Top News Stories for Today – January 9, 2017
Trump now accepts Russian hacking
President-elect Donald Trump now accepts the conclusion of the FBI, NSA, and CIA that the Russian government hacked Democratic targets in an attempt to influence the American presidential election, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday. Trump “is not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign,” Priebus said in an interview on Fox.
Priebus also reported that Trump has asked US intelligence agencies for recommendations on how to respond to the hacks, and depending on their input, “actions may be taken.” Earlier this week, Trump still maintained his longstanding position that allegations of Russian election meddling — especially successful interference — are a “political witch hunt” designed to detract from his victory. President Obama already retaliated against Russia with a package of sanctions. Reuters, Politico, The Week
Senate schedules Trump Cabinet hearings
Senate Republicans have scheduled hearings for nine of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees this week, starting Tuesday with Homeland Security nominee John Kelly, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general. On Friday, the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics (OGE) raised a red flag, saying that, because Trump’s nominees have not been vetted for conflicts of interest, some of them have “potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues.”
On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brushed aside concerns about nominees not yet cleared by the FBI or OGE, saying “papers are still coming in” and the Democrats’ “little procedural complaints” are due to their “frustration” at having lost. “We need to, sort of, grow up here and get past that,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Republicans should hold off on presenting the nominees to Senate scrutiny rather than “trying to ram them through as quickly as possible.” The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Week
Obama underestimated digital risk
President Obama did not misjudge possible threats from Russia, he said Sunday in an interview with ABC News, but did not realize the risk of digital election interference. “I don’t think I underestimated [Russian President Vladimir Putin],” Obama mused, “but I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation, for cyberhacking and so forth, to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating.”
Obama was speaking in response to this week’s report from the FBI, NSA, and CIA that the Russian government hacked Democratic targets in an effort to manipulate the US presidential election, a conclusion Trump rejected until Sunday. Obama also expressed his concern that some Republicans have “more confidence in Vladimir Putin than fellow Americans because those fellow Americans were Democrats. That cannot be.” The Washington Post, The Week
Meryl Streep slams Trump
Meryl Streep, while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Golden Globes, used her platform to remind people of the importance of the creative arts and to slam President-elect Donald Trump’s “performance” while on the campaign trail. Hollywood is “just a bunch of people from other places,” she said, and since “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners… if you kick us all out, you’ll have nothing to watch except for football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Without mentioning him by name, Streep said she can’t get Trump’s public mocking of a reporter with a disability out of her head, saying, “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence; when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” Trump responded on Twitter early Monday, calling Streep “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” and a “Hillary flunky who lost big.” He also denied that he had “mocked” the New York Times reporter. The Week, The Associated Press
Winners of the Golden Globes
At Sunday night’s Golden Globe awards, La La Land’s Emma Stone and her co-star, Ryan Gosling, won Best Actress and Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, and the film itself won for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical. Moonlight took home the award for Best Picture, Drama; Casey Affleck won Best Actor in a Drama for Manchester by the Sea; and Isabelle Huppert won Best Actress in a Drama for Elle.
Viola Davis received the Best Supporting Actress award for her turn in Fences; Claire Foy won Best TV Actress, Drama, for The Crown; Atlanta’s Donald Glover won Best Actor in a TV Series, Comedy or Musical; and Blackish’s Tracee Ellis Ross won Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy. Atlanta won Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy; The Crown won Best TV Series, Drama; and The People v. O.J. Simpson took home Best Limited Series or TV Movie. La La Land’s “City of Stars” was named Best Original Song, Damien Chazelle won Best Director for La La Land, and Zootopia won Best Animated Film. Los Angeles Times, The Week
Philippines and Russia relation
Russia and the Philippines are considering joint naval exercises, a link that would advance Manila’s move toward a multi-country foreign policy and bulk up its military while giving both sides a chance to stand up to the United States. Moscow sent a destroyer and a naval oil tanker to a port in Manila last week for a five-day goodwill visit, and the two sides are looking to expand defense cooperation, media outlets in the Philippines say. Some observers expect Russia to offer military sales, good for commerce as well as the Philippine goal of improving defense.
“As far as Duterte is concerned, he’s a big fan of Putin and he wants to build relations with Putin,” said Eduardo Araral, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s public policy school. “He wants to buy arms from Russia. The Philippines needs to build up its military and it doesn’t want to be too dependent on the United States.” VOA
Florida airport shooting suspect charged
The suspect in the deadly shooting at a Florida airport was charged Saturday with an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death, according to a statement by the Miami US attorney’s office. Esteban Santiago, 26, an Iraq War veteran, is accused of killing five people and wounding six others in a shooting rampage Friday. The gunshots panicked thousands of people and threw the Fort Lauderdale airport into chaos.
If convicted of the charge, Santiago could face the death penalty or any prison sentence up to life. Santiago also was charged with two firearms offenses, officials said. He is being held without bail. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance in Florida Monday. VOA
Ted Cruz, Texas Governor meet Taiwanese President
China said Monday it opposes any contact between Taiwanese leaders and US officials, a day after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen met with US Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters that China is against activities that “interfere with and damage China-US relations.” The meeting happened in Houston where Tsai stopped on her way to Central America.
Cruz said shortly before the talks took place, the Houston congressional delegation received what he called a “curious” letter from the Chinese consulate asking them not to go forward with the meeting. “The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves,” Cruz said in a statement. “The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom they meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit.” VOA
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