10 things you need to know today: December 28, 2019

Tim O'Donnell

1.

A truck filled with explosives blew up in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Saturday reportedly killing at least 90 people and wounding dozens more in the Somali capital. An international organization, which did not wish to be named, reported the death toll was more than 90. The blast was the latest deadly event in the country this year, and while the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al-Shabaab regularly carries out attacks, no terrorist organization immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing. Somali Prime Minister Hassan Khayre said he appointed a national committee to respond to the victims and assist in the evacuation of those seeking medical care abroad. [Reuters, The New York Times]

2.

Navy SEALs questioned earlier this year during the trial of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher for war crimes characterized their platoon leader as "freaking evil," "toxic," and "perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving." The video testimonies, obtained by The New York Times, were clearly difficult for the SEALs, who sometimes broke down in tears while speaking and have an unspoken rule against reporting their own. The platoon's medic told investigators he thought Gallagher "just wants to kill anybody he can." Gallagher was ultimately convicted of a single charge related to posing for pictures with a militant's corpse, and President Trump restored his rank last month. [ The New York Times]

3.

Rescue crews Friday recovered the remains of six people killed in a tour helicopter crash in a remote area of a state park on the Hawaiian island of Kauai on Thursday while the search continued for the seventh victim who was on board. There were no signs of any survivors, said Solomon Kanoho, battalion chief of the Kauai Fire Department. The victims' families are reportedly still being notified. The cause of the crash has not yet been determined, but it is the third tour helicopter crash in the state this year, prompting Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) to call for increased regulation in Hawaii's small-aircraft industry, which he said is currently "not safe." [CNN, NBC News]

4.

Russia's defense ministry informed Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that the country's new hypersonic missile system known as Avangard has been deployed. Hypersonic is generally defined as a speed surpassing 3,086 MPH. The missiles reportedly fly into space after launch but then come back down and fly at high speeds on a flight path similar to airplanes, CNN reports, which make them more difficult for U.S. missile defense satellites and radars to detect. The entrance of Avangard into Russian service might be another hurdle for the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed by Washington and Moscow in 2010 and set to expire in 2021. [RFERL, CNN]

5.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) were banned from the Philippines after they included a provision aiding a top critic of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Congress' 2020 spending bill, Duterte's spokesperson announced Friday. Duterte is also considering requiring all U.S. citizens to get visas before traveling to the country if Durbin and Leahy's provision goes through. In early 2017, the prominent Duterte critic and Filipino Sen. Leila de Lima was arrested on drug offenses "after she led an investigation into mass killings during Duterte's notorious anti-drugs crackdown," Reuters writes. This year's congressional spending bill includes a provision blocking anyone involved with Lima's arrest and detention from entering the U.S. [Reuters, The Week]

6.

A campaign email sent Friday to supporters said fundraising for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was "a good chunk behind where we were at this time last quarter." Her campaign had so far raised $17 million ahead of next week's fourth-quarter fundraising deadline, the email said — at least a 30 percent drop from the $24.6 million it had ended up with last time. While acknowledging campaigns usually wait until FEC reporting deadlines to reveal how much they've raised, "we're a grassroots team, and you should know exactly where things stand right now," the Warren email said. The campaign is telling supporters where things stand as of Thursday, and asking for help to hit the goal of $20 million, which it said it needs "to keep our plans on track." Warren nearly topped the 2020 Democratic pool in fundraising last quarter, finishing just shy of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). [The Week, The Wall Street Journal]

7.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones on Friday denied efforts to restore about 98,000 Georgia voters who were taken off the state's voter rolls earlier this month since they had not participated in elections for more than eight years. Jones upheld the cancellations under Georgia's "use it or lose it law" which allows state officials to remove inactive registered voters. The plaintiffs, Jones wrote in his 32-page decision, did not show how the cancellations violated the U.S. Constitution, but he added they could still ask the Georgia Supreme Court to interpret the state's law about inactive voters. In total, 287,000 voter registrations were canceled in Georgia in December, though many of those were because the voters had moved away. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Reuters]

8.

A New York appeals court ruled that rape is by nature a gender-motivated hate crime ahead of the trial for Paul Haggis, The Hollywood Reporter learned Friday. The Academy Award-winning screenwriter and producer stands accused of raping publicist Haleigh Breest at his SoHo apartment in 2013. The decision by the New York court is significant in part because of a similar case between Lukasz Gottwald, better known as "Dr. Luke," and the singer Kesha. During that trial in 2016, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich threw out Kesha's allegation that Dr. Luke's rape qualified as gender-motivated violence, writing that "every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime." New York Appellate Judge Peter Moulton appeared to disagree, writing in the Haggis decision that "Rape and sexual assault are, by definition, actions taken against the victim without the victim's consent." [The Hollywood Reporter, The Week]

9.

Don Imus, best known for hosting the radio show Imus in the Morning, died Friday at 79 after initially being hospitalized on Dec. 24. Imus was a controversial figure — his fans appreciated his outspoken personality and humor, but he was also known for pushing boundaries while on the air, which frequently led to accusations of racism, misogyny, and homophobia. In 2007, he was fired by CBS Radio and MSNBC for using a racial when talking about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. After apologizing, he landed another job a few months later and didn't retire from hosting until 2018. He is survived by his wife and six children. [USA Today, Fox News]

10.

The College Football Playoff begins Saturday with the first semi-final matchup in Atlanta between No. 1 Louisiana State University and No. 4 University of Oklahoma kicking off at 4 p.m. E.T. on ESPN. That game features two of the country's best quarterbacks, LSU's Heisman Trophy-winning Joe Burrow and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts. Later, at 8 p.m. E.T. on ESPN, No. 2 Ohio State will take on the defending national champions, third-ranked Clemson University in Glendale, Arizona. The winners of the two games will go on to face each other in the CFP National Championship in New Orleans on Jan. 13. [ESPN]

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