5 things to know for December 17: White House, Brexit, Sri Lanka, China, Hungary
AJ Willingham, CNN - Time is running out to get in the holiday spirit, so let our top Christmas movie picks give you a boost. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
1. White House
It's bound to be another exhausting week in Washington. Why? Let us count the ways: Over the weekend, President Trump lashed out at the ongoing Mueller investigation, calling it a "scam" and characterizing a raid of his former attorney Michael Cohen's office as a break-in. This of course comes among court filings and sentencing hearings regarding some of the high-level Trump associates implicated in the investigations. Next up? Tuesday's sentencing hearing for former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted lying to the FBI. Moving on, we could be looking at a partial government shutdown soon over funding for a border wall. Trump wants $5 billion, but Democrats are unwilling to agree to that and any spending bill needs bipartisan support to pass Congress. Also, the revolving door at the White House keeps revolving: News broke over the weekend that embattled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would be leaving his position, and on Friday Trump announced he would be replacing Chief of Staff John Kelly at the end of the year. So basically, your office may be quiet as everyone gets ready for the holidays, but the Oval Office sure isn't.
Could the UK be heading for a second vote on whether or not to leave the European Union? What was once an unthinkable question is now, according to British political experts, a serious possibility. That's because UK Prime Minister Theresa May has, so far, failed to engineer a graceful, er, Brexit. Last week, both EU leaders and members of May's own party voiced their lack of support for her Brexit deal, which would negotiate the economic terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. Without a deal, the UK would just crash out of the EU at the Brexit deadline which is, friendly reminder, rapidly approaching in March. Such a scenario would probably be catastrophic for the UK's economy. All of this chaos is what has fueled speculation about a second referendum. May denounced the possibility on Sunday, saying a second vote would "do irreparable damage to the integrity our politics."
3. Sri Lanka
Let's head over to Sri Lanka for even more political turmoil: Two months ago, President Maithripala Sirisena sacked the country's Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe. The decision created a constitutional crisis, with Wickremesinghe insisting he was still Prime Minister, leading to mass protests in the capital Colombo. Now, the President has reinstated Wickremesinghe in a surprising reversal. This comes after the country's Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Sirisena's firing of the Prime Minister violated the constitution. While the reversal may be an attempt to restore some political normalcy, the damage is already done -- aside from protests and nationwide anxiety over the decision, Sri Lanka's economy and global standing also faltered as a result.
One hundred Christians have been detained in China, raising concerns about the Chinese Communist Party's crackdown on religion. Among those detained is a prominent Chinese pastor and legal scholar, who was reportedly arrested on allegations of "inciting subversion of state power." Christians haven't been the only ones to experience serious pressure under China's government: China has also been accused of carrying out a systematic campaign of human rights violations against hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uyghurs in the far western region of Xinjiang. Rights advocates say this new move against religious freedom isn't about religion itself, per se, but about China's Communist Party exerting more control to make sure they stay in power.
Ongoing protests in Hungary's capital city of Budapest took a violent turn on Sunday. Thousands gathered to protest new legislation they call a "slave law," because it would ask workers to take on up to 400 hours of overtime a year. The law was passed by Hungary's parliament last week. The government says the law would allow people to work and earn more, but critics say the policy, while voluntary, invites exploitation. There's been a lot of concern over recent political dealings in Hungary, namely over the ruling populist party's perceived crackdown on democratic institutions. Earlier this year, the European Parliament took the unprecedented step of launching Article 7 -- a disciplinary process -- against Hungary, a rare process designed to prevent members from breaching the EU's "core values."
"As I know too well, it's not easy when you stand up and put yourself in contention for a role that's only been sought by boys."
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Who else just wants to hang around in their PJs all day today? Bonus if your pajama party comes with goats. (Click here to view)