5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Trump speaks with Taiwanese president, risking diplomatic crisis with China

  • Unemployment rate drops to 4.6 percent, a 9-year low

  • Democrats threaten to block Trump's pick for defense secretary

  • Jill Stein's recount efforts hit with lawsuits

  • Newly released Hamilton Mixtape tops iTunes, Amazon

President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, in a move that critics say will surely infuriate the People's Republic of China. While the phone call between the U.S. president-elect and the Taiwanese president appeared to be mainly congratulatory, it broke over three decades of precedent; the last time leaders of the two countries spoke directly is believed to be 1979 and the U.S. doesn't formally recognize the Taiwanese government. China considers the island a breakaway province, and so the phone call is expected to create an uproar in Beijing. "That's how wars start," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted.

Source: The Washington Post, The Financial Times

The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added a healthy 178,000 jobs in November, roughly in line with forecasts. Economists surveyed by Reuters had predicted 175,000 new nonfarm jobs; those surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast 180,000. The gains, an improvement over October, nudged the unemployment rate down to 4.6 percent, a nine-year low, as some Americans left the workforce. Consumer spending, inflation, the housing market, and manufacturing have improved recently, too. Together, the brightening data was seen as cementing the likelihood that the Federal Reserve would be able to resume its plan to push interest rates higher. "The economy is in good shape," said Jack McIntyre, portfolio manager at Brandywine Global in Philadelphia. "The Fed has the green light to raise interest rates this month, and most likely they are going to raise a couple of times next year."

Source: Bloomberg, Reuters

Democrats are already putting up roadblocks to the nomination of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for defense secretary. While most appointments need only a simple Senate majority for confirmation, Mattis, who retired from the military in 2013, also needs the Senate to approve a waiver allowing him to serve in the Pentagon less than seven years after retirement. And for that, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she would require a 60-vote supermajority, which Republicans don't have. "Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy," Gillibrand said. Though Mattis has strong support from Republicans, Politico noted it's quite possible that Democrats could "unilaterally block" Mattis.

Source: Politico, Bloomberg

Supporters of President-elect Donald Trump have filed lawsuits in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to block Green Party candidate Jill Stein's recount efforts, arguing they threaten the rights of Trump voters. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette also filed a lawsuit Friday against the recount request in his state, calling Stein's efforts "frivolous." Stein announced the recount effort last week after cybersecurity experts suggested alleged irregularities in the states' results, though they found no evidence of a hack. Stein says she intends to ensure the system's "integrity," not change the election's results.

Source: The Hill, Reuters

The Hamilton Mixtape dropped Friday and immediately rose to the top of the charts. The 23-track album sits at No. 1 on iTunes and is also the No. 1 paid album on Amazon. A homage to the Broadway hit Hamilton, the album features covers from artists like Alicia Keys, Sia, The Roots, and Busta Rhymes. Some tracks stay loyal to the cast album renditions, but The Atlantic noted "many do shift emphases in refreshing ways, confirming these songs' potential to live outside a narrative." The album debuted Thursday night with a live performance at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, the home of Hamilton.

Source: CBS News, The Atlantic
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