November 19, 2014

We're not number one. In fact, when it comes to personal freedom, we're not even close — so says a new international ranking from the Legatum Institute in London. No less than 20 other nations ranked ahead of America in regards to personal freedom, which is calculated based on protections of civil rights and civil liberties. This ranking has dropped significantly in recent years; the U.S. was in ninth place just four years ago.

The Legatum Institute also calculated an overall prosperity index, which factors in the personal freedom rating along with other social and economic measures. The United States' overall prosperity ranking is 10th worldwide, bolstered by the one measure by which we are number one: health. Bonnie Kristian

9:01 a.m. ET

The Washington, D.C., metro might be nearly empty ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration Friday, but the same cannot be said for DuPont Circle:

It legal in D.C. to possess two ounces or less of marijuana, to grow it, or to give it away. The free joints are courtesy of the D.C. Cannabis Coalition, which is pushing for federal legalization of pot. Later, the group will march to the National Mall, where 4 minutes and 20 seconds into Donald Trump's speech, they plan to light up. Jeva Lange

8:15 a.m. ET
Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

On Friday, after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, the Senate is expected to confirm his picks for defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis, and homeland security secretary, retired Gen. John Kelly, plus maybe designated CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) — but the other nominees will have to wait. Those won't be the only holes in the new Trump administration, however. Trump has named only 30 of his roughly 660 executive office appointees, according to the Partnership for Public Service, putting him far behind recent incoming presidents.

To keep the government running, the Trump transition team said Thursday it will keep on 50 essential national security and State Department officials appointed by Obama until their replacements are in place. Included in the list is Thomas A. Shannon Jr., who will be acting secretary of state.

There are a few big reasons Trump is so far behind in staffing his administration, The New York Times says, including his decision to remove New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) as his transition chief 10 weeks ago and disregarding the detailed plan Christie put in place to fill in top and midlevel positions. The other reason, The Times reports:

Since his election on Nov. 8, Mr. Trump has had little interest in the minutiae of his transition, saying it was "bad karma" to get too involved, according to a person who spoke with him at the time. At one point, he wanted to halt the planning altogether, out of superstition, the person said. [The New York Times]

"In 21 years of covering the State Department and in eight years of serving there, I've seen rocky transitions and experienced what feels like a hostile takeover," Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institute and a former journalist and Bill Clinton administration official, tells The New York Times, "but I've never seen anything like this." Peter Weber

8:09 a.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump will shorten his official title to simply President Trump at noon on Friday, and the whole world is watching:

Not everyone went with a Trump cover, though:

Stateside, the two major New York City tabloids — famous for their clever wordplay — ran the same pun on their front pages, a rare occurrence. Jeva Lange

7:51 a.m. ET

Even the sky seemed to be in on the show in Washington, D.C. on Friday. Donald Trump's Inauguration Day began with a spectacular sunrise that turned the sky over the Capitol brilliant shades of yellow, peach, and orange:

Not every president has been so lucky; President Ulysses S. Grant's second inauguration in 1873 had a wind chill of 30 degrees below zero, and when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated his second time in 1937, it rained almost two inches. Jeva Lange

7:31 a.m. ET

On Friday, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States when he takes the oath of office and subsequently delivers his inaugural address at the West Front of the Capitol Building, beginning at 12 p.m. ET.

Trump's day begins much earlier, though, with a private family breakfast and prayer service, a coffee date with the Obamas, and his swearing-in ceremony, which starts at 11:30 a.m. ET.

There is some question as to what tone Trump will take when addressing the nation: Trump "showed in his Election Night remarks, when he promised to be a president for all Americans, that he is capable of striking more harmonious notes when the occasion demands it," Politico writes.

The event is expected to draw thousands of supporters to D.C., even as dozens of major protests across the country have already begun. Jeva Lange

7:13 a.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump doesn't only use his Android smartphone to tweet — he also makes and takes calls at all hours, even from unknown or "No Caller ID" numbers, according to reporters and associates. It has been an indispensable tool for business and campaigning, but it would be a national security nightmare for a president. So, on Thursday, The Associated Press reports, Trump "told a friend that he had given up his phone, as security agencies had urged him to do," and as President Obama had, reluctantly, eight years ago. "Trump doesn't email, but he uses his phone to tweet," AP adds, "something he's made clear he plans to continue in office."

Trump "traded in his Android phone for a secure, encrypted device approved by the Secret Service with a new number that few people possess," The New York Times reports, citing "people close to the transition." Trump's aides told the newspaper that even though the official rationale was security, they are relieved at his restricted phone access — or at least greater reliance on the White House switchboard. Obama was originally given a special BlackBerry that was largely disabled for security purposes. He recently switched to an iPhone that let him email a limited group of people and surf the web, AP says, though he did not use it to make calls and always coordinated with staff before sending out a tweet.

We don't have many details about Trump's new smartphone, and probably won't for security purposes, but Obama gave some hints while talking about his last upgrade on The Tonight Show in June. "Finally, this year, they said, 'Good news Mr. President, we're going to give you a smartphone instead of a BlackBerry,'" Obama told Jimmy Fallon. "I'm excited, I get the thing, and they're like, 'Well, Mr. President, for security reasons — this is a great phone, state-of-the-art — but it doesn't take pictures, you can't text, the phone doesn't work, you can't play your music on it.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

5:51 a.m. ET

When Thursday's Late Show aired, Donald Trump's presidential inauguration was just over 12 hours away. "It's real," Stephen Colbert said. "It's happening. We all knew this day would come — it's inevitable, like death and never seeing his taxes." Once he's sworn in, "no one is really sure what Trump is gonna do in office — it's a grab bag," Colbert said. But Trump did tell The Washington Post that his plan to Make America Great Again is essentially to tell America it is now great. "America will be great when he says it is, okay?" Colbert said. "It's like your dad saying, 'You love Colonial Williamsburg! We drove all the way down here from St. Louis, you are having fun, mister. This is fun!'"

Trump also said he plans on bringing back military parades, to show America that its rebuilt military is great, too. But that doesn't mean Trump will be some sort of cold-hearted dictator, like North Korea's Kim Jong Un or Tiananmen Square massacre-era China, Colbert assured everyone, noting that Trump showed his soft side with a free inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Like all presidents-elect, Trump entered to music, he explained, "but instead of 'Hail to the Chief,' our new, loving president entered to.... 'Heart of Stone,'" the Rolling Stones song. "I hope he was talking about the statue of Lincoln behind him," Colbert said nervously. He ended his monologue poking fun at Rick Perry. Watch below. Peter Weber

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