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7 things to know now: What killed Debbie Reynolds; National Championship; manhunt continues

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Clemson turns Tide: Clemson beat Alabama Monday on a last-second touchdown in a thrilling ending to the college football season. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson threw a 2-yard touchdown pass with only seconds left to go ahead of Alabama 35-31. “I couldn't hear the crowd," Watson said of the game’s last play. "I just felt at peace." The game was a rematch of last year’s championship game in which Alabama beat Clemson 45-40.

2. Kushner to take WH post: President-elect Donald Trump has asked his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to join him in the White House when he takes office next week. Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump, will be a senior adviser, transition officials said Monday. According to The Associated Press, since the election Kushner has been one of the transition team’s main liaisons to foreign governments, communicating with Israeli officials and meeting last week with Britain’s foreign minister. 

3. Assange on hacks: Julian Assange says the U.S. intelligence community has it wrong, and that the source of emails leaked to WikiLeaks was not a member of “any government” or “state parties.” Assange, the founder of the website, said the emails hacked from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and those taken from the Democratic National Committee did not “come from the Russian government.” Assange, speaking during a Periscope Q&A session, questioned the recently released U.S. intelligence report, claiming, “It was not an intelligence report. It does not have the structure of an intelligence report. It does not have the structure of a presidential daily brief. It was frankly quite embarrassing.”

4. Warning shots fired: A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz fired several warning shots at four Iranian vessels after they closed in on the ship at a high rate of speed. The boats came within 890 yards of the USS Mahan, according to Navy officials. Officers on the Mahan said they tried to warn the Iranian vessels off, but they did not stop their advance. After shots were fired, the boats stopped, Navy officials said.

5. Manhunt continues: Law enforcement authorities are asking the public to be on the lookout for Markeith Loyd, the man suspected of shooting and killing an Orlando police sergeant. Debra Clayton was killed after she approached Loyd to question him in the Dec. 13 death of his pregnant girlfriend. As the manhunt for Loyd began Monday, a second officer, Deputy Norman Lewis, 35, was killed when a van hit his motorcycle 2-1/2 hours after the shooting.

And one more 

TMZ is reporting that actress Debbie Reynolds died from a cerebral hemorrhage. The website reported that Reynolds’ death certificated showed that the 84-year-old suffered a stroke that led to her death, 24 hours after her daughter, actress and writer Carrie Fisher died after suffering a massive heart attack. Fisher was 60 years old. The two were buried last Friday.

In case you missed it

Said every mom, everywhere.

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SEE IT: Prince William, Duchess Kate's holiday thank-you card makes rounds on social media

The holiday season has come and gone, but fans of the British royal family are getting another festive treat as Prince William and Duchess Kate's holiday thank-you card makes the rounds online.

>> Read more trending stories

Last week, a few lucky social media users revealed that they had received an adorable photo of the royal family as a thank-you for Christmas greetings. The charming photo features an awestruck Prince George and Princess Charlotte in their parents’ arms. It was taken in September during the family’s outing in Canada, at a children’s party held at Government House in Victoria, British Columbia.Take a peek below:

The Cambridges have mailed their thank-you card for the #Christmas greetings they received from fans! #KateMiddleton— HRH Kate Middleton (@HRHKateBlog) January 5, 2017

A lovely royal surprise arrived today! This photo taken by Arthur Edwards in Victoria, BC was used as The #Cambridges' Christmas / thank you card. Absolutely adore George & Charlotte! #royalmail #postcard #PrinceWilliam #DukeofCambridge #DuchessofCambridge #Kate #PrinceGeorge #PrincessCharlotte #KensingtonPalace #igerslondon #twitter A photo posted by V (@ladyandtherose) on Jan 5, 2017 at 3:11pm PST <script async defer src="//"></script>

How does the Senate confirmation process work? A list of hearing days, times

As the Senate prepares to hold committee hearings on President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, Democrats and the top government ethics officer are suggesting that Republicans slow the process down since not all those nominated have completed the necessary ethics review process.

"The announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me," Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub said in a letter to top senators.

The letter was released to the public by Sen.Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.).

"This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE's staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews," the letter said.

Shaub said he could not recall a time when the Senate held a confirmation hearing without the process being completed.

While there have been only a few nominees who were not confirmed for their positions, the process is designed to be rigorous, and can be contentious. Here’s a look at how it works.

Why does the Senate have to OK a president’s cabinet?

In addition to other statutes and executive orders, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says the president "shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for. ..."

How does the process work?                                               

While the Trump transition team has announced nominees for some positions in the cabinet, those chosen are not officially nominated until Trump takes office on Jan. 20. The announcements are made ahead of the inauguration so candidates can be vetted and the hearing process can begin.

It starts when a presidential transition team nominates a candidate to fill a cabinet position. It is customary for that person to have been vetted, or investigated, by the transition team. It saves embarrassment down the line in the process.

Next, after the Senate is supplied with the nominee’s name, the hearing process begins, usually in the week or two before the inauguration. This year, the hearings begin Tuesday.

The nominations are sent to their relevant committees -- for instance, the Armed Services Committee would hold hearings on the secretary of defense nominee -- for a hearing to be scheduled.

After the hearings, in which senators question the nominee on virtually anything they wish, one of two things will happen: The nomination will be sent to the floor for a full Senate vote with a favorable recommendation, an unfavorable recommendation or no recommendation at all; or the nomination will not be sent to the Senate floor.

If the nomination is not sent to the floor of the Senate, it doesn’t mean that the nomination is dead. Senators can invoke cloture to move the nomination to the floor for a vote. Cloture is the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to set an end to a debate. Cloture sets a time limit on debate over a nominee. The time limit is 30 hours.

Cloture keeps opponents of the nominee from endlessly debating the qualifications of a candidate, keeping a nomination from reaching the Senate floor for a vote and keeping the position for which the person nominated open.

But a rule that grew out of a Democratic-led measure in 2013 led to what is now called the “nuclear option,” which means that with 51 votes, instead of 60 votes, filibusters against nominees are basically prohibited, except for Supreme Court nominees. So while a vote can be delayed, it cannot be killed and will eventually come to the floor.

After cloture is called, the Senate must wait until the second calendar day after to hold a vote to end debate. The debate can be ended on a simple majority vote with 51 votes. Before 2013, it took 60 votes, but a Democratic-led Senate voted that year to change the rules of the Senate and require only 51 votes to end debate and vote.

Once a nomination moves to the Senate floor for a vote, it takes a simple majority there as well to confirm the nomination. There are currently 52 Republican senators and 48 Democratic senators.

When are they confirmed?

While the hearings will begin Tuesday, no nominee is confirmed before Trump takes office on Jan. 20. Hearings begin before presidents take office to minimize the time between the inauguration and when the new administration as a whole can get to work.

I’m hearing that not all the nominees have been vetted yet. What does that mean?

The practice of vetting – or confirming the information provided by the nominee – generally happens before the person’s name is made public as the president’s choice for a position. Usually, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducts a background investigation, in addition to having his or her financial information certified by ethics officers.

Nominees fill out questionnaires, such as the White House’s “Personal Data Statement Questionnaire,” and the Office of Government Ethics' Standard Form 278. They answer about 230 questions about their mental health, their in-laws, any drug convictions, whether they hired maids or gardeners and their personal alcohol use. The questions are designed to head off any embarrassing information coming out at Senate hearings.

What happens if a nominee isn’t approved?

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the process begins again. Trump must nominate someone else.

How many potential cabinet members must be confirmed by the Senate?

All cabinet-level officials must have Senate approval, along with more than 1,000 other senior positions and agency heads.

Chief of staff and other advisory positions in the White House, such as national security adviser, do not require Senate approval.

Here’s a list of the Senate committee hearings scheduled so far:

• Attorney general: Jeff Sessions, 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

• CIA director: Mike Pompeo, 10 a.m. Wednesday

• Director of homeland security: John Kelly, 2 p.m. Wednesday

• Education: Betsy DeVos, 10 a.m. Wednesday

• Labor: Andy Puzder, Jan. 17 (tentative)

• Secretary of state: Rex Tillerson, Wednesday and Thursday (tentative)

• Transportation: Elaine Chao, 10:15 a.m. Wednesday

 • UN ambassador: Nikki Haley, Jan. 18 (tentative)

 • Housing: Ben Carson, 10 a.m. Thursday

Snake on a plane delays flight

A flight between Oman and United Arab Emirates had to be grounded after baggage handlers found a stowaway in the plane's cargo hold.

Flight EK0863 had to be delayed when they found a snake in the cargo hold, the BBC reported.

The airline told Dubai media that it was found before passengers got on their flight and that the plane was searched before it took off a few hours delayed.

Air Emirates didn't specify what type of snake was on board, or whether it was dangerous.

This isn't the first time a snake has decided to hitch a ride on a flight.

A snake dropped from an overhead bin on a flight en route to Mexico City in November.

La vibora voladora...ja ja ja. Una experiencia unica en el Vuelo Torreon-Mexico, vuelo 231 de Aeromexico. Eso si...Prioridad en aterrizaje.— Indalecio Medina (@Inda_medina) November 6, 2016

A passenger used a blanket and magazines to capture the snake before the Aeromexico flight landed in Mexico City.

In 2013, a scrub python was seen on the wing of a plane between Cairns, Australia and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, the BBC reported.

It was on the wing, trapped by the wind, for the nearly two-hour flight, but once the plane landed, crews found that the snake had died.

And in 2012, a snake was found under the seats between Cancun, Mexico and Cardonald, Glasgow. Crews were prepared to deal with the American smooth-scaled racer, saying they have found scorpions, spiders, turtles and giant snails on international flights, the BBC reported.

7 things to know now: Airport shooter in court; Meryl Streep's speech; national championship game

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Santiago in court: The brother of the man authorities say shot and killed five at a Florida airport last week wants to know why his brother had is gun returned to him after he told doctors he was hearing voices in his head. Esteban Santiago told his brother, Bryan Santiago, that he felt the CIA had taken control of his thoughts upon his return from service in Iraq. Santiago told the FBI in November about his thoughts and fears. The agency evaluated Santiago for four days then released him. Santiago faces his first court appearance Monday.

2. Arrest in Paris: Police in Paris say they have arrested 16 people in connection with the robbery of Kim Kardashian. Kardashian was held at gunpoint, tied up and left in the bathroom of her rented apartment in Paris in October as thieves stole some $12 million in jewels. French media outlets say traces of DNA led police to the suspects.

3. Meryl Streep speech: Actress Meryl Streep lit into Donald Trump Sunday night as she was honored at the Golden Globes Awards. Streep, who never mentioned the president-elect by name, defended her craft and said of Trump’s mockery of a disabled reporter during the presidential campaign, "It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can't get it out of my head, because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life." “La La Land” and “Moonlight” won for best comedy/musical and best drama.

4. National Championship game: Alabama and Clemson will play Monday night for the College Football Playoff National Championship. The two teams will meet in Tampa. The games begins at 8 p.m. ET. As of Monday morning, Alabama is favored by 6 points. The same teams met last year in the championship game. Alabama won that one, 45-40.

5. North Korea threat: North Korea threatened Sunday that it could launch an intercontinental ballistic missile "at any time," and that “the U.S. is wholly to blame" for the development of its missile program.” Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned that the United States would shoot down any missile fired in an attack. Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country was near testing ICBMs in his New Year’s address. An ICBM could deliver a missile to the U.S. mainland.

And one more

McDonald’s has announced it is selling its restaurants in China. The deal would allow McDonald’s in China to better serve customers there because the company taking over the chain restaurants have a better understanding of the Chinese market, McDonald's representatives said. The deals is said to be worth as much as $2.1 billion.

In case you missed it

No grass growing under his feet.

Man finds front door blocked by hastily built wall; police search for suspect

A German man hit a brick wall last week after he returned home from working a night shift to find the newly erected barrier blocking his front door, authorities told local media.

>> Read more trending stories

Police in the community of Mainhausen, about 20 miles southeast of Frankfurt, said the man returned home from work early on Jan. 3 to find the "mini-wall," reported. The wall, made of bulky white stones and glops of mortar, dried before the man discovered it.

"It reminded me of the building of the Berlin Wall," police officer Ingbert Zacharias told "That went up pretty quickly, too."

The man, who was not identified, managed to find an ax and break through the stones.

Police believe multiple people might have built the wall, although they did not identify any suspects.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the unexpected construction project, which caused an estimated €500 ($526) of damage to the door, door frame and doorbell, reported.

"Trick or jerk, we do not know," Zacharias told the news site. "This is a crime and not a joke."

What time will Congress meet to count Electoral College votes; what is the process?

Today in a joint session of Congress, the Electoral College votes will be counted and the next president, presumably  Donald Trump, will be officially elected.

While in most years this is more of formality, this year things could be a bit different. According to some reports, a challenge could be in the offing. Ten U.S. House members intend to contest the results of the Dec.19 Electoral College voting.

If you want to follow along with today’s events, we will be offering live updates of all of the proceedings.  

Here is today’s schedule.

What time do they meet?

The joint session of Congress will convene at 1 p.m. ET.

Is it on TV?

CSPAN will be airing the proceedings.

What will happen today?

Once they session convenes, here’s what they will do:

• In alphabetical order, each state’s electoral votes will be counted.

• Two “tellers” from the House and two from the Senate will announce the results.

• At this point, if anyone disputes the count for a specific state, a debate can be called for. However, if there is an objection to the vote, that objection is registered and then must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one of the Senate

• If there is such a dispute, the House and Senate will retire to meet separately to debate. They are allotted two hours to discuss the disputed vote.

• A vote will be taken in the House and the Senate on the disputed vote – whether to accept the vote count or not.

• The joint session then would reconvene, and the process would continue. In the end, the vice president will announce the winner from the chamber.

• In the unlikely event that so many votes are contested that the House and Senate cannot settle the dispute and accept at least 270 votes for Trump, the House would then choose the next president in what is known as a “contingent” election. It’s unlikely, but not  unprecedented. It’s happened twice in U.S. history – in 1801 and in 1825

• If it should come to that, the House will select from the top three candidates who received Electoral College votes – Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell. Each state would get one vote in the process.

Exactly which votes are they counting?

Today's procedure is the final step in electing a president for the United States. The Electoral College met in each state on Dec. 19, and, despite talk of “faithless electors” (electors elected to vote for one candidate, but instead voting for another), Donald Trump received 304 votes, Hillary Clinton received 227 votes and Colin Powell received three votes.

Two Trump electors from Texas were “faithless,” one voting for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the other voting for former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Four Clinton electors failed to vote for her. Three voted for Powell and one voted for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//;border=false"></script> [View the story "Live updates: Electoral College vote count " on Storify]

Man shames women shopping in pajamas, asks grocery chain for ban

Hitting up the grocery store or Walmart while still sporting pajamas apparently isn't only a problem on this side of the pond.

It has apparently gotten some shoppers riled up in the UK when they see shoppers wearing their slippers and bathrobes while perusing the aisles.

>> Read more trending stories  

It all started after a man posted a photo to the Tesco grocery store's Facebook page that showed two women wrapped in their robes and pajamas shopping in the Salford, United Kingdom store. In the post, which has since been taken down, Chris Cooke said that he has seen people dressed in a similar fashion regularly in the store, the BBC reported.

ICYMI: This is what kicked off the whole 'pyjama' debate— Manchester News MEN (@MENnewsdesk) January 5, 2017

Cooke asked that the store would make it a rule that people dressed for bed not be "served in your stores," adding that it was "disgusting" and asking, "Who doesn't have time to get changed into clothes to go shopping?"

The post received support from other consumers of the Manchester Evening News, who say it is a disgrace or a sign of laziness to go to the store in the pajamas. Others, though, wondered why people get so upset about the loungewear being worn in public, some pointing out at least they're clothed.

The company told the BBC that they leave it up to the individual store managers to make a decision on what clothing is appropriate for its customers.

Tesco posted, "Many of our customers have told us they feel uncomfortable when they see other shoppers wearing unsuitable clothing in our stores and we do try to find a balance that everyone is happy with," the BBC reported.

In 2010, one Tesco store did ask its customers not to come in wearing PJs or barefoot, posting a sign that said "Footwear must be worn at all times and no nightwear is permitted."

7 things to know now: Electoral College vote count; intelligence report; Greta to MSNBC

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. U.S. knows source: An official who claims to be familiar with a classified intelligence report says the United States knows who provided WikiLeaks with the emails hacked from the accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. According to the source, U.S. intelligence agencies have identified the go-between the Russians used to get the information to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied the information came from Russia.

2. Intelligence report: On Friday, president-elect Donald Trump will hear the intelligence report that officials say points clearly to Russia’s involvement in the hacking of emails from the DNC and John Podesta. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey will be briefing Trump on the motives for Moscow's alleged involvement in the hacking. The report they will be giving Trump is the one delivered to President Obama on Thursday.

3. Oh, grow up: Vice president Joe Biden has a bit of advice for Donald Trump. Biden, speaking on “PBS NewsHour” suggested the incoming president should “grow up.” "You're president. You've got to do something. Show us what you have,” Biden said in the interview. Biden also said there was no problems with the transition between President Barack Obama’s administration and the incoming Trump administration, despite Trump’s tweets on the matter.

4. Van Susteren to MSNBC: Greta Van Susteren is returning to television, but not at the Fox network. Van Susteren will be anchoring a show on rival MSNBC at 6 p.m. ET nightly. Her gig at MSNBC begins on Monday. In addition to working for Fox, Van Susteren has also worked for CNN.

5. Sears, Kmart closings: Sears Holding, the parent company of Sears and Kmart department stores, announced Thursday that it will be closing 150 stores in 40 states. Most of the stores set to close (108) will be Kmarts, the rest Sears. According to reports, holiday sales were down 12 percent for the company. In addition to the store closings, Sears also sold its iconic Craftsman tool business for $900 million.  

And one more

Despite what you may think, today is really the day Donald Trump’s election as president becomes official. The Congress will meet in a joint session Friday to officially count and accept the vote of the Electoral College. They will, that is, if everything goes off without a hitch. According to some reports, there are 10 House members who plan to contest Trump’s win. So far, no senators have said they will join in a protest of the results. The result of the count will be announced by Vice President Joe Biden. The joint session begins at 1 p.m. ET.

In case you missed it

As if  you are not cold enough today...

France, 51 countries ban spanking children

France is joining the ranks of 51 other countries in an effort to stop corporal punishment of children.

That means spanking or smacking is not allowed in France, Israel, Brazil and dozens of other countries, The UN Tribune reported

Sweden started the push to ban physical punishment of children more than 35 years ago in 1979.

>> Read more trending stories  

Most recently, Mongolia, Paraguay and Slovenia enacted the ban last year before France.

According to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, corporal punishment was defined by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child as "any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light."

The committee stated that most of the time it means hitting with either a hand or an object like a stick, belt, or wooden spoon.

But it is not only hitting with a hand or an object, but also can involve boxing ears, pinching, or washing a child's mouth out with soap.

The move is more or less symbolic in France since there is no criminal penalty if someone smacks or paddles their child.

Corporal punishment has been outlawed in schools, but legally permitted within the confines of the family.

The Telegraph reported that France's move to ban spanking or other physical punishment will put pressure on other European countries like Britain, Italy and Switzerland that still allow the practice.

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