Top News Stories for Today – December 5, 2016
Trump taps Ben Carson for housing secretary
Donald Trump announced Monday that he has chosen retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for the cabinet position of secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Trump had teased the appointment in late November on Twitter, writing “I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD.
I’ve gotten to know him well — he’s a greatly talented person who loves people!” Carson expressed hesitation through a surrogate, claiming that he felt he did not have enough government experience to run a federal agency and “the last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.” But “Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans,” Trump said Monday. The Associated Press, The Week
Shinzo Abe to visit Pearl Harbor
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that he will visit the site of the Pearl Harbor attack later this year, making him the first sitting Japanese leader to do so. Abe plans to visit the Hawaiian naval base for the 75th anniversary of the Dec. 7 surprise attack alongside President Obama on Dec. 26 and 27.
“We must never repeat the horror of war,” Abe said. “I want to express that determination as we look to the future, and at the same time send a message about the value of US-Japanese reconciliation.” The bombing of Pearl Harbor killed more than 2,000 Americans and sank several US warships. Abe’s gesture is seen as a reciprocation of Obama’s visit to Hiroshima earlier this year. The New York Times
Italian PM to resign following referendum defeat
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced early Monday that he will turn in his formal resignation to President Sergio Mattarella later in the day, following a heavy defeat in his referendum on constitutional reforms. Renzi said he took “full responsibility” for the loss, adding, “We gave the Italians an opportunity to change, but we didn’t succeed.”
Renzi took office two-and-a-half-years ago promising to be an anti-establishment “demolition man,” and the referendum was designed to reduce the powers of the upper house Senate and regional authorities in order to quicken the legislative process. Renzi was up against every major opposition party, and early projections showed him only having slightly more than 40 percent of the vote. Mattarella will select a new prime minister, Italy’s fifth in as many years, with elections not scheduled until 2018. As Renzi made his resignation announcement, the euro fell to a 20-month low. Reuters, The Week
New Zealand’s Prime Minister resigns
New Zealand’s popular Prime Minister John Key resigns Monday after eight years as the country’s leader. Key is expected to formally submit his resignation next month at his National Party’s caucus. He said, however, he will remain a member of parliament to avoid a special election before next year’s general election. Key said he would back his deputy Bill English to replace him.
Speaking in a shaky voice, the prime minister said, “All of this has come at quite some sacrifice for the people who are dearest to me, my family. For my wife Bronagh there has been many nights and weekends spent alone. Many occasions that were important to her that I simply could not attend. My daughter Stefi and my son, Max transitioned from teenagers to young adults while coping with an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure because of their father’s job.” VOA
Philippines Vice President resigns cabinet post
Philippines Vice President Leni Robredo has resigned from her Cabinet post after President Rodrigo Duterte banned her from attending Cabinet meetings. Robredo, who was the housing and urban development secretary, will, however, continue her duties as the elected vice president.
In her letter of resignation to the president posted on her Twitter account, Robredo said, “Remaining in your Cabinet has become untenable.” Robredo received a text message Saturday from Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. saying the president wanted her “to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings” starting Monday. Robredo said in her letter the president had “effectively made it impossible for me to do my job.”
In the Philippines, the president and the vice president are elected separately and often come from rival political parties, like Duterte and Robredo. VOA
Michigan to begin vote recount
Michigan will become the second state to conduct a recount of ballot casts during the 2016 presidential election. US District Judge Mark Goldsmith early Monday morning issued an order for Michigan election officials to begin counting ballots starting at noon.
The ruling follows a request from Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein after a razor-thin margin made the state the last to be called in the November election. President-elect Donald Trump ended up winning Michigan’s 16 electoral votes by just 0.2 percentage points, or just under 10,000 votes out of over 5.5 million cast.
Stein has spearheaded a recount effort in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — three battleground states where Donald Trump narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton. Trump supporters in Wisconsin have unsuccessfully tried to stop the recount in progress there. CNN
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