Republicans and Democrats are continuing to battle over the terms of President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. The House has impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has withheld sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate over concerns of an unfair trial. Democrats are demanding the Senate hear witnesses in the trial, which centers on how President Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden, ahead of the 2020 presidential election. On Tuesday, speaking to an Alaska station, Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said she was disturbed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to coordinate the impeachment trial with the White House.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “And in fairness, when I heard that, I was disturbed. … To me, it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense. And so, I heard what Leader McConnell had said. I happen to think that that has further confused the process.”
Senator Mitch McConnell has also said he is not an impartial juror, leading Democratic lawmakers to accuse the Senate majority leader of trying to orchestrate a sham trial.
President Trump is facing criticism after he again attacked windmills during a speech in West Palm Beach, Florida, Saturday.
President Donald Trump: “I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody I know. It’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly; very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured. Tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So, the world is tiny compared to the universe. So, tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk — you talk about the carbon footprint. Fumes are spewing into the air, right? Spewing.”
In fact, the Energy Department says wind power has the smallest carbon footprint of any energy source, responsible for 20 times less greenhouse gas per kilowatt-hour than coal-powered electricity. One scientific report concluded that “wind turbines produce energy with virtually no emissions.”
Former New York City mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has come under massive criticism after The Intercept revealed Bloomberg used prison labor to make campaign calls. Bloomberg’s campaign subcontracted with the call center company ProCom to make his 2020 presidential calls. Two of ProCom’s call centers are operated out of state prisons in Oklahoma. Bloomberg claimed he wasn’t aware of the prison labor until The Intercept revealed the connection and that he has since cut ties with the company.
In Syria, thousands of civilians are continuing to flee an escalation of fighting in the northwestern province of Idlib, where Syrian and Russian forces have launched an all-out offensive aimed at capturing one of Syria’s last rebel-held territories. This is Mohammad Ajaj, one of the tens of thousands of civilians who have been displaced to overcrowded refugee camps.
Mohammad Ajaj: “We came from Kafr Roma, due to shelling, to this camp. We hardly survive in this camp, as it is full of mud. People are suffering from the cold conditions. May God help us.”
In more news on Syria, a top adviser to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad is warning of possible “operations” against U.S. soldiers stationed in eastern Syria to guard oil fields. The adviser said the United States has “no right” to the oil, and accused President Trump of trying to steal it.
In October, President Trump abruptly withdrew U.S. soldiers from parts of northern Syria, clearing the way for a Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurds, and then restationed the U.S. troops in eastern Syria, saying, “We want to keep the oil.”
In Burkina Faso, nearly a dozen soldiers have been killed in an ambush in the north, only one day after militants killed 35 civilians in an attack on a military base in the same region. Tuesday’s attack was one of the deadliest attacks in the last five years in Burkina Faso. Almost all of the victims were women. No group has claimed responsibility so far. Burkina Faso borders Niger and Mali and has experienced an increasing number of attacks amid growing violence in the Sahel.
China is calling on the United States to fulfill the promises President Trump made during last year’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said North Korea’s “legitimate concerns” have not been addressed, and called on the United States to take “concrete steps” to deliver on the historic agreement to work toward denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
In the Philippines, at least 21 people were killed, and many more are missing, after Typhoon Phanfone slammed into several central islands on Christmas Day. The typhoon descended on the Philippines with winds of up to 118 miles per hour, destroying homes, flooding towns and forcing people to evacuate. Increasingly deadly typhoons have been linked to climate change, and the Philippines is one of the countries most affected by climate-related disasters, second only to Japan.
The United States has recalled its ambassador to Zambia, after Zambia declared Daniel Foote a persona non grata for criticizing the government’s criminalization of homosexuality. Ambassador Foote said he was “horrified” that a judge in Zambia has sentenced a gay couple to 15 years in prison for having sex. Zambia is one of the largest recipients of U.S. aid per capita.
Longtime Bolivian President Evo Morales is vowing to return to Bolivia, after he was ousted in what he and others have described as a military coup. Morales is currently in exile in Argentina. On Tuesday, he vowed to return to Bolivia by next Christmas.
Evo Morales: “For reasons of security, I can’t go into detail about the plan we have for returning to Bolivia. But one has to go back to one’s country, and the de facto government can’t understand that. It’s not a transitional government. If it were a transitional government, it wouldn’t start changing economic policy, social programs; it would just organize elections.”
In a separate interview Tuesday, Morales also claimed the United States played a role in forcing him from power, accusing the U.S. of orchestrating his ouster in order to gain access to Bolivia’s vast lithium reserves.
In Hong Kong, protesters poured into the streets on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, occupying shopping malls and clashing with police amid the ongoing pro-democracy uprising against Chinese control of the semi-autonomous territory. Police attacked the protesters with tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons and batons. This is one of the protesters.
Protester: “We are here not to destroy anything, but we are trying to let everyone to know that we won’t celebrate Christmas, because we want to protest even on this joyful day.”
In Russia, youth climate activist Arshak Makichyan has been freed from jail, after staging a school strike in Pushkin Square, Moscow, for more than 40 weeks. The 25-year-old violinist began his solo strike on Fridays after being inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. He was sentenced to six days in prison last Friday on charges of participating in a protest without permission. He was released from prison earlier this morning and has vowed to continue his Friday protests. This is Arshak Makichyan speaking earlier this month at COP 25 — that’s the U.N. climate summit — on a panel alongside Greta Thunberg.
Arshak Makichyan: “I am from Russia, where everyone can be arrested for anything. But I am not afraid to be arrested. I am afraid not to do enough. And I think and I believe that we can change everything, because behind us there are millions of people, behind us there is the science, and activism is the solution.”
Millions of people around the world celebrated Christmas Wednesday. Pope Francis prayed for migrants around the world and condemned “inhumane detention camps” during his annual Christmas Day address at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.
Pope Francis: “May the son of God, come down to Earth from heaven, protect and sustain all of those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life. It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries. It is injustice that forces them to endure unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps. It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have the hope of a dignified life but instead find themselves before the walls of indifference.”