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The Spill: Seven Contenders

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President Trump Impeached

The House of Representatives has impeached President Trump. After a day of debate, during which over 200 members of the House voiced their perspectives on the matter, the representatives voted. The decision fell along party lines, with the Democrats voting to impeach the president, and the Republicans voting against impeachment.

The first article, “Abuse of Power,” which referred to allegations that Trump asked the president of Ukraine for a personal favor to help him win the 2020 election, was passed by a vote of 230 – 197. No Republicans voted to impeach, while two Democrats, Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), voted “no.” Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) voted “present.” The second article, “Obstruction of Congress,” also passed along party lines, with a few exceptions.

Representative Gabbard described her “present” vote on both articles of impeachment as “a vote for much-needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country.” In a statement, the 2020 presidential candidate explained that she was unable to vote to impeach Trump “because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”

Donald Trump

As voting was underway, the president was speaking at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he told the crowd: “[I]t doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached.”

Trump is the third president in American history to be impeached. The next stage in the process is to send the matter to the Senate, which will hold a trial to determine whether the president is guilty or not. However, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has not so far given an indication of when the matter will be passed to the upper chamber. If Trump is found guilty by the Senate, he will be removed from office, but no U.S. presidency has yet ended in this way.

Last Democrat Debate in 2019

As 2020 will be a general election year, the Republican and Democrat political parties have to decide which candidates they want to run in the presidential race. Most people currently assume that President Trump will run for a second term in office representing the Republicans, but the Democrats still have a wide field of contenders to choose from.

The Democrat Party has held a series of debates throughout the last few months, giving the top candidates a chance to showcase their ideas. Gradually, several people dropped out of the race, leaving seven contenders to participate in the final debate of 2019. These included:

Former Vice President Joe Biden: “I’m running because I’ve been around. I have more experience.”

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg: “I’ve seen politicians in Washington saying the right thing about climate change as long as I’ve been alive. All these plans we have to get carbon neutral by 2050. Their impact is multiplied by zero unless something actually gets done.”

PBS/Politico Democrat Debate

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren: “We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms should not pick the next president of the United States. Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.”

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders: “What we need is a trade policy that stands up for workers, stands up for farmers.”

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar: “What I think we need to do is get back into the international climate agreement. I will do that on day one.”

Businessman Andrew Yang: “The more we act like Donald Trump is the cause of all our problems, the more Americans lose trust that we can actually see what’s going on in those communities and solve those problems.”

Billionaire Tom Steyer: “When we’re making moral statements around the world, it should not be us threatening and trying to be the world’s policeman, it should be us leading on a value-driven basis with the other people who share out values and want to change the world.”

Not every Democrat presidential contender attended the debate; some prominent ones who skipped the event included New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard.

NSW Fires

Americans may have hoped for snow this Christmas, but on the other side of the world, Australia is suffering from deadly bushfires. While the fires are a yearly occurrence during the country’s hot and arid summer, this year has been especially bad, with serious infernos engulfing the eastern state of New South Wales, and coming close to the nation’s biggest city, Sydney.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said: “We are in uncharted territory. We have never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level … It is a very volatile and very dangerous set of circumstances that we are experiencing right across these fire grounds in New South Wales.” He added that a “high concentration of fire and extreme volatility and extraordinary fire behaviour” was being driven by a “drought-stricken landscape” and “hot, dry, windy conditions” in the hottest Australian summer on record.

Almost a hundred fires have been burning out of control across the region, destroying more than 100 homes, injuring 30 people, and killing seven. More than 2,000 firefighters have been working to douse the flames, along with 70 firefighting planes, which drop water and fire retardants onto the affected areas. The Australian Defence Forces are being deployed to help fight the fires, and the government has pledged to provide financial aid to the people affected.

The country’s leader, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, had traveled to Hawaii for a vacation with his family but cut the trip short after widespread criticism as emergency workers struggled to cope with the crisis. “I’m sure Australians … understand that when you make a promise to your kids you try and keep it. But as prime minister you have other responsibilities,” he said at a news conference. “I accept the criticism.”

One Australian, Steve Harrison, survived the fire in his town of Balmoral by sheltering inside a homemade kiln. The 67-year-old potter told reporters:

“I ran to my ute (pickup truck) but my garden was already on fire, the driveway was on fire, the road was on fire so I couldn’t evacuate. The day before, I had actually built myself a small kiln down the back — a coffin-sized kiln — just big enough for me to crawl inside … It was huge, just glowing orange-red everywhere. Just scary. I was terrified … I could have (died) if I hadn’t thought about plan B. In that little kiln enclosure I made, I had a fire extinguisher, a bucket of water, a drinking water bottle and a fire blanket.”

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