House Judiciary pushes impeachment vote to Friday after marathon hearing

After a grueling 14-plus-hour day debating the two articles of impeachment against President Trump with no meaningful outcome, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler abruptly called a recess at 11:12 p.m. ET Thursday.

What's next: Members of the committee, their staffs and congressional reporters will return to the Hill at 10 a.m. Friday for a final committee vote to determine whether Trump abused his power and obstructed congressional authority.

Behind the scenes: Republicans were not originally planning to drag the hearing on until nearly midnight. But once they realized they were going to miss Thursday's White House Congressional Ball, they powered on and reframed their messaging to convey they were willing to work overtime to defend the president, sources familiar with their strategy tell Axios.

Amendments to the articles: After several hours of debate about altering the articles, each of the five amendments introduced by Republicans was voted down by the committee.

Inside the hearing room: Members began the day energized and ready for battle. But as the hours wore on, and evening holiday parties passed, their patience wore thinner and their exhaustion became visibly overwhelming.

Go deeper: Read the articles of impeachment against Trump

Fri, 13 Dec 2019 05:07:27 +0000

India's citizenship bill continues Modi's Hindu nationalist offensive

India's parliament passed a bill this week that would link citizenship to religion for the first time in the country's history.

Why it matters: This is the latest in a series of steps by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that could "fuel the sentiment that Muslims are a kind of permanent underclass," says Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment. "The damage that could do to the social fabric is potentially enormous."

Between the lines: The bill is linked to a deeply controversial effort to register all citizens in the northeastern state of Assam. The government has vowed to nationalize the citizenship register.

Zoom out: Modi’s critics say he’s undermining the secular principles on which the Indian state was founded 70 years ago.

The big picture: “The BJP has for a long time been powered by three principle objectives,” Vaishnav says. They include modernizing the economy, making India a leading global power, and redefining India’s social contract in a more “pro-Hindu” fashion, he says.

The bottom line: “The economy is in a tailspin,” Vaishnav says. "Instead of addressing that with the urgency it deserves, they’re lighting all of these other fires that are going to be hugely distracting and detrimental to the larger objective of 'making India great again.'"

The latest: Violent mobs set buildings and rail stations alight and clashed with police on Thursday in Assam, leaving at least two dead. Authorities cut internet and mobile service and imposed a curfew. The demonstrators worry the new law will flood the state with immigrants and change the local culture.

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Fri, 13 Dec 2019 00:34:43 +0000

U.S. and China reach limited deal to delay December tariffs

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators have reached an agreement to reduce existing tariffs on $360 billion of Chinese goods and delay a new round of tariffs scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 15, according to multiple reports.

Why it matters: Sunday's tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese imports would have directly affected consumer goods such as cell phones, laptops, video game consoles and toys. In return for the tariff reductions and delay, China has reportedly agreed to buy $50 billion worth of agricultural goods.

The big picture: The 17-month U.S.-China trade war has lacked significant breakthroughs, causing major market uncertainty and hammering the U.S. manufacturing industry. Recent data, however, has shown China's economy is also taking a hit, giving Beijing extra incentive to strike a deal that would delay the December tariffs.

Between the lines: Optimism for a trade war reprieve was low in the wake of Trump's suggestion earlier this month that he "liked the idea" of waiting until after the 2020 election to strike a deal with China.

Go deeper: The trade war is working — kind of

Thu, 12 Dec 2019 23:40:56 +0000

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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 23:00:18 +0000

U.K. election: Exit poll shows landslide win for Boris Johnson's Conservatives

Polls have closed in the U.K.'s general election and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on track for the parliamentary majority he has desperately sought to "get Brexit done."

Why it matters: Johnson is far exceeding expectations and should win enough seats to easily pass his Brexit deal. The BBC's exit poll projects the biggest Conservative majority since Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's 1987 victory, and a disaster for the opposition Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

By the numbers, per the poll:

Between the lines: After 3 years of division over Brexit, Johnson appears to have united the "Leave" vote behind him while the "Remain" vote was divided between Labour — which lacked a clear position on Brexit — and the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats.

What to watch: This result would be a massive vindication for Johnson — long mocked and little trusted, but now set to steer the U.K. through what should be a crucial five years for the country.

Thu, 12 Dec 2019 22:16:11 +0000

Kentucky governor restores voting rights for 100,000 nonviolent felons

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed an order on Thursday restoring voting rights to more than 100,000 people with nonviolent felony convictions, the Wall Street Journal reports.

By taking this step, by restoring these voting rights, we declare that everyone counts in Kentucky. We all matter."
Gov. Andy Beshear

Why it matters: Iowa is now the only state in the country with a lifetime ban on voting for anyone convicted of a felony. Convicted felons in Kentucky previously had to seek clemency from the governor on an individual basis.

Between the lines: Beshear appears to be following in his father's footsteps, former Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who signed an executive order just before leaving office in 2015 to restore voting rights to more than 100,00 convicted felons.

What he's saying: Kentucky's new governor explained his decision during his inaugural address, saying his faith "teaches me to treat others with dignity and respect."

The big picture: Beshear, who previously served as Kentucky's attorney general, was sworn in Tuesday after narrowly defeating Bevin in the state's gubernatorial election last month.

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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 22:13:40 +0000

Tech eases donations, tip and gift transactions

Wishing your friends a happy birthday on social media now comes with a side of guilt.

Why it matters: "Tech is making it easier to stick a virtual hand out ... for tips and gifts you might not have planned to give," reports USA Today's Edward C. Baig.

This guilt trap carries over into the physical world, Baig notes.

The big picture: Facebook is leaning into the giving aspect of its platform, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

Between the lines: It's getting increasingly easy to spend money on social media platforms.

The bottom line: There are far worse ways to spend your pocket change than charitable gifts and tips.

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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 22:03:54 +0000

Congress reaches tentative spending deal to stave off government shutdown

Democratic and Republican negotiators in the House and Senate reached a deal "in principle" to fund the federal government through the rest of the 2020 fiscal year, House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) confirmed Thursday.

Why it matters: A looming Dec. 20 funding deadline had lawmakers fearing another government shutdown, which would come into effect days after the House is set to vote on articles of impeachment. Details of the $1.3 trillion spending deal are still being hammered out, but a vote in the House is expected to be scheduled for Tuesday.

Thu, 12 Dec 2019 21:02:08 +0000

52nd person reported dead from vaping-related lung illness

52 people have died from a lung injury associated with e-cigarette use in 26 states and the District of Columbia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention newly reports.

What's new: Data as of Dec. 10 shows the median age of patients who died was 52 years old and the ages of those who died ranged from 17 to 75.

By the numbers: Among 19 patients who died, 84% reported use of THC-containing products, according to a report from late October. The CDC maintains no single e-cigarette product or compound has been linked to the pulmonary illnesses.

The impact: The CDC and states' individual health departments have data on where the deaths occurred.

The big picture: The CDC reported 2,409 confirmed hospital cases of severe respiratory illnesses as of Dec. 10 among those who vaped nicotine or cannabis products in 50 states, Washington, D.C., and two U.S. territories.

What they're saying: "It is possible that some of these cases were already occurring and we were not picking them up" prior to the agency's investigation into the illnesses, the director for the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller, said in August.

Of note: A woman filed the first wrongful death lawsuit against Juul in October, claiming the e-cigarette maker's nicotine cartridges were a significant factor in causing the death of her 18-year-old son over a year ago.

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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 20:33:30 +0000

Senate passes Armenian genocide resolution in move likely to infuriate Turkey

The Senate passed a resolution via unanimous consent Thursday formally recognizing Turkey's genocide of the Armenian people.

Why it matters: The previous three attempts by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to pass the resolution were blocked by Republican senators at the request of the White House, which feared that its passage would infuriate the Turkish government during a tense period of U.S.-Turkey relations.

“By passing my Armenian Genocide resolution, the Senate finally stood up to confirm history: What happened from 1915 to 1923 was — most assuredly — genocide. There is no other word for it. There is no euphemism. There is no avoiding it. To overlook human suffering is not who we are as a people. It is not what we stand for as a nation. We are better than that, and our foreign policy should always reflect this."
Bob Menendez

The big picture: Turkey and its NATO allies, including the U.S., have clashed recently over Turkey's purchase of a Russian S-400 missile system, as well as its military assault against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Bipartisan senators have introduced a bill to implement sanctions against Turkey for its S-400 purchase.

What to watch: Turkish spokesperson Fahrettin Altun tweeted a warning in response to the resolution's passage, as well as the sanctions bill advanced by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.

"The behavior of some members of the U.S. Congress is damaging the Turkish-American ties. The sanctions bill that passed yesterday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Armenian resolution that passed today in the Senate endanger the future of our bilateral relationship. ... History will note these resolutions as irresponsible and irrational actions by some members of the US Congress against Turkey. They will go down in history as the responsible party for causing a long lasting damage between two nations."

Go deeper: Sen. Cramer blocks Armenian genocide bill at request of White House

Thu, 12 Dec 2019 19:45:07 +0000

Distrust of tech could be encryption's Achilles heel

A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday set up what's likely to be the most consequential national debate on encryption since the 1990s.

The big picture: The technical community's long-held consensus against weakening encryption is colliding head-on with bipartisan political hostility toward the Big Tech companies that are making encrypted communications an internet default.

Key terms to know: Law enforcement agencies see the spread of encryption as a problem they call "going dark." Most security experts view modifying encryption schemes to give government access as the creation of "back doors" that they see as inherently treacherous.

Driving the news: Senators from both sides of the aisle lit into representatives of Apple and Facebook at the Tuesday hearing, telling the companies that if they don't voluntarily find a way for the government to access the data it seeks to stop crimes, Congress will legislate one.

Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr has been pursuing his own campaign, launched with a speech last summer, promoting the need for back doors to encrypted devices and communications.

History lesson: The U.S. government's one significant attempt at the creation of encryption back doors — the Clinton administration's Clipper Chip program, which lasted from 1993 to 1996 — was a technical and market failure.

That '90s fight took place right as the formerly academic internet went mainstream, and it pitted "crypto rebels" against a government establishment, with the telecom industry caught in between.

Our thought bubble: We could end up with an encryption law for the 2020s that mandates some kind of updated Clipper Chip (likely via software rather than hardware) — not because anyone thinks it will work, but because lawmakers and voters of both parties have lost trust in the tech companies that oppose it.

Thu, 12 Dec 2019 16:28:11 +0000

DNC announces next four Democratic debates

The Democratic National Committee announced on Thursday the hosts of the next four presidential debates in the first four primary and caucus states.

Why it matters: This will be the first time Apple News will co-host a presidential debate.

The schedule:

What's next: The next Democratic debate will be held on Dec. 19 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, per Politico, which will host alongside PBS NewsHour.

Our thought bubble: It's worth noting that while Apple News and Twitter are featured as debate co-hosts, Facebook is noticeably absent after co-hosting debates in 2012 and 2016.

Go deeper: Who has qualified for the December Democratic debate

Thu, 12 Dec 2019 16:16:57 +0000

Europe's "Green Deal" shows the hard road to implementing 2020 Democrats' climate policies

Ursula von der Leyen, the new European Commission president, yesterday unveiled plans for an ambitious "European Green Deal" meant to make the EU a net-zero emitter by 2050.

Why it matters: The EU is the world's third-largest greenhouse gas emitting region after China and the U.S.

The big picture: The sweeping plan envisions crafting a new climate law within the next 100 days.

The intrigue: One of the documents released yesterday is a "roadmap" of "key actions" around policy development envisioned in the coming year — and it features dozens of them.

The state of play: This document is relevant to the U.S. and the 2020 elections.

My thought bubble: I know this is kind of obvious, but it's worth mentioning because lots of attention is paid to candidates' sweeping targets (like net-zero by 2050) and aggregate spending levels (like Bernie Sanders' $16 trillion proposal).

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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 14:45:41 +0000

The NHL is facing a cultural reckoning over diversity and abuse

The last month of the NHL season has brought changes behind the bench and in the broadcast booth that represent a cultural reckoning poised to change the sport of hockey forever.

Driving the news: Don Cherry, a longtime fixture on "Hockey Night in Canada," was fired by Rogers Sportsnet on Nov. 12 for on-air comments that many believed disparaged Canadian immigrants.

The response: On Monday, the NHL released a four-point plan to address abuse that includes severe punishments for offenders, mandatory diversity and inclusion training for coaches/staff and a hotline to anonymously report incidents.

"The world is changing for the better. This is an opportunity, and a moment, for positive change and this evolution should be expedited — for the benefit of everyone associated with the game we love."
Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner

Reality check: If a true reckoning is coming to the rink, the NHL is not going to be the driving force behind it. That burden falls on the players, who must be brave enough to speak up, as well as the media, which will be called upon to provide more oversight.

The big picture: While all sports leagues — and all of society, for that matter — must navigate these same cultural shifts as the world evolves and younger generations enter the workforce, hockey's insular nature and selfless creed does present a unique challenge.

Strong words:

"Hockey culture values teamwork, family, humility. But these ideals are warped. Teamwork; by valuing groupthink over individuality. ... Family; in insularity and othering anyone who's not in the group ... Humility; by players opting for saying nothing as opposed to saying the right thing."
Jashvina Shah, The Globe and Mail

The bottom line: Athletes known for silence are suddenly speaking up, and a sport known for domineering coaches is coming to terms with the fact that decades-old tactics are no longer acceptable.

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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 14:24:18 +0000

Asset managers urge caution in 2020

Investors can expect higher stock prices but also a lot of potential potholes in 2020, according to the investment forecasts of major asset managers.

What they're saying: "[I]n 2020 the margin for error — and opportunity — will likely be as small as it’s been in a very long time," top strategists at State Street Global Advisors wrote in their 2020 outlook.

Threat level: Managers are predicting the U.S. will avoid a recession. But most say the biggest risk to that is the U.S.-China trade war, which could be ratcheted up at any second by a tweet from President Trump.

The U.S. consumer was responsible for the lion's share of growth this year, as CEOs have lost confidence and corporations have pulled back and will need some help in 2020.

The big picture: None of these major asset managers predict a resolution to the trade war next year, but they almost uniformly expect a de-escalation. That will allow the U.S. economy to grow somewhere between 1.5% and 2% next year and continue to add jobs.

Be smart: Few money managers gave an explicit S&P 500 target, but top strategists at John Hancock, Jeffries, Bank of America Securities and others predict the stock market rises only about 5% from its current level.

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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 13:55:29 +0000

Lindsey Graham: "The best thing we do is deep-six" the impeachment trial

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Axios: "I'm not in the camp of calling a bunch of witnesses [in President Trump's impeachment trial]. ... I think as an American, the best thing we do is deep-six this thing."

The big picture: Many Senate Republicans told Axios that they trust Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's judgment on whether to accelerate the vote to acquit the president.

"Several GOP senators ... said it would be better to limit the trial and quickly vote to acquit Trump, rather than engage in what could become a political circus," per the Post.

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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 13:37:49 +0000

As economy booms, Wall Street bonuses shrink

Brace yourself: New York city officials estimate the pool of money allocated to bonus payouts by Wall Street firms will shrink by at least 9% this year — to about $25 billion from the $27.5 billion doled out in 2018.

Why it matters: A surging stock market and low unemployment rate don’t mean that bonuses in the securities industry will keep growing and growing.

Driving the news: Bonuses are typically handed out — or at least announced — this month through the beginning of next year.

The big picture: The smaller payouts reflect harder times for the banking industry — which is being hit by low interest rates, trade wars, political incertitude, and volatile markets.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley is reportedly firing more than 1,000 people — 2% of its workforce — an announcement that comes before year's end to "avoid paying out bonuses," CNBC reported.

Flashback: The current situation is a direct contrast to 10 years ago, when Wall Street bonuses were grandiose — despite an economy mired in recession (largely of the banks' making) and massive government bailouts of the financial services industry.

Since the financial crisis, people who traditionally made tons of money from the Wall Streeters spending their sky-high bonuses — like real estate agents, who reliably sold pricey Hamptons homes to the newly flush —have had to adjust to changing times.

What they're saying:

By the numbers: The dwindling bonus pool has big implications for New York's budget.

The average bonus paid to Wall Street employees in New York City was $153,700 in 2018 — a decline of 17% from the prior year, despite an upturn in the broader industry's profits. All in all, fewer dollars were spread among a larger number of people.

Reality check: Wall Street bigwigs still take home wayyy more than the average person.

Thu, 12 Dec 2019 10:45:48 +0000

The U.S. communities in danger of being overlooked in the 2020 census

Data: AP analysis of Census Bureau data; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About a quarter of the U.S. population —and more than 8 in 10 residents of Detroit — live in areas likely to be difficult for the census to accurately count next year, according to census data analyzed by the Associated Press.

Why it matters: "Hard to count" often translates to underrepresentation. The 2020 census will be the basis for allocating political power and government funding for the next decade.

The big picture: State legislatures will refer to the newest census data in redrawing congressional districts next year. The population counts will determine how many congressional seats each state will receive. The updated data will inform politicians of the demographics, economic status and family structures of the people they represent.

By the numbers: In half of U.S. census tracts nationwide, more than 20% of the population is predicted to not respond to the initial census questionnaire.

New Mexico (41%), California (40%), Texas (39%) and Nevada (37%) have the highest share of people living in areas with low census response rates.

Between the lines: The 2020 census effort has been complicated by concerns about government underfunding, a failed effort by the Trump administration to add a question about citizenship to the questionnaire and technological concerns about answering questions digitally.

States like California have allocated bigger budgets for efforts to engage with communities that have historically been undercounted.

Thu, 12 Dec 2019 10:00:55 +0000

In photos: U.K. votes in election dominated by Brexit

Polls across the United Kingdom opened Thursday morning as millions of Brits vote in the country's third general election since 2015.

Why it matters: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has staked his leadership on a promise to "get Brexit done" by securing a majority in the election, after facing a parliamentary impasse on the issue in a minority government. But if he loses, he'll go down as one of the shortest-serving prime ministers in history.

Students from the University of Reading arrive to vote in the General Election 2019 on graduation day. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images
A man arrives to vote at a polling station in Furnace, near Inveraray, Scotland. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to vote in north London. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images
A man in a Santa Claus hat and a man in an Elmo costume outside the polling station at Pakeman Primary School in Islington, London. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images
Voters outside the polling station in Nenthead, on the Cumbria and Northumberland border in northern England. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images
Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon casts her vote in Glasgow. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images
Nuns leave a London polling station. Photo: Niklas Halle'n/AFP via Getty Images
A voter carries his dog with a pro-EU sticker on his coat at the polling station at Pakeman Primary School in Holloway, London. Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images
Brian Mansley carries a sign in Edinburgh, one of hundreds that are being dispatched to polling stations around Scotland. Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images
An early voter at a polling station in Whitley Bay, northeast England. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

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Thu, 12 Dec 2019 09:12:06 +0000

Sandy Hook lawsuit against gunmaker set to go to trial in 2021

A Connecticut judge said Wednesday a wrongful death lawsuit brought by families of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting victims against gunmaker Remington Arms would go to trial in September 2021, the Hartford Courant first reported.

Why it matters: The case is set to test a 2005 law protecting weapons manufacturers from being held accountable for crimes committed by gun buyers. The Supreme Court said last month it wouldn't intervene in the state-level suit.

Go deeper: Supreme Court allows Sandy Hook lawsuit to move forward

Thu, 12 Dec 2019 05:43:11 +0000

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