Gambia’s president, who last week lost his bid for reelection and said he accepted the outcome, is now backtracking on that commitment. Yahya Jammeh, who has held a tight, dictatorial grip on the West African nation for the last 22 years, went on state-run television Friday to reject the outcome of the December 1 vote, which elected Adama Barrow, calling for fresh elections. Jammeh spent the last week promoting dozens of officers in the Gambian army in an effort to protect himself in a possible coup, BuzzFeed News reports. Many Gambians spent the last week celebrating the election results, with hope that the country would transition to be more democratic. However, with Jammeh’s announcement Friday, the situation becomes more complicated. Jammeh is only the third president since Gambia’s independence from in 1965 from Great Britain.
—South Korea’s parliament voted 234-56 to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal. More here
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Gambian President Now Says He Rejects Election Outcome
'I Did It': Dylann Roof's Chilling Confession
In a videotaped confession from 2015, played Friday to jurors at Dylann Roof’s trial, the 22-year-old admitted to shooting people at a black church in South Carolina. “I went to that church in Charleston, and, you know, I did it,” said Roof, who faces the death penalty. Roof’s lawyers have acknowledged he shot and killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last year, but this was the first time jurors heard him confess. “What I did is so minuscule to what they’re doing to white people, every day, all the time,” Roof told two FBI agents, apparently referring to black people. Roof had at first offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors turned the offer down, and instead took the unusual move of seeking a federal death sentence. In the video, Roof talked of his white-supremacist views, laughing at times. When agents asked if he had a message for the public, he replied, “Ugh, I don’t know.”
Diplomats Urge Myanmar to Allow Humanitarian Aid Into Rakhine State
More than a dozen diplomatic missions in Myanmar, including the U.S. mission, called on the government Friday to allow humanitarian aid access to Rakhine State, where an estimated 86 Rohingya Muslims have been killed and more than 20,000 displaced as part of a military crackdown in response to the killing of nine police officers in October. The statement—representing diplomats from the United States, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey—urged authorities to allow a resumption of humanitarian assistance to “tens of thousands of people” in villages that have lacked access to aid “for nearly two months.” Myanmar’s government has faced criticism for its counter-insurgency operations in Rakhine State, which human-rights monitors say have amounted to disproportionate abuses against the country’s minority Rohingya Muslim population—a crackdown the United Nations said could amount to “crimes against humanity.” The government has rejected the allegations, though it established a commission to investigate them.
U.S. Justice Department Investigates Claims Police in New Mexico Deleted Body-Camera Footage
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating allegations that the Albuquerque Police Department deleted or altered body-camera footage. The department confirmed its investigation with New Mexico In Depth, but refused to comment further. A local district attorney, as well as the city’s police-watchdog group, asked for federal officials to intervene after a detective testified he’d edited videos that captured two separate shootings in 2014, footage officers believed would be damaging to the department’s reputation. The department’s former records supervisor, Reynaldo Chavez, first raised the issue after he testified this November that the videos of the shootings showed “the tell-tale signs that it has been altered and images that had been captured are now deleted.” Chavez was fired from the department last year, and he has filed a lawsuit against the city because he said he was terminated after he threatened to expose the department. The videos reportedly show officers shooting Jeremy Robertson, a law-enforcement informant, and Mary Hawkes, who was suspected of stealing a car. Chavez also said officers were instructed by supervisors to refrain from mentioning the videos that could be “problematic” to the department.
Japan Launches 'Space Junk' Collector to Clean Earth's Orbit
Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS) Friday equipped with a vessel to clean space junk. The unmanned vessel, called Kounotori, the Japanese word for stork, was designed by JAXA with the help of Nitto Seimo, a Japanese fishnet company, to clear debris—including cast-off equipment from old satellites and pieces of rockets—out of the Earth’s orbit. The Kounotori is capable of delivering up to six tons of supplies to the ISS and return with waste material attached to a tether, which JAXA says can attract debris through the electricity it generates and pull it into the Earth’s atmosphere, where it would be incinerated upon reentry. NASA estimates more than 100 million pieces of debris are present in the Earth’s orbit, which can pose a “potential danger” to space vehicles, the ISS, and other spacecraft. You can watch the launch here.
Cover-Up Alleged in Crash That Killed Brazilian Soccer Team
A Bolivian air-traffic controller who is seeking asylum in Brazil said she was pressured into changing the flight report she made for the plane that crashed last week with 71 people aboard, including a Brazilian soccer team. Celia Castedo said Friday she’d warned her boss the plane didn’t have enough fuel to reach its destination in Colombia, where it crashed into a mountainside near the city of Medellin. "I was subjected to harassment and pressure from my superiors... who ordered me to change the content of the report,” Castedo wrote in a letter published by Bolivian media. Six people survived the crash; the airline’s chief executive has been arrested. A recording of the last minutes of the flight released to Colombian media this week seemed to capture the pilot asking for an emergency landing, saying the plane had run out of fuel, a revelation that countered earlier theories the crash was caused by an electrical failure. Castedo’s decision to flee to Brazil has caused political tension, because Bolivia has demanded her return.
Far-Right Dutch Politician Geert Wilders Found Guilty of Inciting Discrimination
Geert Wilders, the head of the far-right Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), was found guilty Friday of inciting discrimination against Dutch Moroccans. The ruling, which was handed down by a three-member judiciary panel, said Wilders violated Dutch law when during a rally in 2014 he told supporters he would reduce the number of Moroccans in the country—remarks that earned Wilders charges of both inciting discrimination and inciting racial hatred, though he was acquitted of the latter charge. No penalty was imposed. Wilders, who boycotted the trial, condemned the verdict as a restriction of freedom of speech and said he would appeal it, adding that: “Moroccans are not a race, and people who criticize Moroccans are not racists. I am not a racist and neither are my voters.” The ruling comes three months ahead of the Netherlands’ general election, for which Wilders has pushed an anti-immigration platform, promising to shutter refugee centers, mosques, and Islamic schools, as well as institute a ban on the Quran. Though a September poll showed Wilders’ PVV to be losing popularity, recent polls put the far-right party ahead of the ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).
UN Says Hundreds of Aleppo's Men Are Missing
About 100,000 civilians remain in rebel-held eastern Aleppo while the fate of hundreds of people who crossed into government-controlled territory is unclear, the UN says. Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the civil war began, has been divided since 2012. The government controls the western portion; rebels the eastern portion. But a government offensive—backed by Russia—has resulted in rebels steadily losing ground; then have lost about 70 percent of their territory to forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Rupert Coville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said Friday in Geneva that as pro-government forces have advanced into eastern Aleppo, “there have been allegations of reprisals against civilians who are perceived to have supported armed opposition groups, as well as reports that men were being separated from women and children. While it is difficult to establish the facts in such a fluid and dangerous situation, we have received very worrying allegations that hundreds of men have gone missing after crossing into government-controlled areas.” Apart from the part of Aleppo still in their control, rebels also control the neighboring Idlib province.
Russian Athletes Benefited From State-Run Doping Program, Report Says
More than 1,000 Russian athletes, including medalists in Sochi and London, gained from an extensive, sophisticated state-run doping program, the World Anti-Doping Agency said Friday in a new report. Richard McLaren, the author of the report, which covered the years 2011 through 2015, said: “It was a cover-up that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalized and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy.” In July, McLaren published an initial report that alleged that Russia ran a state-sponsored doping program. That revelation, combined with a Russian whistleblowing athlete, resulted in the country’s entire track-and-field team being banned from the Rio games. Friday’s report increases pressure on the International Olympic Committee to penalize Russia ahead of the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Full report here
South Korea's Parliament Impeaches President Park Geun-hye
South Korean lawmakers voted 234-56 to impeach President Park Geun-hye amid a corruption scandal that has prompted widespread protests calling for her resignation. As the Constitutional Court decides Park’s fate—a process that could take up to 180 days—Hwang Kyo-ahn, the country’s prime minister, has become interim president. At issue is Park’s close relationship with Choi Soon-sil, a woman South Korean media describe as Rasputin-like. Choi was arrested last month and is accused of using her proximity to the president to gain influence. Park, prosecutors allege, played a role in the corruption—a charge the president denies.