The one thing that's certain about David Bowie's persona is that it was always shifting. And now, a recently unearthed recording provides another fascinating and candid look at Bowie's talent as a musical chameleon. During a 1985 recording session for the Absolute Beginners soundtrack, producer Mark Saunders was in the studio when Bowie decided to spoof some of his contemporaries — including Bruce Springsteen, Iggy Pop, Neil Young, and Lou Reed — for a few bars at a time.
"At the end of the session, he broke into the impersonations and I realized that these might get erased at some point, so I quickly put a cassette in and hit 'record,'" Saunders told The Talkhouse's Zach Staggers. The results are hilariously spot-on, and shine a light on a serious musician's deft sense of humor. Though Saunders hasn't clarified the order of the impressions, the general consensus is that Bowie tries his hand at singing like Bruce Springsteen, T.Rex's Marc Bolan, Tom Waits, Lou Reed, Anthony Newley, Iggy Pop, and Neil Young, in that order. Listen below. Samantha Rollins
President-elect Donald Trump got into a high-profile Twitter spat on Wednesday with Chuck Jones, the president of the United Steelworkers local that represents the union workers at the Carrier furnace plant where Trump intervened to save jobs. Jones had criticized Trump for claiming 1,100 jobs would be kept in Indiana instead of the roughly 800 jobs that actually won't be sent to Mexico. It turns out, even those 800 jobs won't all stay in Indianapolis for long, according to the CEO of Carrier's parent company, United Technologies, and the reason is the other part of the Trump-brokered deal.
"We're going to make a $16 million investment in that factory in Indianapolis to automate, to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive," United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told CNBC's Jim Cramer this week. "Now, is it as cheap as moving to Mexico with lower-cost labor? No. But we will make that plant competitive just because we'll make the capital investments there. But what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs." You can watch the relevant part of the interview starting at about the 12:50 mark:
United Technologies isn't alone in building robots to replace manual labor. U.S. factories are actually producing more goods today than in the post-World War II boom — domestic factory output has risen 150 percent in the past 40 years, according to Federal Reserve data — but U.S. manufacturing jobs have contracted by more than 30 percent in the same period, thanks largely to automation, CNNMoney notes, arguing that "automation is the only way that a plant in Indiana that pays about $20 an hour can compete with Mexican plants where workers earn $3 an hour."
"You can't just blame cheap labor" in Mexico and other countries, LNS research analyst Dan Miklovic tells CNNMoney. "Certainly many of the jobs that we've lost, especially in more sophisticated industries, it's not so much that they've been offshored, but it has been automation that replaced them. We use a lot more robots to build cars." Peter Weber
Late Thursday night, Alabama executed Ronald Bert Smith Jr., 45, for the 1994 fatal shooting of Casey Wilson, a store clerk in Huntsville who was pistol-whipped before being shot. Smith was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m., about half an hour after prison officials began the three-drug cocktail to end his life. He coughed, heaved, and clenched his fists for the first 13 minutes of the execution, and the prison officials injected the final two lethal drugs after two indeterminate consciousness checks to make sure he was sedated. The Alabama prison commissioner said he did not see any movement after the second test, but according to The Associated Press, he raised his arm slightly in both tests.
Smith was sentenced to death by a judge despite the jury's 7-5 recommendation that he be given life without parole. Smith's case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which twice paused the execution. Finally, the high court split 4-4 on Thursday evening, with the four liberal justices voting for a stay of execution; five votes were needed. Alabama's death penalty system is the only one in the country that still allows a judge to override a jury. Peter Weber
Congratulations are in order for rock legend Mick Jagger and ballerina Melanie Hamrick, who gave birth to a son on Thursday. This is the eighth child for Jagger, 73, and the first for Hamrick, 29. The couple has been dating since 2014. The new child's seven siblings range in age from 17 to 46, and collectively the eight children have five mothers. Jagger also has grandchildren and one great-grandchild, born in 2014. Jagger's band, The Rolling Stones, released their 25th studio album last week, and their first in 11 years. You can learn a bit more, with a rock soundtrack, in the CNN primer below. Peter Weber
President-elect Donald Trump continues to roll out his nominees for Cabinet positions, and Stephen Colbert is a little queasy. "Watching Trump pick these people is like watching your nana get a sponge bath," he said on Thursday's Late Show: "You know it has to be done, but it's still upsetting." He focused on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier and EPA critic, to head the EPA. "If I were him, I'd change my phone number, or else he's going to get some pretty angry calls from himself come January," Colbert said. But generally, "there's a trend out there of Trump appointing people to head things that they're against," he added. "I'm looking forward to Surgeon General Joe Camel."
Meanwhile, Trump's time transitioning in Trump Tower is costing New York City $500,000 a day in extra security, and Congress only approved $7 million of the $35 million the city requested to cover those costs. "The rest of that cost will fall on New York City taxpayers, which — fun fact — does not include Donald Trump (as far as we know)," Colbert said.
Trump has already met with reality TV producer Mark Burnett about staging his inauguration, and Burnett reportedly proposed that it begin with a parade down Fifth Avenue, followed by a (Trump-branded) helicopter ride from Trump Tower to Washington, D.C. Colbert did not approve: "Why hold a Trump parade here in Manhattan when Hillary Clinton won 87 percent of the vote in New York? That's like holding a gay pride parade in Mike Pence's backyard — it makes no sense." Watch below. Peter Weber
On Friday, South Korea's National Assembly overwhelmingly voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye, with dozens of members of Park's own conservative Saenuri Party joining the opposition in a lopsided 234-56 vote. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will immediately take over for Park while the Constitutional Court decides if the impeachment is valid, a process expected to take no more than 180 days. If the court sides with parliament, Park will be permanently removed from office and new elections will be held within 60 days.
Park, South Korea's first female leader, was elected in 2012 and scheduled to serve through February 2018. Calls for her resignation or removal have grown since prosecutors indicted a close friend, Choi Soon-sil, and two former presidential aides last month on suspicion of using presidential influence to accrue power and shake down companies to donate to foundations controlled by Choi. At the time, prosecutors say they believe Park was "collusively involved" with the suspects' criminal activities, though Park denies all legal wrongdoing. Her offer to resign two weeks ago was widely seen as a stalling tactic. Park's approval rating on Friday stood at 5 percent, according to Gallup Korea, and 81 percent of Koreans supported her impeachment.
Park, 64, is the daughter of former South Korean military dictator Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated in 1979. Her four years in office have been marred by an authoritarian governing style and a 2014 ferry disaster, which many Koreans blamed on government corruption and incompetence. The National Assembly impeached President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004 for incompetence and small election law violations but the Constitutional Court put him back in office. Park is not expected to be so lucky. Peter Weber
Michael Moore predicted in August that Donald Trump would be elected president by winning Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Seth Meyers reminded him on Wednesday's Late Night. "I never wanted to be more wrong," Moore said. "Ever since then people have been asking me for help with their lotto numbers." Meyers asked if Moore thought the Democrats had learned the right lessons from Hillary Clinton's defeat, and Moore said "the Democrats' biggest problem — and this includes people who voted for Hillary — they don't act like they won." Clinton's huge victory in the popular vote strips Trump of any mandate, he said, and he volunteered to lead the charge to kill the Electoral College.
Moore said he would want to abolish America's "arcane" election system even if Trump had won the popular vote and lost the White House, but he added that the founding fathers did include some escape hatches in the Electoral College system. One of Alexander Hamilton's "genius ideas" was that "maybe there should be a stopgap, just in case a madman or somebody who thought he was going to be king gets elected, there's that one final door he's got to go through," Moore said. "So right now, if you don't mind — I made that prediction back in the summer — so I'd like to make another one tonight."
He didn't exactly predict that Trump won't ever take office, but he came close. Trump "is not president of the United States yet," Moore noted. "He's not president until noon on Jan. 20 of 2017," or more than six weeks from now. "Would you not agree, regardless [of] what side of the political fence you're on, this has been the craziest election year?" he asked. "Nothing anyone has predicted has happened — the opposite has happened — so is it possible, just possible, that in these next six weeks, something else might happen, something crazy, something we're not expecting?" Watch below. Peter Weber
On Thursday, the House approved a bill to finance the federal government until April 28, by a 329-96 vote, but Senate Democrats may force a brief government shutdown over a provision to fund the health care of retired coal miners. The current bill includes a four-month extension of the miners' health benefits, set to lapse on Jan. 1 for at least 12,500 union miners and their families, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says he will "do everything I can to stop" the spending bill if it doesn't have a one-year extension, so lawmakers can work out a permanent fix for the miners' badly underfunded pension fund. "Nobody wants to close this great institution, this government down," he said. "But you've got to stand for something or sure to God you'll stand for nothing."
Manchin has support from other Democrats and even some Republicans, notably Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Republican leaders say the Democrats are fighting a losing battle on miners' health care and lost all leverage after the House passed the spending bill and left town for the Christmas holiday. "The House just took its last votes of the year," said AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). "They're not going to get what they want," Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said of Manchin and his fellow Democrats. "They ought to actually be grateful for what they got." Manchin and several other of the coal-state Democrats are up for re-election in 2018.
Democrats pointed out that President-elect Donald Trump pledged to support coal miners during the campaign, and also a "Buy American" provision that was not included in a separate water infrastructure bill. A meeting on Thursday afternoon strengthened Democratic resolve to block the measure, though incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he "can't predict the exact path" they'll use to win the fight. Current spending runs out at midnight Friday, and Democrats can use procedural measures to block the bill until at least Sunday night.
Republican leaders in Congress had planned to fund the federal government for fiscal 2017 though separate spending bills hammered out in committee, but after Trump won they decided on an omnibus package so they could pass more favorable spending legislation without the threat of President Obama's veto. Peter Weber