By Robert A. Vella

Impeachment news

As House Democrats shift their arguments from abuse of power to obstruction of Congress in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, his henchmen are turning up the heat on moderate Republican senators who have publicly expressed a willingness to allow witness testimony;  and, there is some indication that their intimidation campaign is working.  They are not only targeting senators who are up for reelection this year with damaging political ads, they have also reportedly issued more direct threats.  From:  GOP senators receive stark warning about voting against Trump

Democrats are wrapping up their impeachment arguments on Friday, telling Senators they can’t trust President Trump. Nancy Cordes has learned that a Trump confidante reportedly told Republican Senators that “a vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.” She breaks down the implications on Capitol Hill.

This is what dictators and all authoritarians do.  This is the face of fascism.

International news

From:  Sombre EU leaders sign Brexit withdrawal agreement

The document, which runs to nearly 600 pages, contains among other issues agreements on citizens’ rights, the UK’s £33bn worth of financial obligations to the bloc and the Northern Ireland protocol, establishing the arrangements for maintaining an open border on the island of Ireland.

The European parliament’s constitutional affairs committee backed the agreement on Thursday by 23 votes in favour to three against, setting up the final act next week when a plenary session of the EU parliament stages its final vote to ratify the deal.

Under the agreement, the UK will leave the EU at midnight central European time on 31 January. The UK will remain in the EU’s single market and customs union, but none of the decision-making bodies, until the end of 2020.

From:  Britain angered by US refusal to extradite diplomat’s wife

Britain on Friday rebuked the United States for refusing to extradite a diplomat’s wife charged over a car crash that killed a British teenager, calling it a “denial of justice”.

The case of Anne Sacoolas has been a thorn in London’s close relations with Washington, stirring up debates over the limits of diplomatic immunity in cases unrelated to national security.


Harry Dunn, 19, died in August when his motorcycle collided with a car driving on the wrong side of the road near an air force base in Croughton, central England, used by the US military as a communications hub.

Sacoolas, who has admitted to being the driver, was charged by British police with causing death by dangerous driving.

From:  Bulgaria Charges Three Russians in Skripal-Linked Investigation

(Bloomberg) — Bulgaria charged three Russians for the attempted murder of an arms dealer in an investigation linked to the poisoning attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the U.K.

Authorities in the Balkan state have been working with the U.K. and the FBI over the poisoning of Emilian Gebrev, the head of small-arms and ammunition maker Emco OOD, which drew similarities with the 2018 attack against Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury.

Prosecutors issued European arrest warrants and has requested an international manhunt for the three unnamed Russian citizens. The alleged attackers used a phosphorus-like substance to poison Gebrev, his son and an employee of his company in 2015, the prosecutors’ office said in a statement Thursday.

Thousands protest in Iraq to demand ouster of US troops

Greta Thunberg says climate demands ‘completely ignored’ at Davos

Australian bushfires will cause jump in CO2 in atmosphere, say scientists

Domestic news

From:  US border officers were told to stop Iran-born travelers, officer says

US border officers working at Canadian border crossings were directed to stop travelers of Iranian descent for questioning following the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, an unnamed Customs and Border Patrol officer alleged in an email to an immigration attorney.


“I personal (sic) interrogated nine United States citizens,” the officer wrote. “We asked them standard counter terrorism inspection questions. Was there an Immigration reason for detaining them? No. Was there a Customs reason for detaining them? No. Was the sole reason we detained and questioned them due to their nation al origin? Yes. Was it the right thing to do? No. Where (sic) their constitutional rights violated? Probably.”

Related story:  Trump Moves to Block Visas for Pregnant Women on ‘Birth Tourism’

From:  National Archives replaces altered Women’s March photo with original version

Four days after apologizing for altering a photo of the 2017 Women’s March, the National Archives replaced it with an unaltered copy of the original, according to an announcement on the agency’s website Wednesday.

The photograph, which had been on display since May, showed protesters on Pennsylvania Avenue on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration. Many carried signs, but messages on some of the placards had been blurred out by Archive managers and staff, including messages critical of Trump and others that mentioned female anatomy.

From:  Drug company founder sentenced for role in scheme that contributed to opioid crisis

John Kapoor, the billionaire founder and former chairman of Insys Therapeutics Inc., was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine for his role in a fraud and bribery scheme that contributed to the nationwide opioid crisis in the United States.

Kapoor, 76, is one of the highest-ranking pharmaceutical executives to face trial and prison time amid the U.S.’s opioid epidemic.

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