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Inside Daily Brief (Jan 16th, 2020)

1. The Senate formally opened the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Thursday. House managers, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, read aloud the articles of impeachment against the president, after which the Senate took a recess before swearing-in Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to preside over the trial. According to a person familiar with Trump's schedule, the president was not watching the articles of impeachment being read live on television. The more substantive parts of the trial are expected to begin next Tuesday, once the Senate returns from the holiday weekend break. — NY TIMES

2. Only hours before the House managers delivered the articles of impeachment, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Thursday that the Trump administration violated the law when it withheld security aid to Ukraine in 2019. The GAO's report specifies that Congress authorized aid to Ukraine and that the president is not permitted "to ignore or amend any such duly enacted law." Congressional Democrats quickly used the report as support for their argument that President Trump knowingly broke the law when he said he would withhold aid unless Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky opened an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. A spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget said the agency "disagree[s] with the GAO's opinion." — LA TIMES

3. Australian firefighters have saved ancient "dinosaur trees" from destruction, according to officials in New South Wales. Firefighters conducted a "military-style operation" to save the trees in Wollemi National Park, dropping flame retardant and setting up irrigation systems. The trees were plentiful over 100 million years ago, and were thought to be extinct until 200 were discovered in the national park in 1994. Their exact location is kept secret to avoid any contamination or accidental destruction. The operation to save the trees commenced amid massive bushfires that have scorched over 11 million hectares in Australia since September 2019, an area roughly the size of Virginia. — BRISBANE TIMES

4. Sepsis, a condition caused by an infection in the blood, is the cause of one in five deaths worldwide, according to a new report. Researchers at the University of Washington said sepsis kills 11 million people every year, double that of previous estimates, and more than cancer or respiratory illness. Sepsis occurs when the immune system begins fighting other parts of the body instead of only fighting an infection. The analysis said previous estimates only looked at sepsis occurrence in wealthy nations, and missed the 85 percent of cases reported in low- or middle-income nations. The researchers recommended improvements in public health infrastructure, including vaccines and access to clean water and sanitation in poorer countries. — BBC

5. The Transportation Security Administration says it set a new record in 2019 by seizing 4,432 firearms at security checkpoints. TSA administrator David Pekoske said Wednesday that 87 percent of all the confiscated guns were loaded. "The continued increase in the number of firearms that travelers bring to airport checkpoints is deeply troubling," Pekoske said, while reiterating that any passengers who wish to travel with firearms must pack them, unloaded, into a hard-sided locked case, and check them at the airline check-in counter. In July, a man attempted to bring a missile launcher onto a plane in his checked luggage. He said he was an active military servicemember and wished to keep the weapon as a souvenir. — NPR

6. HBO confirmed Wednesday it officially canceled the planned series "Confederate" from "Game of Thrones" creators and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The show, originally announced in 2017, was described as a sci-fi drama depicting an alternate history where Southern U.S. states successfully seceded from the Union, "giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution." There was an immediate backlash against HBO, questioning why "slavery fanfic" would be an appropriate subject for two white writers. HBO stayed committed to producing the show for a time, before network president Casey Bloys confirmed Wednesday the show would not be moving forward. In August 2019, Benioff and Weiss signed a multiyear content deal with Netflix worth a reported $200 million. — TV LINE

7. The European Union (EU) is considering implementing a measure to standardize smartphone chargers in an effort to eliminate electronic waste. Though most smartphones (and Apple's iPad Pro) use USB-C charging ports, Apple's iPhone still requires a Lightning connector to charge. The EU believes a law requiring a single charger for all smartphones would eliminate 51,000 tons of electronic waste every year, and would ease the frustration that comes with purchasing a new charger every time a user switches phones. According to several sources, however, Apple may be planning to get rid of Lightning ports already and switch to an entirely wireless charging system. — INTERESTING ENGINEERING

8. New Orleans police issued an arrest warrant Thursday for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. after Beckham slapped the buttocks of a security guard at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome following LSU's victory in Monday's NCAA national championship game. The security guard filed a complaint of simple battery against Beckham following the game. In a statement, the Browns said they are "cooperating with the proper authorities to appropriately address the situation." Beckham may also be in trouble for handing out cash to members of the winning team Monday, a violation of NCAA rules. Beckham played at LSU from 2011-2013. — ESPN

9. New York City's Governor's Ball Music Festival announced its 2020 lineup Thursday. Headliners include Missy Elliott, Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Stevie Nicks, and Solange. The festival announced a new age policy this year, whereby all persons under the age of 17 will need to be accompanied by an adult over the age of 21. The final day of last year's Governor's Ball was nearly canceled after a pop-up storm cell threatened to rain out the performances. The Governor's Ball will be at Randall's Island Park from June 5 to 7, with three-day tickets going on sale tomorrow morning at 12 p.m. ET. — PITCHFORK

10. Step aside, cartoon dog in the burning house. Imgur users selected Hide the Pain Harold as the best meme of the 2010s. The image-sharing community announced Harold's victory in a blog post, reporting that the meme earned 20 percent of all votes, beating out other stalwart memes like Grumpy Cat and Nodding Gandalf. "Hide the Pain Harold represents a deep-seated emotion, a quiet dread, or existential anguish that resides in all of us," Imgur wrote in the announcement. Harold is actually a Hungarian man named András Arató, who didn't realize he was internet-famous until a few years after the meme started widely circulating. — THE NEXT WEB

Jonathan Harris is a Los Angeles-based writer. Previously, he wrote for The Huffington Post, TakePart.com, 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.

Edited by Sheena Vasani, staff writer at Inside.

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