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Trump's DC Hotel Posing Ethical Concerns, As Delegations Book Their Stay
Vice President-elect Mike Pence is using the capital’s glamorous new Trump International Hotel as a backdrop for major events. The Bahrain government is hosting its “national day” reception at President-elect Donald Trump’s elegant D.C. property Wednesday. This, amid reports that delegations from foreign countries are eagerly snapping up pricy rooms at the Pennsylvania Avenue location. Taken together, the developments give a snapshot of the kind of ethical entanglements Trump could face with his newest luxury property -- and the broader conflict of interest questions surrounding his business empire -- as he prepares to move into the White House less than a mile away. Fox News

Dr. Manny: Trump's Power Of Negotiation Will Save Lives In The Future
I believe that President-elect Donald Trump will succeed in bringing down health care costs, and tackling soaring drug prices will be at the forefront of his battle. This may have come as a shock to the industry, who likely believed that they’d be given a free pass under a Republican presidency and Republican-controlled Congress. It is likely that on Election Day the Big Pharma companies prematurely let out a collective sigh of relief believing that a Republican-led government would never allow for imported medicines or for Medicare to negotiate drug prices, but it appears that the well-deserved panic is starting to set in. On the day Trump was named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” the publication released excerpts from a November interview in which he divulged plans to address out-of-control drug costs. Fox News

Trump Picks Ret. Gen. John Kelly To Lead DHS
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Ret. Gen. John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security, a senior transition official tells CNN. The former head of US Southern Command, Kelly was previously responsible for managing security threats posed by criminal drug networks based in south and central America -- an issue that Trump highlighted in his campaign, and to which Kelly would bring unique experience. In his former role, Kelly also oversaw operations at the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. The outspoken general clashed with the Obama administration's push to close the facility, and told the Military Times in an interview that "there are no innocent men down there." CNN

Carrier To Hike Prices On Furnaces And Air Conditioners
The company actually announced its plans to customers on Nov. 23, a week before it reached a deal with President-elect Donald Trump to keep 800 jobs at an Indianapolis furnace plant instead of moving them to Mexico. The price increase gained more attention this week in the wake of that deal. The price increases will take effect Jan. 1. In February, Carrier announced plans to move an Indianapolis plant with 1,400 workers to Mexico. The company expected to save $65 million a year thanks to the lower wages that Mexican workers earn, according to union officials who represent the Indianapolis workers. CNN


Pelosi on Ryan's Medicaid Plan: People ‘Won’t Be Able To Go To Their Own Doctor’
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) proposal to cut Medicaid spending over time to help balance the federal budget would prevent seniors from seeing the doctor of their choosing. “And I might add with what they want to do to the Affordable Care Act and what they want to do in the Ryan budget to Medicaid – a trillion dollars over 10 years taken out of Medicaid,” Pelosi said. “Two thirds of that goes to long-term heath care to our seniors.” “They won’t be able to go to their own doctor if you take this away,” Pelosi said. “So all of this is connected. This is an assault on the stability of health for seniors in our country. An all-out assault.” CNS News

Kerry On Trump: ‘I Understand The Anxiety But Let’s Not Get All Churned Up’
Secretary of State John Kerry advised Tuesday against worry over about how President-elect Donald Trump may conduct foreign policy, saying it was too soon to say how things would unfold, but that he was confident “facts and science and common sense and mutual interests” would prevail. While briefing reporters in Brussels, Kerry was asked about the possibility that Trump could overturn or walk away from high-priority Obama administration initiatives, including the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate change agreement. “I just think it’s a waste of time – I mean, it’s human and I understand the anxiety, but let’s not get all churned up over things that haven’t happened and appointments that haven’t been made,” he replied, the latter a reference to the fact Trump has yet to nominate the next secretary of state, among other positions. CNS News

Trump Fills Homeland Security, Environment, China Ambassador Jobs
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday picked a fossil fuel industry defender as his top environmental official, another retired general as homeland security chief and Iowa's governor as U.S. ambassador to China in choices at odds with some of his recent pronouncements. Trump, continuing to build his Cabinet as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20, said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, 48, would be nominated to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt sued the EPA in a bid to undo a key regulation under outgoing President Barack Obama that would curb greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change, mainly from coal-fired power plants. Reuters

Court Blocks New York City From Discarding Illegal Immigrants' Data
A New York state court on Tuesday temporarily stopped New York City from destroying the personal records of hundreds of thousands of municipal I.D. card holders after Republicans argued the records might be needed to track criminals. Seeking to protect illegal immigrants who fear deportation under a President-elect Donald Trump administration, city officials had been considering destroying the information and said on Tuesday they would stop collecting it starting next month. Two Republican state lawmakers sued the city on Monday to block any plans to discard the records collected so far, saying they could be needed to investigate individuals who obtained the cards under false pretenses. MSNBC


Donald Trump Picks GOP Oil Industry Ally, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, To Lead EPA
Donald Trump intends to select Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, a senior transition official confirmed to NBC News Wednesday — the clearest sign yet the president-elect will pursue an agenda that could undo President Obama's climate change legacy. An ally to the fossil fuel industry, Pruitt has aggressively fought against environmental regulations, becoming one of a number of attorneys general to craft a 28-state lawsuit against the Obama administration's rules to curb carbon emissions. The case is currently awaiting a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which heard oral arguments in September. MSNBC

Michael McCaul Calls For End Of ‘Politically Correct’ U.S. Homeland Security Policies
The incoming Trump administration has opened the door for congressional defense hawks to roll back the damage caused by the Obama administration’s “politically correct” policies to defend the United States against terrorist threats, a senior House Republican said Wednesday. This new, hard-line policy to homeland security and national defense unveiled by House Committee on Homeland Security chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul, will “reverse the damage of the last eight years,” the Texas Republican said. The “wait-and-see approach to national security” employed by the Obama administration has resulted in a scenario where “our allies no longer trust us and our adversaries no longer fear us,” Mr. McCaul said during a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington. Washington Times

House Republicans Derail Impeachment Effort Against IRS Commissioner
Republican leaders managed to derail impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Tuesday, forcing the debate back to a committee for more study, where it will die when Congress adjourns at the end of this year. It was a quiet end to a saga that had bedeviled GOP leaders for more than a year, dating back to revelations that Mr. Koskinen misled a congressional investigation looking into the tea party-targeting scandal and former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner’s lost emails. Conservatives had been agitating for impeachment, saying Mr. Koskinen should be punished for defying a subpoena and providing inaccurate information. Washington Times

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Mitt Romney Is Now Top Contender For Secretary Of State
Mitt Romney is now the strongest remaining candidate for President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, CBS News’ Major Garrett reports. No final decision has been made yet, but Romney, in comparison with Gen. David Petraeus (ret) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is in the strongest position to date. Petraeus, sources told Garrett, is out of the running. Gen. John Kelly’s nomination to run the Department of Homeland Security played a large role: Mr. Trump will not have four generals in the upper echelons of the Trump administration -- the other two are Gen. James Mattis (ret), who was named defense secretary, and Lt.-Gen. Michael Flynn (ret), who will be national security adviser. CBS

Baby Teether Study Finds Many Contain Potentially Harmful Chemicals
Lots of parents make it a point to buy baby teethers labeled “non-toxic” or “BPA-free,” but a new study suggests they might not be 100-percent free of troubling chemicals. U.S. regulators have banned or restricted the use of the plastics chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA), parabens and antimicrobials in some products babies and children use daily — including bottles and cups — because, at certain levels, they’re thought to cause hormone changes that can lead to health issues. Baby teethers — gummed by infants to soothe teething pain — aren’t subject to the same regulations. CBS

China Warns US On Taiwan Leader's Planned Transit
China on Wednesday accused Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen of seeking to use a planned transit stop in the U.S. to score diplomatic points, amid Chinese rancor over an unprecedented phone call between Tsai and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Asked at a briefing whether China has asked the U.S. to cancel the stop planned for next month, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated China's claim to sovereignty over Taiwan and accused Tsai of political machinations.
"Taiwan's administration and leader always perform some petty moves like a transit diplomacy whose ulterior political intentions are clear for all to see," Lu said. ABC


If You Voted For Trump, It’s Time To Buy A House
In the housing market, perception often creates its own reality. Investors will bid up values in anticipation of a rezoning effort that allows for new development. Lenders tighten credit standards in anticipation of new regulations. And voters—at least according to one new survey—get bullish when their candidate wins. During the last week of October, when Hillary Clinton was ahead in the polls, Trulia commissioned surveys of 2,000 Americans. Respondents who identified themselves as Republicans said that 2017 would be worse than 2016 for selling a home, buying a home, getting a mortgage, or finding rental housing. Democrats thought that 2017 would be better in each of those categories. After Donald Trump’s surprise electoral college win, outlooks for Republican and Democratic respondents flipped—in every category. ABC

Americans Are Paying Apple Millions To Shelter Overseas Profits
Over the years, Apple Inc. has become the poster child for U.S. multinationals accused of sheltering overseas profits to avoid the IRS. What’s gone largely unnoticed is that it’s been paid more than half a billion dollars by the U.S. government to do just that. Taking advantage of an exemption tucked into America’s Byzantine tax code, Apple stashed much of its foreign earnings—tax-free—right here in the U.S., in part by purchasing government bonds, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. In return, the Treasury Department paid Apple at least $600 million and possibly much more over the past five years in the form of interest, a Bloomberg review of its regulatory filings shows. Bloomberg

Why Trump's Fiscal Plans Might Not Blow Up The Budget
The audacity of fiscal hype? Donald Trump's election victory has triggered an apparent regime change for markets, driving up projections for U.S. growth, inflation, and global bond yields amid expectations the president-elect will ramp up government spending and tax cuts. His fiscal ambitions — hopes of an infrastructure boom and 4 percent annual growth — have elicited a slew of cheers, as well as fears, including the risk they crowd out private spending and vex the Fed's bid to smooth the business cycle. Bloomberg

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‘Mr. President’ Biden As GOP, Dem Senators Pay Tribute
For one afternoon, Senate Republicans and Democrats gleefully referred to Joe Biden as "Mr. President." As the nation's 47th vice president, Biden is the president of the Senate though his two White House bids went unrealized. On Wednesday, he presided over the chamber as lawmakers took turns paying tribute to the Amtrak-riding, aviator sunglass-wearing former senator in speeches marked by humor, wistfulness and remembrances. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., described Biden's fight to overcome a stutter as a child, the trajectory of his political career and the unusual friendships the Delaware senator forged with Republicans. Biden served in the Senate for 36 years before being tapped by Barack Obama to be his running mate in 2008. Las Vegas Sun

Megyn Kelly To Trump Aide: Stop Stirring Up Social Media
Megyn Kelly is calling on President-elect Donald Trump's social media director to stop encouraging hostile elements among some of his supporters. London's The Guardian reports the Fox News anchor said at a speaking event in Washington on Monday that a small group of Trump supporters "really enjoys nastiness and threats." She said Dan Scavino's job during the campaign was "to stir these people up and that man needs to stop doing that." Scavino was highly critical of Kelly after she sparred with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in October, over allegations of sexual misconduct made against Trump. Scavino tweeted that Kelly "made a total fool out of herself" and said "watch what happens to her after this election is over." Las Vegas Sun

China Says It Welcomes Trump Appointee While Criticizing Japan
China welcomed the appointment of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as the future U.S. ambassador to Beijing on Wednesday, while criticizing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to visit Pearl Harbor in late December. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters on Wednesday that the government approves of President-elect Donald Trump's choice for the top diplomatic position, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. "As a longtime friend of the Chinese people Governor Branstad appears poised to play a greater role in advancing Sino-U.S. relations," Lu said Wednesday. "The U.S. ambassador to China plays a very important bridge role between the U.S. and Chinese governments, and no matter who is in this position, we want to work with that person to continue to pursue the healthy, stable development of U.S.-China relations." UPI News

Pope Compares Disinformation In The Media To Fascination With Feces
Pope Francis compared the media's fascination with telling only part of a story to coprophilia, an interest in fecal matter, in an interview Tuesday. Speaking in Rome with representatives of Tertio, a Belgian Catholic publication, he was asked about the responsibility of the media; his response focused on the harmful effects of the spread of disinformation. "A thing that can do great damage to the information media is disinformation: that is, faced with any situation, saying only a part of the truth, and not the rest. This is disinformation. Because you, to the listener or the observer, give only half the truth, and therefore it is not possible to make a serious judgement. UPI News

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Netanyahu Accepts Paris Invite To Meet Abbas, If France Drops Conference
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday accepted French President François Hollande’s invitation to meet with him and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris later this month, as long as there is no international conference. The French are planning a conference of foreign ministers in Paris on December 21 to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and invited Netanyahu and Abbas to come to the city the day after for a meeting of their own. Jerusalem Post

Merkel Ally Threatens FacebookWith Fines Over Online Hate Speech
A senior German conservative has warned Facebook it could face fines if it fails to act faster to tackle online hate speech, and he said the government could propose legislative measures in the new year. Speaking at a party conference of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in Essen, western Germany, Volker Kauder suggested politicians were running out of patience with efforts by social media providers to crack down on hate speech. "I expect from big companies like Facebook that they adhere to laws. If they are not respected than we must think about new possibilities, fines for example," he said. Jerusalem Post

Toronto Boy Planned Attack On Massacre Anniversary - Police
The 17-year-old Toronto boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was charged with uttering threats of bodily harm and death. Toronto police said they seized a machete, a hatchet, two swords, four knives, and arrows from him. They said they became aware of a "potential threat" last week. The boy was allegedly plotting "some sort of attack" against Oakwood Collegiate Institute, a public high school in Toronto, on 6 December. This date has been infamous in Canada since 6 December 1989, when gunman Marc Lepine stormed the Ecole Polytechnique engineering school in Montreal and killed 14 women. BBC

Trump Aide Michael Flynn Jnr Out After 'Pizzagate' Tweets
One of Donald Trump's aides has lost his job after fanning a conspiracy theory that climaxed at the weekend in gunfire at a pizzeria. Michael Flynn, 33, left the US president-elect's transition team on Tuesday following his tweets about the so-called Pizzagate fake news story. His father, Michael Flynn Snr, Mr Trump's pick to be US national security adviser, has also shared viral hoaxes. The Pizzagate claims led to a gunman firing shots in a restaurant on Sunday. BBC

US Launches AirstrikeOon Mosul Hospital Used By Isis, Military Says
The US military has deliberately conducted an airstrike on a hospital in the Iraqi city of Mosul, it said on Wednesday, after saying its Iraqi allies came under fire by Islamic State fighters from the hospital complex. US Central Command (Centcom) said it launched a “precision strike” on a building within the al-Salem hospital complex from which Isis fighters had for more than a day launched “heavy” machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire on Iraqi forces. The coalition did not say if any patients or civilians were present at the scene of the airstrike on the “building on the hospital complex” nor did it answer a question about any noncombatants being killed or wounded. Guardian

Obama Under Mounting Pressure To Disclose Russia's Role In US Election
Barack Obama is facing growing pressure from congressional Democrats in both houses demanding further disclosures regarding Russia’s role in the 2016 US elections. The White House has not responded to a week-old letter signed by every Democrat and aligned member of the Senate intelligence committee seeking declassification of “additional information concerning the Russian government and the US election”. Now a group of senior House Democrats has also written to the president, seeking a classified briefing for colleagues on “Russian entities’ hacking of American political organizations; hacking and strategic release of emails from campaign officials; the WikiLeaks disclosures; fake news stories produced and distributed with the intent to mislead American voters; and any other Russian or Russian-related interference or involvement in our recent election.” Guardian

Angela Merkel Faces Party Row Over Calls To Scrap Dual Citizenship For Children Of Immigrants
Angela Merkel was plunged into a new row over immigration on Wednesday when delegates at her party conference voted to end dual citizenship for the children of immigrants. The German chancellor quickly disowned the decision by her Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), as her coalition partners said they would block it from becoming government policy. The dispute, a day after Mrs Merkel was re-elected party leader and given an 11-minute standing ovation, threatened to mar the start of her campaign to win a historic fourth term as chancellor. Telegraph

British And Americans Spy On In-Flight Phone Calls 'In Real Time', Leaked Snowden Files Reveal
British and American spy agencies regularly intercept voice and data calls from phones made on board civil aircraft around the world, and the snooping has increased with the spread of in-flight calls, leaked classified files have revealed. Intelligence agents at the UK Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, and America's National Security Agency, NSA, are able to identify and intercept individuals' phones on most commercial flights in "near real time" via a triangulation process using passenger lists, satellites and ground detectors. They can even scramble phones so users switch them back on in order to steal the security code, documents by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor, reportedly reveal. Telegraph

'No Safe Place Left' For Children In War-Ravaged Aleppo, Says Senior UNICEF Official
Returning from a mission to Aleppo, a senior United Nations Children's Agency (UNICEF) official in Syria described “haunting images” of children killed by mortars and malnourishment, and said that the terrible situation “continues to plummet to even greater lows.” “When I was there, nearly 100 mortars fell on west Aleppo in a couple of days [...] explosions lit up the night sky and the sounds of war reverberated across the city,” said Hannah Singer, the UNICEF Syria Representative, in a statement today. “Even by Syrian standards, the recent bombardment and shelling have been the most intense in Aleppo,” she added. UN News

UN Rights Expert Urges Australians To Stand Up Against Country's 'Alarming' Hate Speech And Racism
The United Nations human rights expert on contemporary forms of racism today urged all Australians – from the Government to the media and civil society – to stand up against “alarming” hate speech and racism racial discrimination in the country, especially against indigenous people, refugees, migrants, and Muslims. “The elimination of racism, xenophobia and discrimination will not happen unless it is led by the most senior political leadership and unless institutions such as the media play a constructive role,” Mutuma Ruteere said in a news release at the end of a visit to the country. UN News

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