Today's Intel

Jan. 16, 2020

REUTERS

The U.S. Senate takes formal steps on Thursday to consider the removal of U.S. President Donald Trump on charges that he abused his power, even as key issues such as whether witnesses will appear at his impeachment trial remain up in the air.

The Russian parliament overwhelmingly backed President Vladimir Putin's surprise choice for prime minister on Thursday after what one daily called a "January revolution", a major political overhaul that some say could set Putin up as leader for life.

Ukraine has appealed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for help in investigating a suspected cyber-attack by Russian military hackers on the energy company Burisma, a Ukrainian interior ministry official said on Thursday.

The S&P 500 crossed 3,300 for the first time and the Dow and the NASDAQ opened at new highs on Thursday, after the United States and China signed an initial trade deal and Morgan Stanley wrapped up big bank earnings on a strong note.

U.S. retail sales increased for a third straight month in December, with households buying a range of goods even as they cut back on purchases of motor vehicles, suggesting the economy maintained a moderate growth pace at the end of 2019.

China has lost millions of pigs in outbreaks of the disease, pushing its pork prices to record highs, forcing purchases of costly imports and roiling global meat markets. African swine fever has spread to Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, with cases found in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, Myanmar, the Philippines, Poland, Belgium and Bulgaria. Around the globe, those countries and others that have so far sidestepped the epidemic are cracking down on travelers, increasing cargo screenings and banning meat imports.

AP Top Stories

The possibility that a new virus in central China could spread between humans cannot be ruled out, though the risk of transmission at the moment appears to be low, Chinese officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Marine Corps could soon get the Navy's new Naval Strike Missile for use as a shore battery, according to the Navy's acquisitions chief.

Finland plans to increase its naval modernization budget in 2020 as part of a broad and ambitious effort to deepen its overall presence and surface capability in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia.

Representatives of two top business groups warned that it's getting increasingly harder for foreign companies to put their money in Mexico and said that messages from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's government that hinder investment need to stop.

America's leading newspapers are aiding China's communist regime by running the oppressive government's propaganda, respected watchdog organization Freedom House reported. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times have all run paid supplements from China Daily, the Chinese government's state media arm. The paid supplements, dubbed "China Watch," are designed to look like real news articles.

Parts of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir have been hit by heavy rain and snowfall since Sunday, triggering deadly avalanches and landslides in and around the region. At least 76 people have died in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

BBC

Ukraine says it has launched a criminal investigation into alleged illegal US surveillance of former American ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. It follows the release of text messages that suggested Ms Yovanovitch was being spied on.

Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos, who is embroiled in a huge financial scandal, has suggested that she may seek to become the country's president.

US politicians expressed concerns about the accuracy and growing use of facial recognition software, at a hearing on Wednesday. The technology is being developed by firms including Amazon and Microsoft and increasingly used by law enforcement worldwide. Some facial recognition technologies misidentify women and people of color.

Mexico says it will not grant transit visas or free passage for hundreds of migrants who have left Honduras in an attempt to reach the US border. The interior ministry said officers would check the status of each migrant and offer them the option of remaining in the country legally.

Peru's top court has ruled that the dissolution of the country's Congress on 30 September was legal.

A 1,758-carat diamond unearthed in Botswana has been sold to French luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton for an undisclosed sum. The second-largest found in a century.

A Kenyan teachers' union wants teachers in areas affected by militant attacks to undergo military training and have guns for their own safety.

WND

A Texas high school apologized after a question about rape was included in a biology assignment for freshman students. The assignment asked, "Suzy was assaulted in an alley and is a victim of rape. The police collected a sample of sperm that was left at the crime scene and now have three suspects in custody. Which of the suspects raped Suzy?"

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