News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Russia's Government, China Trade Deal, and Eco-Friendly Toothpaste Tubes

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Jan 16, 2020


The Story

Russia's prime minister – and his entire cabinet – just quit.

New year, new them I guess.

There's more to it than that. Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual address to the country. In it, he proposed sweeping changes to Russia's constitution.

What kind of changes?

Like moving a ton of power from the president to the parliament. That includes giving parliament the power to pick Russia's next prime well as the entire cabinet. Putin says these are democratic reforms.

And critics say...

It's a shrewd move. That's because Putin's term ends in 2024, and he can't run for president again. But with the changes, Putin can lay the groundwork for parliament to potentially pick him as Russia's next prime minister. It's a position that these changes could make more powerful than the president.

Got it. And you said Russia's prime minister quit over this?

Yes, but apparently not in a protest kind of way. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is Putin's longtime protégé. When Putin had to take a break from the presidency for term limit reasons, Medvedev subbed in as president...and apparently let Putin call the shots. Now, Medvedev is moving aside from the PM job to serve as head of Russia's Security Council. It's not clear what the purpose is, but many see it as Putin moving his allies where he needs them for a potential power grab when his presidency ends.

So what happens next?

Putin called for a referendum on the changes – the first of its kind since the '90s. Meanwhile, a relative unknown, Mikhail Mishustin, will replace Medvedev in the PM role. His background: heading the country's tax service.


Putin's been in a leadership role since 1999. He's been prime minister, twice. And is on his fourth term as president. The latest move reaffirms past predictions that Putin has no plans to retire. And could be playing the long game to secure his grip on power.


Who's signed on the dotted line…

The US and China. Yesterday, the two countries signed "phase one" of their 86-page trade agreement. It comes after nearly two years of back-and-forth negotiations between the world's two largest economies. In it, China agreed to purchase an additional $200 billion of US goods and products – like soybeans, wheat, cotton, and pork, which the admin believes will be beneficial for US farmers. And agreed to stronger protections for US intellectual property. In return, the US agreed to cut the tariff rate in half on $120 billion of Chinese goods. Trump called it a "momentous step," and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly said the deal was "good for China, the US and the whole world."

  • More work to be done: With phase one of the agreement signed, sealed, and delivered, both leaders are eyeing a possible "phase two." But tariffs are still very much in place on the US side, and negotiations for a second phase aren't expected to begin anytime soon.

Psst...This deal may ease trade tensions, but critics warn it won't solve everything. Here's a quick refresher on tariffs – and what they mean for your wallet.

What's taking action…

The House. Yesterday, it voted to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate. This paves the way for a Senate trial to begin as early as Tuesday. The trial will determine if President Trump will be removed from office. And some of the details – including whether witnesses will testify – are still being worked out. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) confirmed the list of seven House reps serving as impeachment managers.

Thing To Know: impeachment managers. Like prosecutors...but in the Senate. The House reps Pelosi chose will have to persuade at least two-thirds of the Senate (67 senators) to convict the president and remove him from office. Tough job in a Republican-majority Senate.

What's saying 'it's getting hot in here'...

Earth. Yesterday, scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that 2019 was the second-hottest year on record. And that the high temps contributed to some extreme events, like heatwaves, wildfires, and intense precipitation. They also said the last 10 years were the warmest in modern times – mostly because of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

What's making people smile…


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