House Democrats Plan Trump Articles of Impeachment

House Democrats laid out their impeachment case against U.S. President Donald Trump Monday while Republicans mocked  their allegations. The second House Judiciary Committee public hearing marked the formal presentation of findings in the inquiry, setting the stage for the unveiling of formal charges against Trump. As VOA’s Congressional Correspondent Katherine Gypson reports, the final vote on those Articles of Impeachment could happen as soon as next week.

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«Нафтогаз» знизив ціну на газ у грудні на 13%

«Нафтогаз-України» знизив ціну газу для побутових споживачів у грудні на 13%. Вона становитиме 4 277 гривень за тисячу кубометрів (без урахування ПДВ, націнки газзбутів і транспортних витрат).

У компанії повідомили, що з 1 січня 2020 року гарантована оптова ціна зафіксована на рівні 5 500 гривень за тисячу кубометрів.

«Ця пропозиція дозволить захистити побутових споживачів від різкого подорожчання газу, яке може відбутися в 1 кварталі 2020 року. Запропонована гарантована ціна на 12% нижче, ніж регульована ціна, по якій «Нафтогаз» продавав газ захищеним споживачам в січні-квітні 2019 року (6 236 гривень за тисячу кубометрів – ред.)», –  розповіли в «Нафтогазі».

На початку квітня 2019 року Кабінет міністрів України вирішив, що ціна газу для населення визначатиметься за формулою, яка відображує ринкові ціни з двомісячним відставанням. Вона знизилася з 7 482,61 гривні у квітні до 5 878,8 гривні у листопаді (з ПДВ, але без урахування націнки облгазів і транспортних витрат).

 

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Падіння долара на міжбанку уповільнилося

На українському міжбанківському валютному ринку триває зміцнення гривні, але цей процес уповільнився завдяки діям НБУ, а саме викупу надлишкової пропозиції долара на торгах 9 грудня.

Як інформує сайт Finance.ua, станом на 12:25 торги відбуваються на рівні 23 гривні 68–70 копійок за долар, приблизно на цьому ж рівні котирування перебували і 9 грудня.

Національний банк України встановив опівдні довідкове значення курсу 23 гривні 68 копійок за долар, це на одну копійку менше за офіційний курс на 10 грудня.

Аналітики сайту «Мінфін» називають визначальним для курсу сьогоднішній аукціон з розміщення ОВДП на 4,8 мільярда гривень (при виставленні в тому числі й дуже привабливих 4-х річних облігацій на 3 мільярда за номіналом).

Нині гривня перебуває щодо долара поблизу чотирирічних максимумів.

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2020 Newcomer Bloomberg Stepping onto International Stage

New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg launched his campaign less than three weeks ago, but he is already making his first foreign trip as a presidential candidate.The Democrat will appear Tuesday at a United Nations global climate conference in Madrid, where he’ll share the results of his private push to organize thousands of U.S. cities and businesses to abide by the terms of a global climate treaty that the Trump administration is working to abandon. The appearance comes as Bloomberg, a former Republican whose dedication to the environment earned him the designation of special U.N. envoy for climate action, tries to find his footing in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary election.It’s rare for a presidential candidate to step onto the international stage before securing the nomination, and virtually unheard of for a candidate to do so in the first month of his or her candidacy.Earlier this year, Bernie Sanders appeared in Canada to highlight his fight to lower prescription drug costs, while former candidate Beto O’Rourke met with asylum seekers in Mexico. Both men represented states that bordered those countries, however, and there were no formal talks with foreign leaders involved.Bloomberg shared his plan to appear at the global climate conference on social media on Monday.”I’m going to the climate summit in Madrid because President Trump won’t,” he said, adding that he plans to “meet with environmental leaders from around the world about next steps on tackling the climate crisis.”Bloomberg also vowed in a statement to rejoin the Paris climate agreement in his first official act as president.Campaign aide Brynne Craig said climate would be “a central issue” for Bloomberg this week and throughout his presidential run.She said the issue “is near and dear to his heart” and “a front-of-mind issue for Democratic voters.”The 77-year-old billionaire has used his wealth to make an impact in the global fight against climate change and in his 2020 presidential campaign. He is largest donor in the history of the Sierra Club, and he has spent more than $60 million in the first two weeks of his campaign on television ads now running in all 50 states.Many progressives remain resistant to his candidacy.”How many self-declared climate champion billionaires does the race need? The answer is none,” said Mitch Jones, climate and energy program director for the group Food & Water Watch, which has been critical of Bloomberg’s pragmatic approach to fighting climate change. “This is just Bloomberg trying to insert himself into international climate negotiations to bolster his campaign.”Bloomberg’s presidential campaign released a new online video ad contrasting his message on climate change with that of Trump, who served formal notice last month that the U.S. intends to become the first country to withdraw from the Paris accord.”It’s getting hotter. But while fire and smoke choke our air, Donald Trump is making it worse,” Bloomberg’s new ad says, describing Trump as a “climate change denier” and Bloomberg as a “climate change champion.”AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of the American electorate, found that 92% of people who voted for Democrats in the 2018 midterms said they were at least somewhat concerned about climate change. Seventy percent said they were very concerned. 

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Trump Relies on Strong US Economy in Reelection Bid

As 2019 draws to a close, the U.S. economy is posting strong numbers, capping a remarkable 11-year streak of expansion. President Donald Trump argues that’s why he deserves to win reelection in 2020. But as VOA’s Ardita Dunellari explains, there are dangers ahead that could rattle both the economy and the president’s reelection message.

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US Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Political Ad Law

A Maryland law approved by state legislators to prevent foreign interference in local elections is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment, a federal appeals court has ruled.A three-judge panel of the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the law targets political expression and compels certain speech, and affirmed a lower court’s ruling to strike down the law.Circuit Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote that the changing nature of elections and novel technological challenges have made it harder for states to manage elections. But, he wrote, the legislation approved by Maryland’s General Assembly in 2018 went too far.”Despite its admirable goals, the Act reveals a host of First Amendment infirmities: a legislative scheme with layer upon layer of expressive burdens, ultimately bereft of any coherent connection to an offsetting state interest of sufficient import,” Wilkinson wrote in the ruling released Friday.The law’s sweeping scope sparked a First Amendment outcry from more than a half dozen newspapers, including The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun.Newspapers’ argumentsThe newspapers and the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association argued in a lawsuit the the statute violates the First Amendment because it requires them to collect and self-publish information about the sponsors of online political ads. It also requires them to keep records of the ads for inspection by the state Board of Elections.”In the end, each banner feature of the Act — the fact that it is content-based, targets political expression, and compels certain speech — poses a real risk of either chilling speech or manipulating the marketplace of ideas,” Wilkinson wrote.In January, U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm ruled that parts of the law appeared to encroach on the First Amendment and granted a preliminary injunction to prevent the state from enforcing those provisions.One provision required online platforms to create a database identifying the purchasers of online political ads and how much they spend. The law, written to catch ads in smaller state and local elections, applied to digital platforms with 100,000 or more monthly visitors.That made the threshold in the Maryland law very broad when compared to a similar law in New York, which applies to digital platforms with at last 70 million monthly visitors.The newspapers contended the law amounted to the government telling the press what to publish, which violates the First Amendment. They also argued the law wouldn’t prevent the kind of foreign interference seen during the 2016 election, when free postings on social media — not paid political ads on newspaper websites — were the primary means used to try to sow discord in the U.S. electorate.More than a dozen news organizations and press advocacy groups, including The Associated Press, filed legal briefs supporting the newspapers’ challenge.State argumentsThe state argued that the law does not infringe on the newspapers’ right to exercise their editorial control and judgment.”These modest burdens do not outweigh the State’s important interests in electoral transparency, deterring corruption, enforcing the substantive requirements of the campaign finance laws, and protecting against foreign meddling in the State’s elections,” Assistant Attorney General Andrea Trento wrote in a legal brief.Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, wrote in an email Monday that the attorney general’s office was reviewing the decision.
 

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Grandson of Late President Bush Runs for Congress in Texas

Pierce Bush, the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, announced his candidacy Monday for a congressional seat in Texas, becoming the latest member of his famous Republican family to enter politics.But his first run for office won’t be easy. Bush joins one of the nation’s most crowded congressional races of 2020 in his bid to replace Republican Rep. Pete Olson, who is retiring from his suburban Houston district that Democrats nearly flipped last year and are aggressively targeting again.Pierce Bush’s announcement video, rolled out on the deadline in Texas for candidates to get on the 2020 ballot, includes an image of him speaking next to a picture of his late grandfather, who died last year.Today, I’m proud to announce my candidacy for Texas’s 22nd district. I look forward to working with you, earning your support, your faith and your vote. Visit https://t.co/yRG4DMctCm for more information. pic.twitter.com/fzRJ2xp54w— Pierce Bush (@PierceBush) December 9, 2019
“We face a very challenging time in our nation,” Bush says, adding that the country is “on the brink of losing a generation to an idea that socialism and free stuff are the answers to their future. But we all know that socialism has failed everywhere and everyone.”
His candidacy opens a new test for the Bush name in the Trump era. Other Republican candidates in the field have expressed unwavering support for President Donald Trump, who has clashed with the Bush family that for decades defined the GOP establishment. George H.W Bush voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and President George W. Bush didn’t vote for either one of them.
The only Bush currently in public office, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, broke with his family in 2016 and supported Trump. During a visit to Texas earlier this year, Trump introduced George P. Bush, who is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as “the only Bush that likes me.”Pierce Bush, whose father is Neil Bush, has spent the past three years as chief executive of the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters in Texas. He made no mention of Trump in his announcement video and launched his campaign website with only a short biography and no positions on issues or policies.
Olson is one of six of House Republicans in Texas retiring next year, and he might have faced a tougher re-election battled than any of them. Once a seat of GOP power — former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay held the office before Olson — the district is rapidly shifting amid demographic changes and Democrats peeling off suburban women voters.
Olson narrowly won his seat by fewer than 5 points in 2018. The district covers Fort Bend County, one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the nation. Last week, the county’s white Republican state representative, Rick Miller, abruptly dropped his re-election bid after telling the Houston Chronicle that his primary challengers were motivated to run against him because of race, accusing one of determining “that my district might need an Asian to win.”  

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IG Report: FBI Was Justified in Opening Russia Probe

The U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general says FBI leaders were justified in opening an inquiry into alleged ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives, saying investigators found no evidence that the probe was politically motivated.But the independent inspector general, Michael Horowitz, also sharply criticized the FBI in his report released Monday for its handling of the court authorized surveillance of a former Trump campaign advisor, during its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz appears at the launch of the Procurement Collusion Strike Force at the Justice Department in Washington, Nov. 5, 2019.The report amounts to a rejection of Trump’s repeated claim that the FBI investigation, dubbed Crossfire Hurricane, was carried out in an effort to undo his presidency. The probe was later taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller.     The FBI “had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane  to obtain information about, or protect against, a national security threat or federal crime, even though the investigation also had the potential to impact constitutionally protected activity,” Horowitz wrote in the 400-plus-page report.  While Horowitz said he had found no evidence that FBI investigators were influenced by anti-Trump animus, he wrote that investigators had uncovered “serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents with responsibility over the FISA applications” in its surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter page.  “That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI, and that FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process,” the report states.  The FBI began looking into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in July 2016 after receiving a tip that then Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos had claimed that the Russian government was willing to help the Trump campaign by releasing damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.The bureau later obtained a court warrant to surveil Page after he had left the campaign.  Page at the time was suspected of having ties to the Russian government and the surveillance continued into 2017.In a statement, Attorney General William Barr said the report “makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.””In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negative the reliability of their principal source,” Barr wrote.
 

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Посольство США: Успішна програма МВФ є вирішальною для росту економіки України 

Посольство Сполучених Штатів Америки в Києві привітало Україну та Міжнародний валютний фонд з досягненням домовленостей на робочому рівні щодо нової програми допомоги. 

«Успішна програма МВФ має вирішальне значення для економічного зростання України та військової оборони», – йде мова в повідомленні амбасади в твіттері. 

Напередодні українська влада та Міжнародний валютний фонд підтвердили факт розмови, яку 7 грудня провели президент України Володимир Зеленський та директор-розпорядник МВФ Крісталіна Георгієва. 

«Глава держави розповів про реформи, які впроваджуються нині в Україні, та обговорив умови нової програми співпраці з Фондом… За результатами розмови сторони зазначили, що Україна та Міжнародний валютний фонд досягли домовленості (Staff Level Agreement) щодо нової програми співпраці», – інформував сайт президента України. 

Директор-розпорядник МВФ вказала, що ця угода ще підлягає затвердженню керівництвом фонду та його виконавчим комітетом. 

Міністр фінансів України Оксана Маркарова заявила згодом, що нова угода з МВФ відкриває двері до отримання 500 мільйонів євро від Європейського союзу. 

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