In our news wrap Wednesday, data from NASA, NOAA and others show that 2016 was the hottest year since records have been kept, making it the third record-breaking year in a row. Also, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, nominee to be the next U.N. ambassador, said in her confirmation hearing that Russia committed war crimes in Syria and cannot be trusted.
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This was a day for Team Trump also to talk health and environment at two Senate hearings.
The health secretary-designate, Tom Price, defended his investments in medical stocks and played down talk of overhauling Medicare. And Scott Pruitt, nominated to run to run the Environmental Protection Agency, said that he doesn't believe climate change is a hoax, as the president-elect has suggested.
We will have full reports on all that after the news summary.
Regarding climate change, there is news that global temperatures hit a record high in 2016, for the third straight year. The data is from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British. They say the average last year was more than 1.5 degrees higher than in the mid-20th century. They say it was caused by man-made greenhouse gases and an El Nino event.
The nominee to be U.N. ambassador says Russia committed war crimes in Syria and cannot be trusted. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley offered a harsher assessment today than Mr. Trump has at her own Senate hearing.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY, R-S.C.:
Russia is trying to show their muscle right now. It is what they do. And I think we always have to be cautious. I don't think that we can trust them. I think that we have to make sure that we try and see what we can get from them before we give to them.
Haley also blasted a U.N. resolution last month that condemned Israeli settlements, and she voiced support for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the nominee to run the Commerce Department, Wilbur Ross, put China on notice today. The billionaire investor told his confirmation hearing that the Chinese are — quote — "the most protectionist country among the major economies."
WILBUR ROSS, Commerce Secretary Nominee:
They have both very high tariff barriers and very high non-tariff trade barriers to commerce. So, they talk much more about free trade than they actually practice. We would like to levelize that playing field and bring the realities a bit closer to the rhetoric.
Ross also said the Trump administration will focus on renegotiating the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement very early on.
Separately, the Senate Armed Services Committee easily approved the nomination of James Mattis for defense secretary. It goes now to the full Senate.
In West Africa, a suicide attacker drove a car bomb into a camp in Northern Mali, killing at least 60 people and wounding 115. The attack struck a base in the city of Gao, where soldiers and former rebels are trying to enforce a 2015 peace treaty. Later, an Islamist group linked to al-Qaida claimed responsibility.
In Nigeria, the International Red Cross now says that at least 70 refugees and aid workers died Tuesday when the Nigerian air force accidentally bombed a U.N. camp. Military officials say they meant to hit the militant Boko Haram group. At least 46 severely wounded people remained at the camp today, near the border with Cameroon. U.N. officials have called for a full investigation.
Iraqi government troops announced today that they have taken full control of eastern half of the city of Mosul. The military said it drove Islamic State militants out of the last neighborhoods after a three-month operation. Today, people cheered and took pictures with soldiers.
And commanders talked of the coming operation to liberate western Mosul.
LT. GEN. TALIB SHAGHATI, Iraq (through interpreter):
In the last few days, our forces' movements became quicker and the clearing of districts became faster. The reason is that, when they were defeated, they retreated. I think the western side will be easier to liberate from the eastern side.
Despite the military's announcement, there were reports of continued fighting in Mosul's eastern half.
Back in this country, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether barring racially offensive trademarks violates free speech. The justices heard arguments today over a 70-year-old law. It is being challenged by an Asian-American band named The Slants. The ultimate decision could also affect the National Football League's Washington Redskins.
The U.S. Secret Service has agreed to pay $24 million to settle a long-running racial discrimination lawsuit. More than 100 African-American agents are part of a suit filed back in 2000. They say the agency group routinely promoted whites over qualified blacks. Under the settlement, the Secret Service doesn't admit any wrongdoing.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points to close at 19804. The Nasdaq rose nearly 17 points, and the S&P 500 added four.
And former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, are both hospitalized in Houston this evening. Mr. Bush was admitted Saturday with pneumonia, and he moved into the intensive care unit today. A spokesman says he's stable. Mrs. Bush entered the same hospital today, as a precaution, they said, for fatigue and coughing.