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Monday, Jan 16th

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Arctic ice melt 'already affecting weather patterns where you live right now'

Arctic ice melt already affecting where you liveThe dramatic melting of Arctic ice is already driving extreme weather that affects hundreds of millions of people across North America, Europe and Asia, leading climate scientists have told the Guardian.

Severe “snowmageddon” winters are now strongly linked to soaring polar temperatures, say researchers, with deadly summer heatwaves and torrential floods also probably linked. The scientists now fear the Arctic meltdown has kickstarted abrupt changes in the planet’s swirling atmosphere, bringing extreme weather in heavily populated areas to the boil.

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Obama pardons another 78 federal inmates, shortens the sentence for 153

Pres. Pbama grants more pardonsPresident Obama has pardoned 78 people and shortened the sentence of 153 others convicted of federal crimes, the greatest number of individual clemencies in a single day by any president, the White House said Monday.

Obama has been granting commutations at rapid-fire pace in his final months in office, but he has focused primarily on shortening sentences of those convicted of drug offenses rather than pardons. Pardons amount to forgiveness of a crime that removes restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury. The pardon also lessens the stigma arising from the conviction.

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At least nine dead after truck plows into Berlin Christmas market

Truck plows into German marketAt least nine people dead after a truck plowed into a Berlin Christmas market, according to police.

The tractor-trailer drove into a crowd gathered among holiday stalls near the German capital’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Monday evening.

Police posted on Twitter that "many" people were injured, andAFPreported thatthere were at least 50 victims.  Videos and photos from the scene show a large truck with a smashed windshield had damaged stalls directly underneath the church.

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U.N. to send monitors to evaluate Aleppo evacuations after Security Council OK

Security Council okahs observers in AleppoThe United Nations will send monitors to evaluate evacuations form eastern Aleppo after the Security Council unanimously approved the plan Monday.

After hours of negotiations Sunday, Russia agreed to a resolution by France to stop "mass atrocities." Russia has veto power in the Security Council.

The resolution allows U.N. officials and others to monitor evacuations from eastern Aleppo and the safety of those who remain there.

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EPA stops work on climate rule compliance program

EPA stops work on climate ruleThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stopped work Monday on writing an optional program that states could use to comply with the climate change rule for power plants.

Janet McCabe, the EPA’s top air regulator, announced the decision in a blog post, along with the draft, incomplete compliance plans and related documents.

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said the agency withdrew the rule so that it could release the drafts, which could help helpful to states looking to cut their emissions.

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U.S. chief justice refuses to force vote on Obama high court pick

Chief Justice RobertsU.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday rejected a New Mexico lawyer's long-shot bid to force a Senate confirmation vote on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, after Republican senators refused to act on his nomination.

Steven Michel, a Santa Fe environmental attorney, filed suit in U.S. federal court in August, arguing that the Republican-led Senate's failure to act on Garland's nomination deprived Michel of his rights as a voter under the U.S. Constitution's 17th Amendment, which outlines how senators are elected.

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Report: Trump Donated $10K to West Bank Settlement

Trump donated to West BankPresident-elect Donald Trump made a $10,000 donation to institutions in a West Bank settlement in 2003, a report published Sunday claims. Yaakov “Katzele” Katz, one of the founders of the settlement of Beit El, told an Israeli radio station that Trump made the donation to honor David Friedman, his personal friend and recently announced pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Friedman, who’s faced scrutiny since his nomination for his hardline stance on liberal U.S. Jews and a two-state solution in the Middle East, is president of the American Friends of Bet El Institutions. Trump reportedly made his donation at a gala dinner for Friedman.

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Trump nominates Vincent Viola as secretary of the Army

Vincent ViolaPresident-elect Trump nominated Vincent "Vinnie" Viola as secretary of the Army Monday, according to a release.

Viola is founder and executive chairman of Virtu Financial, a former Army infantry officer and also owns the NHL's Florida Panthers.

"I am proud to have such an incredibly accomplished and selfless individual as Vincent Viola as our Secretary of the Army," Trump said in a statement. "Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge.

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Russian ambassador to Turkey dead: Andrey Karlov dies after being shot in Ankara

Andrey KarlovThe Russian ambassador to Turkey has died after being shot in the capital city of Ankara, the Russian foreign ministry has confirmed.

Andrey Karlov was shot in the back as he made a speech at a photo exhibit in the Turkish capital.

Mr Karlov was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition when a man wearing a suit and tie shouted "Allahu akbar" and fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience.

The gunman also reportedly shouted: "We die in Aleppo, you die here."

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