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Dec 19, 2016

The Guardian | U.S. Briefing - December 19, 2016:: Faithless Electors' Make Voices Heard as Electoral College Votes, by Nicole Puglise

theguardian.com
 
Nicole Puglise
Today, the 538 members of the electoral college will gather in state capitols across the country to cast their votes for the next president of the United States. With 306 electoral college votes under his belt to Hillary Clinton’s 232, that person will almost certainly be Donald Trump. But at least eight
electors - seven of them Democrats - have said they intend to vote against their party as a protest. They hope to inspire others to rally around a compromise candidate and avert a Trump presidency. Said a Republican: “Electors should have a deliberative role – otherwise, why not just use jelly beans or bricks to deliver the final decision?”
Electoral college rebels speak out about a last-ditch hope to stop Trump
Further reading: Electoral college: why, how and can it stop Trump?

Trump ‘will violate the constitution on inauguration day’

“Trump’s continued interest in the Trump Organization and his steady stream of monetary and other benefits from foreign powers put him on a collision course with the emoluments clause”, ensuring he will violate the US constitution on inauguration day. So writes the Harvard law professor Laurence H Tribe for the Guardian. The emoluments clause prohibits accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” and was based on the theory that receiving something of value from a foreign power could compromise loyalty to the US. Thus, Tribe writes, the electoral college would be justified in concluding that Trump is unsuited for the presidency, or Congress justified to impeach him.
Donald Trump will violate the US constitution on inauguration day

Trump pick Tillerson was director of US-Russian oil firm

Rex Tillerson, nominated by Donald Trump to be the next secretary of state, was the longtime director of a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, leaked documents show. The chief executive of ExxonMobil became a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, in 1998. A leaked 2001 document listing him comes from the corporate registry in the Bahamas and was one of 1.3m files given to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source. Though there is nothing untoward about this directorship, it has not been reported before and is likely to raise fresh questions over Tillerson’s relationship with Russia as he heads for a confirmation hearing in the Senate.
Leak reveals Rex Tillerson was director of Bahamas-based US-Russian oil firm

Trump has ‘no idea how to run a superpower’

“He bears no sense of how to lead a superpower,” China’s Global Times newspaper wrote of President-elect Trump in an editorial on Monday morning. The editorial from the Communist party-controlled paper comes after Trump’s recent tweets about the country, after the Chinese navy seized a US naval drone in the South China Sea. In an online video, the newspaper’s editor said he didn’t know if Trump was “playing the psychological card with China or is in fact just unprofessional”. In its editorial, the newspaper warned: “If he treats China after assuming office in the same way as in his tweets, China will not exercise restraint.”
Trump has no idea how to run a superpower, say Chinese media

Ex-Stanford professor makes sexual harassment claim

Michelle Karnes, a former Stanford professor, believes that after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against Stephen Hinton, a professor and former dean, administrators tried to push her out of the university. Hinton vigorously denied the allegations, claiming a “platonic, reciprocal relationship” and pointing out that a university investigation concluded his conduct did not constitute sexual harassment. From Karnes’ perspective, the university went to great lengths to protect a senior faculty member and silence his accuser, prioritizing its reputation over her wellbeing. Her story comes after numerous sexual misconduct controversies at Stanford, one of America’s most prestigious universities, and as women in academia across the US are increasingly speaking up about assault, harassment and discrimination.
Ex-Stanford professor: I was pushed out after reporting sexual harassment

Aleppo refugees reach safety

Two days after a deal to evacuate tens of thousands of civilians from the Syrian city appeared on the verge of unravelling, with buses attacked and burned, hundreds of people from east Aleppo who spent hours crammed on buses at a Syrian government checkpoint have reached safety. Furthermore, roughly 1,000 civilians in 25 buses were evacuated overnight into the western Aleppo countryside, which is controlled by the opposition, according to a source with knowledge of the evacuation deal. Another 20 were still stuck in the district of Ramouseh, awaiting the parallel evacuation of residents in two pro-government villages besieged by rebels. One of those rescued was Bana al-Abed, a seven-year-old girl whose tweets about life in east Aleppo captured attention on social media. Those who remain in east Aleppo are enduring a harsh winter and the UN is preparing to vote on a resolution to deploy observers. Syria-allied Russia has given its cautious backing.
Aleppo refugees reach safety after being held at government checkpoint

Chaos in Venezuela as Maduro flip-flops on currency

Last week, the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, announced that the 100-bolivar note would be pulled from circulation within 72 hours, to combat contraband “mafias” on the country’s borders deemed to be part of an international conspiracy against its oil-dependent economy. Millions waited in line for hours to turn in their soon-to-be-worthless cash, and were meant to be able to withdraw newly printed notes of higher denomination, ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars. But the new bills never arrived and Maduro, declaring the old bills would be good until 2 January, claimed victory as the banks now hold 80% of the 100 bolivar bills in circulation. On Sunday, more than 300 were arrested during protests and looting.
Chaos in Venezuela as Maduro flip-flops on currency withdrawal

Time is running out to help the Guardian in 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but far fewer are paying for it. And advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. Support the Guardian by becoming a member or making a contribution.

‘Surreal’ trumps ‘fascism’ as word of the year

Merriam-Webster’s word of 2016 is “surreal”, after the dictionary publisher implored word lovers to stop “fascism” from being named its word of the year last month. “Historically, ‘surreal’ has been one of the words most searched after tragedy, most notably in the days following 9/11. But it was associated with a wide variety of stories this year,” said Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster. The biggest spike in searches for “surreal” came after Donald Trump’s presidential election win in November, Merriam-Webster said.
‘Surreal’ trumps ‘fascism’ as Merriam-Webster’s 2016 word of the year

Zsa Zsa Gabor dies aged 99

The actor and celebrity died at her home in Los Angeles on Sunday. Her husband said she died of a heart attack. The Hollywood star was famous for her roles in 1950s B-movies, her film and TV cameos, her larger than life personality … and her nine husbands.
Zsa Zsa Gabor dies aged 99

And finally ... mysterious ghost shark caught on film

US scientists surveying the depths off California and Hawaii have filmed the mysterious ghost shark for the first time, using a remote operated vehicle. The footage was captured in 2009, but it took the team several years to confirm the creature on the film is a type of ghost shark known as a pointy-nosed blue chimaera.
Mysterious ghost shark caught on film for the first time