U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: December 18, 2016

Jim Watson/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Trump says China should keep the U.S. drone it ‘stole’ in ‘unpresidented’ manner
President-elect Donald Trump weighed in on China’s seizure of a U.S. oceanographic drone early Saturday, tweeting, “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act.” He soon replaced the typo-marred post with one calling the situation “unprecedented” — though not before the neologism began trending on Twitter with suggestions that Trump not be president — and later on Saturday tweeted that “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back.- let them keep it!”

Source: The Hill, The Week

2. China says U.S. is ‘hyping up’ drone seizure done in the name of safety
Following President-elect Donald Trump’s Saturday tweet accusing China of stealing an American underwater drone, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued its second statement on the subject saying the U.S. is “hyping up” the situation in an “unhelpful” way and reiterating that the drone will be returned in an “appropriate manner.” Chinese Defense Ministry representative Yang Yujun said the device was collected to prevent it “from posing a danger to the safe navigation of passing ships and personnel,” and the Pentagon’s Peter Cook confirmed the drone’s return has been arranged.

Source: Reuters, Associated Press

3. Trump completes ‘thank you’ tour in Alabama
President-elect Donald Trump completed his series of “thank you” rallies with an event in Mobile, Alabama, Saturday evening, appearing with his attorney general nominee, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), and evangelist Franklin Graham. Though Trump did address some policy issues, promising to soon name a nominee for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he devoted most of his speech to reminiscing on the highlights of his campaign. Trump also responded to First Lady Michelle Obama’s recent remark that, post-election, “we’re feeling what not having hope feels like.” “We have tremendous hope, and we have tremendous promise and tremendous potential,” Trump said. “And beyond hope, we have such potential. This country has such potential. You watch, it’s going to be so special.”

Source: Reuters, Politico

4. Electoral College votes for president Monday
The 538 members of the Electoral College will convene in their respective states Monday to vote for the United States’ next president, a process that is usually little more than a legal formality following the popular vote tally on Election Day. This year, however, last-ditch efforts are ongoing to convince at least 37 Republicans to become “faithless electors” who vote for someone other than President-elect Donald Trump, who lost the popular contest to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. Attempts to oust Trump in this manner are not expected to succeed. The Electoral College votes will not be counted until Jan. 6 in a joint congressional session, at which point members of Congress may choose to challenge individual electors or state-wide results.

Source: The Washington Post, The New York Times

5. Charleston shooter Dylann Roof will not present mental health evidence at sentencing
Dylann Roof, the gunman convicted for the murder of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, will not pursue a lesser sentence on grounds of mental illness. “I will not be calling mental health experts or presenting mental health evidence,” he said in a handwritten note submitted in court on Friday. “I am morally opposed to psychology,” Roof wrote in a journal entry written before his attack. “It is a Jewish invention that does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.” Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty.

Source: Reuters, NY Daily News

6. Car bomb kills 13, wounds 56 in Turkey
A car bomb in Kayseri, Turkey, on Saturday killed 13 off-duty soldiers and injured 56 other people traveling on a bus. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the attack on Kurdish militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). “The style and goals of the attacks clearly show the aim of the separatist terrorist organization is to trip up Turkey, cut its strength and have it focus its energy and forces elsewhere,” he said. “We know that these attacks we are being subjected to are not independent from the developments in our region, especially in Iraq and Syria.” Seven people have been arrested in connection to the bombing.

Source: Reuters, Associated Press

7. Venezuela postpones currency plan after economic panic
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday said he will wait until January to eliminate the 100-bolivar note, the country’s largest currency denomination, after his government’s announcement that all 100-bolivar bills would be worthless in 72 hours sparked widespread economic panic. The bill is worth just four cents in U.S. dollars thanks to ongoing hyperinflation and comprises about three quarters of Venezuela’s cash. Maduro and his ministers claimed the bill must be eliminated to deal with organized crime and attempts to overthrow the socialist government. Maduro has also closed Venezuela’s borders to Colombia and Brazil until January, making it ever more difficult to get food into the country as increasingly desperate shortages continue.

Source: Reuters, CBC News

8. Wintry weather leads to 55-car crash in Baltimore
Two people were killed and 15 more injured early Saturday morning in a 55-vehicle pile-up on Interstate 95 near Baltimore, Maryland, in which a tanker carrying a load of gasoline fell off an overpass and exploded. The crash was the largest of about a dozen car accidents in the area — plus more around the country — caused by slippery road conditions created by freezing rain, ice, or snow. The treacherous precipitation is part of a major winter storm system spanning much of the continental United States this weekend.

Source: ABC News, The Baltimore Sun

9. Minnesota football players agree to end boycott over player suspension
The University of Minnesota Gophers announced Saturday they will end the team’s boycott of all football activities, a walkout they originally said would continue until 10 players suspended over allegations of sexual assault were reinstated. “As a team we understand that what has occurred these last few days and playing football for the University of Minnesota is larger than just us,” said wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky after meeting with the university’s board of regents, president, and athletic director on Friday. The Gophers will now be able to play in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.

Source: Associated Press, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

10. Dr. Henry Heimlich dies at 96
Henry Heimlich, the doctor whose choking response technique has saved the lives of an estimated 50,000 people, died Saturday after suffering a massive heart attack earlier in the week. He was 96 years old. The Heimlich maneuver came to worldwide attention in the 1970s, and Heimlich himself used it to save an elderly woman from choking as recently as this year. “There’s been a lot of attention paid to the Heimlich maneuver because it’s so effective, but what I think makes it truly innovative is the fact that it’s accessible to everyone,” he said of his invention. “Anyone can save the life of a choking person — even a child can perform the Heimlich maneuver.”

Source: CNN, NPR

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