Obama Gives Last Press Conference, China Steals U.S. Property

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In President Obama’s final news conference of the year, he addressed the current Russian drama, saying Trump and Republicans need to join together to investigate all Russian interference in the election. He also implied that perhaps Trump should be paying more attention to what intelligence agencies have been saying regarding the Russia case and that some Republicans would do anything other than side with a Democrat, including siding with Putin. It was also mentioned that Ronald Reagan would “roll over in his grave.”

Obama has expressed full belief that Russian parties were responsible for hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails, and suggested his agreement that Putin was directly involved. Now, it’s guessed as to how Obama will retaliate against the Russians, as he said there would be serious consequences for Putin, but did not say how or when. He also mentioned that some consequences would not be released to the American public, but would only be known by the Russians. “Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you. But it is also important for us to do that in a thoughtful, methodical way. Some of it we do publicly, some of it we will do in a way that they know, but not everybody will,” he said. After the conference, Obama and his family headed off for Hawai’i, for their annual Christmas vacation.

A Chinese Navy ship has stolen an American research drone in the South China Sea. The incident occurred off the western shore of the Philippines. The drone was deployed by the USNS Bowditch, which the Chinese ship had been tailing for some time. However, Fox News reports that this is nothing new, as they say they were told that the Chinese have been regularly following U.S. Navy ships. Some are saying that the action is “an act of war,” as U.S. property was stolen, to the value of $150,000. The Pentagon released a statement, saying that “We call upon China to return our [unmanned underwater vehicle] immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law.” China is meanwhile consistently voicing its displeasure over Trump, with one party-owned newspaper even going so far as to say that Beijing should seize Taiwan by force before Trump’s inauguration.

Trump has appointed David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel. Friedman has no prior government work on his resume, and is connected with Trump through previous bankruptcy proceedings. Friedman did advise Trump on Israel policy during his campaign, and has displayed some very interesting views on the country, including calling Obama an anti-Semite and saying Israel should annex the West Bank. Friedman said in a statement, “I am deeply honored and humbled by the confidence placed in me by President-elect Trump to represent the United States as its Ambassador to Israel. I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” The statement has additionally sparked controversy, as currently the U.S. embassy is located in Tel Aviv, though Trump has promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Past presidents have promised the same, only for their plans to fail to come to fruition, as Jerusalem is a disputed part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A new report says that the 17 Trump-picked Cabinet members have more money than a third of U.S. households combined. The individuals boast at least $9.5 billion, which is more money than the 43 million least affluent households in America make. The wealthiest of the new Cabinet members are Betsy DeVos, the education leader, worth $5.1 billion, and Wilbur Ross, commerce leader, worth $2.9 billion. Trump himself is the wealthiest president-elect in history.

While many scientists around the country worry about the fate of climate change under a Trump presidency, consequences are most real for miners living in the Appalachian region. New data is showing that cases of black lung are 10 times more prevalent in the area among those who work in the industry than previously thought. However, despite the health crisis, most miners fear termination for seeking treatment, as companies are worried that the government will shut them down if they link to widespread disease cases.

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