Nightly Brief

Top CNS stories for today including a House panel applauding President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial call with the leader of Taiwan as Asia experts express high hopes for a policy shake-up for the region; Clinton’s California offers a look into the future of national politics; a long-awaited federal death penalty trial gets underway in South Carolina; scientists announce an “almost unprecedented” reduction in Arctic sea ice, and more.

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1.) Trump’s Call With Taiwan Met With Applause by House Panel

Railing against President Barack Obama’s Asia policy, experts and members of the House expressed high hopes Tuesday on President-elect Donald Trump’s apparent plans for a shake-up.

2.) Survivor Recalls Church Massacre on First Day of Charleston Trial

The long-awaited federal death penalty trial of the accused killer of nine in an historic black South Carolina church got underway in Charleston Wednesday with a survivor of the attack describing the gunman as “evil, evil, evil as can be.”

3.) Mystery Remains in Hearing on Toddler’s Disappearance

Former neighbors of Tieray Jones, who is suspected of killing his 2-year-old stepson Jahi Turner after the boy disappeared from a San Diego park in 2002, testified Tuesday in a preliminary hearing to decide if there’s enough evidence for the cold case to go to trial.

4.) Trump Picks Longtime EPA Critic to Lead Agency

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the self-described “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” will head the Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, John Kelly, a four-star Marine general whose son was killed in Afghanistan, is the next secretary of homeland security.

5.) Clinton’s California Landslide Offers Look Into Future of National Politics

The old adage “As California goes, so goes the nation” didn’t fit the November election, with many traditionally blue states going for Donald Trump while Hillary Clinton enjoyed the biggest win by a Democrat in California history. But some experts believe it’s only a matter of time before most states become more like the Golden State, politically speaking.

6.) Arctic Sees Record Drop in Sea Ice Coverage

As the Arctic enters the traditionally cold darkness of winter, the region saw a record low extent of sea ice in November, following an “almost unprecedented” reduction in 2016.

7.)  Banks Fined $522M For Fixing EU Futures Rates

The European Commission said Wednesday it will fine JPMorgan Chase and two other banks nearly $522 million for colluding to manipulate prices on the EU futures market.

8.) Ninth Circuit OKs LA Subway Extension

The Ninth Circuit on Tuesday rejected environmental challenges by a shopping center and hotel to a new underground light-rail line in downtown Los Angeles.