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News diary 9-15 December: Britain goes to the polls and BBC names Sports Personality of the Year

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

A special edition of BBC Question Time airs on Monday, with Emma Barnett hosting and an audience of under-30s grilling leading figures from the main parties.

Each has sought to appeal to the fabled youth vote over the course of this campaign, though Labour was the only party to launch an explicitly youth-focused manifesto, and tonight’s debate, which is also broadcast on Radio 1Xtra, is one of the last opportunities to sway the significant numbers of under-35s who registered to vote last month.

In the US, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz releases his report into alleged abuses of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The report is expected to conclude that the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign was legal, contradicting the president’s repeated claims that the FBI was biased against him and spied on his campaign illegally.

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee holds its second impeachment hearing into Trump’s alleged misconduct in relation to Ukraine. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi confirmed last week that the House would proceed with articles of impeachment, with voting possible before the US legislative session ends for Christmas.

The Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is due to issue a ruling on proposals to ban Russia from global sporting events for the next four years. The meeting follows the finding by a WADA committee that Russia should be declared non-compliant over its failure to co-operate with anti-doping investigations.

If the recommendation is approved, Russia would be barred from sporting events including the Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Having reacted in typically bullish fashion to his potential impeachment, Donald Trump hosts his latest campaign rally on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, a consistently unpredictable state with stark differences between the GOP-leaning suburbs and Democratic-favouring Philadelphia.

Trump was the first Republican to win the Keystone State since George H.W. Bush in 1988, though his narrow win of just 50,000 votes, combined with Congressional losses in the 2018 midterms, makes it a closely-watched swing state going into 2020.

Argentina’s new leftist president Alberto Fernandez takes office having defeated incumbent Mauricio Macri in October’s election, in what was seen as a rejection of his market-orientated policies that failed to improve the lives of everyday Argentinians.

Fernandez, and his running mate former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, face considerable economic challenges, key among them the country’s huge debts and rampant inflation.

Three days of hearings begin in the International Court of Justice, where Myanmar is accused of genocide against its Rohingya Muslims in a case brought by The Gambia.

Nobel peace prize laureate and Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is, unusually, set to attend to personally defend her government’s actions, which have been the subject of international condemnation.

Wednesday marks the final day for a member of the Israeli Knesset to form a government after September’s elections, following the failures of incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz to meet their own separate deadlines.

Meetings between Netanyahu and Gantz in an attempt to agree a unity government have so far proven fruitless, meaning Israelis face the prospect of a third election in under a year as early as next February.

Time magazine announces its person of the year for 2019, with Twitter opponents Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg among the favourites for the honour this year. Last year’s award went to The Guardians, a group that included Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe OO, murdered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khasoggi and reporters from the Capital Gazette newspaper.

It’s polling day in the UK on Thursday and the end of an election campaign which has seen leaked trade documents, fake fact-checking Twitter accounts, melting ice sculptures, defections and allegations of disloyalty, and the BBC’s chief political interviewer publicly calling out the Prime Minister.

The Conservative Party’s lead over Labour in the opinion polls remained healthy going into the final days of the campaign, though a late surge could yet prove decisive for Jeremy Corbyn and, as Richard Burgon knows, the polls don’t always get it right.

Despite huge protests Algeria is set to press ahead with a presidential election triggered by the forced resignation of long-time ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April.

Despite mass arrests in a government crackdown on demonstrations, protesters have continued to take to the streets in the run up to the vote amid calls for civil groups to boycott the election entirely. Candidates include former prime ministers Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Ali Benflis, along with two former ministers and the head of the Mostakbal Movement party.

European leaders gather in Brussels for the final European Council of the year, the first since Charles Michel took over from Donald Tusk as European Council President, with the opening day’s agenda including climate change and the EU’s long-term budget.

On Friday, when results from the UK general election are known, the agenda turns to Brexit, though there may be discussions on the situation of embattled Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, whose vow to step down in the new year over the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has failed to placate domestic and international critics.

Julian Assange appears before Westminster Magistrates’ Court for his latest extradition hearing, which comes after the court was told in November that the Wikileaks founder was unable to prepare for his full extradition hearing in February as a result of his prison computer being “unsuitable”.

Ahead of the hearing, Wikileaks said that the ongoing efforts to transfer their founder to America, where US authorities are pressing charges against Assange for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, were “akin to rendition“.

The final of Miss World takes place in London on Saturday after a gruelling three-week contest involving 130 contestants. The event made unwanted headlines last week, when Veronika Didusenko announced she was suing the UK-based organisers after being disqualified for having a five-year-old son. The former Miss Ukraine said the entry requirements were discriminatory and had no place in the 21st century.

New rail timetables take effect across the UK on Sunday and the changes, which are introduced twice a year, have caused problems in recent years as operators adjusted to the new schedules. The latest update may not result in the chaos of 2018, though any disruption that comes amid strikes on South West Rail and West Midlands and protests against Northern’s “abysmal” performance is unlikely to be well received by commuters.

The BBC presents its Sports Personality of the Year award. Ben Stokes emerged as an early favourite following his Cricket World Cup heroics, though Lewis Hamilton pressed his own credentials in November by becoming the second most successful Formula One driver of all time.

The six-person shortlist also features athletics stars Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, and Welsh rugby captain Alun Wyn Jones.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Adam Holt

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