From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
"KING OF THE WEST 2019 DECEMBER"

    This file is attached to http://www.mazzaroth.com/ChapterEight/BeastThatCameOutOfTheSea.htm from “Beast That Came Out Of The Sea” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to King Of The West 2019 for November.

KING OF THE WEST 2019 DECEMBER


2019 DECEMBER


12/1/2019 Rep. Lofgren: Impeachment not ‘foregone conclusion,’ focus on Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
The Capitol is seen in Washington, early Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is saying the House may not impeach President Trump. During a Sunday interview, the California Democrat said impeachment is not a “foregone conclusion.”    She added the articles of impeachment would focus on the Ukraine phone call and lingering allegations of obstruction of justice.
    Lofgren also claimed the impeachment of President Trump would be more serious than the proceedings against Richard Nixon, because the latter didn’t involve a “foreign power.”
    However, she said not all misconduct is unequivocally impeachable.
    “If we’ve got it wrong, I would welcome an opportunity to reach a different conclusion about the president’s misconduct,” stated Lofgren.    “This is not a great time for the country to have a president revealed as doing something so counterproductive to the national interest.”
    Lofgren also claimed former President Bill Clinton did not commit a high crime or misdemeanor, but was impeached all the same.
[CNN fake news is at it again since the lady Lofgren has not stated what high crime or misdemeanor that has Trump done that can be proven, you cannot just make one up just to impeach a president, Bill Clinton was a sleeze who is a liar and sex predator and did deserve his punishment just as Hillary Clinton will get soon also when the investigations get around to her exploits and all the way to the top of the DEEP STATE.].

12/1/2019 President Trump will not attend Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Sunrise, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    The White House is saying it will not participate in the House Judiciary Committee’s upcoming impeachment hearing.    In a Sunday evening statement, the administration said neither the president nor his legal team can be fairly expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses have yet to be named.
    Officials added it’s unclear whether the president will be given a fair process through additional hearings.    They requested more witnesses to be allowed to testify and cross-examined.
    “In order to assess our ability to participate in future proceedings, please let us know…whether you intend to allow for fact witnesses to be called…and whether you intend to allow members of the Judiciary Committee and the President’s counsel the right to cross examine fact witnesses,” the statement said.
    This comes as the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is moving into its next phase.    Last week, House Judiciary Committee head Jerry Nadler invited President Trump and his attorneys to participate in Wednesday’s proceedings.    Nadler sent the president a letter and requested his reply by Sunday.
    Politico reported if Nadler follows the model of former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the second set of hearings would see Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and others presenting their findings to the Judiciary Committee.    A third phase would allow the White House and the president to present evidence and witnesses on their behalf.    A final phase would consider articles of impeachment before sending them to the House floor.
    Now that the president has declined to attend the hearing, it’s unclear if the third phase will happen.
    The committee is expected to hear from a panel of experts, who will discuss the Constitution and whether President Trump’s alleged actions can be considered “high crimes and misdemeanors.”    The committee has yet to announce who will be on the panel.
    Reports pointed out there are 41 members of the Judiciary Committee, compared to 23 members of the Intelligence Committee, so viewers can expect the hearings to be significantly longer.
FILE – In this Oct. 31, 2019 file folder, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,
joined at left by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, acting chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform,
meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, FIle)

12/1/2019 President Trump’s food stamp overhaul will save taxpayers billions by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Friday, March 17, 2017, file photo, a sign advertises a program that allows food stamp recipients
to use their EBT cards to shop at a farmer’s market in Topsham, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
    A new study has shown President Trump’s proposal to overhaul the nation’s food stamp program could save U.S. taxpayers upwards of $15 billion.    The Urban Institute’s new study looks at the president’s proposal, which aims to enact tighter qualifying restrictions for individuals receiving the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
    The move would reportedly render approximately 3.7 million Americans ineligible for food stamps.    The White House said many of those individuals do not need the federal assistance.    The Trump administration cited America’s strong economy and low unemployment rates as part of the reason for this.
    “President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiently and personal responsibility,” stated acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.
    SNAP reached its peak back in 2013 under the Obama administration, when almost 47.7 million Americans received food stamp benefits.    The number was reduced slightly to about 46 million by 2015.
    “Under the last administration, jobs were not exactly what you would call plentiful,” said President Trump.    “10 million people had been added to the food stamp rolls.”
    The Trump administration has since attempted to put the program through a weaning process, in hopes of further reducing its participants to 40 million Americans.    However, due to insufficient funding, even with recent reductions, SNAP is only able to provide free food to 75 percent of those qualified to receive benefits.
    The changes proposed by the Trump administration would help to ensure those who do qualify for federal assistance can actually receive the help they need.
    “Unfortunately, automatic eligibility has expanded to allow even millionaires and others who simply receive a TANF-funded brochure to become eligible for SNAP when they clearly don’t need it,” said USDA Deputy Undersecretary Brandon Lipps.

12/2/2019 THE HOUSE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS- Inquiry moves into new phase by Bart Jansen and William Cummings, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – The Democraticled House of Representatives’ investigation of President Donald Trump moves this week from the fact-gathering hearings of the Intelligence Committee to the Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment.
    The Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday will examine the constitutional grounds for impeachment.
    “Our first task is to explore the framework put in place to respond to serious allegations of impeachable misconduct like those against President Trump,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in announcing the hearing.
USA TODAY EXPLAINS - THE HOUSE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS - Inquiry shifts to Judiciary panel - Experts will testify about constitutional issues by Bart Jansen and William Cummings, USA TODAY
    The next phase in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump begins this week.
    Here’s what you need to know:
    Is the Intelligence panel done?
    The Intelligence Committee held five days of open hearings with a dozen witnesses last month after weeks of listening to closed-door testimony.    The committee, chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff, DCalif., has been poring over the testimony and other evidence it collected to produce a report of its findings.
    The Intelligence Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 6 p.m. to vote on the report.    If approved, it will be sent to the Judiciary Committee.
    What is the next hearing?
    The first Judiciary Committee hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. EST.    It is expected to feature testimony from legal experts on the constitutional grounds for impeachment.
    The review will include an analysis of the intent and meaning of the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” as it appears in the section of the Constitution that outlines the acts for which a president could potentially be removed.
    Will the president participate?
    Again claiming the entire impeachment investigation is unfair, the White House told the Judiciary Committee on Sunday it will not participate in a new hearing this week.
    “This baseless and highly partisan inquiry violates all past historical precedent,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Rep. Jerry Nadler, DN. Y., the committee chairman.
    “Accordingly,” he said in the letter, “under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.”
Nadler had asked the White House if it wanted officials to attend and ask questions at the hearing.
    Trump and his GOP supporters have previously decried the impeachment process because it did not give the president a chance to defend himself from allegations that he leveraged military aid to Ukraine for his personal political gain.
    Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who sits on the Judiciary Committee, earlier Sunday advised Trump against sending his lawyer to participate in the hearing.
    “This whole thing’s been an illegitimate process so far, so why legitimize this with a president’s counsel appearing on Wednesday?” Biggs said.
    But Biggs’ fellow Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Tom McClintock of California, said Sunday that while he understood why Trump is “upset at the illegitimate process that we saw unfolding in the Intelligence Committee,” he thought “it would be to the president’s advantage to have his attorneys there.”
    What’s next?
    The Judiciary Committee hearing is a prelude to debate on whether the committee should recommend articles of impeachment to the full House.    If the House votes to impeach Trump, the Senate would then hold a trial, probably in early 2020, to determine whether to remove Trump from office.
    But a two-thirds majority would be required for conviction, or removal, making it unlikely in the Republicancontrolled Senate.    No president has been removed this way in three previous impeachment inquiries.
    The Judiciary Committee is collecting reports from five committees as evidence for possible articles of impeachment.    The Intelligence Committee report is expected to form the foundation of the case against the president.
Contributing: David M. Jackson
Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, will head the next
round of impeachment hearings, which begin Wednesday. SHAWN THEW/EPA-EFE

12/2/2019 ORDERED TO THE BORDER - Trump has park rangers on patrol during surge of migrant crossings by Karen Chávez and Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
    The Trump administration has ordered rangers from national parks around the country to travel to the U.S.-Mexican border to fight illegal immigration and drug traffickers.
    The effort follows the refusal by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to fund President Donald Trump’s border security plan, which calls for more barriers and beefed-up law enforcement along the border.
    Park rangers from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, the National Mall in Washington and Zion National Park in Utah, among others, temporarily relocated to Arizona and Texas to work with Border Patrol agents.    Park officials say they’ve been told they should continue sending park rangers to the border through September 2020.
    Trump signed a stopgap spending bill last month after Senate approval.    It funds the government through Dec. 20.
    The president asked for $5 billion for a U.S.-Mexican border wall, but House Democrats did not include such funding in their spending bills.    The fight over border wall funding is the same dispute that led to a five-week government shutdown at the start of the year, which sent most government workers, including park rangers, home without pay.
    The president and his staff say the rangers and other officers have given valuable assistance to border guards facing a steady stream of migrants trying to enter the USA.    They say the Trump administration is using existing resources while Congress refuses to fund the president’s border wall plan.
    Critics say the president is improperly using park officials to staff his border plan when the nation’s national parks are desperately understaffed and overcrowded.    They note that park rangers, who are accustomed to ticketing speeding drivers or extracting injured hikers from remote canyons, have little to no training in border security tactics.
    The surge along the border “is a sham that diverts law enforcement resources away from already underfunded parks,” U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources whose district borders Mexico, told USA TODAY.    “This puts park resources, visitors and staff at risk, all so President Trump can continue to perpetuate his fabricated emergency at the border.    Park police and border communities should not be pawns in this administration’s political games.”
Record numbers of migrants
    Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Mark Morgan defended the surge during a media briefing Nov. 14, saying his agency “has taken action” absent “a single piece of meaningful legislation” from Congress on border security.
    Trump requested $18.2 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the upcoming budget year, up from $15 billion in last year’s budget, which includes $5 billion for border wall construction.
    Morgan noted that the number of illegal border crossing apprehensions reached a peak in May of more than 140,000 in a single month.    By October, border apprehensions fell to about 42,000, a nearly 70% decrease since May.    By midyear, the border protection agency had almost 20,000 detainees in custody, Morgan said.    The government employs nearly 20,000 Border Patrol agents.
    The law enforcement operation, known as the Department of Interior-Border Support Surge, began as a pilot program in May 2018.    A second surge began in October amid record numbers of migrants crossing the southern border.
    Former Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke announced in a news release in May 2018 that 22 park rangers and other staffers would be sent to the border.    He said that in the first two days of the program, rangers “had made 13 arrests and confiscated an illegal handgun that had the serial number filed off.    Officers also found extensive evidence of recent activity along smuggling routes.”
    Federal officials refused to discuss the operational details behind the latest surge, including the exact number of rangers, U.S. park police and other Department of Interior law enforcement officers used to bolster border security.    But the operation is “indeed underway,” said Robert “Bob” Bushell, assistant chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, which covers a vast landmass along the U.S.-Mexican border.
    During last year’s surge, 1,195 people were arrested with the help of park rangers for a variety of crimes, including illegal border crossings, Bushell said.    Rangers seized 720 pounds of marijuana and 120 pounds of methamphetamine, he said.    “It is an awesome partnership, and these guys are really sharp.    That’s a big reason why we continue to ask for their support,” Bushell said.
    National park law enforcement rangers operate as police officers who can write speeding tickets and make arrests for any crimes, including drunken driving, drug possession or domestic battery.    They are wildland firefighters and emergency medical technicians who respond to heart attacks and other health issues.
.     One thing they didn’t have much experience in until recently? Border security.
    “You’re plopping down rangers who are effectively city cops, traffic cops, into a hostile desert environment where they have no training,” said Laiken Jordahl, 28, a former National Park Service contractor hired to conduct wildlife studies in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, where the bulk of the surge is taking place.    “I mean, they haven’t even been trained on how to move through a desert environment.”
    Bushell agreed that the park rangers received little training before being deployed to monitor the border.     “Outside of orientation briefing, we find that they’re very capable of adapting.    But as far as law enforcement-type training, we don’t provide that.    They’re already trained, maybe not in the aspect of immigration but in the process of conducting their regular duties is a big help to us,” Bushell said.
Surge from across USA
    To find out where rangers where being sent and from which parks, USA TODAY polled about 30 of the country’s largest parks.    Though some didn’t comment and others said they were not sending help to the border, some confirmed they were participating in the surge.
    Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the busiest national park in the country with 11.4 million visitors in 2018, was asked to send two park rangers to the border for two-week details.    It sent one.    For 2020, park officials were once again asked to send two rangers to the border, park spokeswoman Dana Soehn said.
    Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers about half a million remote, mountainous acres patrolled by 35 law enforcement rangers.    In 2017, it had 30,000 calls for law enforcement assistance.
    The Blue Ridge Parkway is the second- busiest national park site, with 14.7 million visitors.    The park is budgeted for 34 rangers but has two vacancies.
    The park is expected to send up to three rangers to help with the border over the next six months, spokeswoman Leesa Brandon said.    The park recorded 20 deaths last year, including those from traffic accidents, suicides and two homicides.    Rangers also deal with plant and animal poaching, search and rescues and sexual assaults.
    Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado – the third-busiest national park with 4.6 million visitors in 2018 and only 14 law enforcement rangers – has two vacancies.    It will send two rangers to assist in the border surge this year, and two are slated for 2020.
    In Utah, Zion National Park is the fourth-busiest park in the USA, with 4.3 million visitors in 2018.    The park made national news in May after visitors complained of hours-long wait times to hop on hiking trails.
    “Zion, like most non-Southern border parks, is assisting our Southern border parks and monuments by augmenting their staff with our own law enforcement rangers,” Chief Ranger Daniel Fagergren told USA TODAY.    He said the park is budgeted for 12 full-time law enforcement rangers.    Shenandoah National Park in Virginia sent one park ranger to the border in 2018 and another to the U.S. Virgin Islands, to help backfill for one of that park’s rangers who was sent to the border.    The park plans to send another ranger to the border in December and one in 2020.
    Bushell said rangers from parks throughout the country participating in the surge are largely deployed to Organ Pipe, a sprawling 330,000 acre wilderness park that receives about 1.5 million visitors a year, and to Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which spans 860,000 acres.    Both parks are in southern Arizona. Some rangers have been sent to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas.
Parks staffing is at record lows
    USA TODAY reported exclusively this year using data obtained via the federal Freedom of Information Act that the nation’s ranger corps and park staff dropped by 20% over the past decade. The staffing reductions come as national parks see historically high visitation numbers, leading in some cases to hours-long delays by rangers to respond to calls for help because there are so few working at any given time, according to watchdog groups.     There are fewer than 1,800 law enforcement rangers watching out for nearly 320 million visitors at the nation’s 419 national park sites.    Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a government watchdog group, released figures Nov. 5 showing that the number of full-time National Park Service staff had decreased by more than 3,500, or 16%, since 2011.
    “These growing shortfalls compromise the ability of the parks to protect both their resources and the visiting public,” the report says.
    Those park employees are responsible for more than 85 million acres of land, including parks, battlefields, historic sites, monuments, seashores and scenic trails.    In 2018, nearly 320 million people visited national parks, a number roughly equivalent to the total U.S. population.
    The staffing shortage reflects “a serious erosion in our ability to safeguard some of the most iconic areas in the United States for current and future generations,” said PEER Executive Director Tim Whitehouse.
    He said he frequently fields complaints from rangers about the dangerous shortage of policing staff in parks.
    “Sometimes the closest law enforcement to a large number of visitors might be a few hours away.    In some places, there are thousands or tens of thousands of visitors and no law enforcement presence,” Whitehouse said.
    The staffing problem could soon get worse. The Trump administration budget calls for cutting funding to the National Parks Service by 14% from $3.2 billion in 2019 to $2.7 billion for 2020, along with continued use of out-ofstate rangers to patrol the border.
    Phil Francis, a former park service employee who retired in 2013 after a 41year career, which included serving as superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which stretches across 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, said temporarily reassigning rangers to border patrols risks causing problems in their home parks.
    “There have been steep reductions in national park law enforcement ranks, and given that, it seems illogical to me that we would be reassigning more people and creating more of a vacancy in national parks,” said Francis, chairman of the nonprofit Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks.
    Deadly partnership on the border?
    The Trump White House isn’t the first presidential administration to deploy park rangers to the border.    During Washington’s decades-long War on Drugs, rangers were sent to the border for up to three weeks at a time to chase down drug smugglers.
    Kent Delbon, a retired park ranger, remembers being sent to the border in 2001 from his home park, Grand Canyon National Park, where he worked from 1996 through 2001. Delbon, 51, said rangers back then were told to ignore migrants crossing the border.
    The drug smugglers “would take bales of marijuana and tie them up with strings and wrap it in black plastic and strap it to their backs.    There would be five or six walking across the border into the park smuggling marijuana,” he said.    “When we were doing static nighttime surveillance work, we’d be hiding in the bushes.    Our direction was to try to stop them.    It was well known that once you confronted them, they’d drop the marijuana bushels and run in six different directions.”
    A year after Delbon’s detail with the Border Patrol, his detail coordinator, Kris Eggle, a ranger at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, was killed by drug cartel members fleeing illegally into the USA after committing a series of murders in Mexico.    After Eggle’s death in 2002 , the National Park Service closed most of Organ Pipe and shut down the NPS-Border Patrol collaboration, deeming it too dangerous.
    Jordahl, the former park service contractor, said the federal government knows there aren’t enough park rangers to help the Trump administration police the border.    Jordahl works for the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued the Trump administration over the president’s plans to build a border wall through the national park, claiming the barrier could irrevocably alter migration patterns of threatened or endangered species.
    “If the goal is to secure the border, these rangers aren’t going to be it,” Jordahl said.    “One hundred percent, it’s a publicity stunt that has very real consequences for the national parks across the country.    It’s totally clear it’s putting a strain on already limited resources. ... That doesn’t serve any of us.”
National Park Service and other federal officers investigate woman’s death along
the Blue Ridge Parkway in July 2018. ANGELA WILHELM/USA TODAY NETWORK
President Trump has asked for $5 billion for a border wall between the United States and Mexico. LAIKEN JORDAHL

12/2/2019 President Trump restores steel & aluminum tariffs on Argentina, Brazil by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House
before departing, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    President Trump is reimposing steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil and Argentina.    In a series of tweets Monday, the president pointed out that both countries have been “presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies.”    He then announced the restoration of tariffs on all steel and aluminum shipped into the U.S. from Argentina and Brazil.
    The president went on to say the Federal Reserve should “act likewise,” so many other countries stop taking advantage of the U.S. dollar by further devaluing their currencies.
    While speaking outside the White House before departing for London Monday, President Trump said steel companies and farmers will be “very happy” with the move.
    “Well Brazil has really discounted, if you take a look at what’s happened with their currency, they’ve devalued their currency very substantially by 10 percent,” he stated.    “Argentina also and I gave them a big break on tariffs, but now I’m taking that break off because its very unfair to our manufacturers and very unfair to our farmers.”
    In response to the move, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he would call the president and is certain he will listen to his concerns.
    “Our steal companies will be very happy and our farmers will be very happy with what I did,” the president told reporters.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro attends a Changing of the Guard at the Planalto Presidential Palace,
in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

12/2/2019 House Speaker Pelosi leads group of Democrats to Spain for UN summit by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks during a press conference at the COP25 climate talks summit in Madrid,
Monday Dec. 2, 2019. The chair of a two-week climate summit attended by nearly 200 countries warned at its opening
Monday that those refusing to adjust to the planet’s rising temperatures “will be on the wrong side of history.” (AP Photo/Andrea Comas)
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is attending a United Nations summit on so-called climate change in Spain as the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry continues on Capitol Hill.    She spoke at the event in Madrid Monday, where she is leading a delegation of more than a dozen Democrat lawmakers.     The trip comes as the House Intelligence Committee is reviewing it’s draft report on it’s impeachment inquiry.    The House is set to be back in session Tuesday, however, the United Nations conference is set to last through December 13th.
    Despite having no GOP lawmakers in her delegation, the liberal leader claimed to be speaking for all of Congress.
    “We are here to say to all of you on behalf of the House of Representatives and Congress of the United States that we are still in it, we are still in it,” she stated.
    The Democrat delegation to the event comes despite the fact the Trump administration has sent its own delegation to the event to represent the U.S. Meanwhile, Pelosi refused to speak about the developments in the impeachment inquiry and claimed lawmakers were there to talk about their agenda to “save the planet.”

12/2/2019 Trump re-election campaign to deny credentials to Bloomberg News reporters by Ginger Gibson
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Sunrise, Florida, U.S., November 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said on Monday it will no longer issue press credentials to reporters working for Bloomberg News, the agency owned by Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg.
    The news agency said following Bloomberg’s announcement of his presidential bid that it would no longer critically cover the Democratic presidential candidates – including Bloomberg and his rivals – but would go on covering Trump.
    Trump’s re-election campaign made the announcement.    It was not immediately clear whether the Trump White House would change how Bloomberg reporters are treated.    The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
    Credentials enable reporters to more easily access rallies and other campaign events leading up to the November 2020 election.    Members of the public must obtain tickets from the campaign and then wait in long lines to enter events.
    “Since they have declared their bias openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign events,” Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
    “We will determine whether to engage with individual reporters or answer inquiries from Bloomberg News on a case-by-case basis.”
    Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and billionaire media mogul who owns the eponymous news organization, announced on Nov. 24 that he would seek the Democratic nomination for president.    Separately, he is spending $100 million of his own money on digital ads attacking Trump.
    In response to the Trump campaign announcement, Bloomberg News quoted editor-in-chief John Micklethwait as saying, “The accusation of bias couldn’t be further from the truth."
    “We have covered Donald Trump fairly and in an unbiased way since he became a candidate in 2015 and will continue to do so despite the restrictions imposed by the Trump campaign.”
    After Bloomberg announced his White House candidacy, Micklethwait released a memo stating the news agency would “continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation) and will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries.”
    However, he said, the business-focused news organization would continue “to investigate the Trump administration, the government of the day.”
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Howard Goller)

12/2/2019 U.S. senators want Turkey sanctioned over Russia missile system: letter by Patricia Zengerle
FILE PHOTO: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was believed to have been killed in a U.S. military operation in the
briefing room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 27, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen called on the Trump administration on Monday to impose sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile defense system, saying the failure to do so sends a “terrible signal” to other countries.
    “The time for patience has long expired.    It is time you applied the law,” Van Hollen and Graham said in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seen by Reuters.    “Failure to do so is sending a terrible signal to other countries that they can flout U.S. laws without consequence,” they said.
    Ankara and Washington have been at loggerheads over NATO ally Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 system, which Washington says is not compatible with NATO defenses and poses a threat to its F-35 stealth fighter jets, which Lockheed Martin Corp is developing.
    Infuriating many members of Congress, Turkey shrugged off the threat of U.S. sanctions and began receiving its first S-400 deliveries in July.    In response, Washington removed Turkey from the F-35 program.
    U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has held off on imposing sanctions despite Trump signing a sweeping sanctions law, known as CAATSA, in 2017 mandating them for countries that do business with Russia’s military.
    U.S. lawmakers’ anger toward Turkey deepened after Ankara crossed into Syria for an offensive against Kurdish militias that had helped U.S. forces combat Islamic State militants.
    Normally an ardent defender of fellow-Republican Trump, Graham and some others in his party have been harshly critical of the president’s decision to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria, paving the way for the Turkish move against Kurdish fighters.
    Van Hollen and Graham have been among the most vocal senators calling for Washington to push back against Turkey.
    Trump hosted his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Erdogan, at the White House for a meeting last month that Trump described as “wonderful.”
    The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.    Pompeo said on Nov. 26 that Turkey carrying out tests on the Russian defense system was “concerning,” and that talks to resolve the issue were still under way.
    The same day, the head of Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, was cited as saying that Moscow hoped to seal a deal to supply Turkey with more S-400 missile systems in the first half of 2020.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

12/2/2019 Secretary Pompeo praises Latin America’s pro-democracy efforts at McConnell Center by OAN Newsroom
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the University of Louisville McConnell Center’s Distinguished
Speaker Series in Louisville, Ky., Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently spoke about bilateral relations with Latin American countries during an event in Kentucky.    He delivered remarks at the University of Louisville Monday as part of the McConnell Center’s distinguished speaker series.
    Pompeo spoke about Washington’s relationship with countries, including Bolivia, Cuba and Chile.    He said Bolivia is rebuilding their democracy as we speak, adding, no one in the region thinks authoritarianism is the way forward.    He then went on to highlight the situation in Venezuela by pointing out that the Maduro regime will not go easily.
    “He (Maduro) rules Venezuelan but will never again govern it…he and other dictators like him will work to continue to suppress their people,” said the U.S. secretary of state.    “Cuba, too, has tried to hijack legitimate democratic protests in its country and in the region to drive them towards their ideological ends.”
    Pompeo’s remarks come amid protests in several Latin American countries, where residents are fighting corruption and socialist governments.
FILE – People gather during an anti-government protest in Santiago, Chile. At least 19 people have died in the turmoil that
has swept the South American nation. The unrest began as a protest over a 4-cent increase in subway fares and soon morphed into
a larger movement over growing inequality in one of Latin America’s wealthiest countries. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

12/2/2019 Exclusive: U.S. troop drawdowns in Afghanistan ‘not necessarily’ tied to Taliban deal – Esper by Phil Stewart
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper delivers remarks before ringing the closing NASDAQ bell for Veterans Day
in New York, New York, November 11, 2019. Picture taken November 11, 2019. DoD/Lisa Ferdinando/Handout via REUTERS.
    LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday that any future troop drawdowns in Afghanistan were “not necessarily” linked to a deal with Taliban insurgents, suggesting some lowering of force levels may happen irrespective of the ongoing peace push.
    The remarks by Esper in an interview with Reuters came on the heels of a Thanksgiving trip last week to Afghanistan by President Donald Trump, who spoke of potential troop reductions and said he believed the Taliban insurgency would agree to a ceasefire in the 18-year-old war.
    If honored by all sides, a ceasefire could lead to a significant reduction in violence.    But U.S. military commanders would still focus on the threats associated with two other militant groups in Afghanistan: Islamic State and al Qaeda.
    Speaking as he flew to London for a NATO summit, Esper said the Trump administration had been discussing potential reductions in troop levels for some time, both internally and with NATO allies.
    “I feel confident that we could reduce our numbers in Afghanistan and still ensure that place doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorists who could attack the United States,” Esper said, without offering a figure.
    “And our allies agree we can make reductions as well.”
    Asked whether such reductions would necessarily be contingent on some sort of agreement with the Taliban insurgency, Esper said: “Not necessarily.”
    He did not elaborate.
    There are currently about 13,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan as well as thousands of other NATO troops.    U.S. officials have said U.S. forces could drop to 8,600 and still carry out an effective, core counter-terrorism mission as well as some limited advising for Afghan forces.
    A draft accord agreed in September before peace talks collapsed would have withdrawn thousands of American troops in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on the United States or its allies.
    Still, many U.S. officials privately doubt the Taliban could be relied upon to prevent al Qaeda from again plotting attacks against the United States from Afghan soil.
    Esper did not hint at any developments in the coming days or suggest that new troop drawdowns in Afghanistan might figure into NATO discussions this week.
    “I don’t think there’s any ‘new’ news right now, if you will.    We’ve been discussing this for quite some time,” Esper said, when asked if he would raise the issue in London.
    About 2,400 U.S. service members have been killed in the Afghan conflict and many thousands more wounded.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Cynthia Osterman)

12/3/2019 Oil up $0.79 to $55.96, DOW down 267 to 27,784 which occurred because Trump is supporting Hong Kong and is teeing off China in the Trade issue and this will continue.

12/3/2019 Page bemoans ongoing Trump attacks by William Cummings, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Former FBI attorney Lisa Page has tried to avoid the media spotlight since gaining national attention for her text messages with fired FBI agent Peter Strzok, which President Donald Trump and allies have used as evidence of a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine his presidency.
    But in a rare interview, Page, 39, told The Daily Beast that she could no longer silently stomach the president’s attacks on her.
    She said that “the straw that broke the camel’s back” came when Trump repeatedly called her name at an Oct. 11 rally in Minneapolis in what she described as a “demeaning fake orgasm” while mocking her and Strzok, who were engaged in an extramarital affair.
    “I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” she said.    “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative.    I decided to take my power back.”
    “I’m done being quiet,” she said Sunday night in a tweet linking to the Daily Beast interview.
    Page, who left the FBI in May 2018, said that “it’s almost impossible to describe” the feeling of being attacked by Trump.
    “It’s like being punched in the gut.    My heart drops to my stomach when I realize he has tweeted about me again.    The president of the United States is calling me names to the entire world.    He’s demeaning me and my career.    It’s sickening,” she told The Daily Beast.
    “But it’s also very intimidating because he’s still the president of the United States.    And when the president accuses you of treason by name, despite the fact that I know there’s no fathomable way that I have committed any crime at all, let alone treason, he’s still somebody in a position to actually do something about that.    To try to further destroy my life."
    “It never goes away or stops, even when he’s not publicly attacking me.”
    A new report from the Justice Department inspector general on the origin of the investigations into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election is scheduled for release on Dec. 9.    And Page can expect her name to appear in that report, as well.
    In their texts, Page and Strzok made several comments that were disparaging of Trump and supportive of Clinton.    In the text exchange most often cited as evidence of their bias against Trump, Page asks Strzok to assure her that Trump is “not ever going to become president, right?
    “No.    No he won’t.    We’ll stop it,” Strzok replied
.
    Page said she had been inaccurately depicted by a “cherry-picked selection of my texts.”
    Several Trump supporters have said they were appalled by the interview, and they decried what they saw as Page’s attempt to paint herself as a victim.
    Let me get this straight,” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.    “Page and Strzok sent texts about an ‘insurance policy’ and how they’ll ‘stop Trump’ while part of the FBI spying on Trump campaign.    Now Lisa Page is blaming the President.    1 week before Horowitz’s FISA report.”
Former FBI attorney Lisa Page has been a favorite target of President Donald Trump’s
attacks against the “deep state.” JACQUELYN MARTIN/AP
[Page does not understand of how many persons who worked under Trump since 2016 who have had their lives ruined by liberal attack mobs forcing them to move out of their homes and relocate.    And now she is complaining of being targeted as above in this Fake News article, Lisa Page's crime is an example of another idiot who let the liberal Leftist lies and 8 years of Obama's destruction of the reputation of the CIA, NSA, FBI and DOJ by turning it into a machine to bring down this country to force it to become part of the Globalist dream of no nations all under control by one entity whatever that was going to be and she apparently bought into it and now must realize her sins and accept the punishment and if she knows anything should rat them out to get back at them.].

12/3/2019 Trump lashes out at European allies before NATO talks by Robin Emmott and Phil Stewart
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania (obscured) arrive at Stansted Airport,
ahead of the NATO summit, in Stansted, Britain December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump launched an angry broadside against his European allies ahead of a NATO summit in London on Tuesday, singling out France’s Emmanuel Macron for “very nasty” comments on the alliance and Germany’s shortfall on funding commitments.
    Underlining the breadth of strife in a transatlantic bloc hailed by its backers as the most successful military alliance in history, Trump demanded that Europe pay more for defense and also make concessions to U.S. interests on trade.
    The attack echoed a similar volley of abuse by Trump ahead of NATO’s July 2018 summit.    It will add to the growing doubts over the future of the bloc, described by Macron as “brain dead” in the run-up to a London meeting intended to be a 70th anniversary celebration.
    “It’s a tough statement, though, when you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to essentially 28, including them, 28 countries,” Trump told reporters as he met the head of NATO in London.
    Explicitly linking his complaint that Europe does not pay enough for NATO’s security missions to his staunch “America First” defense of U.S. commercial interests, Trump said it was time for Europe to “shape up” on both fronts.
    “It’s not right to be taken advantage of on NATO and also then to be taken advantage of on trade, and that’s what happens.    We can’t let that happen,” he said of transatlantic disputes over everything from the aerospace sector to a European “digital tax” on U.S. technology giants.
    Dismissing recent signals from Germany that it was ready to do more to match a NATO target of spending two percent of national output on defense, Trump accused it and other nations which spend less than that target of being “delinquent.”
    The Trump attack came only hours after divisions opened up elsewhere in the alliance, with Turkey vowing to oppose a NATO plan to defend Baltic countries unless the alliance backs it in recognizing the Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist group.
    The YPG’s fighters have long been U.S. allies on the ground against Islamic State in Syria.    Turkey considers them an enemy because of links to Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey.
    “If our friends at NATO do not recognize as terrorist organizations those we consider terrorist organizations… we will stand against any step that will be taken there,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said before traveling to London.
    Erdogan, who has already strained alliance ties with a move to buy Russian air defense systems, said he would meet Polish President Andrzej Duda and leaders of Baltic countries in London.    Turkey, France, Germany and Britain are also expected to hold separate meetings around the summit.
    In an interview with Reuters, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned Ankara that “not everybody sees the threats that they see,” and he urged it, in the name of alliance unity, to stop blocking the Baltics plan.
    Queen Elizabeth will host the leaders at Buckingham Palace.    But even the British hosts, for generations among the most enthusiastic champions of the trans-Atlantic partnership that NATO represents, are disunited over their project of quitting the EU and distracted by a rancorous election due next week.
    “The question is, as we celebrate 70 years, are we waving in celebration or do people think we are drowning?” said a senior European NATO diplomat.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott in London, Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul, Joanna Plucinska in Warsaw; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Gareth Jones and Peter Graff)

12/3/2019 Trump praises UK PM Johnson as ‘very capable’ ahead of election by Steve Holland and William James
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) on the sidelines
of the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York City, New York, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he thought Prime Minister Boris Johnson was very capable and would do a good job, moments after saying he did not want to get involved in the British election campaign.
    The Dec. 12 election will decide the fate of Brexit and the world’s fifth largest economy: Johnson has promised to take Britain out of the EU on Jan. 31 while opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised another EU referendum.
    Trump has featured heavily in the British election campaign, where his name is used by the Labour Party as a by-word for a capitalist system that Corbyn, a veteran socialist campaigner, has promised to tear up if he wins power.
    In London to attend a meeting of NATO leaders, Trump said he did not want to complicate the election, but then added:
    “I think Boris is very capable and I think he’ll do a good job,” Trump said.    He has previously cast New York-born Johnson as ‘Britain’s Trump’ and feted him as the best leader to deliver Brexit.
    Johnson’s Conservative Party are ahead in opinion polls, but it remains unclear if they are far enough in front to form the majority government Johnson requires to take Britain out of the EU in January.
    Trump is a divisive figure for some in Britain, and senior Conservatives are nervous his involvement could upset their campaign.
    Trump also reaffirmed his support for Brexit – the central objective of Johnson’s election campaign – and denied that the U.S. was interested in gaining access to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) in a future trade deal – the main element of Corbyn’s election campaign.
    Corbyn wrote to Trump on Monday to ask him to revise U.S. negotiating objectives for a post-Brexit trade deal to ensure Britain’s public health service is not included.
    Asked if he could work with Corbyn, Trump said: “I can work with anybody, I’m a very easy person to work with.”
    Trump was asked if the NHS could be on the table in post-Brexit trade talks, and responded “No not at all.    I have nothing to do with it. Never even thought about it, honestly.”
    The prospect of U.S. involvement in the NHS – an emotive issue for voters that regularly ranks as one of the most important in opinion polls – has been used by Labour in the election campaign to attack Johnson.
    Labour say Johnson wants to sell parts of the publicly funded system off to U.S. companies. Johnson has said that is not true.
    Trump said: “We have absolutely nothing to do with it, and we wouldn’t want to.    If you handed it to us on a silver platter, we’d want nothing to do with it.”
(Reporting by Steve Holland and William James; editing by Alistair Smout/Guy Faulconbridge)

12/3/2019 Exclusive: White House considered kicking Huawei out of U.S. banking system – sources by Alexandra Alper
FILE PHOTO: A Huawei company logo is pictured at the Shenzhen International Airport in
Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration considered banning China’s Huawei from the U.S. financial system earlier this year as part of a host of policy options to thwart the blacklisted telecoms equipment giant, according to three people familiar with the matter.
    The plan, which was ultimately shelved, called for placing Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], the world’s second largest smartphone producer, on the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.
    One of the people familiar with the matter, who favors the move, said it could be revived in the coming months depending on how things go with Huawei.
    The plan was considered by the White House National Security Council, and seen by officials as a nuclear option atop a ladder of policy tools to sanction the company, two of the people said.    Such a designation can make it virtually impossible for a company to complete transactions in U.S. dollars.
    Administration officials drafted a memo and held interagency meetings on the issue, according to one of the people, showing the extent to which administration officials mulled deploying the United States’ most aggressive sanctioning tool against the Chinese company.
    Its use was tabled in favor of other measures, such as placing Huawei on a trade blacklist, which forces some suppliers to obtain a special license to sell to it.
    Huawei did not respond to a request for comment. A Treasury spokesperson said the agency “does not comment on investigations or prospective actions, including to confirm whether one exists.”
    Huawei would have been among the largest companies ever added to the list, which has included Russia’s Rusal, the world’s second largest aluminum company, Russian oligarchs, Iranian politicians and Venezuelan drug traffickers.
    Annie Fixler, a cyber expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, said designating the company “would have broad, widespread implications for Huawei across the globe,” noting that its business would be “severely impacted” in Europe and in Asia outside of China.
    The U.S. government has brought criminal charges against Huawei, alleging theft of trade secrets, bank fraud, violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran, and has sought to convince allies to ban it from 5G networks over spying fears.
    But placing the company on the “SDN list” would mean a host of logistical, diplomatic and economic difficulties for the U.S. government.
    The designation prohibits American companies or citizens from trading or conducting financial transactions with those listed and freezes assets held in the United States.
    Adding Huawei would therefore hammer U.S. allies that already rely on the company for their 4G networks, since almost all dollar payments clear through U.S. financial institutions.
    The Treasury could grant licenses to exempt U.S. banks involved in those transactions.    But it has generally shied away from doing so, concerned that too many exemptions would blunt the strength of the tool, experts said.
    Huawei’s sprawling size, with dozens of subsidiaries, would significantly complicate enforcement and carve-out efforts, experts said.
    “The larger an entity is, the harder it is for a U.S. Administration to foresee and prepare for the major effects, foreign and domestic, that placing it on the SDN list may cause” said Matthew Tuchband, a former Treasury official who added that careful consideration is needed before designating a company the size of Huawei.
    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who is seen by many China hawks in the administration as sympathetic to Beijing, has rarely overseen the use of the tool against China, designating a handful of Chinese persons for trafficking in fentanyl and over violations of sanctions against North Korea and Iran.
    Nevertheless, some lawmakers still see designating Huawei as worth considering.
    “Given Huawei’s relentless drive to dominate the 5G landscape, it is one of the most urgent national security threats facing the free world,” Republican Congressman Michael Gallagher said.
    “All options should be on the table in order to impose maximum pressure,” he added.
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; editing by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin)

12/3/2019 Exclusive: U.S. defense chief calls on Turkey to stop holding up NATO readiness plan by Phil Stewart
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper delivers remarks before ringing the closing NASDAQ bell for Veterans Day
in New York, New York, November 11, 2019. Picture taken November 11, 2019. DoD/Lisa Ferdinando/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper urged Turkey on Monday to stop holding up support for a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland, as Ankara presses the alliance to support its fight against U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG militia in Syria.
    In an interview with Reuters ahead of the NATO summit, Esper warned Ankara that “not everybody sees the threats that they see” and added he would not support labeling the YPG as terrorists to break the impasse.
    He called on Ankara to focus on the larger challenges facing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
    “The message to Turkey … is we need to move forward on these response plans and it can’t be held up by their own particular concerns,” Esper said as he flew to London.
    “Alliance unity, alliance readiness, means that you focus on the bigger issues – the bigger issue being the readiness of the (NATO) alliance.    And not everybody’s willing to sign up to their agenda.    Not everybody sees the threats that they see.”
    NATO envoys need formal approval by all 29 members for the plan to improve the defense of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia against any threat from neighboring Russia.
    The dispute, as NATO prepares to hold its 70th anniversary summit, is a sign of deep divisions between Ankara and Washington over everything from the war in Syria to Turkey’s growing defense relationship with Russia.
    Turkey wants NATO to formally recognize the YPG militia, the main component of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as terrorists and is infuriated that its allies have given the militia support.
    Ankara has blamed Washington for the current impasse, saying it was caused by the U.S. withdrawal of support from a separate defense plan for Turkey, covering any possible attack from the south where it borders Syria.
    Asked whether Washington might agree to branding the YPG as terrorists in order to break the deadlock, Esper said: “I wouldn’t support that.”
    “We’re going to stick to our positions, and I think NATO will as well,” Esper said.
    The issue is the latest source of friction between the NATO allies, which have also been at loggerheads over Turkey’s purchase of advanced Russian air defenses, which Washington says are incompatible with NATO defenses and pose a threat to Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighter jets.
    Washington said in July it was removing Turkey from the F-35 program and has warned of possible U.S. sanctions.
    Two U.S. senators pressed the Trump administration on Monday to impose sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the Russian missile defense system and said the failure to do so sent a “terrible signal.”
(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels, Ece Toksabay in Ankara and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney)

12/3/2019 Trump says China trade deal might have to wait for 2020 election
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (4thL), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (3rdL),
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and White House trade
adviser Peter Navarro pose for a photograph with China's Vice Premier Liu He (4thR), Chinese vice ministers
and senior officials before the start of US-China trade talks at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
    LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said a trade agreement with China might have to wait until after the U.S. presidential election in November 2020, denting hopes of a quick resolution to the dispute which has weighed on the world economy.
    “I have no deadline, no. In some ways I think I think it’s better to wait until after the election with China,” Trump told reporters in London where he was due to attend a meeting of NATO leaders.
    “But they want to make a deal now, and we’ll see whether or not the deal’s going to be right, it’s got to be right.”
    European share prices and the Chinese yuan currency fell on Trump’s comments.
    Investors have been hoping that the United States and China can avert an escalation of their trade tensions which have slowed global economic growth.
    Washington and Beijing have yet to ink a so-called “phase one” agreement announced in October, which had raised hopes of a de-escalation in their prolonged trade war.
    Trump said a deal with China would only happen if he wanted it to, and he thought he was doing very well in the talks.
    “I’m doing very well on a deal with China, if I want to make it,” he said.    “I don’t think it’s up to if they want to make it, it’s if I want to make it.    We’ll see what happens.”
    “I’m doing very well, if I want to make a deal, I don’t know that I want to make it, they’re going to find out pretty soon.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Elizabeth Piper and Steve Holland; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Andy Bruce)

12/3/2019 President Trump slams French President Macron over comments on NATO by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump meets French President Emmanuel Macron at Winfield House,
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump blasted his French counterpart’s recent comments on NATO as “very insulting to a lot of different forces.”    During a meeting with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Tuesday, he said Emmanuel Macron was “very disrespectful” in regards to the French leader saying the organization was experiencing “brain death.”
    The president went on to say France is not doing well economically, and called Macron’s remarks a very tough statement to make when there is such difficulty in his country.    He also said Macron is probably more dependent on NATO than any other member nation.
    “Nobody needs NATO more than France and, frankly, the one that benefits really the least is the United States, we benefit the least, we are helping Europe,” said President Trump.    “…But I think nobody needs it more than France, and that’s why I think that when France makes a statement like they made about NATO, that’s a very dangerous step for them to make.”
    Meanwhile, President Macron stood by his comments.    However, both leaders did agree the U.S. had over-invested into NATO and were not paid back appropriately.
    “I know that my statements created some reactions, I stand by them,” said Macron.    “When you look at what NATO is and should be, first of all this is a burden we share, and President Trump just reminded you some figures and it is perfectly true that the U.S. over invested decade after decade and it is number one by far.”
    Despite the mutual agreements, the presidents disagreed on the current situation regarding fight against ISIS.    The French president commented the fight was far from over, and discussed the need for a universal definition of terrorism.    President Trump remarked the U.S. had made considerable strides against terrorist forces, and even went as far as offering Macron a selection of ISIS prisoners in U.S. custody.

12/3/2019 ‘Very, very nasty’: Trump clashes with Macron before NATO summit by Steve Holland and Michel Rose
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania (obscured) arrive at Stansted Airport,
ahead of the NATO summit, in Stansted, Britain December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron clashed about the future of NATO on Tuesday before a summit intended to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Western military alliance.
    In sharp exchanges underlining discord in a transatlantic bloc hailed by backers as the most successful military pact in history,     Trump demanded that Europe pay more for its collective defense and make concessions to U.S. interests on trade.
    President Macron stood by comments he made last month describing NATO as suffering from a lack of strategic purpose akin to “brain death,” and criticized fellow NATO member Turkey, which he accused of working with Islamic State proxies.
    Washington and Paris have long argued over NATO’s purpose — France opposed the 2003 Iraq war — but the new tensions will add to doubts over the alliance’s future that have grown with Trump’s ambivalence over U.S. commitments to defend Europe.
    Trump said Macron’s criticism of NATO was “very, very nasty” and questioned whether the U.S. military should defend any countries that were “delinquent” on alliance targets for national military spending.
    “It’s not right to be taken advantage of on NATO and also then to be taken advantage of on trade, and that’s what happens.    We can’t let that happen,” Trump said of transatlantic disputes on issues ranging from the aerospace sector to a European digital services tax on U.S. technology giants.
    All 29 member states have a target of spending 2% of their gross domestic product on defense and Trump has singled out Germany for falling short of the target.
    But Macron, speaking later at a news conference with Trump, stood by his criticisms of NATO and said its real problem was a failure to forge a clear purpose since the end of the Cold War.
    “We have to be clear on what the fundamentals of NATO will be, which is not the case now,” he said.
    Adding that NATO has not even agreed a definition of terrorism, he said: “When I look at Turkey, they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS (Islamic State) and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies.”
COLLECTIVE DEFENSE AT STAKE
    Turkey threatened to block a plan to defend Baltic states and Poland against Russian attacks unless NATO backed Ankara in recognizing the Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists.
    The YPG’s fighters have long been U.S. and French allies against Islamic State in Syria. Turkey considers them an enemy because of links to Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey.
    “If our friends at NATO do not recognize as terrorist organizations those we consider terrorist organizations … we will stand against any step that will be taken there,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said before traveling to London.
    Erdogan has already strained alliance ties with a move to buy Russian air defense systems.    Trump said he was looking at imposing sanctions on Ankara over the issue.
    The uncertainty over the plan for Poland and the Baltic states, drawn up at their request after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, raises issues about security on all of NATO’s frontiers.
    Under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 1949 founding treaty, an attack on one ally is an attack on all its members, and the alliance has military strategies for collective defense across its territory.
    The summit, in a hotel in Hertfordshire just outside London, begins on Wednesday.    On Tuesday evening, leaders were due to attend two receptions, one hosted by Queen Elizabeth and one by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
    Several hundred anti-Trump protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London, holding banners and placards reading “Dump Trump” and “No to racism, no to Trump.”
    Hoping to placate Trump, Europe, Turkey and Canada will pledge at the summit some $400 billion in defense spending by 2024, and agree to a reduction of the U.S. contribution to fund the alliance itself.
    The allies will approve a new strategy to monitor China’s growing military activity, and identify space as a domain of warfare, alongside air, land, sea and computer networks.    They will issue a statement condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
    Trump said he believed Russia wanted deals on arms control and nuclear issues, and that he would be willing to bring China into such accords.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Robin Emmott in London, Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul, Joanna Plucinska in Warsaw and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Estelle Shirbon and Iona Serrapica in London; Writing by Mark John and John Chalmers, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

12/3/2019 Bromance or bad date? Trump, Macron trade barbs over tariffs, NATO by Luke Baker
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with France's President Emmanuel Macron, ahead of the NATO summit
in Watford, in London, Britain, December 3, 2019. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – They have hosted each other for state visits and dined at the Eiffel Tower, but the once-budding bromance between U.S. President Donald Trump and France’s Emmanuel Macron looks to have turned into a bad date as they traded blows ahead of a NATO summit.
    Despite a 32-year age gap and very different personal styles, Macron and Trump have tended to put on a show of being best buddies, shaking hands with a tight grip and a big grin, bringing their wives along to dinners and exchanging gifts.
    But after Macron’s comments last month about the “brain death” of NATO and criticism of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan over Syria, Trump appeared to take the gloves off on Tuesday, landing blow after blow against his one-time “bon ami.”
    “When you make a statement like that,” he said of Macron’s “brain dead” critique, “that is a very, very nasty statement to essentially 28, including them, 28 countries,” the U.S. president told a news conference with the head of NATO.
    “Nobody needs NATO more than France,” he said, adding that France, where Macron has battled a year of protests against his economic reforms, was “not doing well economically.”
    As if to rub salt in the wound, the United States announced it would impose hefty tariffs on French luxury goods, wine and cheese, retaliation for a French plan to levy a digital tax on large tech companies, many of them American.
    By the time Macron and Trump met face-to-face in London, the atmosphere was frosty, with onlookers ready for some sparring.
    Trump wasted little time, saying only half-jokingly that Macron’s response to one journalist’s question about how France was dealing with returning Islamic State fighters was “one of the greatest non-answers I have ever heard.”
    Macron went on to contradict Trump’s account of how Turkey had come to purchase a Russian air-defence system, and the two acknowledged they had problems to resolve over the tech tax and the tariffs threat.
    Macron has in the past sought to ride out differences with Trump, emphasizing the need for constructive engagement even when the U.S. president pulled out of the Paris climate accord and withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran.
    With the possibility of Trump winning reelection next year, and Macron in office until at least 2022, both have an interest in ensuring a squabble doesn’t become a bitter break-up.
    But if a gift Macron once gave Trump is symbolic of their relations, the omen is not good.    During a state visit in April 2018, Macron, Trump and their wives planted an oak sapling from a French World War One battleground in the White House garden.
    A few days later the sapling was dug up to be put in quarantine, where it died.    In June this year, Macron played down any symbolism and said he would send the Trumps another tree.    It is not clear if it was ever sent, or planted.
(Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

12/3/2019 Trump says he is looking at sanctions against Turkey over S-400 missile deal
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in
Sunrise, Florida, U.S., November 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
    LONDON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was looking at imposing sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile system, blaming his predecessor for not selling Ankara a U.S. missile system.
    Sitting alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump was asked whether he would issue sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of the S-400 missile system.
    “We are looking at it now, and we’re talking about it now,” he told journalists.
    “As you know Turkey wanted to buy our Patriot system and the (former U.S. President Barack) Obama administration wouldn’t let them, and they only let them when they were ready to buy another system.”
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Guy Faulconbridge, writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Alistair Smout)

12/3/2019 WTO tussles over hard stop vs phase-out of appeals system
FILE PHOTO: The World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters are pictured
in Geneva, Switzerland, July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
    GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Trade Organization (WTO) battled on Tuesday over whether to bring its Appellate Body to an abrupt halt or allow its adjudicators to settle a handful of pending cases, according to trade officials present at a meeting on the subject.
    The Trump administration has for more than two years been blocking appointments to the top body that rules on trade disputes, which means that after Dec. 10 it will have too few members to function.
    The mandates of two of the three Appellate Body’s members end on Dec. 10.
    David Walker, New Zealand’s ambassador who chairs the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), proposed to WTO members that the Appellate Body should be allowed to conclude three cases that have already had hearings, trade officials said.    A further 10 pending appeals are to be left in limbo.
    However, even that limited case load drew an objection from U.S. ambassador Dennis Shea at the meeting, the officials said.
    “We have heard today statements actively encouraging the Appellate Body to continue to break the rules set out in the DSU (Dispute Settlement Understanding).    We strongly disagree with this approach and do not consider it to be constructive,” Shea said in a speech, the text of which was seen by Reuters.
    “It appears there will be no consensus between members on how to proceed on the Appellate Body by December 10,” he said, voicing disappointment.
    The European Union (EU) told the talks that the impasse was undermining the dispute settlement system.    China’s delegation said the “illegal blockade” by Washington had resulted in an unprecedented number of pending appeals, trade officials said.
    The three appeals for which hearings have been completed are a combined case on Australia’s plain packaging for tobacco products, one on Russian measures to limit imports of railway equipment filed by Ukraine, and another concerning U.S. anti-subsidy duties on paper from Canada.
    The proposal would mean that no appeal could be heard in a WTO panel decision on Monday on subsidies for EU planemaker Airbus.
    Two appeals brought by the United States will also not be settled.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Ed Osmond and Grant McCool)

12/3/2019 Wall Street falls for third straight day as trade hopes dim by Stephen Culp
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
in New York, U.S., November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street set course for its third consecutive sell-off on Tuesday as investor optimism over a potential near-term respite from the U.S.-China trade war evaporated following commentary from President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
    All three major stock indexes stepped further away from last week’s record highs that were fueled by hopes that an interim deal between the United States and China was in the offing.
    Those hopes dimmed as President Trump suggested a deal might have to wait until after the 2020 election, and separately, Secretary Ross confirmed that new tariffs on Chinese imports would go into effect on Dec. 15 as scheduled, unless substantial progress was made.
    These comments, on the heels of France’s threatened retaliation over potential new U.S. duties on French products, itself a retaliation against a proposed French “digital tax,” suggested that America’s hydra-headed tariff war against its major trading partners would continue to dominate markets for the foreseeable future.
    “We’ve seen this happen numerous times, where there’s a trade disappointment and there’s a stock market sell-off,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.    “There’s disappointment that ‘phase 1’ (of a U.S.-China deal) has been pushed back.”
    Tariff-sensitive chipmakers were down, with the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index falling 2.0%, on track for its worst day in nearly two months.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 357.45 points, or 1.29%, to 27,425.59, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 29.61 points, or 0.95%, to 3,084.26 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 79.97 points, or 0.93%, to 8,488.01.
    Nine the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500 were in negative territory, with momentum stocks Apple Inc and Amazon.com weighing heaviest.
    Financials <.SPSY>, consumer discretionary <.SPLRCD> and energy <.SPNY> stocks, as well as trade-vulnerable industrial <.SPLRCI> and tech <.SPLRCT> sectors suffered the largest percentage losses.
    Shares of AK Steel Holding Corp rose 3.3% after miner Cleveland Cliffs agreed to buy the company in an all-stock deal worth about $1.1 billion.
    Audentes Therapeutics Inc’s shares soared by 105.5% after Japan’s Astellas Pharma Inc <4503.T> said it would buy the U.S. drugmaker for about $3 billion in cash.
    Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.80-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.82-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
    The S&P 500 posted 1 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 29 new highs and 63 new lows.
(Reporting by Stephen Culp)

12/3/2019 House Democrats release impeachment report by OAN Newsroom
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on
Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    The impeachment inquiry has reached its next phase on Capitol Hill.    House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff shared a report summarizing the Democrat’s impeachment investigation on Twitter Monday.    The release came just hours before a House vote to formally submit it to the Judiciary Committee.
    While appearing on MSNBC Monday night, Schiff said as the Judiciary Committee reviews the findings, Democrats will continue their impeachment efforts.
    “At the same time that’s not the end of our investigation, so even while judiciary does its work we will continue investigating,” said Schiff.    “We are continuing issuing subpoenas, we are continuing to learn new information.”
    Democrats are accusing the president of seeking foreign intervention in U.S. elections for his own political gain.
    READ THE FULL DEMOCRAT REPORT HERE: The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report
    The release of their report comes just one day after after House Republicans released their minority report of the investigation.    The GOP defended President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine as wholly appropriate, and accused Democrats of trying to over turn the results of the 2016 elections.
    President Trump, again, sounded off on the proceedings while at the NATO summit in London Monday.    He accused Democrat lawmakers of holding unfair proceedings.
    “For the hearings, we don’t get a lawyer, we don’t get any witnesses,” said the president.    “We want Biden, we want the son, Hunter — where’s Hunter?
    With the reports in hand, the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold public impeachment hearings Wednesday, where officials will hear from constitutional lawyers.

12/4/2019 Oil up $0.14 to $56.10, DOW down 280 to 27,503.

12/4/2019 Court orders bank to give Trump records to Congress by Kristine Phillips and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s longtime lender, Deutsche Bank, must turn over a broad range of financial records to Congress, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
    The ruling blocks another effort by the president to keep his finances private, though he’s likely to appeal this decision, too.
    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled 3-2 that public interest favors disclosing records regarding Trump’s private business, as well as those of his family members and related entities.
    House committees’ “interest in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions,” the court said in a 108-page ruling.
    The appeal concerns three subpoenas issued by two House committees to Deutsche Bank.    The House Intelligence Committee and the Financial Services Committee seek a number of Trump’s financial records, as well as those of his three oldest children and the Trump Organization.
    Deutsche Bank has revealed that Trump’s tax returns are among the documents that fall under the subpoenas.    Unlike his recent predecessors, Trump has refused to disclose his tax returns.
    The Financial Services Committee issued a separate, narrower subpoena seeking Trump Organization records from Capital One Financial Corp.    In April, Trump sued to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from handing over the documents.
    The Deutsche Bank case is one of several in which Trump is fighting to prevent the release of his tax returns and other financial records.
    Federal judges in New York and Washington have ruled in favor of House subpoenas for Trump’s financial documents. Trump’s lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to block both of them.
    In one case, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance seeks records as part of a criminal investigation.    In the other, a House committee wants Trump’s longtime accounting firm to turn over Trump’s tax returns.
    Trump’s lawyers have argued in the Vance case that the president is immune from any criminal grand jury investigation while in office.
    Meanwhile, the Justice Department has argued that allowing lawmakers to subpoena records regarding the president’s private business would distract him from his duties.
    In the Deutsche Bank case, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled in May that the subpoenas passed constitutional muster, had a “legitimate legislative purpose” and were in the public interest.
    Ramos wrote that Trump’s lawyers had made the case that the president and his companies would suffer “irreparable harm” if the committees were to obtain records for about a decade of Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank and Capital One.
    In its ruling, the appeals court recognized that Trump would suffer “irreparable” loss of privacy if his financial records were disclosed to Congress.    But the court also said that loss is “somewhat mitigated” because sensitive personal financial information will not be disclosed.
    In her dissenting opinion, Second Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston wrote that Congress’ power is “not unlimited.”
    “When Congress conducts investigations in aid of legislation, its authority derives from its responsibility to legislate — to consider the enactment of new laws or the improvement of existing ones for the public good,” she wrote.    “Congress has no power to expose personal information for the sake of exposure.”
    The ruling blocks another effort by the president to keep his finances private, though he’s likely to appeal this decision, too.
[The Do Nothing Democrats have been so ridiculously absurd to get a hold of Trump’s tax records rather than to do something constructive for the people and I suggest he give it to them if they can get Nancy Pelosi’s records at the same time to give to the do something Republicans to see what she has been doing wrong while San Francisco is turning into hell on earth.    Trump will take it to higher court anyway so they are wasting their time.].

12/4/2019 Division pervades NATO as the ‘brain dead’ meet the ‘delinquent’ by Robin Emmott and William James
Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas speaks to the media as he arrives for the
NATO leaders summit in Watford, Britain December 4, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    WATFORD, England (Reuters) – NATO leaders gathered at a golf resort near London on Wednesday for a summit acrimonious even by the standards of the Trump era, aiming to tackle disagreements over spending, future threats including China, and Turkey’s role in the alliance.
    With U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron blowing hot and cold over NATO’s role, the 29-member military alliance is looking for reinvigoration as it marks the 70th anniversary of its Cold War-era founding.
    “Clearly it is very important that the alliance stays together,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters, referring to divisions over Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, carried out despite the objection of Ankara’s allies.
    “But there is far, far more that unites us than divides us.”
    Leaders held preliminary bilateral meetings in London on Tuesday, during which stark differences were aired, with Trump, who in the past has called NATO obsolete, criticizing Macron for comments last month about NATO’s strategic “brain death
    Macron held his ground, saying in a message on Twitter late on Tuesday that it was important for leaders to discuss issues in an open and forthright way if they were to find solutions.
    “My statements on NATO triggered some reactions.    I do stand by them,” Macron said.    “It is a burden we share: we can’t put money and pay the cost of our soldier’s lives without being clear on the fundamentals of what NATO should be.”
    One of Macron’s chief complaints is that Turkey, a NATO member since 1952 and a critical ally in the Middle East, has increasingly acted in a freelance way, carrying out incursions into Syria, taking up arms against the Kurdish YPG militia who had been allied with Western forces against Islamic State, and buying the S-400 missile defense system from Russia.
    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has pushed back, saying he will oppose NATO’s plan for the defense of Baltic countries if the alliance does not recognize groups that Turkey deems terrorists, including the YPG.
TRUMP LASHES “DELINQUENT” ALLIES
    Arriving for the gathering at an 18th-century estate that once hosted a golf championship won by Tiger Woods, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas – whose country depends on NATO as a shield against Russia – said he was confident the alliance could overcome its divisions.
    “NATO is strong.    NATO’s deterrence is 100% credible,” he said.    “Transatlantic … cooperation is a cornerstone for us, for our security, for both sides of the Atlantic.”
    On Tuesday, Trump, who has long accused Washington’s allies of enjoying the protection of the U.S. superpower without shouldering their share of the collective security burden, described allies who spend too little as “delinquent.”
    At the summit, Europe, Turkey and Canada are expected to pledge that they will increase spending by $400 billion collectively on defense by 2024.
    France and Germany, as core European members, want the alliance to consider a bigger role in the Middle East and possibly Africa, marking a shift away from its historically eastern-facing posture.    They aim to win support to set up a “wise persons” group to draw up reform plans.
    In a final communique, NATO allies will recommit to their pledge to defend each other – known as Article 5 in NATO parlance – while Britain is expected to put six warships, two fighter squadrons and thousands of troops at NATO’s disposal to meet a U.S. demand for European armies to be more combat-ready.
    NATO will also warn China for the first time that it is monitoring Beijing’s growing military might.    Leaders will agree to prepare for conflicts in space, the Arctic and computer networks, as well as traditional land, sea and air battles
.
    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told diplomats and experts ahead of the gathering that even though the acrimonious public comments were making headlines, the alliance is still making rapid, meaningful progress behind the scenes.
    “I’m a politician, and I’m used to being criticized for good rhetoric but bad substance,” Stoltenberg said.    “In the case of NATO it is the opposite.    We have had bad rhetoric but extremely good substance.”
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the testy public exchanges actually showed the alliance’s strength: “NATO has survived because we’ve always had frank conversations.”
(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke, John Chalmers and Johnny Cotton in Watford; Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by John Chalmers and Peter Graff)

12/4/2019 Republicans slam Democrats for focusing on inquiry rather than legislation by OAN Newsroom
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, questions U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland as he testifies before the House Intelligence
Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    As the next stage of the impeachment process is underway, GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill are speaking out against Democrats for their ongoing efforts.
    On Tuesday, Texas congressman John Ratcliffe said there was no surprise over the House Intelligence Committee’s recently released report, which accuses President Trump of misusing his position in office.    Ratcliffe says the findings, once again, prove the inquiry started from nothing more than political bias rather than actual facts.
    “It was as underwhelming as I thought it would be — 200 page of conclusions that were politically motivated and not supported by facts,” he stated.    “The problem for Democrats is they cant change the fact that not a single witness provided testimony that Donald Trump ever related military aid to investigations, not a single witness ever related that Donald Trump talked about a quid pro quo involving Ukrainian military aid, and so again this is long on political motivation and short on real facts that would drive an impeachment.”
    Now that the House Judiciary Committee has taken over the proceedings, North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker suggests Democrats may decide to take the opportunity to call off the process by means of a censure.    This comes as Walker says Democrats know they are falling in the polls as a result of the inquiry.
    “This is gonna hurt the Democrats…the modern American people are saying if I’m not happy with the way Trump does something, to say that hes guilty of treason…its too much for the American people, and I think they’re (Democrats) gonna see the results of it,” Rep. Walker explained.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., (left) filed a formal ethics complaint against
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. (right.) (AP Photo)
    Meanwhile, Rep. Matt Gaetz said Democrats will be held accountable for continuing to prioritize removing the president from office rather than helping the American people with meaningful legislation.
    “We’re looking forward to making the Democrats pay the opportunity cost for this impeachment,” he stated.    “Making sure the American people are missing out on legislation to lower prescription drugs, to ratify the USMCA and to give our troops a raise because this week Democrats want to focus on investigations and impeachment rather than the needs of the American people."
    This comes as President Trump has continued to slam Democrat impeachment inquiry as an “witch hunt,” while maintaining the July phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart was “perfect.”

12/4/2019 Long focused on Russia, NATO widens gaze toward China by Phil Stewart and Robin Emmott
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper delivers remarks before ringing the closing NASDAQ bell for
Veterans Day in New York, New York, November 11, 2019. DoD/Lisa Ferdinando/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
    WATFORD, England (Reuters) – Seventy years since its Cold War-era founding as a transatlantic alliance focused on Moscow, NATO is expanding its gaze toward the increasingly muscular challenge posed by China.
    But it is unclear, even to diplomats within the 29-member military alliance, whether NATO is up to the task – especially at a time of intense internal divisions and acrimony that were on full display heading into this week’s summit.
    In a statement issued after they met on the outskirts of London on Wednesday, NATO leaders said: “We recognize that China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.”
    The United States is leading the charge for a greater focus on China and is confident of a receptive audience in much of Europe, where concerns are mounting about Beijing’s growing economic leverage, in particular.
    In a shift in tone earlier this year, the European Commission, the European Union’s executive, described China as a “systemic rival” and urged the bloc to be more assertive after years of welcoming Chinese investment virtually unhindered.
    U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, in an interview with Reuters, said there was an increasing understanding in Europe about the challenges posed by China’s rapidly expanding military might, which includes everything from hypersonic weaponry to aircraft carriers.
    “China is a strategic challenge for us and we need to get ahead of that,” Esper said.
    “That doesn’t mean that China right now is an enemy.    But we need to help shape that together as an alliance. And we need to be prepared in case things do turn out in a way we prefer they not.”
    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted ahead of the alliance’s summit that China was the world’s second-largest defense spender, after the United States.
    “It’s not about moving NATO into the South China Sea, but it’s about taking into account the fact that China is coming to closer to us,” he said, pointing to Chinese activity in the Arctic, Africa and heavy investments in European infrastructure.
    The United States, in particular, wants European allies to ban equipment from Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei, saying its gear could be used by Beijing for spying.
    Huawei, which denies Washington’s allegations, said in October that half of the 65 commercial deals that it had signed were with European customers building 5G mobile phone networks.
    The NATO leaders said in their communique that they were committed to ensuring their countries had secure 5G communications, without mentioning Huawei.
    Trump, however, referred directly to Huawei as “a security danger,” telling a news conference he had assurances from Italy and other countries that they would not pursue deals with the company.
NATO’S NEXT ADVERSARY?
    One NATO diplomat said there was broad agreement that China was “part of our strategic environment” but cautioned about the limits of European unity on the push.
    “Some allies would be tempted to please Trump and present China as NATO’s next adversary, but most Europeans know this does not represent their national interest,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    Another diplomat cautioned that China would not become NATO’s adversary.
    “China is not the new Russia.    This is not about declaring China as the new enemy,” the diplomat said.    “China is the rising power of the 21st century.”
    Derek Chollet, a former senior Pentagon official during the Obama administration, said European officials increasingly share the U.S. view of China as a strategic challenge but questioned the extent to which Beijing would become a NATO focus.
    “No question there is an opportunity,” said Chollet, who is now at the German Marshall Fund think-tank.    “It is unlikely, however, to ever be a core NATO task.”
    Part of the China plan at NATO is based around seven baseline requirements on which NATO allies must assess the risks.    These include the risks of consequences of Chinese ownership of communications and NATO plans to restore communications in case of disruption.
    It also includes ensuring NATO has ownership of strategic weapons and infrastructure and what NATO’s maritime posture should be vis-à-vis China.
(Additional reporting by John Chalmers; Editing by Alex Richardson)

12/4/2019 President Trump: Horowitz, Durham reports to detail alleged Democrat coup by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks during a working lunch with NATO members that have met their financial commitments
to the organization, at The Grove, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, in Watford, England. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump is welcoming the upcoming publication of two separate reports, which looked into the origins of the failed “Russia hoax.”    On Wednesday, the president told reporters he is expecting reports from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz and attorney John Durham.
    He said the reports will show whether Democrat Party officials launched the “Russia hoax” to redo the outcome of 2016 election.
    “For me, it’s okay, but this should never happen to a president again,” said President Trump.    “It’s an absolute disgrace to our country.”
    During an interview last week, the president said he expects a historic moment when the report is finally made public.    He said it will probably be the biggest political scandal in the history of our country.    The president said he trusts the attorney general and the Justice Department to reveal the truth.
    “I think you’re going to see things that are going to be incredible, if it’s done right and I purposefully stay out,” stated President Trump.    “We’ll see what happens.”
    The president also said he expects many House Democrats to vote against impeachment because the majority of Americans don’t support it.
[When the very report comes out on Monday 12/9/2019 and if it does prove the Obama administration created the Russian collusion "hoax" then it will prove who are the real criminals and the Dems are so desparate that they are pushing/ramming their Impeachment witchhunt onto the scene in a last ditch attempt to try to disprove the truth, because they know their time is short.].

12/4/2019 GOP witness calls impeachment legal case ‘woefully inadequate, ‘dangerous’ by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump meets with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during the NATO summit
at The Grove, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, in Watford, England. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump recently doubled down on his criticism of Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi as Democrats continue to pursue impeachment.    While speaking to reporters Wednesday, the president called the House Intelligence Committee chairman a “loser” and said House Speaker Pelosi’s career is in jeopardy for agreeing with Schiff.
    This comes as Schiff and House Democrats claim the president committed bribery in his communications with Ukraine.    President Trump has repeatedly criticized Democrats by accusing them of engaging in a politically motivated attack to undo the results of the 2016 election.
    “It’s a disgrace, you have a loser…the guys a stone cold loser, has been all his life, Adam Schiff, and then you have Nancy Pelosi who agreed with what he said which put her into real jeopardy,” he stated.    “And frankly, it’s a bad thing for the country.”
    The president went on to say the impeachment inquiry is hurting the U.S., and he questioned whether Democrats care about the country at all.    His comments came as the House Judiciary Committee kicked off their public impeachment hearings.
    On Wednesday, an expert legal witness called the impeachment inquiry of the president “woefully inadequate.”    In his opening statement, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley expressed his concerns about the integrity of the impeachment process.    He called it dangerous and also criticized the Democrats’ approach to the matter as wrong, because it was quickly put together with a relatively small number of witnesses with largely second hand knowledge of the position.
George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley testify during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the constitutional
grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    This would be the first impeachment in history where there would be considerable debate and, in my view, not compelling evidence of the commission of a crime,” explained the professor.    “Second is the abbreviated period of this investigation, which is probability and puzzling — this is a facially incomplete and inadequate record in order to impeach a president.”
    Turley, the only GOP witness, added that if the impeachment went through then it would set a dangerous precedent for future presidents.

12/4/2019 Judicial Watch sues State Dept. for docs on alleged Ukraine corruption cover-up by OAN Newsroom
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on
Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, during the second public impeachment hearing of
President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Government oversight group Judicial Watch is suing the State Department for documents related to former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.    On Wednesday, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit to obtain a list of corrupt Ukrainian officials allegedly protected by Yovanovitch.
    The group said she gave the list to then Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in late 2016 and told him not to prosecute activists who were funded by globalist billionaire George Soros.    Lutsenko recently confirmed these claims.
    Judicial Watch argued the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine was a hotbed of Democrat Party corruption and anti-Trump activities.

    Yovanovitch has denied allegations she drafted a so-called “Do Not Prosecute” list for top Ukrainian judicial officials to follow.    The diplomat said she advocated for the rule of law to prevail in Ukraine and for top prosecutors, judges and law enforcement to stop wielding their power selectively to target political opponents.
    “I want to reiterate first that the allegation that I disseminated a ‘Do Not Prosecute’ list was a fabrication.    Mr. Lutsenko, the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General, who made that allegation, has acknowledged that the list never existed.    Also untrue are unsourced allegations that I told unidentified embassy employees or Ukrainian officials that President Trump’s orders should be ignored because ‘he was going to be impeached’ or for any other reason.    I did not and would not say such a thing.” — Marie Yovanovitch, former Ukraine Ambassador
    Related: President Trump Questions Foreign Service Of Ousted Ambassador Yovanovitch Amid Impeachment Hearings

12/4/2019 President Trump, Macron disagree on Turkey’s role in NATO by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump meets with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during the NATO summit
at The Grove, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, in Watford, England. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump has criticized recent remarks made by President Emmanuel Macron of France, who said last month that NATO is ‘braindead.’
    “It’s a tough statement, though, when you make a statement like that,” he said.    “That is a very nasty statement to essentially 28 countries.”
    The two leaders spoke on the sidelines of Tuesday’s NATO summit in London, where they sought to work out disagreements over global security and the role of the alliance in Europe.    Although both presidents agreed to deepen mutual cooperation within NATO, Macron doubled down on his claim the alliance is facing its biggest threat from within.
    “When I look at Turkey, they now are fighting against those who fought with us, shoulder to shoulder against ISIS,” stated Macron.    “Sometimes they work with ISIS forces.”
    Last month, Macron said NATO failed to stop Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria. On Tuesday, the French president claimed Turkey’s actions may have encouraged the remnants of ISIS.    He added Ankara’s support for Syrian rebels may have also emboldened other terror elements linked to Al-Qaeda.
    Macron has also criticized Turkey’s purchase of Russian air defense systems, which he argued were incompatible with NATO’s technical standards.    President Trump acknowledged these challenges, but suggested a solution with Turkey would have to be more delicate and diplomatic.
    “I can only say we have a very good relationship with Turkey and with President Erdogan,” he said.    “I can’t speak for the president of France.”
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a media conference at the conclusion of a NATO leaders meeting at The Grove
hotel and resort in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
    Macron has been rallying NATO allies in hopes of pressuring Turkey to abandon its questionable activities.    He said he believes France alone can’t take a hard-line stance on Turkey, whose leader threatened to release millions of migrants from the Middle East into Europe if the EU criticized him too much.
    Thousands of migrants are already seeping through Turkey into Greece and Bosnia, which the UN said may spark humanitarian disasters in those countries.
    “You know that Turkey has a lot of refugees linked with the Syrian crisis,” stated President Macron.    “On this subject, we wish to continue to intensify our cooperation, which has been going on for years now.”
    Macron also said he and President Trump agreed NATO members must increase military spending and payments to the alliance.    The French president has warned that Turkey may take advantage of NATO to pursue reckless policies in the Middle East while enjoying protection by the alliance.
    France was not part of the NATO military structure between 1966 and 2009. President Trump said he believes France’s commitment to NATO may still be less than Turkey’s.
    “I do see France breaking off,” said the president.    “(President Macron) He needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off.”
    President Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been advancing the idea of a joint EU military, as well as an alternative system of European security that could include Russia.    Although the French president and President Trump agreed to work together and resolve all differences, recent talks left a sense of discord between two major NATO partners.

12/4/2019 France braces for major transportation strike amid unpopular pension reform by OAN Newsroom
A commuter watches an information board, at the Saint Lazare station, in Paris, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    France is bracing for a major strike of transportation workers, which could become the biggest in decades.    On Wednesday, authorities said they will deploy thousands of police officers to provide security during the protests, which are slated for Thursday.
    Thousands of workers in French airlines, railway companies and bus operations are planning walkouts and demonstrations against a proposed pension reform.
French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to replace the current retirement system with a “universal points-based system.”    Unions said the reform could reduce the disposable incomes of French households.
    “I’ll strike for three weeks if I have to, and I don’t have cash stashed in the bank – all I have is my salary as a railway worker,” stated CGT Union Rep. Patrick Belhadj.    “I’m fighting for my children and grandchildren, because what’s cooking for them is not the recipe for happy days.”
    French authorities are expecting hundreds of flights to be delayed or cancelled.    The Paris subway, local railways and bus routes could stop indefinitely.
In this photo taken Saturday Nov. 30, 2019, Gilles Pierre, right, a metro driver for the Paris public transport
company RATP, and Vincent Le Faucheur, 23, a train traffic controller for the national railway company SNCF pose at
the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris. France is getting ready for massive, nationwide transport strikes Thursday,
disrupting trains, buses and airlines, protesting against government plans to overhaul the state pension system. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

12/4/2019 Chicago Police Dept. employees accused of cover-up by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Nov. 7, 2019 file photo, Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks as Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson
announces his retirement after more than three years leading the department in Chicago. Mayor Lightfoot
fired Police Supt. Eddie Johnson Monday Dec. 2, 2019, due to his “ethical lapses.”(AP Photo/Teresa Crawford File)
    Several employees with the Chicago Police Department are under investigation for allegedly helping cover up for their former boss.
    Former superintendent Eddie Johnson was found asleep in his police car back in October.    He claimed he forgot to take his blood pressure medication and had a few drinks.
    However, after reviewing an inspector general’s report and video footage, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Johnson is not telling the truth.
    “Mr. Johnson failed the hardworking members of the Chicago Police Department,” stated Mayor
Lightfoot.    “He intentionally misled the people of Chicago and he intentionally misled me…none of that is acceptable.”
    It’s unclear exactly how the employees may have covered for Johnson.    The Chicago Sun Times reported the cover up took place the night Johnson was found in his car, as well as the next day.
    The officers who found Johnson in his car did not administer a sobriety test and allowed him to drive home alone that evening.
    Security footage reportedly showed Johnson with a woman he recently promoted kissing.
FILE – In this March 26, 2019, file photo, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson speaks during a news conference in Chicago.
When fellow officers discovered Johnson asleep behind the wheel of his running SUV, they did not conduct any sobriety tests and let their boss
drive home, a decision that has thrown a spotlight on what happens when one officer confronts another on patrol. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File)
    The mayor has declined to provide specifics.    However, the evidence she was presented with prompted her to fire Johnson this week, weeks before he was scheduled to retire.
    Johnson expressed regret and has taken full responsibility for his actions.
    “These stars can sometimes feel like carrying the weight of the world,” he said.    “But I’m confident that I leave CPD in a better place than when I became superintendent.”
    The investigation remains ongoing. Meanwhile, Johnson’s successor has already taken over his official duties.
[Maybe that was why he missed Trumps meeting with the policemen conference in Chicago?].

12/5/2019 Oil up $2.33 to $58.43, DOW up 147 to 27,650.

12/5/2019 Striking unions cripple France in stand-off with Macron by Sybille de La Hamaide and Richard Lough
A protester holds a banner which reads "pensions" during a demonstration against French government's pensions reform plans
in Nice as part of a day of national strike and protests in France, December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
    PARIS (Reuters) – Railway workers, teachers and emergency room medics launched one of the biggest public sector strikes in France for decades on Thursday, determined to force President Emmanuel Macron to abandon plans to overhaul France’s generous pension system.
    Transport networks in Paris and cities across France ground to a near halt as unions dug in for a protest that threatens to paralyze France for days and poses the severest challenge to Macron’s reform agenda since “yellow vest” protests erupted.
    Railway and metro stations in Paris were largely deserted during the early rush hour as commuters dusted off old bicycles, turned to carpooling rides or worked from home.
    “What we’ve got to do is shut the economy down,” Christian Grolier, a senior official from the hard-left Force Ouvriere union, told Reuters.    “People are spoiling for a fight.”
    Airport workers, truck drivers, police and garbage collectors and others are all expected to join the strike at a time of widespread discontent towards Macron’s drive to make France’s economy more competitive and cut public spending.
    Macron wants to simplify France’s unwieldy pension system, which comprises more than 40 different plans, many with different retirement ages and benefits.    Macron says the system is unfair and too costly.
    He wants a single, points-based system under which for each euro contributed, every pensioner has equal rights.
    The battle between Macron and the unions for public support will be pivotal to the strike’s success.    An Opinion poll last month showed almost half of all French opposed the reform.
    “For 30 years successive governments have tried to bring reform and fail because the unions cripple the country,” said 56-year-old cafe owner Isabelle Guibal.    “People can work around it today and tomorrow, but next week people may get annoyed.”
STREET PROTESTS
    Before sunrise, riot police erected barriers in streets surrounding the president and prime minister’s offices and searched the bags of pedestrians along the Champs Elysees boulevard, ahead of a day of street protests which the government has warned may be infiltrated by violent groups.
    Protesters will march from the capital’s Gare du Nord to Place de la Nation in the afternoon.
    Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said thousands of anarchist “black bloc” and hardcore “yellow vest” protesters were expected to wreak havoc.    He ordered shops along the route to close. Some 6,000 police will be deployed, including dozens of rapid-response officers on motorbikes.
    The SNCF state railway said only one in 10 commuter and high-speed TGV trains would run.    Train operators Eurostar and Thalys have canceled services linking Paris with London and Brussels.    The civil aviation authority asked airlines to cancel 20% of flights because of knock-on effects from the strike.
    In southern France, protesters blocked at least one oil facility.    Power output was down at two coal-burning power plants and one gas plant as some energy workers walked out, though there were no impact on nuclear output, grid operator RTE said.
    Past attempts at pension reform have ended badly.    Former president Jacques Chirac’s conservative government in 1995 caved into union demands after weeks of crippling protests.
    For Macron, this week’s showdown with strikers will set the tone for the second half of his mandate, with more difficult reforms to come, including to unemployment benefits.
(Reporting by Caroline Pailliez, Geert de Clercq, Sybille de La Hamaide, Marine Pennetier and Richard Lough; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Christian Lowe)

12/5/2019 Explainer: What’s at stake in Macron’s reform of France’s cherished pensions? by Leigh Thomas
A placard is pictured on an electronic ticket checkpoint and access gate at the Gare du Nord railway station during a strike by
French SNCF railway workers as part of a day of national strike and protests against French government's pensions reform
plans, in Paris, France, December 5, 2019. The placard reads: National interprofessional strike. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – French public sector workers began a nationwide strike on Thursday over Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform France’s generous pension system, in the biggest challenge to the president since “yellow vest” protests erupted last year.
    Railway workers, teachers and emergency room medics were among those joining the industrial action, which threatens to paralyze France for days.    Some private sector workers also went on strike over the pension reforms.
    Here is what’s at stake:
WHAT DOES MACRON’S PENSION REFORM AIM TO DO?
    Macron wants to set up a single points-based pension system in which each day worked earns points for a worker’s future pension benefits.
    That would mark a big break from the existing set-up with 42 different sector-specific pension schemes, each with different levels of contributions and benefits.    Rail workers, mariners and Paris Opera House ballet dancers can retire up to a decade earlier than the average worker.
    Currently pension benefits are based on a worker’s 25 highest earning years in the private sector and the last six months in the public sector.
    The president says a points-based system would be fairer and simpler.    It would also put pension funding on a sounder footing as the population ages.
    At 14% of economic output, French spending on public pensions is among the highest in the world.    An independent pension committee forecast the system would run a deficit of more than 17 billion euros ($18.74 billion), 0.7% of GDP, by 2025 if nothing is done.
WHAT ABOUT THE RETIREMENT AGE?
    Polls show the French are deeply attached to keeping the official retirement age at 62, which is among the lowest in OECD countries.     Public workers who do arduous or dangerous jobs, such as mariners, can leave years earlier.
    Macron says the French are going to have to work longer, but is shying away from simply raising the retirement age.     One idea is to keep the 62-year limit, but rein in benefits for those who leave the labor force before 64 and give a benefits boost to those who leave afterwards.
    However, the president has indicated he would prefer to focus on the duration of a worker’s career rather than the age at which they stop working.
WHAT IS THE UNIONS’ PROBLEM WITH THE REFORM?
    Public sector unions fret that their workers will come out worse because under the current system the state makes up for the chronic shortfall between contributions and payouts in the sector.
    Unions also worry they will lose their say on contributions and benefits under a centrally managed points-based system.
    They are eager to show they are still relevant after Macron pushed through an easing of the labor code and reform of the state-run SNCF rail operator despite their opposition earlier in his presidency.
IS THERE ROOM FOR COMPROMISE?
    Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has indicated concessions could be made on when the reform takes effect.
    He said he favors a compromise between “an immediate and brutal transition” that would make the reforms applicable to people born after 1963, and a “grandfathering” clause that would impact only people entering the labor market from 2025.
    But Philippe says the government will not back down on creating a points-based system, one of Macron’s core election promises.
    France’s biggest union, the reform-minded, moderate CFDT, is open to the idea of a points-based system.    The hardline CGT and Force Ouvriere unions, which unlike the CFDT are strongest in the public sector, reject the reform outright and are digging in for a long, hard fight.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Richard Lough and Gareth Jones)

12/5/2019 Gazing into the recession crystal ball by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Megan Davies
FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers are loaded onto a ship at Yusen Terminals (YTI) on Terminal Island at
the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – The protracted trade war between China and the United States and a deteriorating global growth outlook have left investors nervous that the longest expansion in American history is at risk of ending.
    Recession fears were sparked earlier this year when the yield curve inverted – a key indicator of a pending downturn.
    An inverted yield curve occurs when yields on short-term bonds are higher than those on long-term bonds, a sign investors are so worried about the future that they are willing to hold long-term bonds, which are usually viewed as a safer alternative to stocks and other investments, even when the payouts are low.
    While concerns have eased, an economic rebound is not expected any time soon, according to a recent Reuters poll of economists, and pockets of the economy and markets which are causing concern.    Slowdowns were seen in manufacturing and private payrolls data out this week.
    A recent report from S&P Global Ratings pegs the chance of a U.S. recession over the next 12 months from 25%-30%, versus 30-35% in August.
    S&P Global’s recession probability model: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9521/9433/Pasted%20Image.jpg
    Here are some indicators that investors watch for signs of economic health:
1. THE YIELD CURVE
    When the spread between the yield on the 3-month Treasury bill and that of the 10-year Treasury note slips below zero, as it did earlier this year, it points to investors accepting a lower yield for locking money up for a longer period of time.
    That gauge has a solid track record as a predictor of recessions.    But it can take as long as two years for a recession to follow a yield curve inversion.    While the inverted yield curve reverted to normal in October, that does not mean that the economy is out of the woods.    On the contrary, such a return to normalcy after an inversions is an oft-repeated pattern before a recession.
    Yield curve as a predictor of recessions: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9392/9304/Pasted%20Image.jpg
2. THE SAHM RULE
    The newly minted Sahm Rule identifies signals related to the start of a recession when the three-month moving average of the national unemployment rate rises by 0.50 percentage point or more relative to its low during the previous 12 months.
    Devised by Federal Reserve economist and consumer section chief Claudia Sahm, the rule aims to flag the onset of recession more quickly than the current process that formally dates business cycles.    It is currently well below the level of concern, at just -0.03 percentage point.
    The Sahm Rule: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9513/9425/Pasted%20Image.jpg
3. UNEMPLOYMENT
    The U.S. unemployment rate and initial jobless claims ticked higher just ahead of or in the early days of the last two recessions before rising sharply.    Currently, the U.S. unemployment rate is near a 50-year low.
    Investors will be watching claims over the coming months for signs that simmering trade tensions, which have dimmed the economy’s outlook, are spilling over to the labor market.
    Unemployment rate: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9394/9306/Pasted%20Image.jpg
4. GDP OUTPUT GAP
    The output gap is the difference between actual and potential economic output and is used to gauge the health of the economy.
    A positive output gap, like the one that exists now, indicates the economy is operating above its potential.    Typically the economy operates furthest below its potential at the end of recessions and peaks above its potential toward the end of expansions.
    The GDP output gap has fallen before recessions: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9395/9307/Pasted%20Image.jpg
5. CONSUMER CONFIDENCE
    Consumer demand is a critical driver of the U.S. economy, and historically consumer confidence wanes during downturns.    Currently consumer confidence is near cyclical highs.
    Consumer confidence is at a cyclical high: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9396/9308/Pasted%20Image.jpg
6. STOCK MARKETS
    Falling equity markets can signal a recession is looming or has already started to take hold.    Markets turned down before the 2001 recession and tumbled at the start of the 2008 recession.
    On a 12-month rolling basis, the benchmark S&P 500 index <.SPX> has turned down ahead of the last two recessions.    The 12-month rolling average percentage move recently hit a more than one-year high.
    The S&P 500 has fallen during recessions: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9397/9309/Pasted%20Image.jpg
7. BOOM-BUST BAROMETER
    The Boom-Bust Barometer, devised by Ed Yardeni at Yardeni Research, measures spot prices of industrial inputs like copper, steel and lead scrap, and divides that by initial unemployment claims.    The measure fell before or during the last two recessions and has retreated from a peak hit in April.
    The Boom-Bust Barometer: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9398/9310/Pasted%20Image.jpg
8. HOUSING MARKET
    Housing starts and building permits have fallen ahead of some recent recessions.    U.S. homebuilding rebounded in October and permits for future home construction jumped to a more than 12-year high, pointing to strength in the housing market amid lower mortgage rates.
    Housing starts have fallen before prior recessions: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9399/9311/Pasted%20Image.jpg
9. MANUFACTURING
    Given the manufacturing sector’s diminished role in the U.S. economy, the clout of the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index as a predictor of U.S. GDP growth has slipped in recent years.    However, it is still worth watching, especially in the event of an extended period of readings below the 50 level, which indicates contraction.
    U.S. factory activity contracted for a fourth straight month in November as new orders slumped to around their lowest level since 2012.
    ISM Manufacturing Index: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9400/9312/Pasted%20Image.jpg
10. EARNINGS
    S&P 500 earnings growth dipped ahead of the last recession.    Currently earnings estimates for S&P 500 companies have been coming down.
    Earnings have struggled this year after last year’s tax-fueled gains and on worries about the U.S.-China trade war, but many strategists think the third or fourth quarter will be the trough for the current cycle.
    Earnings fell during the last recession: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9516/9428/Pasted%20Image.jpg
11. HIGH-YIELD SPREADS
    Credit spreads – the premium investors are paid above the yield on safer U.S. Treasuries to hold the riskier securities – typically widen when the perceived risk of default rises.
    Investors are now pulling out of the riskiest U.S. corporate debt amid concerns about leverage levels as the economy slows.    The spread of triple-C-rated bonds are at a three-year high of 11.44% as measured by the ICE BofA CCC and lower U.S. high-yield index < .MERH0A3>.
    Credit spreads: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9458/9370/Pasted%20Image.jpg
(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Leslie Adler)

12/5/2019 >President Trump: Pelosi just had a nervous fit by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump attends a luncheon with members of the United Nations Security Council in the
Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    President Trump said Nancy Pelosi “just had a nervous fit” after she announced Democrats would be moving forward with articles of impeachment.    He made the comment in a tweet Thursday, where he also pointed out that there will soon be 182 new judges.    He went on to praise the stock market as well as employment records under his presidency.
    Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the Democrats impeachment push “political theater.”    He criticized Nancy Pelosi Thursday, saying she’s more focused on a partisan inquiry rather than the needs of Americans.
    The Kentucky lawmaker pointed out that as Democrats hold impeachment hearings, the U.S. military is going unfunded and a major trade deal is not being passed.    The majority leader also said while they wait on Democrats to move legislation forward, the senate is confirming more of President Trump’s judicial nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., addresses community members at the dedication of a
Recovery Community Center in Manchester, Ky., Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
    Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale also slammed Democrats for continuing to pursue impeachment with less than a year left before the 2020 election.    Parscale said this has always been Democrats’ goal and the so-called “swamp” would be exposed during a Senate trial.
[Of course she hates Trump just as all the other Democrats do because he is winning and they are not eventhough they think they are in denial because the hate is blocking their logical mind.    And as you see below they are desperate and if that is not hate I do not know what else it could be in such a desperate move.]

12/5/2019 House Democrats will move forward with articles of impeachment by OAN Newsroom
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives to make a statement at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. Pelosi
announced that the House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are moving forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump. She made the announcement on Capitol Hill Thursday, where she claimed democracy is at stake.
    The speaker thanked the committees for their investigations and claimed the facts are uncontested.    She stuck to her main talking point, which is that the president abused his power for his own personal political benefit.    Pelosi also claimed the president’s actions are a violation of the Constitution as well as a violation of public trust.
    Meanwhile, President Trump is encouraging Democrats to get their impeachment inquiry over with, so he can get better treatment in the Senate.    In a series of tweets Thursday, the president urged promptness for a fair trial because he wants lawmakers to get back to business.    He then listed potential witnesses, which included top Democrats who are involved in the proceedings.
    This comes as the White House responded to the most recent impeachment hearing by calling it a “bad day for Democrats.”    In a statement Wednesday, Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham slammed the first day of testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee.    She implied the hearing was a “sham process,” adding that the only thing established was clear political bias against the president.
    Grisham went on to say Congress should get back to focusing on issues important to the American people such as the USMCA trade deal and infrastructure.    This comes after four legal scholars, three selected by Democrats and one selected by Republicans, testified on Capitol Hill.
George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley listens to Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan testify
during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump,
on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman, is left. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

12/5/2019 Rep. Lesko sends letter to Nadler asking to cancel future impeachment hearings by OAN Newsroom
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., left, gives his closing statement as ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.,
listens during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the constitutional grounds for the impeachment. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    According to Arizona congresswoman Debbie Lesko, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler is violating his own guidelines for impeachment.    On Wednesday, Lesko sent a letter to Nadler asking him to cancel any upcoming hearings.
    The Republican lawmaker said the current inquiry into President Trump violates Nadler’s own standards for proceedings.    Lesko cited a 2018 interview in which he laid out his three requirements for impeachment.
    “Chairman Nadler, along with the rest of the Democratic caucus, is prepared to continue these entirely partisan, unfair proceedings and traumatize the American people all for a political purpose,” Lesko stated.    “I think that’s a shame — that’s not leadership, that’s a sham.”
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., talks during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the constitutional grounds for
the impeachment of President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    During Wednesday’s hearing, Lesko argued none of these requirements had been met.    She said cancelling any future impeachment hearings would be beneficial to focusing on issues that really matter.

12/5/2019 U.S. China trade talks stall as deadline for $156B worth of tariffs approaches by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Trucks hauling shipping containers drive near containers stacked five-high at a terminal on
Harbor Island in Seattle. The U.S. and China are trying to finalize a modest trade agreement to deescalate
a trade war that has rattled financial markets and hobbled global economic growth. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
    U.S. China trade talks appear to be at a standstill.    On Thursday, a spokesman for the Chinese Commerce Ministry said trade teams from both sides are in communication, however, there are no more details to disclose.<
    This comes ahead of a looming December 15th deadline in which another round of tariffs targeting approximately $156 billion of Chinese imports are slated to go into effect.    Trade teams are said to be working on a ‘phase one’ deal with China pushing for U.S. tariffs to be lowered if a deal is reached.
    “The Chinese side believes that if the two sides reach a ‘phase one’ deal, tariffs should be lowered accordingly,’" stated Chinese spokesperson Gao Feng.    “Trade teams from both sides have been maintaining close communication.”
    Moving forward, trade teams are reportedly working to overcome a few unidentified “core issues of concern.”    Meanwhile, President Trump commented on trade discussions during a press conference at the NATO summit in London.

12/5/2019 U.S. cracks down on Russian ‘Evil Corp’ hackers after $100 million spree by Andy Sullivan and Raphael Satter
FILE PHOTO: A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration
picture taken on March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. authorities on Thursday took aim at a Russian cybercriminal group known as Evil Corp, indicting its Lamborghini-driving alleged leader and ordering asset freezes against 17 of his associates over a digital crime spree that has netted more than $100 million from companies across the world.
    The action against Evil Corp., described by officials as one of the most damaging criminal organizations on the internet, comes with a $5 million bounty issued for information leading to the arrest of its alleged leader, Maksim Yakubets.
    British authorities described the 32-year-old Yakubets as a supercar-lover who customized his Lamborghini license plate to read “Thief” in Russian and ran his operation from the basements of Moscow cafes.
    “Yakubets is a true 21st century criminal,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said.    “He’s earned his place on the FBI’s list of the world’s most wanted cyber criminals.”
    Evil Corp is alleged to be behind an ever-evolving family of malicious software known Dridex, which has bedeviled banks and businesses since it first appeared in 2011.    The malware works by hacking into banks and businesses and making rogue financial transfers that are eventually funneled back to the hackers.    It has since also branched out into ransomware.
    Underlining alleged links between cybercriminals and the Russian state, U.S. Treasury officials said Yakubets worked on the side for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), its domestic intelligence agency, and stole classified material on Moscow’s behalf.    One senior U.S. Treasury official said he had even applied to the FSB for a license last year to handle secret documents.
    Even so, the FBI’s Bowdich said the Russian government had been “helpful to a point” in their request to track the hackers down.    Bowdich and other U.S. officials declined to comment on whether either of the two men had links to the Russian government.    The FSB did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment sent after hours in Russia on Thursday.
    Dridex targeted smaller businesses and organizations that lacked the sophisticated cyberdefenses of larger organizations, U.S. officials said.
    Though the indictments only mentioned incidents in Nebraska and Pennsylvania, victims spanned the United States – including a dairy company in Ohio, a luggage company in New Mexico and a religious order in Nebraska, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich told a news conference.
    Losses totaled $70 million in the United States alone, officials said.
    The crackdown straddled the world of cybercrime and intelligence.    The U.S. Treasury and Justice Departments worked in coordination with Britain’s National Crime Agency, which published a series of photographs and video of the hacker’s lavish, devil-may-care lifestyle that featured pictures of his camoflaged car streaked with florescent yellow.
    The director general of the British agency, Lynne Owens, said that Yakubets and Evil Corp “represent the most significant cyber crime threat to the U.K.,” a sentiment endorsed by John Shier, an expert at U.K.-based cybersecurity company Sophos.
    “I’d put them in the top tier,” he said of the group’s operators.
    American and British companies were targets of choice, according to U.S. Treasury officials, but they said France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, India and Malaysia were also badly affected.
    In addition to Yakubets, his close associate Igor Turashev, 38, was also indicted in the United States on Thursday for allegedly serving as the group’s technical administrator. U.K. authorities say they have already arrested and convicted eight other members of the network.
    Reuters could not immediately locate contact details for Yakubets and Turashev, who have not been arrested and are believed to be still at large.
    This is at least the second major effort by American authorities and their allies to bring down Evil Corp – whose eye-catching name appears to be more of nickname than a formal company.    A 2015 indictment also charged Yakubets and Turashev with a series of fraud and hacking crimes, but they were never arrested and – following a brief disruption – Dridex went right back to stealing money.
    Shier, of Sophos, said that Thursday’s attempt appeared to be more robust – but he doubted that Yakubets would ever see justice.
    “What are the chances this guy is going to face trial in the United States?” he said.    “Probably next to zero.”
    Even so, officials described the charges as an important step that strips the hackers of their anonymity and makes it more difficult for them to travel internationally.
    Benczkowski, head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said the group was carrying out crimes as recently as May.    “It is fair to say they are not out of business at this point,” he said.    “But that is our ultimate goal.”
(Reporting by Raphael Satter and Andy Sullivan; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Jack Stubbs in London, Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert in Washington, Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow; and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Alistair Bell)

12/5/2019 French police fire tear gas at strikers challenging Macron reform by Sybille de La Hamaide and Marine Pennetier
A man rides an electric unicycle next to bicycles for rent in a street of Lille during a strike
by French transportation workers, as part of a day of national strike and protests against
French government's pensions reform plans, France, December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
    PARIS (Reuters) – Police fired tear gas at protesters in the center of Paris on Thursday and public transport ground to a near halt in one of the biggest strikes in France for decades, aimed at forcing President Emmanuel Macron to ditch a planned reform of pensions.
    The strike pits Macron, a 41-year-old former investment banker who came to power in 2017 on a promise to open up France’s highly regulated economy, against powerful trade unions who say he is set on dismantling worker protections.
    The outcome depends on who blinks first – the unions who risk losing public support if the disruption goes on for too long, or the government which fears voters could side with the unions and blame officials for the standoff.
    “People can work around it today and tomorrow, but next week people may get annoyed,” said 56-year-old cafe owner Isabelle Guibal.
    Rail workers voted to extend their strike through Friday, while labor unions at the Paris bus and metro operator RATP said their walkout would continue until Monday.
    Trade unions achieved their initial objective on Thursday, as workers at transport enterprises, schools and hospitals across France joined the strike.    In Paris, commuters had to dust off old bicycles, rely on car pooling apps, or just stay at home.    The Eiffel Tower had to close to visitors.
    On Thursday afternoon, tens of thousands of union members marched through the center of the capital in a show of force.
    Trouble erupted away from the main protest when people in masks and dressed in black ransacked a bus stop near the Place de la Republique, ripped up street furniture, smashed shop windows and threw fireworks at police.
    Police in riot gear responded by firing tear gas, Reuters witnesses said.    Nearby, police used truncheons to defend themselves from black-clad protesters who rushed at them.    Prosecutors said, in all, 57 people were detained.
    Macron wants to simplify France’s unwieldy pension system, which comprises more than 40 different plans, many with different retirement ages and benefits.    Rail workers, mariners and Paris Opera House ballet dancers can retire up to a decade earlier than the average worker.
    Macron says the system is unfair and too costly.    He wants a single, points-based system under which for each euro contributed, every pensioner has equal rights.
PRESIDENT’S SWAGGER
    Macron has already survived one major challenge to his rule, from the grassroots “Yellow Vest” protesters who earlier this year clashed with police and blocked roads around France for weeks on end.
    Having emerged from that crisis, he carries himself with a swagger on the world stage, publicly upbraiding U.S. President Donald Trump this week over his approach to the NATO alliance and counter-terrorism.
    But the pension reform – on which polls show French people evenly split between supporters and opponents – is fraught with risk for him as it chips away at social protections many in France believe are at the heart of their national identity.
    “People are spoiling for a fight,” Christian Grolier, a senior official from the hard-left Force Ouvriere union which is helping organize the strike, told Reuters.
    The SNCF state railway said only one in 10 high-speed TGV trains would run and police reported power cables on the line linking Paris and the Riviera had been vandalized.    The civil aviation authority asked airlines to cancel 20% of flights because of knock-on effects from the strike.
    Past attempts at pension reform have ended badly for the authorities.    Former president Jacques Chirac’s conservative government in 1995 caved into union demands after weeks of crippling protests.
(Reporting by Caroline Pailliez, Geert de Clercq, Sybille de La Hamaide, Marine Pennetier, Laurence Frost in paris and Guillaume Frouin in Nantes; Writing by Richard Lough and Christian Lowe; Editing by Gareth Jones)

12/5/2019 WH aide denies being backchannel to president on Ukraine matters by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump walks to Marine One after speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the
White House before departing, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    A top White House official is denying claims he operated as an “unofficial backchannel” for the president on all things Ukraine.    During a Thursday interview with CBS, special assistant to the president Kash Patel said he’s never discussed Ukraine with President Trump in any capacity.
    His remarks run counter to Fiona Hill’s impeachment testimony, which claimed a top aide had discussed reaching out to Patel.    The special assistant came under further scrutiny after phone records showed he spoke to Rudy Giuliani just before the military funding package to Ukraine was reportedly suspended.
    Patel said the call was personal and did not touch on the Ukraine investigation.
    “That was a personal conversation that I was delighted to have with the former mayor of NYC, where I grew up, and we discussed personal things,” he said.
    Patel went on to suggest the allegations against him may have been started by the FBI.    He said he previously wrote a memo that questioned the legality of the bureau’s move to obtain warrants to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

12/5/2019 French protesters, police clash on first day of transportation workers strike by OAN Newsroom
Riot police officers secure an area during a demonstration in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    Violent clashes erupted between police and protesters in France after transportation workers initiated a nationwide strike on Thursday. Tens of thousands of people rallied in Paris, Lyon and other cities to denounce the pension reform proposed by President Emmanuel Macron.
    Subway drivers, customs officers and railway workers took to the streets, along with members of the ‘yellow vests’ movement.
    Protesters said the proposed reform would reduce their retirement benefits.
    “I am not afraid of the pension reform.    It’s an issue we have to speak about, but now as we see with the protest — I have never seen one of such scale — that the people are unanimously against the reform.    And even I’m not sure if I can benefit from a full pension when I retire.” — Francois Schallebaum, Customs Officer with Gare Du Nord Station
    Demonstrators argued the proposed pension overhaul would benefit employers at the expense of workers’ rights.    They said the strike will continue for as long as it takes for the government to scrap the proposed reform.
Youths throw items at police forces during a demonstration in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.
Small groups of protesters are smashing store windows, setting fires and hurling flares
in eastern Paris amid mass strikes over the government’s retirement reform. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    President Macron is expected to replace the current retirement system with a “universal points-based system.” Unions said the reform could reduce the disposable incomes of French households.
    “I’ll strike for three weeks if I have to, and I don’t have cash stashed in the bank – all I have is my salary as a railway worker,” stated CGT Union Rep. Patrick Belhadj.    “I’m fighting for my children and grandchildren, because what’s cooking for them is not the recipe for happy days.”
    French authorities are expecting hundreds of flights to be delayed or cancelled.    The Paris subway, local railways and bus routes could stop indefinitely.

12/5/2019 Biden snaps at Iowa voter over Ukraine question by OAN Newsroom
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to local residents during
a bus tour stop, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Mason City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
    2020 hopeful Joe Biden snapped at a voter who confronted him about his family’s dealings in Ukraine while on the campaign trail.    The former vice president was speaking to a group of people in Iowa on Thursday when a man stood up to ask him a few questions.
    The retired farmer pressed Biden on his mental and physical ability to be president, suggesting Biden was too old for the position.    He then accused Biden of sending his son Hunter to Ukraine to gain access to the nation’s ex-president, drawing a comparison to the allegations against President Trump.
    The pressure didn’t sit well with Biden, which prompted him to give a heated response to the voter.
    “You’re a damn liar, man,” said the former vice president.    “That’s not true and no one has ever said that.”
    Biden went on to defend why he’s running for president and challenged the voter to a push-up contest.
    “The reason I’m running is because I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people know,” he said.    “I can get things done.”
    Despite reoccurring questions about his family’s business ties to Ukraine, Biden has refused to testify before Congress.
[Obviously denying the truth, Joe Biden is afraid to deal with the truth of his Quid Pro Quo in Ukraine and his son Hunter getting a inprobable unusual job at Burmisa as he goes into denial even though all this is on video and pictures but he will have to answer if the Impeachment goes to the Senate and under oath with evidence seen by all Americans for the first time.].

12/6/2019 Oil UNCH to $58.43, DOW up 28 to 27,678.

12/6/2019 Pelosi: We must act now - Speaker authorizes articles of impeachment by Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Congress had to act in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump because of his failure to faithfully execute the law, a phrase that echoed the reasoning for the Declaration of Independence from England.
    “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.    “The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution.”
    “Today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” she added.
    Meanwhile, Trump invited House Democrats to impeach him quickly so that he could get past the Senate trial and “get back to business.”    He tweeted after Pelosi’s statement that “Radical Left Democrats” were seeking “to Impeach me over NOTHING.”    Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and it would take a two-thirds majority to vote to remove Trump.
    Stephanie Grisham, a White House spokeswoman, said in a tweet that Trump had done nothing but lead the country in a booming economy with more jobs and a stronger military.
    “We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate,” Grisham said.
    The clash between leaders of two of the three branches of government came after a daylong hearing Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee.    A trio of law professors said Trump had committed impeachable offenses by urging Ukraine to investigate his political rival while withholding a meeting and nearly $400 million in military aid.    Pelosi recited the history of the reasoning behind impeachment, which the professors testified about during the hearing.
    A 300-page report Tuesday from three other panels that investigated Trump’s dealings with Ukraine found that the “evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress.”
    The House Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing Monday for Intelligence Committee staffers to present the report’s findings to the panel.
    “President Trump placed his own personal and political interests above our national interest, above the security of our country, and most importantly above our most precious right: the ability of each and every one of us to participate in fair elections, free of corruption,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said to close the hearing.    “The Constitution has a solution for a president who places his personal or political interests above those of the nation – the power of impeachment.”
    Pelosi said the House wouldn’t wait for federal court decisions in order to deal with Trump’s misconduct, after the president said he would fight all subpoenas and directed top administration officials not to testify in the inquiry.    One case pending in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals deals with the enforcement of a subpoena that former White House counsel Don McGahn defied.
    “We’re not going to be accomplices to his obstruction of justice,” Pelosi said.
    But Pelosi declined to comment about which issues the six committees that have investigated Trump since Democrats regained control of the House in January – Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means – might pursue for articles of impeachment.
    “My chairmen will be making recommendations,” Pelosi said.
    House Minority Leader Kevin Mc-Carthy, R-Calif., suggested Thursday that a vote in the full House could reject articles of impeachment.    The House vote that approved rules for the impeachment inquiry featured two Democrats joining all Republicans in opposition.
    “I am more confident that the bipartisan vote on impeachment that comes to the floor will be no,” McCarthy said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responds to a question about whether she hates President Donald Trump.
I don’t hate anybody,” says Pelosi, who added she prays for the president. SHAWN THEW/EPA-EFE

12/6/2019 Transport chaos as strike against Macron reforms enters day two by Bate Felix and Tangi Salaün
French SNCF railway employees are seen near tracks to provide assistance for passangers at the Gare de Lyon
railway station in Paris as a strike by French SNCF railway workers and French transportation workers continue
to protest against French government's pensions reform plans in France, December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
    PARIS (Reuters) – France faced a second day of travel chaos and understaffed schools and hospitals on Friday as unions said there would be no let-up in a strike against Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms until the president backed down.
    Much of France ground to a halt on Thursday as transport workers went on strike – joined by teachers, doctors, police, firemen and civil servants.    Smoke and tear gas swirled through the streets of Paris and Nantes as protests turned violent.
    The strike pits Macron, a 41-year-old former investment banker who took office in 2017 on a promise of opening up France’s highly regulated economy, against powerful unions who say he is set on dismantling worker protections.
    There were cancellations of rush-hour trains into Paris on Friday and 10 out of 16 metro lines were closed while others ran limited services.    As commuters took to their cars, traffic jams totaling 350 km clogged the roads in and around the capital, according to traffic app Styadin.
    Rail workers extended their strike through Friday, while unions at the Paris bus and metro operator RATP said their walkout would continue until Monday.
    “We’re going to protest for a week at least, and at the end of that week it’s the government that’s going to back down,” said 50-year-old Paris transport employee Patrick Dos Santos.
    The main trade unions were to meet on Friday morning to decide the next course of action.
    The outcome depends on who blinks first – the unions who risk losing public support if the disruption goes on for too long, or the president whose two-and-a-half years in office have been rocked by waves of social unrest.
NOISE IN THE STREETS
    Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said deep reform was needed to put the generous pension system on a sustainable footing.    Fewer teachers were expected to strike on Friday, he said.
    “It would be much easier for us to do nothing, like others before us,” Blanquer told BFM TV.    “We could see through this five-year term without enacting deep reform.    But if every presidency reasons in this way, our children will not have an acceptable pension system.”
    The industrial action on Thursday brought tens of thousands of protesters into the streets in Paris and forced the closure of the Eiffel Tower and parts of the Louvre Museum.
    Union leaders were buoyed by the number of healthcare staff, railway workers and teachers who heeded the strike call, and by the numbers who showed up at an anti-government march in Paris and other French cities.
    “There’s a noise in the streets, I hope the windows of the Elysee are open,” said Philippe Martinez, secretary-general of the CGT union, referring to the president’s office.
    Macron wants to simplify the unwieldy pension system, which comprises more than 40 different plans.    Rail workers and mariners can for instance retire up to a decade earlier than the average worker.
    Macron says the system is unfair and too costly and that the French will have to work longer, though he appears reluctant to simply raise the retirement age of 62.
    The French will have to work longer, the president insists, but appears reluctant to simply raise the retirement age of 62.    One alternative is to curb benefits for those who stop working before 64 and give a benefits boost to those who leave later.
(Additional reporting by Simon Carraud and Sophie Louet; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Richard Lough and Alison Williams)

12/6/2019 GOP senators urge House to speed up drafting articles of impeachment, claim it’s a ‘hijacked’ process by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., speaks to reporters after final votes,
at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
    Republican senators are calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to speed up impeachment proceedings in the lower chamber.    In a series of statements Thursday, Senate Republicans slammed Pelosi’s decision to draft articles of impeachment and claimed it’s a “hijacked” process.    They urged House lawmakers to move impeachment to the Senate because the say the upper chamber would provide an impartial review of the matter.     Republican senators also named likely witnesses in their impeachment hearings.
    “I do think I think that there is an increasing need for Chairman Schiff to have to testify, those kinds of decisions will be up to the president’s attorneys to make,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).    “I certainly wouldn’t oppose calling chairman Schiff…I wouldn’t oppose calling the whistleblower if some sort of anonymity is required, although I’m not sure that it is.”
    GOP senators have suggested they could also call Joe and Hunter Biden as well as top Obama administration officials to testify on U.S. corruption in Ukraine.
Ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., argues with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.,
after the hearing ended on the constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump,
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Doug Collins slammed House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler by suggesting he does not know “what’s going on” with the impeachment proceedings.    While taking to Twitter Thursday, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee said Nadler told him to “provide him his list of witnesses" this week.
    At a press conference earlier in the day, however, Speaker Pelosi said the House will begin drafting impeachment articles against President Trump.    This move prompted Collins to suggest Nadler is disengaged from the entire process.

12/6/2019 Texas congressmen call for Pelosi to put USMCA up for vote in Congress by OAN Newsroom
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stands during a news conference on climate change
at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    GOP lawmakers in Texas are urging Congress to pass President Trump’s long-awaited replacement to NAFTA.    On Thursday, over a dozen representatives called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the USMCA to a vote.    They warned that sitting on the bill any further would damage the state’s economy.
    “We believe that no state will gain more from this new agreement than Texas and no state has more to lose if it doesn’t pass than our state, which is why we believe there should be unanimous support for this agreement from Texas lawmakers here in Congress,” stated Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas).
    Mexico’s Senate already approved the pact in June, however, Pelosi and House Democrats have kept the deal held-up over their demands for greater labor and environmental protections.    Nonetheless, Pelosi said last month the deal is moving forward and she expects it to pass through the House by the end of the year.
    “I’d like to see us get it done this year, I mean, that would be my goal,” she claimed.    “I don’t imagine that it would take much more in the Senate to pass.”
    However, some lawmakers now fear that prospect is unlikely given that Congress is scheduled to adjourn for winter recess next week.    Texas lawmakers still remain hopeful the deal can pass to the Senate before January.    They have said it would greatly benefit farmers and manufacturers across the state, and that the importance of the bill transcends partisan politics.
File – Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, speaks at a news conference. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
    “This is not a Democrat issue, this isn’t a Republican issue — this is an American issue,” stated Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas).    “This is good for all of them, and the best thing that the folks in this Capitol Building behind me could do is to give the American people the USMCA as a Christmas present.”
    Once it passes through the House, the bill is unlikely to face very much opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate.    So far, Mexico is the only country to have already signed the deal.

12/6/2019 President Trump, First Lady light National Christmas Tree outside White House by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump light the National Christmas tree,
Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    President Trump and First Lady Melania lit the National Christmas Tree outside the White House, while participating in the century old tradition at the nation’s capitol Thursday night.
    This year’s National Christmas Tree stands at 30 feet tall, features over 50,000 lights, and is surrounded by 56 smaller trees decorated with ornaments from every U.S. state.
    President Trump addressed the crowd during the yearly ceremony, wishing every American a Merry Christmas.
    The tree lighting also featured musical performances from Jessie James Decker, Colton Dixon, the United States Marine Band and more.
The National Christmas tree is lighted as the White House is seen in the
background, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

12/6/2019 Calif. stops insurance companies from bailing on fire-prone zip codes by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Nov.26, 2019 file photo, a helicopter drops water on the Cave Fire burning along Highway 154 in Los Padres
National Forest, Calif. above Santa Barbara. On Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, California Insurance Commissioner
Ricardo Lara ordered insurance companies to stop dropping customers impacted by recent wildfires. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
    California state regulators are barring insurance companies from fleeing fire-prone areas.    On Thursday, the California Insurance Department issued a mandatory one-year ban on companies refusing to renew policies for homeowners living in or nearby areas affected by wildfires.
    Companies have been dropping residents’ policies as the damages have become costly with more than $24 billion paid out in the last two years.    As a result, victims of the fires have said they have seen their premiums double or triple, and many have struggled to find insurance after being dropped.
    Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said the moratorium will help at least 800,000 families, and will allow time for a more permanent solution.
    “What we’ve done is now been able to track and verify that this is a real problem in these communities,” he stated.    “Not only does it affect the individual homeowner, but its affecting the local economy because if you can’t find insurance for your property then you can’t sell that property — that affects the assessment of your property and that affects the local tax base.”
FILE – California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is pictured. (Rich Pendroncelli/AP Photo)
    Lara has held a series of Town Hall meetings across the state to listen to citizens and gather ideas for solutions, while lawmakers try to find a way to help ease the burden for homeowners.
    “We’re hoping there’s going to be a path forward for people who harden their homes, and that just as a marketplace we start giving people more notice if there’s going to be a non-renewal,” said Joel Laucher of the California Department of Insurance.
    The challenges California faces will set a precedent for future insurance models as some residents are calling for change altogether in how companies set their prices.

12/6/2019 Massive FBI raid leads to 60 arrests of Latin Kings gang members by OAN Newsroom
    Mugshots of suspected Latin Kings gang members are seen in this handout provided by the Boston-based FBI.
    Nearly four dozen alleged members of the Latin Kings were arrested by the FBI based in Boston, Massachusetts on Thursday.    A mass raid, dubbed “Operation Throne Down,” saw 60 suspected members of the gang in federal custody.    Included in the arrest was the alleged leader of the gang’s East Coast operations.
    This was reportedly a five year investigation in which the special agent in charge of the Boston field office, Joseph Bonavolonta, said agents infiltrated the highest levels of the organization.
    In a news conference, the official gave details on what the agents found.    Among their findings was dozens of firearms, $38,000 in cash, and various amounts of drugs like heroine, fentanyl and crack cocaine.    Two missing teenagers were also found during the raid.
    “And at one of the locations we also recovered two missing children,”announced Special Agent Bonavolonta.    “A 14-year-old boy from New Bedford and a 16-year-old boy from Fall River.”
    Those arrested face a variety of charges from racketeering to conspiracy to commit murder.

12/6/2019 As unions turn the screws, French PM says pension reform unavoidable by Caroline Pailliez
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe delivers a statement at the Hotel Matignon in Paris following a massive strike
and protests against the government pensions reforms plan in France, December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Friday nationwide strikes in the public sector would not weaken his resolve to reform the pension system but promised workers would be spared a brutal transition to the new regime.
    Philippe said he was not seeking confrontation with trade unions, which on Friday called for mass protests and strikes over plans to streamline one of the developed world’s most generous pension systems to continue next week.
    The government wants to replace a byzantine system comprised of more than 40 separate pension plans, each with varying benefits, with a single, points-based system under which for each euro contributed, every pensioner has equal rights.
    “Citizens know that the hugely diverse nature of the current 42 pension plans cannot continue,” Philippe said in a televised statement.    “They also know we’re going to have to work longer.”
    On Friday, commuters faced severe disruption getting to and from work for a second day and the state-run SNCF railways said train services would remain impacted through the weekend and on Monday.    Schools and hospitals were also left understaffed.
    A day earlier, tear gas and smoke hung over parts of Paris and Nantes as protests turned violent.
    The strike pits trade unions determined to safeguard worker protections against President Emmanuel Macron, a 41-year-old former investment banker who took office in 2017 on a promise of opening up France’s highly regulated economy.
    The outcome will hinge on who blinks first – the unions who risk losing public support if the disruption goes on for too long, or the president whose two-and-a-half years in office have been rocked by waves of social unrest.
PAINFUL” REFORM
    Macron appears reluctant to simply raise the retirement age of 62.    One alternative is to curb benefits for those who stop working before 64 and give a boost to those who leave later.
    Room for concessions may lie in the pace at which the changes are phased in.
    Philippe on Friday left open the possibility of including a “grandfathering” clause for workers at the SNCF and Paris public transport firm RATP, some of whom enjoy special benefits including retirement at 52, a decade earlier than the average worker.
    “To all RATP and SNCF staff I say that it would not be reasonable or fair to change the rules of the game after the game has started,” Philippe said.
    The government applied a similar approach last year when it changed decades-old terms of employment for SNCF workers, maintaining job-for-life guarantees for existing staff, but ending that benefit for new recruits.
    For now, public opinion is relatively evenly divided, surveys show.
    “We’re all in the same situation,” said commuter Micheline Rossi, sympathetic to the strikers’ cause.    “With the points-based pension system, we’ll lose out, too, just like them.”
    Another said: “We need to reform pensions.    It’s going to be painful, painful for everyone.    But if we want to have a pension in the future, this has to pass.”
    Macron’s pension tsar Jean-Paul Delevoye is due to hold talks with the unions on Monday before the prime minister presents the broad outlines of the reform to the public mid-week.
(Additional reporting by Simon Carraud, Bate Felix, Tangi Salaun and Sophie Louet; Writing by Christian Lowe and Richard Lough; Editing by Toby Chopra)

12/6/2019 Some House Democrats expected to vote against articles of impeachment by OAN Newsroom
Specialist Meric Greenbaum works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi,
D-Calif., makes a statement at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. Pelosi announced that the
House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
    Some House Democrats are poised to break with their own party and vote against articles of impeachment.    Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) have reportedly expressed their confusion as to why the House decided to proceed with impeachment.
    Peterson stated he has “no idea” what his chamber is doing, while Van Drew stated the impeachment inquiry is tearing the nation apart.    Van Drew went on to say he plans to vote against the articles of impeachment unless it brings forward any new information.    The Democrat representative has been a strong opponent of his party’s efforts and has warned against its costly effects.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) is pictured. (AP Photo)
    “At the end of the day no body has ever been convicted, there’s a reason for that,” said Van Drew.    “Our founding fathers had tremendous concern with the idea of impeachment, the idea of taking an elected leader — regardless of how good or poor you think that elected leader is — out of office and disenfranchising hundreds of millions of voters does a lot that isn’t so good for our country.”
    After Van Drew voiced his stance against articles of impeachment, reports revealed that Atlantic County Democrat chairman Michael Suleiman warned the congressman to change his mind and appeared to suggest he would pull support for Van Drew’s re-election next year.
    This comes as a Republican congressman on the House Judiciary Committee says Democrats are putting their hatred for the president above the needs of the country.    In a recent interview, Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) pointed out that Democrat’s focus on impeachment has stalled progress on important legislation for issues like border security and the USMCA.

12/6/2019 Pensacola Naval Station gunman identified as Saudi national by OAN Newsroom
PENSACOLA, Fla. (March 16, 2016) The main gate at Naval Air Station Pensacola
on Navy Boulevard in Pensacola, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo by Patrick Nichols/released)
    FBI agents are reportedly working to determine if a shooting at a Florida naval base was a terrorist incident.    On Friday, officials identified the gunman as Saudi aviation student Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who was in the U.S. for military training.
    Alshamrani opened fire in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing four people and wounding eight others.
    “We do have several deceased and several wounded,” stated Capt. Timothy Kinsella Jr.    “My heart goes out to those families of the deceased and of the wounded, they’re part of the Navy family.”
    The shooter was reportedly killed on site by deputies, who were wounded as they stopped the gunman.    Local authorities confirmed that the two officers are expected to fully recover.
    The base will be shut down for the rest of the day as authorities investigate the incident.
    “Base security and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are currently investigating,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.    “The names of the victims will not be released until the next of kin have been notified.”
Ryan Newby, Vice President, Bank of Laverne, left, and Barb Smith, President, Journey Steel, Inc., right,
listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a small business roundtable in the Roosevelt Room
of the White House, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump has been briefed on the shooting and said he is monitoring the situation closely.
    “It’s a horrible thing that took place and we’re getting to the bottom of it,” he said during a Friday press briefing.    “Our condolences go to the families and to everybody involved, including the wounded.”
    Pensacola’s mayor also offered his condolences and said the city is ready to help all those affected by the tragic incident.
    “Our hearts and prayers are connected to all those that serve us every day,” said Mayor Grover Robinson IV.    “Certainly, the expectation that this would happen here at home was unexpected, but I can tell you that all of our sympathies are with the men and women who are out here on this base.”
    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis offered the state’s support and said the government of Saudi Arabia is now in debt to the victims.
    The investigation remains ongoing.

12/6/2019 Democrat-sponsored Voting Rights Act passes House in partisan vote by OAN Newsroom
Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., flanked by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, and Sen.
Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., speaks at an event with House Democrats before passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act to eliminate
potential state and local voter suppression laws, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    A Democrat-led voting rights bill passed along party lines in the House on Friday.    The Voting Rights Advancement Act passed in a 228 to 187 vote, with only one Republican voting in favor of the bill.
    The bill looks to restore a provision that would require certain states to get federal permission before they change local election laws.
    Democrats have long criticized the 2013 Supreme Court ruling, which struck down a similar provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
    “There is continuing, pervasive discrimination in voting across the country that is undermining the fundamental right to vote for millions of Americans,” stated Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler.    “It is essential that we pass H.R. 4 today, that it be enacted into law quickly, so that we can protect the sacred right for all Americans.”
    House Republicans called the proposal the ‘Federal Control of Elections Act’ and the White House has issued a veto threat for the bill.
    Analysts said there is little chance the bill will be taken up in the GOP controlled Senate.

12/6/2019 CBP: Border wall ‘worked exactly as designed’ after video shows illegal crossing by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this July 17, 2019 file photo, three migrants who had managed to evade the Mexican National Guard
and cross the Rio Grande onto U.S. territory walk along a border wall set back from the
geographical border, in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
    While the new border wall is tall and features an anti-climb plate in most sections, it hasn’t stopped the criminal actions of some foreign nationals.    A recent video posted to social media showed three Mexican nationals climbing a new section of border wall in Calexico, California.
    One of the nationals was able to make it to the U.S. side, but he was quickly apprehended by agents.    CBP was alerted to the unlawful entry by surveillance technology used in the area.
    “The border wall system consists not only of a physical barrier, but also lighting, patrol roads and detection technology,” stated Assistant Chief Joshua Devack.    “While the physical barrier serves to slow down illicit traffic, the detection technology alerts our agents as to where and when threats emerge.”
    Despite this intrusion, agents said the border wall system worked “exactly as designed.”
    The illicit traffic was slowed down, the detection technology alerted our agents,” said Devack.    “Agents responded and the subject was apprehended.”
    Border patrol said the Mexican national apprehended in this incident is 16-years-old.    Agents are working with the Mexican government to identify and locate the other two men involved.
[Trump is no fool he listened to the Border patrol and built detection systems into the new walls so to bad Democrats and he did it with the money you approved after the shutdown.].

12/6/2019 U.S. House passes resolution breaking with Trump on Israel policy by Patricia Zengerle
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol building is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 4, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a symbolic resolution on Friday backing a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, following initiatives from President Donald Trump seen as heavily favoring the Jewish state.
    The Democratic-led House voted 226 to 188, largely along party lines, for a non-binding resolution saying that only a two-state solution can both ensure Israel’s survival as a Jewish state and fulfill the Palestinians’ “legitimate aspirations” for their own state.
    Since he became president in January 2017, the Republican Trump has been condemned by Palestinian and some Arab states’ leaders for reversing long-held U.S. policies to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, move the U.S. embassy to the city in 2018 and cut U.S. aid to Palestinians.
    In March 2019, Trump recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967.    And last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.
    Such measures, which help strengthen support for Trump from his conservative evangelical Christian political base, have fueled questions about whether his administration will abandon the idea of a “two-state solution,” with an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel. [L2N27Z1LS]
    The measure passed on Friday faced opposition from the left.    Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, said she opposed separate states, instead favoring one state where Israelis and Palestinians would be equal.
    The White House and Israel’s government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    The Palestinian Authority said it viewed the vote as a response to the Trump administration’s “erroneous policy” in a statement.
    “This resolution is a clear message to the U.S. administration and Israel that peace comes only through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the fulfillment of the aspirations of the Palestinian people,” the statement said.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem; Editing by Tom Brown)
[REMEMBER THIS VOTE BY THE HOUSE AS THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB IS LISTENING AND IT WILL BE THE DOWNFALL OF ALL OF THE DEMOCRATS WHO DEFINITELY HATE AND ARE ATTEMPTING TO IMPEACH DONALD J. TRUMP AND DUE TO THEIR OWN ACTIONS MAY PREVENT ANY OF THEM TO GET RE-ELECTED IN 2020 EXCEPT THOSE WHO ARE IN ANTI-CHRISTIAN AND ANTI-ISRAEL DISTRICTS.    SO I EXPECT TRUMP WILL BE RE-ELECTED IN 2020.].

12/7/2019 Oil up $0.74 to $59.07, DOW up 337 to 28,015.

12/7/2019 House bill enhances Voting Rights Act by Matthew Daly, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – The House has approved a bill that would restore key sections of the Voting Rights Act that once required officials in all or parts of 15 states to receive federal approval before making changes to the voting process.
    The bill would amend the 1965 law to impose new obligations on states and local jurisdictions, essentially reversing a 2013 Supreme     Court decision that tossed out a “preclearance” provision that determined which jurisdictions needed federal oversight of elections.    The bill was approved, 228–187, on Friday, and now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely to move forward.
    Supporters said the measure would help prevent voter suppression in the South and other areas by developing a process to require states and localities with a recent history of voting rights violations to preclear election changes with the Justice Department.
    “No right is more precious to our citizenship than the right of all Americans to be able to vote,” said Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., the bill’s chief sponsor.
    The White House opposes the bill, calling it an example of federal overreach.    The Supreme Court has ruled that similar restrictions imposed by Congress on states and localities are unconstitutional, the White House said.
[The Dems continue trying to pass bills that will take away our rights that will allow them to push their leftist views on us and thank God the Senate is preventing them from doing it to us like they did during the Obama administration.].

12/7/2019 US counts a robust new 266,000 jobs by Paul Davidson, USA TODAY
    Hiring picked up in November as employers added a booming 266,000 jobs, underscoring a healthy U.S. economy that has withstood trade jitters and sluggish global growth.
    The gains, which eased recession fears, far outpaced the 184,000 expected even after accounting for the return of striking General Motors workers.    And the strong job totals could help President Donald Trump as the 2020 election draws closer.
    The unemployment rate fell from 3.6% to 3.5%, matching a 50-year low, the Labor Department said Friday.
    Also encouraging: Job gains for September and October were revised up by a total of 41,000.    September’s additions were raised from 180,000 to 193,000 and October’s, from 128,000 156,000.
    Stocks rallied following the upbeat jobs report, with the Dow Jones industrial average jumping 300 points.
Safehaven assets like Treasurys fell, pushing the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note to 1.83%.
    The robust showing highlights that consumer spending and the service sector largely remain insulated from the manufacturing industry’s troubles, which are linked to the U.S. trade war with China and a weak global economy.    The report also affirms the Federal Reserve’s decision to stay on hold after cutting interest rates three times this year because of the recession risk generated by the trade and manufacturing woes.
    Fed policymakers were set to meet next week but no action is expected.
    “Despite uncertainty on the trade front and softer global growth, the labor market has been remarkably resilient,” says economist Leslie Preston of TD Economics.    “With reports like this, the (Fed) can sit comfortably on the sidelines.”
    A six-week GM strike held down employment by 46,000 in October and that damping effect had been expected to reverse last month since the factory workers were back on the job.
    Other forces also may have skewed the numbers in November.    Widespread worker shortages could have prompted employers to pull forward hiring or minimize layoffs – a strategy that often occurs in November during tight labor markets, Goldman Sachs said.
    At the same time, Midwest snowstorms likely reduced payroll growth by about 10,000, Goldman said.    And the late Thanksgiving may have curtailed job gains in retail, the research firm said.    Retailers added just 2,000 jobs after adding 22,000 in October.    Since Labor’s survey is conducted mid-month, it may have missed holiday workers added shortly before Black Friday.
    More generally, average monthly job growth has downshifted to a still solid 180,000 this year from 223,000 in 2018, though the latter figure has tentatively been revised down.
    Average hourly earnings increased 7 cents to $28.29.
    Health care led the job gains with 60,000 while manufacturing added 54,000, the largest monthly advance for the industry since 1998 – but a tally that was inflated by the return of the GM workers.    Motor vehicle and parts production added 41,000 jobs.
Contributing: Jessica Menton
    An upbeat jobs report – the U.S. added 266,000 new positions in November – sparked Wall Street trading on Friday.

12/7/2019 Intel agency finds anti-American manifesto online by Pensacola shooter by OAN Newsroom
PENSACOLA, Fla. (March 16, 2016) The main gate at Naval Air Station Pensacola on
Navy Boulevard in Pensacola, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo by Patrick Nichols/released)
    On Friday, a non-government intelligence agency discovered a manifesto by the Pensacola shooter online.    SITE Intelligence Group found the short manifesto on Twitter, in which the shooter claimed America is “a nation of evil” and criticized U.S. support for Israel.
    The Saudi national also reportedly criticized the U.S. for allegedly supporting crime against Muslims and humanity.    There is speculation that the so-called manifesto may suggest a terrorist motive.
    Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opened fire at the Florida military base on Friday, killing three people before being fatally shot by local sheriff deputies. An investigation remains underway and six other Saudi nationals are in custody for questioning.    The Twitter account has since been suspended.
    Congressman Matt Gaetz said the deadly shooting was not an act of murder, but an act of terrorism.    During an interview on Friday, Gaetz said there is now a need for extreme vetting of foreign nationals on U.S. military bases.
    He also claimed the FBI’s involvement in the case indicates it is being treated as a terrorist incident.
    The Florida lawmaker went on to say that the safety of our military personnel is priority.
    “It’s always concerning when we have violence on our military installations, because we want our service members focused on the critically important work they are engaged in,” stated Rep. Gaetz.    “Military bases are places…where people congregate and what we’re seeing is they are not immune from the type of violence that has ravaged our country.”
    Other Florida officials have echoed his calls for a full review of naval training programs and have said the shooting exposes serious flaws in the process.
    White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham has said President Trump “will get to the bottom" of shooting.    Once the investigation into the incident concludes, she said the president will act swiftly and do all he can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

12/7/2019 More French protests see roads blocked, trains disrupted and scuffles in Paris by Marine Pennetier and Geert De Clercq
Protesters wearing yellow vests demonstrate during their 56th round of protests with a backdrop of social discontentment
triggered by president Macron's pensions reform plan in Paris, France, December 7, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – Truckers blocked roads in about 10 regions around France on Saturday to protest against a planned reduction in tax breaks on diesel for road transport, while train and metro services remained heavily disrupted by a strike against pension reform.
    In Paris there were scuffles with police in the Denfert Rochereau area of the residential Left Bank as several hundred “yellow vest” protesters continued their weekly demonstrations, but numbers were relatively small compared with previous weeks as the transport strike made it hard to reach the capital.
    The combined pressure of the yellow vest movement over the cost of living and union protests against pension reform are a major challenge to President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to balance the state budget and introduce more environmentally friendly legislation in the second half of his mandate.
    Truckers federation Otre (Organisation des Transporteurs Routiers Européens) said it opposed an increase in taxes on diesel for commercial vehicles as part of the government’s draft 2020 budget.
    “Our movement is a movement of rage against the continued fiscal punishment of road transport that we can no longer tolerate,” Alexis Gibergues, Otre’s president in the Ile-de-France region around Paris, said on LCI television.
    Gibergues said truckers were not targeting city centers for now, but that could change if the government does not respond.
    French TV showed images of trucks blocking motorways in several parts of the country including the Ile-de-France.    Passenger cars were allowed to pass slowly, but many foreign trucks were forced to stop.
CHEAPER FUEL
    Truckers’ organizations complain that foreign truckers can buy cheaper fuel at home, which allows them to operate more efficiently in France.
    In its draft 2020 budget, the government plans to gradually reduce tax breaks on fuel for trucks between July 1. 2020 and Jan. 1 2022.
    The measure is expected to raise about 140 million euros ($154 million) in a full year, which the government wants to use to finance new transport infrastructure.    The draft law is set to get a second reading in parliament in mid-December.
    Last year, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government dropped plans to increase taxes on fuel for passenger cars after the yellow vest movement against the plan morphed into a nationwide and often violent anti-government protest.
    Meanwhile French public transport systems were paralyzed on Thursday and Friday by a strike against planned pension reforms.
    On Saturday, transport remained disrupted, with only one in 10 regional trains and one in six high-speed TGV services running.    In Paris, only lines 1 and 14 – both automatic, driverless lines – were in operation.
    Air traffic was virtually normal following disruptions on Thursday and Friday.
($1 = 0.9073 euros)
(Reporting by Marine Pennetier and Geert De Clercq; Editing by David Holmes)

12/7/2019 Calif. ‘jungle primary’ system gives Democrats veto-proof, one-party state by OAN Newsroom
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stands during a news conference on climate change
at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    California is known as a stronghold for Democrats, but it wasn’t always that way.    In fact, the entire state used to be solid red.    It was a safe haven for conservative values, producing presidents like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
    Since the November 2018 elections, Democrats have controlled the state and have a solid veto-proof supermajority.    In the California legislature, there are 40 seats in the Senate, of which Democrats control 29.    Out of 80 seats in the Assembly, Democrats control 61.    Out of 52 congressional delegates, 45 are Democrats, leaving Republicans with just 7.
    These uneven numbers mean Democrats never need to even talk with Republicans before passing their progressive legislation.
    Democrats make up 80 percent of state level government positions — including the Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, and State Controller — even though they’re just 43 percent of the registered voters.
    It’s the biggest discrepancy in California in over 136 years, and it’s due in part to the state’s one-sided election system.    The system is called the ‘nonpartisan blanket primary,’ which is more commonly known as the ‘jungle primary.’
    Most states have an open primary, which means the candidate with the highest number of votes from each party goes on to the general election.
    However, in California, the ‘jungle primary’ allows the two candidates with the most votes, regardless of party, to make it to the runoff election.    This means that races in California tend to involve two Democrats running against each other.
    This system was so unpopular that in 2000, it was actually ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.    The ruling changed in 2009 when then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to pass the biggest state tax hike in American history, and he needed everyone’s support to do it.
    The deciding vote fell to state Senator Abel Maldonado, a Republican from Santa Maria.
    Maldonado didn’t think he’d get elected again, so he agreed to break his campaign promise against raising taxes in exchange for a deal to change the state’s elections to a ‘jungle primary’ system.    He believed this new system would give him the chance to win.
    Once California taxes were raised and the ‘jungle primary’ system was put in place, Schwarzenegger rewarded Abel Maldonado by promoting him to Lieutenant Governor.
    By 2016, there were nine races in which Democrats faced off against each other — not a single race featured two Republicans.
    Now, thanks to Schwarzenegger and Maldonado’s backroom bargaining, Californians are not only paying the highest taxes in the nation, but are also stuck with a broken primary system.
[Democrats might not get a big head over it, as at some point the people will see through all the bad politics in every corner and stand up to overthrow their policies and I lived in Thousand Oaks, California from 1974 to 1988 approximately 13 years when Ronald Reagan was in control by the Republicans and it was a beautiful state that I enjoyed living in, but what I am seeing going on there now I would not send a dog there to live.].

12/8/2019 French government says it is determined on pension reform as strikes continue
FILE PHOTO: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe delivers a statement at the Hotel Matignon in Paris following a massive
strike and protests against the government pensions reforms plan in France, December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – The French government said it would see through planned pension reforms but said the new system that has sparked nationwide strikes would be introduced gradually and public concerns would be addressed.
    Transport systems were paralyzed for a fourth day on Sunday as unions at state railway SNCF and Paris public transport system RATP extended their strike against the changes.
    “I am determined to take this pension reform to its completion and … I will address people’s concerns about it,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told Le Journal du Dimanche.
    “If we do not implement a thorough, serious and progressive reform today, someone else will do one tomorrow, but really brutally,” he told the weekly publication.
    Philippe has said he would present a detailed outline of the pension reform plan on Wednesday.
    Deputy Environment Minister Emmanuel Wargon told radio France Info the government would be flexible about both the timeline and implementation of the reforms.
    “Timelines may be relaxed if necessary and we may differentiate how each special pension system converges with the new system under different deadlines and terms,” she said.
    She said a date would be set to implement the new system but people’s pension rights would be calculated proportionally based on how much time they had worked under the new and old systems.
    “Some say that everybody will lose under the new system.    Not everybody will lose.    It will be rather positive for a significant part of French citizens,” she said.
    Philippe Martinez, the leader of the CGT union, said the CGT would fight until the government dropped the plan.
    “We will continue until the plan is withdrawn,” he told the JDD, saying the prime minister should “go back to square one.”
    France has one of the most generous pension systems among countries in the OECD grouping of industrialized nations.
    President Emmanuel Macron was elected in 2017 on a platform to liberalize the economy and reform the pension system.
    Macron wants to introduce a pension system with equal rights for everyone and to do away with a set of sub-systems under which some workers at SNCF, RATP and other institutions can retire in their early fifties, a decade ahead of others.
    Unions plan a second demonstration on Tuesday, after a Thursday’s first protest attracted 65,000 people in Paris and 806,000 nationwide, according to police figures.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Frances Kerry and Edmund Blair)

12/8/2019 ‘Nervous’ PM Johnson promises Brexit and less immigration ahead of election by William James
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during the launch of a general campaign poster
at the Kent Showground in Detling, Kent, Britain, December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Pool
    LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was nervous about his narrowing lead in opinion polls ahead of Thursday’s election but pledged to deliver a “transformative” Brexit on Jan. 31 that would allow lower immigration.
    The Dec. 12 election will decide the fate of Brexit and the world’s fifth largest economy with a stark choice between Johnson’s pro-market Conservatives and the socialist-led opposition Labour Party.
    “Brexit is the most radical and profound change to the management of this country,” Johnson told Sky, adding that he would lead the United Kingdom out of the EU on Jan. 31 if he won a majority in the 650-seat parliament.
    “Brexit is indispensable – you can’t move forward without Brexit,” said Johnson, the face of the ‘out’ campaign in the 2016 referendum who won the top job in July after Prime Minister Theresa May failed to deliver Brexit on time.
    Voting begins at 0700 GMT on Thursday and polls close at 2200, when an exit poll will give the first indication of who has won.    Johnson will likely need more than 320 seats to ensure he can stay prime minister and ratify the Brexit deal he struck in October.
    Opinion polls, which largely failed to predict the 2016 referendum result or May’s loss of her majority in the 2017 snap election, show Johnson leads Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, though the lead has narrowed in recent weeks.
    Asked if he was nervous about narrowing polls, Johnson said: “Of course, we are fighting for every vote.    I think that this is a critical moment for this country.”
    Four opinion polls published on Saturday put the lead of Johnson’s Conservative Party over the Labour Party at between eight and 15 points.
    No major poll shows Corbyn, a committed socialist who wants to bring swathes of the British economy into state ownership and raise taxes on the financiers of London, will win.
    But Labour could still lead a minority government if it deprives Johnson of a majority as few other parties are willing to prop up a Johnson government.    Labour proposes negotiating a new deal and then holding another EU referendum.
    Johnson dodged a question on if he would resign if he failed to win a majority and dismissed questions suggesting that after nearly a decade of Conservative-led rule, he was offering little to voters beyond Brexit.
    “Trust in politics has been undermined,” he said.    “It’s been undermined by people who for three and a half years… promised to deliver Brexit and then didn’t.”
    Echoing the Leave campaign pledges of the 2016 referendum, Johnson promised lower immigration with a points-based Australian-style system.
    “Numbers will come down because we’ll be able to control the system in that way,” Johnson said, adding that his focus would be cutting down on unskilled migration, but that there would be scope for high skilled and other workers to come to Britain.
    When asked by Sky what the naughtiest thing he was ready to admit to was, Johnson initially asked advisers for suggestions before saying:
    “I think, I, you know, I may sometimes, when I was riding a bicycle every day, which I used to do, I may sometimes have not always have obeyed the law about cycling on the pavement.”
(Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

12/8/2019 President Trump: Fox News panders to far-left, Democrats silence conservatives by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn
of the White House, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    President Trump is criticizing Fox News for interviewing far-left Democrats with a strong anti-Trump bias.
    In a Sunday tweet, the president blasted the recent Fox interview with California Congressman Eric Swalwell.    He said Swalwell is a loser who got zero percent voter support in his failed 2020 presidential bid.
    President Trump also criticized Fox’s decision to interview other far-left activists, such as lawmakers Pramila Jayapal and David Cicilline.    He said Democrats are working to silence conservative speakers while Fox is pandering to the far-left crowd.
    The president also called out other ‘fake news’ media outlets over their apparent failure to cover his recent progress overseas.
    Last week, the president returned from a NATO summit in the U.K. At the end of the summit, mainstream media chose to highlight a viral video of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among other leaders, gossiping about the president.

12/8/2019 FBI: Pensacola shooting under investigation as terrorist incident by OAN Newsroom
FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2016 file photo shows the entrance to the Naval Air Base Station
in Pensacola, Fla. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson, File)
    On Sunday, the FBI announced they are investigating the Pensacola shooting with the presumption it was an act of terrorism.    Officials stated they are investigating Friday’s attack as a terrorist incident in order to deploy more resources and help quickly eliminate potential threats.
    They said their main goal is to confirm whether the shooter acted alone and if he was part of a larger network.    The bureau has tasked nearly 100 FBI agents in the investigation, who are working hard to find answers as soon as they can.
    “While there are many reports circulating regarding the shooter’s motivation and his alleged activities leading to his attack, I can tell you that we are looking very hard at uncovering his motive,” stated FBI Special Agent Rachel Rojas.    “I would ask for patience so we can get this right.”
    Officials also stated they believe there was only one gunman and that no arrests have been made.
    This announcement came after National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien claimed the Pensacola naval base shooting appeared to be a terrorist attack.    O’Brien said Friday’s attack looked like it was carried out by an individual who may have been radicalized, either on U.S. soil or abroad.
    “To me, it appears to be a terrorist attack,” stated O’Brien.    “I don’t want to prejudge the investigation, but it appears that this may be someone who was radicalized, whether it was here or (abroad)…it’s unclear if he’s got any ties to any other organizations.”
    O’Brien went on to say the FBI is interrogating other Saudi students from the naval base.    He said the investigation remains underway.
    These comments came after the U.S. Navy identified the three victims of Friday’s shooting.    19-year-old Mohammed Haitham, 21-year-old Cameron Walters and 23-year-old Joshua Watson were confirmed to be the victims on Saturday.
    The sailors were killed after a gunman opened fire inside one of the base’s classrooms on Friday.    Navy officials said the tragic event will have a “lasting impact on the installation and the community.”
These undated photos provided by the U.S. Navy show Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, from Coffee, Ala.
and Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, from St. Petersburg, Fla. (U.S. Navy via AP)

12/8/2019 President Trump: Fox News panders to far-left, Democrats silence conservatives by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn
of the White House, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    President Trump is criticizing Fox News for interviewing far-left Democrats with a strong anti-Trump bias.
    In a Sunday tweet, the president blasted the recent Fox interview with California Congressman Eric Swalwell.    He said Swalwell is a loser who got zero percent voter support in his failed 2020 presidential bid.
    President Trump also criticized Fox’s decision to interview other far-left activists, such as lawmakers Pramila Jayapal and David Cicilline.    He said Democrats are working to silence conservative speakers while Fox is pandering to the far-left crowd.
    The president also called out other ‘fake news’ media outlets over their apparent failure to cover his recent progress overseas.
    Last week, the president returned from a NATO summit in the U.K.    At the end of the summit, mainstream media chose to highlight a viral video of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among other leaders, gossiping about the president.

12/8/2019 As Fed reiterates rate pause, forecasts likely to be blown off course by Lindsay Dunsmuir
FILE PHOTO: A man rides a bike in front of the Federal Reserve Board building on
Constitution Avenue in Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Friday’s booming U.S. jobs report should give the Federal Reserve all it needs to stick to its plan not to cut interest rates further in the near future, so when U.S. central bankers meet this week, most of the focus will be on their outlook for next year and beyond.
    But here’s the rub: They often get it wrong.    The coming year – with the added complications of an ongoing trade war and the U.S. presidential election – looks to be no exception.
    Alongside their interest-rate decision, Fed policymakers offer up economic and rate projections at every other meeting, and the next iteration of their so-called “dot plot” is due at the end of the two-day policy meeting on Wednesday.
    The Fed has made clear that it plans to stand pat on rates barring a “material” change in the U.S. economic outlook.    Policymakers will assess how the three interest rate cuts they’ve implemented this year, most recently at the last meeting in October, filter through the economy over the coming months.
    Those cuts were characterized as a pre-emptive mini-boost to the world’s largest economy to mitigate the effects of slowing global growth and a 17-month-long U.S.-China trade war.    The Fed hoped to offset fears that a recession in manufacturing and a drop in business investment could spread malaise to the wider economy.
    So far the interest rate cuts seem to be working.    The Labor Department on Friday reported U.S. job growth increased by the most in 10 months in November and recent data on housing and orders for big-ticket goods have offered a fairly upbeat assessment of the economy.
    Fed policymakers are expected to hew close to their aim of a significant pause in marking out where the level of interest rates will be by the end of next year as they strive to keep the longest U.S. economic expansion on record going.
    The Fed, however, has a spotty history with its year-ahead interest rate projections, having hit its median forecast only three times since they were introduced in 2011.
    This year is shaping up to be their largest miss ever. Last December, the Fed projected two interest rate hikes for 2019, seeing an economy only in danger of overheating.
    At the Fed’s September meeting, when projections were last published, eight of the 17 policymakers already forecast interest rates to be at the level they are now through 2020.
    “At the moment I think they still feel comfortable saying this is just what we promised,” said Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities.
    Traders are betting that the Fed will cut rates once in 2020, according to an analysis of Fed funds futures contracts compiled by the CME Group.
(GRAPHIC: The Fed’s forecasts vs reality – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/9656/9568/Pasted%20Image.jpg)
BEST LAID PLANS, TRADE WAR BLUES
    Fed policymakers’ forecasts for future U.S. economic growth this time around will be in sharp focus.    In September, policymakers’ projections for 2020 growth ranged from 1.8% to 2.1%, consistent with what the Fed sees as the economy’s potential growth rate.    But if growth ebbs below trend pace next year, that could cause policymakers to ease again.
    Chief among the risks to the forecast the Fed has set is the uncertainty caused by President Donald Trump’s chaotic trade policy, given its role in forcing the Fed’s hand this year.
    After the Fed’s last meeting, Chair Jerome Powell pointed to a mooted initial U.S.-China trade deal by year end as welcome evidence that economic uncertainty was diminishing for businesses that have repeatedly said the tit-for-tat tariffs were causing them to suspend investments and scrap projects.
    Since then, U.S.-China trade talks have stalled and Trump unexpectedly slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina and has also threatened duties of up to 100% on French goods.    On Tuesday, Trump suggested U.S.-China trade negotiations may not be resolved before the 2020 election, further clouding an already uncertain outlook.
    “It’s a tough situation for them because trade policy is still in flux and they’re an election year sounding board for both political parties,” said Satyam Panday, a senior economist at S&P Global.
    What seems to be certain though is that the Fed is just as likely to change the level of interest rates in an election year as any other, according to past precedent.
    Trump has repeatedly harangued the Fed this year for not lowering interest rates as much as he wants in order to bolster his economic policies, giving the impression he is pressuring an institution that prides itself on focusing only on the economic data at hand.
    Powell reiterated to Trump at a meeting last month that the central bank will set monetary policy “based solely on careful, objective and non-political analysis,” the Fed said in a statement at the time.
    The central bank has altered monetary policy during 11 of the past 12 election years, with 2016 the exception.    Economists have noted that was due to global headwinds, not the presidential election that year.
(Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Additional reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Grebler)

12/8/2019 France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO: Le Maire
FILE PHOTO: French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire attends a news conference in
Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France, November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – France is ready to go to the World Trade Organization to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to put tariffs on champagne and other French goods in a row over a French tax on internet companies, its finance minister said on Sunday.
    “We are ready to take this to an international court, notably the WTO, because the national tax on digital companies touches U.S. companies in the same way as EU or French companies or Chinese.    It is not discriminatory,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 television.
    Paris has long complained about U.S. digital companies not paying enough tax on revenues earned in France.
    In July, the French government decided to apply a 3% levy on revenue from digital services earned in France by firms with more than 25 million euros in French revenue and 750 million euros ($845 million) worldwide.
    It is due to kick in retroactively from the start of 2019.
    Washington is threatening to retaliate with heavy duties on imports of French champagne, cheeses and luxury handbags, but France and the European Union say they are ready to retaliate in turn if Trump carries out the threat.
    Le Maire said France was willing to discuss a global digital tax with the United States at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but that such a tax could not be optional for internet companies.
    “If there is agreement at the OECD, all the better, then we will finally have a global digital tax.    If there is no agreement at OECD level, we will restart talks at EU level,” Le Maire said.
    He added that new EU Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni had already proposed to restart such talks.
    France pushed ahead with its digital tax after EU member states, under the previous executive European Commission, failed to agree on a levy valid across the bloc after opposition from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
    The new European Commission assumed office on Dec. 1.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Edmund Blair and Timothy Heritage)

[THE DEEP STATE IS GETTING ANTSY AS TO THE UPCOMING RELEASE OF THE HOROWITZ INVESTIGATING THE INVESTIGATORS ON MONDAY 9, 2019 AND AS YOU CAN SEE IN THE NEXT THREE NEWS ARTICLES THAT IT IS PUTTING OUT ITS NARRATIVE ACCORDING TO THEM I GUESS TO INFLUENCE AND CREATE CONFLICT OF THE RELEASE AND SINCE NO ONE HAS SEEN IT YET IGNORE THESE AND SEE WHAT IS ACTUALLY RELEASED].
12/9/2019 DOJ to release findings of Russia investigation - Report expected to say probe valid but flawed by Eric Tucker, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – The Justice Department’s internal watchdog will release a highly anticipated report Monday that is expected to reject President Donald Trump’s claims that the Russia investigation was illegitimate and tainted by political bias from FBI leaders.
    But it is also expected to document errors during the investigation that might animate Trump supporters.
    The report, as described by people familiar with its findings, is expected to conclude that there was an adequate basis for opening one of the most politically sensitive investigations in FBI history and one that Trump has denounced as a witch hunt.    It began in secret during Trump’s 2016 presidential run and was taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller.
    The report comes as Trump faces an impeachment inquiry in Congress centered on his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden – a probe the president also claims is politically biased.
    Still, the release of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review is unlikely to quell the partisan battles that have surrounded the Russia investigation for years.    It’s also not the last word: A separate internal investigation continues, overseen by Trump’s attorney general, William Barr and led by a U.S. attorney, John Durham.    That investigation is criminal in nature, and Republicans may look to it to uncover wrongdoing that the inspector general wasn’t examining.
    Trump said Saturday that he was waiting for the chance to see Horowitz’s report and that he looked forward “very much to seeing what happens with the Durham report, maybe even more importantly, because it’s a horrible thing that took place and it should never happen to another president.”
    Horowitz’s report is expected to identify errors and misjudgments by some law enforcement officials, including by an FBI lawyer suspected of altering a document related to the surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide.    Those findings probably will fuel arguments by Trump and his supporters that the investigation was flawed from the start.
    But the report will not endorse some of the president’s theories on the investigation, including that it was a baseless “witch hunt” or that he was targeted by an Obama administration Justice Department desperate to see Republican Trump lose to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
    It also is not expected to undo Mueller’s findings or call into question his conclusion that Russia interfered in that election in order to benefit the Trump campaign and that Russians had repeated contacts with Trump associates.
    Some of the findings were described to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity by people who were not authorized to discuss a draft of the report before its release. The AP has not viewed a copy of the document.
The release of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review is unlikely to quell partisan
battles that have surrounded the Russia probe. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP
[I CAN DEFINITELY SEE THAT THE COURIER-JOURNAL IS BIASED BASED ON THE ABOVE ARTICLE SINCE THE HOROWITZ REPORT HAS NOT EVEN COME OUT YET AND THAT IS WHY I KEEP THE CJ SO THAT I CAN SEE THE PREJUDICE OF THE LEFT AND THEIR CONTROL BY THE DEEP STATE AS TRUMP IS CLEANING THE SWAMP WHICH MAY JUST CONTINUE AFTER TODAY.].

12/9/2019 Inquiring eyes on FBI’s Russia probe - First of two reviews due for release today by Kevin Johnson and Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Since the early days of the Russia investigation, President Donald Trump and his allies have called for someone to “investigate the investigators.”
    Early last year, the president got some of what he wanted: The Justice Department’s inspector general, an independent watchdog, announced a review into potential surveillance abuses by the FBI focusing on the monitoring of Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
    Though Trump was unhappy that his attorney general at the time did not take up the matter himself, he nonetheless touted the inspector general’s inquiry as “historic.”    The president suggested it would back up his long-held claim that the FBI perpetrated a “witch hunt” against him.
    The report is due Monday.
    But it appears the review will not be a life preserver for a president facing an impeachment inquiry.
    Now the president is hyping the promise of another investigation into the same territory.    This one is overseen directly by Attorney General William Barr and federal prosecutor John Durham of Connecticut.
    Two investigations into similar matters.    One by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, whose office typically is responsible for investigating wrongdoing at the Justice Department.    The other, conducted by the Justice Department itself, into a department it oversees: the FBI.
    At best, analysts say, the parallel investigations indicate a lack of trust in the inspector general’s work.
    At worst, analysts say, they indicate a desire to reach a conclusion pleasing to the president.
A key report reviews the FBI’s monitoring of Carter Page. CHIP SOMODEVILLA/ GETTY IMAGES
[WELL USA TODAY IS A LITTLE BETTER BUT AS YOU CAN SEE THEY ENDED THE ARTICLE AS IF BARR AND HOROWITZ ARE AT ODDS WITH EACH OTHER.].

12/9/2019 USA TODAY EXPLAINS THE INSPECTOR GENERAL’S REPORT - What to watch for in Russia report by Kristine Phillips and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – As recently as last month, President Donald Trump accused the FBI of trying to “overthrow the presidency.”    It’s the latest in a barrage of attacks against the law enforcement agency and the former officials who launched the Russia investigation, which has cast a shadow over Trump’s presidency.
    Chief among Trump’s allegations is that political enemies in his own government improperly spied on his campaign.    Trump and his allies have called for an investigation of the investigators, whom he has accused of trying to undermine his presidency.    Monday, a long-anticipated report will be released that is expected to shed light on whether the country’s top law enforcement agency improperly spied on the campaign of a future president.
    If you’re confused about what this report deals with, you’re not alone. Between the Mueller report and investigations by various congressional committees into Trump and his administration, there’s been a lot of inquiring over the past couple of years.
    Here’s what you need to know:
Who is issuing the report?
    The report was compiled by the office of Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog.    Inspectors general, who have a measure of independence, examine possible wrongdoing, abuse and waste in federal agencies.
    Horowitz was nominated to his post by former President Barack Obama.    Trump has called him an “Obama guy.”    But his peers have said he’s nonpartisan, and he has conducted reviews that were critical of Justice Department officials under Obama.
What will the report address?
    The report focuses on how the investigation into Russia began in the summer of 2016.    The principal question: Was the FBI’s surveillance of former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page legal?
    Horowitz also examined the FBI’s relationship and communication with Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer and Russia expert who compiled a now-infamous “dossier” alleging links between Russia and Trump.    The connection to Steele has been a big deal for Republicans.    Steele was hired by Fusion GPS, a research firm working for the campaign of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.    Trump’s allies have claimed this shows the FBI was working in concert with his opponent.
    But the FBI said in its warrant applications that it viewed Steele’s information to be “credible” and that Steele was not told who paid for his research.
    Horowitz is expected to offer sharp criticism of the FBI, but he’s also expected to conclude the wiretap on Page was legal, according to people familiar with the matter.
Why is this important?
    The FBI, Democrats, the president, his Republican allies – pretty much everyone in both parties has a stake in Horowitz’s findings.    The FBI’s reputation has been under attack since it started looking into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
    For the bureau’s former leaders, the report could provide some vindication – or condemnation, depending on the level of criticism Horowitz levels.
    For Democrats, it could either dampen or fuel their momentum as they move forward with an impeachment inquiry.
    For Trump, it could either undercut or bolster his claim that the FBI conspired against him.
How did we get here?
    Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that the Russian government had offered damaging information about Clinton.
    The diplomat alerted the FBI, which then launched its investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign.    As part of its inquiry, the FBI sought a warrant to wiretap another Trump campaign aide:
Page.    He had lived in Moscow for several years, built relationships with Russian intelligence officers and advocated a pro-Russia foreign policy.
    The FBI believed he “has been collaborating and conspiring” with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.    The FBI’s surveillance of Page continued well into 2017, even months after Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the Russia investigation.
    Republican lawmakers questioned the legality of the surveillance, pointing to the FBI’s use of Steele’s research.
    In early 2018, Republican senators asked Horowitz to conduct a review of the FBI’s investigation.
Who are the key players?
  • Carter Page.    Page joined the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser in March 2016.    His pro-Russia advocacy and meetings with Russian officials during the presidential race caught the attention of the FBI.
  • Michael Horowitz.    As inspector general, Horowitz has conducted several high-stakes investigations of the Justice Department and the FBI.    Under the Obama administration, his office issued a rebuke of Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed illegal gun sales to smugglers with ties to Mexican drug cartels.
  • Attorney General William Barr.    The series of events examined by Horowitz predates Barr, who became attorney general in early 2019.    But Barr has also raised questions about how the Russia investigation began.
What will happen next?
    Horowitz will discuss his findings Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Lindsey Graham, a top Trump ally, announced last month.    Graham, R-S.C., has repeatedly raised questions about the FBI's surveillance in the Russia probe.
    As the inspector general’s investigation comes to an end, Trump has raised expectations about the parallel inquiry led by Barr.    That inquiry began as an administrative review but has since shifted to a criminal investigation.
The report from Michael Horowitz, Justice Department Inspector General,
probes the Russia investigation. 2017 PHOTO BY JARRAD HENDERSON/USA TODAY

12/9/2019 Dueling inquiries could mean 2 conclusions - Trump has been touting review launched by Barr by Kevin Johnson and Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY
    Two investigations into potential surveillance abuses by the FBI have been ordered: The first, the results of which are due Monday, was done by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.    The second, which is ongoing, is overseen directly by Attorney General William Barr and federal prosecutor John Durham.
    Dueling inquiries often indicate an agency is “nervous about what the IG might find,” said New York University law professor Paul Light, who studies the work of inspectors general.    “Or there’s political pressure to come up with the finding other than what’s expected” from the inspector general.
    An inspector general’s investigation, “theoretically, is the gold standard of investigations,” Light said.    “And Horowitz, in particular, has an impeccable reputation for telling it like (he) sees it.”
    While Horowitz is expected to offer sharp criticism of the FBI in Monday’s report, he’s also expected to conclude the FBI was justified in launching its two-year inquiry into the Trump campaign and possible ties to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.    That investigation ultimately led to Robert Mueller’s damning account of Trump’s efforts to thwart it.
    But if Horowitz’s findings fail to satisfy Trump’s desires, the Barr-Durham inquiry has been building expectations of its own.
    In late October, Trump and his Republican allies seized on news that this inquiry had shifted from an administrative review to a criminal investigation.
    Last week, The Washington Post reported that Barr had confided to associates that he disagreed with Horowitz’s anticipated finding that the FBI’s investigation was justified.    Asked about that, Trump immediately turned the spotlight to the Barr-Durham inquiry.
    “I do think the big report to wait for is going to be the Durham report,” Trump told reporters last week.    “That’s the one that people are really waiting for.”
    Who will have the last word?
    The attorney general cannot order the inspector general to alter his conclusions.    But the Barr-Durham inquiry offers another opportunity for Trump to change the narrative.
    “I can tell you that the inspector general will not have the last word,” said former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served in the George W. Bush administration.    “As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Durham has authority that the inspector general does not.”
    That includes the power to compel witness testimony and to impanel a grand jury to consider criminal charges.
    The FBI’s surveillance authority, particularly whether it followed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in dealing with Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, is at the heart of Horowitz’s report.    That’s also the subject of the Barr-Durham investigation.
    Durham’s investigators have been reviewing allegations that a former FBI lawyer altered a document related to Page’s surveillance.     The inspector general provided information about the lawyer’s alleged conduct to Durham, which is one reason his investigation shifted from an administrative inquiry to a criminal one.
Trump: ‘A hunger’ for 2nd inquiry
    Though the investigations overlap, they could reach different conclusions.     Horowitz is expected to conclude the lawyer’s conduct did not change the legal basis for the Page wiretap request, while Durham’s criminal investigation is continuing.
    “You’re talking about a scope of investigation that is potentially broader than what the inspector general can do,” Mukasey said.
    Parallel investigations aren’t unprecedented, said former government officials who have worked in both Republican and Democrat administrations.    But some suggest the two inquiries indicate that the Justice Department isn’t looking for potential wrongdoing as much as it’s looking for a politically expedient outcome.
    “The modus operandi of this administration is that when they cannot dismiss somebody else’s fact-based conclusions, they create a parallel narrative,” said Joel Brenner, a former inspector general at the National Security Agency in the George W. Bush administration.    “What we are seeing here is the creation of a parallel narrative to satisfy the president’s base of support.    It’s very sad.”
    It’s possible for inspectors general to pursue “agendas” of their own that may be inappropriate or wrong, he said.
    “I just don’t think that is remotely the case with Mr. Horowitz,” he said.
    Republican lawmakers were among the earliest to urge Horowitz to review the FBI’s handling of the Russia inquiry.    It was Jeff Sessions, Trump’s first attorney general, who first confirmed the inspector general would review it.
    Even then, Trump claimed “potentially massive abuse” by the FBI and called for federal prosecutors to take up the matter.    He publicly berated Sessions’ decision to refer it to the inspector general rather than assign prosecutors. Sessions was later dismissed.
    Less than two months after Barr took over as attorney general, he revealed he would launch a review of his own.
    “Spying on a campaign is a big deal,” Barr told lawmakers during an April appearance before a Senate panel.    “I think spying did occur.    The question is whether it was adequately predicated.”
    Trump immediately announced his support for Barr’s action.    “There is a hunger for this to happen,” the president told reporters at the time.
    Does inquiry undermine Horowitz?
    Greg Brower, a former FBI deputy general counsel who also worked as an inspector general, said it’s unusual for the head of an agency to pursue an investigation into something the agency’s inspector general already is examining.
    Agency leaders, he said, typically prefer to have their watchdogs “take the heat off management and do an independent review.”    “This is unfolding in an unusual way for many reasons,” Brower said of the parallel Barr-Durham probe. He said an inquiry like it can undermine the inspector general, whose job is to conduct independent reviews of the agency.
    “To the extent that it appears to the IG that management doesn’t trust it and wants to do its own parallel investigations ... that leaves any competent IG wondering why,” Brower said.
    “The cynical view of the Durham investigation,” he said, “is that it exists simply to give the president something to talk about regardless of the outcome of the Horowitz investigation.”
    The Justice Department, in the wake of reports that Barr has expressed disagreement with Horowitz’s findings, has offered public support for the inspector general.    “The inspector general’s investigation is a credit to the Department of Justice,” spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said last week.    “His excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves.”
Attorney General William Barr is overseeing a second inquiry. USA TODAY

12/9/2019 No political bias but FBI made mistakes in probe of Trump campaign: watchdog by Sarah N. Lynch, Mark Hosenball and Andy Sullivan
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies before the House Oversight and Government
Reform Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department’s internal watchdog said it found numerous errors but no evidence of political bias by the FBI when it opened an investigation into contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia in 2016.
    The report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz was likely to give ammunition to both Republican Trump’s supporters and his Democratic critics in the debate about the legitimacy of an investigation that clouded the first two years of his presidency.
    It will not be the last word on the subject.
    U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is running a separate criminal investigation on the origins of the Russia probe, said in a prepared statement that “we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions.”
    Attorney General William Barr, who ordered the Durham investigation, said the report showed that the FBI “launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions.”
    Horowitz found that the FBI had a legal “authorized purpose” to ask for court approval to begin surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser.
    But Horowitz also found a total of 17 “basic and fundamental” errors and omissions in the original application and all subsequent renewals to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA).    Those errors made the case appear stronger than it was, Horowitz said.
    In particular, the report singled out an FBI lawyer who altered an email contained in a renewal of the application which claimed that Page was “not a source” to another U.S. government agency.
    In truth, Page served as a “operational contact” to another agency, which was not identified in the report.
    That lawyer was previously identified by Republican Representative Mark Meadows as Kevin Clinesmith, who is no longer with the agency.    Clinesmith, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and former special agent Peter Strzok were found last year to have exchanged text messages critical of Trump.
    Clinesmith did not immediately respond to a request for comment
.
    The FBI investigation, opened in the summer of 2016 ahead of the November election pitting Trump against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, was taken over in May 2017 by former FBI chief Robert Mueller after Trump fired James Comey as the agency’s director.
    Mueller’s 22-month special counsel investigation detailed a Russian campaign of hacking and propaganda to sow discord in the United States, harm Clinton and boost Trump.    Mueller documented numerous contacts between Trump campaign figures and Moscow but found insufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy.
    Trump called the investigation, known within the FBI as Crossfire Hurricane, a witch hunt and assailed FBI leaders and career staffers who worked on it.
    Democrats have accused Trump of seeking to discredit a legitimate investigation that detailed extensive interactions between his campaign and Russia.
    “The FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane to obtain information about, or protect against, a national security or federal crime, even though the investigation also had the potential to impact constitutionally protected activity,” Horowitz’s report said.
    FBI Director Christopher Wray said he had ordered 40 steps, such as changes to its warrant applications and methods for dealing with informants, to fix problems highlighted in the report.    He said the agency would review the conduct of employees mentioned in the report.
    Horowitz said his office on Monday began a new review to further scrutinize the FBI’s compliance with its own fact-checking policies used to get applications to surveil U.S. persons in counterterrorism investigations, as well as counterintelligence probes.     Crossfire Hurricane opened on July 31, 2016, after the FBI received a tip from a foreign ally that Trump adviser George Papadopoulos suggested he had gotten offers of help from the Kremlin.     When it asked for court permission to open a wiretap on Page, Horowitz found that the FBI relied heavily on research assembled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.     While the FBI had reason to believe that Steele was reliable as it had worked with him before, the agency did not reassess his information when it sought to renew its warrants, the report said, and did not press him about who was funding his work.     Steele assembled his dossier for an opposition-research firm that was funded by the Democratic Party.    Trump’s allies say the FBI should have disclosed that fact in its warrant application.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Brad Heath and Andy Sullivan; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Will Dunham, Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)

12/9/2019 No let-up in Macron’s duel with unions on fifth day of strikes by Caroline Pailliez and Dominique Vidalon
Commuters walk on a platform at Gare Saint-Lazare train station as a strike continues against French government's
pensions reform plans, in Paris, France, December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
    PARIS (Reuters) – Trade unions called for more street protests after nationwide strikes aimed at forcing President Emmanuel Macron to abandon his pension reforms caused chaos on France’s transport networks for a fifth day on Monday.
    The week ahead will test whether Macron can deliver the social and economic change he says is necessary for France to compete with powers like China and the United States.     A meeting between Macron’s pension tsar, Jean-Paul Delevoye, and union leaders on Monday showed no sign of breaking the impasse, with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe due to present the “architecture” of the reforms on Wednesday.
    “We will continue to protest and strike,” Catherine Perret, a senior official from the hardline CGT union, told reporters after the meeting.    “Tomorrow will be a show of force.”
    At the Gare du Nord there were chaotic scenes as passengers pushed and shoved to get onto packed suburban trains, videos circulating on social media showed. On the roads there were massive traffic jams as many commuters resorted to their cars.
    Unions are calling on teachers, doctors, dockers and other public workers to down tools on Tuesday.
    Philippe told the weekly Journal du Dimanche that he was determined to see through the overhaul of what is one of the most generous pension systems among developed industrialized nations.
    The government will be monitoring Tuesday’s marches closely to see if they draw more than the 800,000 people who marched through French cities on Thursday.    Last week’s demonstrations were marred by violent clashes between police and hooded protesters.
    Macron wants to replace a convoluted system comprised of more than 40 separate pension plans, each with varying benefits, with a single, points-based system under which for each euro contributed, every pensioner has equal rights.
    Delevoye on Monday said online surveys showed broad public support for protecting how much people receive in retirement but little common ground over how to deal with the burden of increasing life expectancies put on national coffers.
    “There is broad agreement about the need to protect the level of our pensions,” Delevoye told reporters, “but disagreement about what choices to make in order to respond to the increase in life expectancy.”
    “The solution of lowering pensions even by a little bit is clearly rejected,” he added.
    Public sector unions fear their workers will come out worse because under the current system the state makes up for shortfalls between contributions and payouts.
    The unions, fighting to show they remain relevant after Macron loosened the labor code and reformed state railways, also say they will lose influence over contributions and benefits under a centrally managed system.
(Reporting by Caroline Pailliez and Dominique Vidalon; Writing by Richard Lough, Editing by William Maclean and Giles Elgood)

12/9/2019 U.S. seals demise of WTO appeals bench: trade officials by Stephanie Nebehay
Delegates talk before the opening of the General Council at the WTO headquarters
in Geneva, Switzerland, December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    GENEVA (Reuters) – The fate of the World Trade Organization’s top court was effectively sealed on Monday after the United States said it would not back a proposal to allow it to continue, trade officials said, although the WTO chief vowed to find a solution.
    The Trump administration has been blocking appointments to the WTO’s seven-member Appellate Body that rules on trade disputes for more than two years, with U.S. officials saying the court had gone beyond its remit.
    The Appellate Body needs a mininum of three judges to function but the terms of two of the three remaining members of the appeals panel expire on Tuesday and there are no replacements in sight because of the U.S. blocking strategy.
    Another attempt was made on Monday to reach a consensus on laying down arrangements for filling the vacancies, as well as obliging the appeals panel to issue rulings within 90 days.
    But the U.S. ambassador to the WTO, Dennis Shea, said other members had not addressed Washington’s concerns about what he called the court’s “overreach” and “disregard” of WTO rules.
    Shea said in a speech, the text of which was released by the U.S. mission, that the United States did not support the proposal to start filling Appellate Body positions.
    Much of the U.S. displeasure stems from how the WTO has tied its hands in dealing with China.    In binding rulings, WTO judges have given Beijing the benefit of the doubt on subsidies and rejected Washington’s treatment of dumping.
    One Asian ambassador told Reuters: “The United States said it can’t join a consensus.    We’ll be writing the obituaries.”
    But WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said that a “well-functioning, impartial and binding dispute settlement system is a core pillar of the WTO system,” adding: “We cannot abandon what must be our priority, namely finding a permanent solution for the Appellate Body.”
    China’s trade ambassador, Zhang Xiangchen, who wore a black tie for the occasion, said: “This is no doubt the most severe blow to the multilateral trading system since its establishment.”
    João Aguiar Machado, the European Union’s ambassador, put the blame squarely on Washington.
    “In two days from now, we will have an unprecedented situation in the World Trade Organization, which will no longer be able to deliver binding resolution of trade disputes and will no longer guarantee the right to appeal review,” Machado said.
    “The actions of one member will deprive other members of their right to a binding and two-step dispute settlement system, even though this right is specifically envisaged in the WTO contract,” he said.
    The EU would continue supporting efforts to unblock Appellate Body appointments while preparing its own contingency measures, Machado said.
    The EU has already reached agreements with Canada and Norway to subject any appeals to ad hoc adjudication by former Appellate Body members.
    David Walker, New Zealand’s ambassador who chairs the WTO’s committee on dispute settlement, proposed to WTO members last week that the Appellate Body should at least be allowed to conclude four cases that have already had hearings.
    Ten pending appeals would be left in limbo, along with a 100 or so more further back in the system.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Philip Blenkinsop, David Clarke and Nick Macfie)

12/9/2019 President Trump: DOJ Inspector General’s findings far worse than expected by OAN Newsroom
The cover page of the report issued by the Department of Justice inspector general is photographed in Washington, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019.
The report on the origins of the Russia probe found no evidence of political bias, despite performance failures. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
    The Department of Justice Inspector General has released its report on FISA abuses by the Obama-era FBI and Justice Department in 2016.    President Trump has described the Inspector General’s findings as an attempted overthrow of the government.    While speaking at the White House Monday, the president said the report was far worse than he thought was possible.
    Although the Inspector General concluded the Russia investigation was not started out of political bias, he did outline at least 17 significant errors in the FBI’s application to spy on the Trump campaign and adviser Carter Page.    The nearly 500-page report states the FBI overstated its confidence in Christopher Steele’s reliability, and faulted the agency for inaccuracies and omissions in the application.
    Attorney General William Barr commented on the report, saying it’s now clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign.    While this was what started the Mueller investigation, a separate probe into the origins of the Russia investigation is still ongoing.
    Attorney General Barr is moving to declassify information in the Inspector General report about the man behind the anti-Trump Steele dossier.    According to a New York Times report, Barr recently authorized allowing new information about Christopher Steele in the report to be public.    The information was initially redacted in the report, however a representative from the Inspector General’s office informed Steele Sunday that the Department of Justice had decided to permit the release of the information.
Attorney General William Barr listens as President Donald Trump speaks during an event to sign
an executive order establishing the Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives,
in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    FULL REPORT: Office of the Inspector General U.S. Department of Justice – Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
    The report also revealed the FBI used Steele to get dirt on Michael Flynn.    According to the released documents, the FBI promised Steele would be paid “significantly” for information on the former national security adviser.
    This comes as Flynn faces sentencing for allegedly lying about his involvement with Russia.    His attorneys are pushing for his sentence to be postponed.    The findings in the Inspector General’ s report could now help support Flynn’s argument that his case should be dropped because of “outrageous misconduct” by the FBI.
    President Trump said he hopes this never happens to any president ever again, and is looking forward to U.S. attorney John Durham’s” report that will be released in the near future.
RELATED: Gen. Flynn’s Lawyer Says Inspector General Report Will Have Everything

12/9/2019 Rep. Collins slams Democrat impeachment push as ‘focus group impeachment’
House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., speaks as the House Judiciary
Committee hears investigative findings in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump,
Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins slammed the Democrat impeachment push as a “focus group impeachment,” while the committee held yet another hearing on the matter.    In his opening statement Monday, he suggested Democrats are holding the hearing because they need a good public relations move.
    Collins also said Democrats are trying to make the facts “fit their narrative” and called out House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff for not appearing at the hearing.    He accused Democrats of pursuing impeachment for political purposes.
    “The economy is good, job creation is up, the military is strong, our country is safe, and the Judiciary Committee has been relegated to this,” stated the Georgia lawmaker.”    Why?    Because they have the means, the motive and they have the opportunity…at the end of the day, all this is about is about a clock and a calendar because they can’t get over the fact that Donald Trump is president of United States and they don’t have a candidate that they think can beat him, it’s all political.
    The ranking member also called out Schiff for misleading the American people about the president’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart.
    Collins wasn’t the only one slamming Democrats on Monday.    InfoWars host Owen Shroyer was escorted out of the public hearing after shouting that House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler was the one committing crimes.    He yelled out “Americans are sick of his impeachment sham!
    Nadler responded, saying the audience is there to observe and not voice disagreements with the panel or any witnesses.

12/9/2019 U.S. border arrests dropped again in November amid Trump crackdown on migrant crossers by Ted Hesson and David Shepardson
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows a temporary facility for processing migrants requesting asylum, at the
U.S. Border Patrol headquarters in El Paso, Texas, U.S. April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Border Patrol arrested about 34,000 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in November, a 75 percent drop from a recent high point in May, according to statistics released on Monday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
    Border arrests – which are used to estimate illegal crossings – initially plummeted after U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.    However, they soared in the spring to monthly levels higher than those under Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
    The Trump administration credits the decline to tougher asylum policies and increased cooperation with Mexico and Central American nations.    Still, the decrease only brings the arrest figures in line with the average November over the past decade.
    Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said on Monday that Congress needs to take legislative action to discourage illegal crossings in the long term.
    “This is not durable and sustainable,” Morgan said at a news conference in Washington.    “We should not be looking to the government of Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries to solve the loopholes in our current legal framework,” he said, referring to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
    The number of migrant family members arrested at the border dropped to 9,000 in November from roughly 9,700 a month earlier, continuing a downward trend.
    Morgan touted a Trump administration program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols as part of a “network of initiatives” that had discouraged migrants from trekking to the United States.
    A Customs and Border Protection official said on Monday that roughly 54,000 migrants had been sent to Mexico through the program, a figure revised down from 59,000 last month.    The agency audited its data in November and found some migrants had been counted twice after attempting to re-enter the United States, the official said.
    A report released last week by the New York City-based organization Human Rights First found at least 636 publicly reported cases of kidnapping, rape, torture, assault, and other violent attacks against migrants sent to Mexico under the program.
    Morgan rejected the idea that the Trump administration was responsible for attacks on migrants waiting in Mexico and blamed criminal organizations.
    While the overall number of families encountered at the border decreased in November, the Border Patrol recently has encountered more Mexican family members, the acting commissioner said.
    Morgan said smugglers were “constantly modifying their approach to continue to make money and exploit migrants from everywhere.”
(Reporting by Ted Hesson and David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

12/10/2019 Oil down $0.18 to $59.02, DOW down 105 to 27,910.

12/10/2019 THE HOUSE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS -Both sides take the gloves off - Dems cite ‘clear and present danger’ to nation; GOP responds ‘baloney’ by Bart Jansen and Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – A lawyer for House Democrats called President Donald Trump “a clear and present danger” to the integrity of the 2020 election at a hearing Monday to review findings of the probe into accusations that the president pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.
    At the combative hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, a Republican lawyer said that the allegations against Trump were riddled with “hearsay, presumptions and speculation” and that pursuing impeachment would be “baloney.”
    The presentations laid bare the partisan conflicts that would dominate a potential Senate trial, if the committee votes to recommend articles of impeachment and the full House adopts them.    The accusations include potential abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for Trump urging Ukraine to investigate his political rival and then directing his administration to refuse to comply with subpoenas for documents and testimony.
    “President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security,” said Daniel Goldman, the Democratic counsel for the Intelligence Committee.
    Trump has argued he did nothing wrong. Stephen Castor, a Republican counsel for the Judiciary and Intelligence committees, disputed the accusations by Democrats that the president withheld military aid and a White House meeting to push Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden, whose son Hunter once served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
    “The impeachment inquiry’s record is riddled with hearsay, presumptions and speculation,” Castor said.    “Simply put, the call was not the sinister Mob shakedown that some Democrats have described.”
    At the opening of the hearing, a protester shouted an accusation that Democrats were committing treason before police officers escorted him out. Republicans repeatedly questioned rules.    Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., used his gavel several times to quiet Republicans challenging how the hearing was handled.
    “This meeting will be considered in an orderly fashion,” Nadler said at one point.    “The gentleman will not yell out.”
    The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, summed up: “The steamroll continues.”
    Trump acknowledged at a midafternoon news conference that he “watched a little” of the hearing.
    “It’s a disgrace.    It’s a hoax,” he said.
    The committees are drafting articles of impeachment against Trump that could be unveiled as early as this week.    If the full House impeaches Trump, the Senate would hold a trial early in 2020 on whether to remove Trump.    An acquittal is likely in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.
    Goldman listed four allegations: that Trump directed a campaign to coerce a Ukraine investigation to help his own reelection campaign, that Trump withheld military aid, that Trump sought to undermine fair elections by soliciting foreign help and that Trump obstructed Congress when he was caught.
    “This scheme by President Trump was so brazen, so clear, supported by documents, actions, sworn testimony, uncontradicted, contemporaneous records that it’s hard to imagine that anybody could dispute those acts let alone argue that that conduct does not constitute an impeachable offense or offenses,” said Barry Berke, Democratic counsel for the committee.
    “This is a big deal.    President Trump did what a president of our nation is not allowed to do.”
    But Castor said Democrats were trying to impeach Trump through an “unfair process” simply because they don’t like him.    No witnesses tied Trump directly to trading a White House meeting or military aid to the start of investigations, Castor said.    And when questioned, witnesses gave sometimes contradictory testimony, he said.
    Castor argued that witnesses tended to change their recollections after Trump released a summary of his call with Zelensky, and then again after hearing the testimony of others.    “To impeach a president, who 63 million people voted for, over eight lines in a call transcript is baloney,” he said.
    The format of the hearing highlighted the partisanship. Democratic and Republican committee lawyers presented reports about allegations against Trump from the Judiciary and Intelligence committees.    Republicans opposed the move, saying they wanted to question Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and putting his face on a placard’s milk carton to say he was missing.
    Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., said Berke used language “which impugns the motives of the president and suggests he’s disloyal to his country.”
    “Those words should be stricken from the record and taken down,” Johnson said.
    Nadler said the rules of decorum apply to the House members rather than witnesses.
    “The subject of the hearing is the president’s misconduct, so none of us should find it surprising that we are hearing testimony that is critical of the president,” Nadler said.
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, confronts
a witness on a day of sharp exchanges. JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY

[THE FOLLOWING IS THE OPINION OF THE USA TODAY OF WHAT THEY BELIEVED TO BE ON THE IG'S REPORT].
12/10/2019 Faults found in FBI’s surveillance - But Russia probe was legally justified, inspector general says by Kevin Johnson and Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – The Justice Department’s internal watchdog found the surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser was riddled with errors, raising questions about its justification.
    The report, released Monday by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, identified 17 inaccuracies across three surveillance applications, effectively inflating the justification for monitoring former foreign policy adviser Carter Page starting in fall 2016.
    Horowitz, however, concluded the FBI was legally justified in launching its inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. There was no “documentary or testimonial evidence that politi- cal bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct these operations,” the report said.    The 400-page report debunks claims by President Donald Trump and his allies that political bias played a role in the FBI’s decision to investigate members of the Trump campaign for possible coordination with Russia. Horowitz also said there was “no evidence” the FBI placed any undercover sources or agents in the Trump campaign or had them attend campaign events.
    The criticism of the FBI’s surveillance activities, however, is central to the report’s findings and is likely to fuel new attacks from Trump and GOP allies.
    The review, launched in March 2018 in response to requests from Republican lawmakers, examined the FBI’s decision to investigate four Trump associates and campaign aides: Page, former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
    Papadopoulos caught the attention of the FBI after he boasted to an Australian diplomat that Russia had offered political dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.    The diplomat alerted the FBI.
    Page had longstanding ties to Russia and admitted meeting with Kremlin officials on a July 2016 trip to Moscow. Manafort and Flynn also have ties to Russia and traveled there.
    Horowitz also examined the FBI’s relationship with Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who was hired by Fusion GPS, a research firm working for Clinton’s campaign.
    Steele wrote a “dossier” alleging ties between Trump and Russia.    The FBI relied on Steele’s research on Page’s activities in Russia when it sought a court-ordered surveillance of Page.
    Throughout the report, the inspector general raised questions about the management of the high-profile, politically charged investigation.    “So many basic and fundamental errors” were made by investigative teams handpicked to conduct one of the FBI’s most sensitive investigations, the report said.
    Among the most common errors in the wiretap applications for Page were the omission of important information, including some that contradicted investigators’ suspicions.
    For example, in its wiretap applications, the FBI didn’t note Page’s denial that he had been involved in revising a part of the Republican platform to be more favorable to Russia.    The FBI didn’t include Page’s denials that he had talked to allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin about lifting sanctions and giving the Trump campaign damaging information about Clinton.
    And the FBI omitted information about Steele and included inaccurate details about him.
    Those errors “made it appear as though the evidence supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case,” the report said.
    The decision to rely on Steele’s reporting “to help establish that Page was an agent of Russia” was supported by “FBI officials at every level,” it said.
    The inspector general found “no evidence” that FBI officials raised any concerns about the reliability of Steele’s information with top officials, including then-FBI Director James Comey.
    Horowitz singled out Bruce Ohr, an FBI lawyer and associate deputy attorney general, for additional review.    The report suggested Ohr had an inherent conflict of interest, in part because his wife was an independent contractor for Fusion GPS.    Horowitz sharply criticized Ohr for communicating with Steele during the investigation and not disclosing that to his supervisors.
    In a written response, FBI Director Christopher Wray called the report “constructive criticism that will make us stronger as an organization.”
    Attorney General William Barr, who is leading a parallel inquiry, disagreed with Horowitz’s finding that the FBI’s investigation was justified.
    Despite his criticism, Horowitz’s inquiry found the FBI’s decision to investigate Page, Papadopoulos, Flynn and Manafort followed Justice policies.
    In determining whether bias played a role, Horowitz examined text messages exchanged by Peter Strzok, a former FBI counterintelligence agent assigned to the investigation, and Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer.
    Horowitz determined that the messages, which were hostile toward Trump, “created an appearance of bias” and “raised serious questions” about the validity of decisions involving the two.
    But Horowitz noted that Lisa Page did not play a role in the decision to investigate Trump’s campaign aides.
    Although Strzok was involved, “he was not the sole, or even the highest level decision maker,” the report said.
    Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, said the report confirms that Strzok’s “personal opinions never impacted his work as an official of the FBI.”

Contributing: Kevin McCoy, Donovan Slack, Deirdre Shesgreen and Tom Vanden Brook
Horowitz

12/10/2019 France’s unions bring pensions battle back onto the streets by Sybille de La Hamaide and Michel Rose
Protesters hold banners during a demonstration against French government's pensions reform plans in Marseille as part of a second day
of national strike and protests in France, December 10, 2019. The slogan reads "work, shop and shut up." REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
    PARIS (Reuters) – Public sector workers marched peacefully through cities across France on Tuesday, heeding a call by trade unions to stage one of the biggest protests in decades in a revolt against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform.
    Commuters grappled with widespread transport chaos on a sixth day of strikes that unions said forced dozens of schools to close in Paris, airlines to cancel 20% of flights and refineries to halt distribution.
    The unions show no sign of backing down in a battle that could define the presidency of former investment banker Macron, who is determined to simplify a system of more than 40 pension plans that provide some of the world’s most generous benefits.
    “Yes, there is a need to reform the pension system.    But there’s no need to break it,” Philippe Martinez, head of the hard-left CGT union told public broadcaster France 2.    “Macron’s project is each to his own. Ours is about solidarity.”
    The unions urged rail workers, doctors, teachers and other public workers to turn the screws on Macron before his government unveils the details of its proposal on Wednesday.
    In Bordeaux and Marseille, thousands of protesters waved union flags and held up banners reading: “We have to get rid of Macron.”    Demonstrations are also taking place in Rennes, Lyon, Nantes and Paris.    In the capital, riot police fanned out along the Champs Elysees boulevard in central Paris and barricaded streets leading to the offices of Macron and his prime minister.
    The days ahead will test whether Macron can deliver the social and economic change he says is necessary for France to compete with powers like China and the United States.
    “What’s at stake goes much beyond simply overhauling the pension system,” said Christopher Dembik, an economist with Saxo Bank in Paris.    “For Emmanuel Macron, it’s about not losing face to the ‘old world’, to the institutions he vilified during his campaign, and to reassert his ability to reform the country.”
COMPROMISE AHEAD?
    Macron wants to replace the convoluted system with a single, points-based system, under which every pensioner has equal rights for each euro contributed.
    Failure to reform would mean a deficit of up to 17 billion euros ($18.74 billion), 0.7% of GDP, by 2025, an independent pension committee forecast.
    Macron is aware of the public opposition to simply raising the retirement age of 62.    One alternative is to curb benefits for those who stop working before 64 and give a boost to those who leave later.
    Room for concessions may lie in the pace at which the changes are phased in.
    The strike is among the biggest since 1995 when prime minister Alain Juppe was forced to abandon an overhaul of the pension system after weeks of industrial action.    Juppe’s cabinet never recovered from that defeat.
    The closer the strikes get to Christmas, the more difficult Macron will find it not to make substantial compromises, Saxo Bank’s Dembik said.
    Equally, the unions will also be wary of losing public support the longer the disruption continues.    A survey published in the Journal du Dimanche showed 53% of the public backed the strike for now.
    “This strike can’t go on forever because people will have enough,” said pharmacist Jean-Francois Vincent.    “Macron won’t cave in because that would show he is weak. But he will make concessions.”
(Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Peter Graff)

12/10/209 U.S. trade offensive takes out WTO as global arbiter by Philip Blenkinsop
World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo arrives for the General Council
at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. disruption of the global economic order reaches a major milestone on Tuesday as the World Trade Organization (WTO) loses its ability to intervene in trade wars, threatening the future of the Geneva-based body.
    Two years after starting to block appointments, the United States will finally paralyze the WTO’s Appellate Body, which acts as the supreme court for international trade, as two of three members exit and leave it unable to issue rulings.
    Major trade disputes, including the U.S. conflict with China and metal tariffs imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, will not be resolved by the global trade arbiter.
    Stephen Vaughn, who served as general counsel to the U.S. Trade Representative during Trump’s first two years, said many disputes would be settled in future by negotiations.
    Critics say this means a return to a post-war period of inconsistent settlements, problems the WTO’s creation in 1995 was designed to fix.
    The EU ambassador to the WTO told counterparts in Geneva on Monday the Appellate Body’s paralysis risked creating a system of economic relations based on power rather than rules.
    The crippling of dispute settlement comes as the WTO also struggles in its other major role of opening markets.
    The WTO club of 164 has not produced any international accord since abandoning “Doha Round” negotiations in 2015.
AMERICA FIRST
    Trade-restrictive measures among the G20 group of largest economies are at historic highs, compounded by Trump’s “America First” agenda and the trade war with China.
    Phil Hogan, the European Union’s new trade commissioner, said on Friday the WTO was no longer fit for purpose and in dire need of reforms going beyond just fixing the appeals mechanism.
    For developed countries, in particular, the WTO’s rules must change to take account of state-controlled enterprises.
    In 2017, Japan brought together the United States and the European Union in a joint bid to set new global rules on state subsidies and forced technology transfers.
    The U.S. is also pushing to limit the ability of WTO members to grant themselves developing status, which for example gives them longer to implement WTO agreements.
    Such “developing countries” include Singapore and Israel, but China is the clear focus.
    U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Reuters last week the United States wanted to end concessions given to then struggling economies that were no longer appropriate.
    “We’ve been spoiling countries for a very, very long time, so naturally they’re pushing back as we try to change things,” he said.
    The trouble with WTO reform is that changes require consensus to pass.    That includes Chinese backing.
    Beijing has published its own reform proposals with a string of grievances against U.S. actions.    Reform should resolve crucial issues threatening the WTO’s existence, while preserving the interests of developing countries.
    Many observers believe the WTO faces a pivotal moment in mid-2020 when its trade ministers gather in a drive to push though a multinational deal – on cutting fishing subsidies.
    “It’s not the WTO that will save the fish.    It’s the fish that are going to save the WTO,” said one ambassador.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; additional reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva, Andrea Shalal and David Lawder in Washington, Daniel Leussink and Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo and Gabriel Crossley in Beijing; Editing by Ed Osmond)

12/10/2019 WTO ban on tariffs for digital trade extended until June 2020 by Emma Farge
FILE PHOTO: The World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters are pictured in
Geneva, Switzerland, July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
    GENEVA (Reuters) – World Trade Organization (WTO) members agreed on Tuesday to renew a 20-year moratorium on placing tariffs on digital trade for six months, allaying fears that people would have to pay duties on e-books and software for the first time.
    The moratorium on digital trade worth an estimated $225 billion a year has been in place since 1998, but was due to expire in December and required unanimity at the WTO for renewal.
    “Members agree to maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until the 12th Ministerial Conference,” the General Council’s decision said, referring to a WTO meeting in Kazakhstan in June.
    The decision came after talks ran late into Monday evening, two trade officials said.
    Several countries, including India and South Africa, have expressed interest in lifting the moratorium as they develop their digital economies and seek to recuperate lost customs revenue as more trade becomes digital.    Some said this could lead to tit-to-tat tariffs on the internet.
    John Denton, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the decision and said it indicated “the continued value of the WTO as a forum for multilateral trade policy making” after members failed to resolve a crisis at its top court on Monday.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by David Clarke and Mark Potter)

12/10/2019 Rep. Lighthizer: USMCA ‘nothing short of a miracle’ by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
Richard Neal, D-Mass., left, speaks at a news conference to discuss the United States Mexico Canada Agreement
(USMCA) trade agreement, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    House Democrats have unveiled a revised version of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.    During a press conference Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touted the new proposal.
    “There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,” she stated.
    It will reportedly feature several changes, including stronger labor enforcement rules to protect workers rights in Mexico.    It will also protect biologic drugs from being imitated by other manufacturers for at least 10 years, which Democrats claim will help lower drug prices.
    While Democrats were able to add some language to the measure, the House speaker was not able to strip liability protections for online content.    This comes as a win for Big Tech companies.    This announcement is also a major victory for the Trump administration, who has made passing this bill and replacing NAFTA a top priority.
    President Trump expressed his enthusiasm for the progress on Twitter Tuesday, and also noted the bill is garnering support on both sides of the isle.
    His remarks come just one day after speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reaffirm their support for the agreement.    President Trump said the deal will benefit everyone and will provide jobs for millions of Americans.
FILE – In this June 27, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump talks on the telephone
in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
    Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer said the USMCA is the first “truly bipartisan” agreement and is “nothing short of a miracle.”    While meeting with Mexican and Canadian officials in Mexico City Tuesday, Lighthizer said the NAFTA replacement will last for decades and facilitate free trade across North America.
    The White House will submit text of the legislation to Congress likely in the coming days.    Lawmakers will then have 90 days to approve it.    House lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill next week, which will then be followed by a vote in the Senate.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer speaks during an event to sign an update to the North American
Free Trade Agreement, at the national palace in Mexico City, Tuesday, Dec. 10. 2019. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

12/10/2019 House GOP escalate feud over Nunes phone records by OAN Newsroom
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee,
and Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, talk on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    House Republicans are accusing House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff of carrying out a smear campaign against his GOP counterpart.    House Democrats have refused to explain how some phone records of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) were obtained and published in the Intelligence panel’s recent report.
    They have cited the records to accuse Nunes of working with the Trump administration to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations into the president’s opponents.    Call logs show Nunes was in contact earlier this year with Rudy Giuliani and other individuals swept up in the inquiry.
    Republicans have warned the move by Democrats is unprecedented and are now demanding answers.
    “So two questions are hanging out that everybody’s looking for an answer for, including me: who ordered it? …why was it decided for nothing but smears purposes to be included in the the Schiff report?” asked Rep. Doug Collin (R-Ga.).
    Schiff has argued it is standard procedure to seek phone records, while denying they were obtained through subpoenas.    Meanwhile, Republicans say they are concerned with names of individuals being revealed who are not under criminal investigation.

12/10/2019 President Trump criticizes FBI Director Wray for accepting Inspector General report by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable on school choice in the Cabinet Room
of the White House, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    The investigation into the Russia probe may be over, but the controversy continues.    While the president vehemently believes the 2016 FBI investigation was built on a political bias against him, not everyone involved agrees.
    “For two years, the President of the United States accused our premier law enforcement agency of treason, of trying to defeat him, of trying to stop him,” stated fired FBI Director James Comey.    “And it turns out that was all nonsense that was all lies.”
    Current FBI Director Christopher Wray also chimed in, saying “the Inspector General did not find political bias or improper motivations impacting the opening of the investigation or the decision to use certain investigative tools during the investigations.”
    The president responded by saying he did not know what report the current director of the FBI had read, while maintaining his position the FBI report was tainted by the political opinions of those involved in the investigation.
    The president’s comments come after both the former and current directors’ own statements, where they acknowledged grave mistakes were made by FBI personnel during the course of the investigation.
    “The Inspector General did find a number of instances where employees either failed to follow our policies, neglected to exercise appropriate diligence or in some other way fell short of the standard of conduct and performance that we, and that I as a director, expect of all of our employees,” said Wray.
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during an interview with The Associated Press,
Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Washington. Wray says the problems found by the Justice Department watchdog
examining the origins of the Russia probe are “unacceptable.” (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    His comments came after the Inspector General report found 17 instances of significant errors or omissions in the applications for FISA warrants.    The president went on to say if Wray’s attitude does not change, he will be unable to fix the FBI considering it’s already tarnished reputation. Wray has admitted the bureau is taking strides to remedy the missteps made by agents during the course of the 2016 investigation.

12/10/2019 House Democrats announce articles of impeachment by OAN Newsroom
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined from left by House Judiciary Committee
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., House Ways
and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff,
D-Calif., announces they are pushing ahead with two articles of impeachment. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    House Democrats have taken the historic and controversial step of drafting articles of impeachment against President Trump.    On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the committee chairs said they would be bringing two articles of impeachment; one for alleged abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress.
    The announcement comes after months of investigation and witness testimony from the House Intelligence Committee as well as two hearings from the Judiciary Committee regarding anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.
    “On this solemn day, I recall that the first order of business for members of Congress is the solemn act to take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” said Pelosi.    “It is with great respect and gratitude that I thank the chairs of the committees, the six committees that have been working to help us honor our oath of office.”
    The narrow scope of the articles would likely give cover for moderate Democrats, who are running for re-election in districts President Trump carried in 2016.     President Trump mocked the Democrats impeachment inquiry while taking to Twitter on Tuesday.
    The president ended the tweet with the hashtag “#2020Election," suggesting the voters will decide who will get to stay in power once the impeachment process is over.
    He also took time to blast House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler for claiming he pressured Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election.    The president called Nadler’s claim ridiculous, and pointed out Ukraine’s president and foreign minister have said many times there was no pressure even though the Democrats refuse to acknowledge it.    This comes after Nadler insinuated the president’s supposed pressure on Ukraine amounts to an abuse of power and is an impeachable offense.
    GOP lawmakers are also weighing in on the issue. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said, “we’re watching the political impeachment the founders warned about in real time.”    He then said Democrats are more concerned about the “clock and calendar than facts or fairness.”
House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., leaves after a television interview
as House Democrats unveil articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, abuse of power and
obstruction of Congress, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Meanwhile, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) called the impeachment inquiry a disgusting charade and said Democrats are the ones who are guilty of abuse of power and obstruction, and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) took to Twitter to point out that Democrats have flip-flopped when it comes to questioning U.S. elections.
    This all comes one day after the Department of Justice Inspector General released its report on FISA abuses by the Obama-era FBI and Justice Department in 2016.    Attorney General William Barr commented on the report, saying it’s now clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign.    While this was what started the Mueller investigation, a separate probe into the origins of the Russia investigation is still ongoing.

12/10/2019 President Trump gearing-up to hold ‘Keep America Great’ rally in Hershey, Pa. by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump pumps his fist to the crowd after speaking to a
campaign rally in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    President Trump is gearing-up to hold a ‘Keep America Great’ rally in Pennsylvania.    He will touch down in Hershey Tuesday evening, where he will hold another one of his signature events at the Giant Center.
    In a recent statement, Trump campaign Chief Operating Officer Michael Glassner said the Keystone State is booming thanks to the president and the increase of American jobs.    Glassner also said the president is delivering on his promises, and looks forward to celebrating those successes with the great men and women of Pennsylvania.
    The president is seeking to win the state again in the 2020 election after taking the state by less than 1 percent in 2016.    Democrat presidential candidates had previously won the state in every race since 1992, that is until Until Donald Trump entered the race.
    One America News will provide full coverage of President Trump’s ‘Keep America Great’ campaign rally starting at 7 p.m. EST and 4 p.m. PST.

12/10/2019 National Infrastructure Advisory Council: Cyber threats pose an existential threat to the nation by OAN Newsroom
(Representational AP image)
    According to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, the country isn’t prepared to handle a major cyber attack from a foreign rival.    Their warning came in a draft report to President Trump this week in which it asks the administration to act quickly and take bold action.
    The council recommended the president create a “critical infrastructure command center,” which it said would help government agencies and companies at risk share classified information on possible cyber threats.    Furthermore, council officials also strongly suggested the commander-in-chief sign an executive order to create a “federal cybersecurity commission,” which would study and mitigate possible cyber attacks to the country’s energy, communications and financial sectors.
    The root of all these concerns stemmed from the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment.    It found that China, Iran, and Russia could easily launch disruptive cyber attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure.    Meanwhile, other U.S. security specialists are also sounding the alarm to the potential catastrophes foreign entities could inflict on the country.
    “It’s not individuals who are doing the attacks, it is, as you say, nation-states,” explained National Security and cyber risk expert Richard Clarke.    “It’s the Russian Army, Russian Intelligence, Russian Military Intelligence, the GRU..the North Korean army is funding its developments of nuclear weapons by hacking companies and stealing money all over the world.”
File – A cybersecurity official is pictured. (AP Photo)
    U.S. companies are ill-equipped to win against attacks by nation-states.    That’s why the National Infrastructure Advisory Council is worried the nation’s private sector could crumble if faced with a coordinated cyber attack. At the same time, national defense leaders say it would be almost impossible for the U.S. military, alone, to combat security threats like these.
    “I mean, how could the Pentagon defend your regional bank, how could the Pentagon defend the telephone company or a retail store?” Clarke asked.    “It can’t.”
    The cyber specialists will reportedly discuss their security recommendations more in depth this Friday alongside officials of President Trump’s administration.

12/10/2019 Russia’s Lavrov calls on U.S. to publish bilateral communications over 2016 election by Humeyra Pamuk and Susan Heavey
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addresses a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo at the State Department in Washington, U.S., December 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said Moscow wanted to publish a cache of communications with Washington that he said cleared Russia of allegations it interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, but that the United States has blocked their release.
    During a joint news conference with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Lavrov once again dismissed the American accusation that Moscow tried to sway the 2016 election, which resulted in the upset victory of President Donald Trump.
    “We suggested to our colleagues that in order to dispel all suspicions that are baseless: Let us publish this close channel of correspondence starting from October 2016 until November 2017 so it would all become very clear to many people,” Lavrov said through an interpreter at the news conference.
    “However, regrettably, this administration refused to do so,” added Lavrov, who has begun his meeting with Trump at the White House.    “We are prepared to do that, to publish the correspondence that took place.”
    It was not immediately clear what communications Lavrov was referring to.    He said Moscow “used the channels that existed” between Washington and Moscow at the time in 2016 with the Obama administration, and had got “zero response” when it appealed for an opportunity to directly discuss the allegations.
    U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian state meddled in the election campaign, and a number of Russian citizens and entities were charged by then-U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
    Russia has long denied interfering in the run-up to the November 2016 election in which Republican Trump was the surprise winner against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
    Standing next to Lavrov at the news conference, Pompeo warned Moscow against interfering in next November’s U.S. election.
    “I was clear it is unacceptable and I made our expectations of Russia clear.    The Trump administration will always work to protect the integrity of our elections, period.    Should Russia or any foreign actor take steps to undermine our democratic processes, we will take action in response,” he said.
    Lavrov ignored shouted questions from reporters on whether Russia will interfere in the 2020 elections as he entered the White House.
    On Monday, the U.S. Justice Department’s internal watchdog said that it found numerous errors but no evidence of political bias by the FBI when it opened an investigation into contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia in 2016.
(Reporting by Humyera Pamuk and Makini Brice; Writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Grant McCool)

12/11/2019 Oil up $0.22 to $59.24, DOW down 28 to 27,882.

12/11/2019 Formally accused by USA TODAY Network
    House Democrats unveil articles of impeachment against President Trump Articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump were unveiled Tuesday.
    The first of the articles revealed by House Democrats alleges Trump abused his power by urging Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden as Trump withheld military aid. The second article alleges Trump obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate with the House investigation, including defying subpoenas for documents and testimony.
    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler referred to “a president who sees himself as above the law.”
    Trump again called the inquiry a “WITCH HUNT!” And the White House called the articles a “baseless and partisan attempt to undermine” the president.
    “No one, not even the president, is above the law.” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., House Judiciary Committee chairman
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and other House Democratic
leaders unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday. SUSAN WALSH/AP
12/11/2019 Impeachment articles unveiled - Alleged: Abuse of power, obstruction of Congress by Bart Jansen and Christal Hayes, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – House Democrats unveiled articles of impeachment Tuesday, accusing President Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, setting up a constitutional clash between the two branches of government that has only happened three times.
    The accusations closely track the Intelligence Committee’s findings about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.    The panel found Trump withheld a meeting and military aid from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy while pressuring his counterpart to investigate one of his political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden.
    The first article alleges Trump abused his power by urging the Ukraine investigation.
    The second article alleges Trump obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate with the House investigation, including defying subpoenas for documents and testimony.
    Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said it was an abuse of power for Trump to obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest.    Nadler said Trump’s stonewalling and “indiscriminate defiance” of the investigation represented obstruction.
    “A president who declares himself above accountability, above the American people, and above Congress’ power of impeachment, which is meant to protect against threats to our democratic institutions, is a president who sees himself as above the law,” Nadler said.    “We must be clear: No one, not even the president, is above the law.”
    The nine-page articles stated the accusations against Trump were in response to a “scheme” to benefit his own reelection.
    “Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election,” the text said.    “He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage."
    “In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and under- mined the integrity of the United States democratic process,” the text said.
    Trump has called the inquiry a partisan “WITCH HUNT!” – a phrase he tweeted again Tuesday – and a “hoax.”    Trump met Zelenskiy and released the $391 million in aid without an announcement of investigations.    Congressional Republicans say Trump had the authority to suspend aid and set foreign policy.
    White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the articles a “baseless and partisan attempt to undermine a sitting president” that will hurt the American people rather than the president.
    “House Democrats have long wanted to overturn the votes of 63 million Americans,” Grisham said.    “They have determined that they must impeach President Trump because they cannot legitimately defeat him at the ballot box.    The Democrats’ use of a phone call with the president of Ukraine – with a transcript the President himself released – served as their excuse for this partisan, gratuitous and pathetic attempt to overthrow the Trump administration and the results of the 2016 election.”
    White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump is looking forward to the Senate trial and suggested the president might testify.
    “The president wants this sooner rather than later, because, again, he has done nothing wrong,” Gidley said.
    House Minority Leader Kevin Mc-Carthy, R-Calif., said it wasn’t hard to defend Trump because he had done nothing to merit impeachment while being treated unfairly by the Democratic majority.
    “It’s hard to defend Democrats because of how they’re running this House and what they’re doing by their majority,” McCarthy said.
    The announcement sets up Judiciary Committee votes expected later on whether to recommend each article to the full House.    If the House adopts the articles, the Senate would hold a trial in early 2020 to decide whether to remove Trump from office.    But he isn’t expected to be ousted because while Democrats control the House, Republicans control the Senate.
    Only two presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 – but neither was removed.    Former President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 after the Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment, but before a full House vote.
    The release of articles came a day after the Judiciary Committee held a hearing with lawyers on that panel and the Intelligence Committee who summarized the findings of their investigations.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, and other House Democratic leaders announce articles
of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP

12/11/2019 U.S. judge blocks $3.6 billion transfer to Mexican border wall by Ted Hesson
FILE PHOTO: A section of border fence is pictured by the U.S.-Mexico border in the
Rio Grande Valley near Hidalgo, Texas, U.S., October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Tuesday issued a permanent injunction barring President Donald Trump’s attempt to transfer $3.6 billion in military construction funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
    Judge David Briones, of U.S. District Court in El Paso, Texas, issued the injunction in a 21-page ruling.
    The ruling is a setback for Trump, whose administration has vowed to build at least 450 miles of wall along the border by November 2020, when the U.S. presidential election will take place. Trump has argued the wall will deter illegal border crossings, a major focus of his presidency.
    A Justice Department spokesman said the administration would appeal the ruling.
    Trump declared a national emergency last February in order to transfer funds from the Pentagon to build the wall after Congress refused to provide the level of funding he sought.
    Top Democrats in Congress have criticized the project as wasteful and ineffective.
    In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights, an El Paso-based immigration reform group, argued that Trump exceeded his authority when he declared the emergency and sought to redirect the funds.
    Kristy Parker, counsel for Protect Democracy, an organization that represented plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement that the order “affirms that the president is not a king and that our courts are willing to check him when he oversteps his bounds.”
    Briones ruled in October that the proclamation was unlawful and then asked the plaintiffs to file a proposed preliminary injunction.     He said in that ruling that the transfer of the military funds was unlawful because it went against the intent outlined by Congress in the spending bill it passed in January 2019.
    Trump had pressed Congress in December 2018 for $5.7 billion in funds to build a border wall, which led to 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government when Congress.    When lawmakers provided only a quarter of that amount, Trump declared immigration a national emergency as part of a plan to use a similar amount from the Defense Department and Treasury Department for wall construction.
    The Supreme Court ruled in July that the Trump administration could access a separate pot of $2.5 billion from a Pentagon counter-narcotics fund to pay for wall construction pending a related appeal – a major victory for Trump.
    Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said at news conference in El Paso last month that 83 miles of border wall had been built under Trump and that another 153 miles of border wall was under construction.
    “President Trump has been clear,” Wolf said.    “We will build the wall, and he is following through on his promise.”br> (Reporting by Ted Hesson; Editing by Leslie Adler)
[THE DEMS NEVER SEEM TO STOP TRYING TO PREVENT TRUMP FROM DOING THE RIGHT THING AND THIS WILL ONLY MAKE HIM GO UP TO THE NEXT HIGHEST COURT TO DEFEAT THEIR CONTINUE HATRED OF HIM AND THAT WALL WILL BE BUILT IN LIEU OF YOURE INTERFERENCE.].

12/11/2019 Exclusive: U.S. Army will fund rare earths plant for weapons development by Ernest Scheyder
FILE PHOTO: A front-end loader is used to reinforce a safety berm inside the open pit at
a rare earth facility in California June 29, 2015. REUTERS/David Becker/File Photo
    (Reuters) – The U.S. Army plans to fund construction of rare earths processing facilities, part of an urgent push by Washington to secure domestic supply of the minerals used to make military weapons and electronics, according to a government document seen by Reuters.
    The move would mark the first financial investment by the U.S. military into commercial-scale rare earths production since World War Two’s Manhattan Project built the first atomic bomb.
    It comes after President Donald Trump earlier this year ordered the military to update its supply chain for the niche materials, warning that reliance on other nations for the strategic minerals could hamper U.S. defenses.
    China, which refines most of the world’s rare earths, has threatened to stop exporting the specialized minerals to the United States, using its monopoly as a cudgel in the ongoing trade spat between the world’s two largest economies.
    “The U.S. rare earths industry needs big help to compete against the Chinese,” said Jim McKenzie, chief executive officer of UCore Rare Metals Inc , which is developing a rare earths project in Alaska.    “It’s not just about the money, but also the optics of broad support from Washington.”
    The Army division overseeing munitions last month asked miners for proposals on the cost of a pilot plant to produce so-called heavy rare earths, a less-common type of the specialized minerals that are highly sought after for use in weaponry, according to the document.
    Responses are due by Dec. 16. UCore, Texas Mineral Resources Corp and a joint venture between Lynas Corp and privately-held Blue Line Corp are among the expected respondents, according to company officials and sources familiar with the matter.
    The Army said it will fund up to two-thirds of a refiner’s cost and that it would fund at least one project and potentially more.     Applicants must provide a detailed business plan and specify where they will source their ore, among other factors.
    This latest move by the Army, a division of the Pentagon, comes after a military study earlier this year on the state of the U.S. rare earths supply chain.
    The rare earths tension between the U.S. and China goes back to at least 2010, when China limited exports to Japan after a diplomatic dispute, sending prices for the niche metals spiking and fueling concerns across the U.S. military that China could do the same to the United States.
    The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center and the U.S. Army headquarters did not respond to requests for comment.
    The request does not give a specific financial amount the Army could fund, though it is derived in part from the Defense Production Act (DPA), a 1950s-era U.S. law that gives the Pentagon wide financial latitude to procure equipment necessary for the national defense.
    A rare earth processing pilot plant could cost between $5 million and $20 million, depending on location, size and other factors, with a full-scale plant potentially costing more than $100 million to build, industry executives said.
    “It’s great to see interest in financially supporting the industry from the Department of Defense,” said Jon Blumenthal, CEO of Blue Line Corp, which earlier this year signed a memorandum of understanding to build a rare earth processing facility in Texas with Australia-based Lynas Corp .
    Blumenthal declined to comment when asked if Blue Line will respond to the Army’s request.    Lynas declined to comment.
    It is not clear how the Army will rank the responses given that much of the rare earths industry expertise is now located in China, though the modern rare earths industry itself had its genesis in the United States decades ago.
    “Instead of providing funds for yet another study, this allocates money toward establishing a U.S.-based rare earth supply chain,” said Anthony Marchese, CEO of Texas Mineral Resources, which is developing the Round Top mine in Texas with USA Rare Earth.
    After processing, however, rare earths need to be turned into rare earth magnets, found in precision-guided missiles, smart bombs and military jets and China controls the rare earths magnet industry, too.
    The Pentagon has not yet launched an effort to finance domestic magnet manufacturing.
    “Closing the magnet gap would do more to address the nation’s defense needs, and as well the needs of electric vehicle makers and others,” said Ryan Castilloux, managing director with Adamas Intelligence, a research firm that closely tracks the rare earths industry.
Graphic: Rare Earth Production – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/USA-TRADE-CHINA-RAREEARTH/0H001PGB36J0/eikon.png
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

12/11/2019 Sen. Graham: Serious doubts FISA courts can continue working if no legal action is taken against FBI by OAN Newsroom
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., holds up a copy of the “Steele Dossier” during a hearing with
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, to look at the
Inspector General’s report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently slammed the FBI for abusing its power to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on former Trump campaign official Carter Page.    During the Department of Justice Inspector General’s hearing Wednesday, the senator said there needs to be more “checks and balances to make sure something like this never happens again.”
    The Republican lawmaker also warned Inspector General Michael Horowitz against refusing to recommend charges against the bureau for mishandling the investigation.
    Graham went on to say he has serious doubts the FISA court can continue working if nothing is done, adding that the court will “lose his support” if no corrective action is taken.
    Meanwhile, Horowitz told senators the FBI maintained surveillance on Carter Page even when its investigation into him was winding down.    While discussing his report Wednesday, Horowitz outlined 17 instances where the bureau intentionally “omitted or withheld” information in their application for FISA warrants.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee
on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, during a hearing on the Inspector General’s
report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    One of the instances he touched on was the FBI learning information that undercut the credibility of the Steele dossier, which it failed to disclose to the FISA courts.    The Inspector General also said the FBI failed to include other exculpatory evidence regarding Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

12/11/2019 Rep. Steve Scalise responds to DOJ Inspector General’s findings on FISA abuse by OAN Newsroom
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.
The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have released a sweeping impeachment report outlining
evidence of what it calls President Donald Trump’s wrongdoing toward Ukraine. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) said some people should go to jail, following the release of the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report.    The House minority whip expressed concern over the findings in an interview Tuesday.    He said anyone who abuses their power, whether it be law enforcement or lawmakers, should be held accountable.
    Rep. Scalise reiterated that the Justice Department watchdog listed 17 instances of abuse of the FISA court process by FBI officials.    The agency used uncorroborated evidence to obtain warrants used to improperly surveil the 2016 Trump campaign and its adviser Carter Page.
    “The FISA court is controversial, there are people who don’t support it,” he stated.    “It’s an effective tool against terrorism, but it’s got to be used effectively and properly…otherwise it can be abused and was abused…which means it jeopardizes our national security.”
    Scalise went on to say he hopes Attorney General William Barr takes a deeper look into the matter and follows the Inspector General’s recommendations.    He’s also calling Democrats’ impeachment inquiry a “sham,” and said it shows they are scared the American people will reelect the president in 2020.

12/11/2019 Attorney General Barr doesn’t consider using legal privilege obstruction by OAN Newsroom
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, right, speaks
with from left Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi and Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters, D-Calif., second from right,
during a news conference to unveil articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Attorney General William Barr is speaking out on the impeachment inquiry and what he does not consider to be obstruction of justice.    While speaking to the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, Barr said he doesn’t believe using the authority granted to the president is impeachable.    His comments came on the same day Democrats unveiled two impeachment articles against President Trump, which includes abuse of power.
    The announcement comes after months of investigation and witness testimony from the House Intelligence Committee as well as two hearings from the House Judiciary Committee regarding anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.
    Barr explained why he believes the president is within his rights to claim privilege:
    “I will say on the other article of impeachment, relating to obstruction, I don’t believe it’s the case where somebody including a branch of government is asserting a legal privilege that they have under the law — that that constitutes obstruction.”
Attorney General William Barr gestures while speaking to the National Association of
Attorneys General, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment this week.    This all comes after the Department of Justice Inspector General released its report on FISA abuses by the Obama-era FBI and Justice Department in 2016.    Attorney General William Barr commented on the report, saying it’s now clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign.

12/11/2019 White House releases readout of meeting between President Trump, Russian foreign minister by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump walks onstage to speak at a campaign rally, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Hershey, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
    The White House has released a readout of Tuesday’s meeting between President Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.    According to officials, the president warned Russia against attempts to meddle with U.S. elections and called for a quicker peaceful resolution of the war in Ukraine.
    President Trump also urged Lavrov to renegotiate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to include China in order to prevent the uncontrolled development of nuclear missiles by Beijing.
    Lavrov also had meetings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top U.S. diplomats.    The officials urged Russia to boost mutual trade.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, is seated with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, before
their meeting at the State Department, Tues. Dec. 10, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    “We believe that there is a situation that we can get to, a conclusion that we might get to, just between the United States and Russia that improves strategic stability,” stated the U.S. secretary of state.    “We will continue to engage in conversations with the Russians and others with the aim of achieving that.”
    President Trump also urged Russia to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea, and support America’s push for free and fair global trade.

12/11/2019 Pompeo says Trump warned Russia on election meddling, disputes Lavrov’s account by Humeyra Pamuk
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes a statement to the press at the
State Department in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during their meeting that Moscow’s meddling in America’s elections is unacceptable, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, contradicting Lavrov’s account that the two didn’t discuss elections.
    Trump on Tuesday met with Lavrov at the White House, a visit that revived questions about whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election that brought Trump to power and whether it might do so again in 2020.
    The White House said after the meeting that Trump warned Russia not to interfere in the 2020 elections, a statement that showed the president taking a tougher position on the issue than in the past.    In 2018, flanked by Vladimir Putin, Trump said he believed the Russian leader’s claim that Moscow did not meddle in the 2016 vote, which put the president at odds with his own U.S. intelligence agencies.
    But Lavrov, when told about the White House statement, speaking through an interpreter at an evening news conference, said: “You know, we haven’t even actually discussed elections.”
    Pompeo disputed Lavrov’s account on Wednesday and said such a warning was delivered in every meeting he has been in on Tuesday and that he has attended three.
    “I can tell you that Foreign Minister Lavrov’s statement is not accurately a reflection of my recollection of that meeting. And there is no mistake that President Trump made clear in the meeting that he had with Lavrov … that President Trump personally, and America, finds their meddling in our elections unacceptable,” Pompeo said.
    Lavrov on Tuesday vehemently denied the American accusation that Moscow tried to sway the 2016 election and offered to publish a cache of communications between Washington and Moscow from that year which he said cleared Russia of the U.S. allegations.
    Lavrov’s last Oval Office meeting in May 2017 turned into a public relations disaster for Trump, who was accused by unnamed U.S. officials of divulging highly classified information during that meeting about a planned operation by the Islamic State militant group.    The allegations were denied by the White House.
    Trump was also blasted for media reports that he told Russian officials that firing FBI Director James Comey had relieved him of “great pressure.”    Comey’s dismissal ultimately led to a 22-month investigation by then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
    The inquiry laid bare what Mueller and U.S. intelligence agencies have described as a Russian campaign of hacking and propaganda to sow discord in the United States, denigrate 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and boost Trump.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis)

12/11/2019 Germany wants solution for WTO appeals panel by June: spokeswoman
FILE PHOTO: A red light is pictured at a pedestrian crossing in front of the World Trade Organization
headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany aims to find a permanent solution for the composition of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Appellate Body by June, Germany said on Wednesday after the United States effectively sealed the fate of the body.
    The Appellate Body needs a mininum of three judges to function but the terms of two of the three remaining members of the appeals panel expired on Tuesday without replacements due to a blocking strategy by the United States.
    That was a “heavy blow against the rules-based multilateral trade system,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Reuters, warning that the court was especially needed at a time when the global economy was suffering from a revival of protectionism.
    A foreign ministry spokeswoman had earlier said Germany would work with the European Union to devise a temporary solution and she hoped a permanent solution could be found before a WTO ministerial conference in June.
    U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been blocking appointments to the WTO’s seven-member Appellate Body that rules on trade disputes for more than two years.
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Andreas Rinke; Editing by Madeline Chambers and David Clarke)

12/11/2019 President Trump signs executive order targeting anti-Semitism by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump shows the executive order he signed combatting anti-Semitism in the U. S. during a Hanukkah reception
in the East Room of the White House Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    During a Hanukkah reception at the White House on Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at combating anti-Semitism.    The White House said this executive order will make clear that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to anti-Semitic discrimination.
    The move comes on the heels of Tuesday’s tragic shooting in Jersey City, where gunmen targeted a Jewish store in an alleged anti-Semitic act of violence.    The president addressed the tragedy before signing the order.
    “Yesterday, two wicked murderers opened fire at a kosher supermarket and killed four innocent souls, including a brave police officer who faced down the shooter.    With one heart, America weeps for the lives lost.    With one voice, we vow to crush the monstrous evil of anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it appears.” – Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States
    In a statement, the White House said the new order will “enshrine the definition from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance of anti-Semitism into an executive order and clarify that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to anti-Semitic acts.”
    The executive order was originally intended to expand a section of the act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin.    However, the president decided to add in the anti-Semitism element.
    “This action makes clear that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits the federal funding of universities and other institutions that engage in discrimination, applies to institutions that traffic in anti-Semitic hate,” said President Trump.    “This is our message to universities: if you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism.”
President Donald Trump signs an executive order combatting anti-Semitism in the U. S. during a Hanukkah reception
in the East Room of the White House Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    While President Trump has often been portrayed as a promoter of anti-Semitic rhetoric, many in the Jewish community consider him the most anti-Semitic, pro-Israel president ever.    Jewish proponents noted his support for Israel following the president’s recent decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem – something many presidents have promised to do, but did not for fear of global backlash.
    Vice President Mike Pence praised the new order as an “important step in defense of Jewish students across America” and emphasized that the administration “will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form.”

12/11/2019 Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Announces New Sanctions On Iran by OAN Newsroom
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a media availability at the
State Department, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is announcing new sanctions on Iran’s transportation industry over its ongoing weapons smuggling operation.    On Wednesday, he said the U.S. is imposing new sanctions on Tehran’s largest airlines and shipping companies in order to curb “the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction” in the country.
    “Today, I’m announcing designation of three Iranian transportation companies that helped Iran import items for its weapons of mass destruction programs,” stated Pompeo.    “These programs involved the siphoning of funds away from the oppressed Iranian people, and they augment the regime’s campaign of terror and intimidation at home and throughout the world.”
    Reports said Iran’s shipping company has been providing “lethal aid” to Yemen’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, while Iran’s airlines allegedly moved weapons and personnel for Hezbollah.
    Pompeo reaffirmed as long as Iran continues its “malign behavior,” the U.S. will continue a “campaign of maximum pressure.”
    “Iran must prioritize its people’s needs instead of squandering their resources to export terror,” he said.    “We support the Iranian people as they demand this!
    The secretary went on to say that these transportation industries should “be vigilant” and not let themselves be exploited by the Iranian regime and terrorist groups in the region.

12/11/2019 Department of Defense to focus on Russia over Iran, Syria by OAN Newsroom
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testifies to a House committee hearing on U.S. policy in Syria,
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    U.S. lawmakers are calling for the Trump administration to prioritize counter-terrorism over the cyber threats of Russia and China.    On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was rejected when he called U.S. allies to help counter Iran attacks.
    The Pentagon created a coalition following a series of Iranian attacks on foreign ships and oil fields this summer, which some allies were against.    The Trump administration has been combating Iran’s behavior by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and enforcing sanctions.
    However, Esper said the Department of Defense remains focused on global threats like Russia, as well as its expansion into nations like Turkey and Egypt.
    “As reflected in the National Defense Strategy, the Department of Defense prioritizes China, and then Russia, as our nation’s top national security challenges,” stated Secretary Esper.    “As we transition our focus towards great power and competition, we must also remain vigilant in countering threats from rogue states like Iran, and violent extremist organizations such as ISIS.”
    The secretary did not mention the countries who rejected him, but several countries have spoken out against the administration’s handling of Iran’s latest threats.

12/11/2019 IG Horowitz: Report doesn’t vindicate anyone, doesn’t refute political biases by OAN Newsroom
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing
on the Inspector General’s report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said his findings on FBI FISA abuse do not vindicate anyone, contradicting earlier remarks from the agency’s former director.    During his Senate testimony on Wednesday, the DOJ watchdog outlined the misdealings his office uncovered in its review.
    Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham read several statements by James Comey, in which the former FBI head dismissed the notion the FISA warrant process was abused.    Horowitz immediately shot down Comey’s claims.
    “I think the activities we found don’t here vindicate anybody who touched this,” he said.
    Sen. Graham responded to the IG’s claim by saying people should listen to Horowitz rather than Comey.    He added what happened in this instance should never happen again.
    “What happened here is the system failed,” stated Graham.    “People at the highest level of our government took the law in their own hands.”
    He went on to say that the report does not rule out a political bias behind the Russia probe. Both Graham and Horowitz said Democrat claims the IG report did not find a bias actually contradict what the report says.
Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, accompanied by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, left, and Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein,
D-Calif., right, holds up a report while giving an opening statement as Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz,
center foreground, testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Inspector General’s report on
alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    IG Horowitz emphasized that the author of the Trump-Russia dossier was biased.
    “We found in the course of this and we heard from Mr. Ohr…that he was desperate to prevent Mr. Trump’s election,” he said.
    The exchange between Graham and Horowitz suggested the separate probe by U.S. attorney John Durham could find political biases behind the actions of the FBI. 12/12/2019 Oil down $0.48 to $58.76, DOW up 30 to 27,911.

12/12/2019 Highlights: EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss climate, budget, Brexit
European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for talk on climate, the EU’s long-term budget, Brexit, the euro zone and Russia sanctions, among others.
    Here are comments made by them on Thursday ahead of the summit.    CHARLES MICHEL, EU COUNCIL PRESIDENT AND SUMMIT CHAIRMAN
CLIMATE
    “Climate change is the number one priority for this afternoon’s meeting.    I hope we will have an agreement. Climate neutrality is a very important goal.”
BUDGET
    “We have to discuss about the level of ambition for the next European budget.    We have also discuss about the right balance between the classical policies like cohesion and agriculture, and new policies like migration, climate and innovation.”
    “We have also to discus this proposal of own resources.”
BREXIT
    “I always show respect for the choice of the voters.    We will wait and we will see what will be the outcome of this election.” XAVIER BETTEL, LUXEMBOURG PM
BUDGET
    “Some people want to pay less, some people want to get more, others to do new things.    I wasn’t the best at mathematics but this, I think, is not going to add up.” ANDREJ BABIS, CZECH PM
CLIMATE
    “For me it is important to have certainty that nobody will stop us in the construction of nuclear power units.    Simply we have to have electricity for people, for firms, and heating.    And that is the priority and I will see.    I don’t rule out anything.”
(Compiled by Gabriela Baczynska)

12/12/2019 House Judiciary Republicans slam Democrats over ‘unfair treatment’ by OAN Newsroom
From left, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member, and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa.,
speak to reporters during a break from the markup of articles of impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee
against President Donald Trump, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    GOP Congress members slammed their Democrat counterparts for unfair treatment during the impeachment process.    During Thursday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, a debate erupted after ranking Republican Doug Collins tried to schedule a “minority day of hearings.”
    This hearing would allow Republicans to question witnesses, who they felt had an impact on the process.
    Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler ruled against the hearing, prompting Collins to condemn the Democrats’ attempt to silence the committee’s minority.
    “As we go forward, we’ll have plenty of time to show the complete farce of substance,” stated Rep. Collins.    “But Mr. Chairman, what will live from this day is your ruling, and the majority’s ruling, of minority rights are dead in this Congress.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., left, and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.,
the ranking member, hold the markup of articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump,
Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    On Twitter, the congressman added that the Judiciary Committee has been “reduced to a rubber stamp for Speaker Pelosi and Adam Schiff’s rigged impeachment.”
    Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko also weighed in on the issue.    She said she was “disturbed” by the ruling and pointed out the House rules require the Democrats to schedule a minority hearing.
    “The rules have been thrown out the window here on this process, I just can’t believe it,” said Rep. Lesko.    “It just continues to amaze me how corrupt, how unfair, this process has been from the start.”

12/12/2019 Pelosi, McCarthy not pressuring lawmakers on impeachment vote by OAN Newsroom
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference
on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
    House leaders on both sides of the aisle are addressing the inevitable full floor vote on articles of impeachment.    On Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not be whipping moderates to vote for the articles.    She said the vote will be about each lawmaker’s individual point of view.
    “We are not whipping this legislation, nor would we ever with something like this,” stated Pelosi.    “They’ll make their own decisions, I don’t say anything to them.”
    The speaker’s remarks come as a parade of Democrats have reportedly said they might vote against impeachment.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to reporters after Speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced earlier that the House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment
against President Donald Trump, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    By contrast, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters the GOP is so united against impeaching the president that they are not worried about any Republican defections.
    “I really don’t know that we’re whipping this vote.    I don’t think there’s a need to whip the vote.    If you watch the impeachment inquiry, the only bipartisan vote was no.    If you watch what has come forth since that, there’s no reason to change that vote.    And if I read the reports from the Democrats, there’s more that’s going to join us.” – Kevin McCarthy, U.S. Representative.
    The congressman went on to call the inquiry a sham and suggested Democrats sought to impeach President Trump before the investigation even took place.
    This came after vulnerable Democrats reportedly signaled they would rather vote on censuring the president instead of impeaching him.

12/12/2019 U.S. Defense Secretary: Allies rejected Persian Gulf maritime coalition by OAN Newsroom
In this Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, photo made available by U.S. Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln,
left, the air-defense destroyer HMS Defender and the guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut transit the Strait of Hormuz
with the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf. The U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln sent to the Mideast
in May over tensions with Iran. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Pearson/U.S. Navy via AP)
    According to U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, U.S. allies have rejected his calls for help to counter Iran’s attacks on a number of shipping vessels earlier this year.    In a congressional hearing Wednesday, Esper said only six countries have agreed to join the U.S. in protecting commercial trade in the Persian Gulf despite him making calls to U.S. allies worldwide.
    This comes after the Pentagon launched a coalition, following a series of Iranian attacks on foreign ships and oil fields from June through September.    Esper said although the U.S. is mostly concerned about threats from Russia and China, the country should also turn its focus to regimes like Iran.
    “As reflected in the National Defense Strategy, the Department of Defense prioritizes China and then Russia as our nation’s top national security challenges.” he explained.    “As we transition our focus towards great power competition, we must also remain vigilant in countering threats from rogue states like Iran and violent extremist organizations such as ISIS.”
    Meanwhile, the Trump administration has continued its maximum pressure campaign against the regime in hopes of curbing the country’s behavior and hashing-out a new nuclear deal.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testifies to a House committee hearing on U.S. policy in Syria,
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

12/12/2019 Steve Bannon: President Trump looking for ‘exoneration’ not acquittal in impeachment trial by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, talks about
the election during an interview in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
    According to former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, the president is looking for more than just an acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial.    During an interview Thursday, the former White House official said President Trump will be looking to Republicans to fully exonerate him of any wrongdoing.
    Bannon also criticized the House Democrats public impeachment hearings as a “show trial,” adding that the entire Ukraine affair was just the president doing what the voters sent him to do.
    “I think the President of the United States is not just gonna look for some simple acquittal, he’s got the votes, but he’s gonna to look to be exonerated,” stated the former White House offical.    “He believes and I think his followers believe, and now all of the Republican Party believe that what he did was correct…it is what he was hired to do and he needs to be exonerated not just acquitted by some majority vote.”
    Bannon went on to suggest the public impeachment hearings backfired on the Democrats, and Nancy Pelosi may have made a critical political error by trying to appease the liberal base.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attends a health care event at the
Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

12/12/2019 United Kingdom votes to decide the fate of Brexit, again by Guy Faulconbridge and Elizabeth Piper
People arrive at a polling station at "Back on the Map" Community Centre during
the general election in Sunderland, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Craig Brough
    LONDON (Reuters) – Voters went to the polls on Thursday in an election that will pave the way for Brexit under Prime Minister Boris Johnson or propel Britain towards another referendum that could ultimately reverse the decision to leave the European Union.
    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.
    All major opinion polls suggest Johnson will win, though pollsters got the 2016 referendum wrong and their models predict outcomes ranging from a hung parliament to the biggest Conservative landslide since the era of Margaret Thatcher.
    Seven eve-of-election opinion polls published on Wednesday showed the Conservatives ahead of Labour by an average of nearly 10 points although Labour narrowed the gap in four of them.
    “We could have a Conservative majority government which will get Brexit done and unleash Britain’s potential,” Johnson told campaigners.    “This election is our chance to end the gridlock but the result is on a knife-edge.”
    Corbyn said the Conservatives were the party of “billionaires” while Labour represented the many.
    “You can vote for despair and vote for the dishonesty of this government, or you can vote Labour and get a government that can bring hope to the future,” he said.
    Polls opened at 0700 GMT and will close at 2200 GMT when an exit poll will give the first indications of the result.    Official results from the bulk of the United Kingdom’s 650 constituencies begin to come in from 2300 GMT to 0500 GMT.
    While Brexit framed the United Kingdom’s first December election since 1923, the tortuous exit from the EU has variously fatigued, enthused and enraged voters while eroding loyalties to the two major parties.
    Factbox: the 50 seats to watch (https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-election-seats-factbox/factbox-the-british-election-50-seats-to-watch-idUKKBN1YF1WQ?il=0
BREXIT AND BORIS
    A majority would allow Johnson to lead the country out of the club it joined in 1973, but Brexit would be far from over.    He must negotiate a trade agreement with the EU in a self-imposed deadline of 11 months.
    After Jan. 31, Britain would enter a transition period during which it would negotiate a new relationship with the 27 EU members.    He has pledged to do that by the end of 2020.
    Sterling markets are pricing in a Johnson win and the pound was up against the dollar and the euro in early trading on Thursday.
    But two historic referendums – on Scottish independence in 2014 and Brexit in 2016 – and two national elections in 2015 and 2017 have delivered often unexpected results that ushered in political crises.
    The election pitches two of the most unconventional British politicians of recent years against each other.    Both have been repeatedly written off by opponents and both offer starkly different visions for the world’s fifth-largest economy.
    Johnson’s pitch is Brexit but he shrank from anything more radical in a heavily choreographed campaign.    Corbyn pitched what he calls a radical transformation for a country long wedded to free-market liberalism.
    Johnson, the New York-born former mayor of London, won the top job in July.    His predecessor, Theresa May, resigned after failing to get parliamentary backing for her Brexit deal with the EU and then losing her party’s majority in a snap election.
    Johnson defied critics by striking a new deal with the EU but was unable to navigate the maze of a divided British parliament and was defeated by opponents whom he portrayed as subverting the will of the people.
    The United Kingdom voted 52%-48% in 2016 to quit the EU. But parliament has been deadlocked since May’s failed bet on a 2017 snap election over how, when and even whether to leave.
    Corbyn, once an opponent of the EU, says he would remain neutral if he was a prime minister overseeing another referendum.    He pledged to overthrow a “rigged system” he said was run by billionaires and tax dodgers.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; additional reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

12/12/2019 Report: China, U.S. reach agreement on phase one trade deal by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this June 29, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump poses for a photo with Chinese President Xi Jinping
during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, western Japan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
    The U.S. and China have reportedly reached an agreement on the terms of a phase one trade deal.    Sources said the two sides have come to an agreement on the principles of that deal, which was reviewed by the president on Thursday afternoon.
    Ahead of a meeting with his economic advisers earlier that day, President Trump hinted that a deal was close.
    Reports said China has agreed to purchase roughly $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products in 2020 as part of the new deal.
    The agreement came after two months of negotiations and ahead of a key tariff deadline.    The U.S. was set to impose additional tariffs on Beijing this Sunday, but has since offered to delay those measures and slash previous trade duties in half.
[IT LOOKS LIKE CHINA REALIZES THAT TRUMP IS NOT GOING AWAY IN 2020.].

12/12/2019 Wall Street hits records on news of U.S.-China trade deal by Lewis Krauskopf
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes hit record highs on Thursday following news that the United States had reached a “deal in principle” with China to resolve a trade war that has rattled markets for nearly two years.     Stocks were boosted in the morning when President Donald Trump tweeted that the United States was close to a deal ahead of Sunday, when a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods has been set to go into effect.    Later in the day, reports emerged that the two countries had reached a deal in principle.
    Wall Street has focused on the new round of tariffs, hopeful they would at least be delayed as the world’s two largest economies make progress on an initial trade deal.
    “It’s been a long, painful process to come to a deal, if this is it,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.    “Certainly it’s something that the market has been looking for as maybe the last real near-term drawback to the market.”
(Graphic: U.S.-China trade war timeline Image link: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/0100B4QY2GK/china-trade.png)
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 220.75 points, or 0.79%, to 28,132.05, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 26.94 points, or 0.86%, to 3,168.57, and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 63.27 points, or 0.73%, to 8,717.32.
    All three indexes hit intraday records, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq posted record high closes.
    Investors expressed some wariness of placing too much faith in the trade developments given the continued ups and downs during the prolonged U.S.-China trade saga.
    The benchmark S&P index has gained 26% so far in 2019, fueled by interest rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve and better-than-expected corporate profits along with optimism over the U.S.-China trade relations.
    On Wednesday the Fed held interest rates steady in its last policy meeting of the year and signaled borrowing costs will not change anytime soon.    On Thursday, Europe’s central bank held its rates steady, and its new head struck a more upbeat tone on the economy.
    Among S&P 500 sectors, financials <.SPSY> and energy <.SPNY> gained the most on Thursday, while defensive groups, including real estate <.SPLRCR> and utilities <.SPLRCU>, were negative.
    In company news, Facebook Inc shares fell 2.7% after the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is considering seeking a preliminary injunction against the social media company.
    Delta Air Lines Inc shares rose 2.9% as the company projected another annual rise in profit and revenue in 2020.
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.89-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.85-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted 83 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 195 new highs and 56 new lows.
    About 8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, well above the 6.7 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Alistair Bell and Leslie Adler)

12/12/2019 Senate passes motion to recognize Armenian genocide by Turkey by OAN Newsroom
Ranking Member Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the
future of U.S. policy towards Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 in Washington, on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a resolution to condemn the Armenian genocide by Turkey.    On Thursday, lawmakers voted to officially recognize and commemorate the genocide, which took place in the Ottoman Empire back in 1915.
    “The Senate stands on the right side of history in doing so,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.    “It commemorates the truth of the Armenian genocide.”
    Ankara displaced and executed hundreds of thousands of Armenian civilians during WWI for helping the advancing Russian army.
    The new resolution added to a similar motion by the House, which banned the denial of Armenian genocide.
    Some Republicans expressed concern the move could further impair relations between Turkey and the U.S. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan previously said U.S. efforts to condemn the so-called genocide could damage bilateral ties between Ankara and Washington.     “We would consider such an accusation as the biggest insult against our people,” stated Erdogan.    “Hopefully, Turkish Parliament will immediately give the rightful response to this step, that is against historical realities and that has been taken completely with domestic concerns.”

12/12/2019 Pentagon tests banned missile after collapse of Russia nuclear treaty by OAN Newsroom
Screen-grab from the Department of Defense’s official missile test video.
    The Department of Defense is testing a ballistic missile that was banned for decades under a now-defunct nuclear treaty with Russia.    The missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday and crash landed into the Pacific Ocean after flying more than 300 miles.
    Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the test team began work after the U.S. suspended its INF Treaty obligations in February.    He said such launches usually require several years to plan and execute, and congratulated the team for their quick work.
    “Congrats to the joint government industry team for going from concept to launch in less than nine months!” said Esper.    “This achievement demonstrates America’s ability to respond to critical national security challenges.”
Pentagon officials said these tests will increase America’s capability to launch mid-range missiles.
    “The U.S. Air Force, in partnership with the Strategic Capabilities Office, conducted a flight test of a prototype conventionally configured, ground launched ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,” stated Pentagon spokesman Robert Carver.    “Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”
    Some have speculated the move could mark a new round of military escalation between the U.S. and Russia.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper waits for the arrival of Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and Finnish Defense
Minister Antti Kaikkonen at the Pentagon in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

12/12/2019 Pentagon to strengthen screening process for foreign military students by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this June 3, 2011, file photo, the Pentagon is seen from air from Air Force One. The House has
passed its annual defense policy measure, which combines a $738 billion Pentagon price tag with legislation
to provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
    After last week’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pentagon said it’s planning to step up the vetting process for foreign military students.    On Thursday, a Defense Department spokesman said the screening process for new students will be strengthened and no new students will be accepted until it is in place.
    The gunman, a Saudi aviation student, killed three sailors and injured eight others before being taken down by authorities last Friday.
    “I want to discuss the recent shootings in Pearl Harbor and Pensacola. The entire Department of Defense is devastated.    The number one priority is the safety and security of our people and their families.    Our thoughts are with the families of those injured.” – Jonathan Hoffman, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
    In response to these incidents, the Department of Defense has also suspended training for all Saudi Arabian students in U.S. military programs.
    “The classroom training is restricted to the Saudi students that are in the country at this time, not applying to students from other nationalities,” said Hoffman.    “With regard to new students coming into the country at this time, we haven’t had any new students come in.”
    The Pentagon said it’s currently investigating a number of Saudi students, who allegedly knew the shooter and have had their movement restricted on base.

12/12/2019 Speaker Pelosi says the government will not be shut down by OAN Newsroom
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference
on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
    On Thursday, Congress members reportedly negotiated a tentative spending deal, which will keep the government funded and avoid a shutdown.    The White House has yet to approve the estimated $1.4 trillion budget, but reports said the deal is expected to be finalized next week.
    The accord came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with other lawmakers to negotiate a budget on Thursday.
    Pelosi has insisted there won’t be a government shutdown.    The House speaker said she hoped the lower chamber would reach a decision on the package of spending bills rather than resorting to a continuing resolution, which would delay negotiations and a potential shutdown.
    Despite disagreements between Democrats and Republicans, she said lawmakers must remain determined to pass legislation as time is running out.
    “We are not going to have a shutdown of government,” said Pelosi.    “There’s nothing as dispositive of getting it done than the clock, because we have until the end of next week.”
    Last year, lawmakers hit an impasse over government spending, in part because of the president’s push for border wall funding.
[BESIDES THE USMCA BEING PASSED THEY ALSO HAD TO GIVE TRUMP HIS BORDER WALL MONEY FOR IT TO PASS EVEN AS A LAWSUIT IS FILED AGAINST HIM SO I WOULD GUESS THAT WAS A REQUIREMENT TO GET THE BILL PASSED SO THE DO NOTHING CONGRESS COULD SHOW EVERYONE THAT THEY DID SOMETHING BESIDE SUPONEAS AND IMPEACHING.].

12/12/2019 Report: Boris Johnson’s conservatives win majority in Parliament by OAN Newsroom
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his ruling Conservative Party’s final election campaign rally at the
Copper Box Arena in London, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has secured a large conservative majority in Parliament following the U.K.’s snap general election on Thursday. According to preliminary results from BBC, Johnson’s Conservative Party is on course to get 368 seats in Parliament, which is up from the current 298 seats.
    The Labour opposition is projected to get 198 seats, while its allies – Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats – are expected to get 55 and 13 seats respectively.
    The prime minister took to Twitter to thank voters and volunteers for their support.
    Ballots are still being counted and the final results are expected on Friday.    Experts said Johnson will be able to pass his Brexit deal and advance his post-Brexit agenda in the coming weeks.
Ballot boxes are opened at the Leisure Centre, in Omagh, Northern Ireland, as counting gets
underway for the 2019 General Election, Thursday Dec. 12, 2019. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP)

12/13/2019 Oil up $0.62 to $59.42, DOW up 221 to 28,132 another record during the Democrats Impeachment hearing which is a sign that “AMERICA FIRST” is working for the people.

12/13/2019 Panel moves toward Trump vote - Parties maintain unity as long debate rages by Mary Clare Jalonick and Lisa Mascaro, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee argued through a marathon session Thursday ahead of voting to send impeachment charges against President Donald Trump to the full House, the latest big step as the politically split Congress debates whether to remove Trump from office.
    Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded confident Democrats will have the votes to impeach the president next week but said it is up to individual lawmakers to weigh the evidence and decide for themselves. Republicans seem unwavering in their opposition to expelling Trump.
    “The fact is we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Pelosi told reporters.    “No one is above the law; the president will be held accountable for his abuse of power and his obstruction of Congress.”
    Trump, apparently watching the live proceedings on television, tweeted his criticism of two Democratic women on the panel, Reps. Veronica Escobar and Sheila Jackson Lee, both of Texas.    He called their comments about his actions inaccurate.
    “Very sad,” Trump tweeted.
    As the hearing began, lawmakers dug in for the second day of the Judiciary session, only the fourth time in U.S. history a president is facing impeachment, to consider the two articles brought by Democrats.    They charge Trump with abuse of power for asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden while withholding aid as leverage and with obstruction of Congress for stonewalling the House’s investigation.
    Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., immediately asked for a full reading of the nine-page resolution, airing the two articles of impeachment against the president for the live TV cameras.    It was expected to be a long day of fights over amendments, primarily by Republicans trying to stop the impeachment.    They were likely to be rejected by Democrats along party lines.
    The top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, called the proceedings a “farce” and said they should be halted until his side was provided a chance for its own hearing. The request was denied.
    First up was an amendment from GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who tried to delete the first charge against Trump.    “This amendment strikes article 1 because article 1 ignores the truth,” he declared.
    Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., argued there was “overwhelming evidence” that the president, in pushing Ukraine to investigate rival Biden, was engaged in an abuse of power “to corrupt American elections.”
    Debate on that first Republican amendment lasted for nearly three hours before the panel rejected it, 23-17, on a party-line vote.
    Thursday’s hearing picked up where Wednesday’s late-night session left off.
    Into the night, Democrats and Republicans delivered sharp, poignant and, at times, personal arguments for and against impeachment.
    Cicilline asked Republicans standing with Trump to “wake up” and honor their oath of office.    Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana responded with his own request to “put your country over party.”
    For all the debate, the articles weren’t likely to be changed.    Democrats were unlikely to accept any amendments proposed by Republicans unified against Trump’s impeachment.
    Democrats are also unified.    They have agreed to the articles’ language, which says that Trump acted “corruptly” and “betrayed the nation.”    Hamstrung in the minority, Republicans wouldn’t have the votes to make changes without support from at least some Democrats.
    Nadler said the committee should consider whether the evidence shows that Trump committed the acts he’s accused of, whether they rise to the level of impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors and what the consequences will be if Congress fails to act.
    “When his time has passed, when his grip on our politics is gone, when our country returns, as surely it will, to calmer times and stronger leadership, history will look back on our actions here today,” Nadler said.
How would you be remembered?
    Republicans are also sending messages to the American people – and to Trump himself – as they argue that the articles show Democrats are out to get the president. Most Republicans contend, as Trump does, that he has done nothing wrong, and all of them are expected to vote against the articles.
    Collins argued that Democrats are impeaching the president because they think they can’t beat him in the 2020 election.
    Democrats think the only thing they need is a “32-second commercial saying we impeached him,” Collins said.
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is heckled Thursday during a break from the House Judiciary Committee proceedings. ANDREW HARNIK/AP

12/13/2019 How Boris Johnson’s election gamble paid off by Elizabeth Piper
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves a polling station at the Methodist Central Hall, with his dog Dilyn,
after voting in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    (Reuters) – It was a straight forward message: “Get Brexit done.”
    The mantra of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party during the national election campaign was aimed at harnessing voter frustration at a parliamentary logjam over Britain’s exit from the European Union.
    It worked.
    Beyond the traditional strategy of swaying voters in swing districts held by the main opposition Labour Party, Johnson wanted to strike directly at Labour’s heartlands in the hopes of winning support from people who had never voted Conservative but for whom Brexit had come to trump even traditional party allegiances.
    The Conservatives secured a sweeping victory, winning more than 360 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons – the party’s largest majority since under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.    The result handed Johnson his first national election victory but also delivered a dramatic blow to his main competitor, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour Party suffered heavy losses.
    For 55-year old Johnson, who only entered Downing Street this summer after his Conservative predecessor resigned, calling an election had been a high-stakes gamble.
    But he also considered it a necessity to convert his party’s minority in the House of Commons into a majority and move his government’s agenda forward. Notably, that includes Britain – the world’s fifth largest economy – exiting the European Union by the end of January, which would mark the country’s most significant trade and foreign policy move since World War Two.
    The five-week campaign also saw Johnson facing questions about his personal trustworthiness after his repeated failed promises during the year to deliver Brexit by the end of October “do or die.”
    He faced allegations of failing to disclose close personal ties with a U.S. businesswoman who had received thousands of pounds in public business funding while he had been mayor. Jennifer Arcuri publicly said during the campaign she had had “a very special relationship” with Johnson, who has denied any impropriety.    A government audit report ruled that a ministerial department’s decision to award a 100,000 pound ($128,000) grant to a company run by Arcuri was appropriate.
    The plan early in the campaign was to target around 40 traditionally Labour supporting seats in northern and central England, a party source close to the campaign said. Johnson launched the Conservative campaign battle bus in Middleton in northwest England, in a district with a slim Labour majority but which saw 62% of voters back Brexit in 2016.
    “The strategy is to woo Brexit Party supporters of all colors and to specifically court Labour leave voters especially in the North and Midlands,” said the source, speaking on Oct. 29, the day the House of Commons approved an early election.
    “The themes are people versus parliament, let’s get Brexit done and move on, and a very merry Brexit to everyone.”
    Exit polls Thursday evening suggesting a major victory for Johnson caught some in the Conservative camp off guard.    “I was stunned,” said one member of Johnson’s campaign team, who described the sense of relief that the campaign strategy to keep on message had worked.
    As the results of the election rolled in early Friday, it became clear that the Conservatives had succeeded in scooping up seats in districts that had voted Labour for generations, including places like Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield, the seat held by former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.    However, Johnson’s party had lost seats in some more pro-EU constituencies, such as Putney in London.
    “This election means that getting Brexit down is now the irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people,” said an ebullient Johnson on Friday morning.
    He also addressed those who had voted Conservative for the first time by saying “you may only have lent us your vote” and “you may intend to return to Labour next time round.” He added: “I and we will never take your support for granted.”
CORE MESSAGE
    His often-ruffled appearance, including a distinctive mop of blonde hair, marks a contrast to the discipline and ruthlessness he displayed to get to this point.
    Johnson – full name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson – took office in July after winning a Conservative Party leadership contest triggered by the resignation of former Prime Minister Theresa May.    She had failed to win backing by parliament for a Brexit divorce agreement she had negotiated with the EU.
    The new prime minister and his team concluded early on that the only way to change the arithmetic in the House of Commons was to force a new election.    But he needed a united front – no easy feat for a party where the issue of Europe has caused infighting and played a role in the downfall of the previous four Conservative prime ministers.
    During his first weeks in office he oversaw one of the biggest purges of cabinet ministers in modern British history and expelled from his party 21 Conservative lawmakers who had voted against the prime minister on Brexit, including the grandson of Winston Churchill.
    “We weren’t bluffing, and they were wilfully ignorant if they thought differently,” said a senior prime ministerial aide at the time, referring to a message from Johnson to lawmakers that he expected loyalty.
    The election campaign officially started in early November and Johnson sought to convince voters that his party was the only one which could break the impasse among politicians in Westminster to enable the country to move forward.
    The campaign focused heavily on core Brexit-related messages and was relatively light on policy detail, several members of his campaign team said.    “The whole point of this campaign was to keep it tight and focused,” said one of his team.    “.”
    Team Johnson received a boost when the Brexit Party led by veteran eurosceptic Nigel Farage early on in the campaign said his candidates would not fight for 317 Conservative-held seats to avoid splitting the Leave vote.
    Labour, meanwhile, pursued a compromise position on Brexit.
    In an effort to unite his party, which was also divided over Europe, Labour’s leader Corbyn settled on a policy of negotiating a new deal to leave the EU followed by a second referendum – a stance that was unpopular with the party’s Brexit voters and even some in his own team.
    He instead sought to focus the campaign agenda on a manifesto that included widespread nationalization and spending on public services such as the National Health Service, which the Labour Party established in 1948 and provides health care to all free at the point of delivery.
FAIRY TALE
    Johnson’s pitch included a pledge to lower immigration and that Brexit would free up money that Britain would otherwise pay to the EU that could be redirected to spending on public services, including the NHS, at home.
    One pledge was to add 50,000 more nurses but, under scrutiny from the opposition and media, the prime minister acknowledged that 19,000 were already working in the NHS, adding that his policies would retain those workers that might otherwise leave.
During an Oct. 13 visit to the northern town of Doncaster, a female member of the public accused him of peddling fiction by promising a rosy future for Britain outside of the EU and being part of a government that had made cuts to public services.
    “You’ve got the cheek to come here and tell us that austerity’s over and it’s all good now – we’re gonna leave the EU and everything’s going to be great,” the woman told the prime minister during a visit to Doncaster.    “It’s just a fairy tale.”
    His responded by saying his government was investing in the area.
    Some voters said they planned to support him even if lack of trust was a factor.
    “It’s tough to believe what they’re saying after the time that we’ve had recently,” said Tim Turner, 41, operations director at knitwear manufacturer John Smedley, during a visit by Johnson to a company mill in Derbyshire in central England on Dec. 5, questioning his assertion over the 50,000 nurses.
    “I think he’s got the best chance, but whether I believe him or not is a different matter,” he said.    Turner said he had voted before for other parties, including Labour, but would vote for Johnson in this election.
    Johnson has repeatedly said that any breach of trust should be blamed on parliament, not him.    “The issue before the country is after three and a half years politicians of all parties are held in low esteem because they have refused to get on and deliver on the mandate of the people,” he said on the campaign trail.
POTENTIAL LIABILITY
    Conservative strategists considered Johnson’s personal popularity and proven ability to reach across party lines a key election asset.    The charismatic politician helped lead the successful Brexit campaign in the 2016 referendum and is the only Conservative to have been London mayor.
    By contrast, recent polls have ranked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn the least popular opposition leader in decades.
    But Johnson’s team were also aware the prime minister, known for his often-colorful turn of phrase and a tendency to go off script, was a potential liability. On the campaign trail, his team sought to minimize the risk of unflattering encounters with members of the public and with some television interviewers, according to a campaign source.
    Many of his interactions with voters were in Conservative-held seats, while in traditional Labour districts the prime minister often visited businesses with sympathetic bosses or organized rallies in venues where attendees could be screened.
    In the final days of the campaign, Johnson crisscrossed districts in the north and central England, regions where Labour has traditionally had strong support.
    At a factory of British construction equipment maker JCB near Uttoxeter in central England on Tuesday, Johnson drove a digger emblazoned with “get Brexit done” through a makeshift wall emblazoned with the word “GRIDLOCK.”
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Cassell Bryan-Low)

12/13/2019 Britain speeds towards Brexit as Johnson wins large majority in election by Guy Faulconbridge and William James
    Conservatives' British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures while speaking after winning his seat at the
counting centre in Britain's general election in Uxbridge, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
    LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a resounding election victory on Friday that will allow him to end three years of political paralysis and take Britain out of the European Union by Jan. 31.
    Brexit represents the country’s biggest political and economic gamble since World War Two, cutting the world’s fifth largest economy adrift from the vast trading bloc and threatening the integrity of the United Kingdom.
    For Johnson, who campaigned on a vow to “Get Brexit Done,” victory was a vindication after anti-Brexit opponents tried one maneuver after another to thwart him during his first chaotic months in office.
    “We will get Brexit done on time by the 31st of January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes,” a triumphant Johnson told supporters at a rally in London.
    “Leaving the European Union as one United Kingdom, taking back control of our laws, borders, money, our trade, immigration system, delivering on the democratic mandate of the people,” he said, reprising the refrains of his successful Brexit referendum campaign of 2016.
    Sterling soared, on course for one of its biggest one-day gains in the past two decades.
    Nearly half a century after Britain joined the EU, Johnson must now strike new international trade deals, preserving London’s position as a top global financial capital and keeping the United Kingdom together.
    That last goal looks more challenging, with Scotland voting for a nationalist party that wants an independence referendum, and Irish nationalists performing strongly in Northern Ireland.
    “Boris Johnson may have a mandate to take England out of the European Union.    He emphatically does not have a mandate to take Scotland out of the European Union,” said Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
    Her Scottish National Party (SNP) won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in the national parliament.
RED WALL CRUMBLES
    In England, the Conservatives won large numbers of seats in the opposition Labour Party’s so-called Red Wall, declining industrial heartlands once hostile to Johnson’s party.
    Brexit, which has shattered old party loyalties and divided Britain along new fault lines, was the cause of the shift.    In the Red Wall, a majority of voters favored leaving the European Union and rejected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ambiguous stance on the issue.
    In a symbolic win, the Conservatives took Sedgefield, once held by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Labour’s most successful leader.
    Educated at Eton, the country’s most elite private school, and known for his bombastic rhetoric, Johnson seemed to critics to be an unlikely candidate to win over working class communities, but Brexit helped him redraw the electoral map.
    In his victory speech, he struck a rare note of humility as he addressed voters who had deserted Labour in his favor.     “Your hand may have quivered over the ballot paper before you put your cross in the Conservative box, and you may hope to return to Labour next time round, and if that is the case, I am humbled that you have put your trust in me,” he said.
    U.S. President Donald Trump was quick to congratulate Johnson.
    “Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT.    This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U.,” Trump wrote on Twitter “Celebrate Boris!
    European politicians were less enthusiastic.
    German lawmaker Norbert Roettgen of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said “the British people have decided and we have to accept their choice.    With Johnson’s victory Brexit has become inevitable.”
NO MORE DELAYS
    Johnson, 55, will now be able to lead Britain out of the EU by Jan. 31, 10 months after the original deadline of March 29, which was repeatedly pushed back as a gridlocked parliament failed to take any clear decisions on Brexit.
    However, with the complex task of negotiating his country’s future relationship with the bloc still ahead of him, he may struggle to reunite a divided nation.
    Many voters regard him as a populist charlatan who played fast and loose with the facts and made unrealistic promises.
    But his landslide win marks the ultimate failure of the anti-Brexit camp, who tried to thwart the 2016 referendum vote through complex legislative maneuvers and could not convert huge anti-Brexit street protests into a coherent political strategy.
    With Labour split and unclear on Brexit, the strongly anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats had hoped to do well but they won only 11 seats, a crushing result.    Party leader Jo Swinson lost her seat in Scotland to the SNP and resigned.
    With results in from all but one of the 650 parliamentary seats, the Conservatives had won 364, their biggest election win since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 triumph.
    Labour, led since 2015 by the veteran socialist Corbyn, had won just 203 seats, the party’s worst result since 1935.
    Corbyn’s offer of nationalizations and big state spending failed to win over voters, while his equivocal position on Brexit left many angry and confused, especially in Red Wall areas where large majorities had voted for Brexit in 2016.
    Corbyn said he would quit as Labour leader after a “process of reflection.”
    The party now faces a brutal battle between Corbyn’s socialist followers and his centrist critics.
A SOFTER BREXIT?
    After Jan. 31, Britain will enter a transition period during which it will negotiate a new relationship with the EU.
    This can run until the end of 2022, but the Conservatives have pledged not to extend the transition beyond 2020.
    A big majority may allow Johnson to extend trade talks beyond 2020 because he could overrule the Brexit hardline European Research Group (ERG) faction in the party.
    “The bigger the Tory majority of course the less influence over this the ERG and Eurosceptics will have,” said hardline Brexiteer Nigel Farage, whose anti-EU campaigning played a major part in persuading former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to call the 2016 referendum.
    “It will be called Brexit but it won’t really be,” Farage said.
   Johnson was helped by Farage’s Brexit Party, which stood down hundreds of candidates to prevent the pro-Brexit vote from being split.    The insurgent party poached a significant number of voters from Labour.
   In his victory speech, Johnson gave no details of how he would handle Brexit after Jan. 31.    Instead, he made a typically light-hearted offer to his supporters.
    “Let’s get Brexit done but first, my friends, let’s get breakfast done.”
    See also: What would a UK Conservative majority government do?    https://reut.rs/2Pe0X8P
GRAPHIC-Live election results https://tmsnrt.rs/2r0WtJp
EXPLAINER-Reality check for Johnson’s Brexit: it’s just the beginning https://reut.rs/35jwD25
(Reporting by Alistair Smout, Elizabeth Piper, David Milliken, Kate Holton, Kylie MacLellan, Andy Bruce, Paul Sandle, William James, Michael Urquhart, Tommy Reggiori Wilkes, Costas Pitas and Andy MacAskill in London and Michel Rose in Brussels; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, Michael Holden and Estelle Shirbon; Editing by William Maclean and Giles Elgood)
[THE BOTTOMLINE HERE IS THE UK THE 5TH LARGEST TRADING BLOC WILL LEAVE THE EUROPEAN UNION ON JANUARY 31ST, 2020 AND IT WAS DUE TO REJECTING THE SOCIALISM AND GLOBALIST VIEWS THAT HAD TAKEN OVER THE EU.].

12/13/2019 President Trump shreds apart the House’s case after articles of impeachment pass in Judiciary Committee by OAN Newsroom
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. comes to speak to members of the media after the House Judiciary Committee
passes both articles of impeachment, accusing President Donald Trump of abusing power and
obstruction of Congress, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have pushed through two articles of impeachment against President Trump. Representatives held roll-call votes Friday, where the committee approved both articles in a 23-to-17 vote.
    One is for alleged abuse of power and the other is for alleged obstruction of Congress.    The articles will now move to the House Rules Committee for a mark-up on Tuesday before a full House vote on Wednesday.
    Just after the vote, press secretary for the president’s re-election campaign Kayleigh McEnany took to Twitter to state “the angry Democrats have made a choice to betray the American people.”    She went on to say that choice will “backfire” on them come November 3, 2020 “when voters will re-elect the president.”
    Meanwhile, President Trump said the Democrat’s use of impeachment “is an embarrassment to this country.”    While speaking at the White House Friday, the president stated the House is trivializing what it means for a president to be impeached and said they are “making a fool of themselves.”
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez in the
Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    He went on to say that once the process reaches the Senate, he wouldn’t mind a long or short trial since it would end up strengthening him politically.    The president also blasted key members of the House, including Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi.    He said they are leading this scam at the expense of the American people.
    “It’s a witch hunt, it’s a sham, it’s a hoax, nothing was done wrong, zero was done wrong — I think it’s a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment,” he stated.    “It’s something that shouldn’t be allowed and it’s a very bad thing for our country, and you’re trivializing impeachment.”
    President Trump also noted that the second whistleblower and the informant of the first whistleblower have disappeared since the transcript was released.

12/13/2019 President Trump says GOP approval rating at record high by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump, right, accompanied by acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, left, smiles at a luncheon with members of the
United Nations Security Council in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    President Trump is thanking his supporters for his record high approval rating among the GOP.    In a Friday tweet, the president stated his 95 percent GOP rating comes as voters increasingly disapprove of the House’s impeachment efforts.
    He said “poll numbers have gone through the roof in favor of no impeachment” as voters realized “Democrats have no case.”
    The president added “even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitted” during a recent Politico interview that impeachment efforts began more than two years ago.
    Criticism that Democrats are racing through their impeachment inquiry comes after the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance the articles of impeachment.
    Democrats on the committee have pushed through two articles of impeachment against President Trump.    Representatives held roll-call votes on Friday, where the committee approved both articles in a 23-to-17 vote.
    One is for alleged abuse of power and the other is for alleged obstruction of Congress.    The articles will now move to the House Rules Committee for a mark-up on Tuesday before a full House vote on Wednesday.
    President Trump said the Democrat’s use of impeachment “is an embarrassment to this country.”    While speaking at the White House Friday, the president stated the House is trivializing what it means for a president to be impeached and said they are “making a fool of themselves.”
    “It’s a witch hunt, it’s a sham, it’s a hoax, nothing was done wrong, zero was done wrong — I think it’s a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment,” he stated.    “It’s something that shouldn’t be allowed and it’s a very bad thing for our country, and you’re trivializing impeachment.”
Republican counsel Stephen Castor waits as House Judiciary Committee members arrive to vote on two articles of impeachment
against President Donald Trump, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

12/13/2019 ‘Not my prime minister’, protesters march in London against Johnson
Protesters demonstrate at Downing Street following the result of the general election
in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
    LONDON (Reuters) – Several hundred noisy protesters marched through central London on Friday to protest against Britain’s election result, chanting “Boris Johnson: Not My Prime Minister” and “Boris, Boris, Boris: Out, Out, Out.”
    The protesters, brandishing signs that read “Defy Tory (Conservative) Rule” and “Refugees Welcome,” walked at speed from outside Johnson’s Downing Street residence to Trafalgar Square and on to the theater district, blocking traffic and drawing a heavy police presence.
    Johnson’s Conservatives won Thursday’s election by a large margin.    On Friday he called for “closure” over the Brexit divisions that have riven the United Kingdom for the past three and a half years.
(Reporting by Johnny Cotton; writing by Kate Holton; Editing by Gareth Jones)
[THE GLOBALIST AND SOCIALIST HAVE ALREADY STARTED SENDING THEIR ANGER OUT AT NATIONALISM.].

12/13/2019 Brexit closure”: Johnson wins commanding victory in UK election by Sarah Young and Andy Bruce
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on his way to Buckingham Palace
after the general election in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
    LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Friday for “closure” over the Brexit divisions that have riven the United Kingdom, saying his election victory provided an overwhelming mandate to take Britain out of the European Union on Jan. 31.
    Johnson, the face of the victorious “Leave” campaign in the 2016 referendum, fought the election under the slogan of “Get Brexit Done”, promising to end the deadlock and spend more on health, education and the police.
    He was vindicated with the biggest Conservative win since Margaret Thatcher’s landslide victory of 1987, trouncing his socialist Labour Party opponent Jeremy Corbyn by winning 365 seats with a majority of 80. Labour won 203 seats.
    Ever since the referendum, Brexit has divided the United Kingdom and fueled soul-searching about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism, empire and modern Britishness.
    Johnson called for the healing to begin.
    “I frankly urge everyone on either side of what are, after 3.5 years, an increasingly arid argument, I urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin,” Johnson said outside his residence at 10 Downing Street.
    “I know that after five weeks, frankly, of electioneering, this country deserves a break from wrangling, a break from politics and a permanent break from talking about Brexit.”
    With such a big majority, Johnson will now swiftly ratify the Brexit deal he struck with the EU so that the United Kingdom can leave on Jan. 31 – 10 months later than initially planned.
    Both opponents and supporters of Brexit agree that it is the United Kingdom’s most significant geopolitical move since World War Two, pitching the world’s fifth largest economy, and one of the pillars of the West, into an uncertain future.
    Such a large majority recalls those secured by past leaders such as Thatcher and Labour’s Tony Blair.    But beyond Brexit, Johnson has given few clues about what his vision is for the United Kingdom.
    Johnson’s Conservatives increased their share of the vote to 43.6%, their highest since Thatcher’s first election victory in 1979, and higher than Blair’s in any of his three election wins.
GET BREXIT DONE
    Brexit is far from over.    After Jan. 31, Britain will enter a transition period when it will negotiate a new relationship with the remaining 27 EU states.    The outcome of those talks will shape the future of its $2.7 trillion economy.
    The transition period can run until the end of December 2022 under the current rules, but the Conservatives made an election promise not to extend it beyond the end of 2020.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said many within the EU were relieved that Britain would now have a parliament with a clear majority, highlighting the frustration that European leaders have felt during three years of political logjam in London.
    But she said it would be “very complicated” to complete the talks on a new relationship by December 2020.
    French President Emmanuel Macron warned Britain that the more it chose to deregulate its economy after Brexit, the more it would lose access to the EU’s single market.
    President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson and said a U.S. trade deal could be more lucrative than any with the EU, the world’s biggest trading bloc.    “Celebrate Boris!” Trump said on Twitter.
    The Brexit issue has eroded traditional party loyalties in Britain, creating new faultlines of urban vs rural, young vs old, and graduates vs non-graduates.
    The Brexit effect was most starkly illustrated by the crumbling of Labour’s “Red Wall,” a rampart of working class areas across northern and central England where most people had voted “Leave” in 2016.
    Frustrated at the country’s failure to quit the EU since then, and at Labour’s equivocal stance on Brexit, large numbers of voters deserted the party and flocked to the Conservatives, leaving the Red Wall full of holes.
    David Hughes, 48, was won over by Johnson’s “Get Brexit done” mantra and backed the Conservatives after previously voting Labour.
    “People wanted to get Brexit sorted and I think Boris will get it done,” he told Reuters in Burnley, in northern England.
Johnson said he was “humbled” at having won their trust, a rare note of humility from a politician best known for his bombastic rhetoric and supreme self-belief.
SCOTLAND REJECTS BREXIT
    Voters unambiguously rejected Corbyn’s socialist program of nationalizations and colossal state spending, delivering Labour’s worst result since 1935.
    Corbyn announced he would step down after a “process of reflection.”
    Sterling jumped by 2.5%, its biggest rise in nearly three years, on the first signs of the scale of Johnson’s victory, before giving up some of those gains.
    The election result was hailed as a victory for English, Scottish and Irish nationalism – but it raised fears about the future of the United Kingdom.
    The anti-Brexit, pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats by thrashing both the Conservatives and Labour.
    Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader and first minister of Scotland, said her semi-autonomous government in Edinburgh would next week publish a detailed case for a transfer of power from London that would allow her to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. Scots voted in 2014 to stay in the UK.
    However, Johnson told Sturgeon by phone on Friday he opposed another referendum, prompting Sturgeon to say her political mandate must be respected, “just as he expects his mandate to be respected.”
    In Northern Ireland, supporters of a united Ireland won more seats than those in the province who want to remain part of the United Kingdom for the first time since the 1921 partition which divided the British north from the Irish Republic in the south.
    Several hundred noisy protesters marched through central London on Friday evening to protest against the election result, disrupting traffic and chanting “Boris Johnson: Not My Prime Minister” and “Boris, Boris, Boris: Out, Out, Out.”
    See also:
    What would a UK Conservative majority government do? https://reut.rs/2Pe0X8P
GRAPHIC-Live election results https://tmsnrt.rs/2r0WtJp
EXPLAINER-Reality check for Johnson’s Brexit: it’s just the beginning https://reut.rs/35jwD25
(Additional reporting by Sarah Young, William Schomberg, James Davey, Kate Holton and Andy Bruce; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood and Gareth Jones)

12/13/2019 White House to limit number of officials on President Trump’s calls with foreign leaders by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump poses for photos as he meets with Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez
at the White House, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    The White House has announced fewer Trump administration officials will be allowed to listen in on the president’s phone calls with foreign leaders.    Friday reports said only the most senior officials will have access to his calls and transcripts moving forward.
    President Trump’s July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian president became the catalyst for the Democrat-led impeachment efforts.
    Regardless, the president has always maintained there was nothing wrong with the call.
    “Impeachment for that? When you have a wonderful meeting or a wonderful phone conversation?    It was beautiful, it was a perfect conversation.” — Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States

FILE – In this Sept. 25, 2019, file photo, a White House-released memorandum of President Donald Trump’s July 25, 2019, telephone
conversation with Ukraine’s newly elected president Volodymyr Zelenskiy is photographed in Washington. (AP Photo/Wayne Partlow, File)
    One White House official called the restriction the “Vindman rule,” in reference to the Ukraine expert who reported the call to National Security Council lawyers.    Another official added “the barn door officially closed after the horse escaped.”
    This came after the Trump administration released about 150 heavily redacted pages related to the decision to withhold aid to Ukraine.    Thursday’s release came as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by the nonprofit organization Public Integrity.
    Last month, a federal judge ordered the administration to produce records containing conversations between the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget.    The administration produced 146 pages of redacted emails and spreadsheets, which Public Integrity claimed reveals little of the actual conversations.
    The organization said it’s planning to file a motion challenging the response.
    “We are deeply disappointed that the public won’t have access to this important information at the heart of the impeachment process, but we will continue to fight to ensure that the documents see the light of day,” said CEO Susan Richardson.

12/13/2019 White House sends ratifying legislation to House, USMCA vote expected soon by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., speaks at
a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    The USMCA trade deal is one step closer to being ratified.    The White House sent ratifying legislation to the House on Friday, giving lawmakers a 90 day period to implement the deal.
    President Trump touted the new legislation on Twitter earlier this week, saying it will be “the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA.”
    The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to begin marking up the bill next week.    A full House vote is expected soon after.    From there, it will head to the Senate, which is likely to hold a vote in the new year.
    This comes after top trade officials from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. signed off on a revised deal earlier in the week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced her support for the new legislation.
    “We are so proud of the distance that we have come, from where we started, with the administration on this legislation,” she said.    “This victory for America’s workers is one we take great pride in advancing.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., speaks at
a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    However, the agreement has only been ratified by Mexico.    Both trade partners, as well as President Trump and moderate Democrats, have called on Congress to pass the USMCA, which was negotiated more than a year ago.
    On Thursday, over a dozen GOP representatives from Texas called on Pelosi to bring the USMCA to a vote.    They warned that sitting on the bill any longer would damage their state’s economy.
    “We believe that no state will gain more from this new agreement than Texas and no state has more to lose if it doesn’t pass than our state, which is why we believe there should be unanimous support for this agreement from Texas lawmakers here in Congress,” stated Rep. Kevin Brady.

12/13/2019 Supreme Court to hear case regarding President Trump’s taxes by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this June 20, 2019 file photo, The Supreme Court is seen under stormy skies in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    The Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case over whether President Trump should disclose his personal tax returns.    The high court announced their decision on Friday and said oral arguments will begin in the spring.
    Justices will look at previous rulings of all lower courts on several lawsuits, which seek the president’s tax returns.    The suits stem from New York Attorney General Cyrus Vance and House Democrats.
    The landmark ruling will likely set the precedent for U.S. presidents moving forward.    President Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said he’s looking forward to presenting his client’s written and oral arguments.
    “We are pleased that the Supreme Court granted review of the President’s three pending cases,” he said.    “These cases raise significant constitutional issues.”
    A final decision is expected by June 2020.

12/14/2019 Oil up $0.59 to $59.81, DOW up 3 to 28,135.

12/14/2019 U.S.-China trade deal cuts tariffs for Beijing promise of big farm purchases by Andrea Shalal, David Lawder and Stella Qiu
FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their
Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song
    WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States and China cooled their trade war on Friday, announcing a “Phase one” agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for what U.S. officials said would be a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products and other goods.
    Beijing has agreed to import at least $200 billion in additional U.S. goods and services over the next two years on top of the amount it purchased in 2017, the top U.S. trade negotiator said Friday.
    If the purchases are made, they would represent a huge jump in U.S. exports to China. China bought $130 billion in U.S. goods in 2017, before the trade war began, and $56 billion in services, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data show.
    In return, the United States would suspend tariffs on Chinese goods due to go into effect on Sunday and reduce others, U.S. officials said.    The 86-page agreement is due to be signed the first week of January in Washington by principal negotiators.
    “We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China,” U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Friday morning.    Officials in China have “agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more,” he said.
    Trump later told reporters at the White House that he thought China would hit $50 billion in agricultural purchases, repeating a promise he made to U.S. farmers in October.
    At a news conference in Beijing, Chinese officials said the two sides had agreed on the text of a deal, but offered no specific details on the amount of U.S. goods China had agreed to buy.
    U.S. markets have gyrated on rumors and leaks about the trade deal in recent months, but were muted on Friday on the news.
    The agreement was announced as the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted to charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction during an impeachment inquiry.    It also followed closely on the heels of a deal with the U.S. Congress paving the way for passage of a new North American trade agreement.
CHINA AG BUYS
    Beijing has committed to buying $32 billion more in farm products over the next two years, or about $16 billion a year, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters at the White House, on top of a baseline of $24 billion in Chinese purchases in 2017.     In addition, Beijing said it would make a big effort to spend an additional $5 billion a year.
    “To me it’s an enormously important first step in our relationship,” Lighthizer said.    “This is China taking real commitments to do real things in a reasonable period of time, that’s enforceable.”
    He said China would be free to buy things when “it’s the perfect time in the market to buy things.”
    China will import more U.S. wheat, corn, and rice, China’s vice agricultural minister said on Friday, without elaborating.
    China has not been a major buyer of U.S. corn, wheat or rice in the past – though in recent years it has been the No. 3 or 4 buyer of one particular variety of wheat, U.S. spring wheat used for blending.    China was a top 5 buyer of U.S. corn from 2011 to 2014 but has not been a major buyer since.
    Soybeans made up half of China’s agricultural purchases in 2017.    Demand has since cratered because the pig herds that eat it have been reduced by African swine fever, however.
    Asked about Trump’s $50 billion figure, officials in Beijing said on Friday that details would be disclosed later.
    Some American farmers said they were waiting for more.
    “Is China going to live up to their commitment?” said Burton Eller, executive director of the National Grange, an agriculture advocacy group, and a beef cattle farmer.
    “Are we going to get something in black and white that says they’re going to buy this much over this much time or this kind of commodity they’re going to need?” he said.
    Lighthizer said China also agreed to buy more U.S. manufactured goods, energy and services, but provided no details.    He said the agreement included specific targets for those broad areas that would be published later, and specific targets for specific products that would remain classified.
    The U.S. has agreed to suspend tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese-made cell phones, laptop computers and other consumer goods due to go into effect on Dec. 15, Trump said on Twitter.    USTR said existing tariffs on $120 billion of other goods such as smart speakers and Bluetooth headphones would be cut to 7.5%.
    A statement issued by USTR on Friday said that the United States would leave in place 25% tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.
    China has also agreed to suspend retaliatory tariffs, targeting goods ranging from corn and wheat to U.S. made vehicles and auto parts, that were due to take effect Dec. 15.a
(Graphic: U.S. farm exports to China dry up in trade war png link: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/USA-TRADE-CHINA-AGRICULTURE/0H001QXFB940/eikon.png)
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTIONS
    The Trump White House laid out ambitious plans to restructure the United States’ relationship with China, including addressing what a 2018 USTR investigation concluded were Beijing’s “unfair, unreasonable, and market-distorting practices,” when it started the trade war with China.
    There is broad bipartisan support for Trump’s drive to hold China accountable for years of economic espionage, cyber attacks, forced technology transfer and dumping of low-priced goods made with hefty government subsidies.
    But the agreement on Friday touches on very little of these reforms.    Negotiators from both sides will start on a new round of “Phase two” trade talks immediately, Trump tweeted.
    Friday’s deal includes specific commitments on intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, currency, and foreign exchange, Lighthizer said.
    The deal will provide more protection for foreign companies in China and Chinese companies in the United States, Chinese officials said.
    Neither offered details.
    The Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives of the largest U.S. companies, said “this de-escalation in trade tensions is a positive step toward resolving important trade and investment issues between our two nations.”
    Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, called it a “total capitulation,” saying China had made “zero hard commitments to structural reform.”
    Lighthizer told reporters on Friday that both sides could start negotiating on more difficult issues before the 2020 election in November.
    “This is very hard stuff,” he said.    “We have systems that are different.    We have to figure out a way to integrate those systems and get it to a place where it benefits the United States more than it does.”
(Reporting by Stella Qiu, Martin Pollard, David Lawder, Karl Plume, Mark Weinraub, Julie Ingwersen and Jeff Mason; Writing by Heather Timmons; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Grant McCool and Sonya Hepinstall)

12/14/2019 Senators push for FISA Court reform in wake of IG report by OAN Newsroom
Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, accompanied by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, left, and Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein,
D-Calif., right, holds up a report while giving an opening statement as Department of Justice Inspector
General Michael Horowitz, center foreground, testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Inspector General’s report on
alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Lawmakers are mobilizing to reform the FISA Court system.    On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham vowed to implement more “checks and balances” to the courts.
    “The day of reckoning is coming,” he said.
    This announcement came after Inspector General Michael Horowitz found the FBI was able to “mislead” the courts to maintain its surveillance on former Trump campaign official Carter Page.    Horowitz told senators the FBI maintained surveillance on Page even when its investigation into him was winding down.
    While discussing his report Wednesday, he outlined 17 instances where the bureau intentionally “omitted or withheld” information in their application for FISA warrants.
    One of the instances he touched on was the FBI learning information that undercut the credibility of the Steele dossier, which it failed to disclose to the FISA courts.    Horowitz also said the FBI failed to include other exculpatory evidence regarding Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing
on the Inspector General’s report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Following the hearing, Sen. Graham said corrective action needed to be taken for the courts to remain functioning.
    “What happened here is not a few irregularities, the system failed.    People at the highest level of our government took the law in their own hands.    When I say defraud the FISA Court, I mean it.” – Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator (R-SC)
    The Republican lawmaker warned IG Horowitz against refusing to recommend charges against the bureau for mishandling the investigation.    Graham also said he has serious doubts the FISA court can continue working if nothing is done, adding that the court will “lose his support” if no corrective action is taken.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., holds up a copy of the “Steele Dossier” during a hearing
with Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019,
to look at the Inspector General’s report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, who also sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has signaled there may be bipartisan support to reform the courts.
    Lawmakers have not yet specified when those changes could be implemented.
[Graham’s presentation was very impressive at what the report was saying and when Horowitz was questioned about it he acknowledged.    When Feinstein the "leaker lady" gave hers it was a plain jane concept denying all which is the same thing she did when the Obama administration was caught spying on Americans with the U.S. surveilance systems.].

12/14/2019 RNC spokeswoman Elizabeth Harrington speaks out about the impeachment inquiry by OAN Newsroom
Photo of Elizabeth Harrington, screen-grab from The Daily Caller official podcast video.
    RNC spokeswoman Elizabeth Harrington is saying the left has “damaged their credibility” during the impeachment proceedings against President Trump.    During an interview with The Daily Caller on Friday, Harrington accused Adam Schiff and other Democrats of lying to the American people for the past three years.
    She added the president has been consistent from the beginning and said the RNC’s strategy moving forward is to simply draw attention to the Democrat’s lies.
    “Another way we get back at them, just play them their own words.    What they said for three years about the dossier, the shifting narrative.    I mean, President Trump has been consistent from the beginning.    We’ve been consistent from the beginning.“ – Elizabeth Harrington, Republican National Committee spokeswoman
    Her comments came after a long week of impeachment hearings and debates, which ultimately ended with the House Judiciary Committee voting on the articles of impeachment.

12/14/2019 Taylor Swift says George Soros funded deal that exploited her music rights by OAN Newsroom
Taylor Swift arrives at Billboard’s Women in Music at the Hollywood Palladium
on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
    Pop singer Taylor Swift called out Democrat billionaire George Soros during her acceptance speech for Billboard’s ‘Woman of the Decade’ award.    On Thursday, Swift took time to discuss her battles in the music industry as she was being honored as the first ever recipient of the award.
    During her speech, she blasted Soros for funding music executive Scooter Braun’s deal, which bought the rights to her music.
    Swift stated Soros and other groups helped sell her life’s worth of art without her “approval, consultation or consent.”
    “After I was denied the chance to purchase my music outright, my entire catalog was sold to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in a deal that I’m told was funded by the Soros family, 23 Capital and that Carlyle group,” she said.
    The singer went on to say she will keep fighting Soros Braun and the other groups that exploited her in the hopes of regaining the rights to her music.
[Maybe she should switch to the winning Trump team who will do her right in her activity and dump that Globalist Socialist George Soros who exploited many more than just her.    Since you know who has been backing her radical push against Trump and Republican campaign will she change or continue to be controlled by the leftist views and her base she created].

12/15/2019 Joe Biden drops to single-digit lead in South Carolina primary by OAN Newsroom
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden responds to a question during town hall meeting at
the Culinary Union, Local 226, headquarters in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
    Former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead in South Carolina is now down to single digits.    According to a poll released on Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders is primarily responsible for cutting down Biden’s support in the Palmetto State.
    Change Research’s survey put Biden at 27 percent, just ahead of Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren, who sat at 20 and 19 percent respectively.
    This marks a shift in support for the former vice president, who has enjoyed a comfortable double-digit lead in South Carolina since launching his campaign.
    However, some political pundits have said Biden still has a good chance of taking the state.
    “I think that the energy you had seen two or three months ago on the left – the idea that it was time for something dramatic, almost revolutionary in the party – it seems to have faded a little bit,” said Peter Baker, Chief White House correspondent for The New York Times.    “There is greater emphasis on the electability argument, the ‘who can win’ argument.”
    There are still concerns regarding Biden’s mental state, as he has made multiple gaffes while on the campaign trail.
[THE GAFFE FACTORY CONTINUES.]

12/14/2019 ‘I will repay your trust,’ UK PM Johnson tells ex-Labour voters on trip to north
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured after delivering a statement at Downing Street after
winning the general election, in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited former strongholds of his Labour opponents in northern England on Saturday and pledged to repay their trust for helping to deliver a stunning victory for his Conservative Party in Britain’s national election.
    Johnson led the Conservatives on Thursday to their biggest election win since Margaret Thatcher’s landslide victory of 1987, trouncing his socialist Labour Party foe Jeremy Corbyn by capturing 365 parliamentary seats and securing an overall majority of 80.    Labour won 203 seats.
    The election saw the crumbling of Labour’s “Red Wall” of formerly safe seats in working-class areas across northern and central England where most people voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the European Union.
    Johnson, the face of the “Leave” campaign in that referendum, fought the election on the slogan “Get Brexit done.”
    “I know that people may have been breaking the voting habits of generations to vote for us,” Johnson told supporters in Sedgefield, a symbolically important seat as it was once held by former prime minister Tony Blair, Labour’s most successful leader.
    “I want the people of the northeast to know that we in the Conservative Party, and I, will repay your trust.”
    Brexit was widely seen as the decisive factor in the election, with Johnson’s promise to take Britain out of the EU by Jan. 31, 2020, winning over many former Labour voters.
    “What an incredible thing you have done, you have changed the political landscape, you’ve changed the Conservative Party for the better and you’ve changed the future of our country for the better,” said Johnson.
    “First of all, what are we going to do to repay that trust?    We are going to get Brexit done.”
    Johnson, who called the snap election to break years of deadlock in parliament over Brexit, has also promised to spend more money on health, education and the police.
    Addressing newly elected Conservative lawmakers, Johnson evoked Blair’s own words on taking office.
    “When we get down to Westminster and we begin our work, remember we are not the masters, we are the servants now…and our job is to serve the people of this country and to deliver on our priorities.    And our priorities and their priorities are the same,” he said.
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Gareth Jones/Mark Heinrich)

12/14/2019 Mnuchin says trade deal with China to boost global economy by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Alexander Cornwell
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks about sanctions against Turkey at a news briefing
at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
    DOHA (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday a “phase one” trade deal between the United States and China was “very good” for global economic growth, and added that the second phase could come in several steps.
    The United States and China cooled their trade war on Friday, announcing a “phase one” agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for what U.S. officials said would be a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products and other goods.
    Mnuchin said full details of the new deal, or a factsheet on “phase one,” would come out later on Saturday or on Sunday after both sides do fact and language checks.
    “We expect it will be fully executed in January. And then we get to ‘phase two’,” Mnuchin told the Doha Forum conference in Qatar.    “The most important issue is – lets make sure we implement ‘phase one’ with an enforceable agreement, which it is.    And then we start negotiating ‘phase two.’"
    “There are important issue left in ‘phase two’. And perhaps there will be a ‘phase two A’, ‘phase two B’ and ‘phase two C’. We will see,” he said.
    Mnuchin said the deal with China aimed to create more reciprocal trade relations for many years, adding that the deal would be “very good” for global growth.
    He said the United States continued to remain the “bright spot” of the global economy, while Europe and Asia were slowing down.
    Asked if the trade deal boosts U.S. President Donald Trump’s chances of getting re-elected in November 2020, Mnuchin said: “The president will be re-elected almost no matter what occurs.    Because he has built an incredible economy and he is very focused on national security.”
    Mnuchin also said he believed the United States campaign of maximum pressure on Iran was working and has drastically reduced Tehran’s ability to sponsor what Washington sees as terrorist groups abroad.
    Asked if Washington’s broad and regular use of sanctions against many nations could undermine the long-term status of the dollar as the global reserve currency, Mnuchin said sanctions were often an alternative to open military conflicts.
    “But if we are not careful with sanctions, people will start using other currencies,” he added.
(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Alexander Cornwell, writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

12/15/2019 UK PM Johnson cannot keep Scotland in union against its will: Sturgeon
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photograph with Scotland's First Minister
Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh, Britain, July 29, 2019. Duncan McGlynn/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday that he could not keep Scotland in the United Kingdom against the country’s will.
    Johnson and his government have repeatedly said they will not give the go ahead for another referendum on Scottish independence, but Sturgeon said after the Scottish National Party won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in the UK parliament, her party had been given a mandate for one.
    “If he thinks … saying no is the end of the matter then he is going to find himself completely and utterly wrong,” Sturgeon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
    “You cannot hold Scotland in the union against its will … If the United Kingdom is to continue it can only be by consent.    And if Boris Johnson is confident in the case for the union then he should be confident enough to make that case and allow people to decide.”
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

12/15/2019 Sen. Graham invites Rudy Giuliani to testify about Ukraine trip with OAN by OAN Newsroom
In this handout photo provided by Adriii Derkach’s press office, Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for U.S President Donald Trump,
left, meets with Ukrainian lawmaker Adriii Derkach in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (Adriii Derkach’s press office via AP)
    Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has invited Rudy Giuliani to testify about his trip to Ukraine with One America News.    During a recent interview, Graham said he would be glad to talk with Giuliani so he can tell Congress what the attorney uncovered during his trip.
    However, Graham added he would only take up the attorney’s testimony after the impeachment trial ends.
    Giuliani has been leading efforts to uncover information about the Biden family’s ties to Ukraine and corruption.    He visited the White House on Friday, where he was seen leaving the West Wing.    The administration has yet to comment on the reason behind the visit, but President Trump has asked the attorney to brief GOP senators and the DOJ on his findings from last week’s trip.
    On Sunday, Giuliani announced he is preparing a report on Joe and Hunter Biden’s corruption in Ukraine.
    In a series of tweets, he argued Joe Biden used the office of vice president to protect his son Hunter’s scheme to launder dirty money from Ukraine into the U.S.
    Giuliani said the dirty money of Ukrainian oligarchs went to Latvia and Cyprus before landing in Hunter Biden’s pocket.    The attorney added Democrats are trying cover up this laundering scheme with the “impeachment hoax.”
    One America’s Chanel Rion accompanied Giuliani to Ukraine to interview former Ukrainian prosecutors and officials associated with the Democrat’s impeachment argument.
    Graham’s invitation came after he vowed to make impeachment “die quickly” when it reaches the Senate.    On Saturday, Graham said he wants Democrats to “make their case based on the record they established in the House” before putting impeachment to a vote.
    “I don’t know where this goes, but I know impeachment will be over soon,” he said.    “This thing will come to the Senate, it will die quickly and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in
Washington, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    He went on to discuss the results of the Mueller report and said there was never any evidence of wrongdoing by the president.
    “I supported the Mueller investigation, by the way,” said the senator.    “I didn’t know what Trump had done with the Russians, (but) what I have come to believe (is) there is no collusion.”
    Graham said he predicts the Senate will be done with its trial by mid-January.
Rudy Giuliani, center right, personal attorney for President Donald Trump, is seen leaving the West Wing
of the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

12/16/2019 Oil prices slip as investors seek clarity on U.S.-China trade deal by Jessica Jaganathan
FILE PHOTO: An oil pump is seen just after sunset outside Saint-Fiacre,
near Paris, France September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices on Monday slid off near three-month highs hit last week as investors searched for clarity beyond the initial impact of a trade deal between the United States and China that’s expected to boost flows between the top two global economies.
    Brent crude oil futures fell 10 cents, or 0.2% to $65.12 a barrel by 0729 GMT, while West Texas Intermediate crude was down 10 cents or 0.2% to $59.97 a barrel.
    The United States and China cooled long-simmering trade tensions on Friday, announcing a “phase one” agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for what U.S. officials said would be a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products and other goods.
    “It seems the market has now fully priced (in) the phase 1 trade agreement, so we are going to need further news if we are going to push through the important (technical) resistance that is just ahead,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
    The Friday agreement averted additional tariffs on Chinese goods totaling $160 billion that the United States was set to impose over the weekend, but investors remained cautious as they awaited precise details of how the trade deal would work.
    U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Sunday the deal will nearly double U.S. exports to China over the next two years and is “totally done” despite the need for translation and revisions to its text.
    China’s State Council’s customs tariff commission said on Sunday that it has suspended additional tariffs on some U.S. goods that were meant to be implemented on Dec. 15.
    “What the market needs now, though, is clarity around exactly what the deal entails,” analysts from ING Economics said in a note on Monday.
    “>The longer we have to wait for this detail, the more likely market participants will start to question how good a deal it actually is.”
    Data from China on Monday that showed industrial output and retail sales growth accelerating more than expected in November did offer some support for oil prices.
    Still, investors remained cautious as growth in China is expected to slow further next year, with the government likely to set its economic growth target at around 6% in 2020 compared with this year’s 6-6.5%.
    Brent has rallied this year, supported by efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia to cut production.
    The alliance, known as OPEC+, has agreed to lower supply a further 500,000 barrels per day as of Jan. 1, which could boost oil prices.
(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Kenneth Maxwell)

12/16/2019 President Trump: ‘The impeachment hoax is the greatest con job in the history of American politics’ by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez in the
Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump is urging Americans to read the transcripts of his calls with his Ukrainian counterpart, while also slamming the Democrats’ impeachment push.    In a tweet Monday, the president called the inquiry “the greatest con job in the history of American politics.”
    This comes as the House Judiciary Committee officially released its impeachment report against the president.    The more than 600 page document was uploaded online and released to the House on Monday.    It lays out everything from the constitutional grounds for impeachment to the committee’s findings and justifications behind their push to move forward.
    The document stops short of calling for President Trump’s impeachment, however, it does ask members to determine whether the president abused his power with evidence broken down into four overarching parts.    Congress will review the report ahead of Wednesday’s scheduled vote on the House floor.

12/16/2019 Democrats’ impeachment manager selection by OAN Newsroom
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference on
Capitol Hill, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
    As the House prepares for its historic impeachment vote, Democrats are already planning ahead for the potential trial in the Senate.    At the top of their agenda is who should stand before senators, who will be serving as jurors, and who will argue why President Trump should be removed from office.
    That decision will ultimately be made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.    She’s expected to choose Democrats, likely some in the Judiciary or Intelligence Committee, who have been involved in the impeachment process.    However, a group of 30 Democrats is urging her to go a different route — one that ends with naming independent congressman Justin Amash as an impeachment manager.    Amash famously left the Republican Party this year to register, instead, as an independent.
    “I think people need to stand up for what’s right, stand up for what they believe in, and be independent of these party loyalties that really divide us,” he stated.
FILE – In this June 12, 2019 file photo, independent Rep. Justin Amash listens to
debate on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
    Before this move, however, he was the first Republican congressman to call for the president to be impeached.    Some have argued that putting Amash front and center in the trial would send a statement that the impeachment inquiry is bipartisan, which is something Republicans say the investigation hasn’t been.
    “What we’ve seen in the House was a partisan show trial,” stated Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).    “It was one-sided.”
    Meanwhile, others say choosing Amash is too much of a risk.    The Washington Post reported that Amash is open to the task if he’s asked, but according to CNN it likely won’t be offered to him.
    With that pivotal decision coming down to Speaker Pelosi, it’s unclear if she will take the gamble or pick someone safer.    Either way, we won’t have to wait very long to find out as Pelosi is likely to announce her picks this week.

12/16/2019 In blow to Macron, France pensions reform tsar resigns by Caroline Pailliez
FILE PHOTO: French High Commissioner for Pension Reform Jean-Paul Delevoye is pictured as France faces a second day of strike
protests against the government's pension reform plans, in Paris, France December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s minister for pension reform resigned on Monday over a potential conflict of interest, dealing a blow to President Emmanuel Macron as trade unions staged a 12th day of strikes and prepared for more street protests against the planned changes.
    Jean-Paul Delevoye, the High Commissioner for Pensions, was one of Macron’s most trusted allies and one of few with cabinet experience.    He quit after failing to publicly declare more than a dozen posts he held in addition to his cabinet job.
    His resignation, first reported by Le Monde newspaper, comes at a crucial moment for Macron whose government is locked in a standoff with unions over the plans to overhaul France’s convoluted pension system to help plug a chronic deficit.
    The unions have said they will step up their protests unless the government withdraws the reform.    Much of the rail network remained gridlocked on Monday as days of traffic chaos continued across France.
    In a statement confirming Delevoye’s resignation, Macron’s office said: “The president hails his personal commitment and his work on the pension reform.    His withdrawal allows for a clarification of the situation.”
    Delevoye had been drafted into the cabinet in September after submitting a report recommending that the retirement age for receiving a full pension be raised by two years.
    Unions have branded any attempt to raise the retirement age a “red line” and have asked their members, including doctors, teachers, dockers and others to join mass protests on Tuesday after the government’s broad plan was published on Dec. 11.
    Pressure had been mounting on Delevoye to resign over the weekend after it emerged that he had failed to disclose publicly 13 positions, something a minister must do as part of a mandatory declaration of interest when taking up a cabinet role.
    One of the positions was as a voluntary administrator for an insurance training institute, a sector that could benefit from the planned pension reform.
    Delevoye has said it was a mistake not to disclose the posts, but with almost daily revelations appearing in local media, his position appeared increasingly compromised and could have distracted from the government’s efforts to bring the unions back to the negotiating table.
    “This project is essential for France. My staying on would weaken it,” Delevoye said in his resignation letter, which was seen by Reuters.
(Reporting by Caroline Paillez and Michel Rose; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Gareth Jones)

12/16/2019 Kudlow: U.S.-China deal ‘absolutely’ done, U.S. exports to China will double
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Director of the Economic Council Larry Kudlow speaks during the
Wall Street Journal CEO Council, in Washington, U.S., December 10, 2019. REUTERS/Al Drago/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The so-called Phase One trade deal between Washington and Beijing has been “absolutely completed,” a top White House adviser said on Monday, adding that U.S. exports to China will double under the agreement.
    “They’re … going to double our exports to China,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told Fox News Channel.
    Under the trade agreement announced last week, Washington will reduce some tariffs on Chinese imports in exchange for Chinese purchases of agricultural, manufactured and energy products increasing by about $20 billion over the next two years.
    While U.S. officials have touted the deal, Chinese officials have been more cautious, emphasizing that the trade dispute has not been completely settled.
    “Make no mistake about it: the deal is done, the deal is completed,” Kudlow later told reporters at the White House.    “The deal is absolutely completed.”
    Asked if officials still planned to sign the deal the first week of January, Kudlow said: “That’s the hope.”    Translations were still being worked out but he did not expect any changes to the final Phase One agreement, he added.
    On Sunday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said a date for senior U.S. and Chinese officials’ signing of the accord has not yet been determined.
    Kudlow told reporters at the White House on Monday that the second phase of talks would start “pretty soon” but offered no specific date.
    “Phase Two and its outcome will depend in some way on the success of Phase One.    The two are going to be linked,” he said.
    U.S. President Donald Trump has said negotiations on a Phase Two trade deal between the two economic giants would start immediately.
(Reporting by Makini Brice and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)

12/16/2019 Kudlow: U.S. exports to China will double under ‘phase one’ deal, agreement to be signed in early January by OAN Newsroom
White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow talks with reporters outside
the White House, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    According to National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, the ‘phase one’ trade deal with China is complete.
    While speaking to reporters at the White House Monday, he said U.S. exports to China will double under the deal.    The White House economic adviser also said China will increase imports of all goods and services, and emphasized the positive effects this will have on economic growth in the U.S.
    “It covers IP and it covers tech transfers, and it covers financial services and it covers currencies and so forth,” he explained. “But one of the things it covers…not just agriculture, but the deal includes a Chinese purchase of America goods and services across the board.”
    Kudlow pointed out that currency manipulation is a key part of the agreement, and it addresses other major issues like IP theft and foreign access to the Chinese market.    Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer will sign the deal with the Chinese vice premier in Washington in early January.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer speaks during an event to sign an update to the North American Free
Trade Agreement, at the national palace in Mexico City, Tuesday, Dec. 10. 2019. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
    During that same press briefing, Kudlow also commented on the USMCA.    He said a separate agreement on labor inspections with Mexico will not derail the trade deal and will boost the sides’ compliance with the accord.    On Monday, Mexico said it opposed U.S. inspectors monitoring labor conditions at Mexican plants, but the U.S. economic chief stressed that all USMCA members must have the same labor standards.
    “We want all the countries that we trade with to have the same worker rights as we do here, to the extent that we will work through with Mexico and Canada on workers rights and union rules,” he stated.    “I don’t think that’s going to be difficult, and I know it’s not going to stop the successful passage of USMCA.”
    Kudlow went on to say the White House will work on a trade deal with the Britain soon soon as possible, noting impeachment will not slow anything down.

12/16/2019 Sen. Graham: U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan must be ‘conditioned-based’ by OAN Newsroom
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham speaks during a press conference at the Resolute Support
headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
    Sen. Lindsey Graham says the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan must be based on certain conditions.    While speaking in Kabul Monday, the South Carolina Republican said Afghanistan cannot trust in the Taliban to be a reliable counter-terrorism force. He also said the group must keep its promises made during its talks with U.S. officials.
    This comes as President Trump could reduce U.S. troops in the country from 12,000 to 8,600.    Sen. Graham said Afghan forces are up to the task of defending their country, but he opposes a full pullout of U.S. troops.
    “It needs to be clear that our presence in Afghanistan will continue and our goal is to withdraw our forces based on conditions that would warrant withdrawal.    Those conditions are pretty clear to me.    We cannot withdraw in a fashion to allow international terrorism to rear its ugly head again in Afghanistan.”
    Meanwhile, talks between the U.S. and the Taliban have been put on hold again following a recent attack, which left two people dead and dozens of others injured north of Kabul.
Security personnel arrive near the site of an attack near the Bagram Air Base In Parwan province of Kabul, Afghanistan,
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. A powerful suicide bombing Wednesday targeted an under-construction medical facility near
the Bagram Air Base, the main American base north of the capital Kabul, the U.S. military said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

12/17/2019 Oil up $0.14 to $60.21, DOW up 101 to 28,236.

12/17/2019 USA TODAY/SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY POLL - Ahead of impeachment vote, Trump leads 2020 Dem rivals by Susan Page, William Cummings and Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump, the first modern president to face impeachment during his first term in the White House, now leads his top Democratic rivals in his bid for a second, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds.    The national survey, taken as the House of Representatives planned an impeachment vote and the Senate a trial, showed Trump defeating former Vice President Joe Biden by 3 percentage points, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 5 points, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by 8 points.
    In hypothetical head-to-head contests, Trump also led South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg by 10 points and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg by 9.
    Polls taken nearly a year before an election are hardly a reliable indicator about what the eventual outcome will be, especially when the other nominee hasn’t been chosen.    But the findings do indicate that impeachment hearings detailing what critics see as Trump’s violations of the Constitution and his oath of office haven’t undermined his core political support.
    The poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken Dec. 1014 by landline and cellphone, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
    In the survey:
  • Trump won among male voters but every Democratic contender carried a majority or plurality of female voters against him.
  • He bested the Democratic hopefuls among age groups 35 and older, but he lost to each of them among voters 18 to 34 years old.
    The president faces no significant primary challenge from former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld or former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, who have announced campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination. They each received just 2% among Republican voters;     Trump was backed by 88%. Biden continued to lead the Democratic presidential field, at 23%.    Also in the top tier of contenders were Sanders at 14%, Warren at 13% and Buttigieg at 8%.    Compared with the survey taken in October, Sanders had ticked up 1 point, but the others had dropped a bit – Biden by 3 points, Warren by 4, Buttigieg by 2.
    The findings indicate that impeachment hearings haven’t undermined his core political support.
[AMERICANS KNOW A SHAM WHEN THEY SEE ONE EVENTHOUGH THE DEMS THINK THEY CAN KEEP TRYING TO PULL THE WOOL OVER THEIR HEADS.].

12/17/2019 Poll: Most Americans see rights at risk by Joshua Bote, USA TODAY
    Most Americans surveyed – 92% – think their rights are under siege, according to a poll released Monday.
    Americans are most concerned that their freedom of speech (48%), right to bear arms (47%) and right to equal justice (41%) are at risk, says the Harris Poll/Purple Project, which surveyed 2,002 people nationwide.
    “When you frame something as a threat, it creates a bit of a political response, and it creates division and encampments of special interest,” said John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll.    That’s why political parties and lobbying groups warn supporters with strident language, he said: It’s easier to drum up backing for a political cause by talking about an issue in terms of “threats.”
    But when you start to consider which rights and freedoms really matter, Gerzema said, poll responses changed – and Americans re-prioritized which values they cared about.
    When asked what rights and freedoms Americans would miss if they were taken away poll respondents’ concerns generally ticked upward.
    Sixty-three percent said they would miss freedom of speech if that right was taken away, while nearly half would miss freedom of expression (46%) and the right to equal justice (45%).
    “When you look at the things we really value, what makes America so special is these core tenets of our Constitution,” Gerzema said.
    The poll results come at a juncture in American politics where friction and division are more apparent – and Americans are overwhelmingly frustrated by the discourse. In fact, another recent survey, a Public Agenda/USA TODAY/Ipsos poll, shows that the divisive national debate has convinced many that the country is heading in the wrong direction.    More than nine of 10 in that poll said it’s crucial for the U.S. to try to reduce that divisiveness.
Americans are most concerned about freedom of speech. GETTY IMAGES

12/17/2019 Johnson uses threat of Brexit cliff-edge to demand EU trade deal by end of 2020 by Guy Faulconbridge
Britain's Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove arrives at the
Cabinet Office in London, Britain, December 16, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use the prospect of a Brexit cliff-edge at the end of 2020 to demand the European Union gives him a comprehensive free trade deal in less than 11 months.
    In his boldest move since winning a majority in Thursday’s election, Johnson will use his control of parliament to outlaw any extension of the Brexit transition period beyond 2020.
    “Our manifesto made clear that we will not extend the implementation period and the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill will legally prohibit government agreeing to any extension,” a senior government official said on Tuesday.
    After the United Kingdom leaves the European Union on Jan. 31, it enters a transition period in which it remains an EU member in all but name while both sides try to hammer out a deal on their post-Brexit relationship.
    A comprehensive free trade deal would encompass everything from financial services and rules of origin to tariffs, state aid rules and fishing, though the scope and sequencing of any future deal is still up for discussion.
    Sterling dropped as much as 0.7% to $1.3236 in Asia after ITV first reported the move.
    By enshrining in law his campaign promise not to extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020, Johnson cuts the amount of time he has to strike a trade deal to 10-11 months from nearly three years.
    While Johnson’s large majority gives him the flexibility to change the law should he need to, he is sending a message to the EU – whose leaders have cautioned London that more time would be needed for a comprehensive trade deal.
    “We are going to make sure that we get this deal done in time,” Michael Gove, one of the most senior ministers in Johnson’s government, told the BBC.
    Johnson and U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday they looked forward to continued close cooperation and the negotiation of an “ambitious” UK-U.S. free trade agreement.
EU DEAL?
    If the United Kingdom and the EU failed to strike a deal on their future relationship and the transition period were not extended, then trade between the two would be on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms – more burdensome for businesses.
    The EU hopes to start trade talks with Britain by March, leaving just 10 months to strike a deal and get it approved by London and the EU, including member states’ parliaments.
    The EU insists it will not seal a trade deal with a large, economically powerful neighbor without solid provisions to guarantee fair competition.
    The EU’s demands will focus on environmental and labor standards, as well as state aid rules to ensure Britain would not be able to offer products on the bloc’s single market at unfairly low prices.
    Britain’s conundrum is that it will be under pressure to loosen rules on agricultural and food standards to strike a bilateral trade deal with the United States.
    But this would be crossing a red line for the EU, which would restrict access to its market to protect its own producers.
    Fishing is a particularly thorny issue as EU countries will no longer be able to operate in British waters as they do now.
    With industry supply chains in the EU crossing borders multiple times for products like cars and drugs, agreeing exact rules to designate where products come from – and hence what regulations and taxes apply – will also be fraught.     “It will be very complicated.    It’s about an array of relations, in trade, in fishing and cooperation in security and foreign policy,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told an EU summit news conference on Friday.
(Writting by Guy Faulconbridge in London; Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and John Chalmers in Brussels and Akshay Balan in Bengaluru; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

12/17/2019 Strikes, protests as French unions seek momentum to halt pension reform by Christian Lowe
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron arrives to attend the European Union leaders summit,
in Brussels, Belgium December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann//File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – French trade unions crippled transport and gathered for mass protests on Tuesday, in a redoubled effort to force President Emmanuel Macron to ditch a planned pension reform by Christmas.
    With a nationwide movement of rolling strikes and protests having started to tail off as it enters a second week, unions were hoping for a new jolt to regain momentum by bringing hundreds of thousands of demonstrators back out onto the street.
    Former investment banker Macron has said he wants to streamline the Byzantine state pension system with its tangle of special privileges, and use incentives to prod people to work until 64, instead of the average retirement age now of 62.
    Eight of Paris’ 14 metro lines were closed and the rest had a limited service, apart from two lines that run automated trains.    Suburban commuter trains were heavily disrupted.    Roads were thick with pedestrians and the streets crammed with bicycles and electric scooters as people tried to get to work.
    The unions and Macron are each hoping to push the other to back down before Christmas, with the prospect that continuing strikes over the holiday would alienate an increasingly frustrated public.
    “It wasn’t me that started the pension reform, but I feel like I’ve been taken hostage.    It’s frustration turning to annoyance,” said Johan Boyet, caught in the morning commute on Paris’s central Boulevard Haussmann.
    The state railway operator, SNCF, urged travelers not to show up at stations hoping to travel, with 80 percent of trains out of action in the region around Paris.    At some stations in the past two weeks, police and security guards had to stop commuters trying to fight their way onto overcrowded trains.
    “Passengers are tired, our employees who aren’t striking are tired,” the head of SNCF in the Paris region, Alain Krakovitch told BFM TV.    “My responsibility is to spread the word to avoid putting passengers in an unsafe situation.”
    Morning traffic queues in the Paris area totaled 300 km, though congestion subsided to normal by the end of the morning rush, with many workers having set off early or stayed home.
    Numbers turning out for protests have waned since the start of the standoff but unions forecast a big turnout on Tuesday, with all the major unions taking part in the same demonstration for the first time.
    Opponents of the pension reform have been buoyed by the departure of the government’s pension reform tsar, Jean-Paul Delevoye.    He stepped down on Monday after it emerged he had failed to publicly declare more than a dozen posts he held in addition to his main job.
    The unions are seeking to make a major show of force on Tuesday, because as Christmas approaches, the risk increases that the strikes could backfire.    Strikes have already disrupted Christmas shopping.
    A survey by pollster Ifop published on Monday in the Figaro newspaper showed that 55% of people believed it was unacceptable for the strikes to continue over the holiday.
(Additional reporting by Jean-Michel Belot and Marc De Temple; Editing by Jon Boyle)

12/17/2019 McConnell rejects proposal from Schumer to call more witnesses ahead of House vote on impeachment by OAN Newsroom
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., heads to a policy meeting with fellow Republicans,
at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. In a floor speech earlier, he rejected
the Democrats’ push for fresh impeachment testimony against President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for four more.    The Kentucky lawmaker turned down Schumer’s proposal on the Senate floor Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s House vote on two articles of impeachment.
    McConnell’s comments came in response to a letter Schumer sent to the majority leader on Sunday.    In the letter, he outlined one resolution for procedures and called for witnesses, including White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
    In response, McConnell pushed back and proposed two resolutions.    He proposed one for witnesses and one for procedures as was seen in the impeachment trial of former president Bill Clinton.
    “The Senate is meant to act as judge and jury to hear a trial, not to rerun the entire background investigation because angry partisans rushed sloppily through it,” he stated.    “The trajectory that the Democratic leader apparently wants to take us down, before he’s even heard opening arguments, could set a nightmarish precedent.”
    McConnell added that Schumer volunteering the Senate’s time to go through a lengthy impeachment trial was “dead wrong.”

12/17/2019 President Trump: Giuliani’s probe into Biden-Ukraine corruption helps protect U.S. national interest by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable on government regulations in the Cabinet Room
of the White House, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump is doubling down on his support for Rudy Giuliani, and his ongoing probe into Joe and Hunter Biden’s’ corruption in Ukraine.    While speaking to reporters at the White House Monday, he touted Giuliani’s record of fighting organized crime in New York and beyond.
    The president went on to point out that he hasn’t spoken too much to Giuliani about his investigation, so far.    He added that Giuliani’s findings may present the Russia-Ukraine hoax in a new light.
    “He’s a great person who loves our country and he does this out of love, believe me, he does it out love,” stated President Trump.    “He sees what goes on, he sees what’s happening, he sees all the hoax that happens when they talk about impeachment hoax or the Russia collusion delusion, and he sees it and he’s a great gentleman.”
In this handout photo provided by Adriii Derkach’s press office, Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump,
left, meets with Ukrainian lawmaker Adriii Derkach in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. A Ukrainian lawmaker says he has
met up with Rudy Giuliani in Kiev to discuss an anti-corruption project. (Adriii Derkach’s press office via AP)
    Giuliani said he’s preparing a report on his months-long probe into Ukraine corruption.    He claims the investigation involves top Obama officials as well as money laundering from Ukraine into the U.S.
    One America News Political Correspondent Chanel Rion traveled to Budapest and Kiev with Giuliani to capture explosive first-hand interviews with key Ukrainian officials, which highlight DNC collaborated foreign interference into the 2016 presidential election.     That three part exclusive report is now available for viewing.

12/17/2019 Kellyanne Conway: Not concerned with anti-president super PAC by OAN Newsroom
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway talks with reporters at the White House,
Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    Kellyanne Conway recently claimed the New York Times is “overjoyed” when they have an opportunity to invoke the name of her husband George in an anti-president piece.    While speaking at a press briefing from the White House Tuesday, the counselor to the president was asked about the recent creation of the Lincoln Project.
    The super PAC, which was created by her husband, is aimed at beating President Trump in 2020.    Conway quoted her husband, saying he is not a direct financier of the political action committee.
    “It’s kind of disappointing top see some of the people involved, but not surprising because they ran presidential campaigns and were involved in presidential campaigns which wouldn’t include George Conway as he says in the article,’" she stated.    “He’s not a political consultant or a fundraiser even though you’ve tried to make him both.”
    George Conway is an outspoken critic of the president and was the author of a recent New York Times op-ed, where he claimed to be one of the Republican founders of the super PAC.    Kellyanne Conway finished her comments by saying she was curious about the PAC, but was in no way concerned.

12/17/2019 President Trump celebrates record highs on Wall Street by OAN Newsroom
Specialist Gregg Maloney, left, and trader John Panin work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange,
Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. After months of waiting, markets had a muted reaction to news Friday
that the US and China had reached an initial deal on trade. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
    President Trump is touting his administration’s success on the economy, while slamming Democrats over the ongoing impeachment inquiry.    He took to Twitter Tuesday to point out the stock market hit another record high, which marks the 133rd time this has happened during his tenure as president.
    The president also took at hit at “the radical left” for focusing their efforts on trying to impeach him.
    This comes as Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy stated that the president’s leadership has been good for the his state’s economy as well as the rest of the country.
    “The president’s been good for this country…back when he was elected…the Dow was about 18,000…it’s now about 28,000,” explained the governor.    “All the numbers are looking good for the country and Alaska, so our economy in Alaska is improving, our unemployment rate is at record lows, our GDP is up and it’s the same for across the country.”
    Dunleavy went on to say it’s going to be difficult for the left to convince voters on impeachment when considering the president’s more than positive record on the economy.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announces his state budget during a press conference at the Capitol
in Juneau, Alaska, on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire via AP)

12/17/2019 French unions fail to gain new momentum in pension protests by Richard Lough and Jean-Michel Belot
French SNCF railway workers on strike attend a demonstration in Paris as France faces its 13th day of consecutive
strikes against French government's pensions reform plans, December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Jean-Michel Belot
    PARIS (Reuters) – French trade unions crippled transport and shut schools on Tuesday but failed to achieve the big surge in support they had sought to increase pressure on President Emmanuel Macron to ditch a planned pension reform by Christmas.
    All big unions organized marches on the same day for the first time in almost two weeks of nationwide protests, with union chiefs hoping to regain faltering momentum.
    But the interior ministry said only about 615,000 people nationwide answered the union leaders’ call.    This was a significant decline since the first big day of action on Dec. 5, which had brought 806,000 onto the street, though 76,000 people marched in Paris, more than the 65,000 tallied on Dec. 5.
    The hardline CGT union, the main driver behind the protest, said it had counted 1.8 million protesters nationwide, 300,000 more than it had reported on Dec. 5.
    “This shows that the government is failing in its attempts to divide people across generations.    They only make the anger grow,” the CGT said in a statement.
    Union and government tallies at French demonstrations usually show major discrepancies.
    French unions oppose Macron’s plans to streamline the Byzantine state pension system and prod people to work until 64, instead of the legal retirement age of 62.    For the first time in many years, the more moderate CFDT union had called on its members to march together with the CGT.
    Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at demonstrators in central Paris’s Place de la Nation, but the demonstration was relatively peaceful compared to the violence and looting that marked the “yellow vest” protest against the high cost of living late last year.
    Some protesters dressed in black, hiding their faces with scarves and masks, overturned bins, tried to smash advertising hoardings and hurled projectiles at police lines.    Police said the clashes involved “black block” anarchists, a small minority of the otherwise peaceful protesters.
    Police also charged a group of protesters in Paris who ignored an ultimatum to disperse at the end of the route and threw Molotov cocktails at police, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.
LAST STRAW
    “We want social justice,” said Veronique Ragot, 55, a striking sub-editor at a publishing house.    “We’ve seen our social benefits melt in the sun, and this is the last straw.”
    The strike forced most long-distance trains, commuter trains and Paris metro lines to shut.    Even the Eiffel Tower was closed. Many state schools were shut or had reduced lessons.    Grid operator RTE blamed the strike for power outages in Lyon.
    The unions and Macron are each hoping to push the other to back down before Christmas, with the prospect that strikes over the holiday would alienate an increasingly frustrated public.
    “Democratic and union opposition to our project is perfectly legitimate.    But we have stated clearly what our project was, and my government is totally determined to reform the pensions system and to balance the pension system’s budget,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told parliament.
    Opponents of the pension reform were buoyed by the departure of government pension reform tsar Jean-Paul Delevoye, who quit on Monday over his failure to declare other jobs.
    French workers receive among the world’s most generous state pensions through a system divided into dozens of separate schemes.    Macron’s government says privileges for various categories of workers make it unfair, and wants a “points” system to treat contributions from all workers equally. Unions say this amounts to an attack on hard-earned benefits.
    “When all the unions say ‘We do not want this reform’, the government should have a rethink,” said Philippe Martinez, head of France’s CGT union, leading a column of demonstrators in Paris’s Republic Square.    “They need to open their eyes and unblock their ears.”
(Additional reporting by Christian Lowe and Marc De Temple, Writing by Christian Lowe and Peter Graff, Editing by Jon Boyle, Peter Graff, Timothy Heritage, William Maclean)

12/17/2019 Bill imposing sanctions on companies building Russian gas pipeline heads to White House by Timothy Gardner
FILE PHOTO: Allseas' deep sea pipe laying ship Solitaire lays pipes for Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the
Baltic Sea September 13, 2019. Picture taken September 13, 2019. REUTERS/Stine Jacobsen/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to slap sanctions on companies building a massive underwater pipeline to bring Russian natural gas to Germany, but it was uncertain whether the measures would slow completion of the project.
    The Senate easily passed the U.S. defense policy bill with language backed by Senators Ted Cruz, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, imposing sanctions on companies laying pipeline for the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 project.    It now goes to the White House, where President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.
    Senator Jim Risch, a Republican and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the sanctions will prevent the project’s completion and are an “important tool to counter Russia’s malign influence and to protect the integrity of Europe’s energy sector.”
    Nord Stream 2, led by state-owned Gazprom, would allow Russia to bypass Poland and Ukraine to deliver gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany.    U.S. lawmakers say Ukraine could lose billions of dollars in transit fees if it is built.
    The Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, has opposed the pipeline, saying it would increase Russia’s political grip on Europe.    Washington has touted exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to provide Europe alternatives to gas pipelined from Russia.
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass has rejected U.S. sanctions as “foreign interference,” but there is concern in Europe’s biggest economy that the measures could slow the project’s completion.
    A document from Germany’s Economics Ministry, cited by the Bild newspaper, showed Berlin believes U.S. sanctions could hit construction of the pipeline off Denmark.
    The bill targets companies based in Western Europe laying the pipeline.    Dutch-Swiss company Allseas, which is laying pipeline off the Danish island of Bornholm, also could be hit.
    The sanctions would require the U.S. secretary of state to issue a report within 60 days on vessels that are engaging in pipe-laying for the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines.
    If a company is listed in the reports, it would then be blacklisted by Washington unless the president determined the company was winding down the operations.    The president could also waive the sanctions based on national security considerations.
    Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said last month Nord Stream 2 was expected to begin operations in mid-2020, but Gazprom said the timing will depend on weather.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Dan Grebler)

12/17/2019 After years of delays, NATO receives U.S.-made spy drones by Robin Emmott
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft wait in a hangar In a military installation
at an Air Force Base in the Arabian Gulf, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo
    SIGONELLA, Italy (Reuters) – NATO will receive its second U.S.-made Global Hawk drone on Thursday and aims to have all five unmanned aircraft of its $1.5 billion surveillance system operational in 2022, alliance officials said on Tuesday.
    After years of delays, the drone system, which NATO says will be the world’s most advanced, will give the alliance 24-hour, near-real time surveillance of land and sea beyond its borders and provide greater visibility than satellites.
    “It’s been a very, very long road,” said Brigadier General Volker Samanns, a senior manager at the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) drone system, which was first discussed three decades ago and was scheduled to operate from 2017.
    Having resolved contractual disputes over cost with manufacturer Northrup Grumman, the first drone was delivered last month to the Sigonella air base in Italy.
    Following Thursday’s delivery of a second drone, three more will come by next summer, Samanns said.
    “We are basically creating a small air force,” he told reporters at the air base in Sicily, where NATO showed off the drone, which can fly for up to 30 hours at high altitude in all weather, seeing through clouds and storms to produce detailed maps, photos and data for commanders.
    Fifteen NATO allies have funded the acquisition of the aircraft, including Germany, Poland, the United States and Italy, as well as ground stations built by Airbus.
    All 29 allies will have access to the intelligence they generate, which could include missile sites in Russia, militant activity in the Middle East or pirates off the coast of Africa.
    The drones will be piloted remotely from Sigonella and will fly within NATO airspace, but could be flown more widely in a conflict.    Drones are increasingly a feature in modern warfare because of their long flying times and intelligence-gathering.
    The delivery of the NATO drones marks a breakthrough for European allies after Germany canceled plans to buy its own Global Hawks due to cost and certification issues, while a Franco-German project for a Eurodrone has been delayed.
    They also help underpin Western efforts to remain more technologically advanced than Russia and China, officials said.
    Brigadier General Phillip Stewart, a former Global Hawk commander in the United States, said he did not believe Moscow and Beijing had the sophistication of the NATO system.
    “This is a quantum leap forward,” Stewart told reporters.
    The delivery comes as NATO is spending $1 billion to modernize its 14 AWACS reconnaissance planes, which along with the drones, are the few military assets owned by NATO.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Giles Elgood)

12/17/2019 Rep. Waters insists debunked ‘Russian collusion’ is real, calls for imprisonment of President Trump by OAN Newsroom
From left, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and
Adam Schiff, D-Calif., leave a news conference after unveiling articles of impeachment. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Congresswoman Maxine Waters recently admitted she has no facts to back up her claims of so-called collusion between President Trump and the Kremlin.    In an interview Monday, the California Democrat reaffirmed she believes the “Russian collusion” is real.
    Waters claimed Russia helped President Trump’s election back in 2016 in order to get U.S. sanctions lifted.    She also said the president has failed to condemn Russia’s hacking of the DNC despite claims of Ukraine’s involvement in the breach.
    Waters hurled several insults at the president, and called for his impeachment as well as imprisonment.
    “I believe even though I don’t have the facts to prove it, I believe that Putin wanted to lift the sanctions,” she stated.    “He’s always wanted to lift these sanctions that were placed on him because of his interfering with and his incursion into Crimea, so I believe that they wanted to elect President Trump and Trump, I believe, agreed.”
    Waters also commented on the findings in the Mueller report, saying she “guarantees” the collusion is real.
[THE TRUTH COMES OUT AS IMPEACH 45 IS JUST A BIG BAG OF HOT AIR WITH NO VALID PROOF OF ANYTHING SHE SAYS.].

12/17/2019 U.S. Congress pressures Trump to renew Russia arms control pact by Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Landay
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales in the
Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers of both parties are pressuring the White House to extend the last remaining restraints on U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons deployments by demanding intelligence assessments on the costs of allowing the New START treaty to lapse.
    The demands, contained in three bills that may be harmonized this week, reflect doubts about whether the Trump administration has done sufficient analytical work on how China and Russia may respond to the 2010 treaty’s expiration in February 2021.
    New START restricted the United States and Russia to deploying no more than 1,550 nuclear warheads, the lowest level in decades, and limited the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers that deliver them.
    It can be renewed for up to five years if both sides agree.    Moscow has offered to immediately extend the treaty.    Washington still is considering the issue.
    U.S. President Donald Trump and his aides have argued that New START does not cover all Russian nuclear weapons and said they want to bring China, which they increasingly view as the primary, long-term threat, into a wider arms control framework.
    Some lawmakers and arms control experts view the proposal as a “poison pill” to kill New START, ending restraints on U.S. strategic nuclear weapons deployments, because China rejects the idea.
    In May, Trump announced that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed a possible new accord limiting nuclear arms that eventually could include China.
    Three days later China, estimated to have only about 300 nuclear weapons, dismissed the idea of participating in trilateral nuclear arms reduction talks.
    China’s arsenal is dwarfed by those of the United States and Russia.    Both are estimated to have over 6,000 deployed, stockpiled or retired (and awaiting dismantlement) nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
    Lawmakers, congressional aides and former officials say they are unaware of the administration conducting any formal intelligence estimates of the implications of New START’s expiration either before or after Trump unveiled the idea.
    Nor are they aware of extensive inter-agency deliberations on devising a negotiating stance with China, or even whether any negotiations with China have occurred.
    “What we don’t want to see is … China used as an excuse to blow up the existing, or potential extension of an agreement with Russia that contributes to international security and … that’s very important to our survival,” Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley said at a Dec. 3 hearing.
    Senator Todd Young, a Republican, on Wednesday will propose, as an amendment to unrelated Russian sanctions legislation, a measure that would require U.S. intelligence estimates on how Russian and Chinese nuclear forces may evolve if New START expires.
    The House of Representatives foreign affairs committee also plans on Wednesday to consider similar legislation sponsored by Democratic Chairman Eliot Engel and the senior Republican, Representative Michael McCaul, a congressional aide said.
    Another aide, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Senate bill, originally introduced by Young and Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, was being harmonized with similar language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
    The latest version of the NDAA, which passed the Senate on Tuesday, also demands intelligence estimates on Russia’s nuclear arsenal in a post-New START world but does not do so for China.
    If the three bills converge, the Trump administration may find itself forced to share with Congress intelligence assessments on the implications of abandoning New START and some details on its discussions with Russia and China.
    The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on the bills, whether such intelligence assessments have been done or whether the inclusion of China was a “poison pill.”
    Thomas Countryman, a former acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said there were limited ways to persuade China to enter into negotiations.
    “You could offer to let the Chinese build up to the U.S. and Russia level (of 6,000 warheads) … you could offer to take Russia and the U.S. down to 300.    Or you could suggest to the Chinese that they stay at 300 and we’ll stay at 6,000."
    “Only the second one has a chance of being accepted by the Chinese, but it’s not acceptable, unfortunately, to the Pentagon or the Kremlin,” Countryman said.
(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

12/18/2019 Oil up $0.73 to $60.94, DOW up 31 to 28,267 continued records.

12/18/2019 Former Trump aide Gates sentenced to jail - Judge gives him 45-day stint despite cooperation by Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates was sentenced Tuesday to 45 days in jail, a departure from a probation sentence prosecutor said he deserved in exchange for being a witness in the Russia investigation.
    U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the jail sentence will be intermittent – Gates will spend weekends behind bars.    He will be on probation for three years, must pay $20,000 in fines and must do 300 hours of community service.
    Jackson said Gates’ cooperation with prosecutors was “an important public service.”    Gates testified in “three cases already and maybe more, sometimes against friends and former colleagues and partners. ... He was forthcoming about his own lies and wrongdoing.”
    But the judge said a short incarceration is “appropriate,” noting she has seen defendants from less privileged backgrounds spend more time behind bars for lesser crimes.    Incarceration, she said, should not be a punishment only for the disadvantaged.
    Gates is one of six former Trump associates and campaign aides indicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
    Gates testified against two of them, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. Both were convicted.
    Citing Gates’ “extraordinary” cooperation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston agreed with defense attorneys that he should be sentenced to probation.    Gaston said it’s hard to imagine the “turbulent atmosphere” in which Gates decided to plead guilty.
    “He understood that pleading guilty would mean public testimony that would make him and his family the subject of intense scrutiny,” Gaston said at a hearing in federal court in Washington.
    Yet, Gaston said, Gates “decided to do the right thing.”
    Gates and Manafort, longtime business associates, were indicted in Washington in October 2017.    They were charged with failing to register as foreign agents for work they did for Ukraine and making false statements to investigators to conceal that work.
    The two were indicted again in February 2018 in Virginia, where Gates was charged with assisting Manafort in a years-long scheme to hide millions of dollars of income from foreign governments.    Prosecutors charged that many of their crimes were related to work they did for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
    “For more than a decade, Gates engaged in a range of crimes at Manafort’s direction,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.    “Gates, at Manafort’s direction, helped conceal the nature of their work, the income derived from it, and the overseas accounts where those funds were maintained.    Gates assisted in laundering funds to promote the scheme.”
    Over the course of four years, Gates helped Manafort hide more than $15 million from tax authorities.    Gates personally benefited from the crimes by not reporting $3 million on tax returns over several years and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort’s overseas accounts, prosecutors said.
    Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements about his status as a foreign agent.    Both are felonies.
    The rest of the charges were dropped.
Contributing: Brad Heath and Kevin Johnson
Former Deputy Trump campaign aide Rick Gates leaves the federal court in Washington,
Tuesday after being sentenced to 45 days in jail. JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AP

12/18/2019 President Trump to hold ‘Keep America Great’ rally in Battle Creek, Mich. by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives at a campaign rally in Hershey, Pa., Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
    President Trump is set to hold a “Merry Christmas” rally in Michigan.    On Wednesday, the president and Vice President Mike Pence will speak to a group of supporters in the city of Battle Creek, which is west of Detroit.
    Around 10,000 people are expected to attend the event, which will be held at the Kellogg Arena.    Overflow space will also be available for people who do not make it inside the venue.    Michigan is seen as an important state ahead of the 2020 elections since Democrats are hoping to win it back after it flipped from blue to red in 2016.
    Ahead of the event, the House is set to vote on two articles of impeachment against the president.    Lawmakers will debate the articles, which include abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, before holding a vote on each of the charges Wednesday.    All Republicans are expected to oppose impeachment, while at least three Democrats have signaled they will vote against one or both of the articles.
    One America News will provide full coverage of President Trump’s “Keep America Great” rally starting at 7 p.m. EST and 4 p.m. PST.

12/18/2019 Judicial Watch to attend hearing in federal court amid ongoing discovery into Hillary Clinton email scandal by OAN Newsroom
File – Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pictured. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    Judicial Watch plans to attend a hearing in federal court, which will decide the direction of their Hillary Clinton discovery plan.    On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth will consider whether Judicial Watch will be allowed to question Hillary Clinton and her top aides under oath about Benghazi as well as her emails.
    The government watchdog group will also be asking the court’s permission to subpoena Google in order to gain access to the private account allegedly used by Clinton and her aides.    The president of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton, claims they are pursuing newly discovered evidence in the case.
    Judicial Watch hopes the hearing will allow the conservative activist group to uncover substantial information concerning Clinton’s deleted emails and mishandled procedures.

12/18/2019 More polls show Americans split on impeachment by OAN Newsroom
Pedestrians cross a street near the White House as a demonstrator holds a sign
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
    Several new polls show Americans are still divided and dug in to their positions on presidential impeachment.     According to a CNBC survey released Wednesday, 45 percent approve of impeachment, while 44 percent disapprove.    Close in comparison is a new Morning Consult-Politico poll, which has 50 percent approving to 43 percent against.
    The partisan division was also on display in Fox News and CNN polls this week.    Fox shows 50 percent in favor of impeachment to a disapproval of 41 percent.    Meanwhile, CNN’s survey shows a significant shift of 45 percent approving of impeachment, which is down five points from November.    This month shows a drop of 13 percent approval among Democrats alone, leaving some CNN analysts in disbelief.
    “It’s not a wild swing, it’s just where the movement is in the poll — I don’t know what’s not to believe,” said David Chalian, political director for CNN.    “You know, you call people up on the telephone, you get their information, you pop out a survey, this is what those that we polled told us.”
Mark Kamph, a supporter of President Donald Trump from Pahrump, Nev., holds a sign outside the
U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
    The polls came just hours ahead of the House’s final vote on articles of impeachment.    Wednesday’s vote will wrap up weeks of testimony related to President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

12/18/2019 French strikers angry about pension reform cut power to homes, companies by Michel Rose and Bate Felix
A RER D (suburban rapid transit) train arrives at Fontenay-sous-Bois railway station near Paris
as a strike by all unions of the Paris transport network (RATP) and French SNCF workers
entered its 14th consecutive day in Paris, France, December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s trade unions on Wednesday defended their decision to cut power to thousands of homes, companies and even the Bank of France to force the government to drop a wide-ranging pension reform.
    The power cuts, illegal under French law, added to a sense of chaos in the second week of nationwide strikes that have crippled transport, shut schools and brought more than half a million people onto the street against President Emmanuel Macron’s reform.
    Asked on French radio whether the power cuts weren’t a step too far, Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, said the cuts were necessary to force Macron to back down.
    “I understand these workers’ anger,” the mustachioed union leader said.    “These are targeted cuts.    You’ll understand that spitting on the public service can make some of us angry.”
    Following a meeting with government officials, he hinted at further cuts, saying “we may amplify these kinds of methods.”
    Martinez’ remarks coincided with comments by Macron’s office saying the president ruled out abandoning his reform plans but was keen to make improvements in talks with unions, ahead of a new day of talks between his prime minister and union leaders.
    The government is keen to reach a truce before Christmas, when millions of French people travel to spend the holiday with their families.
    Macron’s transport minister condemned the power cuts, which hit at least 150,000 homes on Tuesday according to power grid operator RTE, and said the government would ask RTE to file complaints.
    “Cutting power to …companies, prefectures, shopping malls, that’s already rather questionable,” Elisabeth Borne said.
    “But clinics, metro stations, fire brigades and thousands of French people also saw power cuts.    This is far from normal ways of striking,” she added.
    Macron wants to turn the myriad of French pension systems into a single points-based one.
    That would force staff at state-owned firms such as railway SNCF or utility EDF, who enjoy more generous pension plans than private-sector workers, to work longer.
    SNCF train drivers can retire at just over 50, for instance, against 62 for those in the private sector.    That means taxpayers have to plug the SNCF pensions deficit to the tune of 3 billion euros every year.
    Martinez said that rather than reducing the pension system’s deficit by increasing the retirement age, the government should increase corporate social security contributions, tax financial products and make internet firms pay social security charges.
    The government argues that increasing pensions contributions would make labor more costly and force young people to pay yet more to fund French pensions.
(Additional reporting by Marine Pennetier, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Caroline Pailliez)

12/18/2019 U.S. files appeal into WTO system it has broken
A red light is pictured at a pedestrian crossing in front of the World Trade Organization
headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday fell foul of its own actions that have weakened the World Trade Organization after it filed an appeal in a steel dispute with India, even though WTO adjudicators are no longer able to handle such a case.
    Washington has paralyzed the WTO’s Appellate Body, which acts as a supreme court for international trade, by blocking appointments for over two years.    Two of the body’s three members came to the end of their terms last week, leaving it unable to issue rulings.
    The United States notified fellow WTO members that it had lodged the appeal, a Geneva trade official said.    It planned to consult India to determine how to settle the dispute, possibly by finding “alternatives” to the WTO appeals process.
    One person who attended Wednesday’s meeting on the matter called it “almost a comical development.”
    “It seems that the United States is either seeking a correction of possible errors in the Panel Report from the Appellate Body, or intentionally delaying or mooting the case in a bad faith manner,” China’s delegation said in a speech.
    “We encourage prompt unblockage of the Appellate Body by the United States to show to the public its genuine and sincere good faith in this appeal.”
    The U.S-Indian row arose from U.S. tariffs on hot-rolled carbon steel products from India.    India argued the U.S. measures breached global trade rules and that Washington subsequently failed to comply with a WTO decision on the matter.
    A three-person WTO panel largely rejected India’s claims last month.
    At the same meeting on Wednesday, 119 of the WTO’s 164 member states proposed that the six Appellate Body vacancies be filled.    The United States rejected this, saying the Appellate Body had abused its authority and members needed first to discuss how this had happened.
    The European Union has agreed with Canada and Norway to allow appeals to go before former Appellate Body adjudicators, permissible under WTO rules, and wants to sign up other countries with which it has more active disputes.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

12/18/2019 Moderate Democrats distance themselves from Green New Deal by OAN Newsroom
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., addresses the Road to the Green New Deal Tour
final event at Howard University in Washington, Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
    The Green New Deal has forced some Democrat members of Congress to reconsider their priorities as they fight for reelection in conservative leaning districts.    Reports this week highlighted recent statements by South Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, who suggested the deal is a job killer.
    Cuellar is currently facing a challenge from progressive Jessica Cisneros in the state’s March primary, which is a first for the 10-year veteran lawmaker.    Cisneros has been vocal in her support for the deal. She said the district is more than ready and in need of a true progressive.
    While speaking to C-SPAN earlier this month, Rep. Cueller spoke out against the deal.
    “I understand the district, and for them to think that New York values are going to translate to border values, they’re in fairy land right now,” he said.    “They believe in the Green Deal and in my area, for example, it would kill thousands of jobs.”
    The Green New Deal has been a point of contention among progressive and moderate Democrats.    Some have been slower than others to accept the proposed updates, which came at the urging of liberal voters.
    The deal was spearheaded by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier this year and quickly earned the support of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.    It seeks to reduce U.S. carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 and transition the country to 100 percent renewable energy within 10 years.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., addresses The Road to the Green New Deal
Tour final event at Howard University in Washington, Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
    However, California Congressman Harley Rouda has pointed out that the deal does nothing to address the actual threat of so-called climate change.    He beat Orange County Republican Congresswoman Dana Rohrabacher in 2018 in a traditionally conservative district.
    Rouda said Ocasio-Cortez’s rhetoric on the matter has only led to more partisan fighting on environmental reform and little action.
    “Climate change is a big issue we need to stay focused on.    We can’t have a conversation about climate change and deny it.    We have to recognize it’s real and start to find where we have common sense solutions to address it.” – Harley Rouda, U.S. Representative (D-CA 48th District)
    Former Vice President Al Gore has also come out to promote the Green New Deal, which he said should be more of a talking point for Democrat presidential candidates.    Gore said the deal was a bold proclamation and could generate enthusiasm among voters. He added the details can be filled in later.
    Whether these moderate Democrats will heed the calls of their party’s progressives or stick to their centrist ways remains to be seen as the 2020 elections quickly approach.
A volunteer prepares information packets for The Road to the Green New Deal Tour final
event at Howard University in Washington, Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
[WELL THE SOCIALIST AND THE GREEN NEW DEAL IS DEAD ON ARRIVAL AND JOE BIDEN IS DEAD BECAUSE HIS QUID PRO QUO VIDEO WILL PLAY ON TV DURING 2020 ADS SHOWING HE HAS DONE JUST WHAT THE HOUSE HAVE ACCUSED TRUMP OF DOING DURING THEIR IMPEACHMENT HOAX AND AOC WILL BE A FADING MEMORY OF NOT UP TO PAR FOR UPRISING TO ANY LEVEL OF IMPORTANCE ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE SQUAD.].

12/18/2019 Horowitz: DOJ to look into possible systemic failure of FISA applications process by OAN Newsroom
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies at a Senate committee on FISA investigation
hearing, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    Inspector General Michael Horowitz is saying his report has not answered all questions on the FBI’s wrongdoing at the beginning of the ‘Russia hoax.’    In his Senate testimony on Wednesday, Horowitz said his office is planning to audit select FISA applications related to counterintelligence and counterterrorism probes.
    The Justice IG said he’s looking into allegations the FBI may have experienced “systemic” procedural violations in its FISA requests.
    Horowitz has not ruled out possible political biases by the Obama administration FBI. Last week, he said the bureau made at least 17 errors and omissions in its requests to spy on the 2016 Trump campaign.     “Although we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct, we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or missing information,” he said.    “That is something we would have liked to have gotten good explanations about.”
    Horowitz added his office will look and see if other FISA applications had the same violations as those related to the 2016 Trump campaign which could help understand a possible bias behind the FBIs actions.
[SO THE PROCESS STARTS TO PROVE THAT THE RUSSIAN HOAX WAS PHONEY AND CREATED BY THE DEEP STATE AS THE DEMOCRATS ARE DESPERATE THINKNG IMPEACHING TRUMP WILL STOP THAT WHICH EXPLAINS THEIR STUPIDITY TO DO AN IMPEACHMENT.].

12/18/2019 House Republicans slam Democrat impeachment push by OAN Newsroom
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz.,speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against
President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (House Television via AP)
    House Republicans are speaking out against the Democrat impeachment push amid a looming vote on articles of impeachment.    While speaking on the floor of the lower chamber, GOP Rep. Tom Cole said it is a “very sad day for the entire House of Representatives and, most importantly, for the American people.”
    He also said Democrats have not proved their case and have alleged a quid pro quo without any factual evidence to back it up.
    Congresswoman Debbie Lesko echoed his sentiments and accused Democrats of tearing the country apart.
    “This is the most partisan impeachment in the history of the United States.    Not one Republican voted for it in the Judiciary Committee…and not one Republican, I don’t think, is going to vote for it here today.    Madam Speaker, this is this is a sad day.    I believe the Democrats are tearing this country apart.    They’re tearing families apart.“ – Debbie Lesko, U.S. Representative (R-AZ 8th District)
    All House Republicans are expected to vote against impeaching the president.
    Meanwhile, a few of the president’s top supporters in the House visited the White House ahead of the impeachment vote.    Reports said Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Mike Johnson and Rep. John Ratcliffe were all present at a meeting at the White House on Tuesday.
    President Trump is reportedly considering including Jordan and Ratcliffe for his defense team in the potential Senate impeachment trial.    The president was said to be considering a mix of lawmakers and attorneys to defend him.

12/18/2019 Report: Group of House Democrats pushing to withhold articles of impeachment by OAN Newsroom
Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., speaks on the House floor as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment
against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (House Television via AP)
    Some House Democrats are urging leadership to withhold articles of impeachment in order to gain leverage against the president in the Senate. Rep. Earl Blumenauer reportedly suggested the idea on Wednesday as the House prepared to hold a final vote.
    Blumenauer said he still hopes to impeach the president, but wouldn’t release the articles until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees to allow testimony from witnesses that Democrats want to hear from.
    Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had proposed that acting Chief Of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton testify in a Senate trial.    However, Sen. McConnell shot down the request.
    “The Senate is meant to act as judge and jury to hear a trial, not to rerun the entire background investigation because angry partisans rushed sloppily through it,” he said.    “The trajectory that the Democratic leader apparently wants to take us down, before he’s even heard opening arguments, could set a nightmarish precedent.”
    If the impeachment articles were to be withheld by the House, it would delay a Senate trial and the president’s anticipated acquittal for months.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., walks to attend a health care event
at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

12/18/2019 House votes to approve articles of impeachment by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., announces the passage of the second article of impeachment,
obstruction of Congress, against President Donald Trump by the House of Representatives at the
Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (House Television via AP)
    A long-day of debate finally came to an end with lawmakers in the House voting to impeach President Trump.    On Wednesday evening, lawmakers approved articles of impeachment against the president for both the abuse of power and the obstruction of Congress.    The first article passed in a 230-to-197 vote while the second article passed in a 229-to-198 vote.
    Another vote, which will take place later in the week, will inevitably lead to a trial in the GOP controlled Senate.    There, Democrats will need a two-thirds vote in order to remove President Trump from office.
    Wednesday’s vote makes him the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, following Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
    The vote wrapped up weeks of testimony related to President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.    The House Judiciary Committee approved rules for impeachment last week in a 23-to-17 vote.
Members walk on the floor as voting begins in the House of Representatives in the first article of impeachment against
President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (House Television via AP)
    President Trump has said the Democrat’s use of impeachment “is an embarrassment to this country.”    While speaking at the White House on Friday, the president stated the House is trivializing what it means for a president to be impeached and said they are “making a fool of themselves.”
    “It’s a witch hunt, it’s a sham, it’s a hoax, nothing was done wrong, zero was done wrong — I think it’s a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment,” he stated.    “It’s something that shouldn’t be allowed and it’s a very bad thing for our country, and you’re trivializing impeachment.”
President Donald Trump leaves the White House for a campaign trip to
Battle Creek, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

12/18/2019 Sen. Graham: I will not support witnesses being called for by President Trump or Sen. Schumer by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks about impeachment, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019,
on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said his goal is to have the shortest possible impeachment trial in the Senate.    While speaking to reporters, the South Carolina Republican said the trial record used in the House would be the same record used in the Senate.
    He said the impeachment would be shot down in the Senate and added he doesn’t need any witnesses to do it.
    “I am not going to support witnesses being called for by the president, by Sen. Schumer,” stated Sen. Graham.    “We’re going to vote on the same product the House used…and I think most senators on our side are ready to move forward at an appropriate time.”
    Graham previously called the impeachment inquiry a partisan sham and said the Senate wants to move on to things that actually matter to the American people.    Last week, he vowed to make impeachment “die quickly” when it reaches the Senate.
    He said he wants Democrats to “make their case based on the record they established in the House” before putting impeachment to a vote.
    “I don’t know where this goes, but I know impeachment will be over soon,” said Sen. Graham.    “This thing will come to the Senate, it will die quickly and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks about impeachment, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019,
on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

12/19/2019 Oil down $0.01 to $60.93, DOW down 28 to 28,239.

12/19/2019 Manafort case tossed in New York by Michael R. Sisak, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    NEW YORK – A New York judge threw out state mortgage fraud charges against Paul Manafort, ruling Wednesday that the criminal case was too similar to one that has already landed President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman in federal prison.
    The decision was a blow to what had widely been seen as an attempt by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., a Democrat, to hedge against the possibility that Trump will pardon Manafort for federal crimes.    Vance’s office said it would appeal.
    Manafort, 70, was convicted last year in two federal cases stemming from his business dealings and is serving a 7 1 /2-year prison sentence.
    Judge Maxwell Wiley cited in his decision New York’s strong double jeopardy protections, which prohibit state prosecutors in most cases from bringing charges against a person who has previously been charged for the same conduct under federal law.
    “Basically, the law of double jeopardy in New York state provides a very narrow window for prosecution,” Wiley said.
    Defense lawyer Todd Blanche raised the double jeopardy issue soon after Manafort was indicted in New York in March.    He wrote in court papers seeking a dismissal that the factual overlap between the federal and state cases “is extensive – if not total.”    Manafort missed the ruling because of a heart-related condition that caused him to be moved last week to a hospital from a federal prison in Pennsylvania, two people familiar with the matter said.
    Manafort looked frail in court in June for an arraignment on the state charges.    He remained seated as he entered a not guilty plea and had to be helped out of his chair.    In March, at his sentencing in the second of the two federal cases, he used a wheelchair because of gout.
    His federal convictions stemmed from allegations that he misled the U.S. government about lucrative foreign lobbying work, hid millions of dollars from tax authorities and encouraged witnesses to lie on his behalf.
    Vance announced the state charges minutes after the March sentencing.
    The 16-count state indictment alleged Manafort gave false and misleading information in applying for residential mortgage loans, starting in 2015 and continuing until three days before Trump’s inauguration in 2017. He was also charged with falsifying business records and conspiracy.
    Manhattan prosecutors argued that the state case was viable because it covered ground that couldn’t be resolved in Manafort’s 2018 federal trial in Virginia because of a hung jury. Jurors found Manafort guilty of eight counts of tax and bank fraud but couldn’t reach a verdict on 10 others, and federal prosecutors moved to dismiss those counts.
    Manhattan prosecutors said their case differed from the federal prosecutions because mortgage fraud and falsifying business records are state crimes, but not federal crimes.
    But Wiley ruled that a result of a hung jury still counts as a prior prosecution and that differences between the state and federal charges weren’t enough to warrant an exception to the state’s double jeopardy law.
Paul Manafort missed Wednesday’s ruling because of a heart-related condition, according to sources. SETH WENIG/AP

12/19/2019 Trump defiant as House approaches impeachment by Jill Colvin and Aamer Madhani, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – An incredulous and defiant President Donald Trump stared down Wednesday’s impending impeachment votes as he has every obstacle in his presidency: broadcasting his grievances through Twitter.
    The White House insisted Trump would be busy working rather than focused on the proceedings in the House, but the president spent much of his day tweeting and retweeting, expressing fury and disbelief. Wednesday night seemed likely to produce a vivid split screen, as     Trump was holding a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, around the same time the House was expected to vote.
    “Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!,” Trump wrote in one of 45 tweets posted before noon.    He asked his followers to “Say a PRAYER!
    As members of the House debated the articles of impeachment, Trump’s urgency appeared to escalate as he switched to all capital letters: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!” he wrote.
    For Trump, it was an acknowledgment of the inevitable: That he will become just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.    While he and White House officials have tried to brush off the significance – noting there is little chance he will be convicted by the Republican- controlled Senate and removed from office – allies acknowledge that Trump is angry about the stain the episode will leave on his legacy.
    While Trump had little on his public schedule as the debate was taking place Wednesday, he was planning his own counter-programming for the evening, holding what was expected to be a highly charged rally in the battleground state of Michigan.
    Otherwise, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, Trump would be “working all day” as the House takes up the two articles of impeachment.
    “He will be briefed by staff throughout that day, and could catch some of the proceedings between meetings,” Grisham said.
    As the debate raged on, Trump aides, including White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, fanned out across Capitol Hill to bolster the president’s message that impeachment is helping Republicans.    Vice President Mike Pence headed to Michigan early for a daylong bus tour before joining Trump at his Battle Creek rally.    He called the expected votes a “disgrace” and said he marveled at the president’s resilience and his “determination to go forward.”    He also accused Democrats of “trying to impeach this president because they can’t defeat” him.
    Trump’s campaign has experienced a surge in contributions and volunteers during the proceedings and was hoping to raise another $2 million Wednesday.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway was among those defending the president Wednesday. STEVE HELBER/AP

12/19/2019 House votes to impeach president - Trump: Impeachment ‘an assault on America’ by John Fritze, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump became the third president in history to be impeached after the House Wednesday charged him with “high crimes and misdemeanors” over his request to Ukraine to investigate a political rival.
    After a day of tense debate and fiery recriminations, the House voted largely along partisan lines, reshuffling American politics at a time when voters are profoundly divided over the nation’s leadership and direction.
    The Democratic-led House approved two articles of impeachment.    The first accused Trump of abusing his power by asking Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit his reelection.    The second article charged Trump with obstructing the House investigation.    The vote on the first article was 230-197, 1 present.    The vote on the second was 229-198, 1 present.
    Every Democrat voted for the first article except Reps. Jefferson Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.    Rep. Jared Golden of Maine joined Van Drew and Peterson as the only Democrats to vote against the second article, obstruction of Congress.
    The debate drew to a close with final remarks from party leaders – some of which elicited immediate pushback from the other side.
    Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., drew groans from Democrats when he accused them of not only hating Trump, but also hating the 63 million Americans who voted for him. Republicans groaned back.
    “It is an abuse of power,” Scalise said.    “It’s your abuse of power.”
    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Trump was given every opportunity to prove his innocence.
    “Democrats did not choose this impeachment.    We did not wish for it,” he said.    “Oh, come on,” several Republicans responded.
    Though the historic vote ended a hurried effort by Democrats to advance impeachment articles before the end of the year – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the inquiry into Trump’s actions less than three months ago – it will kick off a rare trial in the Senate to determine whether the president will be removed from office.
    Republican leaders expect that trial to begin next month.
Conflicting visions
    “Our founders’ vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House,” Pelosi told her colleagues on the House floor, prompting applause from Democrats and silence from Republicans.    “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty.    It is tragic the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary.    He gave us no choice.”
    Throughout the day, Republicans argued the Founding Fathers would have condemned an impeachment playing out along partisan lines.    Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., vowed Republicans would take that argument to voters next year.
    “It is a matter for the voters, not this House.    Not in this way,” he said.    “The people of America see through this.”
    “This is a democracy-defining moment,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, DMass., the chairman of the Rules Committee, as the proceedings began.    “This is about protecting our democracy.”
    Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, called it “a very sad day” with the partisan voting to come.
    One Democrat, Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, read a letter to his young children explaining his vote to impeach.    “This is a moment you will read about in your history books,” he told them.
    The House chaplain, the Rev. Pat Conroy, opened the session with morning prayer.    “Help them, and help us all,” he said.
    Impeachment, which Pelosi and other Democratic leaders initially resisted, could also have consequences for the 2020 election.
    In that contest, a field of candidates angling to unseat Trump has sought to focus the nation’s attention on health care, immigration and education while tiptoeing around the constitutional dramas unfolding in Washington.    Trump is betting impeachment will sour swing voters on Democrats for years.
    Trump was onstage in Battle Creek, Michigan, as the House was voting on impeachment.    “It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached,” Trump said, adding that the country has never done better and “we did nothing wrong.”
    At the center of the impeachment is a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump asked his counterpart to look into a conspiracy about Democratic misdeeds in the 2016 election and, separately, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
    Defying Trump’s orders not to testify, a handful of State Department and White House officials detailed for lawmakers in televised hearings how the administration held up nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine as leverage to pressure Zelenskiy to announce those investigations.
    Trump and his allies said the “perfect call” was an attempt to address corruption in Kyiv, not swing an election.    Republicans have accused Democrats of grasping at excuses to taint an unconventional president who unexpectedly and narrowly won in 2016.
    In that sense, the divisions on display recalled the atmosphere from 1998, when a GOP-led House impeached President Bill Clinton for lying under oath to hide an affair with a White House intern.    President Richard Nixon, by contrast, resigned in 1974 to avoid almost certain impeachment after he lost support from Republican defenders.    The House impeached President Andrew Johnson in 1868.
    No president has been removed from office by the Senate.
Contributing: Bart Jansen, Maureen Groppe, Ledyard King, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, left, and Rep. John Joyce, R-Pa., speak as the House of Representatives debates the
articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. HOUSE TELEVISION PHOTOS VIA AP
    As if to underline the point, Trump remained defiant throughout the day, accusing Democrats of “atrocious lies” and an “assault on America” in a series of tweets.    The president left the White House before the impeachment votes, escaping Washington for a campaign rally in the presidential battleground state of Michigan.
    President defiant.

12/19/2019 UK-U.S. treaty bans extradition of Assange, lawyer says by Michael Holden
FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at the Westminster Magistrates Court,
after he was arrested in London, Britain April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – Lawyers for Julian Assange said on Thursday they will argue that the WikiLeaks founder cannot be sent from Britain to the United States to face spying charges because a treaty between the two countries bans extradition for political offences.
    Assange, 48, faces 18 counts in the U.S. including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law. He could spend decades in prison if convicted.
    At London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court, his lawyer Edward Fitzgerald outlined some of the evidence Assange’s team will put forward at the full extradition hearing due to start on Feb. 24, saying they could call up to 21 witnesses to testify.
    “We say that there is in the treaty a ban on being extradited for a political offense and these offences as framed and in substance are political offences,” he told the court.
    Other arguments would feature medical evidence, public denunciations by leading U.S. political figures, and details from the case of Chelsea Manning, an ex-intelligence analyst who was convicted by a U.S. Army court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offences for leaking secret cables to WikiLeaks.
    There would also be information from an investigation led by a Spanish judge into “revelations about bugging of conversations with his lawyers” during Assange’s long stay in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
    Assange, who appeared by videolink from prison on Thursday, is due to be interviewed by a Spanish judge when he appears in person at the same London court for a private hearing tomorrow over the allegations.
    He spent almost seven years holed up in cramped rooms at the embassy where he fled in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was then wanted for questioning over allegations of rape which were later dropped.
    He was dragged from the embassy in April and jailed for 50 weeks for skipping bail before the U.S. launched its extradition request.
    Due to the mass of evidence, the full hearing to decide the extradition issue is now set to last for up to four weeks, rather than one as originally planned, Judge Vanessa Baraister said, with Fitzgerald adding it involved “difficult, important and profound” matters.
    Baraister also seemed unimpressed when Clair Dobbin, representing the U.S. authorities, asked for the case to be delayed until April, saying the lawyer earmarked for the case would not be available for the extended hearing.
    “My impression was the (U.S.) government was anxious for this case to remain on track and not to be derailed,” said Baraister, who said the next hearing would take place on Jan. 23 and the timetable would go ahead as planned.
(Editing by Stephen Addison)

12/19/2019 Lights out for multilateralism? Alarm as U.N. faces cash squeeze by Emma Farge and Cecile Mantovani
Delegates gather around an empty screen at a meeting on lethal autonomous weapons in the United Nations
in Geneva, Switzerland in this picture released to Reuters and taken November 15, 2019. Picture taken
November 15, 2019. Campaign to Stop Killer Robots/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    GENEVA (Reuters) – During talks on disarmament at the U.N.’s Geneva headquarters last month, alarm bells went off in the chamber to indicate that delegates had infringed new cost-cutting rules that restrict the length of meetings.
    Screens and microphones were also shut off, forcing ambassadors to shout their speeches across the hall as events became “chaotic, confusing and noisy,” and some feared the lights would be next, according to one of several people present who described the scene to Reuters.
    “I was really concerned about the lights,” said the Pakistani chair, Ambassador Khalil Hashmi, who eventually managed to get a limited agreement after assembling participants in a huddle.
    The disruptions – which have happened on at least two occasions – were the result of emergency measures to cut costs at U.N. centers such as Geneva and New York.
    The cuts, now in their third month, are a response to a situation described by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “extremely alarming.”
    The United Nations has a $768 million hole in its $2.85 billion 2019 general budget because 51 countries have not paid all their fees, including two big paymasters: the United States and Brazil.    Both say they intend to pay most of their dues, but even if they do, arrears remain from past years and spill into future budgets.
    “Cash deficits occur earlier in the year, linger longer and run deeper,” said Guterres.
    Diplomats and analysts say the cash crisis points to some states’ weak commitment to multilateral diplomacy, as evidenced by the suspension of the Geneva-based World Trade Organization’s top appeals court and U.N. climate talks in Madrid last week reaching only a limited deal.
    France and Germany have launched an “Alliance for Multilateralism” to support the U.N. and other institutions.
    Richard Gowan, a U.N. expert at the International Crisis Group think-tank, said cash shortages were a symptom of a broader “crisis of political confidence” in the institution.    “Most U.N. members just aren’t that bothered about the financial problems the organization faces,” he said.
    Ambassador Hashmi urged member states to pay their dues, saying important U.N. business should not be “held hostage” to financial constraints.
    Some critics say the United Nations could spend less on perks and bloated, often tax-free, salaries for senior officials.
    “There is huge waste in the U.N.,” said Marc Limon, a former diplomat and Executive Director of Universal Rights Group.    “Instead of focusing on the U.N. mandate … the U.N. spends a lot of money on high salaries in many cases.”
    U.N. officials have said they are unwilling at this stage to cut permanent staff salaries and are focusing on cutting costs in other areas.
LIGHTS DIMMED
    Built nearly 100 years ago to house the U.N.’s forerunner the League of Nations, Geneva’s colossal Palais des Nations – the home of multilateralism – hosts thousands of meetings each year on everything from refugee rights to peace in Syria and is showing its age.
    Telephone booths abound, its art deco facade is yellowing and a monument donated by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation needs treatment for corrosion.    Switzerland is lending $800 million for works.     Corridor notices say the cash crisis has forced the closure of lifts and escalators.    Hallway lights have been dimmed and some diplomats have brought in heaters as radiators have been dialed down despite the Swiss winter.
    Nonetheless, a library exhibition celebrates 100 years of multilateralism since parades and fireworks first rang out in Geneva to celebrate the new “city of peace.”
    “The United Nations has been under pressure for many years to reduce its resources yet to deliver more. At one point it becomes very difficult,” said Corinne Momal-Vanian, U.N. Geneva’s director of conference management, who confirmed that meeting costs had been cut, for example, by using fewer interpreters and sound technicians.
    Some speculate that cost-saving measures, thought to be making just small dents in the $14 million annual running costs for the Palais, are aimed more at annoying diplomats so they urge their capitals to pay up.
    U.N. officials deny this and say savings are necessary.
    Some critics question whether U.N. meetings such as deadlocked talks on nuclear weapons are worth pursuing at all, noting that any agreements get watered down by arms producers.
    Mary Wareham, coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, described the process as zombie-like.    “We are looking outside the U.N. to where the action is.”
(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York, Cecile Mantovani in Geneva and Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Editing by Giles Elgood)

12/19/2019 House clears USMCA, sends trade deal to Senate by OAN Newsroom
Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead, via Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Twitter.
    The USMCA is headed to the Senate after clearing a House vote on Thursday.    The lower chamber cleared the deal in a 385-to-41 vote after it was approved with bipartisan support by the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.
    Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer said the USMCA is the first “truly bipartisan” agreement and “nothing short of a miracle.”
    “House passage of the USMCA with such huge bipartisan support is a major milestone,” he said.    “(It) shows just how much President Trump is successfully changing U.S. trade policy, so it works for the benefit of American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.”
    The Senate is expected to take up the agreement early next year.
Photo via Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Twitter.
    “In sharp contrast to yesterday, today is the first time this chamber can rally behind an overwhelming, bipartisan legislative win since the beginning of this Congress,” stated Rep. Kevin McCarthy.
    The NAFTA replacement, which was championed by President Trump, will give U.S. farmers more access to Canadian dairy markets, protect digital trade across borders and set new regulations on the manufacturing of auto parts.
    “The U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the USMCA is a historic milestone in President Donald Trump’s effort to modernize our trade relations,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.    “This agreement with Mexico and Canada will allow us to work more effectively to achieve economic prosperity for our nations.”
    Thursday’s decision also marked the final vote in the House until January 7th.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
Richard Neal, D-Mass., left, speaks at a news conference to discuss the United States Mexico Canada
Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

12/19/2019 Pelosi caught giving sharp look after Democrats cheered during impeachment by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, after the U.S. House
voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two charges, abuse of power and obstructing Congress. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was caught trying to shush Democrats who cheered for impeachment on Wednesday night.    During her announcement that the abuse of power article had passed in the House, Pelosi suddenly reacted to the applause by her fellow party members.
    The House Speaker was caught on camera swiping her hand, tightening her mouth and widening her eyes.    The look appeared to warn Democrats to appear more serious during the impeachment proceedings.
    More cheers were heard after the vote count for article two of impeachment was read aloud.    During a press conference following the vote, Pelosi argued the House had a moral obligation to impeach President Trump and was not motivated by a political bias against him.

12/19/2019 Sen. McConnell blasts House Democrats, calls impeachment proceedings toxic by OAN Newsroom
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks on the Senate floor,
Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019 at the Capitol in Washington. (Senate TV via AP)
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized the current impeachment process as the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair in American history.    While speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, McConnell condemned what he called a “slapdash” process enhanced by a partisan crusade on President Trump that began before he was sworn into office.
    The Republican leader argued the House vote was predetermined, and said it was now up to the Senate to “keep partisan passions from literally boiling over.”    McConnell went on to claim the House’s “partisan rage” had created a toxic new precedent for future presidents.
    “If the Senate blesses this historically low bar, we will invite the impeachment of every future president,” he stated.    “The House Democrats’ allegations, as presented, are incompatible with our constitutional order…they are unlike anything that has ever been seen in 230 years of this republic.”
    McConnell also slammed Democrat lawmakers for seeming to get cold feet after urgently pushing for impeachment.    They could not wait for due process.    He claimed their own actions concede that their allegations are unproven.

12/19/2019 President Trump praises GOP unity, while blasting Pelosi for withholding articles from Senate by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Kellogg Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    According to President Trump, Republicans are “united like never before.”    He took to Twitter Thursday to express this sentiment.    This comes after all House Republicans voted against impeaching the president, while two Democrats crossed party lines and also voted “no” on impeachment.
    In a follow up tweet, the president put the “Do Nothing Dems” on blast for not wanting to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate.    He pointed out that it’s now the Senate’s call as “the greatest Witch Hunt in American history” continues.    This come as House     Speaker Nancy Pelosi is withholding the articles of impeachment from the Senate over concerns of an unfair trial.
    Wednesday’s House debate closed with a vote to approve articles of impeachment, which accuse the president of abuse of power and obstruction of congress.    This makes him the third president in U.S. history to be impeached in the House.    The historic vote was divided largely among party lines with two Democrats voting against the first article and three voting against the second.
    During the president’s “Merry Christmas rally” in Michigan Wednesday, he touted unity among the GOP.
    “So we had 198, 229, and 198 — we didn’t lose one Republican vote and three Democrats voted for us,” he told the crowd.    “Wow, the Republican Party has never been so affronted, but they’ve never been so united as they are right now.”
    Moving forward, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must first name impeachment managers to make the case in the Senate and send the approved articles over to the upper chamber for a trial.    From there, they will need a two-thirds vote in order to remove President Trump from office. However, Pelosi hinted she might delay the process.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.,
second from left, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., right, and House Ways and
Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., left, in a private room just off the House floor after the
House votes to impeach President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    “We have legislation approved by the Rules Committee that will enable us to decide how we will send over the articles of impeachment,” she stated.    “We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side, and I would hope that would be soon as we did with our legislation, our Resolution 660, to describe what the process would be.”
    Holding onto the articles of impeachment could reportedly be a strategy Pelosi is using to avoid a dismissal of charges.    This comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to hold a final vote in hopes to acquit the president.

12/19/2019 Mike Pence says he may release Jennifer Williams’ testimony by OAN Newsroom
Vice President Mike Pence introduces President Donald Trump to speak at a
campaign rally, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Hershey, Pa. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    Vice President Mike Pence said he would be willing to declassify additional testimony of his adviser, Jennifer Williams, but not at Adam Schiff’s request.    During a Wednesday interview with ABC, Pence hit back at Schiff after the House Intelligence Committee chairman alleged the vice president helped cover-up a quid pro quo.
    He noted Schiff was just trying to stir up controversy with another false claim.    Pence profusely denied he classified parts of Williams’ testimony because they showed he had knowledge of the alleged Ukraine scheme.
    The vice president stated Schiff’s track record proves his latest accusations should not be taken seriously.
    “Adam Schiff is now asking for more information, information his committee already has.    Then, frankly, those that will consider these articles of impeachment, if it makes it to the Senate, already have.    Says everything you need to know about this investigation, about this partisan impeachment.” – Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States
    Pence stressed President Trump did nothing wrong on the Ukraine phone call and said he supported the president’s focus on ending “corruption in Ukraine and enlisting more European support.”

12/19/2019 Spending agreement heads to President Trump’s desk after clearing Senate by OAN Newsroom
The U.S. Capitol in Washington is shrouded in mist, Friday night, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    A $1.4 trillion spending agreement is headed to the president’s desk after clearing both chambers of Congress on Thursday.
    The Senate cleared the National Security minibus, which will allocate money to rebuild the military and boost the border wall.    This came after lawmakers passed the Domestic Spending package earlier in the day, which will repeal the Affordable Care Act’s taxes and increase the federal legal age to buy tobacco to 21.
    The two spending packages, which contained 12 bills, cleared the House on Tuesday and will keep the government funded through the 2020 fiscal year.    Reports said the agreement secures $738 billion in military funding and another $632 billion for domestic spending.
    The president has signaled he will sign the legislation, which will prevent a government shutdown on Friday.
    “We think we did pretty well.    In any appropriations deal, in any standoff, you have to give and take.    We didn’t get everything we wanted.    The president didn’t get everything he wanted. But that’s the nature of what we do.” — Richard Shelby, Senate Appropriations Chairman (R-Ala.)
[SHOULD TRUMP NOT SIGN THE BILL OR WAIT UNTIL HE IS REELECTED IN 2020 AND HAS BACKING OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE AND THEN PUSH FOR FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND STOP ALL THE EXCESS NOT NECESSARY SPENDING?].

12/19/2019 Speaker Pelosi delays sending articles to Senate by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019,
on the day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump
on two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi failed to give a timeline for when the Senate can expect the articles of impeachment.    During a press conference Wednesday, just after the House voted to impeach the president, Pelosi deflected when asked if the Democrats were attempting to hold-up the senate trial.
    The speaker didn’t give a time frame for naming impeachment managers who would represent the House in the trial, which would also delay the articles.    Pelosi has claimed the hesitation is a way to insure the Senate conducts a bipartisan trial without simply discarding the case.
    “So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us, so hopefully it will be fair,” she stated.    “And once we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.”
Near the end of the conference Pelosi insisted the timing would be a joint decision between the House and the Senate.    According to senior Democrat aides, however, it could take two weeks or more before the House takes steps to send the articles.

12/20/2019 Oil up $0.37 to $61.30, DOW up 136 to 28,376.

12/20/2019 McConnell slams House’s impeachment of Trump - Senate leader assails vote by Democrats as a strictly political act by Morgan Watkins, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear Thursday he does not see any merit in the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
    The U.S. House of Representatives approved the articles in a historic decision Wednesday night.
    McConnell, R-Ky., said the House impeached Trump on the thinnest and weakest basis of any impeachment in American history and reiterated he does not think the Senate should vote to remove the president from office.
    “If the Senate blesses this historically low bar, we will invite the impeachment of every future president,” McConnell said Thursday morning in a speech on the Senate floor.    “Future Houses of either party will feel free to toss up a jump ball every time they feel angry.    Free to swamp the Senate with trial after trial no matter how baseless the charges.”
    No Republicans in the House voted to approve articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction.    And McConnell said the House’s decision to impeach Trump is the first “purely partisan” presidential impeachment since President Andrew Johnson was impeached in the wake of the Civil War.
    “So let’s be clear: The House’s vote yesterday was not some neutral judgment that Democrats came to with great reluctance,” he said.    “It was the predetermined end of a partisan crusade that began before President Trump was even nominated, let alone sworn in.”
    The impeachment case against President Richard Nixon, who resigned before he could be impeached in the 1970s, involved 14 months of hearings, McConnell said.
    This time around, the House’s Democratic leaders spent just 12 weeks on their inquiry.
    McConnell also took aim at the obstruction of Congress charge against Trump, which accuses the president of stonewalling the House’s impeachment inquiry by blocking witness testimony and withholding government documents.

    He said Trump exerted his constitutional power of executive privilege when he declined House Democrats’ requests to see certain documents and hear from certain witnesses.
    That dispute between Trump and the House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry should have been settled in the court system, McConnell said.    He criticized Democrats for rushing to impeach the president instead.
    “Here’s what should have happened,” he suggested.    “Either the president and Congress negotiate a settlement or the third branch of government, the judiciary, addresses the dispute between the other two."
    “Democrats didn’t have to rush this,” McConnell said.    “But they chose to stick to their political timetable at the expense of pursuing more evidence through proper legal channels.”
    The Senate must rise to this occasion and “put this right,” McConnell said.
    And given the “paucity of evidence” and slapdash case he believes the House put together, he said there’s only one acceptable outcome.
    He didn’t explicitly say what that outcome is as he concluded his speech but had made it clear that he doesn’t think removing Trump from office would be the right move.
    “Only one outcome will preserve core precedents rather than smash them into bits in a fit of partisan rage because one party still cannot accept the American people’s choice in 2016,” he said.    “It could not be clearer which outcome would serve the stabilizing, institutionpreserving, fever-breaking role for which the United States Senate was created, and which outcome would betray it.”
    Unsurprisingly, the Senate’s top Democrat — Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — disagreed with McConnell’s assessment of the strength of the House’s case for impeaching Trump.
    He spoke on the Senate floor Thursday immediately after McConnell did, and he questioned why McConnell has expressed disinterest in allowing testimony from new witnesses and the production of relevant government documents during the upcoming Senate trial.
    “Is the president’s case so weak that none of the president’s men can defend him under oath?” Schumer asked.    “The message from Leader     McConnell at the moment is that he has no intention of conducting a fair trial, no intention of acting impartially, no intention of getting the facts.”
    Schumer said he hoped the American people listened to McConnell’s speech, the most glaring aspect of which “was the fact that Leader McConnell’s 30minute partisan stem-winder contained hardly a single defense of the president of the United States on the merits.”
    McConnell is right that the Constitution’s framers built the Senate to provide stability and keep partisan passions from boiling over, Schumer said, but their vision of the Senate is a “far cry” from what McConnell has created as Senate majority leader.
    Morgan Watkins: 502-582-4502; mwatkins@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @morganwatkins26.    Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/morganw.
Sen. Mitch McConnell leaves the Senate chamber Tuesday after criticizing the House Democrats’ effort to impeach President Donald Trump. The Senate must rise to this occasion and “put this right,” McConnell said. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP
    “So let’s be clear: The House’s vote yesterday was not some neutral judgment that Democrats came to with great reluctance.    It was the predetermined end of a partisan crusade that began before President Trump was even nominated, let alone sworn in.” Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the House impeached President Donald Trump on the
thinnest and weakest basis of any impeachment in American history. ZACH GIBSON/GETTY IMAGES
[SO NOW THE DEMOCRATS WANT TO HATE MITCH MCCONNEL BECAUSE HE IS NOT DOING WHAT THEY THINK HE SHOULD DO, AND IT IS DEMOCRATS WHO ARE TRYING TO ACT LIKE KINGS OR QUEENS AS THEIR RULINGS ARE THE FINAL SAY AND ABUSING THEIR POWER AND OBSTRUCTION OF SENATE.].

12/20/2019 Pelosi wants details on Senate’s plans for trial - Delay in sending charges irks Trump, McConnell by Mary Clare Jalonick, Laurie Kellman and Zeke Miller, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that people have a “spring in their step” after the House impeached President Donald Trump, but she insisted the Senate must provide more details about the expected trial in that chamber before she agrees to send the House charges over.
    Pelosi’s unexpected procedural delay – looking for leverage in trial arrangements – was getting a sour response from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and from Trump himself.
    McConnell said Democrats are “too afraid” to send the charges to the Senate, where Trump would be expected to be acquitted by the Republican majority.
    Trump tweeted: “Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles.”    He claimed that if the Democrats didn’t transmit the articles of impeachment, “they would lose by Default,” though there is no constitutional requirement to send them swiftly – or at all.
    The trial has been expected to begin in January.
    Pelosi was upbeat the morning after the vote that made Trump only the third president in the nation’s history to be impeached.
    The House approved two articles against Trump – abusing his presidential power and obstructing Congress – stemming from his pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rival as Trump withheld U.S. aid.
    “We’ve been hearing from people all over the country,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol.    “Seems like people have a spring in their step because the president was held accountable for his reckless behavior.”
    Pressed about next steps, Pelosi wouldn’t say.    Democrats are insisting on more witnesses, testimony and documents than McConnell appears willing to provide before they name the House “managers” who would prosecute Trump in the Senate.
    The next thing will be when we see the process that is set forth in the Senate,” she said.    “Then we’ll know the number of managers we may have to go forward and who we would choose.”
    The Democratic speaker and the top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, met privately Thursday at the Capitol after McConnell signaled in the strongest terms yet that his chamber intended to hold a swift trial and acquit the president of both charges.
    McConnell described Trump’s impeachment as “the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”
    Fighting back and using McConnell’s own words, Schumer said the Republican leader was plotting the “most rushed, least thorough and most unfair” impeachment trial in history by declining to agree to call witnesses including former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who declined to testify before the House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled Thursday that his chamber
intended to hold a swift trial and acquit the president. SENATE TV VIA AP
[AS YOU CAN SEE ABOVE UNLESS THE IMPEACHMENT IS SENT BY CONGRESS TO THE SENATE, THEN TRUMP IS NOT OFFICIALLY IMPEACHED, AND AS YOU CAN SEE BY HER STALL TACTICS SHE THINKS SHE GOING TO GET INFORMATION ON HOW MCCONNELL IS GOING TO DO THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE SENATE AND IS TRYING TO CONTROL IT AND THE SNAKE SHUMER IS IN ON THAT OCCASION BUT MITCH CAN NOT DETERMINE THAT UNTIL THEY RECEIVE THE IMPEACHMENT FROM HER.    CHECKMATE.].

12/20/2019 N.J. Rep. Van Drew switches political parties by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump meets with Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., who is planning to switch his party affiliation,
in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    Republicans are suggesting a growing rift among Democrats as one of them switches to the Republican Party.    New Jersey’s Jeff Van Drew, one of two Democrats to vote against impeaching President Trump, officially announced his decision Thursday.
    The lawmaker sat with the president during a press conference, where he pledged his support to the party.    Van Drew added that it was not a hard decision to make and that he felt pushed out by the Democrats.
    “I believe that this is just a better fit for me, this is who I am, who I always was,” he stated.    “But there was more tolerance of moderate Democrats, of Blue Dog Democrats, of Conservative Democrats and I think that’s gone away.”
    Van Drew won his congressional seat in an increasingly conservative district as a Democrat.    New Jersey’s Second District voted for Barrack Obama twice before voting for President Trump in 2016.
    President Trump said he will endorse Van Drew in the upcoming election and shared his excitement for what he called the “most united Republican party ever.”
    “I’m a capitalist,” said the New Jersey representative.    “Socialism, in my opinion, has no place in the United States of America, and I think everyone should know that I believe that this country can afford people opportunity and give them that opportunity, so that they can succeed.”

12/20/2019 President Trump hits back at Christianity Today over impeachment op-ed by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Kellogg Arena,
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump is condemning Christianity Today after the magazine published a critical op-ed calling for his removal from office.    In a series of tweets Friday, he blasted the publication as “far-left” and “progressive.”    The president also pointed out that it hasn’t been associated with the Billy Graham family for several years.
    The op-ed’s writer and editor-in-chief of Christianity Today responded to the president in an interview with CNN Friday, claiming the organization was not far-left.
    “It’s factually inaccurate that we’re far-left, we’re pretty centrist, we rarely comment on politics unless we feel it rises to the level of some national concern that is really important and this would be a case,” stated Mark Galli.    “We wrote editorials about Clinton during his impeachment process, we wrote editorials about Nixon during his…this struck me as rising to that level and it needed comment.”
    The magazine was founded by evangelical legend Billy Graham, however, Graham’s son Franklin posted on Facebook that his father would not have agreed with the piece.    He said that since the publication invoked his father’s name, he felt it necessary to respond.    Franklin also responding on Twitter, where he stated his father believed President Trump was “the man for this hour in history.”

12/20/2019 Trump admin. optimistic about southern border wall as 2020 deadline approaches by OAN Newsroom
Light shines on the U.S. Capitol dome before a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against
President Donald Trump, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    The Trump administration is set to receive an additional $1.3 billion dollars in funding for the southern border wall.    The money has been approved by Congress in the 2020 government spending bill, which currently awaits President Trump’s signature. He is expected to sign the measure Friday.
    The administration aims to build 450 to 500 miles of wall by the end of 2020.    So far, President Trump has said 100 miles has been completed and he expects at least 400 miles to be finished in total by or around the deadline.
    “The wall is being built…we’re building a very big wall…we’re up to almost 100 miles already and we should have over 400 miles, hopefully by the end of next year, if everything keeps going on the same path,” stated the president.    "But we should have pretty close to 400 miles, maybe more than that, up by the end of next year.”
Workers replace sections of the border wall, left, with new sections, right, on Jan. 8, 2019, in Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
    This comes as reports say construction has slowed as the White House overcomes obstacles, including about 90 miles of private property in which the federal government is working to acquire.

12/20/2019 President Trump speaks at White House mental health summit by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks during a summit on transforming mental health treatment to combat
homelessness, violence, and substance abuse, at the he Eisenhower Executive Office Building
on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    President Trump recently participated in a summit at the White House to address mental health problems in the U.S.    On Thursday, he spoke to health officials and lawmakers about how to combat homelessness, violence, and substance abuse by addressing the source of those problems.
    The president reiterated his commitment to treat serious mental illnesses.    He said although we have made a lot of progress, the U.S. is still “way behind” on fixing the problem.    President Trump made these comments during the event:
    “You know when I was growing up in Queens in New York, we had a number of mental institutions, and I’d look and I’d see these big buildings and all of a sudden you don’t see them anymore.    And you say what happened to all of those beds, what happened to all of that work?    And where are those people?    And in many cases those people are living on the streets.    It’s much different and somebody made the decision a long time ago and they did it for budgetary reasons, but we have to take care of our mentally ill.”
    The president went on to say his administration is focusing on early detection of mental health problems, decreasing drug use, and combating street violence.

12/20/2019 Rep. Gabbard slams House Speaker Pelosi for delaying impeachment articles by OAN Newsroom
Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii speaks to Democrats gathered at the
Spratt Issues Conference in Greenville, S.C., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
    2020 Democrat presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said she’s “surprised” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is delaying sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial. During an interview with The Hill Thursday, Gabbard took aim at Pelosi by accusing her of changing and making-up the rules throughout the impeachment process.
    The Hawaii lawmaker was the only Democrat to vote present on both articles of impeachment.    She said could not vote “yes” or “no" in good conscience.    She suggested it’s time for lawmakers to refocus on legislating rather than impeachment.
    “This is where, I think, the vast majority of American people are seeing right through this and are deeply frustrated that so much time and energy is being consumed on this when the challenges, issues, concerns, hopes, and dreams they have in their everyday lives are going unheard,” said Gabbard.
    The 2020 Democrat candidate also condemned the partisanship among both parties, saying it has “gravely divided our country.”

12/20/2019 Wider Image: Portraits from the frontlines of global protests
Alex Munoz Fuentes, 47, an accountant, poses for a photograph with a Chilean flag in Santiago, Chile, November 8, 2019.
"People in the world are tired of injustice," said Fuentes. "I don't want anything given for free,"
"But I know that in Chile the institutions, the law and the constitution are made to abuse the working classes.
I want a new deal
." "Hong Kong is similar, the authorities are not thinking about people's
wellbeing... I have a fraternal hug for them, and all my solidarity from Chile. Please don't give up
." REUTERS/Jorge Silva
    (Reuters) – Protests swept the globe in 2019, with millions of people taking to the streets from Catalonia to Colombia, Haiti to Hong Kong.
    Each movement had its own trigger.    Some were fed up with corruption and entrenched elites.    Others wanted democracy or independence.
    Some called for reforms and others opposed them. Worries over climate change and environmental destruction also galvanized activists worldwide.    The frustrations were sometimes similar, from inequality to powerlessness.
    Often the protests turned violent, with security forces killing several hundred people in Iran, Iraq and elsewhere.    Volleys of tear gas became a familiar sight in traditionally peaceful and stable Hong Kong.
    Yet amid the gunfire and clouds of tear gas, there was a global solidarity as demonstrators drew on each other’s determination and strength.
    Reuters photographers in more than a dozen countries documented the depth of feeling that linked disparate movements.
[https://reut.rs/2sMNBHC]
    “Right now we are in a stage of awakening and we have to take advantage of that,” said Andres Felipe Vargas, a professor joining an anti-government strike in Bogota, Colombia.
    “What is happening in our country, and these injustices that generate inequities, are the same injustices that are destroying the planet,” he said.
    In Algeria, Amiri Yacine, who joined rolling demonstrations since February in opposition to the elite that has controlled the country since independence in 1962, likewise feels his demands are universal.
    “I am protesting against injustice and dictatorship,” said Yacine, 26, holding a poster depicting the world’s protests as a blossoming flower, packed amongst hundreds of mostly young demonstrators in Algiers.    “We want to build a new Algeria.”
    “My message to protesters is just be peaceful – be wise and keep calm. Fight the system with good ideas, because they don’t have ideas.”
SEASON OF DISCONTENT     Summer has turned to winter in Hong Kong, where demonstrations against a controversial extradition bill turned into a push for greater democracy.
    The Beijing-backed government has refused to yield, while the protesters have gathered in vast numbers, turning shopping districts into a sea of black-clad people.
    “This is a universal demand for democracy and fairnessz,” said Jasper, a 27-year-old bank worker, who joined a downtown protest at lunchtime.    He cut a suave figure, in a suit, red-and-blue striped tie and pocket square, standing on Pedder Street in the city’s central district.
    Like many protesters he declined to give his surname and wore a surgical mask to conceal his identity.
    “Every country in the world faces the same situation. This will not be an easy road, but we all know we are doing the right thing.”
    The movement has invited comparisons with protesters pushing for independence for the Spanish region of Catalonia, where the sentencing of separatist leaders to long prison terms led to renewed and sometimes violent protests.
    “We’re here, mainly young people, outraged by the sentences and the inability of politicians to talk,” said Barcelona student Axel Buxade, 18, holding a Catalan flag at a demonstrators’ camp on a city street.
    “There have been acts of mutual support, if they reach their goal we’ll be very happy,” he said, referring to Hong Kong.
    Economics, and in particular inequality has also proved potent fuel for protests in Lebanon, Chile, Ecuador and Iraq.
    “People in the world are tired of injustice,” said Chilean Alex Munoz Fuentes, a 47-year-old accountant, standing before a burning barricade on a Santiago street.
    “I don’t want anything given for free,” he said, the national flag in one hand and a pair of goggles to protect him from the effects of tear gas in the other.
    “But I know that in Chile the institutions, the law and the constitution are made to abuse the working classes.    I want a new deal."
    “Hong Kong is similar, the authorities are not thinking about people’s well-being.    I have a fraternal hug for them, and all my solidarity from Chile.    Please don’t give up.”
(Editing by Angus MacSwan)

12/20/2019 President Trump signs $1.4T spending bill and $738B defense bill by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump signs the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020
at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    President Trump has signed a $1.4 trillion spending agreement, which will keep the government up and running through the 2020 fiscal year.    He signed two spending packages, which contained 12 bills, on Friday after they cleared the House and Senate earlier this week.
    In a tweet, President Trump said he would sign the $738 billion NDAA to “give our troops a raise.”

President Donald Trump signs the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020
at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    The National Defense Authorization Act will provide funding to create a ‘Space Force’ and included a provision granting federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave.    The bill also mandated a 3.1 percent pay increase for service members.
    The domestic spending package will allocate funding for the border wall, repeal the Obamacare “Cadillac Tax” and raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21.
    The president’s signature avoids a government shutdown, which was projected to occur on Friday night.    This will mark the 59th year in a row the NDAA will be finalized.
    After signing the legislation, President Trump headed to his Mar-a-Lago property for the Christmas holiday.

12/20/2019 President Trump accepts Pelosi’s invitation to deliver State of the Union Address by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump waves during a summit on transforming mental health treatment to combat
homelessness, violence, and substance abuse, at the he Eisenhower Executive Office Building
on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    President Trump has accepted Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to deliver the State of the Union Address in 2020.    White House officials confirmed the president accepted the invitation on Friday afternoon following a letter from the House Speaker.
    In the letter, Pelosi asked him to speak before a joint session of Congress “in the spirit of respecting our Constitution.”br>
    The remark drew criticism from Republicans, who felt the congresswoman has been going against the Constitution during the ongoing impeachment proceedings.    The president has said Democrats didn’t allow the White House to include its lawyers or witnesses during impeachment hearings in the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington,
Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, on the day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump
on two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    This followed the speaker’s recent decision to delay both impeachment articles from reaching the Senate.    In response, President Trump called for a Senate trial to commence immediately, adding Democrats understand their case for impeachment is very weak.
    Last year’s State of the Union was delayed by disagreements over government funding and the border wall.    This lead to the iconic Oval Office dispute between the president, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
    At that time, Pelosi uninvited President Trump from giving the State of the Union Address, citing security concerns due to the government funding issue. Ultimately, the president delivered the address after a delay.
    The speaker’s timing this year appeared to be calculated.    The address is set to come after the Iowa caucuses, which are important to House Democrats.
    It remains unclear whether the Senate impeachment trial will overlap with the address, which is set for February 4th, 2020.
FILE – In this Feb. 5, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump turns to House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi of Calif., as he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress
on Capitol Hill in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence watches. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

12/20/2019 Trump 2020 campaign launches ‘Democrats for Trump’ coalition by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump gestures as he departs from a campaign rally in Hershey, Pa., Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
    President Trump’s reelection campaign is announcing the ‘Democrats for Trump’ coalition.    They said it’s for those who “feel abandoned by the socialist radicalization of their party.”
    On Thursday, campaign manager Brad Parscale opened the doors of the alliance to liberals and said “there’s room on Team Trump.”    He also urged people to join a movement and a president “that are putting America first.”
    This came after the Trump campaign reported over $10 million in small donations, which were collected in the days following the impeachment vote.    Trump 2020 campaign official Tim Murtaugh touted House Democrats’ efforts to oust President Trump as the reason for a massive influx of donations and a boost in voter support.
    In an interview with The Hill, Murtaugh said the president’s base is more fired up than ever.
    “I didn’t think it was necessarily possible to have the president’s supporters more energized than they already are, but Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and the Democrats have done exactly that,” he said.
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives at Kellogg Arena to speak at a
campaign rally, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    The campaign’s communications director coaxed Democrats to keep going after the president and said it will only create more support for his reelection campaign.
    “Every time the Democrats and the media go into a frenzy,…we collect more data, we have greater interaction with the voters, and we raise more money,” said Murtaugh.    “The president’s reelection campaign gets bigger and stronger.”
    Senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump echoed the optimism of the campaign during a recent interview, which is set to air later this month on Face the Nation.
    “He’s energized, as are the 63 million plus voters who elected him to office,” she said.
    The First Daughter defended the president’s assertion that it doesn’t feel like he is being impeached, pointing out it was advanced along party lines with no Republican support.    She then shared the results of several recent polls, which showed a growing number of Americans disapprove of how Democrats handled their inquiry.
    “With all of this time spent, with all of these witnesses who didn’t have firsthand knowledge (and) with all of these people that have been paraded in front of the American people, support for this action has decreased,” she said.    “I think he sees it for what it is, which is really just raw, partisan politics.”
    Ivanka also defended the president’s anger towards impeachment.    She said he’s right to be angry at the collateral damage of the process and the unjust nature of how it played out in the House.
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally
in Hershey, Pa., Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

12/20/2019 Biden willing to sacrifice jobs over ‘climate change’ fight by OAN Newsroom
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden waves to the crowd after a Democratic
presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
    2020 Democrat hopeful Joe Biden admitted he would be willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of blue-collar jobs to help fight so-called climate change.    The issue was raised during Thursday night’s primary debate, where Biden was asked about his stance on the economy.
    One of the moderators questioned if Biden was open to giving up some of the economic expansion the nation has seen over the years.    The progress made under the past three administrations has largely been attributed to oil and gas production.
    Biden has touted himself as a champion for the working class.    Yet, when asked if he would be willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of such workers “in the interest of transitioning to that greener economy,” the former vice president gave this response.
    “The answer is yes, because the opportunity for those workers, that transition to high paying jobs, is real,” he said.
    Biden went on to stress the importance of explaining to displaced workers that their skills will be needed for new opportunities.    However, he failed to detail what specific jobs would be available to them.
Democratic presidential former Vice President Joe Biden greets supporters after speaking
at a campaign event in Nashua, N.H. Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019: (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)

12/20/2019 Wikileaks’ Assange appears in court in Spain spying investigation by Clara-Laeila Laudette
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain, December 20, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    MADRID (Reuters) – Jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in a Madrid court via videolink from Britain on Friday as part of an investigation into his allegations that a Spanish firm spied on him while he lived inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
    The case, led by Spanish judge Jose de la Mata, focuses on allegations that first cameras and then microphones were installed in the embassy between June 2017 and early 2018 by Spanish private security firm Undercover Global S.L.
    An Ecuador foreign ministry spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.
    The recordings, said to have captured conversations between Assange and his lawyers, may have been distributed to parties including “authorities from Ecuador and agents from the United States,” according to court documents, which say this was done “probably on orders from U.S. intelligence.”
    A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment.
    “Finally Mr. Assange will be able to testify as a victim of this alleged spying plot which would have been orchestrated from the United States,” said Aitor Martinez, a lawyer for Assange, who testified as a witness in the case.
    During his testimony, Assange said he was unaware that cameras installed by Undercover Global were also capturing audio and suggested the surveillance likely targeted members of his legal team, according to a spokesperson for his lawyer.
    Owner and director of UC Global S.L. David Morales declined to say whether his company spied on Assange.    “All the information is confidential and it belongs to the government of Ecuador,” Morales told El Pais in July.    “We simply did a job.”
    Judge De la Mata initially detained Morales in September, and then released him on bail.
    Speaking outside the court in Westminster, former Ecuadorean consul in London Fidel Navraez accused Undercover Global of betraying Ecuador and Assange.
    “That company was contracted by Ecuador in order to protect the embassy, protect Julian Assange, protect the embassy staff … but it is a corrupt company – we know that now,” he said.
    Assange’s legal team wants to have the firm and its founder charged with crimes including violation of privacy and attorney-client privilege, money laundering, and bribery.
    Assange spent nearly seven years holed up in the embassy in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape that were dropped in November.
    He was forcibly removed from the embassy in April and jailed for 50 weeks for skipping bail in Britain before the U.S. began its extradition request.    A full extradition hearing for Assange, 48, is scheduled in February.
    Assange faces 18 counts in the United States including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law.    If convicted, he could spend decades in prison.
(Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette, Belen Carreno, Ashifa Kassam; Additional reporting by Alexandra Valencia in Quito; editing by Andrei Khalip and Grant McCool)

12/21/2019 Oil down $0.94 to $60.36, DOW up 78 to 28,455 another record.

12/21/2019 HUD reports 2.7% increase in homelessness, blames California
    WASHINGTON – The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is reporting a 2.7% increase in the nation’s homeless population, according to a January 2019 count.    President Donald Trump has criticized the homeless problem in California, and HUD said the increase seen in its 2019 snapshot, the third in a row, was caused “entirely” by a 16.4% increase there.    “Homelessness in California is at a crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said.

12/21/2019 FISA Court investigating former FBI lawyer responsible for warrant omissions by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Nov. 2, 2017, photo, Carter Page, former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s
2016 presidential campaign, speaks with reporters following a day of questions from the House Intelligence Committee,
on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    The FISA Court that approved the Carter Page wiretap is now investigating the former FBI lawyer who approved the Page surveillance warrants.    On Friday, declassified court documents revealed a judge ordered all matters involving Kevin Clinesmith to be identified and reassessed.
    Clinesmith is at the center of the FISA-Carter Page controversy, which stemmed from the court secretly taking surveillance of Page during his time as a Trump campaign associate.
    Inspector General Michael Horowitz found the FBI was able to “mislead” the courts to maintain its surveillance on the former Trump campaign official.    Horowitz told senators the FBI maintained surveillance on Page even when its investigation into him was winding down.
    While discussing his report Wednesday, he outlined 17 instances where the bureau intentionally “omitted or withheld” information in their application for FISA warrants.
    One of the instances he touched on was the FBI learning information that undercut the credibility of the Steele dossier, which it failed to disclose to the FISA courts.    Horowitz also said the FBI failed to include other exculpatory evidence regarding Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz looks over his papers before testifying at a Senate committee
on FISA investigation hearing, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
[THE BIG QUESTION IS WILL CLINESMITH RAT ON HIS SUPERIORS WHO ORDERED HIM TO PUT FALSE INFORMATION IN THE FISA COURT APPLICATION TO CONTINUE THE ILLEGAL INVESTIGATION OF TRUMPS PEOPLE AS THE BIAS FROM THE FORMER OBAMA AMINISTRATION WAS DEFINITELY INVOLVED.].

12/21/2019 President Trump launches Space Force with signing of defense bill by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks before signing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 at Andrews Air
Force Base, Md., Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, before traveling to Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
    President Trump has signed a Space Force into existence, calling it the “largest investment in the U.S. military.”    The force will be the first new branch added to the military in more than 60 years.
    Reports said around 16,000 active duty and civilian personnel, who are currently assigned to the Air Force Space Command, will transition to the Space Force over the next 18 months.    The new branch marked a landmark achievement for the president, who noted the importance of space in America’s future.
    “Space is the world’s newest war-fighting domain,” he said.    “Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital.”
    President Trump said the Space Force will help the U.S. “deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground.”
    On Twitter, he added “new planes, ships, missiles, rockets and equipment of every kind” will be made “right here in the USA” under the new program.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Gen. Jay Raymond, after signing the letter of his appointment as
the chief of space operations for U.S. Space Command during a signing ceremony for the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    After signing the legislation, the president appointed Gen. Jay Raymond as the Chief of Space Operations for U.S. Space Command.
    Defense Secretary Mark Esper took to Twitter to congratulate Congress and the president for creating the new branch of military.
    “Yesterday was a historic day for our nation with the creation of the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces.    Thank you Congress for passing this critical legislation and President Trump for making it law.    We have a proud history and long-standing record of providing the best space capabilities in the world.    The new, independent Space Force will maintain and enhance that competitive edge while adapting to new strategic challenges.” – Mark Esper, United States Secretary of Defense
    According to recent reports, space has become increasingly important to the U.S. economy, especially regarding navigation and communication satellites.
President Donald Trump speaks before signing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 at Andrews Air
Force Base, Md., Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, before traveling to Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

12/21/2019 North Carolina pastor slams ‘Christianity Today’ as far-left magazine by OAN Newsroom
Screengrab from WBTV interview with Pastor Tim B. Jones.
    A North Carolina pastor is speaking out against the recent editorial in Christianity Today, which criticized President Trump.    On Saturday, Pastor Tim Jones slammed the publication as being a well-known liberal and far-left leaning magazine in church circles.
Jones added the magazine has no pulse on the feelings of Evangelical voters like himself.     Jones’ church, the Resurrection Baptist Church, recently made headlines when it displayed messages of support for the president on a sign.
    “It was kind of a cheap shot, but in no way do I feel it’s going to affect the conservative vote,” he said.    “As a matter of fact, I think you’re going to see more Christians vote in the next election than previously.”     Despite the attention the article has received, Jones claimed it hardly speaks for Evangelical Christians, a group he said still overwhelmingly supports the president.
[The Antichrist are here and it is a battle for souls as Satan will use every tactic to defeat the righteousness and I hope that true Christians will stand up and speak when they are seen in action and then we can leave it up to God to do the rest.].

12/21/2019 96 arrested in massive crackdown on MS-13 gang in New York by OAN Newsroom
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini holds a machete while announcing an indictment
of nearly 100 MS-13 gang members and associates during a news conference at Suffolk County Court
in Riverhead, N.Y., Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (James Carbone/Newsday via AP)
    Authorities in New York dealt a major blow to the notorious street gang MS-13 in what they are calling the largest crackdown against the gang in state history.    On Friday, 96 MS-13 gang members and associates were arrested and criminally charged in a Long Island court.
    Prosecutors said some of those arrested were as young as 16-years-old. Many were also illegal immigrants.
    This sweeping indictment was just a fraction of what authorities accomplished overall.
    “In addition to those defendants charged in this indictment, this investigation has resulted in over 230 arrests of MS-13 gang members here in New York, throughout this country and in El Salvador,” stated District Attorney Timothy Sini.
    These latest developments followed a two year investigation by local and federal law enforcement in Suffolk County, which has been a longtime hotbed for the gang.
    Officials said throughout the investigation, they recovered drugs, weapons and more than $200,000 in cash.    The probe also resulted in the takedown of alleged leaders in nine major cliques and foiled more than a half dozen alleged murder plots.
    Despite recent progress, officials said this isn’t the end.
    “Was this a major blow against MS-13 in the region?    Absolutely.    Is the battle over?    Absolutely not.    What you’re hearing from us today is that we’re more committed than ever to work together to eradicate this gang.” – Timothy Sini, Suffolk County District Attorney
    Authorities said the operation greatly impacted the gang’s operations and sent a clear message to its leaders.
    “Whether they’re here in New York or in El Salvador, that law enforcement will remain steadfast, committed to the rule of law and bringing them to justice,” said DEA Special Agent Ray Donovan.
    Arraignments are expected to continue into next week, due to the large number of suspects.

12/22/2019 Tiny Space Force helps Trump claim political win by Robert Burns, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump celebrated on Friday the launch of Space Force, the first new military service in more than 70 years.
    In signing the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that includes Space Force, Trump claimed a victory for one of his top national security priorities just two days after being impeached by the House.    It is part of a $1.4 trillion government spending package – including the Pentagon’s budget – that provides a steady stream of financing for Trump’s U.S.Mexico border fence and reverses unpopular and unworkable automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs.
    “Space is the world’s new war-fighting domain,” Trump said Friday during a signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington.    “Among grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital.    And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, and very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”
    Space Force has been a reliable applause line at Trump’s political rallies, but for the military it’s seen more soberly as an affirmation of the need to more effectively organize for the defense of U.S. interests in space – especially satellites used for navigation and communication.    Space Force is not designed or intended to put combat troops in space.
    Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Friday, “Our reliance on space-based capabilities has grown dramatically, and today outer space has evolved into a warfighting domain of its own.”    Maintaining dominance in space, he said, will now be Space Force’s mission.
    Space has become increasingly important to the U.S. economy and to everyday life.    The Global Positioning System, for example, provides navigation services to the military as well as civilians.    Its constellation of about two dozen orbiting satellites is operated by the 50th Space Wing from an operations center at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.
    In a report last February, the Pentagon asserted that China and Russia have embarked on major efforts to develop technologies that could allow them to disrupt or destroy American and allied satellites in a crisis or conflict.
    “The United States faces serious and growing challenges to its freedom to operate in space,” the report said.
    Space Force will be tiny, compared to its sister services.    It will initially have about 200 people and a first-year budget of $40 million.    The military’s largest service, the Army, has about 480,000 active-duty soldiers and a budget of about $181 billion.    The Pentagon spends about $14 billion a year on space operations, most of which is in the Air Force budget.
    Kaitlyn Johnson, a space policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, sees the creation of Space Force as an important move but doubts it will prove as momentous as Trump administration officials suggest.    Vice President Mike Pence has touted Space Force as “the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces.”    And Esper earlier this week called this an “epic moment” in recent American military history.
President Donald Trump signed a bill Friday to launch the Space Force, a tiny agency amid Pentagon behemoths. MANUEL BALCE CENETA/AP

12/22/2019 Bolivia announces entry into Lima Group to resolve Venezuelan crisis by Lucila Sigal
FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo is seen after a meeting of the Lima Group
in Brasilia, Brazil, November 8, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo
    La Paz (Reuters) – Bolivia on Sunday announced its entry into the Lima Group regional bloc that was set up to find a way out of the Venezuelan crisis.
    The Bolivian foreign ministry said in a statement that it hoped to “contribute to a peaceful, democratic and constitutional solution to the crisis in Venezuela, which must be guided by the Venezuelan people.”     The Lima Group was founded in 2017 by countries including Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Santa Lucia, Canada, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala, with the support of the United States, the Organization of American States and the European Union.
    It has called for the release of political prisoners, the holding of free elections and the entry of humanitarian aid to the stricken country.
    Bolivia’s leftist former president, Evo Morales, had kept his country out of the bloc.    Morales is a long-time ally of Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
    Morales resigned from office and fled Bolivia in November amid pressure from the country’s armed forces after an international audit detected significant irregularities in an election that had handed him a fresh mandate.
    He went first to Mexico and then to Argentina where the new Peronist government of Alberto Fernandez has indicated it will give him political asylum.
    Bolivia is currently governed by Jeanine Añez, a former senator and opponent of Morales.    Añez stepped in as interim president after Morales resigned.
    There was no immediate comment from other members of the Lima Group or Morales.
(Reporting by Lucila Sigal; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Paul Simao)

12/23/2019 Oil prices fall as Russia touts easing OPEC+ output by Ron Bousso
FILE PHOTO: The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near
Paris, France September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – Oil fell on Monday after Russia said an OPEC-led pact may consider easing output cuts next year but prices held near recent three-month highs on hopes for a trade deal between the United States and China.
    Brent crude was down 19 cents, or 0.29%, at $65.95 per barrel by 1010 GMT in thin trading ahead of the Christmas holiday.    West Texas Intermediate was down 29 cents, or 0.48%, at $60.15 a barrel.
    The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other top producing nations led by Russia agreed this month to extend and deepen output cuts in the first quarter of 2020.
    However, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Monday that the group known as OPEC+ may consider easing the output restrictions at their meeting in March.
    “We can consider any options, including gradual easing of quotas, including continuation of the deal,” Novak told Russia’s RBC TV in an interview recorded last week, adding that Russia’s oil output was set to hit a record high this year.
    Non-OPEC global supply is expected to rise next year due to higher output from countries including the United States, Brazil, Norway and Guyana, which became an oil producer last week.
    Another source of more oil could emerge in the coming months after Kuwait indicated that a long-standing dispute over the “Neutral Zone” on its border with Saudi Arabia will resolve by the end of 2019.
    Production at two large oil fields in the Neutral Zone was halted more than three years ago, cutting output by some 500,000 barrels per day.
    Oil prices have risen since the United States and China agreed a so-called phase one trade deal earlier this month following months of tit-for-tat negotiations that unsettled markets.
    Under a deal due to be signed in January, the United States is expected to agree to reduce some tariffs in return for a big increase in purchases U.S. agricultural products by Chinese importers.
    “Oil prices will continue to benefit from the positive developments in U.S.-China trade,” said Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader.
    Data showing that U.S. energy companies added the most oil rigs last week since February 2018, primarily in the Permian shale basin, also put pressure on prices. [RIG/U]
    Although the oil rig count was on track to fall for the first year since 2016 as drillers slash spending to focus on returns, higher productivity means that output in most shale basins has increased to record levels this year. [EIA/M]
(Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; editing by Richard Pullin, Jason Neely and David Clarke)

12/23/2019 Sen. Schumer pushes for testimony of White House witnesses in Senate impeachment trial by OAN Newsroom
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., confers with aide Justin Goodman while speaking to reporters about the likely
impeachment of President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has continued to push for the testimony of top administration officials in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.    During a press conference Sunday, he called on President Trump to release documents and allow White House witnesses for what he called a “fair and honest trial.”
    The Democrat lawmaker cited a newly released email from senior White House official Michael Duffey requesting the Pentagon hold off military aid to Ukraine.    The email was reportedly sent hours after the president’s July 25th phone call with Ukraine’s leader.
    “If there was ever an argument that we need Mr. Duffy to come testify, this is that information…this email is explosive,” said Schumer.    “A top administration official, one that we requested, is saying stop the aid.”
    Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is pointing to the newly released government documents to defend the decision to withhold aid.    He said concerns over corruption prompted the short delay, and also said President Trump wanted to know why European counties weren’t contributing to Ukraine.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., asks
a question of Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz during a committee hearing on the
FISA investigation, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    “Those are legitimate concerns and the new emails don’t shed any new light on that,” Johnson stated.    “The President was concerned about whether America’s hard-earned taxpayer dollars should be spent into a country where there’s been proven cases of corruption.”
    The Wisconsin lawmaker also pointed how “bizarre” it is that Democrats rushed the impeachment vote yet are now delaying sending the articles to the Senate.    This is a move President Trump has continued to slam House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for.
    The president stands by his statement that the call with his Ukrainian counterpart was “perfect.”    He called the Democrats’ case against him “dead,” and also pointed out their poll numbers are “horrendous” ahead of 2020.

12/23/2019 Sen. McConnell signals further delay of impeachment trial by OAN Newsroom
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks to his office on Capitol Hill
in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has signaled a further delay in the Senate impeachment trial.    While speaking in Kentucky Monday, the majority leader said negotiations over the rules of a trial alone are stalled until at least January when Congress returns from break.
    This comes after McConnell failed to reach a deal on rules of the proceedings during a meeting with top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer on Thursday.    Schumer recently released a list of documents, which Democrats want as evidence.    This included emails and other communications from the White House and State Department.
    McConnell responded by saying nothing can be done until the Senate receives the articles from Nancy Pelosi.
    “Yeah, as I’ve said repeatedly, we can’t take up a matter we don’t have,” he stated.    ”Hopefully they’ll be on the way over at some point and I think, you know, we’ll find out when we come back in session where we are.”
    While speaking in his home state Monday, the majority leader also touted legislative victories of the Republican Party and President Trump, including the appointment of conservative judges across the country.    Looking ahead to 2020, McConnell said pressing issues will be drug pricing and the USMCA trade deal.

12/23/2019 Va. attorney general condemns Second Amendment sanctuary cities by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring speaks at a news conference at his
office in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown, File)
    Tensions are rising in Virginia between constituents and lawmakers who want to pass stricter gun laws.    At least 86 of Virginia’s 95 counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuary cities.    This means they will not use county resources to enforce gun laws they believe are in violation of the Second amendment.
    On Friday, Attorney General Mark Herring released a statement condemning the counties and reiterated the new laws would be enforced despite backlash.
    “When the general assembly passed new gun violence prevention laws, they will be followed and they will be enforced,” he stated.    “The resolutions that some counties are passing have no legal affect whatsoever.”
    The General Assembly is expected to vote on Senate Bill 18 and Senate Bill 16 next month, which would ban assault weapons, raise the minimum age of purchase to 21 and require background checks.    However, some residents believe the laws will be a stepping stone for lawmakers to further limit guns in the state.
    “It plainly states, that we’re allowed to bear arms,” said gun story owner Jim Wood.    “When they start to pick at it, then all of a sudden it starts to becomes like the anti-gun laws that they have in other countries.”
Spectators file out of a packed Buckingham County Board of Supervisors meeting after the board unanimously voted
to pass a Second Amendment Sanctuary City resolution in Buckingham , Va., Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. More than two
dozen counties in Virginia have voted to declare themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” and are vowing
to resist any attempts to tighten restrictions on guns. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
    Some citizens are taking their opposition a step further. One deputy claiming he will deputize citizens if the laws are passed, and a pro-gun group is planning a protest in January.    Meanwhile, others have said a majority of citizens would like to have stricter laws.
    “There are some steps that they can take, by passing these bills that the majority of us agree on, to start to save lives,” stated Liz Howley of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.    “We’re also going to continue to hold our legislators accountable, and make sure that real progress is made.”
    There is still time for the bills to be changed as they make their way through the assembly.

12/23/2019 Sen. Jones: I’m not concerned impeachment vote against President Trump could undermine re-election by OAN Newsroom
File – Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is pictured. (AP Photo)
    Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is downplaying the speculation that he could lose his Senate seat if he votes against President Trump in the impeachment trial.    In an interview Sunday, he said he’s committed to fulfilling what he called “his duty as a senator” in the upcoming trial.
    The Alabama Democrat said he’s not concerned of the political implications of his vote back home in the red state of Alabama.    This comes after reports claimed Alabama voters would sack Jones as senator if he votes with other Democrats to remove the president from office.    However, Jones appeared to put his party loyalty above the will of Alabama voters.
    Jones said he takes the impeachment vote much more seriously than Alabama politics.    This comes as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pushes for the testimony of top administration officials in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.

12/23/2019 French union workers vote to halt production at key oil facility by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Bate Felix
Commuters walk on a platform at Gare de l'Est train station during a strike by all unions of French SNCF
and the Paris transport network (RATP) in Paris as French transportation workers' strike continues
for a 19th day against pension reform plans in France, December 23, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
    PARIS (Reuters) – French workers voted on Monday to halt production at a key oil facility that supplies Paris and the surrounding region, joining other petroleum industry shutdowns in a nationwide strike against government pension reforms.
    Industrial action against President Emmanuel Macron’s reforms has also crippled train services over the past two weeks, escalating into clashes between protesters and police in the capital earlier on Monday.
    Production at Total’s Grandpuits oil refinery and petrol depot southeast of Paris will stop as a result of the vote by workers from the hardline CGT union.
    “The decision has been taken to halt Grandpuits but with a slight majority.    The management has asked for an hour of reflection,” a CGT union official said.
    Grandpuits was already producing at minimum capacity before the union vote due to the strike, which is blocking deliveries from the refinery, Total said.
    The vote contrasted with a reassuring message on Monday from the French energy ministry, which said fuel supplies to gas stations were normal despite calls by the CGT to shut down production at refineries.
    Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s office said it would restart talks with unions on pension reform on Jan. 7.    Separate talks will also be held with teachers’ and hospital workers’ unions from Jan. 13, the government said.
    Unions have already scheduled more demonstrations for Jan. 9 against the reforms, which would scrap special regimes for sectors like the railways and make people work to 64 to draw a full pension.
SCUFFLES WITH POLICE
    Protesters scuffled with police at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris early on Monday as the strike went into its 19th day.
    Riot police tangled with around 30 protesters, who let off flares and fireworks, releasing smoke that drifted into the station concourse, French TV footage showed.
    The strike, which has disrupted Christmas preparations, has also affected other main Paris stations such as the Gare du Nord, which handles Eurostar services to London and Brussels, and the Gare de l’Est.
    “I understand but I am not OK with it as I think all French people are being held hostage and it is difficult for us to understand what the goal is,” said Damien Dremont, a commuter at the Gare de l’Est.
OIL SECTOR
    The CGT, which has been at the forefront of the industrial action, has said there will be no Christmas truce.     At the CIM oil terminal in northern France, which handles about 40% of French crude oil imports, CGT members decided to stay on strike but held off shutting down operations which would have cut deliveries of crude to refineries and jet fuel to airports.
    But a CGT official told Reuters that members voted on Monday to stop production at the LyondellBasell petrochemical complex in the south of France.    LyondellBasell could not be reached for comment.
    Shutdown procedures started early on Monday at PetroIneos’ Lavera oil refinery in southern France after CGT workers voted to halt operations.
    Although the protests have disrupted deliveries, the UFIP oil industry lobby said only about 2% of France’s 11,000 petrol stations had run dry.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Bate Felix, Antony Paone and Geert De Clercq; Editing by Ed Osmond and Giles Elgood)

12/23/2019 President Trump to hold 2020 reelection rally in Toledo, Ohio by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump arrives at W.K. Kellogg Airport to attend a campaign rally,
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    President Trump is set to hold his first 2020 campaign rally in Ohio.    On Monday, the president’s reelection campaign announced his ‘Keep America Great’ rally will take place in Toledo on January 9th.
    President Trump will discuss his agenda in the highly competitive battleground state, which he carried by eight percent back in 2016.
    “Ohio is booming thanks to President Trump and jobs are coming back to the state.    Since President Trump’s election, Ohio has added 94,700 new jobs, including 14,700 manufacturing jobs.    President Trump is delivering on his promises, and he looks forward to celebrating those successes with the great men and women of Ohio.“ – Michael Glassner, Trump 2020 Campaign Chief Operating Officer
    The Senate impeachment trial is expected to begin that same week, which could boost the president’s reelection chances.    A repeat victory in Ohio is crucial to President Trump’s reelection.
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    Last week, the president held a ‘Keep America Great’ rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.    The rally occurred simultaneously with the House impeachment vote, where lawmakers voted along party lines to impeach President Trump.
    Despite Democrat efforts to oust the president, Trump campaign officials said he is more popular than ever.    They reported over $10 million in small donations, which were collected in the days following the impeachment vote.
    Trump 2020 campaign official Tim Murtaugh touted the impeachment vote as the reason for a massive influx of donations and a boost in voter support.    During an interview with The Hill, Murtaugh said the president’s base is more fired up than ever.
    “I didn’t think it was necessarily possible to have the president’s supporters more energized than they already are, but Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and the Democrats have done exactly that,” he said.
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives at Kellogg Arena to speak at a
campaign rally, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    The campaign’s communications director coaxed Democrats to keep going after the president and said it will only create more support for his reelection campaign.
    “Every time the Democrats and the media go into a frenzy,…we collect more data, we have greater interaction with the voters, and we raise more money,” said Murtaugh.    “The president’s reelection campaign gets bigger and stronger.”
    Senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump echoed the optimism of the campaign during a recent interview, which is set to air later this month on Face the Nation.
    “He’s energized, as are the 63 million plus voters who elected him to office,” she said.

President Donald Trump arrives to speak during a campaign rally at Kellogg Arena,
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

12/23/2019 President Trump adds two GOP judges to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump arrives to sign the National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2020 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    President Trump has added conservative influence to the federal appeals court best known for its Democrat judges.    The Senate officially confirmed the president’s decision to add two conservative judges to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees cases in the western part of the U.S.
    This month, Judges Lawrence VanDyke and Patrick Bumatay were appointed by President Trump.    The court, which was once dominated by liberals, now has more than a third of the president’s appointees.
    It has long been lambasted as the most partisan of all 13 appeals courts due to its lack of party diversity.    However, that reputation could change after the president’s latest move to rebuild the once liberal court.
    Moving forward, district cases coming out of blue states, such as California, could potentially receive pushback from the Ninth Circuit on issues such as green cards, healthcare and abortion.
FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2014, file photo, former Montana Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke, center,
talks with law students Jason Collins, left, and Tyler Dugger before a Montana Supreme Court
candidate forum at the University of Montana in Missoula, Mont. (AP Photo/Lido Vizzutti, File)
    Last month, the president expressed outrage over the Ninth Circuit’s left-leaning bias.
    “You cannot win when you rest a case in the Ninth Circuit.    I think it’s a disgrace when every case gets filed in the Ninth Circuit, because they know that’s not law.    That’s not what this country stands for.    Every case that gets filed in the Ninth Circuit, we get beaten.    And then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court, like the travel ban, and we won.    The Ninth Circuit…we’re going to have to look at that.“ – Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States
    He went on to say the court has been used as a way to practically guarantee a certain result.
    The new addition of GOP judges is prompting a positive response from Republican senators, who believe this will finally bring the court “closer to balance.”
[While the Democrats have spent 3 years trying to impeach Trump he has had the Senate appoint 180 plus new judges who will begin to fight back against the 8 years of Obama liberal appointed judges and especially the corrupt Ninth Circuit who are bought and paid for by the Democrats.]

12/23/2019 House Judiciary: McGahn testimony could lead to more impeachment articles by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Feb. 22, 2018, file photo former White House counsel Don McGahn speaks at the Conservative
Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
    More articles of impeachment could be introduced against President Trump in the near future.    The House Judiciary Committee filed a brief with the D.C. Court of Appeals on Monday.    They argued they need former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify because it could lead to new articles.
    “McGahn’s testimony is critical both to a Senate trial and to the committee’s ongoing impeachment investigations, to determine whether additional presidential misconduct warrants further action by the committee,” Judiciary members said in a statement.
    McGahn defied a subpoena to appear before the panel in March.    A judge has since ordered him to testify, but that ruling is being appealed by the Department of Justice.
    The House’s latest filing is set to be heard in court on January third.
President Donald Trump speaks before signing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 at Andrews
Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, before traveling to Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Trump ally Ben Carson has called for fairness ahead of the expected impeachment trial in the Senate.    In a CBS exclusive interview with the current Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Carson called the impeachment against President Trump “very immature.”
    He said his advice is: “don’t give up.”
    Carson previously condemned the impeachment process, saying it lowers the bar for future administrations.    The secretary was also asked if he thought the impeachment testimonies were truthful.
    “Do people have various of reasons for doing things that aren’t fair?    Of course they do.    What we really need to be thinking about is the whole concept of fairness.” – Ben Carson
    Carson, who was previously a neurosurgeon before entering the political scene, is one of the president’s longest serving members.
[The Dems are getting desperate since they have no crimes and even in the Mueller Report McGahn gave 30 hours of testimony and no offenses were charged at him or Trump during that time, this is just another excuse to try to create a reason to bring it into the Senate since they have no crimes in their impeachment and they know it.].

12/23/2019 French transportation strikes continue into 19th day by OAN Newsroom
People wait for a train at the Gare du Nord railway station, in Paris, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    A French transportation strike dragged into its 19th day after weekend talks failed to reach a resolution.    Monday reports said French transportation workers, who are striking over pension reforms, have vowed to continue their strike over the holiday.
    The strike started on December 5th and is now affecting thousands of ticket holders, who planned on traveling for Christmas.    Over the weekend, only a fraction of high speed regional and intercity trains were in operation.
    Shop owners also said they’ve been hit by the strikes.    Shoppers are reportedly avoiding city shopping centers due to congested traffic and limited transportation.
    “In terms of the financial impact, I would say it’s a 30 to 35% loss, because we have a huge loss of clientele frequenting the shop,” said one business owner.    “It’s very difficult because of this and we’re trying to withstand it, do our best with our clients.”
    French national railway workers said they plan on stopping trains between Paris and the suburbs on Christmas Eve.
A man walks on a platform at the Gare de l’Est train station Monday, Dec. 23, 2019 in Paris. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

12/23/2019 U.S. Border Patrol: 96 miles of wall built, 400 miles planned by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this July 17, 2019 file photo, three migrants who had managed to evade the Mexican National Guard
and cross the Rio Grande onto U.S. territory walk along a border wall set back from the geographical
border, in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
    Progress continues at the U.S.-Mexico border after nearly 100 miles of wall was completed this week.    On Monday, the U.S. Border Patrol Chief tweeted that 96 miles of wall have been built and around 400 more miles are scheduled for construction.
    Next year’s defense budget will allocate more than $1 billion for the wall.    President Trump signed the $1.4 trillion spending agreement, which contained 12 bills, on Friday after it cleared the House and Senate last week.
    The president said his administration is planning to make a lot more progress in 2020.
    “We’re building a very big wall, we’re up to almost 100 miles already,” he said.    “We should have over 400 miles hopefully by the end of next year, if everything keeps going on the same path, or shortly thereafter.”
    The White House experienced some setbacks with the border wall after a judge blocked the administration from using Pentagon money for its construction in Texas.

12/24/2019 Oil up $0.26 to $60.70, DOW up 96 to 28,551 another record.

This is a cartoon that I created in 1974 when I was in the Air Force before anyone was tracking Santa and I put
this here due to the next news article, so PEACE ON EARTH GOOD WILL TO MEN and MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

12/24/2019 U.S. military tracking Santa – and any ‘Christmas gift’ from North Korea by Keith Coffman
FILE PHOTO: NORAD tracks Santa as he starts his journey as shown in this handout photo provided by North American Aerospace
Defense Command Santa Tracker, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, December 24, 2014. REUTERS/NORAD/Handout/File Photo
    DENVER (Reuters) – While the North American Aerospace Defense Command stays alert for any signs of a North Korea missile launch – what officials in Pyongyang have described as a “Christmas gift” – it is also tracking the legendary figure who delivers presents to children across the world, the command said on Monday.
    Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, NORAD is a combined U.S. and Canadian military command whose mission is to issue aerospace and maritime warnings and controls across North America.
    For more than six decades, it has also offered real-time animated tracking of Santa Claus, also known as Kris Kringle, as his reindeer-powered sleigh traverses the globe delivering Yuletide gifts to children.
    “As NORAD conducts its primary mission of defending North America from threats, we’re proud to continue our tradition of tracking Santa’s journey around the world,” NORAD said in a statement.
    NORAD’s Santa tracking website www.noradsanta.org gets nearly 15 million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories across the globe, the agency said.
    NORAD in recent years has been tracking North Korean long-range missile tests.    Pyongyang warned Washington earlier this month of a possible “Christmas gift.”    That came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave the United States until the end of the year to propose new concessions in talks over his country’s nuclear arsenal and reducing tensions between the two long-time adversaries.
    NORAD’s Santa-tracking tradition started in 1955 when a Colorado Springs department store misprinted the phone number to the North Pole in a newspaper advertisement, according to its website.
    The first call came from a little girl and went to U.S. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, director of what was then known as the Continental Air Defense Command.
    The colonel assured the girl that Santa was on en route, and when more children called the command center, the military added a new task to its defense mission.
    Renamed NORAD three years later as a combined Canadian and U.S. agency, the Santa mission has continued uninterrupted ever since.
Santa watchers can now track his whereabouts through NORAD’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; editing by Bill Tarrant and Lisa Shumaker)

12/24/2019 U.S. National Security Adviser warns UK about allowing Huawei in 5G: FT
FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of a displayed Huawei and 5G network logo in this
illustration picture, March 30, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
    (Reuters) – U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has warned UK about allowing China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] into its 5G telecommunications networks, saying such a move would pose a risk to UK’s secret intelligence services, the Financial Times reported.
    “They are just going to steal wholesale state secrets, whether they are the UK’s nuclear secrets or secrets from MI6 or MI5,” O’Brien told the FT in an interview published on Tuesday.
    “It is somewhat shocking to us that folks in the UK would look at Huawei as some sort of a commercial decision.    5G is a national security decision,” he added.
    O’Brien said that people in Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia were starting to understand concerns raised by the United States against Huawei.
    The United States has been pressing nations not to grant Huawei access to 5G networks and alleged that the company’s equipment could be used by Beijing for spying, which the Chinese firm has repeatedly denied.
    In May, U.S President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk.
    The Trump administration also added Huawei to its trade blacklist in May, citing national security concerns.
    The question of whether Huawei’s 5G equipment could contain back doors allowing access to Chinese spying has been dividing countries in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, which includes the United States, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
    Britain has previously taken a less firm line compared to other countries in the group, indicating Huawei’s 5G products could be used in less sensitive areas.
    Huawei was not immediately available for a comment on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

12/24/2019 President Trump wishes troops a Merry Christmas by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump looks towards members of the media as he speaks during a Christmas Eve video teleconference with
members of the military at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    President Trump spent Christmas Eve thanking our armed forces.    The president spoke with members of all five military branches at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, and thanked them for their bravery and vigilance.
    He also took a moment to tout the government’s newest military branch, the Space Force, and noted it will be the first time in 70 years a new branch has been added to the military.
    President Trump ended the teleconference by wishing them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
President Donald Trump speaks during a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military
at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    The president is cutting it close this year when it comes to selecting a Christmas present for his wife, the First Lady.    During his video call with U.S. troops, the president said he’s “still working on it” when asked what he got Melania for Christmas.
    He added that he picked out a beautiful card and said his family would be focusing on their love for one another this holiday season.
    “We love our family, we love each other and we’ve had a great relationship – like you do hopefully with your spouses,” said President Trump.    “We’ve had a great relationship and I think I’ll answer that by saying I’m still working on a Christmas present.”
President Donald Trump with first lady Melania Trump walk from the residence to speak in the Grand Foyer of the
White House during the Congressional Ball, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

12/24/2019 Baltimore on track to exceed record for homicide rates per capita by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this July 2, 2019 file photo, Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young speaks to a supporter following a news conference
announcing a new collaboration in an effort to reduce homelessness in Baltimore. Young plans to return a homestead
tax credit he’s received for a home he doesn’t live in, according to his spokesman. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
    The city of Baltimore is set to break its record for the highest homicide rates per capita.    On Monday, Mayor Bernard ‘Jack’ Young addressed what he called a “violent” weekend for the Maryland city, which left 18 people shot and three others killed in separate shootings.
    This brought the total number of homicides in Baltimore to 338 this year.
    “The level of violence late into the weekend is completely unacceptable.    We can never get to a place where this type of bloodshed becomes normal.    All of Baltimore stands committed to eliminating these horrific acts of violence.    I beg anyone who might have information about these latest shootings to please reach out to the police.    We must work together to end senseless shootings in our city.“ – Bernard ‘Jack’ Young, 51st Mayor of Baltimore City
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announces support for a pilot program that uses surveillance planes over
the city to combat crime on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Baltimore. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
    Local media said Baltimore’s population has declined rapidly over recent years.    While there is record of a higher murder rate, the new figures reflect a higher rate per capita.
    Authorities said the shootings over the weekend broke out at a deli, salon and hookah lounge.
    “We need to stop this ‘no snitching’ and start telling what we see, so we can start curving this violence and crime in the city of Baltimore,” stated the mayor.    “It’s as simple as that.”
    In response to the rising number of killings, activist groups took to the streets of Baltimore on Monday to promote a safer city.

12/24/2019 Schumer: White House witnesses important for Senate impeachment trial by OAN Newsroom
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters after saying on the floor that he wants to call
top White House officials to testify for the Senate trial, which is set to start next year if the House impeaches
President Donald Trump this week, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    As the Senate prepares for the upcoming impeachment trial, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for new information to be released to allow for a “fair and honest trial.”    This week, Schumer referenced recently released emails that he said shed more light onto the alleged ‘quid pro quo’ between the Trump administration and Ukraine.
    One email in particular, which was sent 91 minutes after the July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, was written by senior OMB political appointee Michael Duffey.    The email instructed Defense Department officials to withhold aid to Ukraine and keep the administration’s request confidential.
    “If there was ever an argument that we need Mr. Duffy to come testify, this is that information.    This email is explosive.    A top administration official, one that we requested, is saying ‘stop the aid’ 91 minutes after Trump called Zelensky and said ‘keep it hush hush.’    What more do you need to request a witness?” – Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader
FILE – In this Sept. 25, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the
InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
    Schumer sent a letter to all U.S. senators, which outlined the documents he believes should be discussed at the trial. He said they will “augment the existing evidentiary record.”
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to Schumer’s letter as a political exercise and pointed out the minority leader is hardly impartial.    White House aide Marc Short denounced Schumer’s argument, citing the nation’s impeachment fatigue.
    “The American people are tired of this sham, they’re tired of this whole thing, and I think we’re anxious to get back to work for the American people,” said Short.    “We’re anxious to say, ‘Let’s get back to working for things the American people said they wanted.’
    However, Senate preparations may be for nothing as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to withhold the articles of impeachment.    She claimed she is waiting to find out “what sort of trial” the Senate has in mind.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington,
Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, on the day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump
on two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
[McConnell is not going to let Pelosi or Shumer turn the Senate into the Three-Ring-Circus that Schiff and Nadler did with the Congress and nothing is going to happen until Pelosi sends the articles of impeachemnt to the Senate. DUH!.].

12/24/2019 U.S. ready to deal with any North Korean ‘Christmas gift’: Trump by Alexandra Alper
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after participating in a video teleconference with members of the U.S.
military at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., December 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
    PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday brushed off North Korea’s warning of a “Christmas gift,” saying the United States would “deal with it very successfully,” amid U.S. concerns that Pyongyang might be preparing a long-range missile test.
    China, North Korea’s most important backer, meanwhile, urged Washington to take “concrete steps” as soon as possible to implement agreements reached during last year’s summit between Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
    Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in comments relayed on Twitter by the foreign ministry in Beijing, called on North Korea and the United States to work out “a feasible roadmap for establishing a permanent peace regime & realizing complete denuclearization on the (Korean) Peninsula.”
    North Korea warned this month of a possible “Christmas gift” for Washington after Kim gave the United States until the end of the year to propose new concessions in talks over his country’s nuclear arsenal and reducing tensions between the adversaries.
    “We’ll find out what the surprise is and we’ll deal with it very successfully,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort.    “We’ll see what happens.”
    “Maybe it’s a nice present,” he quipped.    “Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test.”
    In issuing its warning, North Korea accused Washington of trying to drag out denuclearization talks ahead of Trump’s re-election bid next year and said it was “entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get.”
    U.S. military commanders have said that the North Korean response could involve the testing of a long-range missile, something North Korea has suspended, along with nuclear bomb tests, since 2017.
    Trump has repeatedly held up the test suspensions as evidence that his policy of engaging with North Korea works.
ICBM TEST IN 2017
    North Korea’s last test of an intercontinental ballistic missile was in November 2017 when it fired a Hwasong-15, the largest missile it has ever tested.    Pyongyang said the missile was capable of reaching all of the United States.
    Trump and Kim have met three times since 2018, but there has been no substantive progress.    North Korea has demanded an end to international sanctions while the United States says Pyongyang must first commit to giving up its nuclear weapons.
    At their unprecedented first summit in Singapore in 2018, the two sides agreed to work together to build a “lasting and stable peace regime” to replace the 1950-53 Korean War armistice, while North Korea committed “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
    Recent days have seen a flurry of international diplomacy aimed at avoiding a return to the heated confrontation seen two years ago that raised fears of war.
    China and Russia, proposed last week that the U.N. Security Council lift some sanctions to break the current deadlock.
    A U.S. State Department official responded by saying it was not the time to consider doing this when North Korea was “threatening to conduct an escalated provocation, refusing to meet to discuss denuclearization, and continuing to maintain and advance its prohibited weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.”
    North Korea has conducted repeated tests of short-range missiles this year and this month carried out what appeared to be engine tests at a rocket-testing facility U.S. officials have said Kim promised Trump he would close.
    Pyongyang said the tests were aimed at “restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Tim Ahmann and David Brunnstrom; Writing by David Brunntrom; Editing by Alex Richardson and Alistair Bell)

12/24/2019 Reports: Soros-backed media spread disinformation to advance impeachment narratives by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this June 21, 2019 file photo, George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations,
looks before the Joseph A. Schumpeter award ceremony in Vienna, Austria. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)
    Media outlets backed by billionaire George Soros are allegedly spreading misinformation to advance the impeachment narrative.
    Tuesday reports said the Soros-backed Center for Public Integrity is stirring allegations that President Trump ordered a freeze on Ukraine military aid on the day of his phone call with the Ukrainian president.
    The narrative was designed to back Democrat claims of a ‘quid pro quo’ related to Joe and Hunter Biden’s corruption in that country.
    However, the Office of Management and Budget has refuted those claims.    The OMB released a real timeline of events, which showed military aid had been frozen days before the July phone call and released weeks after.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters after saying on the floor that he wants to call
top White House officials to testify for the Senate trial, which is set to start next year if the House impeaches
President Donald Trump this week, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    This came just after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for new information to be released to allow for a “fair and honest trial” in the Senate.    This week, Schumer referenced recently released emails that he said shed more light onto the alleged ‘quid pro quo’ between the Trump administration and Ukraine.
    One email in particular, which was sent 91 minutes after the July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, was written by senior OMB political appointee Michael Duffey. The email appeared to instruct Defense Department officials to withhold aid to Ukraine and keep the administration’s request confidential.
    “This email is explosive,” stated Schumer.    “A top administration official, one that we requested, is saying ‘stop the aid’ 91 minutes after Trump called Zelensky and said ‘keep it hush hush.’
[If it was so explosive why was it not brought out in the Impeachment Hoax.    Thats right the Article 1 Congress did not take it to the Article 3 Judicial system which Article 2 Executive branch which they have a right to separation of powers which Shumer is now ignoring.].

12/24/2019 President Trump says he hasn’t thought about pardoning Roger Stone by OAN Newsroom
Roger Stone leaves the federal court Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    During a press briefing on Tuesday, the president said he has not thought about granting a pardon to Republican political strategist Roger Stone.    Stone was indicted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year and convicted in November on seven counts, including witness tampering and making false statements.
    President Trump said the GOP operative is a nice guy, but only played a minor role in his decision to run for president and was not a part of his campaign.
    “I’ve known Roger over the years, he’s a nice guy.    A lot of people like him.    He got hit very hard, as did General Flynn and a lot of other people.    Now they’re finding out it was all a big hoax, a horrible thing.    We were spied on.    My campaign was spied on and, again, Roger Stone was not a part of the campaign.    He is somebody I’ve known over the years, but not a part of the campaign.” – Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States
    The president went on to say that Stone and General Michael Flynn were victims of what he called “dirty cops” in the FBI, allegedly paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton.

12/24/2019 Operation Holiday Express delivers gifts, military band to U.S. troops in Syria by OAN Newsroom
In this Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, photo, a U.S. soldier carries Christmas gifts from a helicopter to deliver to
his comrades on a base near the al-Omar oilfield in eastern Syria. (AP Photo/Farid Abdul-Wahid)
    American troops in eastern Syria may be far from home, but they are still getting to enjoy the spirit of Christmas thanks to U.S. led coalition forces in Iraq.    Soldiers received various gifts via helicopter this week as part of a project dubbed ‘Operation Holiday Express.’
    Gifts, including candies and toiletries, were donated by military support groups, churches and charity organizations in the U.S.    A military band was even flown in, all the way from Kansas, to play Christmas songs for service members.
    “We’re here in eastern Syria visiting troops at several bases, and these troops are here to defeat the remnants of ISIS,” stated spokesman Col. Myles Caggins III.    “They’re looking for ISIS sleeper cells and partnering with commandos in Syria.”
    While President Trump has vowed to withdraw most U.S. forces from Syria, he has also said he’ll leave some troops in the country to prevent a resurgence by ISIS.

12/25/2019 Oil up $0.44 to $61.14, DOW down 36 to 28,515.

12/25/2019 President Trump, FLOTUS deliver Christmas day message to nation by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for Christmas Eve dinner
at Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    President Trump wishes all a Merry Christmas, as he celebrates the holiday with his family in West Palm Beach, Florida.
    The President and first lady Melania Trump were at the Southern Baptist Convention Church on Christmas Eve, where they attended a service led by pastor Jimmy Scroggins.
    The first family used to celebrate Christmas at the Episcopal church Bethesda-By-The-Sea, where they got married back in 2005.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump talk at Mar-a-lago while there for
Christmas Eve dinner in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Following the service, the President and first lady hosted an annual Christmas Eve dinner at Mar-A-Lago.
    The President and the first lady posted a Christmas video message on Twitter Wednesday and wished all Americans at home and abroad a very Merry Christmas.

12/25/2019 Governors Respond to Pres. Trump’s Executive Order Allowing States to Choose Refugee Admission Policies by OAN Newsroom
In this June 11, 2019 photo, President Donald Trump applauds next to Governors Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, second left, and Kim
Reynolds of Iowa, left, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. An executive order by Trump giving states the right to refuse to take refugees
is putting Republican governors in an uncomfortable position.    They’re caught between immigration hardliners who want
to shut the door and others who believe helping refugees is a moral obligation. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
    With new power coming from an executive order signed by President Trump, several state governors are expressing their stance on accepting refugees.
    Officials from Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee recently sent letters to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, affirming they plan to keep letting refugees into their states.
    The executive order gives governors the power to refuse resettlement of refugees in their state, but many are choosing not to use it.
    Many have expressed support to those who agree with the decision to let states take in refugees, saying people looking for a better life in the U.S. should have the opportunity, specifically when coming in legally.
    Governors from both sides of the aisle have come together on the issue. States with Democrat leaders, such as Kentucky, boast long histories of welcoming refugees, and said they make up a large portion of their workforce.
    This, as some GOP lawmakers have also shown support for legal migrants seeking refuge.    Tennessee Governor Bill Lee spoke out about his stance on the issue, mixing tradition with personal experiences.
    “I think our nation has had a long history of being a beacon of refuge for the religiously and politically oppressed.    And I personally have been working with refugees, and many places around the world.    So I have personal experience with that,” said the Governor.
Migrants gather during clashes at a refugee camp on the eastern Greek island of Samos, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019.
Clashes broke out between police and a group of migrants at a refugee camp in Samos island, prompting
the local mayor to shut down a nearby elementary school and kindergarten. (AP Photo/Michael Svarnias)
    Even though there has been bipartisan support in letting in legal refugees, some republicans have expressed reluctance to the idea.
    More than 30 states have stated they’ll continue to resettle people coming into the U.S. but most have been led by Democrats.
    Even Lee is facing criticism from other Tennessee Republicans, as they challenge his decision.
    The executive order provides states a time crunch, as they have until January 21st to decide whether or not to allow entry to refugees.

12/25/2019 Report: U.S. minimum wages to rise in 2020 by OAN Newsroom
FILE – This April 3, 2019, file photo shows a tip box is filled with U.S. currency in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
    A series of states will kick off the new year by raising their minimum wages.    Monday reports said about 20 states and dozens of cities are planning to raise their workers’ wages starting on January 1st.
    From California to Maine, nearly 6.8 million minimum wage employees can expect an hourly increase ranging from 10 cents to $1.50.
    States are trying to move the ball on this issue as Democrats struggle to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
    “I know that many of my employees need to watch every penny to make it in our world,” said Ruth’s Parkside Café owner David Tate.    “I want this to be a really good place to work.”
    Meanwhile, reports said some workers in states like Massachusetts will see their wages rise to $15 an hour by 2023.

12/26/2019 Prosecutors claim Avenatti was over $15 million in debt during alleged Nike extortion by Kanishka Singh
FILE PHOTO: Attorney Michael Avenatti arrives at the United States Courthouse in the
Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    (Reuters) – California attorney Michael Avenatti, known for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against U.S. President Donald Trump, was more than $15 million in debt when he allegedly tried to extort as much as $25 million from Nike Inc , U.S. prosecutors claimed.
    “Specifically, the Government presently estimates that the defendant’s debts at that time were, conservatively, in excess of $15 million,” prosecutors said in a filing late on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
    In a statement to Reuters late on Wednesday, Avenatti denied those claims and dismissed them as “bogus.”
    “Any claim that I was $15 million in debt is completely bogus, ludicrous and absurd.    I can’t wait for the trial in this case, at which point the TRUTH and FACTS will come out and I will be fully exonerated,” Avenatti said in an emailed statement.
    Last week, Avenatti, 48, pleaded not guilty to an indictment accusing him of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to go public with claims the company made improper payments to athletes.
    The celebrity lawyer is accused by prosecutors of demanding money from the athletic wear company in exchange for agreeing to scrap a threatened news conference to discuss Nike’s alleged improper payments to elite college basketball recruits.
    A trial is scheduled for late in January.    Nike, which has denied wrongdoing, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Wednesday.
    Since his March 25 arrest in the Nike case, Avenatti has defended himself against a variety of criminal charges.
    He has pleaded not guilty in Manhattan to stealing about $300,000 from Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, after helping her secure a book contract.
    He has also pleaded not guilty in California to wire fraud, bank fraud and other crimes, including stealing from clients.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)
[Another example of what happens when you go against the righteousness as well as him and all the Democrats who promoted him and all their attempts to demean Kavanaugh and Trump in the future after that as they have ended up looking like idiots and Trump has excelled in many things against all odds against the DEEP STATE, Globalist attacks, and the mainstream press and all the politicians in the Democrats need to wake up before it is too late for them to be forgiven by the One GOD in heaven.].

12/26/2019 Senate Republicans predict bipartisan acquittal of President Trump in impeachment trial by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump departs following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military
at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Republicans in the Senate are predicting a bipartisan vote to acquit President Trump in the impending impeachment trial.    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said he would not be surprised if a few Democrats broke rank and cleared the president of any wrongdoing.    He further added that Democrats are divided on the issue.
    Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Doug Jones are red state Democrats, who will likely side with Republicans.    This week, Jones said he would vote to acquit President Trump if the evidence doesn’t add up. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who recently voiced concern over McConnell’s coordination with the White House, could potentially be a wildcard.
    President Trump has criticized Democrats over their flip-flop tactics.    In a Thursday tweet, the president pointed out “the radical left, do nothing Democrats said they wanted to rush everything through to the Senate” as a matter of national security.
    The president went on to say they don’t want to “go fast anymore” and added they are “liars.”
    He also slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and suggested she is trying to control proceedings in the Senate.
    Meanwhile, House Democrats continue to withhold the articles of impeachment from the Senate.

12/26/2019 Bloomberg cuts ties with contractor that used Okla. inmates to make campaign calls by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Dec. 11, 2019 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
gestures while taking part at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
    Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg cut ties with one of his contractors after coming under fire for using prison workers to make telephone calls for his campaign.    Bloomberg claimed he was unaware of the arrangement until a reporter sought comment on the matter.    After that, he said he immediately ended the relationship.
    This comes after reports revealed Bloomberg’s presidential campaign contracted New Jersey-based telemarketer ProCom, which used Oklahoma inmates to make calls on behalf of the campaign.
    The billionaire’s embattled campaign has also not weighed in on the debate over whether incarcerated individuals should be allowed to vote.    Since Bloomberg announced his 2020 bid, he has faced growing resentment from fellow Democrat candidates and President Trump.
    “Little Michael will fail,” said the president.    “I know Michael Bloomberg fairly well, well enough (to know) he will not do very well.”
    Despite backlash, the CEO continues to believe he is the Democrat with the greatest chance of taking the White House.
    “I didn’t see the candidates addressing the issues in a practical way,” said Bloomberg.    “I kept thinking to myself, ‘They are going to lose to Donald Trump.’
    The 2020 hopeful added he has asked vendors to do a better job of vetting subcontractors moving forward.

12/26/2019 Trump warns Russia, Syria, Iran against killing civilians in Idlib
A journalists' convoy is seen at the entrance of Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, Syria August 24, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday warned Russia, Syria and Iran against killing civilians in Syria’s Idlib province and said Turkey was working hard to stop the “carnage.”
    “Russia, Syria, and Iran are killing, or on their way to killing, thousands if innocent (sic) civilians in Idlib Province.    Don’t do it!    Turkey is working hard to stop this carnage,” Trump said in a tweet.
    Syrian and Russian forces have intensified their bombardment of targets in Idlib, the last significant rebel pocket of Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture it.
    The leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed in Ankara in September to “de-escalate” conflict in Idlib after a months-long campaign that forced at least 500,000 civilians to flee.    With diplomacy on a Syria peace settlement stalled, the de-escalation deal has been unravelling of late.
    Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Tuesday that Russia will work to stop attacks in Idlib after talks with a Turkish delegation in Moscow.
    Trump has sought a close relationship with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, even after Ankara’s recent incursion against American Kurdish allies in Syria and Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Susan Heavey; Editing by Mary Milliken and David Gregorio)

12/26/2019 Nasdaq tops 9,000 on boosts from Amazon, trade optimism by Lewis Krauskopf
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
in New York, U.S., December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    (Reuters) – The Nasdaq crossed the 9,000-point mark for the first time on Thursday as all three major Wall Street indexes posted record closing highs, boosted by optimism over U.S.-China trade relations and gains in shares of Amazon.com after a report signaled robust online holiday sales.
    Traders returned from the Christmas break to digest comments from Beijing that it was in close contact with Washington about an initial trade agreement, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump talked up a signing ceremony for the recently struck Phase 1 trade deal.
    Cooling U.S.-China trade tensions have fueled the latest leg of Wall Street’s record-setting rally.    With just days to go until the year-end, the benchmark S&P 500 is up 29% so far in 2019, which would be its biggest annual percentage gain since 2013.
    The Nasdaq posted a record closing high for a 10th straight session, its longest such streak since 1997.
    “The path of least resistance is up right now,” said Carol Schleif, deputy chief investment officer of Abbot Downing in Minneapolis.     “You have had a lot more clarity on certain things that had worried the market all year.”
    Shares of Amazon jumped 4.4% after a Mastercard report showed that U.S. shoppers spent more online during the holiday shopping season than in 2018, with e-commerce sales hitting a record high.
    “The important part is that the online sales were much stronger than expected.    The brick-and-mortar were less than expected, so the online sales, and principally Amazon, saved the day,” said John Conlon, director, equity strategy at People’s United Advisors.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 105.94 points, or 0.37%, to 28,621.39, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 16.53 points, or 0.51%, to 3,239.91 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 69.51 points, or 0.78%, to 9,022.39.
    Consumer discretionary <.SPLRCD> was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 sectors, spurred by Amazon. Healthcare <.SPXHC> was the lone sector in the red.
    A 0.9% decline in shares of Boeing Co , which has been dealing with fallout from the grounding of its 737 MAX jet, weighed particularly on the Dow.
    The Federal Reserve’s interest rate cuts as well as better-than-feared economic data and corporate profits have helped lift stocks this year along with trade-relations optimism.
    A Labor Department report on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell last week in a sign of ongoing labor market strength.
    About 4.5 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, well below the 6.8 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
    Trading volumes are expected to remain thin during the holiday-shortened week.
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.87-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.22-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted 37 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 120 new highs and 27 new lows.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New YorkAdditional reporting by Terence Gabriel in New York and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman)

12/26/2019 Wall Street rally under President Trump outpacing prior administrations by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump makes the thumbs up sign as he exits a motorcade to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.,
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, en route to Philadelphia to attend the Army-Navy football game. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    The current stock market rally under President Trump is beating out Wall Street’s performance under previous administrations.
    Data from Bespoke Investment Group showed the average market return three years into a presidency is 23 percent.    However, the S&P 500 has returned more than 50 percent during President Trump’s first three years in office, rising 28 percent just this year.
    Wall Street has hit a series of record highs in recent weeks.    The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 28,000, the S&P surged past 3,000 and the Nasdaq hit 9,000 for the first time ever on Thursday.

    Online shopping sales also saw a major boost this holiday season.    A Wednesday report by MasterCard showed online holiday sales hit a record high in 2019, rising by 18 percent compared to last year.
    Thanksgiving, which is usually the start of the holiday shopping season, came a week later than last year and prompted many to order gifts online.    Retail shopping rose only three percent, since many retailers moved to online platforms as business slowed in storefronts.
    Analysts said U.S. consumer spending benefited from wage growth and a strong labor market under the Trump administration.
FILE – In this Dec. 13, 2019, file photo specialist Gregg Maloney, left, and trader John Panin work on the floor of the
New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 26. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

12/26/2019 Military, election officials hold joint drills to ensure election security by OAN Newsroom
In this Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, photo, a booklet is held up during an exercise run by military and national security officials, for
state and local election officials to simulate different scenarios for the 2020 elections, in Springfield, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    The U.S. Military has launched a cyber training program for election officials across the country in an effort to ensure the integrity of the 2020 elections.    In a series of Thursday drills, military instructors provided guidelines and advice to officials from 24 states on how to defend elections from hacking.
    “If a democracy is under attack and you guys are the ones who are at the pointy end tip of the spear, why shouldn’t we train that way?” asked Belfer Center Co-Director Eric Rosenbach.
    The Pentagon said this kind of training is necessary to prevent uncertainty and fraud, which rocked the 2016 elections.    Officials said both military and elections personnel are fighting to defend America’s democracy.
    “(We are) making sure that the hardest and the most challenging issues are dealt with by at least senior leadership,” said Elections Director Stephen Trout.    “That the average call about, ‘Hey, where’s my polling place?’ or ‘Did you get my ballot?’ can be handled by staff with procedures.”
    Critics said irregularities like voting machine malfunctions, illegal voting and ballot harvesting pose a greater threat to U.S. elections than hypothetical hacking.
In this Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, photo, Mandy Vigil, from New Mexico, works during an
exercise run by military and national security officials, for state and local election officials to simulate
different scenarios for the 2020 elections, in Springfield, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

12/26/2019 Senate Republicans predict bipartisan acquittal of President Trump in impeachment trial by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump departs following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military
at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Republicans in the Senate are predicting a bipartisan vote to acquit President Trump in the impending impeachment trial.    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said he would not be surprised if a few Democrats broke rank and cleared the president of any wrongdoing.    He further added that Democrats are divided on the issue.
    Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Doug Jones are red state Democrats, who will likely side with Republicans.    This week, Jones said he would vote to acquit President Trump if the evidence doesn’t add up.    Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who recently voiced concern over McConnell’s coordination with the White House, could potentially be a wildcard.
    President Trump has criticized Democrats over their flip-flop tactics.    In a Thursday tweet, the president pointed out “the radical left, do nothing Democrats said they wanted to rush everything through to the Senate” as a matter of national security.
    The president went on to say they don’t want to “go fast anymore” and added they are “liars.”
    He also slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and suggested she is trying to control proceedings in the Senate.
    Meanwhile, House Democrats continue to withhold the articles of impeachment from the Senate.

12/27/2019 Oil up $0.57 to $61.68, DOW up 106 to 28, 622 and NASDAC up 70 to 9,072 both are records.

12/27/2019 President Trump touts claim of no factual basis for articles of impeachment by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of
the military at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    On Friday, President Trump tweeted out support for a theory that there was no legitimate reason for drafting articles of impeachment against him.    The president cited William McGinley, who said “Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s drive to try and rig the trial against the president is misplaced.”
    He went on to say “there is no factual basis for the articles of impeachment that passed the House” and that “this president will be exonerated.”
    During a press briefing on Tuesday, the president said House Democrats have treated him “very unfairly.”
    “They treated us very unfairly and now they want fairness in the Senate.    They ought to look back at the last year to see how they’ve hurt this country.    Fortunately, we have a president that was able to plow through all of the stuff that went on and goes on.” – Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States
    The president earlier slammed Pelosi for withholding the articles, which he claimed was her attempt to “obstruct the Senate.”
    This came after the Democrats rushed the impeachment process while failing to obtain any hard evidence or credible firsthand testimony to warrant impeachment.

12/27/2019 Sen. Mike Lee emerges as essential White House ally ahead of Senate impeachment trial by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Mike Lee speaks at a Utah public lands forum hosted by the Sutherland Institute,
June 29, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
    A Utah senator, who has largely stayed out of the limelight amid impeachment proceedings, is now being looked at as a key player for the Senate trial.    According to Politico, Sen. Mike Lee has been working with the White House to track down his GOP colleagues and figure out their positions on impeachment.
    Reports said the senator’s efforts could prove essential for relations with fellow Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who has been dubbed an “impeachment wildcard.”    Lee has said he looks forward to a Senate trial and believes it will completely exonerate the president.
    He has long maintained that neither the Ukraine phone call nor the Mueller report have implicated President Trump in any way.
    “The number one takeaway from this report is that there was no collusion,” stated Lee.    “We’ve got people, for the last two years, who have been using the Russian attempt to undermine the legitimacy of our electoral process as an effort to undermine this president.”
    Sen. Lindsey Graham said Lee, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, will try to keep the impeachment trial from turning into a circus like it did in the House.

12/27/2019 Durham investigation puts CIA Director Gina Haspel on notice by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Sept. 24, 2018, file photo, CIA Director Gina Haspel addresses
the audience in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)
    CIA Director Gina Haspel is the latest Intelligence official to reportedly be dragged into John Durham’s investigation of the Russia probe.    On Friday, Politico reported Haspel may have information on former CIA Director John Brennan, who served under the Obama administration.
    That information could help Durham learn whether the CIA used unauthorized surveillance on 2016 Trump campaign officials.
    Haspel has a controversial history of protecting the agency from political scrutiny and has rarely made public statements about ongoing intelligence matters.
    “Over the past year, our leadership team has taken steps to improve CIA’s ability to tackle the many challenges we face, and our efforts are beginning to pay off,” she stated.    “We’ve devoted more time, money and creativity to our effort against some of our nation’s toughest adversaries.”
    Haspel was the head of the CIA’s London bureau in 2016, when suspected informant Joseph Mifsud allegedly told Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos about Russia obtaining Hillary Clinton’s emails.    She was reportedly briefed on the matter, but referred it to the FBI.
[THE FOLLOWING IS WHAT SHE SAID ON 10/13/2018 SO DID SHE BRING ANY OF THIS TO THE INSPECTOR GENERAL HOROWITZ.].
CIA Director Gina Haspel addresses the audience as part of the McConnell Center Distinguished Speaker Series
at the University of Louisville, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
    “Our work requires secrecy, and secrecy in turn requires a profound degree of trust from the American people,” stated the CIA director.    “That’s why our agency abides by and embraces an oversight structure that includes the congressional intelligence committees, the FISA court, and our own independent inspector general.”
    Haspel also highlighted her commitment to keeping the CIA accountable to the American people by ensuring transparency and full compliance with congressional oversight.

12/27/2019 President Trump signs executive order for federal worker pay raise by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump gives a ‘thumbs-up’ towards members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House
in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, after his return from Florida. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
    President Trump issued an executive order on Friday that will raise pay rates for federal employees.    The measure was part of next year’s spending agreement and is expected to boost federal workers’ pay rates by nearly three percent.
    Employees in dozens of major cities – such as San Diego, Los Angeles and New York – will also see additional raises of over three percent.    The order marked the largest federal pay raise in a decade.    It will take effect on January 5th.
    This came just after the president touted the record-breaking stock market, which has reached new highs in the last few days.    He took to Twitter to celebrate the strong economy and said “the best is yet to come.”

FILE – In this Dec. 13, 2019, file photo specialist Gregg Maloney, left, and trader John Panin work on the floor of the
New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 26. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
    2019 has been a year of all-time highs for major stock averages.     The S&P 500 crossed 3,200 for the first time ever last week and returned more than 50 percent since President Trump was elected.    According to data from Bespoke Investment Group, this rate is more than double the 23 percent average market return of presidents who are three years into their term.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average continues to break records as it approaches 29,000, while the Nasdaq closed at over 9,000 for the first time ever this week.
    Many financial analysts said the data predicts another strong year for the market in 2020.

12/27/2019 San Francisco Bay Area experiences population decline by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Oct. 28, 2019, file photo a Matson container ship passes the
Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
    One of California’s most populous regions is in the midst of population decline. According to The Mercury News, population growth for the San Francisco Bay Area is at a 15-year low.
    The decrease is due to fewer births, the deaths of an aging generation and larger numbers of people moving out of the area.    The population decline mirrors that of a statewide trend as more people are choosing to move out of the Golden State.
    Chart compares home prices to income since 2000 and the outpacing rise of home prices to income since 2012; The San Francisco Foundation released a survey in early December, which found 67 percent of Bay Area residents were unhappy with living conditions in the region.
    Chief among respondents’ concerns were homelessness, traffic and housing costs.    80 percent of those surveyed said affordable housing is a top priority for them.
    Another 2019 study found more than half of Bay Area residents are planning to leave because they feel the quality of life in the region has gotten worse over the last few years.
    The two states Californians are flocking to are Texas and Idaho.
[People are moving out of California and New York state and in time those two states will not have that voter base that the Democrats and their Liberal policies have survived on for many elections, and this reminds me of the movie "Escape From New York" where the city was walled like a prison and badass Kurt Russell in 1997 was sent to island of Manhattan has been converted into a giant maximum security prison and Air Force One is hijacked and crashes into the island, the president is taken hostage.    But maybe the natives of these two states may go after the corrupt officals who have lived behind their gated wall communities at that point.].

12/28/2019 Oil down $0.11 to $61.64, DOW up 24 to 28,645 another record.

12/28/2019 Joe Biden says he will not comply with Senate subpoena to testify by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this May 18, 2019 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden,
speaks during a campaign rally at Eakins Oval in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
    Joe Biden is saying he will not take the stand in the upcoming impeachment trial. During an interview on Friday, Biden said he would not comply with a subpoena to testify.
    The Biden family and their business dealings with Ukraine are at the center of the impeachment inquiry.    However, the former vice president claimed if he testifies, the focus will be taken off President Trump, who will then get away with alleged wrongdoing.
    “This is all about a diversion.    We play his game all the time, he’s done it his whole career.    This is a technique he uses all the time, he’s a chronic liar.” – Joe Biden, Former Vice President of the United States
    He later took to Twitter to clarify his remarks, stating that there is no “legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial.”
    It’s unclear exactly when the trial will start, but it was projected to begin in January 2020.    The House has yet to transfer the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
[Everyone now knows what Quid Pro Joe has done it is on video of him committing extortion by threatening if Ukraine did not fire prosecution Shokin who is investigating Burisma and his son Hunter Biden or he would not give them the taxpayers billion dollars, and he is still denying it and it has not been shown on mainstream television stations, but I bet it will be on during the elections if he runs against Trump and we will see who is the chronic liar and thinks he will get away with actual wrongdoing.].

12/28/2019 President Trump highlights OAN report on Paul Pelosi, Jr. potential corruption in Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump takes the stage at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Palm Beach County
Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    President Trump is highlighting OAN’s report on how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s son may be involved in a Ukrainian corruption scandal.    The president took to Twitter on Friday to share the report, which detailed how Pelosi and her son Paul might face corruption allegations involving Ukraine.
    He called Pelosi “Crazy Nancy” and said the report is “big stuff.”
    Among other things, the report revealed videos of Paul Pelosi Jr.’s 2017 trip to the country, which are currently being removed online.
    These accusations are similar to those against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, who allegedly earned $156 million from corruption schemes in Ukraine.
    President Trump shared an additional OAN report on Friday, in which Ukrainian officials testified on Democrat interference in the 2016 elections.    He thanked One America News for “incredible reporting” and slammed mainstream media for not doing “the same.”
    Watch more of Chanel Rion’s special report here: OAN’s Chanel Rion Gives Debriefing On Ukraine Trip

12/28/2019 Scuffles break out in Paris as pensions protesters, ‘yellow vests’ march
French labour union members and workers on strike attend a demonstration after 24 days of strike against
French government's pensions reform plans in Paris, France, December 28, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – Protesters marching against the French government’s planned pension reform clashed with the police in Paris on Saturday as police fired tear gas to disperse some groups of demonstrators.
    French trade unions have spearheaded nationwide strikes since early December in an outcry over President Emmanuel Macron’s pensions overhaul, disrupting schools, railways and roads, while lending support to regular protests.
    On Saturday “yellow vests” – an anti-government movement that sprung up a year ago as a backlash against the high cost of living – joined a rally of several thousand people against the pensions shake-up.
    Police used tear gas against protesters close to tourists hotspots like the Center Pompidou museum of modern art, where some demonstrators had tried to erect barricades and set fire to them, and smashed up a bus stop.
    Clashes broke out at other points of the demonstration too, although the protest was dying down by the late afternoon.
    Jerome Rodrigues, a prominent figure in the “yellow vest” movement, was hurt in the eye although it was not immediately clear how he had sustained the injury.    Rodrigues was blinded in the same eye earlier this year during another demonstration.
    France’s transport network remained disrupted across the country and in Paris on the last weekend of the year, and rail and metro workers have so far insisted they will keep pressure on Macron to abandon his overhaul.
    “We’re ready to hold for quite a while,” said Laurent Djebali, a representative of the metro branch of the Unsa union as he joined the march.
    Macron has touted his reform as conducive to a fairer system that will incentivize workers to stay in the labor force until 64 instead of 62 and balance the pension budget, while eliminating many special regimes.
(Reporting by Clotaire Achi and Benoit Tessier; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

12/28/2019 GOP witness, law professor defends testifying on behalf of Republican lawmakers by OAN Newsroom
George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley testifies during a hearing before
the House Judiciary Committee on the constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump,
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    The sole Republican-called witness in the House impeachment hearings is defending his right to speak on behalf of GOP lawmakers.    On Saturday, law Professor Jonathan Turley said “testifying for Republicans should not be a sin for academics.”
    Turley cited the many false stories written about him, which attacked him personally and what he said in the hearing.    This followed his recent testimony, which contradicted those of the three other witnesses called by the Democrats.
    The professor also said by speeding through impeachment and not letting the courts have a say in some of the charges, Democrats themselves are committing impeachable offenses.
    “If you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power.    It’s your abuse of power.    You’re doing precisely what you’re criticizing the president for doing.    We have a third branch that deals with conflicts of the other two branches.    What comes out of there, what you do with it, is the very definition of legitimacy.“ – Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Law School Professor
    Turley also refuted allegations about his career and cautioned any legal scholar “who considers straying from the Democratic path.”
[This response from Turley is just another example of the Democrats in Congress are so bias and have so much hatred against Trump that they will also hate anyone who does not agree with them.].

12/29/2019 Pompeo: Iranian-backed group attacked Iraq facility, put American servicemen at risk by OAN Newsroom
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, right,
listen as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a statement on Iraq and Syria, at President Donald Trump’s
Mar-a-Lago property, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed an Iranian-backed attack on a joint U.S.-Iraqi military base in Iraq. During a Sunday press conference, Pompeo said Iran’s Ayatollah regime continues to pose a security threat to the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East.
    Previous reports claimed the 47th Brigade of Iraqi Hezbollah, which is backed by Iranian Guards of the Islamic Revolution, fired missiles at Camp Taji on Saturday night.    The reported attack came hours after a U.S. airstrike on Hezbollah’s headquarters in Iraq, which eliminated a top Hezbollah commander.
    “This wasn’t the first set of attacks against this particular Iraqi facility and others where American lives are risked,” stated Pompeo.    “Today what we did was take a decisive response that makes clear what President Trump has said for months and months, which is that we will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions to put American men and women in jeopardy.”
    Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed U.S. troops carried out a series of successful strikes against Iranian proxies in Iraq to reduce the threat of radical Islam in the region.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, hands off the microphone to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to deliver a statement on Iraq
and Syria, at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    Iran recently boosted its presence in Iraq amid ongoing popular unrest in the country.    The Ayatollah regime has also been increasing its nuclear activity, which has stirred concerns across the Middle East.
    On Saturday, U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell called on the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.    Grenell made the comment in a tweet after a connection was made between the Iran-backed militia and a separate rocket attack, which killed a U.S. citizen in Iraq on Friday.
    Germany has previously called for the group to be put on the EU terror list.    Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon.

12/30/2019 U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo to visit Ukraine in new year
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on human rights in Iran
at the State Department in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo
    (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he will be traveling to Ukraine and a few other countries in the new year to meet with counterparts there.
    “Excited to travel to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Cyprus in the new year to meet with counterparts and affirm U.S. priorities across Europe and South Central Asia,” Pompeo said in a tweet http://bit.ly/2sxfHai
    Pompeo’s planned visit comes after the Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached U.S. President Donald Trump this month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges stemming from his effort to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden, a leading contender in the 2020 Democratic presidential race.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans)

12/30/2019 U.S. sanctions block hurry-up work on Russian gas pipeline: officials by Timothy Gardner
FILE PHOTO: Allseas' deep sea pipe laying ship Solitaire lays pipes for Nord Stream 2
pipeline in the Baltic Sea September 13, 2019. REUTERS/Stine Jacobsen/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Any companies that rush to finish building a Russian natural gas export pipeline to Germany that came under U.S. sanctions this month risk being penalized, senior U.S. officials said on Sunday.
    President Donald Trump signed a bill late this month imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project led by Gazprom , Russia’s state-controlled gas company. The project aims to send gas under the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine and doubling the capacity of the existing line.
    The threat of sanctions blocking access to the U.S. financial system forced Allseas, a Swiss-Dutch company that lays deep-sea pipe, to suspend work on the project. All but a 100-mile (160-km) stretch remains to be completed.
    That short distance and a 30-day “wind-down” period of work stipulated in sanctions, have led to speculation that the pipeline would be finished soon.
    But the senior U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, rejected the notion that the “good-faith” wind-down period granted companies time to rush to finish Nord Stream 2.
    “Good faith wouldn’t be hurrying up to lay pipe,” one official said.
    “Sanctions will be imposed unless they demonstrate good-faith efforts,” showing they are pulling out, another official said, adding that the point of the sanctions, spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from energy-producing Texas, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, is to stop the project.
    Since the Obama administration, Washington has opposed the project on the grounds it would strengthen Russian President Vladimir Putin’s economic and political grip over Europe.    Russia has cut deliveries of the fuel to Ukraine and other parts of Europe in recent winters during pricing disputes.
    The Trump administration has touted U.S. liquefied natural gas as “freedom gas” that gives Europe an alternative to Russian supply.    U.S. exports of natural gas spiked more than 60% in 2019, but there are also concerns that a glut could weaken demand.
    There is room for the Trump administration to determine what “good faith” means, but the wind-down period is meant to allow time for companies to straighten up financial arrangements and safely remove equipment, one official said.
    Despite U.S. sanctions, Russia says the pipeline will be finished.    Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the pipeline was expected to be launched before the end of 2020, pushing back original estimates of a late 2019 completion.    Russia may use a vessel currently docked at a far-eastern port to finish it, Novak said.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Peter Cooney)

12/30/2019 Oil rises to three-month high on upbeat data, Middle East tension by Noah Browning
FILE PHOTO: An oil pump is seen just after sunset outside Saint-Fiacre,
near Paris, France September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
    LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose to three-month highs on Monday, underpinned by optimism over an expected China-U.S. trade deal and upbeat industrial data, while traders kept a close watch on the Middle East following U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria.
    Brent crude futures were up 0.9% at $68.75 a barrel, up 59 cents.    The international benchmark has risen around 27% in 2019.
    West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 22 cents or 0.2% to $61.94 a barrel by 0940 GMT.    The U.S. benchmark is up about 36% so far this year.
    “Oil prices have reached their highest level since the Saudi oilfield attack in mid-September,” said market analyst Margaret Yang of CMC Markets.
    Despite a the relatively low price gains despite an array of bullish factors, Yang added: “Traders are also cautious about profit-taking possibilities.”
    Tensions in the Middle East have flared up as the United States carried out air strikes on Sunday against the Kataib Hezbollah militia group, while protesters in Iraq on Saturday briefly forced the closure of its southern Nassiriya oilfield.
    Meanwhile, Libyan state oil firm NOC said it is considering the closure of its western Zawiya port and evacuating staff from the refinery due to clashes nearby.
    Oil prices were also supported by declining U.S. crude stocks, which fell by 5.5 million barrels in the week to Dec. 20, far exceeding a 1.7-million-barrel drop forecast in a Reuters poll.
    In China, factory activity had likely expanded again in December on stronger external demand and an infrastructure push at home although the pace of growth is set to ease as markets await more certainty on a U.S.-China trade truce, a Reuters poll showed.
    China’s Commerce Ministry said it is in close touch with the United States on the signing of a long-awaited trade deal.
    The two countries on Dec. 13 announced a “Phase one” agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for what U.S. officials said would be a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products and other goods.
    Some analysts, however, cited abundant global crude stocks as a major obstacle in 2020 to efforts to rein in output by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies like Russia.
    “Even as OPEC and its non-OPEC partners endeavor to make additional supply cuts in Q1 2020, we are not convinced this will be sufficient to avert large global inventory,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, global oil strategist at BNP Paribas.
    “We remain of the opinion that oil fundamentals continue to present downside risk.”
(Additional reporting by Seng Li Peng, editing by Louise Heavens)

12/30/2019 EU seeks reset in trade talks with U.S. – trade chief Hogan
FILE PHOTO: European Trade Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan of Ireland attends his hearing before
the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
    DUBLIN (Reuters) – The European Union’s new trade commissioner, Irishman Phil Hogan, was quoted on Monday as saying he would seek a reset of EU/US trade relations on a number of contentious issues when he meets his U.S. counterpart for the first time next month.
    The Trump administration imposed tariffs on European steel and aluminum in mid-2018.    It has done the same to $7.5 billion worth of EU products over a dispute about subsidies for European planemaker Airbus , and is threatening action against France over a digital services tax.
    Hogan, who was promoted from the role of EU farm chief this month, spoke to U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer just before Christmas, he told the Irish Times newspaper.
    “We agreed to meet in Washington in mid-January to discuss the long list of issues causing strain in the relationship between the EU and the US.    There is no point in getting into the details of resolving trade irritants unless we agree a line on a common trade agenda,” he was quoted as saying.
    “I will be seeking a reset of the EU/US trade relationship on issues like tariffs on steel and aluminum and the threat of US tariffs in response to a digital tax in Europe.”
    The two sides are in theory trying to forge a deal to remove overall import duties, but are stuck over farm products, which Washington says must be included and Brussels says cannot feature.
    They are also at odds over Washington’s paralysis of the World Trade Organization’s judicial arm, a vital part of the global trading system.
    The European Commission has said the bloc will act as one over the planned U.S. tariffs on French goods, and that a threat this month to increase EU-wide tariffs in relation to the Airbus dispute would make a settlement more difficult to achieve.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin in Dublin and Phil Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

12/30/2019 Trump aides call U.S. strikes on Iraq and Syria ‘successful,’ warn of potential further action by Idrees Ali and Ahmed Rasheed
Iraqi security forces are seen during military operations to search for Islamic State
militants in Anbar province, Iraq December 29, 2019. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
    WASHINGTON/BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. officials said on Sunday that air strikes in Iraq and Syria against an Iran-backed militia group were successful, but warned that “additional actions” may still be taken in the region to defend U.S. interests.
    The U.S. military carried out the strikes on Sunday against the Kataib Hezbollah militia group in response to the killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base, officials said.
    U.S. President Donald Trump was briefed by his top national security advisers following the strikes at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
    “We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters after the briefing with Trump.
    Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared briefly in a club ballroom to comment on the airstrikes.
    Esper termed the offensive “successful,” but said that Trump was informed that a further military response could be warranted.
    “We discussed with him other options that are available,” Esper said.    “I would note also that we will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we deter further bad behavior from militia groups or from Iran.”
    Iraqi security and militia sources said at least 25 militia fighters were killed and at least 55 wounded following three U.S. air strikes in Iraq on Sunday.
    At least four local Kataib Hezbollah commanders were among the dead, the sources said, adding that one of the strikes had targeted the militia group’s headquarters near the western Qaim district on the border with Syria.
    The Pentagon said it had targeted three locations of the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim militia group in Iraq and two in Syria.    The locations included weapons storage facilities and command and control locations the group had used to plan and execute attacks on coalition forces, it said.
    A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the strikes were carried out by F-15 fighter jets.
    The United States had accused Kataib Hezbollah of carrying out a strike involving more than 30 rockets on Friday which killed the U.S. civilian contractor and injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
    “In response to repeated Kata’ib Hizbollah attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces, U.S. forces have conducted precision defensive strikes … that will degrade KH’s ability to conduct future attacks against OIR coalition forces” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
    Earlier this month, Pompeo blamed Iranian-backed forces for a series of attacks on bases in Iraq and warned Iran that any attacks by Tehran or proxies that harmed Americans or allies would be “answered with a decisive U.S. response.”
    Tensions have heightened between Tehran and Washington since last year when Trump pulled the United States out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington, Ahmed Rasheed in Iraq and Steve Holland in Palm Beach, Fla; Writing by Lindsay Dunsmuir, Jason Lange and James Oliphant in Washington; Editing by Tom Brown and Diane Craft)

12/30/2019 Pentagon releases video of airstrike in Western Iraq by OAN Newsroom
A hole left after an airstrike is seen at headquarters of Kataib Hezbollah
militia group in Qaim, Iraq, on December 30, 2019. (REUTERS Photo)
    The Pentagon has released video of one of its airstrikes on Iranian-backed insurgent group Hezbollah. The unclassified footage, released Monday, shows the moments U.S. military launched what they have described as “defensive strikes” against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
    The video depicts precise targeting and firing of an airstrike proceeded by an explosion and fire.    The strike took place in Iraq and was one of five carried out in Iraq and Syria on Sunday.    The deadly attacks were in response to the killing of an American contractor reportedly by the Jihadist Hezbollah group in Iraq on Friday.
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the attack during a press conference on Sunday.    He stated that Iran’s Ayatollah regime continues to pose a security threat to the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East.
    Previous reports claimed the 47th Brigade of Iraqi Hezbollah, which is backed by Iranian Guards of the Islamic Revolution, fired missiles at Camp Taji on Saturday night.    The reported attack came hours after a U.S. airstrike on Hezbollah’s headquarters in Iraq, which eliminated a top Hezbollah commander.
    “This wasn’t the first set of attacks against this particular Iraqi facility and others where American lives are risked,” stated Pompeo.    “What we did was take a decisive response that makes clear what President Trump has said for months and months, which is that we will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions to put American men and women in jeopardy.”
    Defense Secretary Mark Esper also confirmed U.S. troops carried out a series of successful strikes against Iranian proxies in Iraq to reduce the threat of radical Islam in the region.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, hands off the microphone to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to deliver a statement on
Iraq and Syria, at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
    Iran recently boosted its presence in Iraq amid ongoing popular unrest in the country.    The Ayatollah regime has also been increasing its nuclear activity, which has stirred concerns across the Middle East.
    On Saturday, U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell called on the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.    Grenell made the comment in a tweet after a connection was made between the Iran-backed militia and a separate rocket attack, which killed a U.S. citizen in Iraq on Friday.
    Tehran condemned the recent U.S. airstrikes on Monday, which reportedly killed at least 25 people.    Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the U.S.’s actions in the region are unjustifiable.    Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Esper claimed the U.S. may need to take further military action to secure regional stability.

12/30/2019 Report: Some Democrats fear impeachment efforts could come back to haunt them come 2020 by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., walks from the chamber through Statuary Hall a day after the
Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power
and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Following the House vote on two articles of impeachment earlier this month, an exact timeline of when the trial in the upper chamber will begin remains up in the air.    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has come under fire for getting “cold feet” on impeachment.    She’s demanding concessions in exchange for the articles.
    “Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of leverage, so they can dictate the Senate process to senators,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.    “I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks with reporters after walking off the
Senate floor, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    According to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Republicans may be assuming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even wants a trial.    The author, Kimberley Strassel, questioned why Democrats would want to hold one.    She claimed the inquiry was riddled with procedural gamesmanship and shifting definitions of “high crimes.”
    It’s possible Democrats could go after more evidence of alleged wrongdoing before transmitting the articles, which could potentially drag on well into the 2020 elections.    If that’s the strategy being pursued, however, it’s likely their plan could backfire.
    If you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power.    It’s your abuse of power.    You’re doing precisely what you’re criticizing the president for doing.    We have a third branch that deals with conflicts of the other two branches, and what comes out of there and what you do with it is the very definition of legitimacy.” – Jonathan Turley, Professor of Law – George Washington University
    After the Senate acquitted Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial in 1999, his approval rating soared.    The same fate could befall President Trump as it’s virtually impossible the upper chamber will have the two-thirds majority needed to remove him from office.    This could potentially boost his re-election chances, which is a sentiment that has been echoed by Republicans on Capitol Hill.
[Mr.Turley the Democrats could not hear you say that because they were too busy rehearsing their prepared repetitive speeches from the left to spout out during the impeachment process and not paying attention to their stupidity as they followed a message that the people of this country did not believe.].

12/30/2019 Rep. Joe Kennedy talks about concerns over family members profiting off of elected officials by OAN Newsroom
    A Democrat lawmaker is warning his colleagues against using relatives to make profit gains.    On Sunday, Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy said he understands the concerns about Hunter Biden’s high position at a Ukraine energy company, while his father was vice president.
    Kennedy, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, went on to say all politicians should be looked at equally as President Trump’s children run businesses at the same time their father holds the presidency.
    The Democrat lawmaker also said he knows first-hand the responsibility that comes with holding a public office.    He added that Biden testifying would be the right thing to do if he was subpoenaed.
Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment
against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (House Television via AP)
    “It is certainly worth putting that out there, and worth trying to make sure that there is not any sort of profit that is going to be earned by close relatives being in office,” he stated, “And insuring that there is a very clear delineation, so others aren’t profiting off it.”
    Kennedy’s remarks come amid the 39-year-old’s bid for a seat in the Senate against a fellow Democrat in the 2020 general elections.
[At least Kennedy acknowledge that Quid Pro Joe is involved in something illegal and Biden cannot admit he did anything wrong because he is in denial that he got caught doing something illegal even if it is on video].

12/30/2019 Trump, Putin discussed Russia attack, arms control, relations: White House by Steve Holland
FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands during a bilateral
meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
    PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the state of relations between their two countries in a phone call instigated by Putin, the White House said on Monday.
    The official reason for the call, according to both sides, was for Putin to thank Trump for what White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said was “information the United States provided that helped foil a potential holiday terrorist attack in Russia.”
    No details were provided, but Russia said on Sunday it had thwarted attacks reportedly planned in St. Petersburg thanks to a tip from Washington.
    Gidley said both presidents committed to continuing counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries.
    “The presidents also discussed the state of relations between the United States and Russia and future efforts to support effective arms control,” he said, an apparent reference to Trump’s stated desire for a new nuclear arms control deal.
    Trump, on a two-week working vacation at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, has longed for strong U.S. relations with Russia and complained that a U.S. probe into whether his 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia had stymied him.
    He has faced sweeping opposition to warmer ties with Russia from Republican and Democratic lawmakers troubled by Putin’s annexation of Crimea and Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, among other strains.
    Some new tensions have arisen between the two countries.
    Trump on Thursday warned Russia, Syria and Iran against killing civilians in Syria’s Idlib province.
    Syrian and Russian forces have intensified their bombardment of targets in Idlib, the last significant rebel pocket of Syria.    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture it.
    In another potential strain, Russia joined with China on a draft proposal to the U.N. Security Council to seek a lifting of some U.N.-backed sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
    The Trump-Putin call came as the State Department announced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus from Jan. 3-7.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell)

12/30/2019 CIA devised way to restrict missiles given to allies, researcher says by Raphael Satter
FILE PHOTO: A MANPAD (Man-Portable Air Defiance Systems) missile is detonated along the shore facing
the Firing Range, east of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on December 11, 2011. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
    LEIPZIG, Germany (Reuters) – The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has devised technology to restrict the use of anti-aircraft missiles after they leave American hands, a researcher said, a move that experts say could persuade the United States that it would be safe to disseminate powerful weapons more frequently.
    The new technology is intended for use with shoulder-fired missiles called Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS), Dutch researcher Jos Wetzels told a cybersecurity conference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHj_iQZ9pTk in Leipzig, Germany on Saturday.    Wetzels said the system was laid out in a batch of CIA documents published by WikiLeaks in 2017 but that the files were mislabeled and attracted little public attention until now.
    Wetzels said the CIA had come up with a “smart arms control solution” that would restrict the use of missiles “to a particular time and a particular place.”    The technique, referred to as “geofencing,” blocks the use of a device outside a specific geographic area.
    Weapons that are disabled when they leave the battlefield could be an attractive feature.    Supplied to U.S. allies, the highly portable missiles can help win wars, but they have often been lost, sold, or passed to extremists.
    For example, Stinger MANPADS supplied by the United States are credited with helping mujahedeen rebels drive Soviet forces out of Afghanistan in a conflict that spanned the 1980s and 1990s.    But U.S. officials have since spent billions of dollars https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2007-09/features/countering-manpads-threat-strategies-success to clear the missiles from the country – and from other conflict zones around the world.
    Wetzels said it was unclear whether the CIA’s design ever left the drawing board or where it was meant to have been deployed, but he noted that the apparent period of development in the documents’ metadata – 2014 to 2015 – roughly coincided with media reports about the deployment of MANPADS to rebels in Syria. Geofencing might have been seen as a way of ensuring the missiles were used on the Syrian battlefield and nowhere else, he said.
    The CIA declined to comment.
    Outside experts who reviewed Wetzels’ analysis said they found it plausible.
    N.R. Jenzen-Jones, who directs the British-based ARES intelligence consultancy, said geofencing has long been discussed as a safeguard to allow powerful weapons “into the hands of friendly forces operating in high-risk environments.”
    Wetzels said geofencing was no panacea, running through a list of security vulnerabilities that could be used by insurgents to bypass the restrictions.
    “It’s not a watertight solution,” he said.
(Reporting by Raphael Satter; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

12/30/2019 Lockheed Martin hits 2019 F-35 delivery target of 131 jets
FILE PHOTO: Lockheed Martin's logo is seen in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
    (Reuters) – Lockheed Martin Corp said on Monday it has reached its 2019 target to deliver 131 F-35 fighter jets to the United States and its allies, as the defense contractor built 47% more jets this year.
    The world’s largest defense contractor said that in 2020 it aims to deliver 141 F-35s.
    The cost of the most common variation of the jet, the F-35A, is now $77.9 million, meeting the defense contractor’s $80 million goal a year earlier than planned, Lockheed said in a statement.
    The F-35 program, which currently makes up about 25% of Lockheed’s annual revenue, has long aimed at expanding the fleet to more than 3,000 jets and bringing the unit price of the F-35A below $80 million through efficiencies gained by bulk orders.
    Earlier this year, Pentagon announced pricing details for its agreement with Lockheed that lowers the cost of the F-35 jets it plans to purchase through 2022 by 12.7%, which may encourage other nations to buy the warplane.
    In 2019, international deliveries jumped 43% to 30 jets for international partner nations.
    More U.S. allies have been eyeing a purchase of the stealthy jet including Finland, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
    The F-35 comes in three configurations: the A-model for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. allies, a F-35 B-model which can handle short takeoffs and vertical landings and carrier-variant F-35C jets for the U.S. Navy.
(Reporting by Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

12/30/2019 Texas Attorney General: West Freeway Church was prepared to repel mass shooting by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at a news conference in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently praised the “good guys with guns” that stopped the armed assailant at the West Freeway Church of Christ on Sunday.    In a statement Monday, he said the church was fully prepared for a possible shooting and the congregation was able to defend itself as well as prevent further loss of life.
    Two people were killed, including the attacker, after shots interrupted a weekend church service.
    Paxton went on to highlight the importance of Second Amendment rights and prevention training in stopping mass shootings.
    “My goal is really to solve the problem, so when you see an example of something that worked really well to prevent the loss of life…I’m not going to apologize for talking about it and hopefully encouraging other people to follow a model,” he stated.     “Because if that means we save one life then they call that being political then I guess that’s political, but we end up saving a life, it’s darn worth it to me.”
    Paxton said the FBI and state police are investigation the shooter’s possible connections and motivations to prevent similar incidents going forward.
    This comes as an eyewitness to the tragic shooting and family member to the victim identified 64-year-old Anton Wallace as one of those killed in Sunday’s gunfire.    Wallace was a deacon at the church, and had allegedly just handed out communion when the gunfire erupted.    Police have still yet to confirm the report.    However, Wallace’s daughter Tiffany said she was there when her father was shot and ran to his side after he was struck.
    “About to pray and all of a sudden the guy just stood up from the pew, and turned towards my dad and I guess he shot at the security guard,” she recounted. “It’s our dad and that’s what hurts the most.”
    The identity of the church security guard who took down the shooter has also been released as Jack Wilson.    Police have applauded Wilson as a hero for reportedly drawing his weapon and fatally shooting the alleged gunman.    They say this saved an “untold number of lives” and stopped the attack within six seconds.
[This is sad day when churches are forced to have armed individuals to defend us from evil, but thank God the Texas governor passed a law for churches to have one to prevent possibly hundreds to be killed and Joe Biden is saying that law should have not been passed.    Save our Second Amendment rights from the radical left democrats.].

12/30/2019 Report: IRS placed tax lien on Hunter Biden over thousands in unpaid taxes from 2015 by OAN Newsroom
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, left, listens to former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack
speak during a community event, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Ottumwa, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
    A report recently revealed that the IRS issued a tax lien against Hunter Biden over thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes.    According to a report from the Daily Caller Sunday, the agency placed the lien in November 2018 seeking over$112,000 in unpaid taxes from 2015.
    Biden notably worked with Ukrainian energy firm Burisma at the time, where he was reportedly paid upwards of $50,000 of a month.    It is unclear if he has paid the tax debt.    In a court filing earlier this year, however, Biden said that he had not had a monthly income since May.
    This comes as presidential candidate Joe Biden was pressed over money he and his son allegedly made in Ukraine during a recent campaign event.
FILE – Hunter Biden waits for the start of the his father’s, Vice President Joe Biden’s,
debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
    “Excuse me, Mr. Biden — how much money did you make in Ukraine with your son?” asked a heckler at his rally in Milford, New Hampshire on Sunday.
    In a court filing in his paternity case earlier this month, Hunter Biden was accused of failing to provide basic information about his finances.
[QUID PRO JOE AND HIS INEXPERIENCED SON ARE BUSTED NOW FOR DOING WHAT THE DEMS ARE TRYING TO IMPEACH TRUMP ON.].

12/31/2019 Oil down $0.09 to $61.63, DOW down 183 to 28,462.

12/31/2019 Measle cases reach 1300 in the United States in 2019
31 States in the United States have had the Measles outbreak with 1300 cases
and still the CDC will not admit it was caused by illegal aliens entering our country
illegally spreading measles and whatever other diseases they brought with them

12/31/2019 President Trump to sign ‘phase one’ trade deal with China at White House ceremony on Jan. 15th by OAN Newsroom
FILE – A Cosco Shipping container ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge in
San Francisco bound for the Port of Oakland. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
    President Trump recently announced he will sign the ‘phase one’ trade deal with China in the near future. He also teased a trip to the Asian nation for further trade negotiations.    He took to Twitter Tuesday to confirm that he will sign the deal on January 15, 2020.
    This will take place during a ceremony at the White House alongside high level Chinese representatives.    The president also announced he would be traveling to Beijing just one day later to launch talks on ‘phase two’ of the trade agreement.
    White House trade adviser Peter Navarro called the deal “a great start.”
    “You’ve got $200 billion of purchases above the 2017 baseline over a two year period…about a fourth of that is agriculture, but you also got energy, services and manufacturing,” he explained.    “That could take a pretty good chunk out of the trade deficit with China, so that’s a good deal and you also have a nod to the currency manipulation as well.”
    Navarro also said the U.S. is going to try to “get something going” with the U.K., Vietnam, Europe, and anybody else who wants to trade fairly.

12/31/2019 President Trump: Iran will be held fully responsible for attack on U.S. Embassy in Iraq by OAN Newsroom
Militants burn property in front of the U.S. embassy compound, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.
Dozens of angry Iraqi Shiite militia supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday
after smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
    President Trump has condemned Iran over an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.    He took to Twitter Tuesday, saying Iran will be held “fully responsible” for orchestrating the aggression.    The president also said Iran’s deadly assault on an American contractor led the U.S. to respond with airstrikes on Iranian-backed Hezbollah over the weekend.
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also sounded off on the storm of Iraqi militants in Baghdad.    The Florida lawmaker said Iran is responsible and should be held accountable.
    This comes after dozens of Iraqi’s successfully broke through the windows of the compound and lit the building on fire.    Multiple U.S. diplomats and troops have reportedly been evacuated. The violence follows U.S. retaliatory airstrikes on Sunday, which killed at least 25 Iranian-backed forces.
    Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Iraq’s prime minister and president about the attacks happening in the capital of the Middle Eastern nation.    In a statement Tuesday, a State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Pompeo made clear the U.S. will defend it’s people who are there to support a sovereign and independent Iraq.
    According to the statement, both Prime Minister Abdil Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih assured Pompeo they would guarantee the safety of U.S. personnel and property.

12/31/2019 Sen. Schumer continues calls for top White House officials to testify in impeachment hearings by OAN Newsroom
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., watches from his Senate office as the House votes on the articles
of impeachment President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer is renewing calls for top White House officials to testify in the Senate’s impeachment hearings.    During a press conference Monday, Schumer cited a New York Times article detailing the White House’s alleged efforts to withhold aid from Ukraine.
    “According to this story, there was even a dramatic intervention-style meeting about this in the Oval Office where President Trump’s most senior National Security officials pleaded with him to release the military aid to Ukraine,” Schumer read.
    The article alleges White House officials were also concerned Congress would intervene in the president’s plan to withhold the funds.
    President Trump has said multiple times that he withheld the aid because he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine and it had nothing to do with digging up dirt on a political adversary.    He has continued to call out Democrats for protecting former Vice President Joe Biden as he and his son Hunter face accusations of corruption in the

12/31/2019 Early census data reveals congressional seats will shift power to southern and western states by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Aug. 13, 2019, file photo a worker gets ready to pass out instructions in how fill
out the 2020 census during a town hall meeting in Lithonia, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)
    Committees in charge of redistricting are chomping at the bit to see how the House of Representatives will be composed.    This comes after the U.S. Census Bureau released new data indicating which states will gain congressional seats and which will lose seats.    A summary of the data, released Monday, shows Southern and Western states are poised to gain seats in Congress.
    There has been a lot of debate on how to accurately collect the data, especially with the controversial citizenship question proposed by President Trump.    The fight on who and how the population will be counted can bring consequences to state’s resources budgets.
    “It’s why you see mayors, both Republican and Democratic, speaking out against this question,” said attorney Vanita Gupta.    “Because they realize they are responsible for everyone, for those services, for everyone in their jurisdiction regardless of status.”
    There are several states who look to benefit from the predictions.    As of now, Texas is looking to gain at least two more seats in their lower chamber.    Six other states, including Arizona, Oregon and Florida, are looking to gain at least one more.
    Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer recently expressed how important an accurate census count is to Florida.
    “It affects reapportionment for elected officials from the congressional to the state level all the way to the local level,” he explained.    “So, we want to do everything in our power to make sure that everyone is counted.”
FILE – An attendee holds her new country’s flag and her naturalization papers as she is sworn
in during a U.S. citizenship ceremony in Los Angeles, U.S. (REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo)
    Meanwhile, forecasts show eight states will lose a congressional seat.    These include New York, Pennsylvania and California.    This will be the first time California will lose a seat since it was brought into the union in 1850.
    California Governor Gavin Newsom has spoke out against the influence on the state with the the now-removed citizenship question and the implications it has on similar states.
    “The census question has one purpose and that’s to under-count our diverse communities and to hurt blue states like California,” he stated.    “It will have real consequences, economic consequences, and potentially from a representative perspective we could lose a House seat.”
    Early speculation says Republican states will benefit from the data with potential losses in big Democrat states.    The final calculation will take place by December 2020 with details being released in 2021.

12/31/2019 Armed Texas church guard speaks out about his life-saving actions by OAN Newsroom
This June 16, 2015, photo provided by the River Oaks Police Department, in Texas, shows Keith Thomas Kinnunen.
Authorities say that Kinnunen is the man who carried out an attack Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019,
at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. (River Oaks Police Department via AP)
    The armed guard who quickly took down a gunman inside a Texas church is speaking out about his life-saving actions.    Jack Wilson is the man credited with saving the lives of his fellow parishioners by taking down the gunman who opened fire in West Freeway Church of Christ.    Two people were killed during the exchange, while another person was injured.
    A live stream of Sunday’s service in city of White Settlement showed Wilson springing into action and fatally shooting the gunman.    The suspect was later identified as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, who was homeless at the time of the attack.    Kinnunen had previously received help from the church.    The perpetrator had an extensive criminal record, including charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
    Police are applauding Wilson for drawing his weapon and helping stop the attack within just six seconds.    They say this saved an “untold number of lives.”    Wilson is a former law enforcement officer, and spends his free time training congregants on how to safely use firearms in an effort to help keep their church safe.
    Another armed congregant, 67-year-old Richard White, was fatally shot after firing his weapon.    This is a move which also has him being hailed a hero.    Family members also identified 64-year-old Anton Wallace as the second victim of the shooting.
    Wallace, a registered nurse, served as the deacon of the church and had reportedly just handed out communion when the gunfire broke out.    Wallace’s daughter Tiffany said she ran to his side after he was struck, but it was too late.
    Wilson went to Facebook to share his thoughts following the tragedy.    He said he’s thankful to God that he was blessed and able to serve as the church’s head of security.    Wilson also said that he and other churchgoers will not let evil succeed.
Jack Wilson, 71, poses for a photo at a firing range outside his home in Granbury, Texas,
Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. Wilson trains the volunteer security team of the West Freeway Church of Christ,
where a gunman shot two people Sunday before being shot by Wilson. (AP Photo/Jake Bleiberg)
    Meanwhile, President Trump expressed his gratitude to the armed congregants who acted to stop the gunman.    In a tweet Tuesday, the president said the end result would have been catastrophic without them present.

12/31/2019 France’s Macron: I want solid ties with post-Brexit Britain
FILE PHOTO: France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the inauguration of the Agora
"win win" in Koumassi, Abidjan, Ivory Coast December 21, 2019. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
    PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he wanted a strong relationship with post-Brexit Britain.
    Speaking in his traditional televised New Year’s eve address to the nation, Macron said: “The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union is a test for our country.    I will strive to maintain a solid relationship between our two countries.”
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Christian Lowe)

12/31/2019 Let’s get Brexit done and end division in 2020, Johnson tells Britons
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a lawmakers meeting to elect a speaker,
in London, Britain December 17, 2019. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would bring his divided nation back together next year when Britain leaves the European Union, telling Britons they were set for a “fantastic year and a remarkable decade.”
    Fresh from winning a large parliamentary majority in an election just over two weeks ago, Johnson said in a New Year’s message that his first job was to ensure Brexit was delivered, more than three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, and then to heal the wounds the vote had opened.
    “As we say goodbye to 2019, we can also turn the page on the division, rancour and uncertainty which has dominated public life and held us back for far too long,” he said.
    “Now we have a new parliament, elected by the people to deliver the people’s priorities, which will finally respect the referendum and deliver Brexit.    So we’ll get Brexit done before the end of this month,” he added.
    Johnson has already won initial approval for his EU divorce deal and the final stages of ratification will begin when lawmakers return after Christmas in time for a Jan. 31 exit.
    He will then begin talks on forging a new trading relationship with the bloc, having said those negotiations would not be extended beyond the end of 2020.
    With an eye on voters in northern and central England who broke their long tradition of backing the opposition Labour Party to support him in the election, Johnson also said the state-run NHS health service would be his top priority while vowing that extra funding for education and infrastructure would be spread “more fairly.”
    “We will do all of this while keeping your taxes low,” he said.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)

12/31/2019 Wall Street edges higher; S&P closes decade with nearly 190% gain by April Joyner
Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 31, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan R Smith
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street’s major indexes edged higher on Tuesday on a renewed rally fueled by trade optimism, capping off a decade of handsome returns in which the benchmark S&P 500 rose nearly 190%.
    Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq notched their biggest annual percentage gains since 2013, while the Dow closed 2019 with its biggest yearly percentage gain since 2017. In 2019, the current bull run in U.S. stocks became the longest one on record as trade optimism, dovish monetary policy and an improving economic outlook fueled sharp gains.
    On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said on Twitter that the Phase 1 U.S.-China trade deal would be signed on Jan. 15 at the White House, bolstering widespread expectations of a finalized preliminary agreement in early 2020. That development was offset, however, by news of violent protests outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
    The session’s modest gains marked a turnaround from Monday, when the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq posted their biggest daily percentage losses in nearly four weeks. U.S. stocks had become overbought, and Monday’s declines helped make room for future gains, said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell in New York.
    “It helps to have two steps forward, one step back,” he said.    “It helps sustain the rally.”
    Volume was somewhat lower than usual, with 5.99 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 6.84 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
    U.S. stock markets will be closed on Wednesday for New Year’s Day.
(GRAPHIC: U.S. stocks post huge rebound in 2019 – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/USA-STOCKS/0H001QXSRB65/eikon.png)
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 76.3 points, or 0.27%, to 28,538.44, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 9.49 points, or 0.29%, to 3,230.78 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 26.61 points, or 0.3%, to 8,972.60.
    Wall Street’s major indexes posted significant gains for the month, quarter and year.    In December, the Dow added 1.73%, the S&P 500 2.87% and the Nasdaq 3.56%.    In the fourth quarter of 2019, the Dow gained 6.02%, the S&P 500 8.55% and the Nasdaq 12.18%.
    For the year, the Dow rose 22.33%, the S&P 500 28.9% and the Nasdaq 35.24%.
    The benchmark S&P 500 also posted its biggest December percentage gain since 2010.
    For the decade, the Dow advanced 173.67%, the S&P 500 189.72% and the Nasdaq 295.42%.
(GRAPHIC: S&P 500 performance by decade – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/USA-STOCKS/0H001QXSVB6F/eikon.png)
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.81-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.64-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted four new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 89 new highs and 26 new lows.
(Reporting by April Joyner; Additional reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Steve Orlofsky and Dan Grebler)

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