THURSDAY, November 14
Donald Trump is facing the most hazardous period of his three year Presidency with the impeachment hearings against him entering the public arena.
The televised inquiry before the House Intelligence Committee in Capitol Hill is seeking to make the case to the American public that President Trump, 73, abused the powers of his office in that he asked Ukraine to conduct a politically motivated investigation into his potential 2020 Democratic president rival Joe Biden.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, the California congressman overseeing the historic inquiry in the Democratic-controlled House, said there were “few actions as consequential as the impeachment of a president”.
“The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit (Ukraine’s) vulnerability and invite Ukraine’s interference in our elections,” Mr Schiff said.
“If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?”
The first witness Wednesday was William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, followed by George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Both have already testified in private that Mr Trump clearly used his power and aid to pressure Mr Zelensky for investigations that would help him in the 2020 vote. Mr Taylor today provided a full account of his staffer overhearing MrTrump asking about “investigations” in Ukraine.
Mr Trump, who maintains he did nothing wrong, lashed out at the inquiry with a series of tweets early Wednesday, morning citing prominent supporters who called it a “partisan sham”.
The President furiously sent out 24 tweets in just six hours, writing: “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!” in reference to a non-verbatim record of his conversation with the president of the Ukraine — which sparked the probe. He also tweeted “NEVER TRUMPERS!”.
* Impeachment is a two-step process in the US Congress. The House of Representatives votes on whether to impeach the president. This needs a simple majority, then the Senate votes on whether the president should be convicted and removed from office. This needs a two-thirds majority.
Black Death, the disease that reportedly killed 75 million people in Asia – three times more than in Europe – more than 600 years ago, has re-emerged in China.
Two people from China’s north-western Inner Mongolia have been struck down with the disease prompting Chinese censors to wipe out any mention of the disease on social media platform Weibo, world news agency AFP. reported.
Authorities said they were working to prevent the spread of the contagious disease
The two individuals were being treated at a central Beijing hospital, local authorities said. It is not yet known how they came into contact with the disease.
Black Death was a type of plague that was spread via the bite of infected rat fleas, the name Black Death coming from the swollen buboes (glands) in the victim’s neck, armpits and inner thighs which turned black as they filled with blood.
Victims often died within 12hours of being bitten.
The Chinese Government did not respond to requests for comment, but the World Health Organisation confirmed that Chinese authorities had notified them about the plague cases.
“The (Chinese) National Health Commission are implementing efforts to contain and treat the identified cases and increasing surveillance,” Fabio Scano, coordinator at the WHO China, said.
Mr Scano said that “the risk of transmission of the pulmonary plague is for close contacts and we understand that these are being screened and managed”.
According to the WHO’s website, the lung-based pneumonic plague is very contagious and “can trigger severe epidemics through person-to-person contact via droplets in the air”.
Symptoms include fever, chills, vomiting and nausea.
Russia’s Aeroflot air carrier has stripped a passenger of his air miles after he boasted online of sneaking his overweight cat on board by switching him for a slimmer cat during check-in, reports newsgency AFP.
Aeroflot’s weight limit for checking in an animal was 8kg, but cat Viktor weighed 10kg.
His owner Mikhail Galin organised a cat double for check-in and successfully checked into business class
Air carrier Aeroflot has confirmed Mr Galin has lost his air miles as a result of the scheme after Mr Galin wrote in a Facebook post last week that his cat Viktor was judged too fat to be taken into the passenger cabin during a layover in Moscow on a trip from Latvia to his home in Far Eastern Vladivostok.
“The weigh-in showed that the animal had fattened up to 10kg, a level not allowed for the cabin,” Mr Galin wrote.
The limit for checking in an animal was 8kg, he said.
But he could not abandon his nervous feline friend to the cold luggage hold, so he refused to fly and took a “strategic decision to find a similar cat of a lower weight” in Moscow.
The next day Mr Galin came to the airport prepared with “the cat, the cat double and its owners,” and successfully checked into business class after “the operation to switch Viktor the fat cat for Phoebe the miniature kitty was successful”.
He posted a photo of happy Viktor sitting on the plane with a glass of bubbly, becoming an instant hero for Russia’s cat lovers.
Aeroflot however was in no mood for jokes and said the incident had triggered an investigation.
The probe into the cat swap showed that Mr Galin broke airline rules by switching Viktor for “a similar animal weighing 7kg,” which was confirmed on video surveillance footage, an Aeroflot spokesperson said.
“Aeroflot has taken the decision to take this passenger out of its frequent flyer program,” the spokesperson said.
“All of the miles collected during his time in the programme will be annulled.”
Some reports said Mr Galin had nearly 400,000 miles on his account.
Many Russians were fuming over the decision, with some saying it amounted to fat-shaming and others attempting to start a protest flash mob.
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