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Current Events

What to expect in America’s first 21st century impeachment trial against a U.S. president.

Current Events

Quick Reminder

  • The House impeached Pres. Trump on two “charges” (abuse of power & obstruction of congress) related to Pres. Trump requesting Ukraine’s help investigating the Biden family.
  • The Senate will decide the punishment: whether or not the President should be removed from office.
  • Two presidents have been impeached (Andrew Johnson & Bill Clinton), but none have been removed from office.
Current Events

Impeachment Managers

  • The House selected seven managers. Six are former lawyers, and one is a former police chief.
  • Managers “prosecute” the case for impeachment (show why the House voted in favor of the impeachment articles) to the Senate, who act as the “jury.”
  • COMPARE: During the impeachment trial of Pres. Clinton, House republicans selected 13 impeachment managers.
Current Events

Witnesses

  • The Senate is expected to vote on whether to allow new witnesses during the trial.
  • Democrats want to hear from fmr. national security adviser John Bolton & acting WH chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Republicans want the Bidens to testify.
  • COMPARE: During the Clinton trial, the Senate voted on whether to allow witnesses during the trial. 3 witnesses were deposed behind closed doors.
Current Events

Presiding Officer

  • Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial, but his role is *limited* and largely ceremonial as the Senate can overrule his decisions by a majority vote.
  • The Senate decides BOTH the procedures governing the trial and its outcome — whether to oust the Pres.
  • Before the trial begins, the presiding officer and every senator must take an oath to “do impartial justice.”
Current Events

BIG PICTURE

  • The Senate impeachment trial will look like a criminal trial, but it isn’t. For example, there’s no burden of proof, or unanimous verdict needed to convict.
  • Number To Know: 51. The Senate is made up 47 Democrats (including 2 Independents) and 53 Republicans. 51 votes are needed to pass (or defeat) any motion. The Democrats drove the impeachment in the House; Republicans take the wheel now.
Current Events

What's next? The House managers will *formally* deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Thursday, Chief Justice Roberts will take be sworn in to preside over the trial and then administer an oath to the full Senate. The "trial" will begin on Tuesday.

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Quote of the Day

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”

Quote of the Day

91 years ago today, in 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was born. King surfaced as a civil rights leader during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott ignited by Rosa Parks. This quote is taken from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964. Less than 4 years later, MLK Jr. was assassinated.

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Current Events

Two U.S. soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan.

The first casualties of 2020.

The group taking responsibility is the same one America engages in peace talks.

Current Events

Important To Know

  • 2019: Deadliest year for American soldiers in Afghanistan since 2014. 23 soldiers killed in action.
  • Pres. Trump has publicly discussed wanting to withdraw from Afghanistan.
  • Both the Trump & Obama admins. attempted “peace talks” with the Taliban as a way to negotiate an exit.
  • The Taliban control more territory in Afghanistan than ever before during America’s longest war.
Current Events

What Happened:

  • The Taliban took responsibility for a roadside bomb Saturday in southern Afghanistan.
  • 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin of Virginia and 21-year-old Pfc. Miguel Villalon of Illinois died in the attack. The incident remains under investigation.
  • Both soldiers on their first combat deployment. McLaughlin survived by his wife and four children. Villalon survived by his parents.
Current Events

Something To Consider

“The Taliban has publicly stated its goals of the so-called ‘peace talks’ is the complete withdrawal of US forces and the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name of the Taliban’s government.”

Bill Roggio, Long War Journal editor. Reports have indicated peace talks were set to resume between the U.S. & Taliban this week overseas.
Current Events

Why This Matters

Although not designated a terrorist group by the U.S. gov’t (an area of great debate) the Taliban provide safe haven to terrorist groups that have attacked America, most notably the 9/11 attackers.

The Taliban and Al-Qaeda remain longtime allies. Concerns remain that Afghanistan, left to the Taliban, will once again become a breeding ground & launching pad for terror.

 

Current Events

Pres. Trump cancelled talks with the Taliban in September after the group claimed to have killed a U.S. soldier. In November, during a Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan's Bagram Airfield, the President opened the door for restarting peace talks. The base was attacked by the Taliban weeks later.

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Current Events

THE CROWN IN CRISIS?

A 300+year old monarchy that remains one of the few of its kind in the world

Are we witnessing a moment that will change it forever?

Current Events

Why It Matters

The United Kingdom is one of the few surviving constitutional monarchies on the planet.

Constitutional monarchy: royals share their mostly symbolic power with elected officials who legislate.

Others include Belgium, Spain, Sweden, and Thailand.

Current Events

The Stakes

The Duke & Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry & Meghan Markle, want to create a new hybrid role, one that has no precedent.

  • maintain their royal titles but step back as “senior members” of the royal family
  • become financially independent to pursue their own charity work while also maintaining *some* royal duties
  • partially split their time abroad
Current Events

The Modern UK Monarchy

  • Dates back to 1707 when the English and Scottish kingdoms merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
  • There have been 12 monarchs (Kings or Queens) and four Houses (dynasties) since 1707. Currently, led by Queen Elizabeth II of the House of Windsor.
  • Since its inception, the UK monarchy has fought to stay in existence with its strength largely dependent on the support of its citizens.
Current Events

The House Of Windsor

Did You Know? 3 of the 4 monarchs were not born likely to ascend to the throne.

  • 1917: The Queen’s grandpa King George V was born 3rd in the line to the crown
  • 1936: The Queen’s father (the second son of George V) became King after her uncle, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry an American divorcee.
  • 1952: Queen Elizabeth II (25) ascends to the throne after death of her father.
Current Events

“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.”

Edward VIII resigning his role as King to marry his American lover Wallis Simpson. Although he had no children, when he abdicated or renounced his royal title to marry Simpson, any potential descendants forever lost their chance at the crown.
Current Events

Not Just About England…

  • “The Commonwealth” is made up of 53 independent nations, many once ruled by England, who support & recognize the Royal family (i.e. Canada, India, South Africa).
  • Commonwealth countries’ financial contributions vary & citizens who don’t reside in the UK don’t vote in UK.
  • The Queen is the Head of the Commonwealth and head of state in 15 of its countries.

 

Current Events

In February, the Queen (93) will mark 68 years on the throne. In 2015, she became the UK’s longest-reigning monarch, beating a record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. In 2016, she became the world's longest-reigning living monarch.

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Quote of the Day

“Things are changing swiftly and dramatically in this country, and I have faith that something is awakening among us. A politics of conscience is still yet possible. And yes….love will prevail.”

Quote of the Day

Spiritual adviser & best-selling author Marianne Williamson suspended her 2020 presidential campaign. Her departure (and Sen. Cory Booker's on Monday) leaves 12 Democratic candidates in the race ahead of next month's first primary votes. The top candidates face-off Tuesday during the last major debate ahead of the first contest in Iowa.

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Current Events

Targeting Terrorists, Waging War, and Beyond…

What actions a U.S. President may (and may not) take alone.

Current Events

RECENT HISTORY

  • Two Weeks Ago: An American was killed (& others wounded) by rocket fire the U.S. blamed on Iran. The U.S. killed approx. 2 dozen members of the Iranian-backed militia in Syria & Iraq.
  • Ten Days Ago: Violent protest threatened U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
  • Last Week: The U.S. killed Iran’s top general (Qasem Soleimani), the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force.
Current Events

CURRENT LAW

U.S. CONSTITUTION: President is the “Commander in Chief” but only Congress has power to declare war.

WAR POWERS ACT: Passed in 1973 after the Vietnam War established procedures left unanswered in the Constitution about military decisions. Requires the President to consult with Congress before deploying (or withdrawing) U.S. forces where hostilities are imminent.

Current Events

HOWEVER…

  • The U.S. may attack in “self-defense” without congressional approval to stop an upcoming or “imminent threat” but not for PAST actions.
  • This is why you’ve heard the White House use the term “imminent” to describe the latest attack on the Iranian General; the term carries legal weight & validation for not consulting congress.
  • Critics challenge if that was indeed the case, and want to know the timeline.
Current Events

“We had specific information on an imminent threat and those included attack on US embassies. Period, full stop.”

Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, Friday January 11th. When pressed to define the timeline of an "imminent threat" he added: "We don't know exactly which day it would have been executed, but it was very clear. Qasem Soleimani himself was plotting a large-scale attack on American interests and those attacks were imminent."
Current Events

“At this point in time, the United States has not thus far provided any information suggesting that there was an imminent attack against the American interest.”

UN expert on extrajudicial executions Agnès Callamard. Those who question the legality point to the evolving narrative from the administration, including the Dept. of Defense's statement on the day of the killing that said it was "aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans" without more urgent, immediate specifics.
Current Events

“If the facts are as the Defense Department said, then the president relatively clearly has Article II authority to act in self-defense of American lives,”

University of Texas School of Law professor and international security law specialist Bobby Chesney. Pres. Trump revealed Soleimani was targeting 4 U.S. embassies. Some lawmakers briefed on the intelligence shared by the White House say it lacked specifics. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) called it the "worst"' briefing he has attended.
Current Events

Uncharted Territory?

  • Debate over a President’s ability to “eliminate” threats surfaced in the past (e.g.: the killing of Osama Bin-Laden).
  • The killing of Gen. Soleimani differs as he was a gov’t official of a country rather than a terrorist group.
  • However, the U.S. designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a “foreign terrorist organization” in 2019, the first time America gave this designation to part of a foreign gov’t.
Current Events

This week, in reaction to the targeting of Soleimani, the House of Representatives passed a measure voting in favor of limiting Pres. Trump's future actions in Iran. It's a largely symbolic vote that passed mostly on partly lines. A similar measure is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

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Quote of the Day

I’m real life blessed.”

Quote of the Day

The 21-year-old Raiders rookie running back bought a home for his father, who raised him and his four siblings. The family struggled financially and were often forced to live in their car. Jacobs was the 24th overall pick in the NFL draft in 2019 when more than 106,000 minors experienced homelessness.

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Current Events


“Bigger Than Bin Laden”

Who died.

What happened.

Why It Matters.

Here’s what’s going on between America & Iran.

Current Events

IMPORTANT CONTEXT:

  • Iran: Designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by U.S. State Dept. since 1984.
  • State Sponsor of Terrorism =“repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”
  • August 2019: U.S. designates Iran’s paramilitary (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) including the Quds Force as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” – first time a “part” of another country’s gov’t received this designation.
Current Events

ALSO IMPORTANT…

“If you see an Iraq war veteran with an artificial limb (or limbs), there’s a pretty good chance Soleimani and his Quds Force can take credit for the maiming. Iran supplied the IEDs that have penetrated so many of our armored vehicles in Iraq.”

@RepJimBanks (R-IN), veteran

Current Events

DURING THE LAST WEEK…

Dec. 27: American killed in Iraq
Several others injured.

“We know that the intent of this last attack was in fact to kill American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, whoever was there…..”

Chair of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Milley who said rocket attacks against bases with Americans increased "in tempo" since October, blaming Iran.
Current Events

THEN THIS HAPPENED…

  • Dec. 29: America targets Iranian-backed militia in Syria & Iraq for reportedly killing/wounding Americans on Dec. 27, killing an estimated 25 militia members.
  • Dec. 31: “Protesters” (some dressed in militia uniform) breach walls at U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.
  • Jan. 2: U.S. takes responsibility for killing the head of Iran’s Quds force (General Soleimani).
Current Events

“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region…This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

U.S. Dept. of Defense
Current Events

“…this is bigger than bin-Laden…Bigger than Baghdadi. For two decades, Suleimani has been the most powerful, savvy & effective terrorist on the planet. He’s enjoyed full backing of powerful terrorist state.”

Mark Dubowitz, Foundation For Defense of Democracies, on the death of Gen. Soleimani, head of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force. The Quds Force is a specialized division within the IRGC.
Current Events

“The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. According to reports, Iran's leader, Ayatollah Khamenei ordered 3 days of mourning and warned of “harsh retaliation."
Current Events

Why This Matters

Adds fuel to the already simmering tension between America and Iran. What’s next? No one knows.

Suleimani served as a prominent Iranian figure for 20+ years. America blames him for orchestrating deaths of hundreds of Americans during the Iraq war, and driving nefarious, terrorist activity worldwide.

Current Events

America has an estimated 60,000+ U.S forces in the Middle East including roughly 5,000 in Iraq.

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Uncategorized

Letter From The Editor

A special “Happy New Year” from SmartHER News

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Now You Know

New Year’s Resolutions

At least half of America will reportedly make ’em.

Research suggests real benefit even if you break ’em…

 

Now You Know

“Resolutions deserve a little more respect.”

University of Scranton researcher John Norcross who's conducted studies of New Year's resolution-makers and those who set personal goals *without* formal New Year's resolutions. 60% of resolution-makers fail by six months, *BUT* resolution-makers are ten times more likely to make life changes than non-resolution-makers.
Now You Know

“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Famed American author Mark Twain in 1863. First mention of actual "resolutions" tied to the holiday in America appeared in a 1813 Boston newspaper and New Year's resolutions were commonplace by the mid 1800s.
Now You Know

RESOLUTION ORIGINS

  • Believed to date back 4,000 years ago to ancient Babylon, where people held a celebration at the start of the new farming year and made pledges to the gods for the coming year.
  • Romans also marked the start of a new year; Julius Caesar began tradition of “new” year beginning in January.
  • 1671 diary entry by a Scottish writer references “resolutions.”
Now You Know

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW Have you been successful with New Year's resolutions in the past? Why or why not? Will you make one this year?

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Now You Know

‘TIS THE SEASON

The origins & evolution behind some of America’s most popular Christmas traditions.

Now You Know

CHRISTMAS TREES

The modern-day Christmas tree originated in 17th century Germany before spreading throughout Europe.

It wasn’t until the 1830s that it was introduced in the U.S. It is believed that Great Britain’s Queen Victoria‘s love of decorating the tree helped make the tradition popular on both sides of the pond.

Now You Know

SANTA CLAUS

The original Saint Nicholas, Greek gift-giving bishop, lived during the 4th century in modern-day Turkey.

St. Nick wasn’t introduced to America until the early 19th century. The legend of Santa Claus living in the *then* fictional North Pole dates back to an 1866 depiction by a British cartoonist.

Now You Know

MISTLETOE

Although many ancient cultures associated the plant with fertility and good fortune, the tradition of kissing beneath it was born in 18th century Britain.

Today, the white-berried mistletoe that most Americans associate with Christmas is native to Mexico and grows in North American oak trees.

Now You Know

CANDY CANES

There’s no proof supporting the myth that the treat is shaped into a “J” for Jesus, but according to some, during the 17th century, a German choirmaster molded the candies into the shape of a shepherd’s staff to distract and quiet children during Christmas church services.

The red & white stripes didn’t become standard until around 1950.

Now You Know

Widely regarded as perhaps the least popular Christmas tradition, the fruitcake, dates all the way back to the Middle Ages, before becoming a Christmas staple in 16th century Europe, where it was later banned briefly for being "too rich."

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On This Day

“Twas the Night Before..”

Today, in 1823, a newspaper published what some now call the most well-known poem ever written by an American.

But who REALLY wrote it?

On This Day

“We know not who we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children – that homely but delightful personification of parental kindness – Santa Claus…but, from whomever it may have come, we give thanks for it.”

Troy Sentinel, the weekly newspaper that published, "ACCOUNT OF A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS" on Dec. 23, 1823. At the time, the author remained a mystery, and in some ways, still is.
On This Day

Clement Moore

  • Born into a prominent New York family.
  • Reportedly penned the poem on Christmas Eve in 1822, while on the way home to see his 6 children.
  • Clue: Said to have a Dutch sleigh driver the night he composed the poem.
  • A professor & scholar, some suggest he was embarrassed by the playful poem, which is why he stayed anonymous.
  • Published poem under his own name in 1844 – 20 years after first published.
On This Day

Henry Livingston, Jr.

  • Prominent Dutch farmer in upstate New York, served in Revolutionary War.
  • His family (children), and others, say they heard him recite the poem YEARS before it was published.
  • Clue: Original reindeer names “Dunder & Blixem” translate to “Thunder” & “Lightening” in Dutch. Later edits changed to German “Donder & Blixen.”
  • Never took credit for the poem; Died 5 yrs after the poem was first published.
On This Day

Why It Matters

“Though legend has it that Santa Claus hails from the North Pole, he was actually a New Yorker…”

The poem’s author solidified the image of Santa and his reindeer for the newly formed United States (& beyond), and has continued to do so for the last *nearly* 200 years.

On This Day

How did the paper get the poem? Another mystery. The paper wrote on that day: "We hope our little patrons, both lads and lasses, will accept it as proof of our unfeigned good will toward them—as a token of our warmest wish that they may have many a merry Christmas."

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