Top News Stories for Today – December 22, 2016
Is Russian military the strongest?
Russia’s military is now stronger that any possible foe, President Vladimir Putin told an annual end-of-year meeting with the defense ministry on Thursday. “We can say with certainty: we are stronger now than any potential aggressor,” he told the meeting. “Anyone!”
Tensions between Russia and the West escalated after Russia’s annexation in Crimea in 2014 and its involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Last year, Russia began an air force operation in Syria to support President Bashar Assad that’s irked the US. in particular. Both Russia and NATO members conducted a flurry of military drills near the Russian border this year. Russia has insisted that it’s bolstering its forces at the border to react to a growing NATO threat. VOA
Kellyanne Conway named counselor to the president
President-elect Donald Trump named his former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, to serve as counselor to the president on Thursday. The assistant position, which hasn’t been occupied under President Barack Obama since early 2015, was first created by Richard Nixon and was formerly considered to be Cabinet level.
“In her position, Conway will continue her role as a close advisor to the president and will work with senior leadership to effectively message and execute the Administration’s legislative priorities and actions,” the Trump transition team wrote in a statement. On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump named activist investor Carl Icahn as an adviser on regulatory issues, and picked strident China critic Peter Navarro to head a new White House advisory council on trade and industrial policy. Good Morning America, The Week
Last evacuations in Aleppo
The final evacuations of rebels and civilians from the Syrian city of Aleppo got underway on Thursday, and could continue into Friday. More than 4,000 fighters were evacuated overnight from their former stronghold in eastern Aleppo to opposition-controlled areas outside the city, bringing to 34,000 the total number of people evacuated over the past week, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent said.
The deal struck last week between government and opposition forces to let fighters and civilians leave the war-ravaged city has been repeatedly interrupted by clashes between rebels and pro-government forces. Reuters, The Associated Press, The Week
ObamaCare is going strong
ObamaCare health insurance enrollment rose to a record level this year, even as President-elect Donald Trump enters office with a Republican congressional majority aiming to replace President Obama’s signature health reform law.
Nearly 6.4 million Americans have signed up through the federal exchange for 2017 health insurance policies coverage, an increase of 400,000 over a year ago. ObamaCare has faced criticism over rising premiums, with the average benchmark silver plan rising by 22 percent in 2017 even as some major insurers pull out of state exchanges. Still, administration officials say the enrollment figures show the marketplace is going strong. CNN, The Week
US China relation under Trump Administration
China’s foreign minister on Thursday warned that ties with the US. will likely see new complications and that the only way to maintain a stable relationship is by respecting each other’s “core interests.” Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s remarks appeared to underscore that China’s position on Taiwan is nonnegotiable, weeks after President-elect Donald Trump suggested that he could re-evaluate US. policy on the status of Taiwan.
Wang told the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, he will strive to boost cooperation with the US. but foresaw “new, complicated and uncertain factors affecting bilateral relations” under the Trump administration. China complained after Trump this month questioned a US. policy that since 1979 has recognized Beijing as China’s government and maintains only unofficial relations with Taiwan. VOA
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