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News Wrap: Trump picks Gov. Nikki Haley for U.N. ambassador

November 23, 2016 at 6:50 PM EST
In our news wrap Wednesday, Donald Trump announced that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is his pick for ambassador to the U.N. During the campaign, Haley was a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, backing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio instead. Also, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote passed 2 million, despite Donald Trump winning the Electoral College.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: On this day before Thanksgiving, new Cabinet nominees from president-elect Trump that send a message of diversity. He announced his choices today for United Nations ambassador and secretary of education.

John Yang begins our coverage.

JOHN YANG: During the primaries, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was a frequent critic of candidate Trump, instead backing Marco Rubio. Her State of the Union response was seen as an indictment of Mr. Trump.

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R-S.C.): During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.

JOHN YANG: But that was then. Now president-elect Trump has picked her to be his ambassador to the United Nations, a Cabinet-level post.

The daughter of Indian immigrants is in her second term as governor, the first female and first minority to hold the office. She drew praise last year for her response after an avowed white supremacist killed nine parishioners in a black Charleston church, and for leading the drive to remove the Confederate Flag from the statehouse, where it had flown for a half-century.

Haley’s exposure to world affairs is limited, but she’s attracted foreign companies like Volvo to South Carolina. Announcing the pick, the president-elect called her “a proven deal-maker. We look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

That’s a far cry from last March, when candidate Trump tweeted: “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley.”

Today, Haley said in a statement: “When the president believes you have a major contribution to make, that is a calling that is important to heed.”

Mr. Trump today also tapped Michigan philanthropist Betsy DeVos to be his nominee for education secretary. She’s never worked in public education. A big Republican donor and one-time chairman of the Michigan party, she is a champion for charter schools and school vouchers. She and her husband formed a PAC to support pro-voucher candidates nationwide.

DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: Let us give thanks for all that we have.

JOHN YANG: Late today, the president-elect released a Thanksgiving message appealing for unity after a divisive campaign.

DONALD TRUMP: This historic political campaign is now over. But now begins a great national campaign to rebuild our country and to restore the full promise of America for all of our people.

JOHN YANG: Mr. Trump and his family are spending the holiday at his Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There were conflicting reports today about whether Dr. Ben Carson had agreed to become secretary of housing and urban development, but a Carson spokesman said late this afternoon: “Nothing has been offered, and no decision has been made.”

In the day’s other news: Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote in this year’s election has passed the two million mark. As of today, Clinton has 64.2 million votes in the nationwide tally. President-elect Trump trails with 62.2 million, despite winning the Electoral College. The updated totals are due largely to absentee and provisional ballots that are still being counted in California.

That ongoing count in California has approved a ballot measure speeding up death penalty appeals. State officials declared Tuesday that Proposition 66 won 51 percent of the vote. It’s meant to cut down on the number of years that death row inmates wait and ensure that they are actually executed.

France accused Syria and Russia today of exploiting the U.S. political transition on launching all-out attacks on Syrian rebels. French officials pointed to heavy bombing of Eastern Aleppo, with thousands there and elsewhere cut off from food and medicine, and the French foreign minister called for an emergency meeting.

JEAN-MARC AYRAULT, Foreign Minister, France (through translator): France is taking an initiative to confront the strategy of total war by the regime and its allies who are taking advantage of the uncertainty in the United States to gather very quickly the group of friends of Syria in the next few days in Paris.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.N. special envoy for Syria joined in the concern. Staffan de Mistura warned that Syria’s military could launch a new offensive in Aleppo before president-elect Trump takes office.

New clashes between Indian and Pakistani forces erupted today in disputed Kashmir. Tensions have been rising in the region since militants killed 17 soldiers at an Indian army base there in September. Today, Indian units opened fire along the dividing line, hitting a passenger bus and killing 10 civilians. The Pakistanis said they fired back and killed seven Indian soldiers.

In Britain, a jury convicted a white supremacist of murdering Labor Party lawmaker Jo Cox. She was shot and stabbed to death a week before Britain voted to leave the European Union in June. Prosecutors said Thomas Mair’s home was full of Nazi literature.

Back in this country, the long Thanksgiving travel weekend has begun, and it’s expected to be the busiest in nearly a decade. Airports, railways and roads filled today. AAA predicted nearly 49 million people will venture at least 50 miles from homes, due in part to record-low gas prices. But police urged patience.

LANCE CPL. DAVID JONES, South Carolina Highway Patrol: There’s just so many motorists that are going to be traveling. And oftentimes we see where operators get nervous or they get upset, or road rage kicks in because they’re not getting to their destination quick enough. Don’t be that driver.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Heavy rain and snow caused delays in some places today, but for the most part, the weather wasn’t an issue.

The rate of abortions in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest point in decades. The Centers for Disease Control reports the rate in 2013 was down 50 percent from 1980. The CDC cites the sharp decline in teen pregnancies and expanded contraception coverage as likely factors.

There’s word that social media giant Facebook has built software to censor material seen by users in China. The New York Times reports that it’s part of an effort to gain reentry to the country after a seven-year ban. A Facebook spokesman told The Times that there have no specific decisions, but she said — quote — “We have long said that we are interested in China.”

On Wall Street, two new records on a day of light trading. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 59 points to close at 19083, a new high. The Nasdaq fell five points, and the S&P 500 rose a point, also reaching a new record.

And archaeologists think they have solved a longtime mystery, the exact spot in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims first lived after they arrived from England in 1620. Scientists from the University of Massachusetts-Boston found calf’s bones, musket balls and ceramics at a spot known as Burial Hill. The artifacts were discovered during a dig this past summer.

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