Live Coverage

Today's News: Dec. 21, 2016

The discontinued Uber self-driving cars, the search for the suspect in the Berlin attack, and more from the United States and around the world.

Aaron Josefczyk / Reuters

—Uber has pulled its self-driving cars, the company announced Wednesday evening. More here

—Ikea has agreed to pay $50 million to the families of three toddlers who were killed by dressers that tipped over on them. More here

—German police are searching for the suspect in a truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas Market that left 12 people dead and 48 injured on Monday. 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

Uber Suspends Self-Driving Car Fleet

Aaron Josefczyk / Reuters

Uber has pulled its self-driving cars, the company announced Wednesday evening. The fleet of cars in San Francisco lasted a week before California regulators ordered the company to stop the operation. The Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the vehicles’ registrations. In a statement, Uber said the company is looking for locations to redeploy the cars, but said they “remain 100 percent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules.” The company launched a pilot program in San Francisco on December 14, where riders could request an UberX and match with an autonomous vehicle. Shortly after the launch, the DMV told Uber that it “must cease” operation, as the company did not have the necessary permit. The California government says that other companies, including Mercedes-Benz, Google, and Tesla are testing driverless cars with proper permits.

Louisiana Will Provide Every State Trooper With a Body Camera

Dave Martin / Reuters

Louisiana will supply all 700 of its state troopers with body cameras, becoming the first state in the U.S. to provide the service. Troopers in the French Quarter of New Orleans will be the first to wear cameras, starting in January. The full rollout will be done by the summer. Governor John Bel Edwards, in announcing the initiative Wednesday, said the state will purchase 1,550 body cameras so each trooper has a backup. The cameras are made to start recording as soon as an officer pulls out a taser. The initiative will cost the state $5.3 million over five years. Baton Rouge, the state capital, was the site of several protests this year following the July shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man, at the hands of police. Sterling’s death is still under investigation. Some troopers in Alabama and New Jersey also use body cameras, The News-Star reports.

Ikea Will Pay $50 Million for Wrongful Deaths of Three Toddlers

Yves Herman / Reuters

Ikea has agreed to pay $50 million to the families of three toddlers who were killed by dressers that tipped over on them. The families sued the Swedish furniture maker for wrongful deaths, arguing the dressers were designed without meeting safety and stability standards. In late June, Ikea recalled 29 million dressers. “No amount of money will make up for the loss of our sweet little boy,” Janet McGee, the Minnesota mother of 22-month-old Ted who died in February, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. The two other families are from Pennsylvania and Washington. Both of those boys died in 2014. The settlement will be split between the three families. Ikea will also donate $50,000 each to three children’s hospitals in the boys’ names. Ikea has also agreed raise awareness of the danger of furniture that could tip over.

Brazilian Firms to Pay Billions in Bribery Settlement

Odebrecht SA headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on December 21, 2016. (Paulo Whitaker / Reuters)

Two Brazilian firms plead guilty Wednesday to bribery charges and agreed to pay at least $3.5 billion to settle what the Justice Department has called the “largest foreign bribery case” in history. Odebrecht SA, Brazil’s largest construction firm, and Braskem SA, an affiliated petrochemical company, admitted to violating American foreign bribery laws by giving kickbacks to officials of Petrobras, Brazil’s largest company and state-run oil firm. Petrobras has been the center of a major corruption scheme, in which the company’s executives conspired with politicians and business leaders to secure contracts in exchange for bribes. The scandal has embroiled many of Brazil’s leaders, including former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Under the settlement, Odebrecht and Braskem have agreed to pay $2.6 billion and $957 million, respectively, to U.S., Brazilian, and Swiss authorities.

Death Toll in Explosion at Mexican Fireworks Market Rises to 31

The aftermath of an explosion at the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, Mexico, on December 20, 2016. (Edgard Garrido / Reuters)

The death toll in the explosion at an open-air fireworks market in Mexico rose to 31 on Wednesday, The Guardian reports.  At least 72 people, including 10 children, were treated for injuries sustained in the incident in the San Pablito market in Tultepec on Tuesday, the AP reported Wednesday, citing local health officials. Some of the injured have severe burns, some on over 90 percent of their bodies. Hundreds of people were browsing the stalls at San Pablito when the explosion occurred, engulfing the market in flames and sending large plumes of smoke into the air. “Everything was catching fire. Everything was exploding,” Crescencia Francisco Garcia told the AP. “The stones were flying, pieces of brick, everything was flying.” Tultepec Mayor Armando Fuentes said the market was well-stocked because of the holiday season, when demand for fireworks rises. Fuentes said the sale of fireworks “is what gives us identity” in Tultepec. “We know it is high-risk, we regret this greatly, but unfortunately many people's livelihoods depend on this activity,” he said. The cause of the explosion is not yet known. Similar fires struck the same market in 2005 and 2006, destroying hundreds of stalls.

Tokyo Says 2020 Olympics Will Cost Nearly $17 Billion

Toru Hanai / Reuters

The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo are expected to cost upwards of $16.8 billion, according to organizers who released an updated financial estimate Wednesday to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Tokyo originally estimated the total cost to be much lower, at about $6.2 billion, when it first won hosting rights in 2013. But that nearly quadrupled, with an early estimate this October of $25.4 billion. The IOC and the Olympics have been criticized recently for exorbitant hosting costs after Beijing spent $40 billion on the 2008 Summer Olympics, and Russia set a record by spending $50 billion into the 2014 Winter Olympics. That type of investment led many cities to pull their bids for the 2022 and 2024 games. To control this type of spending in the future, the IOC capped Tokyo’s limit at $17 billion. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, said Wednesday that a recent budget review led to a $340 million cost cut, and that further reviews are expected.

Ethiopia Releases 9,800 People Arrested Under State of Emergency

Tiksa Negeri / Reuters

Ethiopia said Wednesday it will release 9,800 people detained under a state of emergency declared in October, but also plans to charge 2,500 others with destabilizing the country. Protests began last year after the government proposed to expand the borders of its capital city, Addis Ababa, into surrounding territory occupied largely by the ethnic Oromo people. These protesters called the proposal a tactic to expand control over their somewhat autonomous region, and were soon joined by people of the Amhara region, where the government had tried a similar plan. Combined, these two ethnic groups make up more than 60 percent of the population, although the two have a contentious history. The government has reportedly killed 400 people in its violent crackdowns in the last year, many of them students. The violence has widely been described as the worst in the country since Ethiopia’s ruling party came to power in 1991. A government spokesman explained in a cryptic message to the AP that the people being released would pose no further trouble, because they “have been given lots of trainings.“

Berliners Mourn Victims as Police Search for Driver in Deadly Rampage

German authorities are looking for a Tunisian man whose documents were found in the truck that rammed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin Monday, the AP reported Wednesday. The AP has obtained a European arrest warrant from Germany for the suspect, 24-year-old Anis Amri. According to the warrant,  man was has used six different aliases and three different nationalities—Tunisian, Egyptian, and Lebanese. The notice warns that he may be armed. German officials told the AP the man applied for asylum in Germany but the request was rejected in July. Reuters reports German police are offering a reward of 100,000 euros ($105,000) for information leading to his capture. Officials are investigating the rampage, which left 12 people dead and 48 injured, as an act of terrorism. Berlin police have received more than 500 tips regarding the attack, according to the AP. Police arrested a Pakistani man near the market soon after the rampage, but released him the next day because they did not have evidence connecting him to the attack. The Islamic State on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attack, but it’s not clear whether the terrorist group actually knows who was behind it. Berliners gathered on Wednesday in front of a church in the city to honor the victims, signing “We Are the World” and holding signs that read, “You will not divide us.”