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US and World News

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    The Russian hackers who targeted the Democratic National Committee was also employed by Russia's military intelligence agency to pinpoint and kill Ukrainian soldiers in 2014, according to a report released Thursday by a cyber security firm, NBC News reported.

    The company, Crowdstrike, was hired by the DNC to investigate the hack and issued a report publicly attributing it to Russian intelligence. One of Crowdstrike's senior executives is Shawn Henry, a former senior FBI official who consults for NBC News. The firm employs other veterans of the FBI and the National Security Agency, the government's digital spying arm.

    Co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch, who oversaw the research, told NBC News that the report is further evidence that "it wasn't a 400-pound guy in his bed," who hacked the Democrats, but Russian intelligence agencies. President-elect Donald Trump famously raised the possibility that the Democrats were hacked by an overweight man.



    Photo Credit: AP

    File Photo -- Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, arrives to hold a meeting of a committee on preparations for upcoming Victory Day in WWII, in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.File Photo -- Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, arrives to hold a meeting of a committee on preparations for upcoming Victory Day in WWII, in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

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    Dreaming of a white Christmas? Be careful what you wish for. 

    A "significant storm system" is expected to move through the northern Plains on Christmas Day, bringing whiteout conditions and driving winds that could make travel "very difficult to impossible," the National Weather Service said Wednesday. 

    Heavy snow is possible beginning Friday over most of Wyoming before moving east to the Dakotas and northern Minnesota over the weekend, the National Weather Service said.

    "It's going to be a pretty significant storm," said Ari Sarsalari, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.



    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

    Ken Perry and Stan Ly go for a run in Eagle Creek Park as snow falls Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, in Indianapolis.Ken Perry and Stan Ly go for a run in Eagle Creek Park as snow falls Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, in Indianapolis.

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    From package delivery, to photography, to search and rescue operations, drones are the future of flight. One New England university is preparing students to be the next generation of pilots.

    Students at the University of Maine at Augusta taking a non-credit drone course learn how to fly small stunt drones to get familiar with the remote controller.

    "It's the wild, wild west of aviation," said Dan Leclair, the course's professor, an aviation instruction and a colonel in the Civil Air Patrol.

    The flying is the fun part, but the course work is what's most important. Professor Leclair teaches the students about weather patterns, airport maps and all the rules they need to know to pass the FAA’s test for commercial pilots.

    "The course teaches you to be safe, and how to fly the air craft in the national air space system," said Leclair, who teaches the class with retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Jolda.

    UMA is among the few colleges in the nation to offer a course of this kind.

    "The opportunity is wide open," said Tom Abbott, the UMA's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Project Manager.

    Abbott came up with the idea for the drone course, realizing that companies are on the brink of incorporating drones into everyday business practices. Amazon, for example, is exploring drone delivery for packages.

    "This is the future of aviation," said Abbott. "I said, 'Hey. Why can't we do this?'"

    Abbott wants to add more drone classes, so UMA can offer a minor in drone piloting in its aviation degree program.

    The class is only in its first semester, but has quickly taken off: 38 students are enrolled, between the ages of 16 to 70.

    "I've always been into aviation and photography," said Gabriel Roig, a high school student who decided to take the drone course so he can someday open a small business. "I think it would be cool career path [to fly drones] to survey land for real estate companies."

    An older student in the course, Jacob Gerritsen, has a similar plan.

    "My son and I are starting a company called Pegasus Visuals," said Gerritsen. "We are open for business to do inspections of dams, wind turbines or real estate."

    Gerritsen has been flying for years, and wanted his FAA certification to turn his hobby into a business venture. He said the UMA class helped him pass the FAA test with flying colors.

    "I understand aviation a lot more," he said. "I understand the rules. I understand why they have the rules."



    Photo Credit: necn

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    Under heavy Israeli pressure, Egypt on Thursday indefinitely postponed a planned U.N. vote on a proposed Security Council resolution that sought to condemn Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, diplomats and Western officials said, just a few hours before the vote was set to take place.

    The vote would have been one of the last opportunities for President Barack Obama to take a stand against Israeli settlement building after years of failed peace efforts, but doing so could re-ignite a dispute with a close ally in the waning days of his tenure. The delay also dealt a setback to repeated Palestinian efforts to censure Israel over its settlements.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had publicly urged the U.S. to veto the resolution, calling it bad for peace. "Peace will come not through U.N. resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties," he said.

    President-elect Donald Trump had also urged Obama to block the measure, issuing a statement nearly identical to Netanyahu's.

    "As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations," he said in a statement on Facebook. "This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.

    The U.S., as a permanent member of the Security Council, has traditionally used its veto power to block resolutions condemning Israeli settlements, even though it sees them as an obstacle to a peace settlement. But in recent weeks, the Obama administration had been especially secretive about its deliberations, which included what one official described as an unannounced meeting between Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this month.

    The U.S. had been considering a highly unusual abstention, potentially rocking U.S.-Israeli relations, officials said, though they wouldn't say whether Obama had made a final decision.

    Egypt, the Arab representative to the Security Council, circulated the draft on Wednesday. Several diplomats and Western officials said the Egyptians postponed the vote due to pressure from the Israelis. Egypt, the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, was meeting with Arab League diplomats to review the text. Diplomats said there was no time frame for when the vote may now occur and said it could be put off indefinitely.

    The diplomats and officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

    An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said Israeli diplomats had made the government's views clear "in various channels."

    The office of the U.N. spokesman later announced Thursday that the Security Council meeting has been postponed.

    The draft resolution, circulated by Egypt, demands that Israel stop settlement activities in the Palestinian territories and declares that all existing settlements "have no legal validity" and are "a flagrant violation" of international law.

    Ahmed Abu-Zeid, spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, told the SkyNewsArabia channel that "talks are still ongoing," on the draft resolution. He said the talks are taking place in New York and in Cairo at the Arab League headquarters, and that an "appropriate" decision will be taken, without elaboration. He didn't respond to phone calls.

    There was no immediate comment from the Palestinians.

    Israel has expressed concern that Obama, who has had an icy relationship with Netanyahu, would take an audacious step in his last weeks in office to revive the peace process, but U.S. officials have said he has nearly ruled out any major last-ditch effort to pressure Israel.

    A Security Council resolution would be more than symbolic since it carries the weight of international law. In the past, Obama has refused to endorse anti-Israel resolutions in the council, saying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved through negotiations.

    Robbie Sabel, professor of international law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the resolution would have been "politically damaging" for Israel as it could have weakened its position when negotiating the settlement issue with the Palestinians.

    The U.S. and much of the international community consider Israel's settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem illegitimate and an obstacle to peace. Netanyahu rejects such claims, blaming the failure of peace efforts on the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel's Jewish identity.

    Trump's selection for ambassador to Israel David Friedman has long ties to Israel's settler movement.

    The Palestinians, and most of the international community, say that the growth in settlements is endangering the goal of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Netanyahu and Obama have repeatedly clashed over Israel's settlement policies.

    Trump, who takes office in less than a month, has indicated a more sympathetic approach to Israel and appointed an ambassador who has been a supporter of the settler movement.

    Nearly 600,000 Jewish settlers now live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas the Palestinians want as part of their future state, along with the Gaza Strip. Israel captured those territories in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel annexed east Jerusalem, home to sensitive religious sites, in a move that is not internationally recognized, while the West Bank is divided between autonomous Palestinian zones and Israeli-controlled territory.

    Settlement construction has thrived under Obama's watch, despite his administration's constant condemnations, a sign of the limits of U.S. influence over its close ally. Obama has struggled to revive peace talks, which last collapsed in 2014.

    Frustrated by the lack of progress, Obama for more than a year had considered giving a major speech describing his vision for a future peace deal or, in a more aggressive step, supporting a U.N. resolution laying out parameters for such a deal.

    Although the goal would be to impart fresh urgency to the moribund peace process, either step would have been perceived as constraining Israel's negotiating hand while strengthening the Palestinians' argument on the world stage.

    A year-long wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, which has tapered off in recent months but not halted completely, has further imperiled any peace efforts.

    Earlier Thursday, the Israeli military said forces shot and killed a Palestinian who was lobbing an explosive device at troops carrying out an operation in east Jerusalem. The forces were demolishing the home of a Palestinian who carried out an October attack in Jerusalem that killed a police officer and a civilian.



    Photo Credit: AP

    File Photo -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Center for American Progress, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Washington.File Photo -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Center for American Progress, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Washington.

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  • 12/22/16--07:28: 'Bathroom Bill' Repeal Fails

  • North Carolina State Legislature failed to repeal a controversial law mandating transgender people use bathrooms corresponding with the gender listed on their birth certificate.

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    Ernie Smith turned 99 years old on December 21. He celebrated by taking a rented Cessna 150 for a flight over Red Oak, Iowa. Smith was certified as the World's Oldest Active Pilot, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, in September.

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    A man in California is recovering after an e-cigarette exploded in his pocket this week. The 53-year-old man was on a bus in Fresno Wednesday morning when the device started smoking and then burst into flames.

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    Authorities believe the 20-year-old New Jersey man accused of killing a college student and another woman in the last few months may be linked to a third slaying, and investigators are actively looking at him as a possible serial killer, law enforcement sources familiar with the probe tell NBC 4 New York.

    The sources say Khalil Wheeler-Weaver is being investigated in the death of a missing 19-year-old Philadelphia escort whose burned body was discovered in an abandoned building in Orange, New Jersey. Though she has not been publicly identified, she was living at the Garden State Motel in Union Township when she disappeared, the sources say. She vanished in September.

    It wasn't clear what investigators believed tied Wheeler-Weaver to the case, but the body of at least one of the other women he's accused of killing was found under similar circumstances.

    He has not been charged with killing the 19-year-old woman. His attorney, Shevelle McPherson, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on a possible connection to the case.

    On Tuesday, Wheeler-Weaver pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the death of 33-year-old Joanne Brown, who was last seen Oct. 22 in Orange and whose body was found in a vacant house in Newark on Dec. 5.

    He has also pleaded not guilty to murder and other crimes in the death of 20-year-old Sarah Butler, a sophomore at New Jersey City University who was reported missing Nov. 23. The Montclair woman's body was found eight days later on the Eagle Rock Reservation.
      
    Investigators said Butler and Brown didn't appear to know each other, but both were killed in the same manner: strangulation and asphyxiation. Police have not revealed potential motives in the slayings. 

    Wheeler-Weaver remains jailed on $5 million bail. 

    Butler's sister told NBC 4 New York Tuesday, before news broke of the possible connection to the third slaying, that she wasn't surprised Wheeler-Weaver had been accused of more deadly violence — but she did say she was stunned.

    "Usually I just hear about this in movies," Aliyah Butler said. "I didn't think that things like this and people actually happened in the real world." 

    "Now I'm wondering how many girls he's hurt like this," she said. "I'm just hoping the number isn't large because what he did to my sister was terrible."

    Asked whether they believe the deaths are the work of a serial killer, acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said Tuesday, "I'm not gonna comment on that."

    McPherson insists her client is innocent and that prosecutors don't have enough evidence to connect him to the deaths of Brown and Butler.

    She said Tuesday the evidence she has seen is "very circumstantial."

    "They're trying to accuse him of this [second] crime, because manner of deaths are similar," she said. "If they're gonna try to secure a conviction based on manner of death, they're gonna have to come up with more than that."

    NBC 4 New York has learned Wheeler-Weaver comes from a family that includes at least two law enforcement officers -- one a cop in East Orange who lives in his home and another who works for the Newark Police Department. 

    Wheeler-Weaver was most recently employed as a security guard for Sterling Security, a firm owned by two former Newark police officers. In that capacity, he worked at a Shoprite in Union Township.

    The security firm didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.



    Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY

    Khalil Wheeler-Weaver faces murder and other charges in the death of Sarah Butler.Khalil Wheeler-Weaver faces murder and other charges in the death of Sarah Butler.

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    Former House Speaker and Donald Trump ally Newt Gingrich is walking back his claim that the president-elect will not prioritize his campaign promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington, a charge that came after Trump selected a series of wealthy donors and business executives for his White House team, NBC News reported.

    Gingrich suggested in an interview with NPR earlier this week that Trump was no longer enamored of the pithy pledge, claiming Trump "now says it was cute, but he doesn't want to use it anymore."

    But in an online video posted Thursday, Gingrich said that the statement was "a big boo-boo," adding that Trump assured him in a conversation Thursday that "he intends to drain the swamp."

    Without mentioning Gingrich by name, Trump tweeted that "we will always be trying to DTS."



    Photo Credit: AP
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    President-elect Donald Trump, center, accompanied by Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, right, and retired Gen. Michael Flynn, a senior adviser to Trump, left, speaks to members of the media at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016.President-elect Donald Trump, center, accompanied by Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, right, and retired Gen. Michael Flynn, a senior adviser to Trump, left, speaks to members of the media at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016.

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    The suspect in the Berlin truck rampage turned from a troubled youngster to alleged terrorist in a matter of years, according to officials and media reports, NBC Reported.

    Anis Amri, 24, was at the center of an international manhunt Thursday after authorities found his personal documents inside the vehicle that plowed through the Christmas market on Monday. Twelve people were killed and almost 50 others injured in the attack that has since been claimed by ISIS.

    Amri's apparent journey is a well-trodden path familiar to experts: a youngster gets in trouble with the law, goes to jail and finally winds up on the path of extremism.



    Photo Credit: AP

    The photo which was sent to European police authorities and obtained by AP on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 shows Tunisian national Anis Amri who is wanted by German police for an alleged involvement in the Berlin Christmas market attack. Several people died when a truck ran into a crowded Christmas market on Dec. 19.The photo which was sent to European police authorities and obtained by AP on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 shows Tunisian national Anis Amri who is wanted by German police for an alleged involvement in the Berlin Christmas market attack. Several people died when a truck ran into a crowded Christmas market on Dec. 19.

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    New drone footage from the Great Lakes Drone Company taken on Dec. 21, 2016 shows an iced over Lake Michigan lighthouse in St. Joseph from a bird's eye view.

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    Five-month-old Daniel McCabe was in need of a Christmas miracle: a lifesaving liver transplant and fast.

    Daniel, who suffers from a rare liver disorder called biliary atresia, was listed at 10:15 a.m. on Dec. 13, his family hoping their Christmas wish would soon come true.

    But no one could have expected just how soon.

    By 10:55 a.m., a liver became available on the deceased donor registry, and it was a match.

    According to Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, the short wait time is extremely rare.

    Over the last five years, only 43 people nationwide have waited 40 minutes or less for a match, including Daniel, said the hospital, citing the United Network of Organ Sharing. On average, 6,000 people receive a liver each year, the organization reports, but more than 14,000 people are waiting for a liver, with the average wait being 149 days for adults and 86 days for children.

    Daniel, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, underwent a successful transplant at the hospital — a miracle that came just in time for the holidays.



    Photo Credit: Lurie Children's Hospital

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    A Fort Worth police officer has been placed on restricted duty after he was seen on a viral Facebook video arresting a woman and her teenage daughter who said they had called for help, department officials said Thursday.

    The video posted on Porsha Craver's Facebook account Wednesday night shows the incident she says happened near Hazel Harvey Peace Elementary in southwest Fort Worth.

    The video begins with a woman, identified as Jacqueline Craig, telling the officer that her 7-year-old son was grabbed and choked by a man for littering and "defying him" when he told the child to pick the paper up.

    The officer responded, "Why don't you teach your son not to litter?"

    Craig then replied, "He can't prove to me that my son littered, but it doesn't matter if he did or didn't, it doesn't give him the right to put his hands on him."

    To which, the officer responded, "Why not?"

    The video showed the incident escalate into a physical struggle between Craig, the officer and a 15-year-old girl in a pink tank top.

    Footage showed Craig and the 15-year-old being handcuffed amid shouting and cursing from bystanders.

    Eventually the officer arrests Brea Hymond, who was shooting the video on a cell phone camera.

    Lee Merritt, the attorney for the women, questions why his clients were arrested while the man accused of choking a child was not.

    "The idea that this complaint has gone uninvestigated is a civil rights violation of my of my clients, it's irresponsible for the city of Fort Worth," said Merritt.

    While there is a blip in the video, Merritt told NBC 5 the video was not edited,  someone called while they were recording and it temporarily interrupted the feed.

    The Fort Worth Police Department released the following statement about the incident Thursday afternoon:

    "On Dec. 21, at approximately 10 p.m., the Fort Worth Police Department received information regarding a Facebook video post that captured a Fort Worth police officer arresting three individuals on Rock Garden Trail.

    The Internal Affairs Unit began to immediately review the video and subsequently initiated an internal affairs investigation. The investigators interviewed two of the three arrestees at the Fort Worth City Jail within two hours of the department learning of the incident.

    The investigators worked throughout the night and into the morning interviewing witnesses and reviewing video evidence; including video from a body worn camera that was active during the incident.

    The involved officer has been placed on restricted duty status by the Chief of Police pending the outcome of the internal investigation. Since this is an internal investigation, state law limits the information that may be released, including the officer's body cam footage.

    The Fort Worth Police Department enjoys a close and cooperative relationship with our citizens; one of transparency, mutual trust and respect. The Fort Worth Police Department expects every officer to treat persons they encounter with that same trust, respect and courtesy.

    We acknowledge that the initial appearance of the video may raise serious questions. We ask that our investigators are given the time and opportunity to thoroughly examine this incident and to submit their findings. This process may take time, but the integrity of the investigation rests upon the ability of the investigators to document facts and to accurately evaluate the size and scope of what transpired. We ask our community for patience and calm during this investigation process."

    NBC 5's Alice Barr reports internal affairs officers were canvassing the neighborhood Thursday afternoon, speaking to the man involved in the initial incident as well as any witnesses.

    The American Civil Liberties Union released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

    "We regret that the FWPD is giving the officer 48 hours to prepare his report on the incident. That leaves us with only the video on which to rely for information.

    When the mother of a seven-year-old boy calls the police to report an assault on her son, the responding officer should expect to find her distraught. In this instance, the officer ignored basic community policing standards and his own responsibility to de-escalate the confrontation.

    This incident and countless others like them demonstrate that for people of color, showing anything less than absolute deference to police officers — regardless of the circumstances — can have unjust and often tragic consequences.

    This fundamental injustice is also a threat to public safety. If a Black woman in Fort Worth can't call the cops after her son is allegedly choked by a neighbor without getting arrested, why would she ever call the cops again?"

    As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the video had been viewed more than 1.5 million times.

    Both women had been released from custody by Thursday afternoon.

    Two rallies are planned for Thursday night in reaction to the incident. The first starts at 6 p.m. at the Fort Worth Police Department. The second is planning by the Next Generation Action Network outside the Tarrant County Courthouse at 6:30 p.m.

    NBC 5's Brian Roth, Tim Ciesco and Alice Barr contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: Porscha Craver
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

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    It has been a year and a half since a robbery and shooting left Julie Dombo of Derby, Kansas a quadruple amputee. Now thanks to some generous donors, she's getting a new set of prosthetic hands.

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    JetBlue said a group of travelers were pulled off a flight at John F. Kennedy Airport after at least one of them harangued the daughter and son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump.

    The airline said staffers re-accommodated a party of passengers after the exchange Thursday morning at the terminal. 

    One of the passengers, Hunter College professor Matthew Lasner said in a tweet that his husband went to "harass" Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner as they boarded a JetBlue flight. 

    In a second tweet, Lasner said that that his husband "expressed displeasure in a calm tone, JetBlue staff overheard and they kicked us off the plane."

    He also tweeted a photo of what appeared to be the president-elect's daughter sitting on the plane.

    Lasner later deleted the tweets.

    A representative for Ivanka Trump declined to comment on the exchange. A spokesperson said she and Kushner were on a flight to San Francisco en route to Hawaii at the time. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Ivanka Trump is pictured in this file photo.Ivanka Trump is pictured in this file photo.

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    An Indiana mother is facing battery charges after she allegedly beat her children for opening Christmas presents early, officials said. 

    Prosecutors accused Sascha Collins, of Greenfield, of throwing her two sons into a wall, hitting them with a belt and biting them, according to an affidavit. 

    According to the report, the boys’ sister said her mother became angry when the kids unwrapped gifts in their home. The daughter told police she had arrived home to find her mother storming around the house saying "she was blessed with the worst kids ever and they were so ungrateful" and noticed her brothers crying and sounding like they were in pain. 

    The sister told police the young boys said their mother threw them against the wall, bit them, hit them with a belt and smacked them, according to the affidavit. 

    Officers at the scene said the boys, ages 7 and 9, had "signs of injury but nothing that appeared to need immediate medical attention," authorities said. 

    Her daughter told police Collins had been drinking alcohol the night before the incident, according to the report.

    Collins also admitted to police she "lost it" and there "is no excuse for it," according to the documents. 

    It was not immediately known if Collins had an attorney.



    Photo Credit: Hancock County Sheriff's Department

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    President-elect Donald Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, defeat ISIS, withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, create 25 million jobs over the next decade and "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C. How well do his Cabinet nominees reflect his governing philosophy? Here they are in their own words. 

    The retired neurosurgeon and unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination grew up in Detroit and has no experience in elected office or in running a large bureaucracy.

    "These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse. There are reasonable ways to use housing policy to enhance the opportunities available to lower-income citizens, but based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous."The Washington Times, 2015

    Former secretary of labor under President George W. Bush, deputy transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush, Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    "If vehicles already meet an acceptable level of safety on a particular aspect of vehicle performance without being required to do so by regulation, I believe the Department should devote its resources to other issues rather than engage in rulemaking simply to affirm the existing level of safety."Statement before DOT deputy secretary confirmation hearing, 1989

    A keen advocate for school vouchers and charter schools, influential in Detroit, where charter schools have a poor record and state legislators rejected calls for more oversight, she engages in political battles to help advance God's kingdom, she told a religious gathering in 2001.

    "We are stuck in a partisan rut. The political parties are dead-enders when it comes to education revolution. As long as we think political parties might solve the problem it will never be solved. Oddly enough education choice is very unique in that some conservative Republicans and some liberal Democrats are actually on the same wavelength….But those are exceptions. The vast majority of the political class is committed to defending and protecting the status quo." — SXSW in Austin, 2015

    The governor of South Carolina and the daughter of immigrants from India, Haley led the drive to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse and during the Republican primary accused Donald Trump of "irresponsible talk."

    "During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation." -- Speaking of Donald Trump and others in the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, 2016

    A retired four-star Marine general, he oversaw the Guantanamo Bay military prison and efforts to stop drug trafficking and other smuggling into the United States.

    "In my opinion, the relative ease with which human smugglers move tens of thousands of people to our nation’s doorstep also serves as another warning sign: These smuggling routes are a potential vulnerability to our homeland. As I stated last year, terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States."Testimony to the Senate Armed Forces Committee, 2015

    Nicknamed "Mad Dog," the retired Marine Corps general and former commander of U.S. Central Command blames President Barack Obama's policy in the Middle East for adding to the rise of extremism.

    "Is political Islam in the best interest of the United States? I suggest the answer is no but then we need to have the discussion. If we won't even ask the question, then how to we ever get to the point of recognizing which is our side in the fight. And if we don't take our own side in this fight we're leaving others adrift."— The Heritage Foundation, 2015

    Donald Trump's campaign finance chairman, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, and Hollywood financier, he and partners took over failed mortgage lender IndyMac Bank and operated it under the name, OneWest Bank. He pledged to tackle mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    "It makes no sense that these are owned by the government and have been controlled by the government for as long as they have. In many cases this displaces private lending in the mortgage markets, and we need these entities that will be safe. So let me just be clear— we'll make sure that when they're restructured, they're absolutely safe and they don't get taken over again. But we've got to get them out of government control." — Fox Business, November

    Perry, the former governor of Texas, has promoted the state's oil industry and has questioned climate change. He has advocated eliminating the department he would head though famously could not name it during a presidential debate in 2012.

    "I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number or scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we're seeing, almost weekly or daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climate has changed. They've been changing ever since the earth was formed." -- Town Hall in Bedford, N.H., 2011

    Republican congressman from Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon and persistent critic of Obamacare, he has repeatedly introduced his own legislation for replacing it.

    "It's a fundamental philosophical difference that we have with the other side …. They believe that government ought to be in control of health care. We believe that patients and families ought to be in control of health care. And sadly what we're seeing right now is that government control that we've seen ramped up over the past six or seven years has resulted in a decrease in quality that's being seen by patients. People have coverage, but they don't have care. They're priced out of the market." American Enterprise Institute, June

    Attorney general of Oklahoma, one of the Republicans leading the legal fight against President Barack Obama's attempts to curb carbon emissions, Pruitt questions how much human actions are contributing to climate change, a point disputed by the vast majority of the world's climate scientists.

    "Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime." — with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, Tulsa World, May

    The CEO of CKE Restaurants, the fast-food company that owns burger chains Carl's Jr and Hardee's, Puzder is an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, which he said created a "government-mandated restaurant recession" and of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which he argues would lead to fewer jobs.

    "I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American. I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality." Entrepreneur, 2015

    Turnaround specialist who became rich buying struggling steel, textile, coal and other companies and restructuring them, Ross came under criticism for a deadly explosion at a mine his company had bought.

    "Clinton will raise taxes. Trump will cut taxes. Clinton will increase regulation. Trump will decrease regulation. Clinton has vowed to kill the coal industry. Trump will leverage America's energy resources to create new jobs and growth." — with Trump adviser Peter Navarro, CNBC, August

    U.S. senator and former U.S. attorney from Alabama who failed to win confirmation to a federal judgeship because of concerns about racially charged comments he was accused of making, he has opposed immigration reform and the legalization of marijuana.

    "You have to have leadership from Washington. You can't have the president of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink, saying I used marijuana when I was in high school and it is no different than smoking. It is different. And you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana use doesn't lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal. I think we need to be careful about this."Senate floor speech, April 2016

    Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, has what he has called "a very close relationship" with Russia's Vladimir Putin, which could be problematic during his confirmation hearing. Although he does not have a political or diplomatic background, he has broad experience negotiating deals for ExxonMobil in troubled spots around the world.

    "We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don't find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively and that's a very hard thing to do," he said, adding, "We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions."ExxonMobil shareholders' meeting, 2014.

    Montana's sole representative in the House, Zinke would end a moratorium on federal coal leases on public lands. He is also a hunter and fisherman who opposes transferring public lands to the states.

    "It's not a hoax, but it's not proven science either. But you don't dismantle America's power and energy on a maybe. We need to be energy independent first. We need to do it better, which we can, but it is not a settled science."Campaign debate, 2014



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    President-elect Donald Trump smiles as he listens to his pick for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speak during a rally at DeltaPlex Arena, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)President-elect Donald Trump smiles as he listens to his pick for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speak during a rally at DeltaPlex Arena, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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    Lisa Taylor was 29 when she agreed to travel the country in a black French maid outfit to promote a cheeseburger for Hardee’s, a fast food chain run by President-elect Donald Trump’s recent pick for labor secretary.

    It was another overtly sexual social promotion from a company known for its racy advertising. As CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., Andy Puzder has drawn attention for overseeing television ads that showed a swimsuit-clad Paris Hilton washing a car before digging into a cheeseburger.

    “The whole industry that you work for is sexist,” said Taylor, a stage name for the actress and teacher who lives in the Midwest. “You’re paid strictly for how you look.”

    Puzder has repeatedly defended the ads, claiming he wanted to appeal to a young, male demographic.

    “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis,” he told Entrepreneur in 2015. “I think it's very American." 

    If approved by the Senate, Puzder will head a federal agency tasked with promoting a workforce that is nearly 50 percent women. He will also have jurisdiction for enforcing anti-discrimination laws, including sex discrimination, among federal contractors and subcontractors.

    Women’s rights advocates, Democrats and labor organizations have criticized his appointment, not least because of the depiction of women in his company's advertising.

    “To possibly have a secretary of labor who is the CEO of a company whose ads objectify women is an abomination,” Madonna Badger, who runs an ad agency that aims to promote a positive image of women, told NBC.

    Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, said: “Mr. Puzder is promoting a deeply offensive and misogynistic view of women: that women are sexual objects to be used to sell fast food. It’s really disgusting.”

    While the company's television ads are well known, their sexualized road show hasn't received the same attention. On the tour for Hardee’s, Taylor joined three other actresses, the so-called “‘French me’ Femmes” to advertise the French Dip Thickburger across the South and Midwest in the summer of 2009.

    The sandwich consisted of sliced roast beef on top of a burger patty and melted Swiss cheese, with au jus dipping sauce on the side.

    “Meat was in essence a condiment,” David Johnson, then-creative director of Ngage, the ad agency hired by Hardee’s for the promotion, said of the meat-on-meat sandwich.

    To riff on the French-themed burger, Johnson said, the actresses dressed as maids during the tour.

    “You’re hired to portray a look and that personality type,” Taylor said of the promotion. “That led people to think they could treat you a certain way.”

    Taylor and the other actresses — clad in black miniskirts, fishnet stockings, choker necklaces and garters — teased shirtless men with feather dusters at auto races while plugging the burger. The Femmes asked men through fake French accents when they first French kissed. They offered to wipe radio hosts’ mouths after they took a bite of the burger.

    For Taylor, the job was standard. Hardee’s did not ask for anything out of the ordinary; it’s the business that is inherently sexist, she said. Dealing with “handsy” men and “creepy,” unsolicited comments is in the job description for a promotion like the Hardee’s one.

    “You’re used to that like lecherous, gross guy coming up to you. That was the whole point,” she said. “You’re wearing this French maid costume, giving out coupons. You deal with it. That’s your job.”

    The promotion was aimed specifically to attract 18 to 34-year-old men — “hungry young guys,” as Puzder describes them.

    It was a dynamic that made Taylor at times uncomfortable, but one she accepted because it was part of the job.

    “It’s almost like you put on your mask,” she said. “But if I was just an ordinary citizen living my life, I would be just grossed out if a guy was like ‘can I take a picture with you?’ or ‘you’re hot!’”

    Taylor never interacted with Puzder and was hired by an independent ad agency, not directly by Hardee's. But for Badger and other critics of the Cabinet nominee, the sort of advertising his company produced has wider implications for how women are treated in the workforce and in society as a whole.

    “Women are not props to be portrayed as scantily clad burger eating sex toys for anyone's viewing pleasure,” Badger told NBC. “Until women are portrayed as equal, we will not be treated as such.”

    CKE Restaurants and the Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment.



    Photo Credit: Getty
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    File Photo -- Andy Puzder, President of CKE Restaurants at a Carls Jr. Restaurant in Carpinteria with a turkey burger.File Photo -- Andy Puzder, President of CKE Restaurants at a Carls Jr. Restaurant in Carpinteria with a turkey burger.

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    President-elect Donald Trump took an unprecedented step of commenting on foreign policy relations after he tweeted to veto a vote on a United Nations resolution declaring Israel's settlements in Palestinian areas a violation of international law on Dec. 22, 2016.

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    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir agreed Thursday to sing at Donald Trump's presidential inauguration — and not everybody back home in Utah is applauding.

    Best known for soaring renditions of religious and patriotic music, the 360-member Salt Lake City-based choir is one of just a handful of acts that Team Trump has been able to sign up for the Jan. 20 ceremony.

    The chief spokesman of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledged the choir is already taking flak for agreeing to be part of the festivities, NBC News reported.

    It was also announced Thursday that the high-kicking Rockettes, of Radio City Music Hall fame, would be performing.



    Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    Members of the Members of the "Radio City Rockettes" perform during their annual "Christmas in August" event outside Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue, August 23, 2016, in New York City.

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