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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 458)

Twitter and Facebook Want to Shift Power to Users. Or Do They?

Westlake Legal Group 18internetfix-facebookJumbo Twitter and Facebook Want to Shift Power to Users. Or Do They? Zuckerberg, Mark E twitter Social Media Libra (Currency) Facebook Inc Dorsey, Jack Computers and the Internet Blockchain (Technology) Bitcoin (Currency) Berners-Lee, Tim

SAN FRANCISCO — Not so long ago, the technology behind Bitcoin was seen in Silicon Valley as the best hope for challenging the enormous, centralized power of companies like Twitter and Facebook.

Now, in an unexpected twist, the internet giants think that technology could help them solve their many problems.

The chief executive of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, said last week that he hoped to fund the creation of software for social media that, inspired by the design of Bitcoin, would give Twitter less control over how people use the service and shift power toward users and outside programmers.

Likewise, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has said he hopes the same concepts from Bitcoin could “take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands.”

This push toward decentralization — the buzzword people in tech are using to describe these projects — has already gained enough currency and has sounded outlandish enough that it was one of the central themes of the satirical HBO show “Silicon Valley.”

Though Bitcoin’s digital tokens are widely used among the tech set, its underlying concept — a network of computers managing the currency without anyone in charge — is what’s most interesting to many people working on decentralization.

Countless entrepreneurs are working on decentralization projects, including the creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee. He founded Solid, which seeks to fix the problems of the centralized internet by shifting the ownership of personal data away from big companies and back toward users.

But the other efforts have largely been aimed at taking down Twitter and Facebook rather than helping them solve their problems. And the two behemoths have plenty of problems, from policing their sites for toxic content to dealing with pressure from regulators who think tech companies have grown too powerful.

Not surprisingly, the efforts at Twitter and Facebook have faced skepticism and questions about whether they are just trying to land some positive press while dodging responsibility — and regulations.

“When a company does something like this when it is under pressure, it becomes a way to distract attention by appearing to do something,” said Mitra Ardron, the head of the decentralized web project at the Internet Archive, which has hosted the Decentralized Web Summit the last four years.

Many people working on decentralization projects are concerned that Twitter and Facebook are trying to align themselves with the work’s countercultural spirit without giving up their enormous power.

“The monoliths see it as a threat to their model, so they try to weave in the concepts into their own products to maintain control,” said Eugen Rochko, the founder of Mastodon, a competitor to Twitter. With around two million users, Mastodon has been one of the most successful alternative projects.

Mr. Dorsey said Twitter was just starting to look at the idea and had committed only five people to it. Facebook has moved ahead with its Bitcoin-inspired cryptocurrency and has beefed up encryption, but the company has otherwise taken few steps to decentralize its services. Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg, though, have frequently discussed decentralization, suggesting they have a personal fascination that goes beyond business interests.

Mr. Dorsey also hired a small team at his second company, Square, to work full time on Bitcoin, without any commercial responsibilities. And he recently announced that he was hoping to take an extended sojourn in Africa to understand how Bitcoin was working there.

“It’s clearly catching on in part because people believe in it,” said Neha Narula, the director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the M.I.T. Media Lab. “It’s not necessarily that it is cheaper or more efficient or faster or easier. In fact, it is much harder. But it’s clear that this idea speaks to people.”

Mr. Dorsey’s tweets last week suggest that he wants the new team, Blue Sky, to build essentially a basic version of Twitter that would be available for anyone to copy. This would make it easier for outside developers to build on top of Twitter and to compete with it. A competitor might be able to offer a version without ads, or one that recommends tweets to readers based on different standards.

While that would most likely pose a commercial threat to Twitter, Mr. Dorsey said it would also force the service to be “far more innovative than in the past” and could draw more overall users to it.

The idea of decentralization harks back to the basic design and ideals of the internet, which was supposed to be a global gathering place where everyone was welcome and no one was in charge.

Mr. Dorsey said the invention of Bitcoin had made it possible to revive those early ideals. The key to Bitcoin is its blockchain database, which provides a way for a network of disconnected computers to agree on a single set of records for every Bitcoin in existence.

Mr. Dorsey is following in the steps of the many cryptocurrency advocates who have argued that the underlying technology could be used to record all the users and activity on a social network, and to agree on a single set of rules for the network, without having any single company in charge. He said, though, that it would most likely take “many years.”

Facebook has pursued several projects over the past year that would shift control to its users.

The company’s most notable effort with blockchains is the Libra cryptocurrency, which aims to create money outside the control of any one company. The Libra effort has faced crippling opposition from politicians, regulators and even some of the project’s original partners. But it appears to have inspired central banks in China and Europe, which are also considering ways to duplicate Bitcoin’s underlying technology.

Already, many start-ups have tried to use blockchains to create social networks to compete with Twitter and Facebook. But these networks, with names like Minds and Steemit, have faced many of the same problems that Bitcoin has, struggling to attract mainstream attention and leaving users to fend off hackers themselves. Many investors have largely given up on blockchain investments.

Several up-and-coming projects focused on decentralization, including Mr. Berners-Lee’s Solid, have steered clear of the blockchain entirely because they don’t believe it is useful for anything other than financial transactions.

Mr. Dorsey said one of the great appeals of a decentralized future was that Twitter would no longer be the only one in charge of deciding what is and isn’t allowed on the network.

To many people, that sounded like an effort by Mr. Dorsey to wash his hands of the hardest but arguably most important responsibility of social networks today: identifying and filtering bad actors and disinformation.

“I’m concerned that Twitter may try to foist the responsibility for dealing with these problems onto the decentralization community,” said Ross Schulman, the senior policy technologist at New America’s Open Technology Institute.

A spokeswoman for Facebook had no comment on the company’s efforts.

Mastodon, the Twitter competitor, allows anyone to tweak the software in order to create his or her own version of Mastodon. If people don’t like the rules set up in one version, they can move to another.

But Mastodon has provided a window into just how difficult these problems are to deal with, even with decentralization.

The Mastodon software was created to form a refuge from anger and hate speech on Twitter. But recently, a social network with close ties to hate crimes and the far right, Gab, used Mastodon’s software to create a new home after it was pushed off the mainstream internet. Mastodon’s leaders were opposed to it but could do little to stop it.

“Building these types of decentralized social networks comes with a slew of challenges that we haven’t figured out how to solve yet,” said Ms. Narula, who was a co-author of an article titled “Decentralized Social Networks Sound Great. Too Bad They’ll Never Work.”

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Susan Collins Of Maine Announces She Will Seek Reelection

Westlake Legal Group ap_19310689831671-fe43d6ad21f242dcae384c8a15d444e2bdc7346d-s1100-c15 Susan Collins Of Maine Announces She Will Seek Reelection

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced on Wednesday that she will seek re-election, hoping to win a fifth term as New England’s only GOP member in the Senate. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Susan Collins Of Maine Announces She Will Seek Reelection

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced on Wednesday that she will seek re-election, hoping to win a fifth term as New England’s only GOP member in the Senate.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who is one of the few members of her party willing to buck President Trump, announced Wednesday she would seek reelection. Her announcement comes the same day the U.S. House of Representatives began debate on impeaching the president.

“The fundamental question I had to ask myself in making my decision was this: In today’s polarized political environment, is there still a role for a centrist who believes in getting things done through compromise, collegiality, and bipartisanship?” Collins said in an email to reporters. “I have concluded that the answer to this question is ‘yes’ and I will, therefore, seek the honor of continuing to serve as Maine’s United States senator.”

The news that Collins, 67, will launch a bid for a fifth term came a day after she told NPR that she was undecided on whether to convict Trump in a Senate trial, which could start as soon as next month, over his conduct with Ukraine.

“I have not made up my mind,” Collins, one of 100 U.S. senators who will serve as jurors in the president’s Senate trial, told NPR. “And I think it would be inappropriate for me to have made up my mind before I hear the presentations from both sides.”

Collins could face a tough re-election. Americans remain deeply divided over impeachment and a host of other hot-button political issues. Although Collins has carried her state’s tradition of political independence in the Senate, she has been assailed by her constituents in Maine for her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, despite her self-identification as an abortion-rights supporter. Critics to her left have also attacked Collins for her opposition to Obamacare and for backing the Republican-sponsored tax cut, a measure that liberals criticize as a giveaway to the rich.

Collins’s role as a juror in Trump’s impeachment trial will be closely watched. Unlike some of her Republican colleagues, who have said they will not be impartial in the process, Collins has repeatedly said she has an open mind.

“I think it’s important not to prejudge the facts of the case or the evidence that is presented,” Collins told NPR.

Her announcement Wednesday that she will try to stay New England’s only Republican U.S. senator comes hours before the House is poised to impeach the president on charges that he obstructed Congress and abused power. That move would set up a January trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, a process that is expected to acquit Trump.

In her remarks to supporters, Collins acknowledged the political polarization of the moment, presenting herself as a someone who can work to build consensus.

“To say that these are difficult and contentious times is most certainly an understatement,” she said. “But our country has confronted much more challenging times in our history.”

At least four Democrats are expected to face off to win their party’s nomination in order to face Collins in November 2020. Collins will enter the race with an $8.6 million re-election war chest, and she is running television ads statewide portraying herself as an independent, bipartisan senator.

Collins, who says she did not vote for Trump in 2016, has yet to say whether she will support him in 2020.

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How U.S. Military Aid Has Helped Ukraine Since 2014

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1170768368-112e8af187241c0a308209f146d66d33935336a1-s1100-c15 How U.S. Military Aid Has Helped Ukraine Since 2014

Soldiers storm a building during a drill held as part of the Exercise Rapid Trident 2019, an annual multinational training exercise near Yavoriv, Ukraine. Yulii Zozulia /Barcroft Media via Getty Images hide caption

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Yulii Zozulia /Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  How U.S. Military Aid Has Helped Ukraine Since 2014

Soldiers storm a building during a drill held as part of the Exercise Rapid Trident 2019, an annual multinational training exercise near Yavoriv, Ukraine.

Yulii Zozulia /Barcroft Media via Getty Images

When he was still commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges used to display a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag on his black backpack. The ribbon was a gift from an elderly woman, who gave it to him during a joint military exercise in Ukraine.

Hodges, now retired, oversaw the expansion of U.S. military cooperation with Ukraine after 2014, when Russia seized Crimea and backed an armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has cost more than 13,000 lives. Since then, the United States has provided $1.5 billion in security assistance, including everything from Humvees and patrol boats to counter-artillery radar and lethal weaponry such as Javelin anti-tank missiles.

“First and foremost, U.S. military aid represents a physical manifestation of American support, which is essential,” Hodges told NPR in an interview. “No. 2, the actual capabilities have provided help: the Javelins provided a deterrent effect; the counter-fire radar has helped save lives because of the early warning it provided.”

U.S. military assistance to Ukraine is now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. Democrats accuse President Trump of having withheld $391 million in aid to extract a political favor from Ukraine’s new government, while Republicans counter he delayed it over concern about corruption.

The White House ended up releasing this year’s aid package in September — after learning of a whistleblower complaint that Trump had made the assistance contingent on a Ukrainian investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

An extended delay in the aid would have sown doubt among Ukrainians and fed the Kremlin narrative that the U.S. is an untrustworthy partner, Hodges said.

U.S. assistance makes up 90% of Ukraine’s foreign military aid, according to the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee, a non-governmental watchdog group in Kyiv.

“The Russians are watching all over the world who sells weapons to Ukraine, and so only big nations like the United States, who are not afraid of the Russians, can do it,” said Olena Tregub, the group’s head.

While she acknowledges that corruption has been a huge problem in Ukraine’s defense sector, Tregub says that Ukraine’s new government, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has confronted it head-on.

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1171051394-7fe11ed4f779157c68098684c9a9be68456bfddd-s1100-c15 How U.S. Military Aid Has Helped Ukraine Since 2014

President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met in September on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  How U.S. Military Aid Has Helped Ukraine Since 2014

President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met in September on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

“Trump can be happy because right now, Ukraine for real is fighting its defense sector corruption, which was an issue under the former president. But it did not concern security assistance. It was about looting money from the Ukrainian defense budget — Ukrainian money,” she said.

A defense corruption scandal involving a close associate of former President Petro Poroshenko rocked Ukraine earlier this year and may have contributed to his election loss to Zelenskiy, a former professional comedian who promised to clean up the government.

In the past, 30% of each defense procurement deal was lost to corruption, Tregub says. New legislation, passed under Zelenskiy, requires more transparency, competition and accountability in defense contracts.

Still, corruption hasn’t affected foreign military assistance, Tregub says. Instead, the problem with international aid has been Ukraine’s difficulty in formulating its own defense needs due to secrecy and a lack of internal coordination.

In any case, the military aid from the United States does not reach Ukraine in cash, said Mykhailo Samus, the deputy director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies in Kyiv.

“We never see this money. This is American money getting processed inside the U.S.,” he said. “The Americans are buying goods and services in the U.S. and transferring them to Ukraine.”

The Javelin anti-tank missiles, which the Trump administration shipped to Ukraine last year, are a powerful symbol of U.S. support. But they are in storage and far from the front line.

Samus says most of the U.S. military aid has gone to a joint training center in Yavoriv, near Ukraine’s western border with Poland, more than 600 miles from the fighting. Just last month, 160 soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard deployed to Yavoriv as part of a regular rotation of U.S. personnel.

Hodges, who helped set up the Yavoriv Combat Training Center, says that the U.S. has not only contributed to the Ukrainian war effort, but also benefited from the cooperation.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to learn because no Americans have been under Russian artillery or rocket fire or that kind of lethal environment with Russian capabilities. And so we were able to learn a lot from Ukrainian soldiers and officers,” he said.

The lessons were so valuable that the U.S. Army changed its training model, Hodges said.

But Samus, the military analyst, says it’s the Ukrainian army that has changed the most — thanks to help from the U.S. and other NATO countries like Canada, Britain and Poland.

“They’re absolutely different armed forces from what we had before. Before 2014, even in military doctrine, we didn’t have any enemies,” he said. “After 2014, the Ukrainian armed forces became a real instrument to fight against aggression.”

That’s only a first step, though, Samus says, as Ukraine still has a long way to go to build up its navy and air defenses to deter a full-scale Russian attack.

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Legal Research Reports: Regulation of Foreign Involvement in Elections

Westlake Legal Group header_help Legal Research Reports: Regulation of Foreign Involvement in Elections

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Full Report (PDF, 696KB)

Comparative Summary

This report by the foreign law research staff of the Law Library of Congress’s Global Legal Research Directorate includes surveys of thirteen major democratic foreign jurisdictions on laws and policies addressing foreign involvement in elections. 

Reports of foreign interference in recent elections in the United States and elsewhere have prompted responses in several countries. For example, Australia enacted a new law in 2018 imposing limits on foreign donations to parties and candidates, and also prohibited other political actors from using foreign donations to fund political expenditures. Australia also adopted a Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme, which requires persons undertaking political activities for foreign principals to meet registration and disclosure requirements. Australia also legislated new criminal offenses involving foreign interference, including the offense of “intentional foreign interference,” which provides for imprisonment for up to 20 years for covert or deceptive conduct on behalf of a foreign principal intended to influence a political or governmental process.   

Canada also enacted a new law in 2018. The Elections Modernization Act provides that only Canadian citizens or permanent residents can contribute to parties or candidates, and that third parties may not use funds for a partisan purpose during a pre-election period if the source of the funds is a foreign entity. The new law creates offenses prohibiting foreign actors from unduly influencing an election and Canadians from colluding with foreign actors for this purpose.

In France, effective January 1, 2018, only French citizens or residents may make contributions to political parties or to an electoral campaign.  

South Africa enacted a new law on political party funding in 2019, which generally bars parties from accepting foreign donations, although there is an exception for foreign donations for training of party members and policy development. Permissible donations above a specified level are subject to disclosure requirements.

Most of the other countries surveyed in this report similarly have laws prohibiting foreign donations. Donations typically are defined broadly to include all forms of support having monetary value, including provision of services. 

Thus, in Japan, political contributions from foreign persons and entities are prohibited. Singapore prohibits political associations and candidates from accepting donations from foreigners, and prohibits foreigners from conducting election activities and publishing election advertising. 

In Germany, political parties and individual members of the Bundestag may not accept donations above a threshold amount from sources outside Germany, with certain permissible exceptions. In Great Britain, donations above a threshold amount are allowed only from “permissible donors,” which only include United Kingdom persons and entities. Third-party campaigners that spend above a specified amount are subject to spending limits and reporting requirements.  

In Israel, political parties and blocs are prohibited from receiving foreign contributions. Foreign contributions to individual candidates are not prohibited, but donations to candidates from any source are capped. In addition, Israel requires “foreign political entities,” which include foreign governments and nonprofit organizations financed or controlled by foreigners, to disclose their funding and to display on advertisements and publications that they are so funded. 

In India, parties and candidates are prohibited from accepting foreign contributions (although there has been legislation and litigation over what constitutes a foreign corporation for this purpose). 

Brazil’s Constitution prohibits political parties from receiving financial assistance from foreign entities or governments. A law provides that, if a political party is determined to have received foreign financial assistance, its status as a registered party will be canceled. 

Turkey prohibits foreign donations of any kind to political parties, although it appears there is a gap in the law concerning the financing and expenditures of individual candidates in municipal elections and national elections below the presidential level.

Unlike the other surveyed countries, Sweden focuses on mandating transparency in political party financing. Sweden does not make foreign donations illegal, except with respect to donations offered by a foreigner on behalf of a foreign government where the recipient intends to disseminate propaganda in Sweden. Sweden prohibits anonymous donations above a small threshold amount.

The surveys for two of the countries note that educational efforts have been undertaken to thwart foreign interference. In France, government agencies responsible for election integrity and cybersecurity undertook efforts to prevent foreign interference with the 2017 election, including working with the candidates’ campaigns on cybersecurity, alerting the media regarding false information, and immediately launching enforcement actions in response to the release of leaked candidate emails. Similarly, in Sweden, a government agency was tasked with increasing awareness among Swedish residents of the threats associated with misinformation and influence campaigns, and prepared a manual for identifying, understanding, and countering information influence activities by foreign powers seeking to undermine democratic processes.

Back to Top

Comparative Summary by:
Luis Acosta
Chief, Foreign, Comparative, and Intenational Division II
May 2019


Countries Surveyed for Report:

Australia

Brazil

Canada

France

Germany

Great Britain

India

Israel

Japan

Singapore

South Africa

Sweden

Turkey

Back to Top

Global Legal Research Directorate Staff
August 2019


Last Updated: 11/08/2019

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Paul Manafort’s state fraud charges dropped, New York judge cites federal convictions, double jeopardy

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Paul Manafort's state fraud charges dropped, New York judge cites federal convictions, double jeopardy fox news fnc/politics fnc c563104e-ef2d-5503-84bf-e9bd592f9451 article

A New York judge has dismissed an indictment against Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, citing double jeopardy laws.

Manafort, 70, was previously convicted in a pair of federal cases earlier this year.

Following the ruling, Todd Blanche, Manafort’s attorney, said: “We have said since the day this indictment was made public that it was politically motivated and violated New York’s statutory double jeopardy law.

“We thank Judge Wiley for his careful consideration of our motion and his thoughtful opinion dismissing the charges against Mr. Manafort.

“This indictment should never have been brought, and today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically-motivated actions.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said they would appeal the decision.

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McConnell appears to break with the Constitution on Trump impeachment: “I’m not an impartial juror” | Lawmakers take an oath pledging to act as an “impartial justice” before engaging in the trial, per the Constitution

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Trump Impeachment Vote Live Updates: Democrats Defeat Republican Efforts to Block Debate on 2 Articles

Video

Westlake Legal Group 18dc-impeachbriefing-pelosi-videoSixteenByNine3000-v2 Trump Impeachment Vote Live Updates: Democrats Defeat Republican Efforts to Block Debate on 2 Articles Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pelosi, Nancy House of Representatives Debates (Political)

The House rejected a move by Republicans to derail the debate on the articles of impeachment. Final votes on the charges are expected this evening.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

The House of Representatives turned back the first two of what may be a string of Republican efforts to block impeachment of President Trump in early tests of partisan solidarity on Wednesday, rejecting back-to-back motions on strictly party-line votes.

The House voted 226 to 188 to block a motion to adjourn without considering the articles of impeachment and then voted 226 to 191 to put aside a Republican resolution condemning the inquiry as an illegitimate and unfair violation of House rules.

The second resolution, introduced by Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, outlined a litany of complaints about the way the inquiry was run by Representatives Adam B. Schiff of California and Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

Their “abuses of power,” as Mr. McCarthy’s resolution put it, echoing one of the charges against Mr. Trump, “willfully trampled on the rights of the minority” and “brought dishonor and discredit upon the House of Representatives.” Democrats moved to table the resolution, and the vote unfolded along party lines.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 18DC-IMPEACHBRIEFING-SCHIFF-articleLarge Trump Impeachment Vote Live Updates: Democrats Defeat Republican Efforts to Block Debate on 2 Articles Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pelosi, Nancy House of Representatives Debates (Political)

Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, giving a television interview ahead of the House vote on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“It’s going to be a lot of walking up these stairs today, I think,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, said as he climbed the steps from his Capitol office to vote on the first of the procedural votes called by Republicans.

The House will spend much of the rest of the morning debating the rules for the debate itself before taking up the two articles of impeachment themselves around midday. Democrats assert that Mr. Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors by pressuring Ukraine to tarnish Democratic rivals to aid his re-election campaign while Republicans argue that the majority was engaged in a partisan witch hunt against a president they fear they could not beat at the polls. The House plans to vote by the end of the day.

In a letter on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited all Democratic members to be present on the floor on Wednesday as the chamber convened to debate the articles at what she called a “very prayerful moment in our nation’s history.”

  • In the morning, the House is expected to debate the rules that the House Rules Committee hashed out on Tuesday with a vote expected around noon. This will be the first procedural vote by the full chamber to lay the groundwork for formally impeaching Mr. Trump. The rules call for six hours of debate, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, on the articles.

  • Republicans opened the day with the first of what may be a series of parliamentary moves to register their opposition and slow the process, which could lead to multiple procedural votes that don’t amount to much like the one to adjourn. The votes everyone is waiting for — on the two articles of impeachment — are expected in the evening. House leaders anticipate two separate votes on the two articles to begin at 7:15 p.m. and wrap up about 20 minutes later.

  • The House may also vote to empower Ms. Pelosi to name impeachment managers, whose identities are likely to become public in the coming days. The managers are House members who act much like prosecutors in the impeachment trial that is to follow in the Senate, presenting the findings of the House inquiry to their colleagues across the Capitol. Senators decide whether to acquit the president or to convict and remove him from office, which requires a two-thirds vote, or 67 senators if all are present.

Ms. Pelosi chose Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado, a veteran Democrat who had impressed her with a tough, skillful parliamentary hand, to preside over the historic debate on the articles of impeachment. .

Ms. DeGette, first elected in 1996, was until this year the Democrats’ chief deputy whip — the member of leadership responsible for counting votes, known in congressional parlance as “whipping.” She has held the gavel more than a dozen times this year, rotating in and out of the chair as members customarily do.

On Wednesday, she will spend the entire day in the chair. Her skills managing unruly proceedings on the House floor were quickly put to the test when Republicans moved to shut down debate on the articles of impeachment even before it had begun.

A top aide to Ms. Pelosi said Ms. DeGette had impressed the speaker with her past performance in the presiding officer’s chair. But Ms. Pelosi herself will preside over the vote, the aide said.

— Sheryl Gay Stolberg

With the final outcome seemingly preordained, perhaps the only suspense about the vote on Wednesday will be how many Democrats break with the party and oppose impeachment.

Two House Democrats who registered their opposition to the inquiry by voting against its ground rules in October, Representatives Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, plan to vote against the articles as well — and Mr. Van Drew is expected to leave the party altogether to become a Republican.

Another 14 Democrats have said they were undecided or have not responded to The Times survey, but only one of them, Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin, represents a district won by Mr. Trump. The rest of the so-called front-line Democrats representing Republican areas announced their support for impeachment in recent days, suggesting that the party was rallying behind the effort.

No Republican has announced support for impeachment, and while 30 have not said how they would vote, few expect any to break with the president.

Assuming the House proceeds with impeachment as anticipated, the fate of Mr. Trump’s presidency will soon be in the hands of the Senate, whose leaders are already quarreling over how to put on a fair trial in an era of deep divisions.

Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Chuck Schumer of New York, the Republican and Democratic leaders, hardly waited for the House vote to debate how to proceed. On Tuesday, Mr. McConnell rejected Mr. Schumer’s proposal to call four witnesses who did not testify in the House inquiry, arguing that it was not the Senate’s job to complete a rushed and inadequate investigation by the House.

But even as Mr. McConnell and other Republicans assailed House Democrats for not hearing from key witnesses, they generally did not fault the White House for blocking those witnesses from testifying in the first place. Instead, they said the blame lay with Democrats for not going to court to challenge the White House refusal to cooperate, an approach that Democrats rejected because they concluded the judicial process would take too long.

Mr. McConnell was navigating a tricky position of balancing Mr. Trump’s desire for vindication through a trial and the positions of vulnerable Republican senators who are concerned that an abbreviated trial or one that seems tilted to Mr. Trump would make it look like they did not take the charges seriously.

The various sides will continue to try to formulate a plan for the trial on Wednesday even as the House formally decides whether one will be needed.

Video

transcript

How Does the Impeachment Process Work?

Explosive testimony. News media frenzies. A trial in the Senate. Here is how impeachment works — and how it has played out in the past.

“Impeachment by its nature, it’s a political process.” “What people think is going to happen can turn out to be very different from what happens.” “Because it has to do with elected officials holding another elected official to account for their conduct.” When the framers of the Constitution created a process to remove a president from office, they were well … kind of vague. So to understand how it’s going to play out, the past is really our best guide. “I think we’re just all in for a really crazy ride.” Collectively, these New York Times reporters have covered U.S. politics for over 150 years. “I’m also a drummer in a band, so …” They’ve reported on past impeachment inquiries. “Yea, I’m lost in Senate wonderland.” And they say that the three we’ve had so far have been full of twists and turns. “The president of the United States is not guilty as charged.” In short, expect the unexpected. First, the process. Impeachment is technically only the initial stage. “Common misconceptions about impeachment are that impeachment by itself means removal from office. It doesn’t. The impeachment part of the process is only the indictment that sets up a trial.” The Constitution describes offenses that are grounds for removing the president from office as bribery, treason and — “They say high crimes and misdemeanors, which, really, is in the eye of the beholder.” “The framers didn’t give us a guidebook to it. They simply said, that the House had the responsibility for impeachment and the Senate had the responsibility for the trial.” One of the things missing from the Constitution? How an impeachment inquiry should start. And that has generally been a source of drama. Basically, anything goes. “In fact, in the Andrew Johnson case they voted to impeach him without even having drafted the articles of impeachment.” For Richard Nixon, his case started with several investigations that led to public hearings. That part of the process went on for two years, and yielded revelation after revelation, connecting Nixon to a politically-motivated burglary at D.N.C. headquarters — “… located in the Watergate office building.” — and its subsequent cover-up. “Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?” “I was aware of listening devices. Yes, sir.” “This was a shocker. Everybody in the White House recognized how damaging this could be.” As the House drafted articles of impeachment, Nixon lost the support of his party. “O.K., I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.” “I was asked to write the farewell piece that ran the morning after Nixon resigned. And this is what I wrote: The central question is how a man who won so much could have lost so much.” So for Nixon, it more or less ended after the investigations. But for Bill Clinton, that phase was just the beginning. “This is the information.” An independent counsel’s investigation into his business dealings unexpectedly turned into a very public inquiry about his personal life. “The idea that a president of the United States was having an affair with a White House intern and then a federal prosecutor was looking at that, it was just extraordinary.” That investigation led to public hearings in the House Judiciary Committee. “When the Starr Report was being delivered to Congress it was a little bit like the O.J. chase, only a political one. There were two black cars. They were being filmed live on CNN. They were heading towards the Capitol. We were watching it and a little bit agog.” Public opinion is key. And the media plays a huge part in the process. This was definitely true for Clinton. “You know it was just a crazy time. We worked in the Senate press gallery.” “All your colleagues are kind of piled on top of each other.” “We had crummy computers, the fax machine would always break. The printer would always break.” After committee hearings, the House brought formal impeachment charges. “It was very tense. I thought that the Saturday of the impeachment vote in the House was one of the most tense days I’d experienced in Washington.” And it turned out, also, full of surprises. “The day of impeachment arrived, everyone’s making very impassioned speeches about whether Bill Clinton should or should not be impeached and Livingston rises to give an argument for the House Republicans. He started to talk about how Clinton could resign.” “You, sir, may resign your post.” “And all of a sudden people start booing and saying, ‘Resign, resign’!” “So I must set the example.” “He announced he was resigning because he had had extramarital affairs and challenged President Clinton to do the only honorable thing, in his view —” “I hope President Clinton will follow.” “— to resign as well, so there was all this drama unfolding even in the midst of impeachment.” Then it went to the Senate for trial. The Constitution gets a little more specific about this part. “The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is supposed to preside over that trial.” “Rehnquist, he showed up in this robe he had made for himself, which had gold stripes on the sleeves because he liked Gilbert and Sullivan.” “The Senate is the actual jury.” “You will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws. So help you, God.” “This is a copy of the rules of the Senate for handling impeachment. They’re actually very specific.” “Meet six days a week.” “Convene at noon. The senators have to sit at their desks and remain quiet in their role as jurors. And not talk, which trust me, is going to be a problem for some of the senators who are used to talking all the time.” It’s just like a courtroom trial. There are prosecutors who present the case against the president. “That was perjury.” Only, they’re members of the House, and they’re called managers. Then the senators, or the jurors, vote. And things are still, unpredictable. “The options are guilty or not guilty. But there was one senator —” “Arlen Specter, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania.” “Under Scottish law, there are three possible verdicts: guilty, not guilty and not proved.” “— which is not a thing.” “And everybody just looks, you know, how do you even record that vote?” In the end, there were not enough votes to oust Clinton. “What’s amazing about this whole thing to me wasn’t so much the constitutional process. It was that it felt to me like the beginning of really intense partisanship, the weaponization of partisanship.” And here’s the thing: An impeachment charge has never gotten the two-thirds majority it needs in the Senate to actually oust a president from office. “So you could end up having a situation where the president is impeached, acquitted and runs for re-election and wins re-election.” And that would be a first. “This is my ticket to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. I don’t think you’ll find these on StubHub.”

Westlake Legal Group xx-impeachment-explainer-vid-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Trump Impeachment Vote Live Updates: Democrats Defeat Republican Efforts to Block Debate on 2 Articles Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Pelosi, Nancy House of Representatives Debates (Political)

Explosive testimony. News media frenzies. A trial in the Senate. Here is how impeachment works — and how it has played out in the past.CreditCredit…Photo illustration by Aaron Byrd

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Texas judge sues state agency after receiving warning for refusing to officiate same-sex weddings

Texas judge who was given a public warning last month for refusing to officiate same-sex marriages is suing the agency that threatened her and claims it violated state law by punishing her for actions she took that aligned with her faith, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

McLennan County Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley has said her Bible-believing Christian conscience prohibited her from performing same-sex weddings and that she was entitled to a “religious exemption.”

Westlake Legal Group Dianne-Hensley Texas judge sues state agency after receiving warning for refusing to officiate same-sex weddings fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/judiciary/state-and-local fox-news/politics/judiciary/individual-rights fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/us fnc Barnini Chakraborty b88f85e7-aa6f-561b-bb00-3502cff53790 article

McLennan County Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley has said her Bible-believing Christian conscience prohibited her from performing same-sex weddings (Facebook)

Hensley claims the investigation into her refusal to marry same-sex couples “substantially burdened the free exercise of her religion, with no compelling justification.”

TEXAS JUDGE WARNED OVER REFUSAL TO PERFORM SAME-SEX MARRIAGES 

She is seeking a declaratory judgment from the court claiming that any justice of the peace may refuse to officiate same-sex weddings “if the commands of their religious faith forbid them to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies.” She is also seeking $10,000 in damages.

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Following the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Hensley refused to officiate any weddings. She changed her mind in 2016 and resumed marrying heterosexual couples. She said she would refer same-sex couples looking to other officiants in the Waco-area who were comfortable doing it.

BOTHAM JEAN’S BROTHER, WHO HUGGED KILLER, GIVEN AWARD FOR ETHICAL COURAGE

However, the State Commission of Judicial Conduct said that Hensley should receive a public warning for “casting doubt on her capacity to act impartially to persons appearing before her as a judge due to the person’s sexual orientation.”

The commission concluded that Hensley violated a portion of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct that claims: “A judge shall conduct all of the judge’s extra-judicial activities so that they do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge…”

Hensley was issued the public warning on Nov. 12. Her case has divided Texans and has strained political relations in the state.

Two members of the commission who looked into Hensley’s case after being appointed last year by Gov. Greg Abbott, claim the Republican governor ousted them after they indicated they would not vote in her favor. A spokesperson for the governor did not immediately return calls from Fox News. The spokesman told The Texas Tribune that all nominations for the commission are based on merit.

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Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez told the Tribune that Hensley took an oath “to serve all Texans.”

“The elected officials continue to waste taxpayer money in an obsession to discriminate against gay and transgender Texans,” he said. “This is not what Texas wants or expects from elected officials. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Their actions are mean spirited, futile, a waste of taxpayer money and most importantly, it’s wrong.”

Westlake Legal Group Dianne-Hensley Texas judge sues state agency after receiving warning for refusing to officiate same-sex weddings fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/judiciary/state-and-local fox-news/politics/judiciary/individual-rights fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/us fnc Barnini Chakraborty b88f85e7-aa6f-561b-bb00-3502cff53790 article   Westlake Legal Group Dianne-Hensley Texas judge sues state agency after receiving warning for refusing to officiate same-sex weddings fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/politics/judiciary/state-and-local fox-news/politics/judiciary/individual-rights fox-news/faith-values fox news fnc/us fnc Barnini Chakraborty b88f85e7-aa6f-561b-bb00-3502cff53790 article

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Panama prison shootout involving AK-47s leaves 13 inmates dead

A wild shootout involving AK-47 assault rifles and pistols has left at least 13 inmates dead at a Panama prison.

The chaos that erupted Tuesday at the La Joyita jail east of Panama City took place inside a block that houses inmates who belong to the same local gang, officials said.

“These firearms didn’t fall out of the sky, there was obviously some type of cooperation there for firearms to be brought in,” President Laurentino Cortizo said following the shooting, according to the BBC.

Westlake Legal Group RT-La-Joyita-jail-1 Panama prison shootout involving AK-47s leaves 13 inmates dead Greg Norman fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/world fnc article 38cbd5d9-1280-5039-b84a-a11c69a2f8ba

An injured inmate is carried on a stretcher into a hospital by police paramedics after a shootout among inmates at La Joyita jail, east of Panama City, Panama, on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Cortizo vowed to launch an investigation into how the weapons were smuggled inside the jail and is reported to be meeting with his security council Wednesday to discuss the matter. Five pistols and three AK-47 assault rifles were found after the shooting.

BRAZIL PRISON RIOT LEAVES 57 DEAD — INCLUDING 16 DECAPITATED

“It’s something we have to put a stop to. A few weeks ago a search was carried out [in the prison] and arms were found, and now again, so someone is letting these guns in,” Cortizo was quoted by the BBC as saying.

Alexis Muñoz, assistant director of the National Police, also said such smuggling has been a longstanding problem and “there are many ways that weapons can get in.”

In addition to the 13 inmates killed, 15 others were injured during the gunfire.

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Muñoz, the BBC said, announced that the shootout unfolded after gang members had “an internal disagreement.”

The Interior Department said no guards or prison personnel were hurt in the confrontation and no escapes were reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group RT-La-Joyita-jail-1 Panama prison shootout involving AK-47s leaves 13 inmates dead Greg Norman fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/world fnc article 38cbd5d9-1280-5039-b84a-a11c69a2f8ba   Westlake Legal Group RT-La-Joyita-jail-1 Panama prison shootout involving AK-47s leaves 13 inmates dead Greg Norman fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime fox news fnc/world fnc article 38cbd5d9-1280-5039-b84a-a11c69a2f8ba

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Woman’s allergic reaction to hair dye causes severe swelling in face, head

A woman in Australia who decided to dye her hair for the first time in 15 years after noticing a few grays paid a painful price for not running a patch test before applying it to her whole head.

Julie Yacoub, who said she believed her slight reaction to hair dye over a decade earlier was due to stylist error, developed massive swelling in her head and face and painful itching on her scalp for three weeks after applying the brown dye in October.

MOM DISCOVERS CHRISTMAS TREE ALLERGY AFTER DEVELOPING BLISTERS, WHEEZING

Westlake Legal Group Julie-Yacoub-1-MDW-Features Woman's allergic reaction to hair dye causes severe swelling in face, head fox-news/travel/regions/australia fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/health/wellness fox-news/health/respiratory-health/allergy fox-news/health/beauty-and-skin fox news fnc/health fnc article Alexandria Hein 32dc5a8b-8fcc-5b69-8a1e-a9713fdc787c

Julie Yacoub said she suffered a slight reaction to hair dye 15 years ago, but thought the stylist had massaged her head too hard and broke her skin.  (Media Drum World)

“I had no itching, tingling sensation or anything after I dyed the hair and washing it off,” Yacoub told Media Drum World. “The following day I went to work and had an itching sensation on my neck. I asked my colleague to check my neck and she was shocked to see the burn marks.”

The reaction continued to worsen as the hours went by, and soon Yacoub had a lump on the side of her face and pressure building inside her head. She took an antihistamine and then sought the help of a doctor, who prescribed steroids.

WOMAN SUFFERS NEAR FATAL REACTION AFTER SEX WITH HUSBAND

“Throughout Friday night and early hours Saturday morning the swelling around my eyes was getting really bad and by 5 a.m. Saturday morning I was unable to open one of my eyes and the other eyelid had almost closed over also,” she told Media Drum World. “On Saturday morning when I woke up and couldn’t open my eyes my initial reaction was panic. I contacted my mum who took me to the hospital.”

Westlake Legal Group Julie-Yacoub-2-MDW-Features Woman's allergic reaction to hair dye causes severe swelling in face, head fox-news/travel/regions/australia fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/health/wellness fox-news/health/respiratory-health/allergy fox-news/health/beauty-and-skin fox news fnc/health fnc article Alexandria Hein 32dc5a8b-8fcc-5b69-8a1e-a9713fdc787c

Within days of using hair dye, her head had swelled so much that she couldn’t open her eyes.  (Media Drum World)

Yacoub alleges the hospital couldn’t do anything more for her since she was already on antihistamines and steroids, and that she then developed burning and “unbearable” itching on her scalp. They eventually determined that she suffered an allergic reaction to paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical commonly found in dark hair dyes that can cause strong reactions in some consumers.

PPD can also be found in makeup and henna tattoos, and a reaction could cause fatal complications including respiratory distress, renal failure, and the breakdown of muscle tissue, according to the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences.

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“I would never dye my hair again,” Yacoub told Media Drum World. “I am frightened as to what the next reaction could be. In fact, the doctors have advised me that the next reaction will be worse.”

Westlake Legal Group Julie-Yacoub-3-MDW-Features Woman's allergic reaction to hair dye causes severe swelling in face, head fox-news/travel/regions/australia fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/health/wellness fox-news/health/respiratory-health/allergy fox-news/health/beauty-and-skin fox news fnc/health fnc article Alexandria Hein 32dc5a8b-8fcc-5b69-8a1e-a9713fdc787c

It took three weeks for the swelling, itching and burning to subside.  (Media Drum World)

The NHS recommends carrying out a patch test before using permanent or semi-permanent hair dye, regardless of the brand being used. A patch test involves putting a small amount of dye behind the ear or inner elbow and leaving it to dry to see whether any irritation or symptoms develop.

Westlake Legal Group hair_dye_allergy Woman's allergic reaction to hair dye causes severe swelling in face, head fox-news/travel/regions/australia fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/health/wellness fox-news/health/respiratory-health/allergy fox-news/health/beauty-and-skin fox news fnc/health fnc article Alexandria Hein 32dc5a8b-8fcc-5b69-8a1e-a9713fdc787c   Westlake Legal Group hair_dye_allergy Woman's allergic reaction to hair dye causes severe swelling in face, head fox-news/travel/regions/australia fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/health/wellness fox-news/health/respiratory-health/allergy fox-news/health/beauty-and-skin fox news fnc/health fnc article Alexandria Hein 32dc5a8b-8fcc-5b69-8a1e-a9713fdc787c

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