Trump’s Cabinet: ‘Draining the swamp’ or diving right in?
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in the nation’s capital. Instead, he’s diving right in.
So far, the president-elect is tapping people with deep ties to Washington and Wall Street as he fills out his Cabinet, turning to two power centers he vilified as greedy, corrupt and out of touch with Americans during his White House campaign. His choices have won praise from Republicans relieved by his more conventional choices, but could risk angering voters who rallied behind his calls for upending the political system.
Two of Trump’s early picks are wealthy financial industry insiders with ties to the kinds of institutions he railed against as a candidate. Elaine Chao, his choice for transportation secretary and an accomplished political figure in her own right, is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — blending family and political power in a way Trump fiercely criticized campaign rival Hillary Clinton for. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s selection for attorney general, has spent two decades in the Senate, and Tom Price, his health and human services nominee, is a six-term congressman.
The gap between Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his governing decisions is most striking regarding his emerging economic team. On Wednesday, he announced that he planned to nominate former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department.
As a candidate, Trump said Wall Street had created “tremendous problems” for the country. He included the CEO of Goldman Sachs in a television advertisement that accused global financial powers of having “robbed our working class.”
Southern plagues: Drought, flood, fire and now killer storms
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Tornadoes that dropped out of the night sky killed five people in two states and injured at least a dozen more early Wednesday, adding to a seemingly biblical onslaught of drought, flood and fire plaguing the South.
The storms tore through just as firefighters began to get control of wildfires that killed seven and damaged or wiped out more than 700 homes and businesses around the resort town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In Alabama, the weather system dumped more than 2 inches of rain in areas that had been parched by months of choking drought.
At least 13 confirmed twisters damaged homes, splintered barns and toppled trees in parts of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, the National Weather Service said. Tombstones were even knocked over in the cemetery behind the badly damaged Rosalie Baptist Church, near where three people died in northeastern Alabama.
“It looks like the rapture happened up there,” said church member Steve Hall, referring to the end-times belief of many Christians.
“Are we thinking the Lord is trying to get our attention?” said the pastor, Roger Little.
10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:
1. WHY CALL TO ‘DRAIN THE SWAMP’ SOUNDS HOLLOW
Trump is selecting people with deep ties to Washington and Wall Street for his Cabinet.
2. LIKELY CAUSE OF AIR DISASTER EMERGES
The pilot of the plane carrying a Brazilian soccer team told air traffic controllers he had run out of fuel moments before the crash in the Andes.
Pilot told Colombia controllers ‘no fuel’ before crash
MEDELLIN, Colombia (AP) — The pilot of the chartered plane carrying a Brazilian soccer team told air traffic controllers he had run out of fuel and desperately pleaded for permission to land before crashing into the Andes, according to a leaked recording of the final minutes of the doomed flight.
In the sometimes chaotic exchange with the air traffic tower, the pilot of the British-built jet requests permission to land because of “fuel problems” without making a formal distress call. A female controller explained another plane that had been diverted with mechanical problems was already approaching the runway and had priority, instructing the pilot to wait seven minutes.
As the jetliner circled in a holding pattern, the pilot grew more desperate. “Complete electrical failure, without fuel,” he said in the tense final moments before the plane set off on a four-minute death spiral that ended with it slamming into a mountainside Monday night.
By then the controller had gauged the seriousness of the situation and told the other plane to abandon its approach to make way for the charter jet. It was too late. Just before going silent, the pilot said he was flying at an altitude of 9,000 feet and made a final plea to land: “Vectors, senorita. Landing vectors.”
The recording, obtained Wednesday by Colombian media, appeared to confirm the accounts of a surviving flight attendant and a pilot flying nearby who overheard the frantic exchange. These, along with the lack of an explosion upon impact, point to a rare case of fuel running out as a cause of the crash of the jetliner, which experts said was flying at its maximum range.
Colombia’s congress ratifies peace accord with rebels
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — After five decades of war, more than four years of negotiations and two signing ceremonies, Colombia’s congress late Wednesday formally ratified a peace agreement allowing leftist rebels to enter politics.
The 310-page revised accord was approved unanimously by the lower house, which voted a day after the Senate approved the same text 75-0 following a protest walkout by the opposition led by former President Alvaro Uribe.
The accord introduces some 50 changes intended to assuage critics who led a campaign that saw Colombians narrowly reject the original accord in a referendum last month. President Juan Manuel Santos has said there won’t be a second referendum.
Revisions range from a prohibition on foreign magistrates judging alleged crimes by government troops or by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to a commitment from the rebels to forfeit assets, some amassed through drug trafficking, to help compensate their victims.
But the FARC wouldn’t go along with the opposition’s strongest demands — jail sentences for rebel leaders behind atrocities and stricter limits on their future participation in politics.
As Trump claims to have saved Carrier jobs, details are hazy
WASHINGTON (AP) — In persuading Carrier to keep hundreds of jobs in Indiana, President-elect Donald Trump is claiming victory on behalf of factory workers whose positions were bound for Mexico. But the scant details that have emerged so far raise doubts about the extent of the victory.
By enabling Carrier’s Indianapolis plant to stay open, the deal spares about 800 union workers whose jobs were going to be outsourced to Mexico, according to federal officials who were briefed by the heating and air conditioning company. This suggests that hundreds will still lose their jobs at the factory, where roughly 1,400 workers were slated to be laid off.
Also, neither Trump nor Carrier has yet to say what the workers might have to give up or precisely what threats or incentives were used to get the manufacturer to change its mind.
“There’s excitement with most people, but there’s a lot of skepticism and worry because we don’t know the details,” said TJ Bray, 32, who has worked for Carrier for 14 years and installs insulation in furnaces.
“There’s a few that are worried. And there’s still a few that don’t even believe this is real. They think it’s a play, a set-up or a scam.”
Prosecutor clears officer in man’s death, says man was armed
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A prosecutor on Wednesday cleared a Charlotte police officer in the killing of a black man whose death touched off civil unrest, and he presented detailed evidence to rebut assertions that the slain man was unarmed.
Officer Brentley Vinson was justified in opening fire on Keith Scott and won’t face charges, Charlotte-Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray said.
In a 40-minute news presentation to news reporters, Murray produced evidence that Keith Scott was armed with a handgun and the officer who killed him feared Scott would shoot.
The announcement “profoundly disappointed” Scott’s family, but they haven’t decided whether to file a lawsuit, their lawyer said.
Scott, 43, was killed Sept. 20 in the parking lot of an apartment complex.
In Africa, Latin America, Fidel Castro inspired many
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — The leader of a small, Caribbean nation, Fidel Castro was a major figure across much of the world, inspiring quixotic insurgencies, pouring soldiers into successful wars of liberation, helping define the politics of a whole continent. His death has been met with mourning, honors and recriminations.
Yet in Latin America, Cuba never successfully exported a socialist system quite like its own, although many members of an idealistic generation died trying to emulate it. Castro had more enduring success in nurturing a later generation of leftist leaders who won power at the ballot box.
“Their success at exporting revolution was really quite mixed,” said Geoff Thale, program director for the Washington Office on Latin America. “It is really more the symbolism of that support from Cuba — and Cuba daring to go against the wishes of the United States and the Western world — that mattered.”
In mourning the Cuban’s death, Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, called Castro “the 20th century liberator of our peoples.”
But for Venezuela’s opposition, Castro was a symbol of all they don’t want for their country, which is struggling with sizzling inflation and widespread shortages. “What has died is the very idea that by dividing people and subjugating them through hunger and fear, you can guarantee the eternal power of a demagogue,” the Democratic Unity coalition said in a statement on Castro’s death.
MLB players, owners have tentative labor deal
IRVING, Texas (AP) — Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year labor contract Wednesday night, a deal that extends the sport’s industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.
After days of near round-the-clock talks, negotiators reached a verbal agreement about 3 1/2 hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.
As part of the deal, the luxury tax threshold rises from $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.
Victoria’s Secret rocks Paris with $3M bra and Lady Gaga
PARIS (AP) — The laciest, if not raciest, catwalk event of the year — aka, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show — took place Wednesday night in in the City of Light. Among the takeaways: performances by Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars, sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid joining forces, as well as a $3 million Fantasy bra modelled by Jasmine Tookes. Here are the highlights of the Paris show:
ANGELS IN RED
Guests shuffled into the huge steel-and-glass atrium of Paris’ Grand Palais to the sound of a string orchestra playing softly from a huge Arc de Triomphe decor.
The calm lasted only a few seconds, however, and was broken by the flash of red neon lights and bold rock music blasting out to announce the start of the 40-minute presentation, which infected the cheering guests.