The VICE Morning Bulletin


White House challenges Trump with "permanent" ban on offshore drilling, German cops hunt truck attacker, families of Pulse shooting victims file lawsuit against tech companies, and more.

US News

Obama Issues Permanent Offshore Drilling Ban
President Obama has issued an order banning offshore oil and gas drilling in large swaths of federal water in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. The White House insists the ban is permanent, citing a 1953 law suggesting it cannot be reversed, but Erik Milito, a director at the American Petroleum Institute, claims otherwise, saying "there is no such thing as a permanent ban."—NBC News

Texas Denies Planned Parenthood Medicaid Funding
Texas officials have informed Planned Parenthood that the organization will be cut off from Medicaid funding within 30 days. Planned Parenthood says it will appeal the decision in the courts, having taken in some $3.1 million in Medicaid money from the state, where many political power players are hostile to abortion rights.—The Texas Tribune

Prison Operator Accused of Illegal Super PAC Donations
The GEO Group, one of the country’s largest private prison operators, has been accused of violating a ban on political contributions by government contractors. One of the group’s subsidiaries allegedly made more than $225,000 worth of contributions to a pro-Donald Trump super PAC, according to a complaint made to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by the Campaign Legal Center.—VICE News

Israeli Ambassador Backs Switching US Embassy to Jerusalem
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US, is on board with the controversial idea of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. "It would send a strong message against the delegitimization of Israel and of Jerusalem," he said. The public show of support follows David Friedman, Donald Trump’s choice to be the next US ambassador to Israel, expressing his own openness to the move.—Politico

International News

German Police Hunt Christmas Market Attacker
German police are hunting for the truck driver who swerved into a crowded Berlin Christmas market and killed 12 people, after releasing an initial suspect misidentified as the perpetrator. Police are reportedly searching for a Tunisian national, and while ISIS has claimed one of its militants carried it out, there is no evidence so far of a direct connection.—BBC News

Fireworks Market Explosion in Mexico Kills At Least 31
A huge explosion at a fireworks market in Tultepec, near Mexico City, has left at least 31 people dead and dozens more injured. A group of more than a dozen wounded children with 90 percent of their bodies covered in burns were sent to Galveston in Texas for specialist treatment, according to the state governor.—The Guardian

Gambian President Refuses to Give Up Power
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has vowed not to give up power despite defeat at an election earlier this month. "Nobody can deprive me of that victory except the Almighty [God]," said Jammeh on state television. A regional bloc of West African nations has said opposition leader Adama Barrow must be allowed to take office on January 18.—Al Jazeera

Shootout in Jordan Leaves Four Police Officers Dead
Four Jordanian police officers have been shot and killed in raids on a suspected Islamist militant network near the city of Karak. The policemen were attacked by gunman as they searched a neighborhood for militants suspected of links to Sunday’s attack on Karak’s castle, in which ten people were killed.—Reuters

Everything Else

James Taylor Refuses to Play Show in Duterte’s Philippines
Singer-songwriter James Taylor has cancelled a forthcoming show in the Philippines as a protest against President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs. Taylor said reports of thousands of extrajudicial killings were "deeply concerning."—TIME

Pusha T Urges Sentencing Reform
Pusha T advocates reform of the criminal justice system in a new PSA for ECCO (The Entertainment Consortium Collaborative Outreach Program). The rapper reads the story of Norman Brown, a former inmate who was given a life sentence for non-violent drug offenses.—Rolling Stone

Walmart to Stop Selling Shirts Bearing ‘Bulletproof’
Retail giant Walmart has announced it will remove shirts which have the slogan "Bulletproof," but said "Black Lives Matter" shirts will remain on sale. The president of the country’s largest police union had asked Walmart to stop selling both items.—The Washington Post

Mark Zuckerberg Teaches AI to Listen to the Chili Peppers
Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that his is building his very own artificial intelligence platform called Jarvis. The Facebook CEO said he is teaching Jarvis to learn his "tastes and patterns" at home, including listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.—Noisey

France Becomes First Federal Postal Service to Use Drones
The French postal service has launched an experimental drone delivery program to deliver parcels. The drones used by the DPDgroup can fly up to 12 miles and have parachutes for emergency landings.—Motherboard

Families of Pulse Shooting Victims File Lawsuit Against Tech Giants
The families of three victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting have filed a lawsuit against Twitter, Facebook and Google’s parent Alphabet. The suit claims social media helped disseminate information inspiring Omar Mateen to commit mass murder.—VICE