JUDY WOODRUFF: The Trump transition is accelerating this evening. The president-elect announced his choices for three top positions today.
They are Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama for attorney general, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn for national security adviser, and U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, Republican of Kansas, for director of the CIA. We’ll take a closer look at all three men after the news summary.
Separately, the president-elect has reached an agreement to resolve three lawsuits over his Trump University. New York state’s attorney general announced the $25 million settlement today. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have squared off with students who say the for-profit school failed to deliver the real estate investing education that it promised.
The U.S. Justice Department has begun looking into charges of harassment and intimidation since the election and whether they constitute federal hate crimes. There’ve been incidents targeting Muslims and blacks, including in schools and churches.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke about the situation in a video statement today.
LORETTA LYNCH, Attorney General: We need you to continue to report these incidents to local law enforcement, as well as the Justice Department, so that our career investigators and prosecutors can take action to defend your rights. We will continue to enforce our nation’s hate crimes laws to the fullest extent possible. We will continue to uphold our conviction that all men and women deserve to lead lives of safety and dignity.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Lynch pointed to a new FBI report showing a 67 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015. She called it deeply sobering.
There’s been a surge of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean this week. The U.N.’s International Organization for Migration said today that 365 people have been lost trying to make the crossing from Libya to Italy. Hundreds of others have been rescued, after at least six incidents, mostly involving flimsy rubber rafts. U.N. officials call it a calamity in plain sight. For the year, more than 4,600 have died, up sharply from last year.
The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus is no longer an international emergency. But it said it was still working on containing the virus, calling it a long-term problem. The CDC urged pregnant women to continue to avoid traveling to areas with local Zika transmission.
The legendary Texas heart surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley has died. Cooley performed the first successful human heart transplant in the United States in 1968. And he implanted the world’s first artificial heart a year later. In all, Cooley performed some 65,000 open-heart surgeries over four decades. Denton Cooley was 96 years old.
In economic news: Volkswagen announced plans to cut 30,000 jobs worldwide, as it tries to recover from an emissions cheating scandal; 23,000 of the jobs will be in Germany. Volkswagen says it expects to save more than $4 billion in the restructuring. The company also said it’s adding 9,000 jobs to work on electric-powered cars.
Stocks closed lower on Wall Street today, led by losses in the health care sector. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 36 points to close under 18868. The Nasdaq fell 12, and the S&P 500 slipped five. For the week, the Dow gained a faction of a percent, and both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 rose around 1 percent.