First Lady Michelle Obama, seated next to Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), shrugs knowingly as President Obama leads off the presidential debate in Denver by noting that the day marks his 20th wedding anniversary, and that two decades earlier, he "became the luckiest man on Earth." GOP challenger Mitt Romney quipped: "I'm sure it's the most romantic place you can imagine, here with me." Well, next year, the president promised, "we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people."
President-elect Donald Trump "is already a statesman, he is the head of the United States of America, one of the world's leading countries," said Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview aired Sunday. "Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man. And if [he is] a clever man, then he will fully and quite quickly understand another level of responsibility. We assume that he will be acting from these positions," Putin added.
Trump has been accused of undue friendliness toward Putin, particularly considering alleged Russian hacking to influence the U.S. election. Before Sunday's remarks, Trump liked to quote a mistranslated Putin comment in which Trump believed the Russian president called him "brilliant." But a better translation than "brilliant" would be "vivid" or "colorful;" the Russian word Putin used means "bright," yet does not carry the English meaning of "intelligent." Bonnie Kristian
Saturday Night Live returned with an opener featuring Alec Baldwin's Twitter-happy President-elect Donald Trump, as well as the random Twitter users he loves to retweet. While Kate McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway vainly attempted to wrangle Trump for a security briefing, the apparently irresistible lure of sharing the words of complete strangers with millions of people just kept pulling him back to his phone.
Though the sketch was ripped from real life (Trump actually did retweet a 16-year-old high school kid weighing in on voter fraud last week), the man himself was yet again displeased with SNL's portrayal. "Just tried watching Saturday Night Live — unwatchable!" he said on Twitter, apparently without irony. "Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse." Watch the offending skit below. Bonnie Kristian
The Green Party dropped its initial case for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania in court documents released Saturday, but early Sunday the Green Party nominee spearheading the recount campaign, Jill Stein, said she will instead file suit in federal court demanding a recount on constitutional grounds.
PA’s election law and recount process raise serious questions about due process and whether fundamental democratic rights are protected.
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) December 4, 2016
On "Monday the Stein campaign will escalate our campaign in Pennsylvania and file for emergency relief in federal court, demanding a statewide recount on constitutional grounds," said a statement released around midnight.
Pennsylvania required a $1 million bond to advance the recount under Stein's previous strategy. Her recount push has also been hit with lawsuits in Michigan and Wisconsin, and critics have charged the whole project is pointless given electoral realities. Bonnie Kristian
A transgender police officer in San Diego was barred from an LGBT event that she helped organize over concerns that her uniform would upset other attendees. Officer Christine Garcia helped plan and provided security for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event honoring victims of transgender-violence, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. But when she tried to enter a post-march event, she was turned away. A spokesperson blamed the incident on a "misunderstanding" and later apologized directly to Garcia, as well as the San Diego police chief.
"While we need to support those that are uncomfortable and honor their reactions to valid and understandable difficult previous experiences," one of the organizers wrote in a statement, "our LGBTQ San Diego police liaisons are a valued part of our community."
Just days after the NFL's decision to suspend Seantrel Henderson, Buffalo Bills offensive lineman, for 10 games for using marijuana to treat his Crohn's Disease, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr — the NBA's coach of the year last season — expressed support for a softer stance on pot from professional sports leagues.
"I'm not a pot person. It doesn't agree with me. I tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all," Kerr said in a podcast interview that aired Friday. "So I'm not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you're an NFL player, in particular, and you got lot of pain, I don't think there's any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin," he continued. "And yet, athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it's Vitamin C, like it's no big deal."
Kerr said he hopes to see a more reasonable approach to medical marijuana in pro sports, noting that concerns about negative public perception of pot users are increasingly a thing of the past. The full podcast is available here. Bonnie Kristian
The rebels who hold the besieged eastern half of Aleppo, Syria, have lost more than half of the territory they once controlled to forces loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime and its Russian allies. In the face of these regime advances, the opposition groups have been quietly negotiating with Russia in neighboring Turkey, so far with little effect.
On Saturday, Moscow announced it is ready to deal with the United States, which backs some of the militants fighting Assad, to arrange a full withdrawal of Syrian rebel forces from Aleppo. "We are immediately ready to send out military experts, diplomats to Geneva in order to agree [on] mutual actions with our American colleagues to ensure the pullout of all the rebels without exclusion from eastern Aleppo," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Rebel leaders in Aleppo have reportedly sworn they will not leave the city, and Washington has yet to respond to Moscow's invitation to talks. Bonnie Kristian
A new species of arapaima — a giant freshwater fish capable of breathing air with rudimentary lungs — has been found in the remote reaches of the Amazon River, and more distinct arapaima species may be discovered soon.
Capable of growing to 10 feet long and weighing upwards of 400 pounds, the heavily-armored fish lives in oxygen-poor waters and surfaces to breathe. The arapaima is difficult to catch and study and is also endangered, which is why species classification is so important: Only about 5,000 of the fish still live in the wild.
It is "hard to argue for conservation if you don't know it's there," explains Donald J. Stewart, a New York biology professor and National Geographic explorer whose team identified the new species. "The more of these we can recognize the more arguments we can make for getting the resources to protect them." Stewart expects "we'll have many more species before we're done" examining the arapaima's river climes. Bonnie Kristian