Inside Daily Brief - December 13th, 2019

Inside Daily Brief (Dec 13th, 2019)

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1. The House Judiciary Committee voted Friday to approve two articles of impeachment against President Trump. The articles charge Trump with abusing the power of the presidency to pressure Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and obstructing a subsequent investigation into the request. The committee voted along party lines – the 23 Democrats voted to approve the articles, and the 17 Republicans all voted no. The only exception was Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, who missed the vote due to an illness. The articles now go to the full House of Representatives for a floor vote – if a simple majority votes to approve at least one of the articles, the Senate will be compelled to hold a trial of Trump where lawyers will present their cases. The House floor vote is expected to take place on Wednesday, Dec. 18. Committee chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said "the House will act expeditiously" but called it a "solemn and sad day." In a statement, the White House referred to the impeachment inquiry as a "desperate charade."NYTIMES

2. A 13-year-old boy has reportedly confessed to the stabbing death of 18-year-old Barnard College student Tessa Majors in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Majors, a freshman at Barnard, was attacked by a group of males, according to witnesses, before she collapsed at a security booth near the campus. The boy was arrested on Thursday afternoon for criminal trespass and was found with a knife in his possession. After questioning, he reportedly revealed that he and two friends stabbed Majors during a robbery attempt. Prosecutors will determine whether to charge the 13-year-old suspect as an adult. – WLNY

3. Danny Aiello, an Oscar-nominated actor whose film career spanned nearly five decades, has died at the age of 86. He made his film debut in 1973's "Bang The Drum Slowly" and had a small role as Tony Rosato in 1974's "The Godfather Part II," but his greatest success came in the 1980s in films like "Once Upon a Time in America," "Moonstruck," and "Do The Right Thing," for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also appeared in the films "Radio Days," "Harlem Nights," "Jacob's Ladder," and "Lucky Number Slevin." Aiello was a singer and musician as well, recording several albums of Sinatra-style standards. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Sandy. – DEADLINE

4. Actress Olivia Wilde has defended her portrayal of the late journalist Kathy Scruggs in the film "Richard Jewell." The Clint Eastwood-directed film follows the story of Jewell, the security guard falsely suspected of planning the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The film implies that Scruggs, who was a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, exchanged sex for information about the investigation into Jewell from an FBI agent played by Jon Hamm. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has demanded that Warner Bros., which released the film, make a statement that the depiction of Scruggs was dramatized and the offending sequence imagined. Wilde addressed the controversy in a series of tweets Thursday. "The perspective of the fictional dramatization of the story, as I understood it, was that Kathy, and the FBI agent who leaked false information to her, were in a pre-existing romantic relationship, not a transactional exchange of sex for information," she wrote. "I cannot speak for the creative decisions made by the filmmakers, as I did not have a say in how the film was ultimately crafted." Scruggs died in 2001. – CNN

5. Microsoft unveiled its new Xbox console set for release in late 2020 – the Xbox Series X. The technology giant made the announcement during the 2019 Game Awards, sharing an image of a console that Microsoft EVP of Gaming Phil Spencer says will "deliver four times the processing power of Xbox One X in the most quiet and efficient way." Several outlets have argued that the new Xbox looks just like a PC tower, which may be a good thing for gamers who've wanted a gaming console for the living room that packs the performative punch of a bulky PC. – THE VERGE

6. The Hollywood Critics Association has named director Denis Villeneuve the "Filmmaker of the Decade." The Oscar-nominated director will receive the award in a ceremony in Los Angeles on Jan. 9. Since 2010, Villeneuve has directed the films "Incendies," "Prisoners," "Enemy," "Sicario," "Arrival," and "Blade Runner 2049." Those films were nominated for a combined 18 Academy Awards – he was personally nominated for Best Director for "Arrival." Villeneuve is currently in post-production on an adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel, "Dune," which is set for theatrical release on Dec. 18, 2020. – NME

7. Astronomers from the Chinese Academy of Science have discovered 19 galaxies that are missing dark matter, throwing into question the current theory of how galaxies form. The discovery, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, reveals that the analyzed dwarf galaxies are "dark matter-deficient," and are largely composed of the protons, neutrons, and electrons indicative of "regular matter." The nature of matter is determined by analyzing the speed with which hydrogen gas rotates around a galaxy. Some galaxies have celestial bodies that move much faster than they should based on available data, indicating the presence of a "dark" matter for which astronomers don't know the source. The latest discovery further confirms that scientists still don't fully understand how or why galaxies form. – ASTRONOMY

8. Retail sales rose at a lower-than-expected rate in November, suggesting that holiday shopping could be going through a slump in 2019. Sales were up 0.2 percent in November, though analysts had anticipated an increase closer to 0.5 percent. The gains were the highest among car dealerships and gas stations, and retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. Department stores, restaurants, and pharmacies saw a decline in sales. It might not all be doom and gloom, though – some economists suspect that gains will be greater in December, as the first weekend of holiday shopping didn't come until after Thanksgiving, which fell relatively late in November this year. – MARKETWATCH

9. The city of Topeka, Kan., is offering people up to $15,000 to move there. A joint project between Topeka economic development groups is offering individuals who move to the city for work $10,000 if they rent and $15,000 if they purchase a home. The groups will split the cost with employers who successfully encourage new workers to move to the city, though they'll have to live there for a year in order to receive the money. In 2020, between 40 and 60 new residents will receive the funds. – TIME

10. Buzzfeed has published its list of "The 100 Memes That Defined the 2010s." It's a list that's bound to cause inspired debate (Duck Army is only #97?) but it's also a delightful reminder of the trends of years past. For example, it's pretty hard to believe that Insane Clown Posse's hilarious "Miracles" was released nearly 10 years ago. I won't reveal which meme came in at #1, except to say that it undoubtedly soaks up a lot of the true essence of the 2010s, a decade many meme-sharers will be happy to see in the rearview mirror. – BUZZFEED

Jonathan Harris is a Los Angeles-based writer. Previously, he wrote for The Huffington Post,, and the YouTube channel What’s Trending. He’s a frequent performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood. Follow him on Twitter @countrycaravan.

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