The Vice Morning Bulletin

Feds probe alleged Russian payment of US hackers, Julian Assange backpedals on extradition pledge, 2016 was the hottest year on record, and more.

by VICE Staff
Jan 19 2017, 3:30pm

Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Feb 2016. MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images

Everything you need to know about the world this morning, curated by VICE.

US News

Law Enforcement Agencies Probe Possible Russian Payment of US Hackers
US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have reportedly been investigating whether Russia sent money to hackers in the US to try to help Donald Trump win the election. According to two sources, one of the lines of inquiry is whether a routine system of giving Russian-American pensioners money was used as a "ruse" to pay off hackers in the US.—McClatchy DC

GOP Aide Fired for Setting Up Fake News Site
A Republican aide who created a fake news site accusing Hillary Clinton of trying to rig the election has been fired. Republican David E. Vogt III, a Maryland state delegate, said he fired aide Cameron Harris "on the spot" after learning he had set up ChristianTimesNewspaper.com and a false article about fraudulent Clinton votes in Ohio in September last year.—The Washington Post

Clinton Leads Poll in Hypothetical NYC Mayoral Match-Up
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Hillary Clinton leading current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio 49 percent to 30 percent in a hypothetical match-up for this year's mayoral election. Neither Clinton nor any of her closest advisors have given a real inkling she would be keen to run for public office again.—ABC News

Former Georgia Governor Chosen as Agriculture Secretary
President-elect Donald Trump has apparently settled on former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as the next US agriculture secretary, according to transition officials. Perdue, 70, whose cousin is a US senator, was known to advocate a "pro-business" agenda as a legislator and is the founding partner of a global agribusiness trading company.—Bloomberg

International News

Thirty Trapped After Italian Hotel Hit by Avalanche
At least one person has been killed and some 30 others are believed to be trapped inside a hotel in central Italy after it was engulfed by an avalanche. The first rescuers were forced to battle the snow on skis to reach the hotel at the foot of the Gran Sasso mountain.—CNN

Gambian President Clings to Power Despite Deadline Passing
Yahya Jammeh has refused to step down despite losing December's presidential election in Gambia. The leaders of the Economic Community of West African States had threatened to enforce the election victory of his rival Adama Barrow if a Wednesday night deadline for his resignation was missed. Troops from Senegal, Nigeria, and Ghana have reportedly gathered on the Senegalese border.—Al Jazeera

ISIS Lost Almost a Quarter of Its Territory Last Year, Report Says
The Islamic State lost nearly a quarter of its territory in 2016, according to a report by security and defense analysts IHS Markit. The 23 percent reduction in land in Iraq and Syria has left the group with collective turf roughly the size of Florida. The firm behind the report suggests ISIS will lose the city of Mosul to Iraqi government forces by the middle of this year.—BBC News

Duterte Lashes Out At Catholic Church, Calls for 'Showdown,' Despite Blessing
Pope Francis just blessed the Philippines' president Rodrigo Duterte, but that didn't stop the brutal drug warrior—who has killed thousands as part of a national terror campaign against users and addicts alike—from going off on church officials for alleged homosexuality, corruption, and child abuse.—Reuters

Everything Else

McCartney Sues Sony for Copyright of Beatles Songs
Paul McCartney has filed a lawsuit against Sony in an attempt to get copyright control of songs he wrote with John Lennon as part of The Beatles. McCartney's suit cites a US law allowing songwriters to get copyright back 56 years after the date of original ownership.—SPIN

Beyoncé Backs Women's March in DC
Beyoncé has backed Saturday's post-inauguration women's empowerment march in Washington, DC, making her Chime for Change campaign an official partner. She said the march was a chance to "raise our voices as mothers, artists, and as activists."—Rolling Stone

Julian Assange Backpedals on Extradition Pledge, Obviously
In a less than shocking development, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange appears to have backed away from a pledge to accept extradition to the US if Chelsea Manning was granted clemency. His lawyers argue he had actually demanded Manning's immediate pardon and release.—AP

Earth Has Hottest Year in Recorded History
According to both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2016 was the hottest year on planet Earth since records began in 1880. NASA said 2016 was .22 degrees warmer than 2015.—VICE

John Legend and Metallica to Play Grammys
John Legend, Metallica, and Carrie Underwood are among the first artists announced to be playing at the 2017 Grammy Awards. More performers will be revealed before the Sunday, February 12 ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.—Noisey

Sixty Percent of Primates Under Threat of Extinction
A huge new study, authored by 31 experts on primates and conservation, found that 60 percent of the world's non-human primate species are threatened with extinction due to human activities. Tearing down forests has had the single biggest impact.—Motherboard