Headlines: December 10, 2019
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House Democrats introduced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning, one focusing on his “abuse of power,” and the other on his “obstruction of Congress.” House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler joined other Democratic leaders in announcing the articles. Following him, Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff also spoke. Associated Press explained that, “Voting is expected in a matter of days in the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House.” If the House votes to pass the articles, Trump will become the third US President to ever be impeached, after Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson.
Although Democrats and Republicans are fiercely battling over impeachment, they have managed to put their differences aside to come to an agreement on a new regional trade deal with Canada and Mexico – an update to NAFTA, the North America Free Trade Agreement. The new version of the trade deal – dubbed by Trump as the US-Mexico-Canada or USMCA deal, had been negotiated by the Trump administration but was stymied by Democrats’ demands for greater labor protections. A day after Richard Trumka, who heads the AFL-CIO said he was satisfied, Democratic Representative Richard Neal who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee said on Tuesday, “We got the agreement, we’re going to go with it.” Robert Lighthizer, the White House’s chief trade negotiator, is traveling to Mexico on Tuesday together with the President’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner to present the deal. In other trade news, the US has just shut down the World Trade Organization’s appeals court. The Associated Press explained that the court’s end means nations will be, “unable to reach a final resolution of disputes at the World Trade Organization and instead facing what critics call ‘the law of the jungle.’” There are seven unresolved cases brought against the Trump administration’s claims that steel and aluminum tariffs were hurting US national security.
In other labor news, the Celadon trucking company on Monday announced bankruptcy, leaving thousands of truck drivers in the lurch just before the holidays. The Guardian newspaper reported that, “Many of the truck drivers were left stranded in the midst of making deliveries, as they await receiving bus tickets from the company to return home, now jobless and left without benefits two weeks before Christmas. Their fuel cards were shut off, and many were reported left without any directions on where or how to turn in their rigs.”
President Trump on Monday reacted to the long-awaited results of an investigation into the FBI over the Special Counsel probe. Speaking to reporters from the White House he painted the report’s conclusions as “far worse” than anyone thought they would be. But the actual report exonerated the FBI although it drew attention to some serious lapses in how surveillance was conducted. Upset that the FBI Director did not spin the report’s results in the way he would have like, Trump attacked Bureau’s chief on Twitter saying, “I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me.” The news outlet Politico explained that the most damning conclusions of the Justice Department’s Inspector General report showed that Trump and the GOP’s conspiracy theories were proven false including: “The Steele dossier didn’t play a role in opening the Russia probe,” “Neither did Lisa Page or Peter Strzok,” “Obama never wiretapped Trump Tower,” and “The FBI didn’t implant spies in Trump’s campaign.”
In news from the Democratic Presidential race, The Center for Popular Democracy Action has just endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for President. The endorsement is being considered something of a “coup,” particularly against Senator Elizabeth Warren, as the coalition includes dozens of leading progressive organizations. And, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has become a leading candidate, has been given clearance by his former employer McKinsey Consulting, to reveal the clients he consulted for. According to the New York Times, “Mr. Buttigieg will also open his fund-raisers to the press and identify people raising money for his campaign, in a significant concession from a candidate facing pressure over transparency.”
In immigration news, the LA Times reports that the Trump administration’s latest tactic to deny asylum seekers entry into the US is to conduct medical screenings and turn away refugees if they fail the tests. Many asylum seekers complained that the terrible conditions under which they are being forced to wait in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated is fueling illnesses. Central Americans seeking refuge are camped out in tents as the winter weather impacts their immune systems. The so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy is so harsh that now reports have emerged of parents across the border from Texas sending their children – some as young as 4 – to cross the border bridge in Brownsville on their own. Children entering unaccompanied are not turned back. Meanwhile a county in North Dakota that was considering barring refugees has decided against it. Burleigh County would have become the first in the nation to ban refugees but the County commission voted on Monday 3-2 against the measure after hundreds of residents showed up to the vote.
In international news, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under fire for pushing an Islamophobic bill offering citizenship to people in neighboring nations, as long as they aren’t Muslims. An Indian Muslim member of Parliament, Asaduddin Owaisi denounced the bill, which passed the Lower House, saying, “We are heading toward totalitarianism, a fascist state…We are making India a theocratic country.”
Myanmar is facing charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Su Kyi is at the court on Tuesday to defend Myanmar’s generals, switching sides in a conflict that has resulted in mass death, displacement, and persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority. The charges were brought by Gambia, which is part of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
In Britain, ahead of an election centered on the Brexit saga, Labor Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced a bold plan centered on taxing the rich and redistributing wealth to benefit ordinary people. Corbyn’s leftist vision has made him the target of a smear campaign claiming he has promoted anti-Semitism. According to AP, “Corbyn is also promising the nationalization of some rail and energy services, as well as free broadband internet, child care and university tuition.”
And finally in a little covered peace summit in Paris, France, Russian and Ukrainian leaders have agreed to a ceasefire in the war-torn Eastern region of Ukraine. Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky met face to face for the first time since Zelensky’s election. Together with Germany and France, the two leaders agreed to stop the fighting, exchange prisoners, remove landmines and more. At the same time, the United Nations’ General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Russia’s occupation of Crimea and demanded that Russian forces immediately withdraw.