Two new "ping" signals were detected near the suspected crash site of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, boosting hopes that searchers might be close to finding the jet. Earlier today, Australian officials indicated the sounds might be coming from the plane's black box recorders, bringing the overall number of "pings" detected to four within the past few days.
"I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify aircraft wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370," said Angus Houston, the head of the Australian agency that's leading search efforts. "I'm now optimistic that we will find the aircraft, or what is left of the aircraft, in the not too distant future."
Authorities are racing to find the black box, which stores crucial cockpit data, since its batteries are expected to expire at any moment. Jordan Valinsky
During an on-the-record interview with Time magazine last week, President-elect Donald Trump's mind flitted to his plans to keep jobs in the U.S. "Hey, Reince, I want to get a list of companies that have announced they're leaving," Trump said to incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, mid-interview with Time for his Person of the Year feature, published Wednesday.
Once he got ahold of that list of companies looking to ship jobs overseas, Trump indicated he'd take matters into his own hands from there on out. "I can call them myself," Trump said to Priebus. "Five minutes apiece. They won't be leaving. Okay?" Time's Michael Scherer observed, "He was talking as if he had just realized — at that moment, in the middle of an interview — that he had the power to do what he promised to do on the campaign trail."
While an on-the-record interview might have been an unconventional moment for the discussion, it would make sense that jobs were on Trump's mind when he sat down with Time. He had just cut a deal with Carrier, convincing the air conditioning and furnace manufacturer to keep hundreds of jobs in the U.S. that had been slated to move to Mexico.
Though reaching out to each and every company like Carrier might be one way to hold up his promise to keep cutting these deals, the Huffington Post pointed out he is "going to be on the phone for many hours, because Carrier's case is not at all unusual." The Huffington Post reported that "this year, the U.S. Labor Department has certified petitions for Trade Adjustment Assistance for workers at more than 1,000 firms cutting jobs due to foreign trade." Becca Stanek
Former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage was the original Mr. Brexit, both an inspiration to, and an admirer of, President-elect Donald Trump. But now he's getting nervous: "I suspect we will leave the Union," Farage told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. "But what terms we'll leave on, I'm getting increasingly nervous about. Nervous that we'll sell out. Nervous that we'll get half a Brexit."
In that regard, Trump's surprise win — and threat to weaken multilateral organizations — could be an unexpected life preserver for Farage.
“I'm trying to make the case," [Farage] said, "that a big, positive signal from a Trump administration that says they want a bilateral trade deal with the United Kingdom, that comes relatively early, would really be very good news."
Such a move would upend U.S. policy toward the U.K. and the European Union. In April, President Obama visited London to lay out the dire economic consequences he said would befall the U.K. if it voted to leave the EU in June's referendum. "Maybe, at some point down the line, there might be a [bilateral] U.K.-U.S. trade agreement," Obama said. “But it's not going to happen anytime soon, because our focus is on negotiating with a big bloc — the European Union — to get a trade agreement done." If Britons voted for Brexit, Obama warned, the U.K. would wind up a diminished partner, relegated to "the back of the queue."
Farage's proposal would move the U.K. to the front of the queue, sweep away the whole Obama-Clinton chessboard, roil the global economy, and, with great fanfare, imprint the Trump stamp on U.S. trade policy, possibly even before he's sworn in — all things that would seem to appeal to the president-elect. [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly exploring how to turn his business over to his adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr., but plans to keep a stake in the real estate empire and will not heed calls to divest, The New York Times reports. People who were briefed on the discussions said that Ivanka Trump would also leave the Trump Organization, likely to assume a role in Washington, and that Ivanka and her father are exploring a "legal structure" to separate them from the company.
Critics have pointed out that any way in which Trump might have a continued financial interest in his organization could result in conflicts and questions. The Office of Government Ethics has reportedly informed Trump's lawyers that ethical concerns can only be avoided with a divestiture.
.@realDonaldTrump - we told your counsel we'd sing your praises if you divested, we meant it.
— U.S. OGE (@OfficeGovEthics) November 30, 2016
Trump has defended himself to reporters, stating that "the law's totally on my side." Still, he will have to navigate laws that prohibit government officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments, with even foreign diplomats staying at his properties being a cause for scrutiny.
"There are ways to make it work legally, but the appearances are going to be terrible and it's going to be a four-year ethical challenge," former chief White House ethics lawyer Richard W. Painter said. Jeva Lange
At a "Women Rule" forum in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Kellyanne Conway said that she "will do whatever the president-elect and vice president-elect... believe is my best and highest use for them," but it probably won't involve a full-time job in the White House. She suggested she will play a "Kellyanne role" in Donald Trump's administration, but noted "my children are 12, 12, 8, and 7, which is bad idea, bad idea, bad idea, bad idea for mom going inside [the White House]." Her kids "have to come first, and those are very fraught ages," Conway said, but turning down a White House job "would be my personal choice and not a demand on me."
Conway was Trump's campaign manager for the last stretch of his campaign, and when discussing what role she could play after the election, senior campaign officials would begin the discussion, "I know you have four kids, but...." she told the audience. "I said there's nothing that comes after the 'but' that makes any sense to me, so don't even try. Like what is the 'but'?" she asked. "But they'll eat Cheerios for the rest of the day? Nobody will brush their teeth again until I get home?"
Conway said that when she helps interview potential Cabinet appointees, "I do politely mention to them the question isn't would you take the job, the male sitting across from me who's going to take a big job in the White House. The question is would you want your wife to?" she said. "Would you want the mother of children to? You really see their entire visage change. It's like, oh no, they wouldn't want their wife to take that job. But it's, it's all good."
Trump, who once called pregnancy "an inconvenience" for employers, isn't trying to steer her out of the West Wing, Conway said. "Mothers and married women and unmarried women — they're all welcome in the Trump White House and he's made that very clear to me." Working mothers have opportunities in the U.S. capital, she added, but "we still have to make choices and there are limits." Peter Weber
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) is reportedly on an increasingly short list of candidates being considered by Donald Trump for secretary of state. But when pressed Wednesday night by Yahoo News' Bianna Golodryga about Trump's friendliness towards Russia, considering the human rights abuses committed by the nation, Rohrabacher scoffed, "Oh, baloney! Where do you come from?"
From there, the exchange became fiery and downright personal. Golodryga responded that she is from the former Soviet Union and that she came to the U.S. as a political refugee, to which Rohrabacher shot back: "Oh, well, then that's good, then the audience knows you're biased."
When challenged again about Russia's human rights violations, Rohrabacher, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, said Reagan would have loved his stance on Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Reagan was the one who reached out to [Mikhail] Gorbachev," he explained. Again, Golodryga attempted to clarify: "Are you comparing Gorbachev to Vladimir Putin?"
"Absolutely, I am," Rohrabacher confirmed. Watch the explosive exchange below. Jeva Lange
President-elect Donald Trump filled four top White House positions on Wednesday, provoking particular outcry on the left over his appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. "The EPA is gonna be run by the man who maybe hates the EPA the most in America," The Atlantic's Vann R. Newkirk II wrote. The Sierra Club said putting Pruitt in charge of the EPA was like "putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires."
Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid also criticized Trump's Cabinet: "We can go through the list of people he's already chosen and it's, quite frankly, scary," Reid told David Axelrod on The Axe Files podcast.
On Wednesday, Trump also picked co-founder and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) to be the U.S. ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. John Kelly to be secretary of homeland security. Jeva Lange
Edgar Welch, arrested on Sunday after firing a military-style rifle inside the Washington, D.C., pizzeria Comet Ping Pong, told The New York Times via video chat on Wednesday that he drove up from North Carolina to get a "closer look" at the restaurant at the center of the false "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory and had no intention of firing a shot. "I regret how I handled the situation," he said. "I just wanted to do some good and went about it the wrong way." Internet articles led him to believe that the pizzeria was the center of a child sex ring run by associates of Hillary Clinton, but "the intel on this wasn't 100 percent," he said, adding that just because there were no children "inside that dwelling," it doesn't mean there is no Pizzagate pedophile ring.
Welch, a 28-year-old father of two, says he doesn't believe in conspiracy theories, but listens to Alex Jones, who regularly spreads conspiracy theories on his radio show and websites. Jones is "a bit eccentric," he said. "He touches on some issues that are viable but goes off the deep end on some things." The Pizzagate myth, built through creative interpretations of emails hacked from John Podesta and released by WikiLeaks to harm Clinton's presidential campaign, is spreading outside of D.C., roping in not just late-night comedian Stephen Colbert but also the Austin pizzeria East Side Pies.
The owners of East Side Pies became aware of Pizzagate through some strange comments on the restaurant's Facebook page, then were pointed to Reddit threads linking their pizzeria to the fake story. The Austin American-Statesman's Matthew Odam runs down a few of the red herrings:
The online posts have made wild and baseless accusations about East Side Pies. They interpreted the restaurant's logo as a symbol of the "Illuminati," questioned the meaning of photos of pizza-eating children on East Side Pies' Facebook account, inferred that a picture of staffers with former Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell was proof of nefarious political ties, and claimed co-owner Michael Freid, an alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America, had "connections to the CIA." [Austin American-Statesman]
Owen Shroyer, who makes videos for Alex Jones' Infowars and hosts his own podcast, posted a 2.5-hour video detailing his own nutty investigation of East Side Pies on Saturday. Austin police and the FBI are investigating the threats and vandalism of a pizza delivery truck. Peter Weber