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Dec 16 2016
by Karly Matthews

What Happened This Week in Politics: Aleppo Evacuation, Russian Hacking and Dylann Roof's Conviction

By Karly Matthews - Dec 16 2016

As the holidays approach, the presidential transition and world politics don't seem to be taking any kind of break. President-elect Trump continues to make important appointments to his administration while tragedy and destruction continue in Aleppo. This week, Orlando remembered the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting that occurred in June, and self-proclaimed "white nationalist" Dylann Roof was convicted for his crimes.

1. Trump continues to make appointments like that of Rex Tillerson to Secretary of State.

This week, Trump made multiple notable appointments. Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, will be his Secretary of State because his international business experience. Trump also named Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior and Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy. The New York Times has published and continues to update a comprehensive list of Trump's appointments that can ease confusion about the new administration.

2. Russian tampering of the presidential election returns to the spotlight.

Although there has been no confession from Vladimir Putin regarding Russian hacking and interference with the election, U.S. intelligence agencies released a statement yesterday suggesting exactly that. President Obama vowed that he will take action against Russia for these hacks, and he has scheduled a news conference today at 2 p.m. to discuss his agenda. 

3. Dylann Roof, the man who shot and killed members of an African American church during service, is convicted on all charges.

In Charleston, South Carolina, Dylann Roof was convicted of 33 federal hate crimes. In June, Roof entered an African American church during Sunday service and killed nine people, wounding three others. During his trial, Roof said, "I am guilty. We all know I'm guilty." As of now, it is unclear whether or not Roof will receive the death penalty, but he has opted to represent himself for the next phase of the trial. 

4. It has been six months since the attack on Orlando's Pulse Nightclub.

Orlando experienced extreme tragedy this June when an attacker brought a gun into the Pulse Nightclub and shot to kill. Now, six months after the event, Orlando continues to honor the victims and remember that night. Multiple Orlando sports teams remembered the event with #OrlandoUnited shirts and a new soccer stadium will feature rainbow-colored seats. Fresh U interviewed five students about these tributes earlier in the week.

5. The Wisconsin recount is finished and the result is unexpected.

After the Wisconsin recount this week, Trump picked up 131 votes, widening his margin of victory over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. The recount efforts were blocked in Pennsylvania. In Michigan, "massive voter irregularities" may have been found in Detroit. According to the Huffington Post, Jill Stein's efforts accomplished one thing: exposing the weakness in the American voting system.

6. With destruction everywhere in sight, the evacuation of Aleppo was halted.

The government recaptured most of Aleppo and evacuated 6,000 people from the nearly destroyed city. However, according to BBC, over 50,000 people remain within the dangerous walls of Aleppo. More than four years of fighting has led Aleppo to this place. The evacuation has been halted possibly due to Russian overseeing of the process, but this is not clear, reports the New York Times.

7. Governor of Ohio John Kasich signs a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks.

This week, Governor John Kasich rejected the "Heartbeat Bill," which would have banned abortions at six weeks or about when a heartbeat can be detected. Kasich denied the bill because a similar idea was deemed unconstitutional in both North Dakota and Arkansas. Instead, Kasich signed a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks in the state of Ohio. According to NPR, 15 other states also have a 20-week abortion ban.

8. The Trump Grill serves martinis a little differently, apparently.

A photo of a vodka martini at the Trump Grill went viral on Twitter this week, as it was served in a wine glass. The Daily Beast's Olivia Nuzzi tweeted a photo of the oddly discolored drink, sparking conversation on Twitter. The tweet came after Vanity Fair gave the restaurant a poor review earlier in the week.

9. The controversy around Yasmin Seweid's alleged attackers continues.

On December 1, Yasmin Seweid, an 18-year-old Baruch College student, claimed that drunken white men shouting "Donald Trump" tried to remove her hijab on the New York City subway. The story reached national news as a post-elect hate crime conducted by Donald Trump supporters. However, this week, NYPD arrested Seweid for fabricating the incident, which the police force used "significant" time and officers to investigate. Although this incident turned out to be fake, there are real hate crimes occurring in the country.

10. Trump's 'Thank You' tour make stops in Pennsylvania this week.

Pennsylvania, a state that has not gone red in a presidential election since 1988 before 2016, was on Trump's agenda this week during his 'Thank You' tour. On Thursday evening, Trump, along with vice president-elect Mike Pence, spoke to supporters in Hershey. Trump discussed his plan to fight "radical Islamic terrorism" and create a "safe place in Syria."

As the final holiday season with President Obama in the White House winds down, news about the new administration and the United States' political climate will be everywhere. For political coverage specific to college students, stay tuned to Fresh U.

Lead Image Credit: fatbwoy 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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