Disaster in Turkey, Russia; Obama Looks Toward Mentor Role


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The gunman who shot and killed the Russian ambassador, shortly after the attack.
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Disaster in Turkey only spells out more conflict between the country and Russia, after a Turkish police officer shot and killed Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov. The assassination was reportedly in response to Russia’s hand in Aleppo. It comes after a weekend full of protests against Russia and the country’s support of the Syrian president. Karlov was set to give a speech when he was shot by the officer, wearing civilian clothes. Afterwards, the killer was also shot during an intense conflict with other police. The Turkish president and Putin have been in talks since, but some Turkish government officials are saying that the action was meant to ruin any positive relationship Turkey currently has with Russia.

Also in Russia, a state of emergency has been declared in Irkutsk, a city in Siberia, as the death toll rises from a string of individuals consuming bath lotion. About 50 people have died over the weekend, with additional residents in critical condition. Apparently, the bath lotion has been used as an alcohol surrogate, as the area deals with alcoholism in the face of a weak economy. Authorities are currently launching searches for more sources of the bath lotion to blame, as well as any other items that citizens could be using for the same purposes. Some are demanding that the state regulate the sale of cosmetics and medicines containing alcohol, to attempt to curb such incidences.

Donald Trump has picked his secretary of the Army. Vincent Viola — veteran, New Yorker, billionaire, businessman and owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team — was called “living proof of the American dream.” The announcement was made by Trump via his Palm Beach estate, as he waited for the announcement from the electoral vote. Yesterday, he also held meetings with Robert Lighthizer, a deputy U.S. trade representative under Reagan, and Thad Allen, the Coast Guard commandant who oversaw federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile, Obama is hoping to give the Democratic Party new life in the wake of its November loss. Last week, Obama was interviewed by NPR, in an episode of “Morning Edition,” which aired yesterday. One of the reasons he cited for the election loss was the Democratic focus on national, broad issues, while Republicans start small and local, building “from the ground up.” “We’ve ceded too much territory,” he said. “One of the big suggestions that I have for Democrats as I leave, and something that, you know, I have some ideas about is, how do we do more of that ground-up building?”

When asked about his plans after Trump’s inauguration, he mentioned a “nice vacation,” but also that he’d like to become somewhat of a mentor for up-and-coming Democrats. “What I am interested in is just developing a whole new generation of talent. That’s something that I think I can do well, I think Michelle can do well. That's part of what makes me optimistic about our future, because I know those young people are out there ready to lead, and when they start moving into more and more positions of authority, then I think the issues that I care most deeply about are going to be well served.”

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte continues his threats against the United States. He announced that the U.S. should “prepare to leave the Philippines,” as he wants to repeal the Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows U.S. troops to visit the country for military exercises. “Start packing your things and get out of my country,” he added. “You want to come back here? You pay us. You want bases here? Pay us.” The United States currently has five military bases within the Philippines.

A new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association and the National Institute on Drug Abuse finds that more American pregnant women are smoking marijuana during pregnancy, often to treat morning sickness. While growth is small, officials are worried about what it could mean for infants, as usage could cause low birth weights, anemia and brain development issues; attention is also being brought to the small amount of information available on these consequences. Physicians are being urged to avoid recommending any sort of drug use to pregnant women.

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