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Dec 09 2016
by Karly Matthews

This Week in Politics: Person of the Year, Phone Calls to Taiwan and the Pope's Decision

By Karly Matthews - Dec 09 2016

As the school semester comes to a close, the political world shows no signs of slowing down. From actors to religious leaders to political figures, people across the world are affecting the United States' politics as Donald Trump's transition to the presidency continues.

1. Leonardo DiCaprio discusses climate change with president-elect Trump.

On Wednesday, DiCaprio and the head of his foundation — called the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation — met the President-elect to talk about "green jobs," which could be good for the environment and the economy. According to the head of the foundation, Terry Tamminen, Trump was receptive, and the group plans to meet again.

2. Harry Reid bids the Senate goodbye.

Even though Senator Harry Reid claimed he would not retire from the Senate unless he "dropped dead," the senator, who served almost fifty years, is now effectively retired after this session of Congress. The senator published a piece in the New York Times' opinion pages, which discussed healthcare and the future of the United States in general.

3. Donald Trump is named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

In its annual issue, Time Magazine chose Donald Trump as Person of the Year, and the cover read that he is the president of "the divided states of America." According to the New York Times, Trump received the title over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, superstar Beyoncé and Mark Zuckerberg, among other candidates.

4. Former astronaut and senator John Glenn dies at 95.

The first American to orbit Earth, John Glenn was a decorated astronaut, beloved by President Kennedy, as well as a former U.S. Senator from Ohio. In 1984, he even vied for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was the last survivor of NASA's Mercury Seven and was survived by his wife, Annie, and two children.

5. Trump accepts a phone call with Taiwanese president.

President-elect Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Taiwan's president, which was the first communication between leaders of the two country since 1979. On the call, Trump accepted the president's congratulations, but China reacted by saying that Trump's acceptance is a sign of inexperience.

6. Jill Stein's recount efforts falter.

Since calling for recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Jill Stein has collected over $7 million, but this week, a federal judge in Michigan halted the efforts in his state. Stein tweeted, saying the judge gave in to Donald Trump and Republicans by ordering the recount to stop. She also called out Hillary Clinton, saying that "she's not standing up, she's standing down."

7. Joe Biden is running for president in 2020...wait, no he's not.

Earlier this week, it was speculated that Vice President Joe Biden may bid for the Democratic nomination in 2020. To a reporter, Biden said Monday that he's "not committed to anything" whether that be running or not running. Later in the week, however, Biden confirmed with Stephen Colbert that he has no intentions to run.

8. Trump continues to make appointments for his future administration.

Most notably this week, Trump named Scott Pruitt, who has criticized President Obama's climate change policy, to head the EPA. He opposed regulations imposed by the EPA and the amount of money that goes into the department. Trump also nominated Andrew Puzder, who opposes higher minimum wage, as Labor Secretary.

9. Pope Francis makes a decision on abortion, and so does Ohio.

Pope Francis has now given Catholic priests permission to pardon abortions, like any other action considered a sin in Catholicism. Within a week, the Ohio legislature passed a law that bans abortions past 6 weeks, which is before many women even know that they are pregnant. The law will now go to Ohio governor John Kasich, who can either sign or veto the law. 

10. Sanctuary Campus movements continue across the country.

Trump announced this week that "we're going to work something out" with "Dreamers," undocumented immigrants who are protected from any form of deportation while they attend college. His statement may stem from the building #SanctuaryCampus movement that is spreading across the country

As Trump's policies and administration continue to take shape, political news will be constant and often confusing. For college students, complex political news can be hard to keep up with, so stay tuned to Fresh U for weekly political updates. 

Lead Image Credit: Aleteia Image Department via Flickr Creative Commons

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Karly Matthews - Temple University

Karly Matthews is a political science and journalism major with a Spanish minor at Temple University. In high school, she was editor-in-chief of her school's online newspaper, a member of the yearbook staff, a Spanish Club officer and a dancer for 12 years. In her free time, Karly drinks too much coffee and follows politics with an obsessive passion. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karlymatthews_!

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