Political Roundup

In Our Headlines…

As the impeachment inquiries continue, Democrats prepare to shift from fact-finding to considering pressing charges against the president. The House Judiciary Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, gave the White House until 6 p.m. on Dec. 1 to determine if the president’s legal counsel will participate in on Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. This hearing included testimony from a panel of legal experts on the impeachment process as established by the Constitution.

The White House has an additional deadline, 5 p.m. on Dec. 5, to determine if the president will launch a defense at subsequent impeachment proceedings that will continue next week. The Trump administration may refuse legal counsel for either of these sets of proceedings to prevent legitimizing the impeachment inquiries, which Trump has called a “Witch Hunt.”

This week, the House Intelligence Committee plans to release a report outlining findings from the hearings. The House Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to recommend articles of impeachment within the next two weeks, before the holiday recess (Reuters, “Trump faces two impeachment deadlines as inquiry shifts focus,” 12.01.2019).

[CW: The following paragraph contains mention of violence and a possible terrorist act.]

Ten people were injured in a shooting in the French Quarter of New Orleans on Dec. 2; officers responded to gunshots at about 3:20 a.m. Police initially reported that a man was detained on the scene. However, as the incident occurred near the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel while visitors attended the annual football game between Grambling State and Southern University, police have since issued a statement saying that the chaos made it too difficult to determine who fired the shots and what incited the shooting.

Five of the victims were transported to University Medical Center New Orleans, while two were transported to Tulane Medical Center. Two of the victims are currently in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the chest and torso, respectively. New Orleans police are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest (The Washington Post, “At least 10 injured in shooting near French, Quarter, New Orleans, police say,” 12.01.2019).

The Supreme Court is set to hear its first major gun rights case in nearly 10 years on Dec. 2. The case concerns a New York City handgun regulation opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which originally prevented gun owners from taking their handguns outside the City.

The original lawsuit against the City included concerns from gun owners that they would not be able to transport their guns to gun ranges or other residences located outside the City. The law has since been amended to allow for this movement. However, the Supreme Court denied New York City’s request for the case to be dropped in the wake of this amendment.

The case has the potential to change gun rights across the country. If the court issues a broad ruling in favor of the NRA and gun owners, it may deem many other gun control laws enacted by states unconstitutional. This would jeopardize the 300 gun control laws adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia since 2013. The court will make a decision by June (Reuters, “U.S. Supreme Court weighs challenge to New York gun transport limits,” 12.01.2019).

Around the World…

Afghan officials reported that an American drone strike left five Afghan civilians in Khost, Afghanistan dead. Among the victims were the mother of a newborn and three of her relatives. U.S. military command stationed in Afghanistan confirmed the strike in Khost, but claims that three Taliban fighters were killed, not the aforementioned civilians. Furthermore, U.S. officials dispute the timing of the strike and claim it occurred on Nov. 28, while Afghan officials claim it happened either late at night on Nov. 29 or early in the morning on Nov. 30.

A U.S. military spokesperson stated that U.S. officials are working with local authorities in Khost to determine the accuracy of the report. Claims of civilian casualties because of U.S. strikes often come from parts of the country that are hard to gain access to, and are thus difficult to verify (The New York Times, “U.S. Drone Killed Afghan Civilians, Officials Say,” 12.01.2019).

Hong Kong experienced a short period of peace following the election of pro-democracy candidates to 17 of Hong Kong’s 18 districts. However, this calm came to an end when police used tear gas to disperse an authorized rally on Dec. 1. The rally was officially approved by authorities, but police claim that some protesters did not follow the designated path of the march and insulted present officers. Protesters are fighting for universal suffrage and an investigation of the Hong Kong police, hoping that their efforts will lead to direct elections above the district level and end police brutality against citizens and protesters. Trump recently signed a bipartisan bill into law supporting the protesters (The Washington Post, “Tear gas returns to Hong Kong as police disperse authorized protest,” 12.01.2019).

[CW: The following paragraph makes mention of violence.]

With less than two weeks until the Dec. 12 election day, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to strengthen prison sentences in the wake of an attack in London by a man who had been convicted of terrorism and released early from prison. He walked onto the London Bridge wearing a fake suicide vest and carrying knives and killed two people before the police fatally shot him.

The incident has caused law and order to increase in importance to voters right before the election. Johnson, the leader of the Conservative Party, is painting himself as tough on crime and promises to invest more money in the prison system. Johnson has also used the opportunity to paint his Labour Party opponent Jeremy Corbyn as weak on crime, citing a Labour Party law from over a decade ago that automatically released roughly 74 prisoners before the end of their sentences.

Corbyn responded by stating that the Conservative Party’s cuts to community policing, the probation service, mental health services and youth and social services will inhibit the possibility of early intervention for youth at risk of eventually committing such crimes (Reuters, “British PM vows to strengthen prison sentences after London attack,” 12.01.2019).

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