News Wrap: Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke chosen for Interior Department

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U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) arrives for a meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 12, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTX2UQLW

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JUDY WOODRUFF:  Convoys of buses carried some 3,000 people out of eastern Aleppo in Syria today, under a cease-fire arrangement.  Their evacuation to Idlib province effectively marked the end of rebel resistance in that city.

In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry called again for peace talks, as he blasted the Syrian government.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  The Assad regime is actually carrying out nothing short of a massacre.  And we have witnessed indiscriminate slaughter, not accidents of war, not collateral damage, but frankly purposeful.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The White House said President Obama spoke with Turkey’s President Tayyip Recap Erdogan by phone and thanked him for brokering the truce.

And Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad likened the fall of Aleppo to the birth of Christ or the revelation of the Koran.  We’ll get a report from Aleppo later in the program.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  In the day’s other news, President-elect Trump checked another box on his cabinet list.  He chose Congressman Ryan Zinke for interior secretary.  The Montana Republican is a former Navy SEAL who is finishing his first term in the U.S. House.  Zinke has pushed for energy independence and voted to expand oil and gas drilling.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  A jury in Charleston, South Carolina, has convicted Dylann Roof, in the killing of nine black church-goers last year.  The white supremacist was found guilty today of federal hate crimes and other counts.  In closing arguments, the prosecution called Roof a cold, calculated killer, full of hate.  The defense admitted his guilt, but focused on trying to prevent a death sentence.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Bitterly cold air swept down from Canada and engulfed the Upper Midwest today, spreading to the East Coast.  Temperatures were frigid and fell below zero in parts of North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where wind chills made it even colder — 15 to 30 degrees below zero.  The Arctic blast also brought snow from the Great Lakes to the Northeast, and caused a pileup of about 60 cars in Western Pennsylvania.

JUSTIN ROSS, Driver:  Traffic was stopped.  I tried to stop.  I got pushed over into another lane, and I stopped and other cars started coming along, truck passed over.  He was going about 60, got into the ditch and it just started piling up after that.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Overnight, light snow from another storm system caused commuter havoc in Portland, Oregon, with multiple crashes and traffic backed up for miles.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The 320,000 residents of Corpus Christi, Texas, are being urged not to drink their tap water until further notice.  City officials say it might be contaminated with chemicals from an industrial leak yesterday.  The warning has caused a run on bottled water, with long lines at grocery stores across the city.  Schools are also closed, and it’s not clear when the drinking supply will be safe again.

HARI SREENIVASAN: An ex-police officer in Milwaukee has been charged with reckless homicide in a fatal shooting that sparked riots.  A criminal complaint released today says the victim was armed, but threw away his gun moments before he was killed.  The officer was fired later, over a separate incident.

And in Pasco, Washington, a coroner’s jury cleared three state police officers.  They shot and killed an unarmed Mexican farm worker after he threw rocks at them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The United States today renewed sanctions against Iran for another 10 years.  The extension became law automatically when President Obama declined to sign or veto the bill.  The White House says the president will waive most of the sanctions, but it’s warning Congress against doing anything else to undo the nuclear deal with Iran.

JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:  The president did not veto this bill because it does not undermine the deal.  But there’s been plenty of rhetoric and plenty of legislative work done on legislation that would blow up the deal.  And this is a message that if the United States Congress blows up the deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, they will have to deal with the grave consequences that ensue.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Iran says the sanctions renewal does violate the nuclear deal, and it vows to respond.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Investigators in Egypt say they’ve found traces of explosives on victims of an Egypt Air crash in May.  All 66 people on board died when the flight plunged into the Mediterranean Sea.  Search crews were able to recover a variety of wreckage from the sea floor.  The plane had been on a flight from Paris to Cairo.  There has been no claim of responsibility for downing the airliner.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Back in this country, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced he’s running for chair of the Democratic National Committee.  He’ll take on Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota.  The state party heads in South Carolina and New Hampshire, Jaime Harrison and Ray Buckley, are also running.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  As of today, recreational use of marijuana is officially legal in Massachusetts.  It’s the first state on the Eastern Seaboard to take that step, and one of eight states nationwide.  The ballot measure, passed last month, allows adults to grow and use limited amounts of marijuana at their homes.  It will be another year before retail pot shops are allowed to open.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And, Wall Street rebounded some from yesterday’s losses.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained 59 points to close at 19,852, the NASDAQ rose 20 points, and the S&P 500 added eight.

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