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HeadlinesDecember 16, 2019

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U.N. Climate Talks End with Few of the Commitments Needed to Avert Catastrophe

Dec 16, 2019

In Madrid, Spain, the COP25 United Nations climate summit ended in failure Sunday, after negotiators failed to agree to a deal that would limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels — a key goal of the Paris Agreement. Scores of civil society groups condemned governments in the European Union, Australia, Canada and the U.S. for blocking progress at the talks. Alden Meyer, strategy chief at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, “Never have I seen the almost total disconnect we’ve seen here at COP25 in Madrid between what the science requires and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action.” Ian Fry, the climate negotiator for the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu — whose existence is threatened by rising sea levels — called out the United States for watering down the final document even though President Trump is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.

Ian Fry: “This is an absolute tragedy and a travesty on those affected by the impacts of climate change. There are millions of people all around the world who are already suffering from the impacts of climate change. Denying this fact could be interpreted by some to be a crime against humanity. Thank you.”

Environmentalists and indigenous leaders blasted the United Nations for marginalizing civil society groups over two weeks of negotiations, while welcoming polluters at the climate summit. This is Kera Sherwood-O’Regan, a Maori representative from the Indigenous Peoples Organizations at the COP.

Kera Sherwood-O’Regan: “When you silence us, you deny yourselves learning from our ways, and you continue to sideline those who have real solutions for all communities. We are experts on climate. We are the kaitiaki, the stewards of nature. We know the legitimacy of our voices, and it’s about time that you recognized it, too. Hear our stories. Learn our histories. Stop taking up space with your false solutions and get out of our way.”

We’ll have more on the failures of the COP25 climate summit later in the broadcast.

Top Republicans Coordinating with White House on Senate Impeachment Trial

Dec 16, 2019

On Capitol Hill, the House Judiciary Committee has released its report explaining its decision to charge President Trump with two articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The 658-page report released this morning details Trump’s efforts to withhold military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden. On Wednesday, the full Democratic-controlled House is expected to vote to impeach President Trump, sending the charges to the Republican-controlled Senate, which will then hold a trial on whether to remove Trump from office.

On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed terms for an evidentiary trial that would start on January 7 and go beyond the investigation conducted by the House. Witnesses who could be called to testify include former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

This comes as top Republican senators face calls to recuse themselves from Trump’s impeachment trial. Late last week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News he was “taking my cues” from the White House. And on Sunday Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was questioned by “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan about coordinating with the White House on impeachment.

Margaret Brennan: “Should Republicans in the Senate really be taking their marching orders from the person being investigated?”

Sen. Lindsey Graham: “You know, I understand the president’s frustration, but I think what’s best for the country is to get — get this thing over with. I am clearly made up my mind. I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations in the process.”

We’ll have more on Trump’s impeachment later in the broadcast with Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic and former presidential candidate.

Trump Set to Withdraw 4,000 Troops from Afghanistan Amid Revelations About Failing War Effort

Dec 16, 2019

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to withdraw 4,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, with President Trump set to make an announcement as early as this week. The drawdown would leave between 8,000 and 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan continuing to fight the longest war in U.S. history, now in its 19th year. This comes just days after a major exposé by The Washington Post revealed senior U.S. officials lied throughout the war in Afghanistan about progress, while hiding evidence it had become unwinnable.

At Least 6 Dead in India as Protests Rage Against Anti-Muslim Citizenship Law

Dec 16, 2019

In India, the death toll from a crackdown on demonstrations has risen to six as massive protests rage against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which many have denounced as a major step toward the official marginalization of India’s 200 million Muslims. Among the dead were four people shot by police in Assam state’s biggest city, Guwahati, where government-imposed curfews closed schools and brought commerce to a halt. The citizenship bill passed by the upper house of the Indian Parliament provides a path to citizenship for immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — unless they are Muslim.

Fire Kills 10 at Bangladesh Factory with “No Safety Measures”

Dec 16, 2019

In Bangladesh, at least 10 people were killed after a fire tore through a factory near the capital Dhaka Sunday. A local fire official said the three-story building clearly had “no safety measures.” The deadly blaze came just four days after a fire at a Dhaka plastics factory killed 19 people.

Police in Lebanon Break Up Protests Against Corruption & Inequality

Dec 16, 2019

In Lebanon, government forces fired tear gas and water cannons at thousands of protesters who flooded the streets of Beirut for a second straight day Sunday, dispersing a peaceful rally calling for an end to official corruption and economic inequality. Protesters responded by throwing rocks and setting trash cans on fire. Dozens of people were arrested. This is protester Nadine Farhat.

Nadine Farhat: “We will not leave until they submit to our demands. They are the ones who stole the country. They are the ones who brought us to this point, not us. We are citizens who want our rights. What we are asking for is not something that the political elite own, it is actually our own rights that they took away from us.”

Lebanon has been rocked by weeks of massive anti-government demonstrations that forced Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign.

Judge Orders 234,000 Names Purged from Voter Rolls in Wisconsin, Key Battleground State

Dec 16, 2019

In the United States, a state judge in Wisconsin has ordered 234,000 names to be purged from the voter rolls ahead of the 2020 election, in a move decried by critics as a Republican-backed effort at voter suppression. Under the ruling, registered voters who did not respond to a letter within 30 days asking them to confirm their home address will be forced to re-register or will be ineligible to vote next year. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a majority of the voters who were sent the letters were in districts that leaned Democratic in the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes that year. Ben Wikler, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, called the purge a “product of a right-wing legal and political strategy to prevent eligible voters from voting,” adding, “It should be a concern to anyone who believes in the core idea of democracy.”

New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew to Join Republican Party After Meeting with Trump

Dec 16, 2019

New Jersey Democratic Congressmember Jeff Van Drew will switch parties and become a Republican. Van Drew’s announcement came over the weekend after he met President Trump at the White House on Friday. After news of his defection broke, five of Van Drew’s top staffers resigned in protest. Van Drew is opposed to the impeachment of President Trump.

Hallmark Channel Apologizes for Pulling Ads Showing Same-Sex Weddings

Dec 16, 2019

In media news, the Hallmark Channel says it will resume airing advertisements from the wedding planning company Zola that feature same-sex couples. Hallmark initially banned four ads featuring brides kissing each other, while accepting two similar ads that featured heterosexual couples. After a backlash, Hallmark CEO Mike Perry reversed course and apologized Sunday night, saying in a statement, “We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”

Pentagon Investigates Army and Navy Students over “White Power” Gestures

Dec 16, 2019

Pentagon officials say they’re investigating students at the Army’s West Point Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy after they were filmed flashing “white power” hand gestures at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia on Saturday. Army cadets and Navy midshipmen in the stands were seen repeatedly making the signs, which resemble an “OK” gesture, and one such incident was broadcast live by ESPN. Last year the U.S. Coast Guard reprimanded an officer who used a similar hate symbol during a TV broadcast.

Boeing May End Production of 737 MAX Jets Following Deadly Crashes

Dec 16, 2019

Executives at Boeing are reportedly considering ending production of the troubled 737 MAX passenger jet, and an announcement could come as early as this afternoon after markets close. Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane has been grounded worldwide after two crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed all 346 people on board. Last week, former Boeing manager Edward Pierson testified to the House Transportation Committee that he tried to warn executives about safety concerns four months before the first deadly crash — as well as before the second crash — but his warnings were ignored.

Edward Pierson: “I requested a one-on-one meeting with the general manager on July 18th and repeated my recommendation to shut down the factory for a brief period of time. When I mentioned that I’ve seen operations in the military shut down for lesser safety concerns, I will never forget his response, which was 'The military isn't a profit-making organization.’”

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