Impeachment shadows Trump on trip to NATO leaders meeting
LONDON (AP) — President Donald Trump kicks off a two-day whirlwind of meetings with NATO alliance members, but his focus appears to remain centred on the impeachment inquiry playing out at home.
Before departing for London to meet Tuesday with other leaders from the 29-member alliance, Trump accused Democrats of trying to embarrass him by scheduling this week’s impeachment hearing while he’ll be abroad with NATO leaders.
Trump, who arrived in London late Monday, called the trip “one of the most important journeys that we make as president” before he departed Washington and said Democrats had long known about it.
He was back to lashing out at Democrats minutes after landing in London late Monday night, touting a Republican impeachment report calling Trump’s decision to hold up military aid to Ukraine “entirely prudent.” Democrats contend that Trump abused presidential powers by holding up the aid to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son.
“Prior to landing I read the Republicans Report on the Impeachment Hoaxe. Great job! Radical Left has NO CASE,” Trump tweeted. “Read the Transcripts. Shouldn’t even be allowed. Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?”
Infighting roils NATO as leaders gather in LondonAdvertisement
LONDON (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump and his NATO counterparts were gathering in London Tuesday to mark the alliance’s 70th birthday amid deep tensions as spats between leaders expose a lack of unity that risks undermining the military organization’s credibility.
For the third summit in a row, Trump is expected to renew demands that European allies and Canada step up defence spending. Meanwhile, lamenting NATO’s “brain death” due to a lack of U.S. leadership, French President Emmanuel Macron says NATO needs “a wake-up call.”
Macron insists that strategic questions must be addressed, like improving ties with Russia and how to handle an unpredictable ally like Turkey.
In turn, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at Macron, and their very public argument bodes ill for a summit hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is deep into an electoral campaign and desperately wants to smooth things over.
Ankara raised the ire of its allies by invading northern Syria, and for buying Russian air defence systems with powerful computers aboard that suck up data and would compromise the military equipment of allies if they were stationed nearby.
House report to outline evidence for Trump impeachment
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is poised to release a landmark impeachment report outlining evidence of what it calls Donald Trump’s wrongdoing toward Ukraine, findings that will push Congress toward a debate over whether the 45th president should be removed from office.
Democrats on the Intelligence Committee are making the case that Trump engaged in behaviour violating his oath of office and, in the course of their investigation, obstructed Congress by stonewalling the proceedings. Republicans are defending the president in a rebuttal claiming Trump never intended to pressure Ukraine when he asked for a “favour” — investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden. They say the military aid the White House was withholding was not being used as leverage, as Democrats claim, and besides the $400 million was ultimately released.
The findings being released Tuesday will lay the foundation for the Judiciary Committee to assess potential articles of impeachment, presenting a history-making test of political judgment with a case that is dividing Congress and the country.
Democrats once hoped to sway Republicans to consider Trump's removal, but they are now facing the prospect of an ever-hardening partisan split over the swift-moving proceedings on impeaching the president.
Lawmakers were having their first look at the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report Monday night behind closed doors, with the panel set to vote Tuesday to send it to the Judiciary Committee for a pivotal hearing Wednesday.
Iran state TV says ‘rioters’ shot and killed amid protests
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranian state television on Tuesday acknowledged security forces shot and killed what it described as “rioters” in multiple cities amid recent protests over the spike in government-set gasoline prices — the first time that authorities have offered any sort of accounting for the violence they used to put down the demonstrations.
The acknowledgment came in a television package that criticized international Farsi-language channels for their reporting on the crisis, which began on Nov. 15.
Amnesty International said Monday it believes at least 208 people were killed in the protests and the crackdown that followed. Iran’s mission to the United Nations disputed Amnesty’s findings early Tuesday, though it offered no evidence to support its claim.
Iran has yet to release any nationwide statistics over the unrest that gripped the Islamic Republic with minimum prices for government-subsidized gasoline rising by 50%.
Iran shut down internet access amid the unrest, blocking those inside the country from sharing their videos and information, as well as limiting the outside world from knowing the scale of the protests and violence. The restoration of the internet in recent days across much of the country has seen other videos surface.
To save Everglades, guardians fight time — and climate
FLAMINGO, Florida (AP) — Grabbing a clump of vegetation to steady herself, Tiffany Troxler gingerly slides her feet along the makeshift boardwalk as she ventures out into the marsh. The boards sag, dipping her up to her knees in the tea-colored water.
“This is the treacherous part,” the Florida International University researcher says. “The water levels are up.”
To a layman, this patch of brown-green saw grass and button mangrove deep inside Everglades National Park looks healthy enough, but Troxler knows trouble lurks just beneath the murky surface. She points to a clump of grass: Beneath the water line, the soil has retreated about a foot, leaving the root mass exposed. It is evidence that the thick mat of peat supporting this ecosystem is collapsing — and research suggests encroaching sea water is to blame.
"You can think about these soils as your bank account,” says Troxler, associate director of FIU’s Sea Level Solutions Center. "In the condition that this marsh is right now, the outlook is not good."
Formed roughly 5,000 years ago, during a time of sea level rise, the Everglades once comprised an area twice the size of New Jersey.
Greta Thunberg arrives by sail in Europe for climate talks
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived Tuesday by catamaran in the port of Lisbon after a three-week voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States.
The Swedish teen sailed to the Portuguese capital before heading to neighbouring Spain to attend the U.N. Climate Change Conference taking place in Madrid.
Her arrival coincided with a new scientific report saying there is mounting evidence that the world is getting ever hotter.
Thunberg hitched a renewable-energy ride from the United States, joining an Australian family on their 48-foot (15-meter) yacht.
The white catamaran carrying Thunberg sailed slowly up the River Tagus under blue skies and a stiff breeze. Thunberg's father, Svante, was also on the boat as it approached the Lisbon quayside.
Legal reckoning: New abuse suits could cost church over $4B
NEW YORK (AP) — At the end of another long day trying to sign up new clients accusing the Roman Catholic Church of sexual abuse, lawyer Adam Slater gazes out the window of his high-rise Manhattan office at one of the great symbols of the church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“I wonder how much that’s worth?” he muses.
Across the country, attorneys like Slater are scrambling to file a new wave of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by clergy, thanks to rules enacted in 15 states that extend or suspend the statute of limitations to allow claims stretching back decades. Associated Press reporting found the deluge of suits could surpass anything the nation’s clergy sexual abuse crisis has seen before, with potentially more than 5,000 new cases and payouts topping $4 billion.
It’s a financial reckoning playing out in such populous Catholic strongholds as New York, California and New Jersey, among the eight states that go the furthest with “lookback windows” that allow sex abuse claims no matter how old. Never before have so many states acted in near-unison to lift the restrictions that once shut people out if they didn’t bring claims of childhood sex abuse by a certain age, often their early 20s.
That has lawyers fighting for clients with TV ads and billboards asking, “Were you abused by the church?” And Catholic dioceses, while worrying about the difficulty of defending such old claims, are considering bankruptcy, victim compensation funds and even tapping valuable real estate to stay afloat.
How the gunfights in north Mexico that left 22 dead unfolded
VILLA UNION, Mexico (AP) — When dozens of pickup trucks crowded with armed men and mounted machine-guns roared into Villa Union, residents of the small town near the U.S. border began to realize they were the target of a military-style invasion. What followed were hours-long gunbattles between a company-sized unit (estimates of its size range from 70 to 150 men) and state police that left 22 people dead. At least 50 homes and buildings riddled with bullet holes.
In the aftermath, authorities found 25 abandoned vehicles, some with machine-gun turrets and welded armouring; many had professionally printed placards identifying them as drug cartel vehicles. At least four had .50 calibre mounted machine-guns. Resident claimed there were at least twice that many pickups, with some escaping.
Residents, most of whom asked that their names not be used for fear of reprisals, described how the day of terror unfolded.
Saturday, Nov. 30, 10:00 a.m.
Residents of the town of 6,000 were still recovering from Thanksgiving, when hundreds of relatives return from the United States to join their families in a border version of the holiday many here refer to as Dia del Pavo, or Turkey Day. Local business owners were enjoying good sales this year. After a period of terror between 2010 and 2013, the old Zetas Cartel that had dominated the town had been weakened, and violence had dropped.
Report: Blacks imprisoned more than whites, but gap narrows
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Racial disparities have narrowed across the U.S. criminal justice system over 16 years, though blacks are still significantly more likely to be behind bars than whites, new federal figures show.
Racial gaps broadly declined in local jails, state prisons, and among people on probation and parole, according to the study released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice.
The divide in state imprisonment rates dropped for all major crimes but was most pronounced for drug offences — a key driving factor for the racial shift. Blacks were 15 times more likely than whites to be in state prisons for drug crimes in 2000, but that dropped to five times as likely by 2016, the most recent year available.
Many don’t realize how much the racial gap has narrowed, not only in incarceration but in parole and probation, said Adam Gelb, president and chief executive of the politically diverse council that launched in July to seek solutions to problems in the criminal justice system.
“Most people think this is a bad problem that’s getting worse,” said Gelb, whose group has brought together governors of both parties, police officials and Black Lives Matter organizers. “It turns out it’s a bad problem that’s getting a little better, and for very complex reasons that we need to understand at a much deeper level.”
Over 500K pot vapes seized in 2 years as busts rise in US
NEW YORK (AP) — As health officials scrutinize marijuana vaping, it’s increasingly on law enforcement’s radar, too.
From New York City to Nebraska farm country to California, authorities have seized at least 510,000 marijuana vape cartridges and arrested more than 120 people in the past two years, according to an Associated Press tally derived from interviews, court records, news accounts and official releases.
A Wisconsin mother, her two adult sons and five other people were charged this fall in what investigators describe as a black-market manufacturing operation that churned out thousands of cartridges a day packed with THC, the cannabis chemical that causes a high. In neighbouring Minnesota, authorities said they found nearly 77,000 illicit pot cartridges in a man’s suburban Minneapolis home and car in September.
An Alabama prosecutor has seen a spurt in pot vape cases in juvenile court. And in New York City, drug authorities say they’ve seized about 200,000 illegal cartridges just since this summer, often while investigating groups suspected of trafficking in traditional-form marijuana or other drugs.
“We’re putting a lot more resources in pursuing these organizations,” said Ray Donovan, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York office. “This is where the market is going ... These criminal organizations are going to jump on whatever the business model is and try to take advantage and exploit that.”