Wildfires Rage in Tennessee, Trump Continues Nominations, Internet Facing New Censorship?

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New York Magazine

Donald Trump plans to nominate Steven Mnuchin for the position of treasury secretary. The former Goldman Sachs executive and current investor has no government experience. Previously, Mnuchin acted as finance chairman for Trump’s campaign. Other campaign representatives say that Mnuchin is a good pick for the job, as he is an expert in finance and understands that the Trump administration places priority on growing the economy and job opportunities. Mnuchin is only one of many wealthy businesspeople named to the cabinet.

Wildfires in eastern Tennessee are overtaking popular tourist towns Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. After the nation’s hottest year ever on record, wildfires have ravaged more than 500 acres, sending locals evacuating and tourists back home, while sending many local structures, including resorts and hotels, to the ground in a pile of char and ash. Fires have been increased by steady winds, but are expected to lessen in intensity as rain moves into the area today. However, the incident has caught many off guard, as wildfires are generally only a three- to five-year occurrence in the region, and hardly ever cause the extensive damage seen this fall.

The wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and previous Labor Department leader under the Bush administration, Elaine Chao has been chosen by Trump to act as Transportation secretary. If Trump’s nomination is approved, Chao will be the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet-level position. Chao acted as a member of Trump’s Asian Pacific American Advisory Council during his campaign.

Some are expecting that Trump’s pick of Georgia Rep. Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services indicates his own dedication to the repeal of ObamaCare. Price has been adamantly against ObamaCare from the start, said sources close to the representative. The choice is a calming factor for some Republicans, who have been worried following Trump’s initial post-election comments regarding keeping some aspects of ObamaCare and merely amending the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans, meanwhile, are calling for a full repeal of the law, and feel that Tom Price is the man to get the job done.

The Internet Archive, a company located in California which hosts one of the world’s largest collections of cached web sites, says it plans to store a copy of its data in Canada, where the U.S. government will not be able to touch it after Trump takes office. "On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a web that may face greater restrictions,” said Brewster Kahle, founder, the Internet Archive, yesterday. The Internet Archive hosts old copies of websites from more than 20 years ago, as well as a large amount of political TV ad data and e-books. The decision to move a copy of the library of information, some of which can be considered quite controversial, is estimated to cost millions, and the Internet Archive is asking the public for donations.

After earlier worries in the year regarding the death of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists did say yesterday that 2016 saw the largest die-off of coral reef ever recorded. In the past nine months, about 67 percent of shallow-water corals have died within a northern, 400-mile section of the Great Barrier Reef. However, in the southern areas, coral fatality has been much lower, as low as 1 percent in the most southerly region.

The Western Hemisphere sports world woke up to a tragic surprise Tuesday morning. A chartered plane carrying 77 people, including Brazilian soccer players, crashed into a hillside in Colombia, killing 71. The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane experienced an electrical failure about 10 p.m. local time Monday night. The crash occurred only about 22 miles away from the airport. The football players were due to play in the Copa Sudamericana final in Medellin today. The charter aircraft took off from Bolivia, carrying 68 passengers and nine crew. There were six survivors, one of whom died after rescue. Other survivors include one flight attendant, one flight crew member, one journalist and two football players.

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