November 6, 2012

South Korean high school students pose with cutouts of President Obama and Mitt Romney during the 2012 U.S. Election Watch event hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, on Election Day. Apparently, the real candidates were too busy to make the trip. The Week Staff

10:07 a.m. ET

Malia and Sasha Obama's giant swing set was donated to a family shelter in southwestern Washington, D.C., on Monday after being turned down by Barron Trump, CNN reports. Installed at the White House in 2009, the swing set was originally intended to help make the new residence feel like home for Malia and Sasha, who were then 10 and 7 respectively. The set even bares a plaque declaring the structure "Malia & Sasha's Castle."

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had a chance to watch kids at the Jobs Have Priority Naylor Road Family Shelter try out the set:

Barron Trump, 10, was offered the play set first, but theTrump family turned it down due to the fact that he is remaining in New York with his mother, Melania Trump, through at least the spring, where his replica Mercedes with its custom BARRON nameplate presumably entertains him.

9:46 a.m. ET

Archaeologists have discovered a pendant in a former Nazi death camp in Poland that is nearly identical to a pendant owned by Anne Frank, The Washington Post reports. The triangular charm says "Mazel Tov," as well as a date, "July 3, 1929," and a location, "Frankfurt A.M." The only other pendant of its kind known to archaeologists belonged to Frank.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum reports that the newly discovered pendant might have belonged to Karoline Cohn, a Jewish girl who was born at the date and location listed on the pendant. Cohn was 14 years old at the time her pendant was lost; the charm was found in an area where victims would take off their clothes and personal belongings before entering gas chambers. The pendant likely fell through the floorboards, where it remained undiscovered for 70 years.

Frank was also born in Frankfurt in 1929. The similarity between their pendants could suggest "a possible familial connection between Frank and Cohn," Yad Vashem reported.

"This pendant demonstrates once again the importance of archaeological research of former Nazi death camp sites," the museum said. "The moving story of Karoline Cohn is symbolic of the shared fate of the Jews murdered in the camp. It is important to tell the story, so that we never forget." Jeva Lange

9:43 a.m. ET
Adam Berry/Getty Images

At a news conference Tuesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused President Obama's administration of attempting to "undermine the legitimacy" of President-elect Donald Trump. Addressing the unconfirmed dossier that surfaced last week alleging Russia has compromising information on Trump, Putin reportedly said anyone circulating the "fake" claims about the president-elect is "worse than prostitutes."

Putin insisted the dossier is a "hoax," Reuters reported, and also said he has never met with Trump. He particularly cast doubt on the dossier's unverified claims about Trump's conduct with prostitutes, saying Trump would have no need for such behavior because he "has been with the most beautiful women in the world."

Trump has strongly denied the allegations, calling the reports "phony stuff." Becca Stanek

9:10 a.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration festivities have been shadowed by reports about port-a-potties, the Women's March protest, and mockery that the biggest celebrity to perform on Jan. 20 is a toss-up between Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, and Lee Greenwood. But that's not taking the wind out of the sails of Boris Epshteyn, the communications director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, The Daily Beast reports.

"Our message has been, and my completely full-hearted, convinced belief is that this inaugural, just like the campaign was and just like the presidency will be, is about the American people," Epshteyn told The Daily Beast. "That's what this inaugural's all about."

The inauguration committee has insisted that the performers aren't lame (President Obama had Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, and Bruce Springsteen on hand in 2009, by comparison) but rather that the inauguration is to be a moment of "soft sensuality," whatever that may mean. "You know, this is not Woodstock. It's not Summer Jam. It's not a concert. It's not about celebrities," Epshteyn has defended.

Or maybe it is about celebrities? "We have the biggest celebrity in the world, and that's the American people," Epshteyn also said. He apparently hadn't coordinated that response with the chairman of the Inauguration Committee, Tom Barrack, who earlier told CNN that Obama, Washington, D.C., and President-elect Trump are the biggest celebrities in the world.

But if all that seems a little lackluster, well, think of the coal workers. "What does a coal worker in Pennsylvania, what does a mom in Florida, what do they care about?" Epshteyn asked. "Do we really think they care about whoever's sipping champagne cocktails in the Hamptons or mojitos? No. Now, having said that, we've got amazing events, very beautiful celebrations are planned." Jeva Lange

8:15 a.m. ET

Americans, it seem, can't agree on much, but three new polls show remarkable consistency in how they view President-elect Donald Trump, just days before he is sworn in as America's 45th president. On Tuesday, CNN/ORC and Washington Post/ABC News polls agreed with a Gallup poll from Monday showing Trump with a transition approval (CNN/ORC) and favorability rating of 40 percent, at least 20 points below those of any of his recent predecessors. Majorities of 55 percent (Gallup) and 54 percent (WaPo) view Trump unfavorably, and his approval and favorability numbers have actually fallen since November in the CNN poll. President Obama's favorability numbers before his inauguration were about 80 percent in all three polls.

The polls were split over expectations for Trump's presidency, but majorities expected him to do well with the economy and jobs. Trump is viewed favorably by a sizable majority of Republicans but has high disapproval numbers from independents as well as Democrats. Trump did not find the polls persuasive:

The Washington Post/ABC News and CNN/ORC polls were both conducted Jan. 12-15 by phone with samples of 1,005 and 1,000 adults, respectively. Both have overall sampling margins of error of ±3.5 percentage points. Peter Weber

8:14 a.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump has stressed that he has "nothing to do with Russia," but that isn't, strictly speaking, true. Trump has pursued business interests in the nation since as far back as 1987, and continually over the years since, The New York Times reports.

"I really prefer Moscow over all cities in the world," Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., said in 2008, adding that he had visited Russia a half-dozen times in 18 months. Don Jr. and his siblings, Eric and Ivanka Trump, have made several visits to the nation on their father's behalf over the years.

Trump himself long pursued construction of a "Trump Tower Moscow," failing to have the deal come to fruition; Trump Jr. called Russia a "scary place" to businesses because of legal complications as well as rampant corruption. But that doesn't mean Trump hasn't repeatedly attempted to get a foothold elsewhere:

Trump Super Premium Vodka, with the shine of bottles glazed with 24-karat gold, was presented at the Millionaire's Fair in Moscow in 2007, and large orders for the spirits followed. The vodka was sold in Russia as late as 2009, but eventually fizzled out. In a news release, Mr. Trump heralded it as a "tremendous achievement."

He tried — and failed — to start a reality show in St. Petersburg in 2008 starring a Russian mixed martial arts fighter.

But real estate developments remained a constant goal. From 2006 to 2008, his company applied for several trademarks in Russia, including Trump, Trump Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and Trump Home, according to a record search by Sojuzpatent, a Russian intellectual property firm. [The New York Times]

Alan Garten, the general counsel for the Trump Organization, explained to the Times that Trump's assertion that he has "stayed away" from Russia is true due to the fact that none of the business deals ever took root. See a full timeline of Trump's attempted dealings with Russia at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

7:49 a.m. ET

U.K. Prime Minster Theresa May stressed Tuesday that the Brexit vote to leave the European Union was the "moment Britain chose to step back from the world but to build a truly global Britain." In what was her most significant speech since becoming prime minister last year, May described the nation as "proudly internationalist" and reassured that members of the EU are still "welcome" in Britain.

"We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies, and close friends," May said. "We want to buy your goods, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure, and more prosperous through continued friendship." The number of migrants, May added, will be "controlled."

Parliament will vote on the final deal between the U.K. and the EU before it comes into effect, May went on. "When future generations look back at this time, they will judge us not only by the decision we made but what we made of that decision. They will see we shaped them a brighter future and they will know we built them a better Britain," said May.

Some critics have already expressed disappointment over May's speech: "EU citizens are living in limbo and Theresa May has done very little to reassure them today," Nicolas Hatton, the founder of the grassroots campaign group the3million told The Guardian. "We are not bargaining chips, we are human beings." Jeva Lange

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