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5 things to know for December 19: Impeachment, politics, Korea, Philippines, obesity – CNN



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1. Impeachment 

The House officially impeached President Trump. Votes for the two articles of impeachment were mostly split along party lines, with two Democrats voting against both and one splitting on the two. No Republicans voted in favor of the articles. While all this was going down, President Trump was at a “Merry Christmas” rally in Michigan, where he blasted Democrats for the impeachment push. The articles are supposed to go now to the Senate, but curiously, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stalled on the move. Some Democrats want to make sure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees to the Senate trial procedures Dems have requested. As the full picture of last night’s historic decision comes into focus, you can follow today’s live updates and check out these other impeachment resources:
• How are Republicans reacting? One lawmaker said Trump was given fewer rights than Jesus before his crucifixion
• Moderate Democrats who voted for impeachment may face a tough political future. Here’s what some said about the decision that could cost them their seats. 
• Still confused about how we got here? This explainer video will clear it all up before the process moves to the Senate. 
• How much do you actually know about the process? For instance, who officially presides over the Senate trial? Take our impeachment quiz. 

2. Politics

It was a busy day in politics even without the whole “rare and historic day of impeachment.” While the House debated and voted, Sen. McConnell forced a deal with Democrats to expedite 11 federal district judge nominations. McConnell has had a lot of success changing the country’s judicial landscape, installing about 50 appellate court judges and clocking a big win for Trump and his agenda. Speaking of judges, a federal appeals court ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional. The ruling doesn’t invalidate the entire law, a longtime political target for Trump. But it does trot health care back into the political spotlight. Now, any Supreme Court action on health care will probably be pushed until after the 2020 election.

3. Korea 

The US and South Korea are at stalemate on a cost-sharing agreement for US troops stationed in the country. President Trump reportedly asked Seoul to pay roughly 400% more to house US troops. The current agreement expires at the end of the year, and another round of talks is scheduled for January. There’s worry in Washington that if the two sides don’t reach a compromise, Trump could unilaterally start pulling forces from the region. The agreement is just one of the many delicate diplomatic situations tying the US to the Korean Peninsula. North Korea is openly flirting with more long-range missile tests and nuclear activities, putting a serious strain on the Trump administration’s unusual relationship with the hermit country.

4. Philippines

The people accused of planning a massacre that stunned the Philippines’ political establishment have been found guilty, 10 years later. A judge found Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. guilty in the killing of 58 people, including 30 journalists and relatives of a rival gubernatorial candidate, Ismael “Toto” Mangudadatu. Several of Ampatuan’s relatives were also convicted in what’s been called the “trial of the decade.” Even now, the case has larger implications for the country’s political scene. The Ampatuans were backed by members of the Philippines police and army, and the government declared martial law after the massacre. Today’s verdict emboldens human rights activists to call for an end to localized corruption and militia activity that can be leveraged by powerful families or groups.

5. Obesity

It looks like we better get moving: According to a new study, half of Americans will be obese in the next 10 years if we don’t work together to solve the problem. The study casts obesity as a social, rather than individual, issue. Health care experts chimed in, saying the predicted rise in obesity would create untold strain on health care spending through the rise of obesity-related health consequences. But there is hope: Experts say there are some big-picture changes we can make, collectively and individually, to improve the outlook. For instance, communities could improve local public transportation systems, encourage walking instead of driving and keep schools open on weekends and during summers to allow access to gyms and swimming pools. Improving access to fresh produce also could have social and health-related benefits.


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Visiting museums and art galleries will help you live longer
As the new ‘Star Wars’ premieres, look back at Princess Leia’s iconic side buns
Instagram influencers can no longer promote vaping or guns
It’s another step in making Instagram a safer place to brag about how attractive you are.
Santa’s finger bone is among the medieval treasures given to an English monastery
“Santa’s Finger Bone” (sung to the tune of “Here Comes Santa Claus”) would make a pretty catchy Christmas carol.


“He’s going to find that very difficult unless he’s prepared to make a lot of concessions to Europe.”
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, on what he thinks PM Boris Johnson will have to sacrifice if he wants to negotiate a Brexit conclusion in 2020


$100 billion
That’s how much the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is accused of stockpiling in accounts intended for charitable works, according to a whistleblower complaint. If true, the accounts would have helped the church avoid taxes and mislead its members. 


Dems debate again
The top Democratic candidates will meet in Los Angeles tonight for the sixth and final debate of the year. It begins at 8 p.m. ET. Watch live on CNN.



How lovely are your branches 
You deserve a break. Enjoy some very good boys and girls from the Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation lining up to form the world’s cutest Christmas tree. (Click here to view.) 

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Green Party in turmoil, leader resists calls to step down



Canada‘s Green Party was increasingly mired in an internal dispute over its position on Israel on Tuesday, and a news report said the bloc would hold a vote next month on whether to oust its leader, Annamie Paul, who was elected just eight months ago.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) reported that the Greens had triggered a process that could remove Paul, the first black person to head a mainstream Canadian party, beginning with a vote next month.

A Green Party spokesperson declined to comment on the report, but said the party’s “federal council” would meet later on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Paul, 48, rejected calls from the Quebec wing of the party for her to resign after a member of parliament left the Greens due to the Israel controversy.

“I believe that I have been given a strong mandate. I believe that I have been given the instructions to work on behalf of Canadians for a green recovery,” Paul said at a news conference in Ottawa.

Paul herself is not a member of parliament. The Greens – who champion the environment and the fight against climate change – had only three legislators in the 338-seat House of Commons and one, Jenica Atwin, abandoned the party last week to join the governing Liberals.

Atwin has said that her exit was in large part due to a dispute over the party’s stance on Israel. Atwin on Twitter has criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, while a senior adviser to Paul, Noah Zatzman, has posted on Facebook that some unspecified Green members of parliament are anti-Semitic.

The party’s executive committee voted last week not to renew Zatzman’s contract, local media reported. Paul converted to Judaism some two decades ago after she married a Jewish man.

While the Greens are the smallest faction in parliament, they perform well in British Colombia and hold two seats there. The current turmoil may favor their rivals ahead of a national election that senior Liberals say could be just a few months away.

The Greens would win about 6.7% of the vote nationally if a vote were held now, according to an average of recent polls aggregated by the CBC.


(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Julie Gordon; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Hope, anger and defiance greet birth of Israel’s new government



Following are reactions to the new government in Israel, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.


“We’ll be back, soon.”


“On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations.”


“This is an internal Israeli affair. Our position has always been clear, what we want is a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”


“On behalf of the UK, I offer my congratulations to

@naftalibennett and @yairlapid on forming a new government in Israel. As we emerge from COVID-19, this is an exciting time for the UK and Israel to continue working together to advance peace and prosperity for all.”


“I look forward to working with the Government to advance the ultimate goal of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”


“Congratulations to Prime Minister @naftalibennett and to Alternate PM & MFA @yairlapid for the swearing in of the new Israeli government. Looking forward to strengthen the partnership for common prosperity and towards lasting regional peace & stability.”


“Regardless of the shape of the government in Israel, it will not alter the way we look at the Zionist entity. It is an occupation and a colonial entity, which we should resist by force to get our rights back.”


“With all due respect, Israel is not a widower. Israel’s security was never dependent on one man. And it will never be dependent on one man.”


“So, there’s a new Administration in Israel. And we are hopeful that we can now begin serious negotiations for a two-state solution. I am urging the Biden Administration to do all it can to bring the parties together and help achieve a two-state solution where each side can live side by side in peace.”


“Congratulations on the formation of a new Israeli government, Prime Minister @NaftaliBennett and Alternate Prime Minister @YairLapid. Together, let’s explore ways to further strengthen the relationship between Canada and Israel.”


“We are aware that this step has a lot of risks and hardships that we cannot deny, but the opportunity for us is also big: to change the equation and the balance of power in the Knesset and in the upcoming government.”


“I think it’s very exciting for Israel to have a new beginning and I’m hopeful that the new government will take them in the right direction.”


“It’s a sad day today, it’s not a legitimate government. It’s pretty sad that almost 86 (out of 120 seats) in the parliament, the Knesset, belong to the right-wing and they sold their soul and ideology and their beliefs to the extreme left-wing just for one purpose – hatred of Netanyahu and to become a prime minister.”


“Congratulations to PM @naftalibennett and alternate PM @yairlapid for forming a government. I look forward to working with you. Austria is committed to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and will continue to stand by Israel’s side.”

(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Daniel Wallis and Lisa Shumaker)

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Boris Johnson hails Biden as ‘a big breath of fresh air’



British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday as “a big breath of fresh air”, and praised his determination to work with allies on important global issues ranging from climate change and COVID-19 to security.

Johnson did not draw an explicit parallel between Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump after talks with the Democratic president in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay on the eve of a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies.

But his comments made clear Biden had taken a much more multilateral approach to talks than Trump, whose vision of the world at times shocked, angered and bewildered many of Washington’s European allies.

“It’s a big breath of fresh air,” Johnson said of a meeting that lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.

“It was a long, long, good session. We covered a huge range of subjects,” he said. “It’s new, it’s interesting and we’re working very hard together.”

The two leaders appeared relaxed as they admired the view across the Atlantic alongside their wives, with Jill Biden wearing a jacket embroidered with the word “LOVE”.

“It’s a beautiful beginning,” she said.

Though Johnson said the talks were “great”, Biden brought grave concerns about a row between Britain and the European Union which he said could threaten peace in the British region of Northern Ireland, which following Britain’s departure from the EU is on the United Kingdom’s frontier with the bloc as it borders EU member state Ireland.

The two leaders did not have a joint briefing after the meeting: Johnson spoke to British media while Biden made a speech about a U.S. plan to donate half a billion vaccines to poorer countries.


Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, was keen to prevent difficult negotiations between Brussels and London undermining a 1998 U.S.-brokered peace deal known as the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Britain that Biden had a “rock-solid belief” in the peace deal and that any steps that imperilled the accord would not be welcomed.

Yael Lempert, the top U.S. diplomat in Britain, issued London with a demarche – a formal diplomatic reprimand – for “inflaming” tensions, the Times newspaper reported.

Johnson sought to play down the differences with Washington.

“There’s complete harmony on the need to keep going, find solutions, and make sure we uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement,” said Johnson, one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU.

Asked if Biden had made his alarm about the situation in Northern Ireland very clear, he said: “No he didn’t.

“America, the United States, Washington, the UK, plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do,” Johnson said. “And that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going. That is absolutely common ground.”

The 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to the “Troubles” – three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist militants and pro-British Protestant “loyalist” paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.

Britain’s exit from the EU has strained the peace in Northern Ireland. The 27-nation bloc wants to protect its markets but a border in the Irish Sea cuts off the British province from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Although Britain formally left the EU in 2020, the two sides are still trading threats over the Brexit deal after London unilaterally delayed the implementation of the Northern Irish clauses of the deal.

Johnson’s Downing Street office said he and Biden agreed that both Britain and the EU “had a responsibility to work together and to find pragmatic solutions to allow unencumbered trade” between Northern Ireland, Britain and Ireland.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Andrea Shalal, Padraic Halpin, John Chalmers; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Mark Potter and Timothy Heritage)

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