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HeadlinesDecember 17, 2019

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House to Vote Wednesday on Two Articles of Impeachment Against Trump

Dec 17, 2019

The House of Representatives is slated to vote tomorrow on two articles of impeachment against President Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On Monday, a number of Democratic lawmakers from conservative-leaning districts announced that they would vote for impeachment — all but guaranteeing that Trump will become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee released its 658-page report, arguing Trump “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office.” There are more than 500 pro-impeachment rallies planned for tonight, with activists expected to take to the streets in every U.S. state.

If the Democrat-controlled House votes to impeach, then the impeachment trial will play out in the Republican-controlled Senate. On Monday, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on the Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, to demand testimony from four current and former White House aides during the impeachment trial.

Sen. Chuck Schumer: “If Leader McConnell doesn’t hold a full and fair trial, the American people will rightly ask: What are you, Leader McConnell, and what is President Trump hiding?”

Meanwhile, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The New York Times Monday that he repeatedly briefed President Trump about how Giuliani believed United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was impeding investigations that could politically benefit Trump. The president then connected Giuliani with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Yovanovitch was then ousted after a smear campaign engineered by Giuliani. The impeachment inquiry centers on how President Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to pressure the Ukrainians to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, ahead of the 2020 election.

The House Rules Committee is slated to hold a hearing today to set parameters for Wednesday’s impeachment floor debate and votes. Democracy Now! will be be live-streaming today’s House Rules Committee hearing at our website, democracynow.org.

Democratic Candidates to Boycott Debate If Labor Dispute Not Resolved

Dec 17, 2019

Democratic presidential candidates are vowing to boycott Thursday’s primary debate if a labor dispute between a food workers’ union and the company Sodexo is not resolved. The union, UNITE HERE Local 11, says Sodexo does not provide decent yearly wage increases, affordable healthcare or year-round work, and has vowed to stage a picket line during Thursday’s televised debate if an agreement is not reached. The union has been in negotiations with the food service company since March. All seven candidates slated to take the stage during Thursday’s debate have vowed not to cross the picket line.

Booker & Other Presidential Candidates Call on DNC to Change Debate Criteria

Dec 17, 2019

In more debate news, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and eight other Democratic presidential candidates have signed a letter to DNC Chair Tom Perez urging the DNC to change its qualification criteria for upcoming debates in January and February. The effort to change the criteria comes after Booker and Julián Castro — two of the most prominent candidates of color — did not make the threshold for Thursday’s debate in Los Angeles. Of the seven candidates who did qualify for Thursday’s debate, only one candidate — Andrew Yang — is a person of color.

Sen. Graham Says Trump May Announce Drawdown of Troops in Afghanistan

Dec 17, 2019

Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says President Trump may announce a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan before the year’s end. Graham was speaking from the Afghan capital Kabul Monday. He said Trump may reduce the number of troops from 12,000 down to 8,600. Graham’s visit to Afghanistan and his announcement come a week after The Washington Post published an extraordinary trove of secret U.S. documents, known as the Afghanistan Papers, revealing how U.S. officials repeatedly lied about the U.S. war in Afghanistan and hid evidence the war had become unwinnable.

Protests Against “Anti-Muslim” Citizenship Bill Sweep India

Dec 17, 2019

In India, protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill have spread to over a dozen cities, with the Indian government deploying troops, imposing curfews and shutting down internet access in an effort to stifle the growing protests. Many have denounced the citizenship bill as a major step toward the official marginalization of India’s 200 million Muslims. It provides a path to citizenship for immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — unless they are Muslim. Security forces have clashed with students and shot dead protesters. This is India’s opposition Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi.

Priyanka Gandhi: “The government has attacked students by entering universities, so we will fight for the Constitution. We’ve said it time and again, that we will fight against the government.”

We’ll go to New Delhi for more on the protests in India after headlines.

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Pakistan’s Former Military Ruler Pervez Musharraf Sentenced to Death for Treason

Dec 17, 2019

Pakistan’s former president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf has been sentenced in absentia to death for high treason. The former leader seized power in a military coup in 1999 and ruled Pakistan as president until 2008. He is now living in self-imposed exile in Dubai. The high treason conviction stems from Musharraf’s decision to declare emergency rule while in power, in violation of the Constitution. Today’s ruling marks the first time in Pakistan’s history that an Army chief has been convicted of treason.

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China Cancels Soccer Broadcast over Player’s Criticism on Uyghurs

Dec 17, 2019

In China, the state-run media outlet CCTV canceled the broadcast of the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester City, after the star player of Arsenal, Mesut Özil, criticized the Chinese government’s violent abuse of Uyghur Muslims. On Friday, Özil, who is Turkish-German and Muslim, called the Uyghurs “warriors who resist persecution.” Chinese authorities have been accused of systematically separating Muslim children from their families in the far western region of Xinjiang. An estimated 1 million people from the Uyghur community are being imprisoned in camps without trial.

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Boeing Temporarily Suspends Production of 737 MAX Jet

Dec 17, 2019

Boeing is temporarily suspending production of the troubled 737 MAX passenger jet, after the airplane was grounded worldwide following two crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed all 346 people on board. Last week, a former Boeing manager testified to the House Transportation Committee that he tried to warn executives about safety concerns before both deadly crashes — but his warnings were ignored. Click here to see our full interview with consumer advocate Ralph Nader on the 737 MAX passenger jet. Nader has sued over the death of his great-niece Samya Stumo, who died on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

Sacklers Withdrew $10B from Purdue Pharma Amid Scrutiny over Opioid Crisis

Dec 17, 2019

A new audit has revealed how the Sackler family withdrew more than $10 billion from their company, Purdue Pharma, as scrutiny mounted over Purdue Pharma’s role in the opioid epidemic. The Sacklers distributed the money among trusts and overseas holding companies, raising even more questions about how much money the family actually has and how much the Sacklers should pay to compensate victims of the United States’ opioid crisis. Local and state governments have brought thousands of lawsuits against Purdue Pharma. Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, said, “The fact that the Sackler family removed more than $10 billion when Purdue’s OxyContin was directly causing countless addictions, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and tearing apart millions of families is further reason that we must see detailed financial records showing how much the Sacklers profited from the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic.”

Report: 91 Fortune 500 Companies Effectively Paid No Federal Taxes in 2018

Dec 17, 2019

A new study reveals how 91 of the Fortune 500 companies effectively paid no federal taxes in 2018. The study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows how Amazon, Starbucks, Chevron, Duke Energy, Halliburton and others paid an effective federal tax rate of zero percent or less.

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Disabled Protesters Shut Down PG&E Headquarters over Power Outages

Dec 17, 2019

In San Francisco, California, dozens of activists, including many disabled protesters, blocked roads and shut down the PG&E headquarters for hours Monday, demanding the massive utility company stop its chronic power outages and invest money to ensure communities of color and disabled people are guaranteed stable electricity. This is one of the protesters.

Protester: “People rely on electricity to live. And meanwhile, PG&E hasn’t been maintaining their power lines and are giving money to shareholders. They’re not investing their money in actually making it safe. And frankly, utilities should not be privately owned and for profit; they should be serving people.”

In October, nearly 1 million PG&E customers had their electricity shut off as wildfires blazed across Los Angeles and Northern California. The unprecedented blackouts followed last year’s devastating Camp Fire, which killed 85 people — the deadliest blaze in California history. Investigators found that poorly maintained PG&E transmission lines sparked that fire.

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North Carolina Officer Fired for Body-Slamming 11-Year-Old Student

Dec 17, 2019

In North Carolina, a police officer who slammed an 11-year-old middle school student to the ground has been fired. The assault at Vance County Middle School was caught on surveillance video, which shows the school resource officer and a small boy walking down the hallway when the officer picks the boy up and throws him to the ground. The officer then picks the boy up again and slams him to the ground again. The officer, who has not been publicly named, was first placed on paid leave and was then fired as the video went viral.

New York & New Jersey Move to Issue Licenses to Undocumented Residents

Dec 17, 2019

Here in New York, thousands of undocumented people waited in lines at Department of Motor Vehicles Monday to apply for a driver’s license — marking a major victory for immigrant rights. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Green Light Law in June, which allows people to apply for a driver’s license using alternative forms of identification, instead of providing a Social Security number. Meanwhile, in the neighboring state of New Jersey, legislators also passed a bill Monday to allow undocumented people to apply for driver’s licenses, following emotional testimonies at the state Assembly last week. Among those to testify was a 9-year-old New Jersey resident named David.

David Cuautle: “We need these licenses because there’s cold weather, snow. And then, when the snow gets higher, we’re not going to be able to walk. You can call this community a 'great community' when we need licenses? Licenses can help our children go to a better — go to school and learn. Because my parents don’t have a license, that’s why I barely go to school. And I came here today because I support the licenses.”

On Monday, as New Jersey lawmakers approved the bill to grant undocumented people driver’s licenses, supporters erupted in cheers and chants of “Sí, se pudo” — “yes, we could.” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has already said he will sign the legislation into law.

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