Democrats jostle for prized impeachment manager gig | POLITICO


As the House barrels toward a vote next week to impeach President Donald Trump, behind-the-scenes jockeying has intensified to secure a coveted, high-profile job: impeachment manager.

These Democratic lawmakers, handpicked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will effectively serve as prosecutors making the case to the Senate that Trump deserves to be removed from office over his alleged misconduct centering on the Ukraine scandal.

Source: Democrats jostle for prized impeachment manager gig – POLITICO

The Trade-Offs in the Articles of Impeachment | Lawfare


If read as one would read a criminal indictment, the document’s brevity might seem strange. But that’s not the point. The point, rather, is to tell a story that is both well-supported by witness testimony before the House Intelligence Committee and that jibes with the instinct of most Americans that soliciting a foreign government to damage a domestic political opponent is wrong.

It is designed to make things easy for House Democrats heading home for the holidays, who will be encouraging constituents to read the document for themselves.

It is designed to support simple talking points for members to justify impeachment to their constituents in town hall meetings.

Second, the document’s simplicity is clearly intended to facilitate a trial strategy as well—to set up a Senate trial that tells a clean story. The articles, after all, are not a press release; they are a litigation document.

Keeping things simple will allow the House impeachment managers to tell a single narrative through-line leading to two counts: The president abused his power in his interactions with Ukraine and then proceeded to try to block Congress from investigating his misconduct.

Source: The Trade-Offs in the Articles of Impeachment – Lawfare

UK votes to decide the fate of Brexit, again | Reuters


After failing to deliver Brexit by an Oct. 31 deadline, Johnson called the election to break what he cast as political paralysis that had thwarted Britain’s departure and sapped confidence in the economy.

The face of the “Leave” campaign in the 2016 referendum, 55-year-old Johnson fought the election under the slogan of “Get Brexit Done”, promising to end the deadlock and spend more on health, education and the police.

His main opponent, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, 70, promised higher public spending, nationalization of key services, taxes on the wealthy and another referendum on Brexit.

Source: UK votes to decide the fate of Brexit, again – Reuters

Trump poised for Supreme Court battle over financial records | Reuters


The U.S. Supreme Court may have a conservative majority that includes two justices appointed by President Donald Trump, but his efforts to shield his tax returns and other financial records from scrutiny still face an uncertain future.

The court could decide this week on whether to hear appeals from Trump in three cases he has lost in lower courts. While the court has a history of allowing the president to make his case, it has also deferred to Congress’ right to investigate a broad range of issues. Two of the cases regard such congressional scrutiny.

Source: Trump poised for Supreme Court battle over financial records – Reuters

Egypt’s strongman extends crackdown to new foe: soap operas


Gamal el Adl’s company is one of the most popular television producers in the Middle East. Its gritty soap operas, touching on drug addiction amongst the middle classes, sexual abuse and life in a women’s prison, have been hits on TV in Egypt and across the Arab world.

Until, that is, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unleashed a new wave of censorship.

In the past three years, the former general has turned the screws on the entertainment and news industries. A new regulatory agency is overseeing output and censoring content. Soap operas, it insists, must contain no sex scenes, no blasphemy, no politics. Police and other authority figures should be presented in a positive light.

Source: Egypt’s strongman extends crackdown to new foe: soap operas

With the Return of Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Elections Raise Alarms for Democracy


Which Sri Lanka appears in headlines in the years to come will depend to a large degree on the ramifications of the recent presidential election held on Nov. 16, when voters pivoted sharply, handing a landslide victory to a familiar but divisive face from the past and turning their backs on a disappointing reformist government.

The winner was Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former defense minister and brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He trounced his main challenger, Saith Premadasa, of the governing United National Party. Yet Rajapaksa received almost no support from outside his own ethnic group, the mostly Buddhist Sinhalese population that makes up about 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s population. Ethnic Tamils account for about 15 percent, and Muslims approximately 10 percent.

The Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for decades. Gotabaya—who, like Mahinda, is widely known by his first name—played a central role in what is arguably the bloodiest, most controversial chapter in the country’s history.

Source: With the Return of Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Elections Raise Alarms for Democracy

Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness | Council on Foreign Relations


Space exploration is expensive, but it is a relatively minor line item in the U.S. budget.

NASA’s spending peaked at almost 4.5 percent of the federal budget in 1966, declined to 1 percent by 1975, and has gradually fallen to about half a percent in recent years. (In comparison, defense spending has hovered around 20 percent of the budget in recent years.)

The Trump administration proposed just over $20 billion [PDF] for NASA in 2020, less than the $21.5 billion Congress appropriated for 2019.

Source: Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness | Council on Foreign Relations

North-East simmers as protests against citizenship bill continue

[India]


Protests have erupted in Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Mizoram over the last two days. The growing protests have prompted the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) on Wednesday to cancel many trains and rescheduled a few that originate from the state.

At least 14 trains have either been canceled, short terminated or diverted anticipating “disruptions in train movement”, NFR chief public relations officer Subhanan Chanda said.

The stakes are high for the ruling BJP-led NDA because the alliance is in power in most states. The NDA has defeated the Congress and other regional parties across the North-East in every election over the past five years, but the growing agitation against the citizenship amendment bill could lead to a political crisis for the ruling alliance.

Source: North-East simmers as protests against citizenship bill continue

China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt are world’s worst jailers of journalists | Committee to Protect Journalists


For the fourth consecutive year, at least 250 journalists are imprisoned globally as authoritarians like Xi Jinping, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mohammed bin Salman, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi show no signs of letting up on the critical media.

The number of journalists imprisoned globally for their work in 2019 remained near record highs, as China tightened its iron grip on the press and Turkey, having stamped out virtually all independent reporting, released journalists awaiting trial or appeal.

Authoritarianism, instability, and protests in the Middle East led to a rise in the number of journalists locked up in the region — particularly in Saudi Arabia, which is now on par with Egypt as the third worst jailer worldwide.

Source: China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt are world’s worst jailers of journalists – Committee to Protect Journalists

EU summit: Even without Britain, EU leaders unlikely to take big decisions | EURACTIV.com


European Union leaders meet without Britain on Thursday (12 December), but their departing neighbors absence will not make agreeing a budget any easier.

While the EU chiefs watch their phones for news from the UK election, their summit faces a deep divide over how to fund the fight against climate change.

Brussels’ new leadership, under European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, wants member states to commit to a carbon neutral economy by 2050.

But at least three coal-hungry countries in the east of the bloc are holding out for a more detailed promise of funding for their energy transition.

Source: EU summit: Even without Britain, EU leaders unlikely to take big decisions – EURACTIV.com