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The Spill: Abuse of Power?

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Articles of Impeachment Called Against President Trump

Over the last several weeks, the House of Representatives has been investigating whether or not to impeach President Trump. Hearings were held, where witnesses and experts testified regarding a phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and whether the conversation was inappropriate or not. Democrats have now called articles of impeachment against the president, upon which the House must vote.

House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment accusing the president of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The first article alleges that the president abused his power as president by soliciting help from a foreign nation for personal gain. That is, he allegedly asked the Ukrainian president to investigate certain activities of Joe Biden, who is currently a Democrat presidential candidate for 2020. The article of impeachment suggests that Trump hoped to use the information gathered by Ukraine to beat Biden in the next election. It says:

“President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States democratic process. He thus ignored and injured the interests of the nation.”

The second article of impeachment accuses Trump of obstruction of Congress, meaning that he did not cooperate with the investigation into his activities. According to the article, he defied subpoenas to appear before Congress, and also instructed government officials to disobey subpoenas to testify before Congress.

So, what happens next? The House of Representatives must vote on whether to execute an impeachment. If it does vote to impeach, the matter will then go to the Senate for a trial, where Trump will either be acquitted or found guilty and removed from office.

Second Museum Heist in Germany

Only a few days after the Dresden Castle robbery, in which priceless historical jewels went missing, Germany has suffered from a second heist reminiscent of what you might see in a Hollywood movie. This time, jewels were taken from Berlin’s Stasi Museum, a building that seeks to educate the public on the history of East Germany’s secret police during the Soviet era, called the Ministry for State Security (also known as the Stasi).

This time, the items that went missing included a pair of earrings, a ring set with pearls and gems, a gold watch, a gold timepiece, and eight medals (seven of them were replicas). Although the items were only worth a few thousand dollars – not as valuable as those stolen from Dresden Castle’s Green Vault – they were historically significant as they had been confiscated from people who had tried to escape communist East Germany, which was controlled by the Soviet Union. The Stasi were known to surveil and kidnap residents, and encouraged people to spy on each other.

“It’s always painful when there’s a break-in. The feeling of security is considerably disturbed,” said Jörg Drieselmann, the museum’s director. “We are not looking at great treasures here. We are a historical museum, and don’t expect anyone to break into our premises. We are not the Green Vault.”

Were the thieves the same as those performed the first heist? Police still don’t know who committed either robbery.

New Zealand Volcano Erupts

Eco-tourism (traveling to see natural landmarks) is a big market these days, but sometimes nature can be unpredictable. This week, 47 tourists had arrived on White Island, or Whakaari, in New Zealand to see a volcano – but the active volcano happened to erupt while the travelers were still in the area, some of whom were even walking around the rim of the crater. Tragically, six people have died, while over 30 have been injured and suffer from severe burns.

New Zealand is known for its natural beauty, but it is also situated in the “Ring of Fire,” a region of high volcano and earthquake activity around the Pacific, that sits on two tectonic plates. This was the first time Whakaari had erupted since 2001.

Tom Storey, a rescue pilot, described the ash that filled the air from the volcano. “It felt like running through talcum powder,” he said. “It was very hard to breathe and without a gas mask we were gasping for air, but … adrenaline takes over.”

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern praised the rescuers, saying, “Those pilots made an incredibly brave decision under extraordinarily dangerous circumstances in an attempt to get people out.”

COP25: UN Climate Change Summit

The United Nations is in the midst of COP25, a conference on climate change. The summit is being held in Madrid, Spain, to discuss the Paris Climate Agreement and the goals that countries across the world have made to reduce carbon emissions.

The main star of the event has been Greta Thunberg, the famous 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden. After arriving in the U.S. on a boat, she traveled to Spain to deliver an address at the summit. “I sincerely hope COP25 will reach something concrete and increase awareness among people, and that world leaders and people in power grasp the urgency of the climate crisis, because right now it does not seem that they are,” she said.

Greta Thunberg

Aside from Greta, young people have been at the focus of the conference. Penelope Lea, a 15-year-old climate campaigner from Norway, recently became a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ambassador. She also spoke at the meeting, while various governments signed a resolution claiming that “The climate crisis is a child rights crisis.”

Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, celebrated the young activists. She said, “I understand the despair and rage that so many young people and older ones too are feeling. All of us know the facts and so far there has been far too little real action. Children and young people have a right to participate. We need to implement the principle of intergenerational equity that the Paris agreement sets out.”

President Trump decided in 2017 to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, saying it puts an “unfair economic burden” on Americans. The withdrawal process began on November 4, 2019, and should be completed shortly after the 2020 election.

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