Trump cruises to Electoral College victory despite protests
WASHINGTON (AP) — There were many protesters but few faithless electors as Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote Monday — ensuring he will become America’s 45th president.
An effort by anti-Trump forces to persuade Republican electors to abandon the president-elect came to practically nothing and the process unfolded largely according to its traditions. Trump’s polarizing victory Nov. 8 and the fact Democrat Hillary Clinton had won the national popular vote had stirred an intense lobbying effort, but to no avail.
“We did it!” Trump tweeted Monday evening. “Thank you to all of my great supporters, we just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media).”
He later issued a statement saying: “With this historic step we can look forward to the bright future ahead. I will work hard to unite our country and be the President of all Americans.”
Even one of Trump’s fiercest Republican rivals, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said it was time to get behind the president-elect.
Invoking Syria, policeman kills Russian ambassador to Turkey
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish policeman fatally shot Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday in front of a shocked gathering at a photo exhibit and then, pacing near the body of his victim, appeared to condemn Russia’s military role in Syria, shouting: “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”
The leaders of Turkey and Russia said the attack in Ankara, the Turkish capital, was an attempt to disrupt efforts to repair ties between their countries, which have backed opposing sides in the Syrian civil war.
An Associated Press photographer and others at the art gallery watched in horror as the gunman, who was wearing a dark suit and tie, fired at least eight shots, at one point walking around Ambassador Andrei Karlov as he lay motionless and shooting him again at close range.
The assailant, who was identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old member of Ankara’s riot police squad, was later killed in a shootout with police. Three other people were wounded in the attack, authorities said.
The assassination came after days of protests by Turks angry over Russia’s support for President Bashar Assad in the Syrian conflict and Russia’s role in the bombardment and destruction of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.
Witness to an assassination: AP photographer captures attack
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The event seemed routine, the opening of an exhibit of photographs of Russia. So when a man in a dark suit and tie pulled out a gun, I was stunned and thought it was a theatrical flourish.
Instead, it was a coolly calculated assassination, unfolding in front of me and others who scrambled, terrified, for cover as the trim man with short hair gunned down the Russian ambassador.
The gunshots, at least eight of them, were loud in the pristine art gallery. Pandemonium erupted. People screamed, hid behind columns and under tables and lay on the floor. I was afraid and confused, but found partial cover behind a wall and did my job: taking photographs.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici was attending a photo exhibition Monday when a Turkish policeman opened fire, killing Russia’s ambassador to Turkey. He recounts how he captured the chaotic scene with his camera despite the lethal danger.
Truck rams into German Christmas market, killing 12 people
BERLIN (AP) — A truck rammed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday evening, killing 12 people and injuring nearly 50 as it smashed through tables and wooden stands. Police said a suspect believed to be the driver was arrested nearby and a passenger died as paramedics were treating him.
The popular Christmas market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was filled with a mix of tourists and locals when the large Scania truck hurtled into it. Germany’s top security official said initial evidence pointed to an intentional act, and the White House condemned “what appears to have been a terrorist attack.”
Police said early Tuesday that 48 people were in hospitals, some of them with serious injuries.
Mike Fox, visiting from Birmingham, England, told The Associated Press that the truck missed him by about three meters (yards). Fox said he helped people who appeared to have broken limbs, and that others were trapped under Christmas stands.
“You do what you can to help who you can, really. It happened so fast that there was nothing we could do to stop it — if we’d tried to stop it we would have been crushed,” Fox said.
MH370 officials: Crash site could be north of search area
SYDNEY (AP) — A team of international investigators hunting for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 said Tuesday it has concluded the plane is unlikely to be found in a stretch of the Indian Ocean search crews have been combing for two years, and may instead have crashed in an area farther to the north.
The conclusion raises the possibility that the search for the Boeing 777 could continue well beyond next month, when crews are expected to finish their deep sea sonar hunt of the current search zone west of Australia. But Australia’s transport minister suggested that was doubtful.
The latest analysis of the plane’s whereabouts comes in a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search for the aircraft. The report is the result of a November meeting of international and Australian experts who re-examined all the data used to narrow down the search area for the plane, which vanished during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.
In the years since the plane disappeared, experts have analyzed a series of exchanges between the aircraft and a satellite to estimate a probable crash site along what’s known as the seventh arc — a vast arc of ocean that runs through the southern hemisphere. A deep sea search of a 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) stretch of water along the seventh arc has so far come up empty.
In November, the experts went back over the satellite data, along with the results of a new ocean drift analysis of the more than 20 items of debris likely to have come from the plane that have washed ashore on beaches throughout the Indian Ocean. The analysis, which looked at where the items washed ashore and when, suggested the debris originated in an area farther north along the arc from the current search zone.
Trump blames terrorists for killings in Turkey, Germany
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — On the day that his election victory became official, Donald Trump on Monday experienced what life will be like as president as he condemned separate deadly incidents against a Russian diplomat and shoppers at a German Christmas market, blaming Islamic terrorism in both instances.
He offered no support for his claim that terrorists were responsible for the carnage.
Authorities in Turkey and Germany were still investigating when Trump issued back-to-back statements condemning the incidents, although the White House earlier had said that what happened in central Berlin when a trucked rammed a holiday crowd “appears to be a terrorist attack.”
Trump called the brazen, daytime shooting of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey as he attended a photo exhibit “a violation of all rules of civilized order.” He added that the diplomat, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated by a “radical Islamic terrorist.”
Turkish authorities said the gunman, who was identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a member of Ankara’s riot police squad, was later killed in a shootout with police. Altintas shouted in Turkish about the Syrian city of Aleppo and also yelled “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”
IMF board: Lagarde will remain as chief despite conviction
WASHINGTON (AP) — Christine Lagarde will remain head of the International Monetary Fund despite her conviction Monday of negligence in a case dating to her tenure as France’s finance minister.
The IMF’s executive board quickly met after the court’s decision and expressed “full confidence” in Lagarde’s ability to carry out her duties at the head of the Washington-based international lending agency. In a statement, the board cited her “outstanding leadership” and the respect and trust she has worldwide.
After a weeklong trial, France’s Court of Justice of the Republic found Lagarde guilty of one count of negligence but spared her jail time and a criminal record.
The 60-year-old IMF leader had potentially faced a year of imprisonment and a fine for not seeking to block a fraudulent 2008 arbitration award to a politically connected tycoon when she was finance minister.
Lagarde thanked the board for the vote of confidence “in my ability to do my job.” She said she would not appeal the French court’s decision.
UN approves Aleppo monitors as evacuations from city proceed
BEIRUT (AP) — The leaders of Russia and Iran, military allies of Syria’s president, talked Monday about joining forces to reach a quick political settlement in Syria, as the country’s largest city, Aleppo, was poised to return to full government control.
Syrian state TV said it expected the evacuation of thousands of civilians and fighters from the last opposition footholds in Aleppo to be completed by early Tuesday.
As more people left the city, the U.N. Security council approved a compromise French-Russian resolution urging the immediate deployment of U.N. monitors to watch over the evacuation and “the well-being of civilians” remaining in the city. U.N. officials said more than 100 U.N. humanitarian staff already on the ground in Aleppo, most of them Syrian nationals, could be used in that role.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said the goal of the resolution is “to avoid new mass atrocities by the forces on the ground and the militias in particular.” But thousands of people have already been evacuated from the city and the operation could be completed before the observers arrive.
The departure of the last rebels from Aleppo would close another chapter in Syria’s civil war and would give President Bashar Assad a significant symbolic and strategic victory.
Aleppo girl whose tweets captured world attention evacuated
BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian girl from eastern Aleppo whose tweets from the war zone captivated world attention was evacuated to safety Monday, part of an evacuation deal that saw the remaining residents of the former rebel enclave head to other parts of the country.
“I escaped from East #Aleppo,” she tweeted after arriving in Rashidin, an area west of Aleppo, after she and her mother were evacuated from the war-torn east of the city.
Seven-year-old Bana Alabed’s mother Fatemah set up and began operating the account in September, tweeting on her daughter’s behalf, they documented the horrors of living through the government’s assault on eastern Aleppo, which destroyed much of the city. Their account eventually garnered some 334,000 followers.
Speaking to the opposition-run Qasioun News Agency Monday, Fatemah, said she was glad to have finally reached safety but expressed regret that she was forced out of her home city, and said she did not want to become a refugee.
An English teacher, Fatema said she created the Twitter account to tell the world about the suffering of children and all residents of rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
Smog chokes China cities, grounding flights, closing roads
BEIJING (AP) — Thick, gray smog fell over Beijing on Tuesday, choking China’s capital in a haze that spurred authorities to cancel flights and close some highways in emergency measures to cut down on air pollution.
Beijing and much of industrial northern China are in the midst of a “red alert,” the highest level in China’s four-tiered pollution warning system. The red alert affected 460 million people, according to Greenpeace East Asia, which calculated that about 200 million people were living in areas that had experienced levels of air pollution more than 10 times above the guideline set by the World Health Organization.
Members of the public closely watch levels of PM2.5, particles measuring 2.5 microns across that are easily inhaled and damage lung tissue. The World Health Organization designates the safe level for the tiny, poisonous particles at 25 micrograms per cubic meter. On Tuesday morning, the PM2.5 reading in Beijing climbed above 300. In many northern Chinese cities, the reading has exceeded 500 micrograms per cubic meter.
State media reported that 169 flights have been canceled at Beijing Capital International Airport, where visibility fell at one point to 300 meters (984 feet). Sections of Beijing’s sixth ring road, the outermost highway encircling the city of more than 20 million people, were shut down in a bid to keep cars off the roads.
Authorities have even removed charcoal grills from restaurants and banned spray painting in parts of the city, state media reported.