10 things you need to know today: November 18, 2019

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1.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday said that President Trump was welcome to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. If Trump has information to clear himself "then we look forward to seeing it," she said on CBS' Face the Nation. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said if Trump wants to counter testimony suggesting he abused his power by withholding military aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democrats, "He should come to the committee and testify under oath. And he should allow all those around him to come to the committee and testify under oath." The remarks came ahead of the House Intelligence Committee's second week of public impeachment hearings. Trump's ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, is one of the people due to appear this week. [The Associated Press]

2.

Hong Kong police and protesters continued a violent standoff for a second day at a university campus occupied by anti-government activists. The protesters barricaded themselves inside Polytechnic University, and used gasoline bombs and bows and arrows to fight off the police. One arrow reportedly hit a media liaison officer in the calf. Riot police rushed into the area after giving protesters an ultimatum to get out. Some of the protesters retreated inside the university as the officers tried to storm in, while other demonstrators set fires on bridges leading to the campus. Also on Monday, a Hong Kong court ruled that a ban on face masks that authorities imposed last month, invoking a colonial-era emergency law, was unconstitutional, although the ban was not immediately lifted. [Reuters, The Associated Press]

3.

President Trump on Sunday tweeted harsh criticism of a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, calling her a "Never Trumper" after it was revealed that she told House impeachment investigators that she found Trump's July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "unusual and inappropriate." Trump said he said nothing wrong in his calls with Zelensky, so Williams should get together "with the other Never Trumpers" and "work out a better presidential attack!" Williams is Pence's special adviser on Europe and Russia. She took notes on Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky as she listened in. She told impeachment investigators in a closed-door deposition that Trump's request for Ukraine to investigate Democrats appeared politically motivated. She is scheduled to testify publicly on Tuesday. [Politico]

4.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday apologized for supporting the aggressive "stop-and-frisk" policing strategy for a decade. The practice resulted in disproportionate police stops of black and Latino people in the city. "I was wrong," Bloomberg said at a black megachurch in Brooklyn, "and I am sorry." The remarks came in Bloomberg's first speech since reports that he was preparing a possible run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, after ruling out a bid last year. Bloomberg's policing record is considered a possible trouble spot if he runs. Jumaane Williams, New York City's public advocate, said Bloomberg's apology was suspect because it came "a decade late and on the eve of a presidential run." [The New York Times]

5.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Sunday that people participating in protests over a 50-percent hike in gas prices are "thugs" stirred up by counterrevolutionaries and foreign enemies of the Islamic republic. Protesters have responded to the price increase by abandoning cars on highways and participating in mass street protests. Authorities say at least three people have died in the unrest, including a police officer killed in an attack on a police station in the western city of Kermanshah on Saturday, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. Khamenei specifically blamed the unrest on people linked to the family of Iran's late shah, who was overthrown 40 years ago, and the exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, which advocates toppling Iran's government. [The Associated Press]

6.

Two chemistry professors at Henderson State University in Arkansas have been arrested on allegations that they made methamphetamine at the school. The chemistry professors, Terry David Bateman and Bradley Allen Rowland, were arrested on Friday, Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson said in a statement. Bateman, 45, and Rowland, 40, were placed on administrative leave on Oct. 11. Three days earlier, university authorities received a report of an undetermined chemical odor at a science facility. Initial tests found elevated levels of benzyl chloride, a chemical that can be used to make meth, in a lab. The building was closed for two weeks to make it safe to use again. [The Washington Post]

7.

Venice, Italy, was flooded Sunday by a record third exceptional tide in a week. The latest extraordinarily high tide reached 1.5 meters. On Tuesday, the flood tide peaked at 1.87 meters, the highest flood level in 53 years. This week's three 1.5-meter tides were unprecedented. Since records began in 1872, that mark had never been hit even twice in a single year. Store owners around hard-hit St. Mark's Square closed their doors. The famous St. Mark's Basilica was also closed, and canal-side windows were blocked off with sandbags to prevent the church's crypt from flooding again. The city's mayor estimated the flood damage at hundreds of millions of dollars, and Italian authorities declared a state of emergency. [The Associated Press]

8.

President Trump has changed his mind about banning e-cigarettes with youth-friendly flavors like mint, candy, and fruit, The Washington Post and The New York Times report. A Trump adviser told the Post that Trump declined to sign a Nov. 4 "decision memo" on the ban because of concerns from White House and re-election campaign officials that banning flavored e-cigarettes could lose him the vaper vote in key swing states. When Trump announced his intention to ban flavored e-cigarettes in early September, amid growing concerns about vaping-related lung disease and an explosion of youth vapers, he credited advocacy from first lady Melania Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump. "He didn't know much about the issue and was just doing it for Melania and Ivanka," a senior administration official told the Post. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]

9.

Ford on Sunday unveiled its all-electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E, an SUV based on the automaker's new EV architecture. The Mach-E marks an attempt to expand the appeal of the iconic Mustang and lure in a new generation of buyers. The Mach-E is the first Mustang that isn't a two-door sports car. The vehicle, with a starting price of about $44,000, is part of Ford's $11 billion effort to introduce 40 new electric and hybrid models by 2022. Ford said the Mach-E would get 210 miles to 300-plus miles on a charge, depending on the battery option. The Mach-E's performance and price will rival Tesla's Model Y SUV. Ford CEO Jim Hackett said the Mach-E also will have the company's new hands-free driver assist system, similar to Tesla's Autopilot and Cadillac's Super Cruise systems. [CNBC]

10.

Gunmen fired into a crowd of people at a backyard party in southeast Fresno in central California on Sunday, killing four people and wounding six more. "What we do know is that this was a gathering, a family and friend gathering in the backyard," Fresno Police Lt. Bill Dooley said. "Everyone was watching football this evening when unknown suspects approached the residence, snuck into the backyard, and opened fire." About 35 people were at the party. All of the victims were Asian men between the ages of 25 and 35. "Thank God that no kids were hurt," Dooley said. Police said investigators could not immediately determine whether the victims knew the attacker or attackers. Police reported no immediate arrests in the case. [Fresno Bee]

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