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Somali parliament will hold first meeting in ‘safe haven’

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Somalia’s newly selected parliament will convene for its inauguration Monday under the protection of African Union troops at Mogadishu airport, the UN said, after lawmakers appealed for protection.

The parliament’s interim speaker Musa Hassan Abdallah issued an urgent request Monday to the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) requesting an “alternative place of safe haven” to meet, the UN said in a statement.

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The fortified airport zone adjoins the base for the nearly 17,000-strong AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which has propped up Somalia’s Western-backed leadership against attacks by the country’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.

“In response to this request … UNPOS in coordination with AMISOM and in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders in the government, will facilitate the inauguration inside Mogadishu International Airport,” the UN office said.

The new parliament is expected to hold its inaugural session on the airport tarmac. The country’s transitional government ends its mandate on Monday after eight years of political infighting and rampant corruption, to be replaced by new lawmakers selected by a group of 135 traditional elders in a UN-backed process.

The outgoing legislature met in the war-damaged parliament building, but security concerns are high that the Shebab could try to attack the symbolic opening of the new administration.

Somalia has not had a stable central government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, which sparked rounds of bloody civil war and two decades of chaos.

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The new parliament was originally scheduled to elect a new president Monday, but lawmakers said the vote had been delayed.

Despite the new parliament convening at the airport, massive steps forward have been made recently in Somalia, with greatly improved security in the capital and members of the diaspora returning to invest in their war-ravaged homeland.

A military advance by AU, Somali and Ethiopian troops has driven the hardline Shebab insurgents from a string of key bases in recent months, but fighters have also staged a string of guerrilla attacks.

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[image via Agence France-Presse]


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Bill Barr: Donald Trump’s one-man wrecking crew has big dreams

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I must have heard the words "historic day" uttered a hundred times on Tuesday and it wasn't hyperbole. The Democratic leadership announced that they have decided to charge President Donald Trump with two articles of impeachment, one for abuse of power and one for obstruction of Congress. The process is proceeding at a breakneck speed and should be concluded within the next month or so.  I have no idea what any of the players intend to do after that, but I have a sneaking suspicion Trump will be happy to carry on with his own "impeachment" of the Democrats and he's got a very powerful collaborator ready to do all he can to help: Attorney General William Barr.

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‘Will surely trigger’ the ‘snowflake crowd’: Internet celebrates climate activist Greta Thunberg as TIME’s Person of the Year

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TIME magazine has just named Swedish climate crisis and environmental activist Greta Thunberg its 2019 "Person of the Year" and the immediate responses are overwhelmingly positive -- for several reasons. Many are offering congratulations, saying it is well-deserved. But given the disgraceful and disgusting attacks the 16 year-old has endured from climate and science denying conservatives, some are enjoying the double-edged award because it "will trigger all the right people."

Here's TIME's announcement.

.@GretaThunberg is TIME's 2019 Person of the Year #TIMEPOY https://t.co/YZ7U6Up76v pic.twitter.com/SWALBfeGl6

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I thought Democrats were making a giant mistake on impeachment — but these experts changed my mind

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On Tuesday, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives announced that they would move forward with two articles of impeachment — involving abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — against President Donald Trump.

At first, I shared the frustration of many liberals and progressives that these articles are too limited in scope, and leave a great many of Trump’s apparent misdeeds unmentioned. But further reflection and exchanges with legal experts have convinced me that appearance is misleading. In fact, Democrats have performed a deft feat. In a single stroke — OK, two strokes — they have elevated the process of holding Trump accountable above the realm of partisan politics, and have also given the Democratic nominee (whoever that is) an excellent case to use against Trump in next year’s presidential election. The challenge for Democrats going forward will be to keep that nonpartisan outlook in mind — while understanding that, ultimately and unfortunately, the only possible way to hold Trump accountable will be through partisan politics.

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