President-elect Donald Trump spoke with the President of Taiwan Friday in a move that threatens to trigger a diplomatic showdown with China. The conversation marks the first publicly reported call between a U.S. president or president-elect and the leader of Taiwan since Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979. It is certain to incense China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, and risks throwing US-China relations into a tailspin before Trump takes the oath of office on January 20. An Obama administration official said there was no contact with either the White House nor the State Department about the call beforehand. "This could be damaging," said Barry Pavel, director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council. "We'll see the Chinese reaction in several hours. I don't expect it to be pretty." read more
A company that Donald Trump frequently bashed for planning to outsource 1,400 jobs to Mexico said Tuesday that it had decided to keep most of those jobs in the United States. "We are pleased to have reached a deal with President-elect Trump" and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indiana, the Carrier Corporation said on Twitter. During the campaign, Trump frequently criticized Carrier, a company that makes air conditioners and furnaces, for its plans to shutter a factory in Indianapolis in favor of one in Monterrey, Mexico. Trump held up the company as an example of all that was wrong with U.S. trade agreements that make it easy for companies to save money by using cheaper foreign labor while laying off American workers. Trump said on Twitter last week that he was negotiating with the company to change its plans. read more
President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an unconventional choice that underscores Trump's willingness to forgo traditional policy expertise in some Cabinet positions to surround himself with allies. A review of some of Carson's political commentary on housing policy reveals his views to be at odds with some of the anti-segregation policies championed by minority groups, including the NAACP. On at least one occasion, he criticized efforts by the Obama administration to use its regulatory powers to improve racial integration in housing. Carson's lack of experience in the housing sphere raised concerns among advocates for vulnerable Americans. read more
Showing ignorance of the Supreme Court's rulings in 1989 and 1990 that flag burning is a protected form of speech under the First Amendment, President-elect Donald Trump declared at 6:55 a.m. on Twitter this morning that a person who burns a flag should possibly lose their U.S. citizenship. Trump tweeted, "Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag -- if they do, there must be consequences -- perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!" University of Texas Law School Steve Vladeck explains that Trump's early-morning Twitter brainfart is unconstitutional in two different ways: "In addition to ignoring the Supreme Court's clear teaching that flag burning is constitutionally protected speech, Mr. Trump's tweet also casually suggests that citizens should lose their citizenship as a 'penalty' for such acts," Vladeck said. "Even if flag burning wasn't protected, it would still be unconstitutional to deprive someone of their citizenship without some voluntary act on their part to renounce their allegiance to the United States or pledge fealty to a foreign sovereign." read more
Donald Trump is considering tapping former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as his secretary of Veterans Affairs, according to two Trump transition sources. Palin was an early endorser of Trump, throwing her support to him before the Iowa caucuses, making her one of his highest profile backers at the time. Among her chief competitors for the Veterans Affairs post, according to one transition source, is former Sen. Scott Brown, another relatively early Trump backer.
An anesthesiologist at Denver Health Medical Center has been suspended from seeing patients after a racially objectionable social media post. Michelle Herren posted a photo of First Lady Michelle Obama on Facebook yelling and wrote, "Monkey face and poor ebonic English! There! I feel better and am still not racist! Just calling it like it is!" Herren said in a phone interview she was taken out of context and didn't realize saying Obama has a "monkey face" is offensive. Denver Health wrote on Facebook, "Her views are contrary to the mission and values of Denver Health, and to our staff and patients. Denver Health proudly serves people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and social backgrounds -- and our staff and patient population truly reflect our diverse community and nation."
Gary Legum, Salon: The more we learn about the agreement Donald Trump reached with Carrier Corporation for the manufacturer to keep 1,000 or so jobs in Indiana instead of moving them to Mexico, the more the whole shaky edifice looks to be propped up by positive spin and Trump's own immense self-regard. ... Basically, the deal is short-term ego gratification for Trump that does nothing to address the long-term problem of manufacturing decline in the Rust Belt, or even honestly level with blue-collar workers about the future of factory jobs that are growing ever scarcer in America. Trump has no more idea how to do that than anyone else in his party -- assuming his party is even interested in doing so -- beyond bribing companies with tax breaks. read more
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James N. "Mad Dog" Mattis to be secretary of defense, selecting a former senior military officer who has said that responding to "political Islam" is the major security issue facing the United States. Mattis, who retired as chief of U.S. Central Command in 2013, has often said that Washington lacks an overall strategy in the Middle East, opting to instead handle issues in an ineffective one-by-one manner. To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that defense secretaries must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exception just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.
Senator Bernie Sanders lambasted Donald Trump for giving Carrier tax incentives to keep 1,000 jobs in America. The deal has widely been seen as a victory for Trump -- he mostly delivered on a campaign promise. But Sanders argues that Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies, are having the last laugh. "In essence, United Technologies (parent of Carrier) took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country," Sanders said in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Thursday. read more
The town of Kensington, Canada, has issued a harrowing warning to residents who might drive drunk over the holiday season, telling them that when they're caught the punishment will be particularly cruel. The police announced on Facebook, "On top of a hefty fine, a criminal charge and a year's driving suspension we will also provide you with a bonus gift of playing the office's copy of Nickelback in the cruiser on the way to jail." The post has a photo of the band's Silver Side Up album in its wrapper. "So please, let's not ruin a perfectly good unopened copy of Nickelback. You don't drink and drive and we won't make you listen to it." read more