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Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (L) (D-NY) speaks while committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R) (R-GA) looks up during an impeachment hearing where constitutional scholars testified before the House Judiciary Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday held its first — and possibly its last — public hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The majority-Democrat panel, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., heard four legal scholars interpret and debate the U.S. Constitution’s standards for impeachment, and whether or not Trump’s efforts toward Ukraine met that legal bar.

The proceeding took on a different shape than two weeks of hearings that came before it in the House Intelligence Committee, where fact witnesses shared firsthand knowledge of Trump’s foreign policy dealings and at times revealed new facts to the public.

The witnesses before the judiciary panel, however, were brought to put Trump’s actions in historical context and to help those lawmakers determine which articles of impeachment — if any — to draft against him.

Democrats on the committee are widely expected to bring articles of impeachment to the full House for a vote, which, if they are passed, would then go to the Senate for a trial.

Most politicos anticipate Trump being impeached in the Democrat-led House, but not removed by the Republican-controlled Senate. And it’s unclear if Wednesday’s hearing strengthened the Democrats’ case.

“In terms of changing votes on the Senate floor, I certainly don’t think so,” said Jeff Robbins, an attorney and former counsel for Democratic senators on multiple investigative committees.

“It’s obvious that the president has the Republicans in Congress in kind of a death grip,” Robbins added. “It’s about brass knuckles at this point.”

Here are the main takeaways from the hearing:

Three witnesses said Trump committed impeachable offenses…

The three witnesses called forward by the Democrats came to the hearing with a near-unanimous conclusion: that Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election, constitutes an impeachable offense.

“On the basis of the testimony and the evidence before the House, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency,” said Harvard Law School Professor Noah Feldman.

“The evidence reveals a president who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency,” said Stanford Law School Professor and ex-Obama administration official Pamela Karlan.

“The record compiled thus far shows the president has committed several impeachable offenses, including bribery, abuse of power and soliciting of personal favor from a foreign leader to benefit himself personally, obstructing justice, and obstructing Congress,” said Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Democrats’ line of questions for these witnesses centered around what were listed as three possible actions that reach the Constitution’s definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors”: abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest and corruption of elections.

…But one disagreed

Jonathan Turley, a scholar at the George Washington School of Law invited by the Republican committee members, disagreed.

Turley began by noting that he was not a Trump supporter and had voted against him in 2016. But, he went on to say, “I believe this impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments but would create a dangerous precedent for future impeachments.”

Turley argued that the case against Trump has not been fully investigated, and to move forward and impeach Trump with incomplete information “would expose every future president to the same time of inchoate impeachment.”

Same heat, fewer fireworks

Unlike the Intelligence Committee hearings, there were no bombshells of new information delivered by the witnesses who testified Wednesday. But the judiciary panel still managed to achieve similar levels of partisanship and rhetorical bitterness.

Nadler’s opening statement slammed Trump and stressed the urgency of the impeachment hearings: “We are all aware that the next election is looming—but we cannot wait for the election to address the present crisis. The integrity of that election is the very thing at stake.”

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the committee’s ranking Republican, fired back, labeling the entire impeachment probe a “partisan coup d’etat.”

Republicans then put forward a motion calling for Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., to testify. The stunt forced a roll-call vote, which in a 41-member committee takes time, before Democrats voted to table it.

That process repeated when GOP Rep. Guy Reschenthaler put forward a motion to subpoena the whistleblower, whose complaint about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy led many Democrats to support the impeachment probe.

Karlan challenges Collins…

Karlan quickly established herself as the most forceful voice on the witness panel, when she challenged Collins’ assertion that the legal experts “couldn’t possibly have digested” the 300-page report released Tuesday by Democrat-led House committees.

“Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses that appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts,” she said.

“So I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”

…and her joke about Barron Trump gets trashed

Karlan also offered the most striking quip of the hearing, when she made a reference to Trump’s youngest son, 13-year-old Barron, while pushing back on Trump’s extremely broad interpretation of his powers under Article II of the Constitution.

“Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article II does not give him the power to do anything he wants. I’ll just give you one example that shows you difference between him and a king, which is [that] the Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility,” Karlan said.

“So while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” she added, earning a chuckle from the room.

The line was immediately condemned by Trump’s Republican allies as “disgusting” and “unhinged” — and even garnered a rare, stinging response from first lady Melania Trump.

Karlan “should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,” the first lady tweeted.

Late in the hearing, Karlan apologized. “It was wrong of me to do that. i wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things that he’s done,” she said, but “I regret having said that.”

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Police chief calls for peace ahead of march



Pro-democracy protesters participate in a “5 Demands” mass rally on December 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China.

Anthony Kwan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Hong Kong’s police chief has urged citizens to demonstrate peacefully ahead of what is expected to be a large-scale pro-democracy march on Sunday, an event planned amid a lull in violence in the Chinese-ruled city.

Police on Thursday gave a rare green light to the demonstration, organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, the group that called the million-strong marches in the summer. Sunday’s march is a key gauge of the pro-democracy movement’s support following its sweeping victory in local elections.

Speaking to reporters before departing for a “courtesy visit” to Beijing, newly-installed police commissioner Chris Tang urged Hong Kongers to set a global example.

“We hope our citizens can show the whole world (that) Hong Kong people are capable of holding a large scale rally in an orderly and peaceful manner,” he said. “We urge the organizer to assist the police on maintaining the order.”

Tang was traveling to meet with senior officials from the ministry of public security in Beijing and is expected to return to Hong Kong on Sunday.

The unrest in Hong Kong is the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

The former British colony has been wracked by six months of pro-democracy protests sparked by a now withdrawn China extradition bill and which have broadened into calls for greater democratic freedoms.

Escalating violence last month saw a dramatic university siege that pitted protesters against the police.

Despite the increasingly violent tactics adopted by some protesters, pro-democracy candidates achieved record gains in the Nov. 24 local elections, winning almost 90 percent of the seats after the highest ever voter turnout since local polls began in 1999.

Hong Kong has enjoyed a period of relative calm since, a state the new police chief said he hoped could be maintained.

“In the last two weeks the city was relatively peaceful,” he noted, “When the citizens have a chance to take a breather, we hope the violent people will really stop engaging in illegal activities.”

Later on Friday, protesters plan a smaller rally against police use of tear gas, which they say is excessive and harming innocent bystanders. The police has said its use of force has been restrained.

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Apple is killing Lightning connector on top iPhones by 2021, Kuo says



Apple’s Lightning connector

Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Apple could ditch the Lightning connector on the highest-end versions of the iPhone in 2021, meaning the devices will require wireless charging, according to a report on Thursday from Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF Securities.

The removal of the Lightning cable, along with other differentiating updates, will boost shipments and the average selling price of the high-end iPhone models, Kuo, a top Apple analyst, wrote. Without the connector, the top-tier iPhone would provide a “completely wireless experience,” Kuo said.

Speculation has been building for several years that Apple plans to remove the Lightning cable. As far back as 2017, Kuo predicted that Apple would discard the Lightning connector in favor of the USB Type-C connector, which is widely used across the industry.

However, Apple has continued to include Lightning ports in the latest iPhone models. Apple’s new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max models, which were announced in September, all have Lightning ports.

Apple has started to include the USB-C connector in some products. The new iPhones support Apple’s fast charger, which promises to deliver up to a 50% charge in 30 minutes. The charger uses USB-C and requires iPhone users to buy a specific cable that goes from the Lightning connector to USB-C ports.

WATCH: Cramer says Apple’s iPhone could be the greatest subscription in the world

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Epcot transformation is underway, here’s how the park is changing



A concept image illustrates announced updates to Disney’s Epcot theme park.

Source: Disney

Big changes are coming to Epcot.

The park has been known predominantly for its unique food offerings and annual festivals, but it’s time for an update, says Disney.

The company is embarking on a massive park transformation, updating classic attractions, adding more family-friendly experiences and sprinkling a little more Disney flair around the nearly 40-year-old park. Epcot, which focuses on technology and international cultures, has long been a destination for adults but has been, perhaps, a little too mature for younger parkgoers.

“We love Epcot,” Michael Hundgen, executive producer for Walt Disney Imagineering, said Thursday. “It’s the only one of its kind, there is only one Epcot, and as we thought about the next evolution of this park, we really harked back to Walt. He said Epcot would always be in a state of becoming, and this is sort of the next chapter of that state of becoming for us.”

Disney toured media through several of Epcot’s new but unfinished upgrades, allowing a sneak peek of what’s to come. However, many of the areas were not allowed to be photographed.

A look at a French pantry that guests will drives through during Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in Epcot in Orlando, Florida.


One of the biggest transformations, and one guests will be able to enjoy next year, is being made to the France pavilion.

Disney is adding Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a trackless ride that takes guests through a Pixar version of France. With a little imagination, parkgoers can pretend they have been shrunk down to the size of Remy himself. They will be whisked through a French restaurant on little mouse cars, where danger lurks around every turn.

Walking through this new experience, members of the media gasped at the massive two-ton fish and ham bones dangling from the ceiling. Little else was revealed about what guests will encounter as they scuttle through the kitchen, but the massive refrigerator, oversized fruits and vegetables, including a four-foot tall orange, were enough to whet appetites for more.

France will also add a “Beauty and the Beast” sing-along to its theater and full-scale creperie.

“We are doubling down on the things that we know our guests love about Epcot, the festivals, the showcase, Spaceship Earth itself,” Hundgen said. “And we’re creating more experiences for families, creating more experiences that feel inherently Disney — and we mean characters and, of course, our franchises, but also the emotion connections.”

The goal is to make Epcot more “timeless” and more “relevant,” Hundgen said, but also a place for all generations and ages, not just adults.

He pointed to the addition of “Frozen” characters to the Norway pavilion as a model for changes coming to the France pavilion. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, who live in Arendelle, a land based on the fjords of Norway, are the perfect intersection between honoring the authenticity of the country of Norway with the magic of Disney.

The hope is to replicate that success in the France pavilion and then again with its new additions planned for the United Kingdom pavilion.

A “Mary Poppins”-themed area is coming to Disney’s Epcot theme park.

Source: Disney

The first-ever “Mary Poppins” attraction is coming to Epcot, including a whole neighborhood based on Cherry Tree Lane from the film.

New neighborhoods

Walt Disney himself had initially envisioned Epcot, which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, to be an actual city where people lived and worked with new technology. However, after Disney’s death, the company decided not to build and open a city but instead created a new theme park, infused with emerging technology of the time.

Epcot, which opened in 1982, is home to the World Showcase, which features dozens of pavilions of countries from around the globe. This part of the park will remain once Disney’s transformation of Epcot is complete, but it will be joined by three new neighborhoods: Discovery, Celebration and Nature.

The new Spaceship Earth will focus on storytelling, Bob Chapek, chairman of parks, said during Disney’s D23 Expo in August. He said many of the scenes that were part of the original will remain but be updated. New moments will also be added. The exit to the ride will be called Dreamer’s Point and have a new statue of Walt Disney.

World Celebration will feature a wishing tree, a story fountain and a pavilion for live events.

An artist’s rendering of the overhaul of Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World in Florida.


“It is about rounding out family offerings at Epcot, but it’s, at the same time, about doubling down on the things we know work really well,” Hundgen said. “So, festivals are inherently Epcot, and this new home for our festivals, this festival center that is being built, will really become the purpose-built epicenter for all of the content.”

World Discovery will feature a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride called Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind as well as a new Play Pavilion where characters from Disney and Pixar films will appear for meet-and-greets and as part of a digital city.

Disney’s Epcot theme park is adding a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride.

Source: Disney/Marvel

Mission Space will also be updated with a new restaurant. The restaurant is called Space 220, which is set in a space station sitting high above the Earth. It will open this winter.

Space 220 is a new space station-themed restaurant opening at Epcot this winter.

Source: Disney

World Nature will feature The Journey of Water experience based on “Moana.” Epcot will also be getting a new nighttime spectacular called Harmonious. It will debut in 2020.

Disney’s Epcot theme park is adding a new attraction based on the movie “Moana.”

Source: Disney

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