Today's edition of quick hits:
* A surprising moment
: "President Obama awarded the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to a shocked Vice President Biden on Thursday at the White House. Biden and the president had gathered for what the White House had described as a final tribute to the vice president."
* James Clapper
; "The outgoing U.S. director of national intelligence has extended an olive branch of sorts to Donald Trump -- denouncing media leaks, casting skepticism on a report that Russia has damaging material on the president-elect, and assuring Trump that America's spies stand ready to serve him."
* The vote was 81 to 17
: "The Senate has approved a waiver that would allow retired Gen. James Mattis to serve as secretary of defense, granting a rare exception to a law meant that requires military veterans to have been out of uniform for at least seven years before taking the top job at the Pentagon."
* We're going to have to talk about this
: "Ben Carson would not answer whether President-elect Donald Trump could benefit from Department of Housing and Urban Develop loans during a fierce line of questioning from Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren at his confirmation hearing Thursday."
* On a related note, Carson was supposed to read an opening statement that included plagiarized text. Instead
, he "departed almost completely from the prepared text."
* A VW-like controversy
: "The Environmental Protection Agency accused Fiat Chrysler on Thursday of installing software that enables certain diesel trucks to emit far more pollutants than emissions laws allow. The company denied those accusations, saying its software meets regulatory requirements."
* Climate crisis
: "How we view the costs of future climate change, and more importantly how we quantify them, may soon be changing. A much-anticipated new report, just released by the National Academy of Sciences, recommends major updates to a federal metric known as the 'social cost of carbon' -- and its suggestions could help address a growing scientific concern that we're underestimating the damages global warming will cause."
* Republicans routinely ignore the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
: "The largest U.S. business lobby group on Wednesday said it could be a mistake to quickly repeal Obamacare without developing a replacement healthcare insurance plan and urged the incoming Trump administration not to erect trade barriers." read more