12.5.2019

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Need To Know
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Judiciary Holds Impeachment Hearing
Four legal scholars testified yesterday on the constitutional basis and requirements for impeachment, as the House Judiciary Committee held the first in a series of public hearings. At issue was whether or not President Trump's dealings with Ukraine, as detailed in the report from the House Intelligence Committee, rose to the level of an impeachable offense. The hearing fell largely along partisan lines: the three witnesses called by Democrats concluded the president's actions exceeded the bar set in the Constitution, while the Republican witness criticized what he called a rushed process based on insufficient evidence. The committee is expected to hold additional hearings next week before voting on whether to draft articles of impeachment.

Meanwhile, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani reportedly traveled to Ukraine to work on a documentary refuting the impeachment effort.
Zimmerman Files $100M Suit
George Zimmerman, the man who gained notoriety after the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, filed a wide-ranging lawsuit yesterday alleging his prosecution relied on false witness testimony. Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted of murder charges after shooting Martin, an unarmed black teenager, following a struggle after Zimmerman approached him in a gated Florida community. The suit seeks $100M in damages and targets Martin's family - the main defendant is Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton - and number of others, alleging police and prosecutors conspired to create a false narrative in the racially charged case. In particular, Zimmerman claims the prosecutor's star witness ($$, New Yorker), who was on the phone with Martin when Zimmerman approached, gave false testimony.
SNAP Chopped
The Department of Agriculture gave final approval yesterday to a rule requiring states to enforce the eligibility criteria for receiving federal food assistance more strictly. At issue is a rule limiting the time a nondisabled adult can receive benefits to three months in a three-year period, unless they are engaged in work or work-related activities for 20 hours per week. Previously, states have frequently invoked the option for a waiver, particularly since the Great Recession, for those living in economically depressed areas; however, the new rule would restrict the use of the waiver. Critics say nearly 690,000 people will lose benefits and the decision disproportionately affects the poor, while advocates say the economy has rebounded since 2008 and the move fosters self-sufficiency. It is the first of three rules that could remove up to 3 million people from the supplemental nutrition assistance program (see 101), which currently has 39 million people enrolled. 

Rulemaking is a different process than passing laws, which Congress does; here's how it works (PDF).
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In The Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> 2020 Sundance Film Festival lineup of 118 feature films announced including highly anticipated Taylor Swift and Gloria Steinem films; see the full lineup (More) | American Film Institute names its top 10 films of 2019 (More)
> Bob Willis, legendary English cricketer and TV commentator, dies at 70 after three-year battle with prostate cancer (More)
> NBC opens investigation into "America's Got Talent" after meeting with Gabrielle Union following her claims last week of a toxic work environment (More)
Science & Technology
> FCC creates $9B fund to boost deployment of 5G services to rural areas (More) | What is 5G? (More)
> Analysis says global greenhouse gas emissions on track to rise by 0.6% in 2019; Paris Agreement goals likely to be missed, would require low-carbon sources to replace 80% of current energy generation by 2050 (More)
> Scientists develop method to take photos of artificial proteins at the atomic scale, a key step in building advanced two-dimensional materials (More)
Business & Markets
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> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +0.6%, Dow +0.5%, Nasdaq +0.5%) as President Trump suggests China trade deal is nearing (More)
> Workplace communication platform Slack reports better than expected earnings, but lowers profit outlook - shares down 4% (More) | Facebook’s Instagram to require birthdates from all new users in move to increase safety measures for young users (More)
> US small business owners report record-high optimism in Chamber of Commerce survey (More)

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Politics & World Affairs
> Developing: US sailor shoots and kills three people including self at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (More)
> Germany expels two Russian diplomats over allegations that Russia gunned down a Georgian citizen in Berlin in August (More)
> Hot mic catches Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, others criticizing Trump press conferences (More) | Election 2020: Georgia businesswoman and political newcomer Kelly Loeffler tapped to replace outgoing Senator Johnny Isakson (R); Loeffler will have to run in 2020 cycle (More)
In-Depth
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Instagram is Broken
Vox | Rebecca Jennings. Despite Instagram's attempts to improve the mental health of its users - efforts which include hiding the number of likes a post receives - the platform's core issue remains: the replacement of "authenticity" with a never-ending stream of people appearing to have a better time than you. (Read)
The Hot List
NYT | Staff. As conspiracy theories around the death of Jeffrey Epstein continue to swirl, no story may be stranger than that of a man who catfished a high-powered law firm with claims of access to a supposed video cache that Epstein allegedly used to blackmail powerful figures. (Read, $$)
 
 
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Etcetera
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Historybook: RIP Mozart (1791); Walt Disney born (1901); Rosa Parks helps lead Montgomery bus boycotts (1955); 21st Amendment ratified in US, repealing the nationwide ban on alcohol (1933); RIP Nelson Mandela (2013).
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