Live Coverage

Today's News: Dec. 12, 2016

Trump taps Exxon Mobil CEO for secretary of state, arrests in connection to Nice attack, and more from the United States and around the world.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

—President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state. More here

—French authorities arrested 11 people Monday in connection with the Bastille Day attack in Nice that resulted in the deaths of 86 people. More here

—Google signed an agreement with the Cuban government on Monday that will allow for quicker access to some of the company’s internet products, like YouTube, on the Communist-run island. More here

—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).


This live blog has concluded

Trump Taps Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State

President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state. Tillerson will have a difficult confirmation process, as several members of Congress, including Republicans, have expressed concern with his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump was impressed with Tillerson’s acumen as an international businessman, passing on favorites Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. Trump is expected to announce Tillerson’s nomination on Tuesday morning. Read more about Tillerson’s nomination here

Presidential Recount Efforts Fail to Change Election Results

Ben Brewer / Reuters

Despite legal challenges and recount efforts, the presidential election results remain unchanged. Donald Trump ended up winning Wisconsin by 23,000 votes after a recount concluded Monday, confirming the general election result last month. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, a federal judge on Monday rejected the recount request by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, saying there was no evidence, contrary to Stein’s claim, of election hacking. Last week, another federal judge denied Stein’s recount request in Michigan. Stein only won around 1 percent of the vote in those three states, all of which Trump won. Still, Michigan’s election bureau is looking into voting discrepancies in some Detroit voting precincts, where large portions of ballots were not counted. Aside from recount efforts, some Electoral College electors were attempting to go around state laws to block Trump’s victory. But a federal judge in Colorado refused on Monday to suspend a state law that required electors to cast their votes for the candidate who won the popular vote. If the electors’ lawsuit had been successful, it could have challenged similar laws in two dozens other states, giving Hillary Clinton a chance at victory. The judge called it “a political stunt to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president.”

Wonder Woman Loses UN Ambassador Appointment Amid Outcry

Wonder Woman actresses Gal Gadot and Lynda Carter pose at a UN ceremony in New York on October 21, 2016. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

Wonder Woman will no longer be the honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations announced Monday, according to Reuters. The decision comes two months after the international body announced that the iconic superhero would be the face of its campaign centered around raising awareness for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5, aimed at promoting gender equality and female empowerment. The UN’s designation was not without controversy—nearly 45,000 people signed a petition calling on then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to pick a “real-life female role model,” calling Wonder Woman “an overtly sexualized image” that “is not culturally encompassing or sensitive.” Though the UN did not specify the reason behind ending the campaign, which concludes Friday, previous campaigns centered around fictional characters have historically been short-lived. As Reuters reports, the appointment of the Angry Birds character “Red” as an honorary ambassador to address climate change lasted one day.

11 Arrested in Connection With Bastille Day Attacks in Nice, France

French police stand near the truck that ran into the Bastille Day crowd on July 15 in Nice. (Eric Gaillard / Reuters)

French authorities arrested 11 people Monday in connection with the Bastille Day attack in Nice that resulted in the deaths of 86 people, Le Monde reports. The suspects, aged between 23 and 37, were arrested on suspicion of providing arms to Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the 31-year-old French citizen of Tunisian origin who plowed a truck into a crowd of people watching fireworks before being killed in a shootout with police. ISIS claimed responsibility, though no evidence was found linking Bouhlel to the militant group. None of the suspects arrested Monday has been identified. Under French law, suspects can be held for up to four days before being charged or released. French authorities charged five others in connection with the attack in July, and have arrested more than 250 others this year for suspected links to terrorist networks.

Goldman's Gary Cohn Is Named Trump's Top Economic Adviser

President-elect Donald Trump has named Gary Cohn, a top Goldman Sachs executive, assistant to the president for economic policy and director of the National Economic Council. Cohn, who has been at Goldman for more than two decades, is the firm’s president and chief operating officer; he is the third person named by Trump to have links to Goldman. Steve Munchin, Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary, also worked for the firm, as did Steve Bannon, Trump’s adviser. Trump had sharply criticized the company during the presidential campaign, blaming it for much of the U.S.’s ills, but, as president-elect, he has come to rely on it for his economic appointments—appointments that have been criticized by his supporters. Trump, in a statement said Cohn “will help craft economic policies that will grow wages for our workers, stop the exodus of jobs overseas and create many great new opportunities for Americans who have been struggling.” Cohn added that he shares “President-elect Trump’s vision of making sure every American worker has a secure place in a thriving economy.”

Google Signs an Internet Deal With Cuba

Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

Google signed an agreement with the Cuban government on Monday that will allow for quicker access to some of the company’s internet products, like YouTube, on the Communist-run island. It’s a significant moment for Google and the state-owned telecommunications company, ETECSA, and a milestone that the two are working together—given Cuba’s severe restrictions on internet access. But how much the deal will help Cubans is debatable. The agreement allows ETECSA access to the Google Global Cache network, which stores content from Google’s sites and allows quicker downloads by locating servers closer to users. This means things like YouTube videos may load more quickly, because the content is cached locally, but it has no impact on connection speed or the fact that less than 4 percent of Cuban homes have internet access.

Senate to Investigate Alleged Russian Interference in U.S. Election

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate intelligence committee will investigate Russia’s purported interference in the U.S. presidential election. “The Russians are not our friends,” he said at a news conference. The move comes a day after President-elect Donald Trump mocked the CIA’s assessment that Russia likely interfered with the presidential election, a doubt he repeated Monday. Indeed, his surrogates suggested the Obama administration could have perpetrated the hack and blamed it on the Russians. My colleague Russell Berman points out: “The Senate investigations could set off the first confrontation between the incoming Trump administration and congressional Republicans—one that could jeopardize as well the confirmation chances of Trump’s reported top choice for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has close ties to Vladimir Putin.” Read his story here.

Texas Begins the Largest Sports-Injury Study in the Country

Mike Fuentes / AP

This week Texas begins a study to tracks brain injuries among young athletes, the largest study of its kind in the country. The state’s youth sport governing body, the University Interscholastic League, along with researchers from the UT Southwestern Medical Center, plans to track about 800,000 public high-school students in about two dozen different sports. The study hopes to gauge whether rules and equipment advances improve player safety, and where individual sports can improve safety, especially against concussions. The report is similar to one completed last year in Michigan, which found that 755 schools reported about 4,500 head injuries among players. The study also looked at whether the injury happened in practice or a game, whether the student missed school because of it, and how long it took the student to recover. In Michigan, football caused the most injuries, followed by girls’ basketball.

António Guterres Sworn In as New UN Secretary-General

Ban Ki-moon stands Monday with Antonio Guterres after the swearing-in ceremony at UN headquarters. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

António Guterres was sworn in Monday as the new United Nations secretary-general, formally replacing Ban Ki-moon. In an address to the General Assembly Monday, Guterres called on the UN to “recognize its shortcomings and reform the way it works,” adding “the United Nations was born from war. Today, it must be here for peace.” A former prime minister of Portugal, 67-year-old Gutteres is the ninth person and man to lead the international body. His appointment was first announced in October in a unanimous decision by the UN Security Council, and his five-year term will begin on January 1, 2017. You can listen to his full remarks at the General Assembly here.

U.K. to Adopt New Anti-Semitism Definition to Combat Rise in Hate Crimes

A vandalized headstone at a Jewish cemetery in Manchester on May 19, 2016 (Andrew Yates / Reuters)

The United Kingdom will become the first country to adopt a new international definition of anti-Semitism in an effort to address rising hate crimes, Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce Monday. The new definition, drafted at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance conference in May, classifies anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The definition extends to certain rhetoric targeting Israel, including claiming Israel’s existence as a Jewish state to be “a racist endeavor” or holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s actions, though it adds that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” May called the government’s adoption of the new language “a ground-breaking step” in addressing rising reports of anti-Semitic incidents. Indeed, Community Security Trust, a Britain-based anti-Semitism monitor, reported an 11 percent increase  in anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, with a marked increase between April and June.

Venezuela Removes Its Largest Banknote in Order to Beat 'the Mafias'

Marco Bello / Reuters

Updated at 6:37 p.m.

The Venezuelan government announced Sunday its plan to withdraw the100-bolivar note, its largest and most common, from circulation, a move critics say will do little to stabilize inflation. President Nicolás Maduro called the act necessary to “keep beating the mafias.” He said the note, worth less than two cents, will be withdrawn Wednesday; Venezuelans will have 10 days to exchange them for coins, or for new higher-value bills. Maduro said gangs had bought up “entire warehouses full of 100-bolivar notes,” which they exchanged for Colombian pesos or U.S. dollars. Economists say the move is likely to worsen the cash crunch in Venezuela, where residents are limited on how much money they can withdraw because the bolivar is so worthless it takes sacks full of banknotes to buy groceries. The plan also called to mind India’s plan to remove its 500- and 1,000-rupee banknotes, leading to a cash crunch and massive lines to exchange currency. On Monday, Maduro closed the border between Venezuela and Colombia for 72 hours to crackdown on currency smuggling.

Catching Up on Donald Trump's Tweets, Pronouncements on Hacking, F-35s

President-elect Donald Trump questioned Monday the cost of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, as have other administrations in the past. Trump’s tweets came just days after he called for Boeing’s contract to build the next Air Force One to be scrapped. Both companies saw a decline in stock prices after the president-elects tweets. Trump also continued Monday his battle with the CIA’s assessment that Russia likely interfered with the U.S. presidential election: “Unless you catch ‘hackers’ in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking,” he said on Twitter. “Why wasn't this brought up before election?” As others have pointed out, it was, in fact, brought up before the election. My colleagues on the Politics team are live-blogging the Trump transition. Here are links to our related coverage:

Why Conservatives Have Split on Russia

Five Questions About Russia's Election Hacking

How Will the Public Learn About Cyberattacks Under President Trump?

Why Didn’t Obama Reveal Intel About Russia’s Influence on the Election?

Syria's Government Now Controls 90 Percent of Eastern Aleppo

(Omar Sanadiki / Reuters)

Syrian government forces have captured up to 90 percent of eastern Aleppo, the last major rebel stronghold, seizing Sheikh Saeed and Saliheen districts on Monday. Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the civil war began more than five years ago, has been divided since 2012. Russia, whose military intervention last year at the behest of President Bashar al-Assad has allowed the government to reclaim territory, said more than 100,000 civilians have left eastern Aleppo since the fighting intensified. It added that more than 700 rebel fighters have laid down their arms. Assad said last week the gains in Aleppo are unlikely to mean an end to the fighting in the rest of the country. Nor is it clear whether his troops can hold onto territory they have reclaimed: Over the weekend, ISIS, which is not present in Aleppo, retook the historic city of Palmyra from the government, which had captured it earlier this year with the help of the Russians.

China Expresses 'Serious Concern' Over Trump's Remarks

China has expressed “serious concern” over President-elect Donald Trump’s latest remarks that appear to question the “One China” policy, a pillar of Washington’s more than four-decade relationship with Beijing. In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Trump said: “I fully understand the ‘One China’ policy, but I don’t understand why we have to be bound by the ‘One China’ policy unless we make a deal with China, having to do with other things, including trade.” That issue, trade, has been an important rallying point for Trump as he seeks to renegotiate agreements that he says are unfair to the U.S. and hurts the country’s workers. Geng Shuang, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, replied: “Upholding the ‘One China’ principle is the political basis for developing China-U.S. ties. If this basis is interfered with, or damaged, then the healthy development of China-U.S. relations and bilateral co-operation in important areas is out of the question.” About Trump, Global Times, the state-run newspaper, added: “[I]n the field of diplomacy, he is as ignorant as a child.” China has been incensed since Trump spoke to Taiwan’s leader after his election last month, the first American president-elect to do so since the U.S. recognized the People’s Republic of China in 1979.