At the heart of the impeachment drama gripping the nation's capital is the question of whether President Trump's attempts to solicit Ukrainian investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden for his role in the firing of a Kyiv prosecutor in 2016 and possible Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were ethical. Both of those motives took major hits during Tuesday's impeachment hearings, as witnesses dismissed them as conspiracy theories and irrelevant — at best — to U.S. interests. The allegations against the [former] Vice President [Biden] are self-serving and not credible,” said Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine.
Alumni of the Obama administration reacted with disbelief and outrage to a claim from White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham that incoming Trump administration officials found insulting notes left behind for them in their offices. “We came into the White House, I'll tell you something,” said Grisham during a local radio interview Tuesday morning, as reported by CNN's Abby Phillip. In the nearly three years since the presidential transition, no Trump administration officials have mentioned the notes or produced any photos that would support Grisham's charge.
In her first public appearance since being deported by U.S. authorities who had jailed her for being a Russian agent, Maria Butina was on Monday offered a job by Moscow to defend Russians imprisoned abroad. During an event for the media, Russia's human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, offered Butina, 31, a job working for her commission. Butina, who flew back to Russia on Oct. 26 after being deported, did not say whether she would accept the offer made at what she called her first public appearance since she was mobbed by wellwishers in front of the media at the airport on her arrival home.
Lee, who lives in Hansen, Idaho, testified that Frazee asked her to clean up the scene of the killing and that she watched him burn a plastic tote she believed contained Berreth's body. Lee acknowledged she took Berreth's cellphone with her to Idaho at Frazee's request to try to deceive investigators about Berreth's whereabouts. She reached a plea deal with prosecutors for tampering with evidence and faces up to three years in prison.
During Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman's testimony at a public hearing in the House's impeachment inquiry, he declined to answer questions from Ranking Member Nunes about who he may have told about the July 25 phone call.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom cracked down on oil producers Tuesday, halting approval of hundreds of fracking permits until independent scientists can review them and temporarily banning new wells using another drilling method that regulators believe is linked to one of the largest spills in state history. The state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources announced it will not approve new wells that use high-pressure steam to extract oil from underground. It's the type of process Chevron uses at an oil field in the Central Valley that leaked more than 1.3 million gallons (4.9 million liters) of oil and water this summer.
The Great Firewall may have been breached. Beijing doubled down Monday after The New York Times published a report on over 400 leaked documents that provided a look into China's mass detention of Muslims in the Xinjiang region, though the government didn't dispute the authenticity of the documents. "It is precisely because of a series of preventative counterterrorism and de-extremism measures taken in a timely manner that Xinjiang, which had been deeply plagued by terrorism, has not had a violent terrorist incident for three years," said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Elstad Ranch/Flickr Syracuse University's fraternities had their social activities canceled for the rest of the semester after a black student said members of the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity called her the N-word. It was the latest in a series of reported racist and anti-Semitic incidents to sweep the upstate New York campus since November 7. Syracuse University has canceled all fraternity social activities for the rest of the semester after a black student reported a racist attack.
The Indian Army plans to buy just 1,800 state-of-the-art sniper rifles and 2.7 million rounds of ammunition -- less than a third of its total requirement -- driven by budgetary constraints and the need to speed up deliveries, people with knowledge of the matter said. The military pruned its original requirement of 5,720 sniper rifles and 10 million rounds of ammunition, which would have cost $140 million, to prioritize spending and advance the purchase of more modern equipment, they said, asking not to be identified as the information isn't public. Indian Army spokesman Aman Anand said he had no comment to offer on the change in procurement plans.
Israel's air defences intercepted four rockets fired from neighbouring Syria on Tuesday, the army said, prompting reported retaliatory missile strikes against the source of the fire. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rockets were fired from positions around the capital held by groups loyal to the Damascus government. It did not elaborate on which group had launched the rockets or whether there had been any casualties in the retaliatory strikes.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., called for the ouster of key White House adviser Stephen Miller after the release of emails that she says establish him as a “white supremacist” — a mindset she suggested President Trump shares. Ocasio-Cortez described Miller's presence as one of the more “disturbing” aspects of the Trump administration. “Stephen Miller has just been exposed as, frankly, a neo-Nazi and a white supremacist,” she said.
France lamented on Tuesday a U.S. decision to end a sanctions waiver related to Iran's Fordow nuclear facility, but also said it feared Tehran's latest violations of a 2015 deal could lead to serious nuclear proliferation. "We regret the decision of the United States, following Iran's resumption of enrichment on the Fordow site, to terminate an exemption that would facilitate the conduct of civilian projects on this site," foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in an online briefing. The Trump administration, which last year pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, had until Monday let the work go forward at the Fordow fuel enrichment plant by issuing waivers to sanctions that bar non-U.S. firms from dealing with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
Australia-based airline Qantas is celebrating its 100th year with a sale: $100 flights to the land down under from four major U.S. airports. The one-way economy fares cost $100 each way (the price includes taxes and fees) and must be purchased as part of a round-trip itinerary from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth or Chicago. So if travelers play their cards right and snag one of the limited sale seats, they could get a $200 round-trip ticket.
If we want to speak about the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Kremlin's propaganda and information war, then we should take a step back in history and have a look at the situation in the Soviet Union, where propaganda was an essential part of the regime's activities. Religion was, in the words of Marx, “opium of the people,” and, in Lenin's words, “opium for the people.” It was a false consciousness and it should, as such, be combated because religion, which promised heaven in an afterlife, prevented the workers from making the revolution.
A Tennessee death row inmate nearing execution has failed to prove a juror was prejudiced against him when she helped sentence him to death decades ago, a judge ruled Tuesday. In his ruling, Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole declined to reopen 53-year-old Lee Hall's case, but also wrote that Hall wouldn't be entitled to relief even if he could consider the claim of juror bias. Hall's attorneys contend he was deprived of his constitutional rights because the juror acknowledged she had failed to disclose during jury selection nearly 26 years ago that she had been raped and abused by her ex-husband.
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace laced into Republicans for not-so-subtly implying during Tuesday's impeachment hearings that National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman could have dual loyalty. The GOP's line of questioning, the MSNBC host suggested, was inspired by pro-Trump hosts at Fox News. During a break in Tuesday's testimony, Wallace asked MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake about counsel Steve Castor questioning Vindman about a Ukrainian official asking him if he'd be interested in becoming Ukraine's minister of defense.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn defied his negative ratings to draw level with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a crucial television debate ahead of the U.K.'s general election. The YouGov/Sky News poll of 1,600 people gave Johnson a narrow victory, with 51% saying he won the ITV debate, against 49% saying Corbyn performed best. While Corbyn fared better than expected this time, his party remains stuck behind the Conservatives in the polls.
Politics has, as its constant, President Donald Trump's approval rating. The only real exception came during the government shutdown at the beginning of this year, when the rating broke out to the downside for a month. This consistency — unique in the presidential polling — has many political pros characterizing the impeachment hearings, so riveting within the confines of the Beltway, as inconsequential.
Donald Trump's ambassador to the EU is set to deliver explosive public testimony linking top White House officials and the president's personal attorney to a “quid pro quo” involving Ukraine. Gordon Sondland will say the highest-level officials working on US-Ukraine policy at the White House and US State Department “knew what we were doing and why” by encouraging Ukraine to launch investigations, NBC News reported on Wednesday morning. “Was there a quid pro quo?” Mr Sondland writes in his opening statement, a copy of which was obtained by the news outlet ahead of the latest hearings.
For three days last week, anti-government protesters camped out at Hong Kong's sprawling Polytechnic University prepared for what they feared might be a bloody, even deadly, battle with police. In the university's heart, littered with smashed glass and covered in revolutionary graffiti spray-painted on the walls, the black-clad demonstrators in gas masks sawed metal poles into batons and practiced firing rocks from a makeshift catapult. Nearby, others ferried around crates of petrol bombs and wrapped arrows in cloth to set aflame.
A Catholic bishop in China is believed to be on the run from state security after refusing to bring his church under a government-sanctioned religious association. Guo Xijin, 61, has fled the custody of state agents and has gone into hiding, reported Catholic Asia News, a website, and cannot be immediately reached for comment. Mr Guo is part of a group of bishops that many religious and human rights experts feared would be persecuted after the Vatican inked a deal with Beijing last year on the ordaining bishops.
More than 15,000 people were expected to flood downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday for what could be the largest Indiana Statehouse rally in more than 20 years. The Red for Ed Action Day, organized by the Indiana State Teachers Association and other labor groups, was expected to include educators from every corner of the state showing up as lawmakers return to kick off the 2020 legislative session. Keith Gambill, ISTA president, said teachers were there to demand bold action from lawmakers.
Philippine police were ordered Wednesday to arrest anyone caught vaping in public, just hours after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced he would ban e-cigarettes. The abrupt prohibition, revealed by Duterte late Tuesday adds to a growing global backlash against a product once promoted as less harmful than tobacco smoking. Duterte, a former smoker, called the devices "toxic" and said vaping introduced "chemicals" into the user's body.