resignation
Italian markets, and indeed markets across Europe, are rallying after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s resignation Sunday. He stepped down after voters clearly rejected in a referendum constitutional changes that would have, among other things, downgraded Italy’s Senate and centralized powers in the hands of the executive. Renzi had hoped to use the changes to streamline decision-making in Italy. The “no” vote had consistently led in opinion polls, and the prime minister had said he would resign if the changes were rejected. There were fears that the vote, combined with Renzi’s resignation, would trigger both political and economic uncertainty. That appears to have been averted for now. Pier Carlo Padoan, Italy’s widely respected finance minister, is expected to be named caretaker prime minister.