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In our news wrap Wednesday, President-elect Trump condemned the truck attack in Berlin. He spoke at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, after meeting with Gen. Michael Flynn, his pick for national security adviser. Also, the death toll from Tuesday’s firework explosion near Mexico City rose to 32. It took place in a giant fireworks market, traditional in Mexico during the Christmas season.
President-elect Donald Trump today issued a fresh condemnation of the attack in Berlin. He spoke at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, after meeting with Michael Flynn, his pick for national security adviser. He said the attack underscores the danger of Islamist threats.
DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: I've been proven to be right, 100 percent correct. What's happening is disgraceful. That's an attack on humanity. That's what it is. It's an attack on humanity and it's got to be stopped. OK? Thank you.
That was broader wording than Mr. Trump used right after the Berlin attack Monday. In an emailed statement, he blamed militants who, quote, "continually slaughter Christians in their communities."
The death toll rose to 32 today in a fireworks disaster near Mexico City. It happened Tuesday evening in Tultepec, where a giant fireworks market is a Christmas tradition. A chain-reaction explosion tore through the open-air bazaar, leaving charred debris, ash and the bodies of the dead. Scores more people were badly burned. Survivors described a harrowing scene:
WITNESS (through translator):
I live next to this market. The explosion's shockwave broke the glasses of many windows, and jolted the houses. It was really horrific. Many people ran out of the market, they were shocked and didn't know where to go. My goodness, it was such a chaos, and so terrible. It's hard to accept that so many people lost their lives in the explosion.
This was the third such explosion to ravage the popular fireworks market since 2005.
Reports out of Congo today told of security forces killing as many as 26 protesters. Human Rights Watch gave that number. The U.N. said at least 19 were killed on Tuesday. Hundreds more were arrested. They had been demonstrating against President Joseph Kabila staying in office, after his term expired.
In Syria, final evacuations began today in eastern Aleppo. Dozens of buses were on hand to ferry some 3,000 remaining civilians and rebel fighters. They left in heavy snow, as night fell.
Meanwhile, A 7-year-old Syrian girl who left Aleppo this week met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. She had drawn global attention for tweets in her name, written by her mother.
BANA ALABED, 7-year-old Aleppo Evacuee (through translator): We had a lot of problems. Our house was demolished, bombed. Our school was bombed as well. There was no food, no water, no medication. The bombings continued everyday. We were even afraid of going out on the street. And we couldn't do anything.
The U.N. Security Council had voted earlier this week to send monitors into Aleppo, but it was unclear today whether any have actually entered the city yet.
Back in this country, there's word that the number of death sentences handed down this year is the lowest since the early 1970s. The numbers come from the Death Penalty Information Center, a group opposed to capital punishment. It says 30 people were sentenced to die in the U.S. in 2016, down sharply from last year. The number peaked at 315 back in 1996, but public support for executions has been falling ever since.
On the presidential transition, the Trump team announced today that billionaire investor Carl Icahn will be an informal, special advisor on regulatory reform. And economist Peter Navarro will lead a new White House National Trade Council. Mr. Trump also met with the heads of Boeing and Lockheed Martin on the cost of a new Air Force One and the F-35 Fighter. He said he wants to save, quote, "a tremendous amount of money."
And, on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 32 points to close below 19,942. The NASDAQ fell 12 points, and the S&P 500 slipped five.
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