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January 13, 2016
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There's now evidence that Chinese royals have been sipping on tea since the middle of the second century. Archaeologists' recent excavation of the tomb of Han Dynasty Emperor Jing Di, who died in 141 BC, has turned up what archaeologists say is the world's oldest known tea. Up until this discovery, the only evidence of tea's existence in China that long ago was a single ancient text that claimed China was exporting tea leaves to Tibet.

Archaeologists found the ancient tea leaves buried in a wooden box with the emperor in his tomb, presumably so he could use them in the next life. Though the site, located in what is now modern-day Xian, was previously excavated in the 1990s, a previous search had not turned up the tea leaves.

The use of mass spectrometry by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences has since confirmed that the leaves are, indeed, tea — but not your average tea. The Independent reports that the tea found is believed to be of "the finest quality" because it contains only tea buds and not "ordinary tea leaves."

"The discovery shows how modern science can reveal important previously unknown details about ancient Chinese culture," Dorian Fuller, Director of the International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology in London, said. "The identification of the tea found in the emperor's tomb complex gives us a rare glimpse into very ancient traditions which shed light on the origins of one of the world's favorite beverages." Becca Stanek

12:22 p.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump on Friday selected Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn to be the director of the National Economic Council, CNBC reported. Cohn, also the bank's COO, will be the third person in Trump's White House to have ties to Goldman Sachs, following Trump's choice of former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary and his appointment of Stephen Bannon, who worked for the bank in the 1980s, as chief strategist.

In the post, Cohn will help Trump dictate global economic policy. Critics on the left, however, were quick to point out that Trump's tripling-down on alums from the nation's most powerful bank for his administration did not align with his campaign rhetoric decrying the Wall Street ties of his rivals:

Also Friday, Trump tapped Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) to be his secretary of the interior, where she will be charged with advancing Trump's pro-fossil fuel agenda. McMorris Rodgers was elected to Congress in 2004, where she represents a largely rural district located in eastern Washington. In her time on Capitol Hill, The Wall Street Journal notes she has supported legislation to allow oil- and natural gas-drilling in the Atlantic Ocean; called for limiting the ability of the Interior Department to regulate fracking; and advocated for hydropower, a renewable source of energy popular in Washington state. She also serves on the House's Energy and Commerce Committee.

Trump has expressed a desire to undo much of President Obama's environmental policy. Obama has protected more public land than any other president. Kimberly Alters

11:58 a.m. ET

If President Obama is allowed to play golf, Kellyanne Conway doesn't see why it's a problem for President-elect Donald Trump to stay on as an executive producer for reality TV show The Apprentice. In an interview Friday on CNN's New Day, the top Trump aide pushed back against concerns Trump's involvement with the TV show would take away from time otherwise spent addressing presidential duties. "Well, okay, but were we so concerned about the hours and hours and hours spent on the golf course of the current president? I mean, the presidents have a right to do things in their spare time or their leisure time," Conway said, arguing that the notion presidents "are going to be all work and nothing else all the time" is "just unrealistic."

But time isn't the only concern Trump's involvement with the show has raised. For every episode that airs, Trump will earn a sum "likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum," Variety reported. Moreover, Trump's decision doesn't necessarily reflect the hard line between his past business endeavors and his present presidential duties that ethics experts have been pushing for.

But Conway argued Trump is "a very transparent guy." "Everyone can see what he's doing and the fact is that he is conferring with all types of experts to tell him what he is allowed to do and not to do as president of the United States," Conway said. "And if this is one of the approved activities, then perhaps he'll consider staying on."

Catch a snippet of Conway's interview below. Becca Stanek

11:04 a.m. ET
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A top White House official told reporters Friday morning that President Obama has ordered a "full review" of reports of hacking during the presidential election. "We may have crossed into a new threshold and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened, and to impart some lessons learned," Obama counterterrorism and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco said at a reporters' breakfast.

The report will be shared with "a range of stakeholders," but Monaco did not say whether the findings would be made public. Obama plans to have the review completed before President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017.

U.S. intelligence officials have blamed Russia-sponsored hackers for the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee. Other Democratic committees and officials, including Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign chair John Podesta, also faced hacks during the election. Since his win, Trump has openly suggested that voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Clinton, alleging without evidence that "millions" voted "illegally." Becca Stanek

11:00 a.m. ET

The Federal Reserve has for months toyed with the idea of raising interest rates, repeatedly suggested rate hikes are forthcoming, and then backing off when economic forecasts offer a less sunny context than the central bank would prefer for its next move. But if the Fed does move ahead with its plans, the United States might also experience a bump from its current crime rates, which are at a historic low.

There's no direct causal relationship, of course, but crime rates offer a remarkably consistent mirror of interest rates over the past six decades. Social scientists argue that higher interest rates lead to economic stress, including job losses, and that in turn makes crime more likely. Increased divorce, suicide, and alcoholism are also correlated with greater economic stress.


(The Crime Report)

For more on whether the Fed can or should go through with its rate hike promises, check out these analyses from The Week's Jeff Spross. Bonnie Kristian

10:55 a.m. ET
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Conservative pundit Glenn Beck is a changed man. While he invoked references to Nazism and the Holocaust 487 times during President Obama's first 14 months in office, he's now advising America against stirring the pot under President-elect Donald Trump. In an interview with The Atlantic's Peter Beinart, Beck warned that if people don't put ideology and racial tensions aside — a suggestion he once called Obama "racist" for making — things could get ugly quickly in America:

The day after Trump's victory, I checked in with Beck again. He said he saw "the seeds of what happened in Germany in 1933." The question was whether the American people would "water them" with "hatred and division." Did he feel partly responsible? "I'll not only take my share of blame, I'll take extra," he answered. "If you want to blame me for him, that's fine; I don't believe it's true, but it's fine with me. Please just listen to the warnings now so we don't continue to do this." [The Atlantic]

The problem, Beinart argues, is that Beck's last-minute change of heart might not be enough to change the strengthening tide. After "years and years" of calling "sheep wolves," Beinart writes, "now that the wolf is here, it may be too late."

Head over to The Atlantic to read the story in full. Becca Stanek

10:29 a.m. ET
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On Nov. 15, Georgia's voter registration database was hit with an unsuccessful hacking attempt. The weird part is Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp says an investigation has traced the attack to an Internet Protocol (IP) address in the federal government.

"Recently, I was made aware of a failed attempt to breach the firewall that protects Georgia's voter registration database by an IP address associated with the Department of Homeland Security," Kemp wrote in a post on Facebook. "On Thursday morning, I sent a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson demanding to know why."

DHS acknowledged and promised to look into the allegations in Kemp's letter, which noted that Georgia has not authorized the agency to "conduct penetration testing or security scans of our network," nor has the federal government notified the state that any such tests were required or ordered. Before the election, Kemp specifically rebuffed DHS offers of cybersecurity assistance, arguing that they represent an unwarranted federal intrusion of states' authority to manage their own elections. Bonnie Kristian

9:58 a.m. ET
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Just days after President-elect Donald Trump publicly criticized Boeing, it was announced that the aircraft manufacturer has pledged $1 million to help cover costs for Trump's inaugural events. Boeing, notably, donated the same amount to President Obama's inaugural events in 2013, and it committed its donation to Trump prior to this week's events.

Still, the donation suggests Trump's tweeting hasn't soured relations between Boeing, which has a contract with the government to develop the next Air Force One, and America's next president. Trump on Tuesday criticized Boeing for the "out of control" costs of its Air Force One project, and even suggested the government "cancel" the order.

That prompted Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenberg to reach out to Trump later that same day to assure him costs would be kept under control. The next day, Trump said in an interview with MSNBC that Muilenberg is a "very good man," and that he is certain they were "going to work it out."

Muilenberg confirmed in an email to USA Today that Boeing is "pleased to continue our tradition of supporting presidential inaugurations." Becca Stanek

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