Headlines: November 21, 2019
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On the third day of public impeachment hearings, former White House advisor Fiona Hill testified on Thursday morning. It was the third consecutive day of witness questioning this week alone. In her opening remarks, Hill denounced one of the Republican Party’s main conspiracy theories used to justify President Donald Trump’s actions – that Ukraine was somehow involved in the 2016 election interference rather than Russia. Also testifying on Thursday was David Holmes, a US Embassy staffer in Ukraine who overheard a phone from Trump to the US’s EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland confirming a quid pro quo. On Wednesday afternoon, after lengthy testimony from Sondland, two other government officials testified: Laura Cooper of the Defense Department and David Hale from the State Department who spoke to lawmakers about the US military aid that was being withheld from Ukraine.
After Cooper and Hale testified, House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff delivered a powerful closing address making the case for Trump’s impeachable conduct. Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her Thursday press conference had harsh words for Trump. Meanwhile Trump, enraged over the public scrutiny of his misconduct resorted to name-calling once more, calling Democrats “human scum” on Twitter.
On Wednesday night, yet another debate between the top 10 Democratic Party Presidential candidates took place on a stage in Atlanta. Overall assessments of the debate were that candidates spent more time criticizing Trump than one another. Race emerged as an important issue as former Vice President Joe Biden confidently touted his support in the black community. Senator Bernie Sanders made news for demanding that Palestinians be treated with dignity, while Representative Tulsi Gabbard came under fire for her visit with Syria’s brutal dictator Bashar Al Assad.
A federal judge has temporarily stopped the first federal execution in years from moving forward in a rebuke to Attorney General Willim Barr. Barr earlier this year announced that the federal government would resume executions on Decebmer 9th but U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled in favor of plaintiffs challenging the resumption.
An immigrant rights activist named Scott Warren has been acquitted of all charges in a highly publicized case of Americans being criminalized for helping undocumented immigrants. Warren was arrested for offering shelter to two immigrants at a camp in Arizona as part of his work with the humanitarian group No More Deaths. In other news, the state of Nebraska has just become the first to comply with the Trump Administration’s demand to share driver’s license data with the federal government in an effort to identify undocumented immigrants. Trump had signed a rule requiring such data to be used to draw up voting district lines after a citizenship question on the US Census was ruled out. And, more than 100 Democrats have called for the resignation of White House Advisor Stephen Miller, whose white supremacist views were recently confirmed through leaked emails.
Activists around the country this Wednesday marked “Transgender Day of Remembrance” to commemorate the lives of transgender people who have been victimized and killed. In New York, about a hundred people participated in a vigil for 22 black transgender women who were killed this year alone. Globally that number is 311. In other news, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday passed two bills to address the hundreds of missing or murdered indigenous women in the US. For decades Native American communities have been demanding federal legislation to address the epidemic of misogynist violence.
The gun control organization Everytown released a damning new report this week finding that the vast majority of children who die from gun violence are attacked in their own homes as victims of domestic violence than in school shootings. About 75% of children are killed in their own homes. Overall, a whopping two thirds of all mass shootings happen in the home.
Chinese officials have invited Trump administration officials for face-to-face trade talks in Beijing to try to break through a stalemate before the US’s Thanksgiving holiday. It is not clear if the White House will accept. Trump earlier this week said that China was not stepping up to its responsibility after a year of negotiations have gone nowhere.
And in international news, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted on charges of corruption, bribery and fraud, throwing the longtime incumbent leader’s political future into question. It is the first time that a sitting Prime Minister has been charged in this manner. The New York Times summarized that the charges stem from, “allegations of giving or offering lucrative official favors to several media tycoons in exchange for favorable news coverage or gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.”