Things That Matter

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About What Happened On Day Two Of The Impeachment Inquiry Hearings

We have just wrapped up the first week of what is expected to be a 10-day inquiry into President Donald Trump’s controversial dealings with Ukraine. After more than a month of closed-door depositions, the American public is getting a first-hand opportunity to hear directly from three key witnesses in the probe. As more public and private hearings are still being scheduled, testimonies this week kicked off the next step in the Democrats’ investigation into President Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine spy on his political rivals.

On Wednesday, Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent testified in a joint hearing in front of the House Intelligence Committee. On Friday, it was former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that would be testifying. She used the hearing as an opportunity to tell her side of the story in which she says she was a victim of a smear campaign led by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Yovanovitch described how President Trump had tarnished a reputation after 33 years of serving the U.S. and left her “shocked” and “appalled.” 

It’s just the second hearing but this first week has already revealed various details into President Trump’s dealings in Ukraine. 

Friday’s hearing proved to be filled with as much drama as Wednesday with Yovanovitch placed on center stage. She was praised by both Democrats and Republicans who thanked her for her service to the U.S never casting doubt on her testimony. However, that didn’t stop Republicans from attacking Democrats for the way they’ve handled these impeachment proceedings. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) stood by having Yovanovitch testifying saying that her long years of service to the country warranted her testimony. 

Yovanovitch spoke at length about her removal as ambassador to Ukraine and was then “attacked” by Trump and Giuliani.  She recounted how she felt threatened by President Trump and fellow associates when she read the transcript of the July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. 

“It was a terrible moment,” Yovanovitch told the House Intelligence Committee on Friday. “A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face. I think I even had a physical reaction. I think, you know, even now, words kind of fail me.”

The transcript between the two leaders shows that Trump told Zelensky that Yovanovitch was “bad news” and Zelensky said he agreed “100 percent.” The heartfelt testimony was felt throughout the room as she recounted the emotions that went through her mind as she read the transcript for the first time.

President Trump would get involved in the hearing even though he wasn’t there. 

One of most shocking moments from Friday’s hearing came from someone that wasn’t even in the room. In the middle of Yovanovitch’s testimony, President Trump took to Twitter to further attack her. 

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he wrote on Twitter. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”

The critique was attacked by Rep. Schiff, Democrats and even some Republicans, who labeled the tweets as witness intimidation. The real-time tweets gave Schiff an opportunity to ask Yovanovitch about it and her reaction. 

“Ambassador, you’ve shown courage to come forward today and testify, notwithstanding the fact you were urged by the White House or State Department not to, notwithstanding the fact that as you testified earlier the president implicitly threatened you in that call record. And now the president in real time is attacking you,” Schiff told Yovanovitch. 

“What effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing,” Schiff asked.

“It’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch said. “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”

When later asked about the tweets, President Trump said he wasn’t trying to intimidate Yovanovitch but just trying to speak his mind on the issue.  “I want freedom of speech,” Trump told reporters as he spoke about what he called an “unfair process”. 

As the hearings wrapped on Friday, Yovanovitch was met with resounding applause and cheers after testifying for almost 7 hours. The moment marked the ending of what was surely an eventful week in Washington.

READ: This Study Just Identified The Most Migrant-Friendly Cities In The US And The List Might Surprise You

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Lawmakers Want To Include ‘Selena’ In The National Film Registry

Entertainment

Lawmakers Want To Include ‘Selena’ In The National Film Registry

RICCO TORRES/AFP via Getty Images

“Selena” is one of the most influential and impactful movies of our generation. We all remember watching Jennifer Lopez embody the Tejana queen of music. The 1997 biopic is a classic and there is finally talk of including it in the National Film Registry.

“Selena” is one of the most impactful movies of our childhoods.

The 1997 movie was something that we watched over and over when we were younger. We sang the songs and basically learned all of the lines of this movie. It is arguably one of the first times we saw our culture and one of our icons’ stories told for the masses.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is pushing for “Selena” to officially be recognized.

Movies are a crucial part of telling the full story of American life. The National Film Registry is a list of movies that are honored for their cultural impact. “Real Women Have Curves,” “West Side Story,” and “Zoot Suit” are all part of the National Film Registry. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and wrote a letter asking for the consideration of “Selena.”

“As a next step, we also wish to formally nominate the 1997 film ‘Selena’ for inclusion in the National Film Registry in 2021,” reads the letter. “Directed by Gregory Nava and starring Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos, the film depicts the life, remarkable rise, and tragic death of Tejana music star Selena Quintanilla.”

There is a lot of hope that the Library of Congress will make this happen.

Selena represents that first major and successful jumps from the Latino market to the mainstream that many of us can remember. We finally had someone who looked like us and understood our cultural struggles in a real way. Our story was being told and the film about the music icon was so important in guiding some of us through our own cultural struggles.

“The film also touches on important themes of cultural identity and assimilation faced by Mexican American communities as they navigate their personal connections to two cultures and languages,” the letter continues to explain. “The film has become a beloved icon of Latino culture and has found widespread mainstream success, proving once and for all that Latino stories are American stories.”

Selena is the kind of cultural phenomenon that comes once in a lifetime.

The singer was able to build an impressive legacy that has endured for longer than she was alive. We were raised with her music and told her story over and over to keep us all tuned in to the fact that we could do anything. If Selena could break into the mainstream audience, we could all be that successful.

“Given its importance as a work of Latino cinema, we believe it is deserving of preservation at the Library of Congress. We trust you will give ‘Selena’ careful consideration, and hope to see it included in the titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021,” Rep. Castro further explains in the letter. “We also expect to identify other films which feature the American Latino experience and urge you to devote careful consideration to Latino films when considering films for the registry as well.”

Here’s hoping that “Selena” gets the official recognition it clearly deserves.

We all have our fingers crossed that this movie will earn its place in the National Film Registry because it deserves that kind of praise.

READ: Part 2 Of “Selena: The Series” Has Already Finished Filming And Here’s Everything We Know About The Next Season

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Peru Is In Crisis As The Country Searches For A New President Amid Protests And A Police Crackdown

Things That Matter

Peru Is In Crisis As The Country Searches For A New President Amid Protests And A Police Crackdown

ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP via Getty Images

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

In less than a week, the country is on the verge of seeing its third president – if legislators can find someone able and willing to take the job. In the meantime, protesters are making their voices heard in cities all across the country and police are using violence and oppression to silence them.

For a country that was turning the bend on the pandemic, how exactly did Peru end up crashing into one crisis from another?

Peru’s interim-President has resigned just days after assuming the office.

Peruvians woke up on Monday morning still wondering who would be their new head of state after lawmakers failed overnight to name a replacement to become the country’s third president in a week.

It was less than 24 hours earlier that the country’s interim leader Manuel Merino was forced to resign. Following a week of protests against the removal of former President Martín Vizcarra, police responded with increased force over the weekend.

Saturday’s protests in Lima, which are mostly being led by young Peruvians, were largely peaceful but clashes broke out towards the evening between police and protesters. Police reportedly fired tear gas and shotgun pellets to repel demonstrators, some of whom had thrown fireworks and stones. Two students, Jack Pintado, 22, and Inti Sotelo, 24, were killed in the protests.

Politicians immediately called for Merino’s resignation following the violent crackdown. In fact, twelve of his own ministers (of his recently appointed cabinet) resigned in protest against police brutality and his handling of the crisis.

“I want to let the whole country know that I’m resigning,” Merino said in a televised address.

It’s still not clear who will be selected to take over the country until elections can be held in April.

Credit: Roberto Agn / Getty Images

On Sunday, legislators failed to approve Rocío Silva-Santisteban, a leftist human rights defender, as the next interim leader – even though he was the only name put forward for consideration.

The country’s fragmented and unpopular legislature will vote again on Monday when another name will be on the list: lawmaker Francisco Sagasti, a 76-year-old industrial engineer and former World Bank official.

Peru’s political upheaval adds to the uncertainty facing the country as it was already hit devastatingly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many fear that the ongoing crisis will lead to the worst economic contraction the country has seen in more than a century.

The political crisis started just last week when the elected president was impeached and removed from office.

It was just last week that the nation’s elected leader – ex-President Martín Vizcarra – was impeached and removed from office by Congress over allegations of corruption.

Since taking office in March 2018, Vizcarra was embroiled in a bitter battle with Congress, which is made up of rival parties. During his presidency, he worked to combat corruption throughout the country’s legislature. Half of the lawmakers are under investigation or indictment for alleged crimes including money laundering and homicide.

And as president, he enjoyed support among the public and voters but it was ultimately the allegations of bribery that brought him down. He has denied allegations that he accepted bribes worth 2.3 million soles ($640,000) when he was governor of the southern Moquegua region.

The former president has asked the country’s highest court to weigh in. “It can’t be that the institution that got us into this political crisis, that has for five days paralyzed Peru, with deaths, is going to give us a solution, choosing the person who they best see fit,” Vizcarra said, according to The Associated Press.

The country was just emerging from what seemed the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP via Getty Images

Many are concerned about the country’s short and long-term future, as a growing political and constitutional crisis seems likely. At the beginning of the pandemic, Peru imposed one of the earliest and strictest lockdowns in Latin America to stop the spread of coronavirus – but has still seen cases rise rapidly.

It has so far reported nearly 935,000 infections and more than 35,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University – making it the country with the third highest rate of deaths per 100,000 people in the world.

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