How white will the White House be? Stephen Bannon, newly appointed as Donald Trump’s chief strategist, has drawn fire from Democrats, Republicans and activists over allegations of white nationalism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and misogyny. As head of Breitbart News he oversaw stories like ”Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” and a former Breitbart editor who worked closely with Bannon called him a “legitimately sinister figure.” Trump’s team shrugged off the allegations, steaming ahead with the transition — which is already off to a rocky start after the abrupt departure of ex-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s a new era. President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone yesterday — following Trump’s warmth toward Russia and Putin’s suspected clandestine work to prop up the mogul’s campaign — in a conversation the Kremlin said focused on how to improve “unsatisfactory” relations between their countries. Meanwhile, President Obama’s traveling to Germany and Greece this week, where he’ll attempt to reassure nations across the Atlantic that Trump won’t weaken U.S. alliances in Europe, despite his campaign-trail dismissal of NATO as obsolete.
They could be on the hook for billions. Senior EU officials outlining a plan for Brexit say Brussels will push for a divorce before any trade deal is made — and that the money it demands of Britain for pensions, U.K.-based EU spending and unpaid budget promises could total $64 billion. Meanwhile, a leaked Nov. 7 memo prepared for the Cabinet Office says the British government has “no plan” for Brexit, and that industry demands and deep ideological rifts in the cabinet may wind up driving policy.
Hate’s having a heyday. Though attacks on Muslims saw the steepest rise, the FBI reported that hate crimes increased by 6 percent across the board in 2015 and that the most common religious targets in America are Jews. The 257 reported attacks on Muslims — likely an incomplete total, as reporting at the local level is notoriously spotty — is the highest number since 2001. A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations blamed Donald Trump for mainstreaming Islamophobia, saying, ”We expect the situation to get worse.”
House Republicans Nominate Ryan, Morsi’s Redemption, Germany’s Hardline and Facebook’s Latest Crusade
Know This: Paul Ryan nominated to be re-elected as House speaker. The death sentence against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has reportedly been overturned, with a retrial ordered. Germany has banned radical Islamic group True Religion and staged raids in 60 cities today in a massive crackdown. And a Hong Kong court has barred two controversial pro-independence legislators from taking office.
Read This: Facebook employees have started an unofficial task force to battle the onslaught of fake news that took over social media during the campaign.
Remember This Number: $2 million. That’s the amount of the alleged bribe over which Russia’s economy minister has been detained after he was caught in a sting operation.
Her final sign-off was a tearjerker. The renowned PBS NewsHour co-host and Washington Week moderator died yesterday after a nearly year-long battle with endometrial cancer. Ifill, a New York native, took pride in showing a new generation how trusted news programs relied upon the talent and tenacity of smart Black women like herself. “We’ll miss her a lot,” says OZY Editor-in-Chief Carlos Watson. He remembers Ifill, who curated OZY’s PDB in 2014, as a “terrific, warm, intelligent person” and a “pioneering political journalist.”
It’s no longer the wild frontier. A new report from Freedom House found that two-thirds of the world’s internet users live under government regimes that censor them. Surveillance in general has been rising, but lately the focus has turned to encrypted messaging apps and social media. Estonia and Iceland rank as the least censored nations, but in 34 of 65 surveyed countries web freedom has declined since last year. Most often in the crosshairs of governmental crackdowns are encrypted communication tools like WhatsApp, the world’s most-blocked messaging service.
It’s a boom for busts. New digital wizardry is enhancing the breast surgery market, with an augmented reality app to show potential patients how different kinds of implants would look on them and technology that can 3-D print nipples from skin cells for reconstructive surgeries. Implants themselves can now be specially designed to fight cancer, or offer a six-month window in which they’re adjustable in case of buyer’s remorse. With aesthetic surgical procedures projected to see 10.8 percent annual growth through 2020, both gimmickry and innovation seem inevitable.
He’s the 75-year-old comeback kid. Oscar-winning anime master Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Japan’s Studio Ghibli, retired in 2013 after finishing an animated biopic of a WWII airplane inventor. But a recent TV special revealed footage of the director working on a new film, Boro the Caterpillar — which began as a short but will now be a full-length feature, his first using CG animation. Miyazaki, who normally takes five years per film, says he hopes to finish by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
You can’t stop Gronk. The New England Patriots star reportedly played through a punctured lung — perhaps suffered in a brutal second-quarter hit by Seattle’s Earl Thomas — in his team’s Sunday night loss. Gronkowski called it a “good, clean hit” without mentioning his pulmonary problems. NFL Network revealed the injury yesterday, noting he’s somehow only slated to miss one game. Given that the game is against woeful San Francisco, it shouldn’t be too hard for the Patriots to bounce back while their mountainous tight end catches his breath.