The House of Representatives has voted along partisan lines to formalize the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. All 194 House Republicans who voted Thursday opposed the measure, and all but two Democrats voted in favor of the resolution, which sets the stage for the first public hearings of the investigation. This is California Democrat Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “The Founding Fathers understood that a leader might take hold of the Oval Office who would sacrifice the national security, who would fail to defend the Constitution, who would place his personal or political interest above the interest of the country. They understood that might happen. And they provided a mechanism to deal with it and that mechanism is called impeachment.
The House vote came as Tim Morrison, a top official on Trump’s National Security Council, testified in a closed-door hearing that the president withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine over the summer. Morrison’s account corroborated other officials’ claims that Trump’s move was meant to pressure Ukraine’s leader to publicly investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have filed a “declaration of domicile” declaring their permanent residence to be the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. They were previously listed as residing at Trump Tower in New York City, where Donald Trump has been a lifelong resident. The New York Times cited an official close to Trump who said the move was primarily for tax purposes. Florida residents pay no state income taxes. In a tweet, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote, “Good riddance. It’s not like Donald Trump paid taxes here anyway… He’s all yours, Florida.”
In Afghanistan, the CIA is accused of backing Afghan strike forces whose members have committed summary executions and other atrocities without accountability. In a 53-page report released Thursday, Human Rights Watch says the CIA-backed Afghan soldiers unlawfully killed civilians during night raids, forcibly disappeared detainees and attacked healthcare workers who allegedly treated Taliban fighters. This is Patricia Grossman, Asia director of Human Rights Watch.
Patricia Grossman: “What we are calling on all the parties involved to do is they heed the rules of war and heed to the laws in place. The problem with these particular militia groups, these paramilitaries, is they operate outside normal chains of command within the ordinary Afghan government forces or the U.S. forces and so they are not held accountable and their lack of transparency means civilians cannot go to someone and find out what happened, get any kind of justice for the crimes that were committed.”
The Intercept reports a loophole in U.S. law allows the CIA to ignore a rule barring the Pentagon and State Department from training or equipping foreign military units when there is “credible information” they’ve committed serious human rights abuses.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Thursday offered to resign if lawmakers could agree on his replacement, as tens of thousands of anti-government protesters continued to rally in cities across Iraq. Mahdi’s resignation offer comes after more than 250 people have died at the hands of Iraqi security forces since the protests began last month. They’re are demanding jobs, better public services, and an end to government corruption.
In Argentina, thousands marched through the streets of Buenos Aires Thursday in the capital city’s first major demonstration since incumbent President Mauricio Macri lost Sunday’s election to center-left candidate Alberto Fernández. Protesters are demanding a reversal of cuts to pensions and public utility subsidies imposed after last year’s $57 billion bailout by the International Monetary Fund. They’re also demanding the senate pass a bill expanding food assistance to combat rampant hunger. This is Esteban Marcioni, who led a protest outside the IMF’s offices.
Esteban Marcioni: “What we’re going through is a catastrophe. The price increases on food makes the situation truly unsustainable. What we’re debating every day is whether to eat or not.”
Chile’s government held talks with opposition leaders Thursday in a bid to quell anti-government protests, now entering their third week. The protests erupted on Oct. 19, sparked by a hike in subway fares, but quickly grew into nationwide demonstrations against inequality, the high cost of living and privatization.
This week Chile’s embattled president Sebastián Piñera canceled two major international summits as a result of the protests — the upcoming APEC economic summit and United Nations climate talks. He announced Thursday that Spain has offered to host the climate summit, known as the COP.
Sebastián Piñera: “Yesterday I spoke with the President of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, who made the generous offer to organize the COP25 summit in Madrid, Spain, the same days it was planned to be carried out in Chile, meaning, from the 2nd to the 13th of December this year.”
Spain will have just one month to prepare for the global summit in Madrid, which will follow snap elections on Nov. 10. Democracy Now! will be covering the U.N. climate summit.
Here in New York City, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a federal court Wednesday that ExxonMobil did not mislead shareholders about the financial risks of climate change while Tillerson was CEO of the company. Investors suing the oil giant contend that under Tillerson’s leadership in 2014, Exxon kept two sets of books on the predicted costs of future climate regulations — lowballing internal company estimates in order to justify carbon-intensive projects like mining Canada’s tar sands.
A damning report by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that Exxon knew that fossil fuels contributed to climate change as early as the 1970s, but did not take any action even as it covered up the science. The student group “Fridays For Future NYC” is leading a school strike and rally today outside the Manhattan courthouse where the Exxon trial is underway. The group tweeted, “Exxon knew in 1982 they were stealing our future. And now they’ll pay for it.”
Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has turned down the Nordic Council Environment Prize, rejecting $52,000 in award money. In a statement posted to Instagram, Thunberg called the offer a “huge honour” but wrote, “The climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science.”
In North Dakota, the Keystone pipeline remains idled, after the TC Energy company — formerly known as TransCanada — said a rupture this week spilled over 380-thousand gallons of crude oil in a rural wetland. The spill came as the Environmental Protection Agency moved to roll back Obama-era regulations meant to prevent toxic heavy metals from coal ash from leaching into groundwater.
Democratic Congressmember Katie Hill delivered her final remarks from the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday, in a scathing critique of what she said are “double standards” that apply to men and women in Washington.
Hill was elected to represent Southern California’s 25th district last November as one of the first openly bisexual people elected to Congress. She announced her resignation this week after admitting to a consensual relationship with a campaign aide before she took office. House ethics investigators are also looking into an alleged affair between Hill and her legislative director, though Hill has denied that relationship.
The allegations surfaced after RedState.org and the Daily Mail published naked images of Hill without her consent. Hill has accused her abusive husband of enlisting the help of “hateful political operatives” in a smear campaign based on cyber exploitation.
Rep. Katie Hill: “I’m leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching. … I’m leaving. But we have men who have been credibly accused of intentional acts of sexual violence and remain in boardrooms, on the Supreme Court, in this very body, and worst of all, in the Oval Office.”
New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio Cortex told Politico, “This doesn’t happen to male members in the same way — revenge porn in this respect. … I don’t think we’re really talking about how targeted and serious this is. We’re talking about a major crime.”
In Missouri, a series of public hearings is underway to determine the fate of the state’s last remaining abortion provider — a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. In June, state officials moved to deny the clinic’s license to perform abortions in what pro-choice groups called a politically motivated attack on reproductive rights.
On Tuesday, Missouri health director Dr. Randall Williams admitted he kept a spreadsheet tracking the menstrual periods of Planned Parenthood patients — a database that was emailed between health department employees. Missouri lawmakers are demanding the governor investigate the spreadsheet as a major violation of medical privacy laws.
On Thursday, the director of surgical services at Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic broke down in tears as she testified about invasive, medically-unnecessary pelvic exams she was forced to administer to people seeking abortions, under a state mandate that has since been reversed.
In August, a federal judge blocked Missouri’s near-total ban on abortions one day before it was set to take effect. A federal court halted a similar abortion ban in Alabama earlier this week, citing the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade.
In Gambia, a beauty queen who says the president raped her when she was 18 years old testified Thursday to a public truth and reconciliation commission that is investigating the atrocities of former president Yahya Jammeh. Fatou “Toufah” Jallow has become a leading voice against the former president, who ruled the West African country of 2 million people for 22 years before his regime ended in 2017. Two other women have also come forward to accuse the former president of rape and sexual assault.
In Hong Kong, police fired tear gas Thursday evening to clear crowds of anti-authoritarian protesters who mingled with Halloween revelers in the city’s busiest nightlife district. The protesters used the holiday as a reason to once again defy a government ban on face masks — imposed last month as part of a widening crackdown on public assemblies.
Masked Protester: “I think if everyone here wears a mask, everyone can represent us. Hong Kong has a mask ban now, but our people will not yield to this ridiculous law.”
Economic data released Thursday show Hong Kong entered a recession in recent months, amid a violent response to protests that erupted in June. Another massive protest is being planned for Saturday.
Jordan has recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv, after Israel refused to release two Jordanian citizens who have been held without charge since their arrests in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in August. Israel routinely uses its “administrative detention” policy to hold Palestinians indefinitely without trial in military jails. On Thursday, Palestinian protesters in the West Bank city of Ramallah held a solidarity rally. This is demonstrator Raya Zeyadah.
Raya Zeyadah: “These protests and rallies are in solidarity with our female and male prisoners in the occupation jails, especially the prisoners who are on hunger strike, and especially the prisoner Heba Labadi whose life is in danger. We are all here in one voice that says we are with the prisoners, both men and women.”
Jordanian-Palestinian Heba al-Labadi has been held in an Israeli jail without charge since August, when she was arrested after crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank. She’s been on hunger strike for nearly 40 days, and was hospitalized after her health deteriorated.