Mario Soares, the former Portuguese Socialist Party leader who shepherded his country from fascism to democracy in the 1970s, died Saturday. He was 92 years old. Soares began his political career as a lawyer defending political prisoners during the rule of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, Portugal’s fascist dictator for most of the mid-20th century, and subsequently founded the country’s opposition Socialist Party in exile in 1973. One year later, a civilian-backed military coup toppled the regime in the Carnation Revolution. Soares served as the country’s first democratically elected prime minister in 1976, his first of three stints in the office. From there he oversaw the decolonization of Portugal’s African colonies and its entry into the European Economic Community. In 1986, he became the country’s first democratically elected civilian president, a position he held for more than a decade. Soares remained enormously popular and kept active in political life even after leaving office. The Portuguese government declared a three-day period of mourning following the announcement of his death.
—One day after his intelligence briefing on Russian interference in the presidential election, President-elect Donald Trump said only “stupid” people don’t want closer relations with Moscow.
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Mario Soares, Father of Portuguese Democracy, Dies at 92
Truck Bomb on Syria-Turkey Border Kills At Least 48 People
A truck bomb exploded Saturday in a packed marketplace in Azaz, a rebel-held Syrian town on the Turkish border, killing nearly 50 people and wounding dozens more. The Washington Post reported that six of the dead were rebel soldiers and the rest were civilians. Locals told media outlets that the blast came from a fuel truck but did not offer further details. According to the Associated Press, the explosion reportedly destroyed or heavily damaged several nearby buildings, sparking ongoing search-and-rescue operations in the rubble. The attack comes amid a Russian-brokered ceasefire in the six-year civil war that has devastated most of Syria. No groups have yet claimed responsibility.
Trump: Only 'Stupid' People Want Bad Relations With Russia
In a series of tweets Saturday morning, President-elect Donald Trump claimed only “stupid” people wouldn’t want closer relations with Russia. “When I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now and both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!” Trump tweeted. The messages came less than one day after top U.S. intelligence officials briefed Trump on their conclusions that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the hacking and disclosure of embarrassing Democratic documents to undermine the November presidential election.