News Wrap: Turkish police detain seven over Russian ambassador assassination

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Flag-wrapped coffin of late Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov is carried to a plane during a ceremony at Esenboga airport in Ankara, Turkey, December 20, 2016.  Reuters/Umit Bektas  TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY   - RTX2VV2X

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HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news: Turkish police detained seven people in the assassination of Russia’s ambassador. Andrey Karlov was shot dead yesterday at an art gallery in Ankara. His remains were flown back to Moscow today, after a memorial ceremony.

Turkey’s deputy prime minister insisted the killing won’t damage relations with Russia.

TUGRUL TURKES, Deputy Prime Minister, Turkey (through translator): Those who ordered and carried out this attack didn’t kill Ambassador Andrey Karlov. They created a new place for him in history. Ambassador Andrey Karlov has become an eternal symbol for Turkish-Russian friendship.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The gunman was a police officer. He shouted slogans about Aleppo in Syria and about jihad before being killed by security forces. So far, there’s been no claim of responsibility.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Syria, buses evacuated more people from East Aleppo, as the Syrian army warned that it’s about to enter the last rebel enclave. Estimates of how many people have left the city varied from 19,000 to more than 37,000. But rebels said thousands are still waiting for transport.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Russia, Iran and Turkey announced they’re ready to broker a final Syrian peace, leaving President Bashar al-Assad in power.

SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through translator): Our main priority shouldn’t be the regime change, but defeating terrorist threats. I am sure that we will be able to formulate our common approaches, based on the goals we have declared, to win over terrorism, to restore territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence and unity of the Syrian Arab republic. We are united in that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The talks were held without the U.S. or the U.N. being represented.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Security forces in Congo killed at least three protesters today and arrested dozens more. They were opposing President Joseph Kabila’s decision to stay in office. His term ended overnight, but new elections have been delayed indefinitely.

Police and troops used live fire and tear gas against protesters who took to the streets in the capital city, Kinshasa. U.N. officials in armored carriers tried to keep the peace.

JUDY WOODRUFF: China has returned an American underwater drone that it seized last week in the South China Sea. It was handed back to the U.S. Navy today. The Pentagon called it an illegal seizure in international waters. Beijing blamed U.S. surveillance in waters facing China.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Back in this country, President-elect Trump interviewed more job candidates and took time to confront former President Clinton. A suburban New York City newspaper had quoted Mr. Clinton as saying the incoming president — quote — “doesn’t know much besides how to get angry white men to vote.”

Mr. Trump tweeted back that President Clinton didn’t even know how to turn out voters and — quote — “focused on the wrong states.”

The Senate majority leader has again rejected calls for a select committee to investigate Russian interference in the election. Mitch McConnell says he still believes the standing Intelligence Committee can do the job. Several Republicans and Democrats have called for a special panel to be created.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Volkswagen reached a settlement today with regulators and owners of another 80,000 vehicles in its emissions-cheating scandal. Under the terms, V.W. agrees to buy back some vehicles and fix others. The company previously reached a deal affecting 475,000 other cars, but it could still face criminal charges.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The state of Michigan has filed more criminal charges in the investigation of lead-tainted water in Flint. Two former emergency managers of the city and two other former city workers were charged today with conspiracy and other crimes.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette said the investigation isn’t over, and he vowed to get justice.

BILL SCHUETTE, Attorney General, Michigan: Flint was a casualty of arrogance, disdain and a failure of management, an absence of accountability, shirking responsibility. Flint deserves better. The people of Flint are not expendable. So, to move on is unacceptable.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All told, 13 people have been charged in the ongoing investigation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama today banned future oil and gas drilling in most federal waters of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It’s one of his last major environmental moves. President-elect Trump has called for more offshore drilling, but it’s not clear if he can reverse today’s action without going to court.

HARI SREENIVASAN: On Wall Street, the rally resumed as bank stocks surged. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 91 points to close at 19974. The Nasdaq rose 26 points, and the S&P 500 added eight.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame introduced its latest inductees today. They include the late rapper Tupac Shakur, whose 1996 murder is still unsolved, the Seattle band Pearl Jam, who popularized grunge rock in the ’90s, and Joan Baez, political activist and mainstay of the folk movement. The formal induction is next April.

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