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Donald Trump - Nancy Pelosi - USA Politics Today

House Democrats moved aggressively to draw up formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Thursday, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying he “leaves us no choice” but to act swiftly because he’s likely to corrupt the system again unless removed before next year’s election. A strictly partisan effort at this point, derided immediately by Trump and other leading Republicans as a sham and a hoax, it is a politically risky undertaking. Democrats say it is their duty, in the aftermath of the Ukraine probe, while Republicans say it will drive Pelosi’s majority from office. Congress must act, Nancy Pelosi said. “The democracy is what is at stake.” “The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said in a somber address at the Capitol. “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.” Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong. He tweeted that the Democrats “have gone crazy.” At the core of the impeachment probe is a July phone call with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump pressed the leader to investigate Democrats, including political rival Joe Biden. At the same time the White House was withholding military aid from Ukraine, an ally bordering an aggressive Russia. Youtube video thumbnail Drafting articles of impeachment is a milestone moment, only the fourth time in U.S. history Congress has tried to remove a president, and it intensifiesContinue reading

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U.S. Forces in Syria - American Troops

The United States has completed its military pullback in northeastern Syria, settling into a more stable posture of about 600 troops in the rest of the country after repositioning and reducing forces, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. Esper’s remarks in an interview with Reuters could signal the end of a period of turbulence and uncertainty surrounding the U.S. military presence in Syria after President Donald Trump’s initial withdrawal order in October. Since then, troop levels in Syria have fallen about 40 percent from around 1,000. Esper stressed he retained the ability to move in and out smaller numbers of forces as needed into Syria. But he suggested the number of troops will fluctuate around the 600-level for the foreseeable future. “It will be relatively static around that number. But if we see things happen … I can dial up a little bit,” Esper said late on Wednesday during a flight back from the NATO summit on the outskirts of London. Esper also didn’t rule out being able to reduce U.S. troop levels in Syria further if European allies contributed to the Syria mission. “The coalition is talking a lot again. We could see some allies want to volunteer troops,” Esper said, without suggesting any new contribution was imminent. “If an allied country, a NATO country, decided to give us 50 people, I might be able to turn off 50 people.” The U.S. military says it is focused on preventing a resurgence of Islamic State in Syria and carried out aContinue reading

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Juan Guaido vs Nicolas Maduro - Venezuela News

Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s faltering efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro are facing a new challenge in the form of an influence-peddling scandal that has left disillusioned Venezuelans wondering if Guaido’s moment has passed. Guaido on Sunday said the opposition-controlled congress would investigate alleged wrongdoing within its ranks after website Armando.info reported that nine opposition lawmakers had advocated for a businessman linked to Maduro’s government. To a dozen Venezuelans interviewed by Reuters around the country, the scandal has marked another blow to Guaido’s reputation and to their hopes of seeing the back of the deeply unpopular Maduro, who has presided over a five-year economic crisis and an expanding authoritarian state. For Mario Silva, an engineer waiting by a bus stop in the crumbling western city of Maracaibo, it was time to move on. “Guaido missed his moment,” the 60-year-old said. When Guaido declared an interim presidency in January in a bold challenge to Maduro, Silva joined millions of Venezuelans in celebrating the arrival of a fresh-faced politician who had united the oft-fractured opposition and was untainted by its previous scandals. Silva had backed the “socialist revolution” led by the late Hugo Chavez and for a while supported his successor, Maduro, until, he said, Venezuela’s worsening poverty and widespread corruption became too obvious to ignore. “I saw Guaido as a salvation for the country, but he, like Chavez, disappointed me,” Silva said. Guaido has been recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. But, despiteContinue reading

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Kamala Harris and African-American Supporters

When Sen. Kamala Harris entered the presidential race in January, her California roots were supposed to give her special access to the cash and delegates required to win the Democratic nomination. Instead, she faced headwinds in her home state that would become a microcosm for the trouble that ultimately forced her sudden departure from the contest. One by one, politically active celebrities lined up behind Harris’ rivals, such as Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. Many of the state’s energized progressive activists lent their passion and small-dollar donations to Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. And those who weren’t yet paying close attention to the 2020 race — and there were many in a state of nearly 40 million people — gravitated to the name they knew best: former Vice President Joe Biden. A quiet but significant turning point came in late March, when prominent California donor Susie Tompkins Buell, who had backed Harris, began supporting Buttigieg as well. “When she started lending her name to other candidates, I think that was the first sign of trouble that things were not well,” said veteran California Democratic strategist Rose Kapolczynski. Harris told staff and supporters on Tuesday that she simply didn’t have the money to stay in the race. She ended her first White House bid before more than a dozen of her rivals despite being a political superstar in a state with the most convention delegates and with premier access to a donor class thatContinue reading

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Xi Jinping and Trump Donald - USA News - China Headline Story

China said Monday it will suspend U.S. military ship and aircraft visits to Hong Kong and sanction several American pro-democracy and human rights groups in retaliation for the signing into law of legislation supporting anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous territory. While the nature of the sanctions remained unclear, the move followed Chinese warnings that the U.S. would bear the costs if the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was approved. The steps are “in response to America’s unreasonable behavior,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing, adding that the legislation seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs. The law, signed last Wednesday by President Donald Trump, mandates sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and requires an annual review of the favorable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong. The legislation was backed by U.S. lawmakers who are sympathetic to the protesters and have criticized Hong Kong police for cracking down on the pro-democracy movement. Police say their use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other force is a necessary response to escalating violence by the protesters, who have blocked major roads and thrown gasoline bombs back at officers in riot gear. Hong Kong has been living with almost nonstop protests for six months. The movement’s demands include democratic elections and an investigation into the police response. More fundamentally, the protesters and others in Hong Kong fear that China is eroding the rights and freedoms they have under a “one country, two systems”Continue reading

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Many protesters call for Carrie Lam resignation in Hong Kong

Some held banners reading “President Trump, please liberate Hong Kong” and “Let’s make Hong Kong great again” — a riff on his 2016 campaign pledge to make America great again. One showed him standing atop a tank with “Trump” emblazoned on the front and side.

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Joe Biden - US Today Headline Stories

“I promise you, I promise you,” Joe Biden told a few hundred supporters outside his Council Bluff campaign office, “we’re going to win this race, and we’re going to beat Donald Trump, and we’re going to change America.”

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Kim-Jong-Un News North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump have signaled their affection for each other so regularly it might be easy to miss rising fears that the head-spinning diplomatic engagement of the past two years is falling apart. Pyongyang has issued increasingly dire warnings to Washington to mind a year-end deadline to offer some new initiative to settle the nations’ decades-long nuclear standoff. Failure could mean a return to the barrage of powerful North Korean weapons tests that marked 2017 as one of the most fraught years in a relationship that has often been defined by bloodshed, deep mistrust and regular threats. As the deadline approaches, and as the North’s propaganda machine cranks up its warnings, here’s a look at how high-stakes diplomatic wrangling in one of the most dangerous corners of the world might play out: THE DEADLINE: HOW SERIOUS IS IT? North Korea has previously issued deadlines it doesn’t follow through on as a way to try to get what it wants in negotiations. But despite the usual skepticism, there are signs that Pyongyang means business this time. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency has reported that Seoul is taking the year-end deadline seriously and is working on “contingency plans” with the United States, which has been trying, and failing, to get North Korea back into serious talks before time runs out. The chief U.S. nuclear negotiator warned recently that the North could turn to provocations if the deadline is unmet. When diplomacy broke down at aContinue reading

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Hezbollah Military Against Israel

Clashes between Lebanese protesters and supporters of the Shiite militant Hezbollah group are putting Lebanon’s military and security forces in a delicate position, threatening to crack open the country’s dangerous fault lines amid a political deadlock. For weeks, the Lebanese security forces have taken pains to protect anti-government protesters, in stark contrast to Iraq, where police have killed more than 340 people over the past month in a bloody response to similar protests. The overnight violence — some of the worst since protests against the country’s ruling elite began last month — gave a preview into a worst-case scenario for Lebanon’s crisis, with the country’s U.S.-trained military increasingly in the middle between pro- and anti-Hezbollah factions. By attacking protesters Sunday night, Hezbollah sent a message that it is willing to use force to protect its political power. Confronting the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah, however, is out of the question for the military as doing so would wreck the neutral position it seeks to maintain and could split its ranks. “The army is in a difficult position facing multiple challenges and moving cautiously between the lines,” said Fadia Kiwan, professor of political science at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. She said the military has sought to protect the protesters and freedom of expression but is increasingly grappling with how to deal with road closures and violence. The U.N. Security Council urged all actors in Lebanon on Monday to engage in “intensive national dialogue and to maintain the peaceful character of the protests”Continue reading

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Xi Jinping and Carrie Lam - China and Hong Kong News

Tightening control over efforts to manage the upheaval in Hong Kong, the Chinese leadership has set up a crisis command centre on the mainland side of the border and is considering replacing its official liaison to the restive semi-autonomous city, people familiar with the matter said. As violent protests roil Hong Kong, top Chinese leaders in recent months have been managing their response from a villa on the outskirts of Shenzhen, bypassing the formal bureaucracy through which Beijing has supervised the financial hub for two decades. Ordinarily, communications between Beijing and Hong Kong are conducted through a Chinese government body: the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong. The Liaison Office is housed in a Hong Kong skyscraper stacked with surveillance cameras, ringed by steel barricades and topped by a reinforced glass globe. In a sign of dissatisfaction with the Liaison Office’s handling of the crisis, Beijing is considering potential replacements for the body’s director, Wang Zhimin, two people familiar with the situation said. Wang is the most senior mainland political official stationed in Hong Kong. The office has come in for criticism in Hong Kong and China for misjudging the situation in the city. “The Liaison Office has been mingling with the rich people and mainland elites in the city and isolated itself from the people,” a Chinese official said. “This needs to be changed.” The Liaison Office may face increased pressure after city voters delivered a resounding defeat to pro-Beijing parties in local district electionsContinue reading

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Benjamin Netanyahu - Israel Politics News Headlines

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looked to project business as usual Sunday as he returned to work following his indictment on corruption charges, but a wall of silence from his usually loyal Cabinet ministers could mean tough times ahead for the embattled Israeli leader. Netanyahu is determined to fight the charges from the prime minister’s office in what promises to be a lengthy court battle. But long before the proceedings begin, it could be his own Likud party that decides his political future as the country appears to be heading toward new elections. A show of support from his Cabinet would give Netanyahu a boost as he tries to rally the party and public behind him. Netanyahu’s efforts so far, however, appear to be falling short. One top Likud official, Gideon Saar, has already announced his intention to challenge Netanyahu in party primaries. “There isn’t a single person who thinks that after a third or fourth or fifth or sixth election, Netanyahu will succeed in forming a government,” Saar told Channel 12 TV on Saturday. “There is only one way that we can save the country, get it out of this crisis and maintain the rule of Likud, if today we go to a snap primary election.” The open call is a risky maneuver in a party that fiercely values loyalty and has had only four leaders in its 70-plus-year history. Netanyahu’s lackeys immediately attacked Saar, with the party saying he has “shown zero loyalty and maximum subversiveness.” But perhaps influencedContinue reading

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Hossein Salami - Iran Military News Headlines

Four months before a swarm of drones and missiles crippled the world’s biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, Iranian security officials gathered at a heavily fortified compound in Tehran. The group included the top echelons of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite branch of the Iranian military whose portfolio includes missile development and covert operations. The main topic that day in May: How to punish the United States for pulling out of a landmark nuclear treaty and re-imposing economic sanctions on Iran, moves that have hit the Islamic Republic hard. With Major General Hossein Salami, leader of the Revolutionary Guards, looking on, a senior commander took the floor. “It is time to take out our swords and teach them a lesson,” the commander said, according to four people familiar with the meeting. Hard-liners in the meeting talked of attacking high-value targets, including American military bases. Yet, what ultimately emerged was a plan that stopped short of direct confrontation that could trigger a devastating U.S. response. Iran opted instead to target oil installations of America’s ally, Saudi Arabia, a proposal discussed by top Iranian military officials in that May meeting and at least four that followed. This account, described to Reuters by three officials familiar with the meetings and a fourth close to Iran’s decision making, is the first to describe the role of Iran’s leaders in plotting the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-controlled oil company. These people said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali KhameneiContinue reading

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Michael Bloomberg, USA Headline

Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest men, has formally launched a Democratic bid for president. Ending weeks of speculation, the 77-year-old former Republican announced his candidacy Sunday in a written statement posted on a campaign website describing himself as uniquely positioned to defeat President Donald Trump. He will quickly follow with a massive advertising campaign blanketing airways in key primary states across the U.S. “I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America,” Michael Bloomberg wrote. “We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions,” he continued. “He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage.” Bloomberg’s entrance comes just 10 weeks before primary voting begins, an unorthodox move that reflects anxiety within the Democratic Party about the strength of its current candidates. As a centrist with deep ties to Wall Street, Bloomberg is expected to struggle among the party’s energized progressive base. He became a Democrat only last year. Yet his tremendous resources and moderate profile could be appealing in a primary contest that has become, above all, a quest to find the person best-positioned to deny Trump a second term next November. Forbes ranked Bloomberg as the 11th-richest person in the world last year with a net worth of roughly $50 billion. Trump, by contrast, was ranked 259th with a net worth of just over $3 billion. HisContinue reading

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Hezbollah (Hizbullah) Military Precision Guided Missile Capability

The Trump administration is withholding more than $100 million in U.S. military assistance to Lebanon that has been approved by Congress and is favored by his national security team, an assertion of executive control of foreign aid that is similar to the delay in support for Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday congratulated Lebanon as the country marked its independence day but made no mention of the hold-up in aid that State Department and Pentagon officials have complained about for weeks. It came up in impeachment testimony by David Hale, the No. 3 official in the State Department, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing released this week. He described growing consternation among diplomats as the administration would neither release the aid nor provide an explanation for the hold. “People started asking: What’s the problem?” Hale told the impeachment investigators. The White House and the Office of Management and Budget have declined to comment on the matter. The $105 million in Foreign Military Funding for the Lebanese Armed Forces has languished for months, awaiting approval from the Office of Management and Budget despite congressional approval, an early September notification to lawmakers that it would be spent and overwhelming support for it from the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council. As with the Ukraine assistance, OMB has not explained the reason for the delay. However, unlike Ukraine, there is no suggestion that President Donald Trump is seeking “a favor” fromContinue reading

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Donald Trump - USA Politics News

They’ve heard enough. With stunning testimony largely complete, the House, the Senate and the president are swiftly moving on to next steps in the historic impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump. “Frankly, I want a trial,” Trump declared Friday, and it looks like he’s going to get it. Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s staff and others are compiling the panel’s findings. By early December, the Judiciary Committee is expected to launch its own high-wire hearings to consider articles of impeachment and a formal recommendation of charges. A vote by the full House could come by Christmas. A Senate trial would follow in 2020. Congress’ impeachment inquiry, only the fourth in U.S. history, has stitched together what Democrats argue is a relatively simple narrative, of the president leveraging the office for personal political gain, despite Republicans’ assertions that it’s complex, contradictory and unsupported by firsthand testimony. House Democrats may yet call additional witnesses first, notably John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser. But Senate Republicans are already looking ahead to their turn, the January trial that would follow House approval of impeachment charges. Should they try to dispatch with such a trial in short order, which they may not have the votes to do, despite holding 53 seats in the 100-member Senate. Or should they stretch it out, disrupting the Democrats’ presidential primaries under the assumption that it helps more than hurts the GOP and Trump. At this point it seems very unlikely the 45th president will be removedContinue reading

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Hong Kong Election Voters

Record numbers of Hong Kong people voted on Sunday in district elections viewed as a barometer of support for Chief Executive Carrie Lam, a turnout apparently triggered by six months of demonstrations for greater democracy. The police presence was thin, and no violence or other disturbances were reported. Protests have been muted in recent days after pro-democracy figures urged citizens to cease disruptions to avoid giving the government an excuse to delay or suspend the polls. The vote is the closest Hong Kongers get to direct representation. Brutal attacks on candidates in recent weeks have thrust the lowest tier of government in the Chinese-ruled city into the world spotlight as authorities struggle to quash angry demands for universal suffrage. A record 1,104 candidates were vying for 452 seats, and a record 4.1 million people had enrolled to vote for district councilors, who control some spending and decide issues such as recycling and public health. If the pro-democracy campaigners gain control, they could secure six seats on Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and 117 seats on the 1,200-member panel that selects the city’s chief executive. Government data showed 1,746,709 people had already voted by 2:30 p.m., surpassing the 1,467,229 who voted in the last district elections four years ago. Campaigning has been marred by acrimony. One pro-democracy candidate’s ear was bitten off in an attack, and 17 other candidates of all stripes have been arrested over protest-related activities. Election authorities banned leading democracy activist Joshua Wong from running in the district electionContinue reading

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