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10 things you need to know today: December 3, 2016

Trump speaks with Taiwanese president, China lodges 'solemn' objection to 'petty' Trump-Taiwan call, and more


Trump speaks with Taiwanese president, risking diplomatic crisis with China

President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, a move critics said would infuriate the People's Republic of China. While the phone call between the U.S. president-elect and the Taiwanese president appeared to be mainly congratulatory, it broke over three decades of precedent: The last time leaders of the two countries spoke directly is believed to be 1979, and the U.S. doesn't formally recognize the Taiwanese government. China considers the island a breakaway province, and so the call was expected to create an uproar in Beijing. "That's how wars start," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted.


China lodges 'solemn' objection to 'petty' Trump-Taiwan call

China on Saturday lodged its anticipated objections to President-elect Donald Trump's acceptance of a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in a sharp break with diplomatic habit. "We have noticed relevant reports and lodged solemn representation with the relevant side in the United States," said a representative from China's Foreign Ministry. "The 'one China' principle is the political foundation of China-US relations." Earlier comments from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi placed the blame squarely on "petty" Taiwan. Trump on Twitter defended the call, noting that he did not initiate it and that "the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment," so a call should be permitted.


Duterte claims Trump said Philippines is handling drugs 'the right way'

President-elect Donald Trump endorsed the Philippines' controversial drug war tactics, claimed Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday after a short phone call with Trump Friday night. "He was quite sensitive to our war on drugs and he wishes me well in my campaign and said that we are doing, as he so put it, 'the right way,'" Duterte said. Since taking office, Duterte has launched a brutal attack on suspected drug dealers, encouraging extrajudicial killings by police and vigilantes alike. "My order is shoot to kill you," he infamously said of dealers. "I don't care about human rights, you'd better believe me."


Unemployment rate drops to 4.6 percent, a 9-year low

The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added a healthy 178,000 jobs in November, roughly in line with forecasts. The gains, an improvement over October, helped nudge the unemployment rate down to 4.6 percent, a nine-year low, but most of the unemployment drop was due not to added jobs but to Americans who simply gave up on looking for work and exited the workforce instead. Positive trends on consumer spending, inflation, the housing market, and manufacturing, meanwhile, mean the Federal Reserve may soon resume its plan to increase interest rates.


Democrats threaten to block Trump's pick for defense secretary

Democrats are already putting up roadblocks to the nomination of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for defense secretary. While most appointments need only a simple Senate majority for confirmation, Mattis, who retired from the military in 2013, also needs the Senate to approve a waiver allowing him to serve in the Pentagon less than seven years after retirement. And for that, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she would require a 60-vote supermajority, which Republicans don't have. "Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy," Gillibrand said.


Jill Stein's recount efforts hit with lawsuits

Supporters of President-elect Donald Trump have filed lawsuits in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to block Green Party candidate Jill Stein's recount efforts, arguing they threaten the rights of Trump voters. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette also filed a lawsuit Friday against the recount request in his state, calling Stein's efforts "frivolous." Stein announced the recount effort last week after cybersecurity experts suggested irregularities in the states' results, though they found no evidence of a hack. Stein says she intends to ensure the system's "integrity," not to change the election results.


Walter Scott jury asks for more time as lone juror refuses to convict

A single juror has deadlocked deliberations in the trial of Michael Slager, the former police officer who was caught on camera last year fatally shooting a fleeing South Carolina motorist, Walter Scott, in the back. In a letter to the judge, the holdout juror said he "cannot with good conscience consider a guilty verdict," but also admitted trepidation at the prospect of telling "the Scott family that the man who killed their son, brother, and father is innocent." The jury was granted more time to deliberate on charges of murder or manslaughter beginning Monday morning. If they cannot reach an agreement, a mistrial will be declared and the trial will begin again.


Veterans build shelter, offer a break to pipeline protesters

About 2,000 U.S. military veterans calling themselves Veterans Stand for Standing Rock have amassed at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, and hundreds more are expected to arrive this weekend. The veterans are building barracks for protesters to use as shelter from the frigid North Dakota winter and are volunteering to temporarily stand in for long-time protesters who need a break. "We want to offer them a moment of peace and, if we can, take a little bit of pressure off," said Coast Guard veteran Ashleigh Jennifer Parker, labeling the militarized police response "unconstitutional." The veterans plan to stay at least through Dec. 7.


Chapeco receives bodies of soccer players killed in plane crash

The bodies of 50 of 71 victims of the plane crash on Monday that killed the bulk of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team arrived in their hometown of Chapeco on Friday for a memorial service Saturday. A wake will be held at the Chapecoense stadium, which can seat about one fifth of the 100,000 people expected to attend. Investigators say the plane carrying the team crashed because it ran out of fuel after the pilot decided not to stop at a refueling station with an unlit runway and then was forced to delay landing because of another plane's emergency.


Indonesian plane with 15 on board goes missing mid-flight

An Indonesian police plane carrying 15 people lost communication and went missing Saturday morning. The plane was flying between islands and is thought to have gone down over the sea. A search and rescue team soon found debris, including luggage, but so far no survivors or human remains have been discovered. Singapore will assist Indonesian authorities with additional search vehicles once it is given approval.


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