Top News Stories for Today – December 9, 2016
South Korean lawmakers impeach President Park
South Korean lawmakers on Friday voted overwhelmingly to impeach President Park Geun-hye over an influence peddling scandal involving her closest friend and confidante, Choi Soon-sil. Park was the country’s first female president, and now she will be its first leader to be forced to step down.
Park will be stripped of power and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will take over until the Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently resign. Park apologized at a Cabinet meeting after the vote. “I’m deeply sorry to the people because the nation has to experience this turmoil because of my negligence and lack of virtue,” she said. The Associated Press, Reuters, The Week
Trump still has financial stake in NBC
When The New Celebrity Apprentice, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, debuts early next year, President-elect Donald Trump’s name will appear in the credits as executive producer, right after series creator Mark Burnett. Trump will get more than just credit: He will also receive a fee for every episode that’s “likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum,” Variety reports, noting that MGM, not NBC, will be paying Trump.
MGM, Burnett’s company, produces the reality TV show, and NBC licenses and broadcasts it. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed that the president-elect has a financial stake in the show. NBC said it was “ending its business relationship” with Trump in July 2015, after he launched his presidential campaign with an attack on Mexicans. Ethics experts were dismayed by Trump’s ongoing role in the reality TV show. Variety, The Washington Post
Trump picks a restaurant CEO for labor secretary
On Thursday, Donald Trump tapped Andy Puzder, CEO of the company that owns burger chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., a wealthy businessman, a lawyer and an elite donor to Trump’s campaign, to serve as labor secretary.
According to the Labor Department’s website, the mission of the agency is “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” Critics say Puzder’s public comments often do not coincide with Labor’s stated mission.
Puzder has expressed his admiration for automated technology that he says business owners will have to turn to if they are forced to pay a substantially increased minimum wage, mandatory paid sick leave and health insurance for employees. He told Business Insider last year that machines are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.” The Wall Street Journal, VOA
Astronaut and former Senator John Glenn dies at 95
John Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the earth, has died at age 95, more than a week after being admitted to the Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital. After serving as a military pilot in World War II and the Korean conflict, Glenn was a test pilot on US Navy and Marine Corps jet fighters and won a place in the first class of US astronauts assembled by NASA in 1958. Glenn became the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth, flying a ship called the Friendship 7 around the world three times in a nearly five-hour flight on February 20, 1962.
He was a lifelong Democrat, he ran for a US Senate seat for Ohio in 1964. He was unsuccessful, but won a seat 10 years later, defending attacks on his military record in comments that came to be known as the “Gold Star Mothers” speech. During the 1974 primaries, opponent Howard Metzenbaum accused Glenn, a career military man, of never holding a real job. Glenn retorted, “You go with me to any Gold Star mother [a mother whose child has died in active US military service] and you look her in the eye and tell her that her son did not hold a job.” Glenn went on to win that election and remained a member of the US Senate until 1999. In the months before his death, he was the oldest living former member of the Senate. VOA
Doping report details institutional conspiracy in Russia
A new report into systematic Russian doping details a wide-ranging “institutional conspiracy” that involved more than 1,000 athletes across more than 30 sports, including evidence corroborating large-scale sample swapping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren said Friday the conspiracy involved the Russian Sports Ministry, national anti-doping agency and the FSB intelligence service, providing further of state involvement in a massive program of cheating and cover-ups.
McLaren said his conclusions were based on irrefutable forensic evidence, including DNA analysis proving that samples were swapped and other tests showing that doping bottles were opened. The investigation found that 15 Russian medalists in Sochi had their doping bottles tampered with, including athletes who won four gold medals. Names were not given. IOC President Thomas Bach has said stiff sanctions will be taken against any athletes and officials implicated in doping. He said he favors lifetime Olympic bans for anyone involved. Assoiated Press
Fake news a threat to US democracy
Hillary Clinton called “fake news” a danger that must be addressed quickly, in a rare public appearance on Thursday, a month after she lost the presidential election in a campaign marked by a flood of such propaganda.
Clinton urged action from both the private and public sectors to combat the false reports. Clinton herself has been a target of fake news, with internet postings claiming that Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington, was fronting a child sex ring run by Clinton. VOA
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