Obama Promises to Retaliate Against Russian Interference in US Election

In an interview aired on NPR today, President Barack Obama said that the US would retaliate if an investigation finds that Russia tried to interfere in the US presidential election.

“We will [take action] – at a time and place of our own choosing,” Obama said. “Some of it may be explicit and publicised; some of it may not be.”

Dmitri S. Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, called on the United States to offer proof of Russia’s role or cease claims. “It is necessary to either stop talking about it, or finally produce some evidence. Otherwise, it all begins to look quite unseemly,” said Peskov.

A full investigation will be conducted and submitted to Obama before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on January 20th.

The issue of whether or not Russia influenced the US elections through the hacking of emails has divided the Republican party. Trump strongly denies the possibility, and key Republicans, such Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham are agreeing with Obama on the need to investigate the matter.

(For more, see: Obama Calls for Investigation into Russian Hacking, Still No Evidence Made Public)

Corruption Charges Failed Against Former President Lula

Brazilian prosecutors filed new corruption charges against former President Lula da Silva on Thursday.

Lula is being charged with masterminding a scheme to solicit $22 million in bribes from the construction company Odebrecht in exchange for contracts with Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras. The bribes were then used to fund political campaigns, according to the accusation.

Marisa da Silva, Lula’s wife, is also accused of money laundering. Both are facing trials in two related cases.

Lula and Marisa vehemently deny all of these charges and say that they are designed to prevent Lula from running for the presidency again in 2018.

A judge is expected to decide in January or February whether the new charges will move forward.

200 people have been charged and 81 have been convicted in Brazil’s wide-ranging corruption investigation. The charges involve at least $2 billion in bribes.  

(For more, see: Brazilian President Temer Signs Constitutional Amendment Imposing 20 Years of Austerity)

Secret Government Report on Mexican Students’ Disappearance Says Prosecutors Mishandled the Case

The Mexican government is refusing to release a report on the investigation into the disappearance of 43 students from the town of Ayotzinapa that occurred two years ago.

The report was slanted for released last August, but was withheld at the time for undisclosed reasons, according to reports at The New York Times who have seen the report.

It details how prosecutors and investigators mishandled evidence in the case and allowed suspects to enter the crime scene.

Family members and friends of the missing students are continuing to stage protests against the local and national government for the lack of resolution in the case.

The case has become emblematic for many Mexicans of the government’s collusion with organized crime to repress political activism.

(For more, see: Mexicans Protest on Second Anniversary of Disappearance of 43 Students)

Trump Picks Pro-Settlement Libertarian as Ambassador to Israel

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen David Friedman – an open supporter of Israel’s illegal colonization project in the occupied Palestinian West Bank – to serve as the next U.S ambassador to Israel.

Friedman, a libertarian Orthodox-Jewish lawyer, has represented Trump in several bankruptcy cases.

In response to the announcement, Friedman implied that the U.S embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

No country has established its embassy with Israel in Jerusalem due to Israel’s occupation and annexation of areas of the city that are recognized by a majority of nations and international legal institutions as Palestinian sovereign territory.

In June, Friedman compared a Jewish organization in support of a two state solution to “kapos,” a term used to describe Jewish prisoners who collaborated with the Nazis.

In November, rumors were circulating that Trump would chose the former Republican governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee as his ambassador to Israel. Huckabee has also expressed extreme pro-Israeli views.

Swiss Parliament Shoots Down Decision to Impose Worker Quotas

The parliament of Switzerland has rejected a bill that would impose quotas on foreign workers in the country.

If passed, the measure had the potential to restrict Switzerland integration into the European market.

Parliamentarians had expressed concerns that restrictions on foreign workers and the retaliatory effects on Swiss exports would cause consequences similar to those of the Brexit.

A quarter of Swiss residents are foreigners. About 1.4 million migrant workers hold EU citizenship and currently permitted to work in Switzerland without limitation.

In February 2014, a referendum on the imposition of quotas on foreign workers was approved with a narrow 50.3% majority.