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Philippine president says Trump complimented him on his controversial drug campaign

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press)
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign — a bloodbath that has taken the lives of nearly 5,000 suspected drug dealers and users — in a phone call on Friday night, Duterte said.

Trump told the Philippine leader that he was conducting his drug war “the right way” and invited him to the White House, Duterte said, according to the Philippine Inquirer.

“The President-elect Trump wishes to extend his warmest regards to the Filipino people,” Duterte recounted, according to the newspaper. “And in just a few minutes, we were talking [about] a lot of things. He was quite sensitive also to our worry about drugs.”

“And he wishes me well too, in my campaign and he said that… well we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way,” he continued. “And he wishes us well. And I said that, well, we assured him of our ties with America.”

Trump’s transition team confirmed that the phone call took place, but did not say whether Trump praised the Philippine president’s drug war or invited him to the White House. 

Trump and Duterte “noted the long history of friendship and cooperation between the two nations,” according to the Trump team’s statement, “and agreed that the two governments would continue to work together closely on matters of shared interest and concern.”

Duterte, 71, campaigned on promises to rid the country of illegal drugs by killing tens of thousands of drug dealers, and since his inauguration in late June, an estimated 4,800 people have been killed, most of them gunned down by police and vigilantes.

Duterte’s latest comments contrasted sharply with his exchanges with the Obama White House, which frequently criticized his drug campaign as an affront to human rights and due process. Duterte responded with hostility, calling Obama the “son of a whore” and threatening to “separate” from the U.S., a longstanding Philippine ally. 


Donald Trump speaks with Taiwan's leader, which could provoke China

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. (Wally Santana / Associated Press)
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. (Wally Santana / Associated Press)

President-elect Donald Trump had a potentially provocative phone conversation Friday with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, which could upset delicate relations between the U.S. and the Chinese government.

It is believed to be the first call between a president or president-elect with a Taiwanese leader since 1979, when the U.S. recognized the mainland government and cut ties with Taiwan.

China has long been sensitive to any diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, which it regards as a rogue province. The reaction from China could be sharp.

The Trump transition team confirmed the call Friday in a statement summarizing contacts with four foreign leaders, including leaders from Afghanistan, the Philippines and Singapore.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court to hear case about Southern California police shooting

 (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)
(Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to review a police shooting in Los Angeles County and decide whether officers can be held liable if they recklessly provoke a violent confrontation.

Two deputies were hit with a $4 million judgment for breaking into a shack behind a house in Lancaster in 2010 and shooting and severely injuring a couple who were sleeping there. 

One of the victims, Angel Mendez, was holding a BB gun in the dark shack, and a judge decided the officers acted reasonably in firing their guns since they feared for their safety. At the time, they were looking for a fugitive who was said to be armed and dangerous.

But the judge nonetheless held the two officers liable because they had provoked the confrontation by entering the shack without a search warrant.   

The justices have noted before that the 9th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction on the West Coast, is the only one to have adopted this “provocation” rule in police shooting cases.

And on Friday, the high court said it would hear the officers’ appeal, which asks the justices to throw out this rule.

The case of Los Angeles County vs. Mendez will be heard and decided early next year.


Immigration detainees should be held in for-profit prisons, panel says

 (John Moore / Getty Images)
(John Moore / Getty Images)

Immigration authorities should continue holding people accused of immigration violations in for-profit prisons despite complaints about safety and other problems, a Department of Homeland Security review panel has concluded after examining the issue.

Privately run detention facilities have long attracted criticism from immigration advocates and human rights groups for poor conditions and inadequate medical care.

But in a 23-page report released Thursday, the panel said eliminating them would cost too much and make it harder for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to cope with sudden surges in the detainee population.

“Use of these facilities will continue,” Karen Tandy, who led the panel that conducted the two-month review, told the Homeland Security Advisory Council. "We've seen dramatic surges in detention."


Michigan attorney general suing to block Jill Stein's recount request

U.S. economy creates 178,000 jobs in November; jobless rate drops to 4.6%

The U.S. economy produced another solid month of labor market growth, adding 178,000 net new jobs in November while the unemployment rate fell to a nine-year low, the Labor Department said Friday.

The latest jobs report virtually assures that Federal Reserve officials will raise a key interest rate this month.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.6%, the lowest since mid-2007, but the 0.3 percentage point drop was in large part because the labor market shrank by 226,000 people. It was the second-straight month the labor force shrank.

In another discouraging sign, wage growth reversed in November after mostly strong gains in recent months.

Trump to preside over the richest Cabinet in U.S. history

President-elect Donald Trump, left, with investor Wilbur Ross, whose estimated worth is $2.5 billion. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
President-elect Donald Trump, left, with investor Wilbur Ross, whose estimated worth is $2.5 billion. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Dwight Eisenhower surrounded himself in the White House with such wealthy individuals that his Cabinet was mockingly referred to as "nine millionaires and a plumber." 

President-elect Donald Trump is about to do him one better. 

Trump won the election by appealing to America's disaffected working class, promising to drain the Washington swamp of insiders and railing against segments of the financial elite. But the New York businessman has tapped a slate of people very much in his own vein to serve alongside him — billionaires and multimillionaires, including Wall Street financiers, industrialists and scions of the super-rich.

Trump's pick of James Mattis to head the Pentagon sets up a spat in Congress

President-elect Donald Trump, left, stands with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse on Nov. 19, 2016. (Associated Press)
President-elect Donald Trump, left, stands with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse on Nov. 19, 2016. (Associated Press)

Donald Trump's pick of retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis as secretary of Defense has started a debate in Congress over civilian control of the military that will shadow his confirmation.

Mattis retired from the Marines in 2013 and federal law specifically bars anyone who served in uniform in the previous seven years from heading the Pentagon.

Congress would need to pass another law to grant Mattis a waiver -- the first since Congress agreed to let retired Army Gen. George C. Marshall become secretary of Defense in 1950.

That law specifically warned against approving another recently retired military officer as a future Pentagon chief.

Republican leaders in Congress — including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, who heads the House Armed Services Committee — have indicated a willingness to grant Mattis the waiver.

But Democrats may not be so willing. At least one already has announced her opposition while others expressed concerns.

"While I deeply respect Gen. Mattis' service, I will oppose a waiver," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), ranking member on the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel.

"Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule," she said in a statement.

Trump’s choice raises “serious questions about fundamental principles of our Constitutional order,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“Civilian control of the military is not something to be casually cast aside,” he said. “So while I like and respect Gen. Mattis a great deal, the House of Representatives would have to perform a full review, including hearings by the Armed Services Committee, if it were to consider overriding the statutory prohibition on recent military officers serving as the secretary of Defense.”

Congress should “bear in mind the precedent we would be setting and the impact it would have on the principle of civilian leadership of our nation's military,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

The 1947 federal law that created the Defense Department set a 10-year ban on military officers from heading it. The 1947 federal law that created the Defense Department said military officers weren't allowed to head it within 10 years after their service ended. The ban was dropped reduced to seven years in 2008.

While 18 of the 25 men confirmed as secretaries of Defense since 1947 had previously served in the military, only Marshall had retired recently enough that he needed a waiver.

But Marshall’s case was unique in many ways.

He agreed to accept the Pentagon post for just a year to help plan for the Korean War, which had just begun. He had already served as secretary of State for two years, and the rebuilding of Europe under the Marshall Plan ultimately would win him a Nobel Prize.

Moreover, except for a short staff assignment in France during World War I, Marshall was a headquarters general, not a combat commander.

As chief of staff of the Army during World War II, he oversaw the swift expansion of the U.S. military and coordinated Allied operations in Europe and the Pacific from his desk in Washington.

Mattis, who served four decades in the Marines, was more of a front-line officer. He served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Military officers traditionally stay outside the partisan political fray because they do not want their military advice to civilian leaders viewed as politically motivated.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made sure he and his staff avoided articulating any opinion in public during the presidential campaign.

Mattis has been outspoken since retiring and has criticized some Obama administration policies, particularly on Iran.

Despite the concerns, Congress is expected to approve the waiver for Mattis and the Senate is then likely to confirm his nomination.

“I look forward to moving forward with the confirmation process as soon as possible in the new Congress,” McCain said in a statement. “America will be fortunate to have General Mattis in its service once again.”

Thornberry called Mattis “an excellent selection” and pledged to “work with my colleagues in the coming days to clear the way for his confirmation by the Senate.”

Wells Fargo customers harmed by fake accounts would get to sue under proposed legislation

Wells Fargo & Co. customers who learned that bank employees opened accounts without their consent later discovered another problem when they tried to sue to recover lost fees and for other damages.

They couldn’t.

The San Francisco-based bank says that clauses in contracts the customers signed when they opened legitimate accounts forced all disputes — even those involving the roughly 2 million unauthorized accounts in the scandal — into private arbitration.

Now, two federal lawmakers want to change that. 

Donald Trump may have won, but he doesn't want the campaign to end

 (Mark Lyons / European Pressphoto Agency)
(Mark Lyons / European Pressphoto Agency)

The election had been over for more than three weeks when President-elect Donald Trump took the stage Thursday night in Cincinnati, but inside the arena it was like the campaign had never ended. 

Supporters chanted familiar slogans about Hillary Clinton — “Lock her up” — and illegal immigration: “Build the wall.”  They booed the media when Trump criticized “the very dishonest press.”

The rally was, familiarly, interrupted by protestors, whom Trump mocked as they were escorted out by saying they were going “back home to Mom.”

Trump said he was going to discuss an “action plan” for his administration, but he seemed more animated regaling the crowd with a play-by-play of how television news covered election night. He relished the surprise on anchors’ faces as it became clear that the “blue wall” of normally Democratic states would fall to Trump, handing him a victory. 

“We shattered that sucker,” he said. “That poor wall is busted up.”

Donald Trump announces 'Mad Dog Mattis' as his choice for Defense secretary

 (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen James Mattis, a highly respected retired Marine four-star general, to head the Defense Department, filling in a crucial national security position in the emerging Cabinet.

"We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of Defense," Trump told a crowd of supporters in Cincinnati on Thursday night, referring to the retired general by his nickname. 

Mattis served 44 years in the Marine Corps before he retired in 2013. He headed U.S. Central Command in his final three years and oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other military operations in the Middle East.

Unmarried all his life, Mattis, 66, was known as a hard-charging but scholarly figure who issued heavy reading lists to his subordinates and who carried “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius on his deployments.

In speeches, he was as likely to quote from Shakespeare or an ancient Greek poet as from traditional military strategists Carl von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu. 


Trump could help a Democrat while hurting the party at the same time

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. (Dale Wetzel / Associated Press)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. (Dale Wetzel / Associated Press)

Here's one way Donald Trump could both elevate a Democrat while diminishing the party at the same time.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democratic lawmaker representing a solid red state, will meet with the Republican president-elect Friday in connection with a potential Cabinet appointment. The senator was to discuss two specific posts: secretary of Energy or of the Interior, according to a person familiar with the meeting agenda.

Adding Heitkamp to Trump's Cabinet and removing her from the Senate could help Republicans increase their narrow majority in the chamber, which shrunk by two seats in last month's election. 

Heitkamp, first elected in 2012, is up for reelection in two years and is likely to face a tough fight given the state's strong GOP leanings.

Heitkamp "comes very highly recommended, very highly qualified" and would be "a proven asset in any capacity," Trump spokesman Jason Miller said, though he cautioned that of the dozens of people who have met with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, some merely provide insight and experience, while others are interviewing for jobs.

Heitkamp said she appreciated the invitation to meet with Trump.

"Whatever job I do, I hope to work with the president-elect and all of my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to best support my state," she said.

New presidents often like to choose at least one or two members of the opposite party to give their administration a flair of bipartisanship. Illinois Republican Rep. Ray LaHood was President Obama's first Transportation secretary; Obama also chose New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg for Commerce secretary before the Republican withdrew from the nomination.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was also being considered for a potential position in Trump's Cabinet, Politico reported.

transitionWhite House

Donald Trump says he never really meant to promise that Carrier jobs would return

President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday that he never really meant to promise that he would bring jobs back that Carrier, the heating and cooling company, had promised this year to ship to Mexico.

“That was a euphemism," Trump said, meaning he was treating the company as a proxy for U.S. manufacturers that send jobs abroad. "I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in.”

But Trump said he made Carrier a priority after seeing an employee of the company cite the promise on an evening newscast.

On Thursday, Trump toured the Carrier factory in Indianapolis, talking about what a great Christmas its workers would have after the company agreed this week to keep 1,100 jobs from going abroad.

That's most of the 1,400 jobs that Carrier had planned to shed in its move, and 100 more jobs than had been announced in a Wednesday news release.

Trump began calling the chief executive of Carrier's parent company, Gregory Hayes, after seeing the news segment, he said. 

He worked out a deal with Hayes. Carrier said in a statement Thursday that the deal with the state of Indiana gives the firm $7 million in incentives “over multiple years, contingent upon factors including employment, job retention and capital investment." Vice President-elect Mike Pence is the state's outgoing governor and also played a key role in negotiating.

Trump said the goodwill that Carrier built would be worth even more: "So many people are going to be buying Carrier air conditioners.”

Trump, in a speech after his factory tour, beamed with energy, showing the freewheeling style he honed on the campaign trail, with frequent tangents to talk about his primary victory in Indiana, former basketball coach Bob Knight and his "tremendous love affair with the state of Indiana."

Then he singled out a man in the audience who said it was his son who spoke out on the national news segment about Carrier and said he was certain that Trump would keep the jobs from leaving.

“Your son, whoever the hell your son is, these people owe him a lot,” Trump said.

Trump promised other companies would not make the same decision when he becomes president, saying he would shred government regulations and reduce the business tax from 35% to 15%. He said those who were not lured by those enticements would face large tariffs. All of those actions will require congressional approval.

Trump also said that he would not shy from calling other companies.

“They say it's not presidential to call up these massive leaders of business," Trump said. "I think it's very presidential. And if it’s not presidential, that’s OK.”

2:30 p.m.: This story was updated with comment from Carrier.

Donald Trump speaks with Olympic leader in support of LA 2024 effort, officials say

 (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Los Angeles has taken its case for the 2024 Summer Olympics to President-elect Donald Trump.

Last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti — who has spearheaded the bid — spoke with Trump about a number of issues, including the Games.

Now, LA 2024 officials say, Trump called Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, on Wednesday to express support for the bid.


Mike Pence's temporary neighbors in Washington silently protest against him with LGBT pride flags

Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s temporary neighbors have sent a not-so-welcome message criticizing his stance on gay rights.

Residents in northwest Washington, D.C., near where Pence is renting a house have begun flying LGBT pride flags from their homes. 

“A respectful message showing, in my case, my disagreement with some of his thinking,” neighbor Ilse Heintzen told WJLA-TV.

Pence has long been an opponent of gay rights.

As governor of Indiana, he signed a measure into law last year that would have allowed businesses to reject gay and lesbian customers on grounds of religious freedom. He later signed a revised version of the law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

As a congressman in 2010, Pence criticized efforts to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the policy governing gays in the military. And during his congressional run in 2000, he posted a statement on his campaign website that was widely perceived to support the discredited practice of gay conversion therapy. A spokesman rejected that conclusion recently, telling the New York Times that the statement had been misinterpreted.

Washington itself is a heavily Democratic city; Hillary Clinton won nearly 93% of the vote there in last month's election.

Pence's rental is listed at $6,000 per month. According to WJLA, "roughly a half-dozen pride flags" fly on the block, with more to come.

Pence will move into the official vice presidential mansion at the Naval Observatory, also in northwest Washington, after Vice President Joe Biden moves out.

Watch live: Trump, Pence speak from Indiana Carrier plant


Russia's Putin reins in anti-Western rhetoric during speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles as he gives his annual state of the nation address in the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday. (Pavel Golovkin / Associated Press)
Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles as he gives his annual state of the nation address in the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday. (Pavel Golovkin / Associated Press)

Russian President Vladimir Putin – whose international aims are under scrutiny as Donald Trump prepares to assume the U.S. presidency – reined in the anti-Western rhetoric in a major speech Thursday.

In his annual state-of-the-nation address delivered from an ornate assembly room in the Kremlin, Putin avoided the harsh references to Washington that are often a hallmark of such high-profile ceremonial speeches. Instead, he focused on Russia’s domestic and economic challenges and painted his government as averse to international friction.

“We don’t want confrontation with anyone – we don’t need it,” official media outlets quoted him as telling an assemblage of Russian political elite. “We are not seeking and have never sought enemies. We need friends.”

That he may have found a friend in Trump, who takes office in less than two months, has been a much-discussed topic in U.S. policy circles. The latest cautionary note was struck by outgoing CIA Director John Brennan, who a day earlier had told the BBC that Trump “needs to be wary of Russian promises.”

During his campaign, the now president-elect repeatedly made admiring references to Putin’s “strong” style of governance, and the two have since spoken of repairing relations that have been tense for much of President Obama’s tenure.

In his speech, Putin said Russia wanted to work with the United States, citing global terrorism as a common enemy.

“We are ready to cooperate with the new U.S. administration,” the Russian leader said. “We have a shared responsibility to ensure national security.”

Trump makes new announcements that help him look good and distract from controversies, too

Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump's designee as Treasury secretary. (Albin Lohr-Jones / Pool Photo)
Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump's designee as Treasury secretary. (Albin Lohr-Jones / Pool Photo)

Donald Trump arrives Thursday in Indiana to tout the saving of about 1,000 American jobs — and to add yet more positive shine to an image honed daily with his effervescent use of social media.

Trump claimed this week on Twitter that he’d persuaded the Carrier heating and air conditioning firm to retain many of the jobs it planned to send to Mexico — a plan that Trump regularly criticized during his campaign.

Then he announced that he will change his relationship with his namesake development company. The Internet roared with assertions that Trump was going to leave his company entirely — thus lessening obvious conflicts of interest — even though Trump had not gone that far.

Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, but it turns out Americans like most of it, a poll finds

 (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Despite sharp partisan differences over the Affordable Care ActDemocrats and Republicans, including voters who backed President-elect Donald Trump, strongly support most of the law’s key provisions, a new national poll indicates.

And although most Trump voters still favor repealing the law, often called Obamacare, an increasing share of Americans overall oppose that approach, according to the poll, which was conducted in mid-November, following Trump’s election.

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