News diary 20-26 January: Donald Trump impeachment trial gets underway and Australian Open begins

Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week… 

After a low-key start to the new year for Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister’s return to the fore continues on Monday when he welcomes government leaders and senior business figures to London for the UK-Africa Investment Summit.

The summit is intended to boost British finance and development links with African nations and represents an opportunity for the Johnson government to demonstrate its investment credentials on the global stage as the UK begins to move out of the EU’s sphere of influence.

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The Australian Open starts with the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Joanna Konta lined up to play first round matches. The recent wildfire crisis raging across Australia has threatened the tournament and caused anger from tennis stars, with Brayden Schnur complaining about the “super dryness” of the conditions during qualifiers and Dalila Jakupovic being forced to give up a match she was winning due to a coughing fit.

On Tuesday, the long-awaited impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begins in the US Senate. The trial officially opened last week when Senators and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts were sworn in to deliver “impartial justice”, and Rep. Adam Schiff read aloud the House articles of impeachment.

The trial is the first in US history to occur in an election year, taking leading candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren away from the campaign trail in the crucial weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses.

Greta Thunberg takes the stage for two speeches at the opening of the World Economic Forum, where she’ll be demanding that leaders “immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels”.

Media will be watching for another potential run-in with Donald Trump, who is also due to make a speech and who has previously clashed with the teenager on their differing environmental positions.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon presents her vision for the future of the Scottish economy on Wednesday in a highly anticipated address to the IPPR think tank in Edinburgh. The speech comes a week on from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to grant Scotland new powers to call a second independence referendum, which Sturgeon called “predictable and unsustainable”.

Over at Edinburgh’s High Court, Sturgeon’s predecessor Alex Salmond appears charged with a series of sex offences. Salmond faces a total of 14 charges against ten victims, with the offences alleged to have taken place between June 2008 and November 2014. The former leader of the Scottish National Party has denied the charges and a full trial is expected to begin on 9 March.

India’s top court is set to hear arguments challenging the highly-controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which would fast-track citizenship for refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan but specifically excludes Muslims.

Critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi say it’s just the latest evidence of his Hindu-nationalist tendencies that fly in the face of the country’s secular constitution, while some states have reportedly vowed not to implement the law.

Some 30 world leaders gather in Jerusalem on Thursday for the fifth World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Attendees include Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Prince of Wales and US Vice-President Mike Pence, but not Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was reportedly told that he would not be allowed to make a speech.

Duda expressed anger that Putin, who made recently made incendiary comments about Poland’s role in the war, has been allowed to speak at the event.

The International Court of Justice announces its decision on provisional measures in a case brought against Myanmar by The Gambia (on behalf of a group of Muslim nations), accusing Myanmar of genocide against its Rohingya Muslims.

Aung San Suu Kyi personally attended hearings in December to defend her government’s actions, and recently received a show of support from China’s Xi Jinping, who visited the country last week.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists holds its flagship annual Doomsday Clock announcement, setting out its consensus of how just how close to apocalypse (midnight) we all are.

Last year the clock remained unchanged at a disconcerting two minutes to midnight, half a minute closer than the 2017 estimate. There’s a fair chance, given developments in the realms of nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies, that we could see the clock move closer to midnight this year.

The executive council of the Unite union, which enjoyed significant influence on the leadership of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, meets on Friday to decide which candidates to back in the party’s latest contest.

General Secretary Len McCluskey rejected reports that the union would endorse Corbynite candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey, though she is thought to be the favourite. Unite’s endorsement would be a significant boon for any of the five contenders, particularly after Keir Starmer secured the backing of the UK’s biggest union, Unison, last week.

A UK citizens’ assembly meets to establish how the UK will reach its net-zero climate emissions target. The assembly was commissioned by six cross-party House of Commons select committees following former Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that the UK would be committing to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and will take place over four weekends between January and March.

Issues proposed for discussion include whether SUVs should be banned and whether aviation should be taxed more.

The race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn continues on Saturday with a hustings event in Leeds. The opening days of the campaign have offered plenty of talking points: Keir Starmer’s early frontrunner status was tempered by a poll showing Rebecca Long-Bailey moving into the lead, and perceived outsider Lisa Nandy was boosted by a strong showing in her one-to-one interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

Anti-war demonstrators are expected to gather around the world for a global Day of Protest against a potential conflict with Iran and continued American military involvement in the Middle East.

The demonstrations follow a tumultuous period that has seen the American assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani result in a retaliatory Iranian attack on a US military base in Iraq. The escalating tensions have led to the deployment of thousands of additional US troops to the region, prompting fears of continued violence.

Elections take place in Peru on Sunday, following a months-long battle between President Martin Vizcarra and Congress over planned reforms. Vizcarra dissolved Congress and called snap elections in September after lawmakers blocked his anti-corruption measures, but the dissolution was challenged by opposition politicians, who said he had breached the constitution. It was declared legal by the country’s Constitutional Court on 16 January, meaning polls can go ahead as planned.

Local elections are held in Italy’s Emiliana Romagna, where polls have suggested the traditionally left-leaning region could swing to support Matteo Salvini’s right-wing Lega Nord party. Another regional victory for Lega would put pressure on Giuseppe Conte’s national government, though Conte has insisted otherwise.

And musicians gather for the Grammy Awards, which take place under a cloud following the suspension of National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences chief executive Deborah Dugan just ten days before the ceremony and five months into her tenure as the organisation’s first female chief. Dugan has been accused of misconduct by a senior member of staff.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Michael A. McCoy

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