Cramm for 1/15/20
All of Russia’s gov is quitting.
Meet Russia’s prez, Vladimir Putin. He’s been accused of things like suppressing minorities, taking control of foreign territory, jailing and even murdering his opponents, and infringing on civil rights. And for years, some have suspected he’d try to stick around past 2024, when he will no longer be able to (legally) run for re-election. Scene, set.
Spoiler: the suspicions were correct. Recently, Prez Putin intro’d plans for constitutional reforms that would extend his power - potentially even past 2024. See: the constitutional changes would cut back on the prez’s power and give much more power to the prime minister. So there’s speculation Putin could try to snag the prime minister job - which, after these changes, could be even more powerful than the prez - following 2024.
Almost exactly as these changes were being announced, the entire Russian gov resigned. Not an understatement. Think: the prime minister - Dmitry Medvedev - and every single one of his cabinet members ditched. Big big deal, because this means the Russian gov will now be undergoing lots of changes in more than one way.
However you look at it, the Russia gov is going to be changing a lot over the coming years. TBD on how that affects the rest of the world.
WORLD: Yesterday, at least 18 civilians were killed after airstrikes hit a market and an industrial zone in the Syria city of Idlib - currently held by rebels. Reminder: for over eight years, Syria’s been locked in a civil war that pits rebels - some backed by the US - against the Syrian gov - backed by Russia and led by Prez Assad. A ceasefire was implemented last weekend, but now, it looks like Russia broke the peace and launched airstrikes on Idlib. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, the US’s special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction has some news. Yesterday, he told Congress that US officials have been routinely lying to the public for years about the Afghanistan war to give an appearance of success.
USA: All eyes are on Lev Parnas. You know Parnas as a businessman who’s tight with Rudy Giuliani - Trump’s lawyer - and was involved with the whole Trump-Ukraine scandal. Fast forward to yesterday, and Parnas told the world that Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with efforts to pressure Ukraine to open up an investigation into the Bidens. Parnas also said the intention was to damage Biden - plus that Prez Trump “decided to” up pressure on Ukraine by withholding military aid and telling Ukraine that Vice Prez Mike Pence wouldn’t attend the prez’s inauguration unless there was an investigation. Plot twist. Speaking of which, the House of Reps just sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Suspense, thick.
POLITICS: Recently, Virginia gave the thumbs-up to the Equal Rights Amendment (which would give a constitutional guarantee of equal rights regardless of sex) - becoming the 38th state to do so. Quick refresher: the ERA was intro’d about a hundred years ago, but it needed three-quarters of US states to approve it in order to be ratified (aka signed into law). Now, it looks like the amendment’s finally snagged enough states. Not entirely clear what comes next. In other news, Prez Trump just signed off on the first stage of the US’s trade deal with China. And meanwhile, the Trump team is being sued over a policy that’d send asylum seekers to “safe third” countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
WHAT TO KNOW
“Ken Jennings:” who’s been officially crowned the greatest ‘Jeopardy!’ player of all time. We’ll take jealous for 500, Alex.
“Spotify launches playlists for dogs left home alone” - an actual headline. Anticipating this will be mastiffly entertaining.