STATE GOP TO ANNOUNCE NEW SPEAKER-ELECT THIS AFTERNOON: Indiana House Republicans will Monday afternoon announce a new speaker-elect. The decision follows current House Speaker Brian Bosma's (R-Indianapolis) decision to not seek re-election following the 2020 legislative session (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). House Republicans say the speaker-elect will work closely with Bosma during the short session, which convenes January 6. The Indiana House Republican leadership team is expected to make the announcement at 2:30 p.m. at the Statehouse.

HOLCOMB SENDS CEASE & DESIST LETTERS TO REVEAL, INDYSTAR: Governor Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement after his General Counsel Joe Heerens sent cease and desist letters to “Reveal” and the “Indianapolis Star.” (Howey Politics Indiana) “While filing a cease and desist letter is an unusual step to take, I’m compelled to do so. I will not let the false accusations about Indiana state employees and me stand, as first published by California-based Reveal and followed soon thereafter by the Indianapolis Star. Unfortunately, other news organizations in our state have either published the same story in its entirety or other versions unchecked for truth and accuracy, further perpetuating a false narrative. We have worked hard over the years in Indiana to create an environment for our citizens, state employees, and businesses based on accountability and fairness, where the rules are fairly applied to all based in truth. There are many good, tough, and thorough reporters in the Fourth Estate who seek to educate by way of the truth.  Unfortunately, when Reveal and the Indy Star worked in conjunction to publish a false story, it tarnishes journalistic integrity across the board and the public loses faith in where they get their news.”

INDYSTAR: WE TAKE CONCERNS ABOUT ACCURACY VERY SERIOUSLY - Reveal previously told IndyStar it stands by its story (Herron, IndyStar). The nonprofit news organization, founded in 1977, often partners with other news outlets around the country to distribute its work. It's been recognized for its investigations and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012, 2013 and 2018. "We take all concerns about accuracy very seriously," said IndyStar Executive Editor Ronnie Ramos, in response to Holcomb's cease and desist letter. "We understand Reveal is planning a substantive response to the governor's letter." 

WHITE HOUSE WILL NOT PARTICPATE IN IMPEACHMENT HEARING: The White House announced in a fiery letter Sunday night that President Trump and his lawyers won't participate in the House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing scheduled for Wednesday -- even accusing the panel's Democratic chairman, Jerry Nadler, of "purposely" scheduling the proceedings when Trump would be attending the NATO Leaders' Meeting in London (Fox News). “This baseless and highly partisan inquiry violates all past historical precedent, basic due process rights, and fundamental fairness,” wrote White House counsel Pat Cipollone, continuing the West Wing’s attack on the procedural form of the impeachment proceedings. Cipollone said Nadler provided only "vague" details about the hearing, and that unnamed academics -- and not "fact witnesses" -- would apparently be attending.

HOW MUCH DID VICE PRESIDENT KNOW ABOUT UKRAINE PRESSURE? As the White House scrambled in late August to swap Vice President Mike Pence into a pre-planned presidential trip to Poland, there was one meeting Pence was adamant stay on the schedule: a sit-down with Ukraine’s new president (Groppe, IndyStar). When Pence and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met on Sept. 1 in a windowless conference room of the Marriott in downtown Warsaw, the stalled aid was the first issue a frustrated Zelensky raised. Pence, surrounded by both sides’ aides and Cabinet members, did not specifically discuss with Zelensky the reasons behind the hold, according to testimony in the impeachment inquiry. Instead, Pence assured Zelensky that the United States was still fully behind Ukraine and he would talk to President Donald Trump to try to get the assistance released... an accumulation of public testimony, including from Sondland and other diplomats and aides, suggests heavy involvement by Pence in Ukraine generally, though no one seems to be accusing Pence of participating in or facilitating the effort to push Ukraine into taking up the investigations.

REPS. BUCSHON, PENCE TALK IMPEACHMENT: Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) appeared on this week's edition of IN Focus to discuss a wide range of issues, including the recent impeachment hearings and the looming possibility of another government shutdown later this month (Spehler, Fox59). "This is a partisan sham and the goal is simply to impeach the President as fast as possible," said Bucshon. "The public hearings, in my mind, didn't show much more than hear-say testimony and people's opinions."  Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN) also shared his thoughts on the issue after an event in Shelbyville last week."It’s a sham," said Pence, who felt some Democrats may be cooling on the idea of impeaching the President. "I noticed yesterday in some of the interviews on national television that they seem to be backing off a little bit, so I don’t think impeachment is a foregone conclusion."

BAYH SUGGESTS COMPROMISE TO AVOID IMPEACHMENT: Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who served during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, suggested Sunday that a compromise between House Democrats and President Trump could be a satisfactory solution to avoid the “political food fight” of impeachment, but said realistically he doubts it will become a reality (Fox News). Bayh claimed that the American people may best be served by the House continuing its investigation with Trump’s participation, and then leaving the ultimate decision to voters instead of the Senate. “It probably is in the president’s best interest to say ‘Look, I’ll participate, I’ll make all my witnesses available if you’ll agree to just let the voters decide next fall; issue a report, don’t impeach me.' I think there’s the middle ground," Bayh said on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures." Ultimately, however, he was pessimistic about the possibility. "Will they seize that middle ground? Probably not," the former senator said.

MAJORITY OF REPUBLICANS SAY TRUMP BETTER LEADER THAN LINCOLN: A majority of Republicans say President Trump is a better leader than former President Lincoln, according to this week’s Economist/YouGov weekly tracking poll (The Hill). Fifty-three percent of Republicans said Trump was a better president than Lincoln, while 47 percent chose the Civil War-era leader. Lincoln still overwhelmingly beats Trump among all Americans, 75 percent to 25 percent, with the vast majority of Democrats and independents choosing the former president.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Currently experiencing bitter disappointment in the Colts loss yesterday. Honestly, I can't remember a more upsetting late-game performance by my favorite NFL team. The Old Oaken Bucket's "wet, ugly and thrilling" double overtime contest, on the other hand, generated great pride in Indiana and Purdue football programs. As our publisher, Brian Howey, likes to say, "Never Never Never Give Up!" More good news: I'm told Brian is progressing in rehab and will return to these pages soon. - Mark Curry

Presidential 2020

'YOU AIN'T SEEN NUTHIN' YET':  If The Gipper - President Ronald Wilson Reagan - were still alive, you might hear his echoes emanating through the Simi Valley smoke and embers: “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.” (Howey, Howey Politics Indiana) That would be an apt description of the looming 2020 presidential race that will take place a year from now. It is shaping up to be a historic stew and brew of impeachment, where decorated military and intelligence personnel are labeled “human scum,” replete with a whirling lazy susan of alternative facts, all documented by enemies of the American people and slung like Seattle market fish on Facebook and Twitter.

BUTTIGIEG ADDRESSES REV. BARBER'S N.C. CONGREGATION: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg visited Goldsboro on Sunday as he works to improve his standing in a Super Tuesday state and with black voters (WRAL). Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, attended Sunday morning services at Greenleaf Christian Church, which is led by civil rights leader the Rev. William Barber. He participated in communion and sat through the service and music before moving in front of the congregation to speak. Buttigieg sat with Rev. Barber to discuss a variety of issues, especially poverty. He took a handful of questions from the congregation asking him how he would address poverty if elected president in November. A recent poll found just 1% of African Americans in South Carolina support Buttigieg. He’s also faced criticism following the South Bend shooting death of an African American man by a white police officer.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN ON BUTTIGIEG VISIT TO N.C. CHURCH: Samantha Cotten, a spokesperson for President Donald Trump's campaign, released the following statement (WRAL): "Pete Buttigieg will need to do more than staged campaign stops to make amends with the African American community. Voters know his abysmal record as mayor on crime, housing, and the lack of diversity in his administration. Meanwhile, President Trump is delivering on his promises with record low unemployment for African Americans and major reforms to the criminal justice system.”

SANDERS: SCRIPTURES CALL FOR JUSTICE - As he vies for the chance to replace President Donald Trump, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders said Sunday that he is running a campaign that, like Scripture, calls for a renewed focus on justice in the way all people should be treated (Associated Press). It’s a broad-based approach that the Vermont senator said he believes will mean victory in his pursuit of the nomination, as well as in next year’s general election. “When we read from the Scriptures, the calling for the moment now is for nothing less than justice,” Sanders told a congregation at Reid Chapel AME, a black church in the heart of Columbia’s historic Greenview neighborhood. “It is not justice when so few have so much, and so many have so little.”

YANG RAISES $750K IN SINGLE DAY: Presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D) raised almost $750,000 in a single day on Nov. 30, the largest fundraising haul in a 24-hour period during his campaign (The Hill). S.Y. Lee, Yang’s national press secretary, told The Hill the funds came from about 18,000 contributions with an average donation of about $41. “I think what was so cool about this was all it took was 'This is the end of the month' and the campaign [saying]: ‘Hey, we’re small dollars [powered] here,'” Nick Ryan, Yang’s campaign chief, told Politico.

KLOBUCHAR KNOCKS BLOOMBERG'S LATE ENTRY: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a Democratic presidential candidate, knocked former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's late entry into the 2020 race (The Hill). Klobuchar dismissed the Bloomberg campaign's pitch that the billionaire saw a need for a candidate to take on President Trump. "I have admiration for the work that he’s done. But I don’t buy this argument that you get in because you say ‘oh everyone else sucks.’ I just don’t," Klobuchar said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

TRUMP/PENCE TO PLAY BAD COP/GOOD COP: It’s the same good cop, bad cop routine voters saw in 2016, but it will be even more pronounced on the campaign trail this cycle as the president’s team works to overcome an anti-Trump animus that has seeped into suburban pockets of electorally crucial states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (Politico). Much of the strategy is driven by internal data and public polling that Pence and campaign officials have paid close attention to since last year’s midterm elections, when the Republican Party lost its grip on many higher-income suburban areas. 

TRUMP CAMPAIGN MONETIZES IMPEACHMENT: Impeachment is bringing out President Trump's instincts as marketer in chief, as he seeks to turn a perilous, shame-inducing inquiry into an aggressive fundraising and mobilization tool (Axios). From merchandise to rally rhetoric to paid media strategy, a campaign official tells Axios that a lot of the ideas for responses are being generated by Trump himself.

PERSONAL INCOME BOOMS IN STATES WITH KEY ROLE IN 2020: Personal income growth has been surging in some U.S. political battlegrounds, including a third of the counties in Pennsylvania -- which Donald Trump narrowly flipped in 2016 and may need to win re-election next year (Bloomberg). In the president’s first two years in office, a total of 325 counties representing nearly 6% of the U.S. population experienced their best annualized income gains since at least 1992, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. And 127 of those are located in perennial swing states, including Ohio and Iowa. 

OVER HALF OF AMERICANS SAY GOVT. HAS TOO MUCH POWER: Government is the most important problem facing the United States today, according to the American people (Gallup). This makes government a critically important issue in the 2020 election. Most of the presidential candidates, however, are addressing government only indirectly or implicitly as they discuss proposals, policies and plans. There is little direct discussion of the role of government and what it should or should not be doing, as I think the public wants. One of the most significant findings: There is no evidence of strong majority support for government to become more heavily involved in Americans' lives in an effort to solve problems and make things better for the nation's citizens.


REPUBLICANS BLAME MERRITT CAMPAIGN FOR LOSS: Indianapolis, a city turning bluer inside a state growing redder, for years has clung to its bipartisan bonafides on Election Day (Martin, IndyStar). That changed with the November city election as voters handed a sweeping victory to Mayor Joe Hogsett and the local Democratic party. Now political analysts, insiders with each party and the candidates themselves — all who were shocked at just how loud of a thud the falling Republicans delivered Nov. 5 — are still searching weeks later for answers to explain the unexpected results. Merrit's effort served as a double-drag for local Republicans, according to election data and leaders in both parties, because Merritt both failed to inspire reliable Republican voters to show up on Election Day while also giving moderates and new voters reason to simply settle on a straight Democratic ticket.


DEMOCRATS DON'T EXPECT TO CHANGE PUBLIC OPINION ON IMPEACHMENT: Just weeks from a likely impeachment vote, some Democrats acknowledge they may never convert the core group of supporters who have weathered crisis after crisis by Trump’s side (Politico). “We’d all love to see it change, however we don’t expect it to,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said Tuesday. Most House Democrats believe they have all the evidence they need to move forward with articles of impeachment. The caucus has largely been unified on that position and has shown no signs of splintering even as battleground Democrats headed back to their districts for Thanksgiving were bombarded by GOP attack ads on the very issue. 

GOP REP. SAYS WILL CALL SCHIFF TO TESTIFY: The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee on Sunday called for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to testify before the panel in its impeachment hearing (CNN). Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is the latest ally of President Donald Trump to call for Schiff, who has been leading House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into the President and Ukraine, to provide testimony. "First and foremost, the first person that needs to testify is Adam Schiff. Adam Schiff is the author of this report," Collins told Fox's Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." He said if Schiff "chooses not to testify, then I really question his veracity and what he's putting in his report."

DEM REP SAYS IMPEACHMENT NOT 'FOREGONE CONCLUSION': Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said Sunday that the House’s impeachment of President Trump not a “foregone conclusion.” (The Hill) Lofgren said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the House has not begun drafting articles for the impeachment of the president. The Democrat, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, predicted the articles won’t be drafted until after the committee’s hearing this week. “I think the evidence that is being presented to us by the Intelligence Committee really focuses on the Ukraine matter, so -- as well as the obstruction,” she told Dana Bash. “If we do articles -- and that's not a foregone conclusion -- that would be the central thrust, I would assume.

SEN. KENNEDY DOUBLES DOWN ON UKRAINE INTERFERENCE: Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) argued in a testy exchange on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he believes "both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election," claiming without evidence that former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko "actively worked" for Hillary Clinton (Axios). Last Sunday, Kennedy told Fox News' Chris Wallace he believed a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine tried to hack the Democratic National Committee's computers during the 2016 election. The next day, he told CNN's Chris Cuomo he misheard the question and was wrong, stating, "I've seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it." Many of the claims of interference that Kennedy cites relate to Ukrainian officials making disparaging remarks about Trump during the campaign, most notably after the then-candidate made comments about the U.S. possibly recognizing Crimea as Russian territory.

ROBOCALL BILL MAY UNITE CONGRESS: There’s one issue that is likely to unite Congress before the end of the year: tackling the robocall epidemic plaguing phones of lawmakers and constituents alike (Roll Call). House and Senate lawmakers released text Wednesday of a bipartisan compromise measure that merges the House and Senate versions passed earlier this year. The joint bill will require phone companies to verify that phone numbers are real and block robocalls without charging consumers any extra money. The measure also pushes the Justice Department to bring more criminal prosecutions against robocallers and gives the Federal Communications Commission more time and authority to investigate and punish illegal robocallers.

General Assembly

LANANE SAYS STATE SHOULD DO MORE TO ADDRESS FOOD DESERTS: While a lot is being done at the local level, the state of Indiana is doing little to help communities increase the availability of fresh and affordable local food, state Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said earlier this month at the fourth annual Local Food Summit of Muncie and East Central Indiana (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). "I'd say for at least 10 years now, we've realized there is something the state could do to help this," Lanane said during the summit hosted by Ball State University. "We just haven't been able to legislate anything up to this point in time."


INDOT: I-69 POTHOLE VICTIMS UNHAPPY AS CLAIMS DENIED - Dozens of claims filed by motorists whose cars were damaged on a tire-busting stretch of Interstate 69 last winter have been denied (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). Scores of other motorists whose vehicles sustained damage on the notorious 15-mile segment never bothered to file claims, which would have been a waste of time anyway, as it turns out. The claimants say the state identified the responsible party as highway contractor Walsh Construction/Rieth Riley, which has declined to take the blame. The potholes made an already dangerous route — due to construction zones — even more hazardous. From Oct. 1, 2018, through Feb. 28, there were 186 crashes, resulting in 25  injuries and one death, on the pothole-ridden stretch of I-69 between mile markers 219 (Pendleton) and 234 (Daleville). State police said a lot of factors went into the crashes, including speed, weather, traffic and road conditions.

HEALTH: SOME SUCCESS, BUT STILL ROADBLOCKS FOR TELEMEDICINE - Telemedicine has made strides in Indiana since the state passed its first major piece of legislation in 2015, regulating the new technology and requiring private payers and Medicaid to cover telehealth services (Gerber, CNHI). Allison Orwig, project coordinator for the Indiana Telehealth Network, a program administered through the Indiana Rural Health Association, said while telemedicine is growing, roadblocks still exist in getting it out to the rural parts of the state, where access to doctors and medical specialists is severely limited. And the biggest reasons for that boils down to two problems: internet access and insurance billing.

AGRICULTURE: 2019 AG POLICY FORUM SET FOR THURSDAY - On Thursday, Dec. 5, the Indiana Corn Growers Association and Indiana Soybean Alliance will hold their 2019 Ag Policy Forum at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds (Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today). Trade is, obviously, a top policy issue right now. National Corn Growers Association Vice President of Public Policy Brooke Appleton, one of the panelists, says getting USMCA passed in 2019 is their top priority. “In order to get bigger trade deals done, we need to get USMCA passed and out of the way so we can move on and show some of our other trading partners that we can cut a deal, we can work together. I think it will send a good signal to our other trading partners once we can get USMCA out of the way.”

EDUCATION: BLACK STUDENTS UNDER REPRESENTED IN 21ST CENTURY PROGRAM - School counselors and others who try to get middle school students enrolled in the program have varying hypotheses for why Black students aren’t signing up at the rate they should be (Fenwick, Indianapolis Recorder). Some parents and guardians aren’t comfortable sharing information such as income because they’re worried it might affect any public assistance they receive, said Flora Jones, postsecondary readiness director for Indianapolis Public Schools. The most cited reason, though, is simply awareness. Not enough families know the program exists.

EDUCATION: IVY TECH CLASSES FOR ST. JOSEPH COLLEGE - The first classes on Saint Joseph’s College campus since the four-year, Catholic liberal arts school closed in 2017 will come in the spring 2020 semester under the Ivy Tech Community College flag (Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier). What that might mean for the direction of the college’s promised rebirth and retooling has been left to speculation for alumni and others, as Saint Joseph’s trustees quietly work toward the January 2020 release of a full-blown plan for the Rensselaer campus. 


WHITE HOUSE: PRESIDENT HEADS TO NATO SUMMIT - The venerable military alliance is marking its 70th anniversary this year, but Trump’s notoriously transactional worldview has deepened questions about its future (Washington Post). More broadly, his stated skepticism about U.S. security commitments to Europe, curiously friendly disposition to Russia’s autocratic ruler, indifference to multilateral diplomacy and apathy about human rights and the rule of law abroad have all been widely interpreted as signs of the Western liberal order fraying under his watch.

DHS: LACKED TECHNOLOGY TO TRACK 26K CHILDREN - The Department of Homeland Security knew it lacked the technology to track more than 26,000 children it expected to separate from their parents at the U.S. southern border in 2018 as part of its controversial “zero tolerance” policy (Roll Call). As a result, the roughly 3,000-plus children DHS ultimately estimated as being affected may actually be a severe underestimate, the agency’s inspector general reported Wednesday. “Because of these IT deficiencies, we could not confirm the total number of families DHS separated during the Zero Tolerance period,” the watchdog office said in a report.

SCOTUS: MAY BE ON VERGE OF EXPANDING GUN RIGHTS - The Supreme Court may be on the verge of expanding gun rights for the first time in nearly a decade (USA Today). What's surprising is how it got there. The court on Monday will hear a challenge to an obscure New York City rule that set such rigid restrictions on transporting legally owned guns that it was repealed in July. But it turns out that wasn't what they really wanted. Backed by the National Rifle Association and the Trump administration, the challengers to New York's abandoned restrictions are hoping the high court refuses to declare the case moot. That would give them a chance to win the biggest Second Amendment victory since landmark rulings a decade ago affirmed the right to keep guns at home for self-defense.

FBI: NEAR-RECORD BLACK FRIDAY GUN CHECK NUMBERS - The FBI fielded more than 200,000 background checks on Black Friday gun purchases, continuing a steady surge this year following a series of mass shootings that have renewed calls for more restrictive gun laws (USA Today). In all, the bureau posted 202,465 checks Friday, an 11% increase from last year and falling just short of the single-day record: 203,086 in 2017.

ECONOMY: RICHEST U.S. COUNTIES GETTING EVEN RICHER - The billionaire playgrounds of Jackson Hole and Aspen are getting richer, according to new government data, which shows residents of these pricey ski resorts -- along with Manhattan -- commanding the highest personal income in the U.S. (Bloomberg). Across America, total personal income increased in 3,019 counties, or 97% of the total, and decreased in just 2.9%, according to estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That includes wages, proprietors’ income, dividends, interest, rents, and government benefits by county residents. On a per-capita income basis, which factors in the change in population, 2018 marks the largest share of counties with a positive increase since 1981, based on a Bloomberg analysis.

TRADE: AEI REPORT SUGGESTS FARM AID SURPASSED WTO LIMITS - A recent independent report suggests U.S. trade aid in 2019 for farmers may surpass limits set in World Trade Organization commitments (NAFB News Service). The report for the American Enterprise Institute by Joe Glauber, a former Department of Agriculture Chief Economist, suggests the size of payments made to producers in 2019 may encourage other WTO members to challenge the payments. Glauber writes, a long-term concern is “how trade compensation comports with U.S. obligations in the WTO and, more generally, how it will affect future U.S. efforts to seek further reforms in the WTO.” 

TRAVEL: 1,300 FLIGHTS IN OR OUT OF U.S. DELAYED OR CANCELLED - In what was shaping up to be a historically busy travel day in the US, airlines were expected to see an anticipated 3.1 million passengers yesterday, according to Airlines for America, an airline trade organization (CNN). By mid-morning, 1,300 flights into or out of the United States had been delayed and almost 700 had been canceled, according to Travel impacts are expected to last through Monday, the weather service said.


WORST UNREST IN IRAN SINCE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION: Iran is experiencing its deadliest political unrest since the Islamic Revolution 40 years ago, with at least 180 people killed — and possibly hundreds more — as angry protests have been smothered in a government crackdown of unbridled force (New York Times). It began two weeks ago with an abrupt increase of at least 50 percent in gasoline prices. Within 72 hours, outraged demonstrators in cities large and small were calling for an end to the Islamic Republic’s government and the downfall of its leaders. In many places, security forces responded by opening fire on unarmed protesters, largely unemployed or low-income young men between the ages of 19 and 26, according to witness accounts and videos. 

IRANIAN COMMANDER PREVIEWS POTENTIAL WAR GAMES WITH RUSSIA, CHINA: Iranian navy commander Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi indicated this week that the rogue nation would flex its muscle by possibly participating in joint war games with Russia and China in December, according to reports (Fox News). “[T]he joint war game between Iran, Russia and China, which will hopefully be conducted next month, carries the same message to the world, that these three countries have reached a meaningful strategic point in their relations," Khanzadi said Wednesday, according to Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency.

TRUMP'S 'ROCKY' PHOTO POPULAR WITH HONG KONG PROTESTORS: Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong expressed thanks for President Trump on Thursday, holding up a picture of him as the fictional boxer Rocky Balboa (Fox News). The "Thanksgiving Rally" included people wearing the American flag and singing the national anthem. Thousands of people attended the rally after Trump approved legislation that authorized sanctions against human rights violators in China, according to The Washington Post.

HONG KONG UNREST RAGES ON: Clouds of tear gas returned to Hong Kong over the weekend as police and protesters clashed, signaling pro-democracy rallies are set to drag on after demonstrators got a boost from an election win and support from the U.S. Congress (Bloomberg). Tensions rose in the former British colony -- a special administrative region of China since 1997 -- as thousands of black-clad protesters marched in the busy tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday afternoon. Unrest had been brewing since late Saturday, when a group blocked roads and set fire to a subway station entrance.

CHINA SUSPENDS U.S. NAVY VISITS TO HONG KONG: China said Monday it will suspend U.S. Navy visits to Hong Kong and sanction several American pro-democracy organizations in retaliation for the signing into law of legislation supporting human rights in the semi-autonomous territory (Associated Press). While the nature of the sanctions remained unclear, the move appeared to back up Chinese threats that the U.S. would bear the costs of the decision.

LONDON BRIDGE ATTACK MAY RECAST U.K.'S 'BREXIT ELECTION': A deadly terror attack struck at the heart of the British capital just weeks before a crucial national election, refocusing the campaign on security issues as voters were set to head to the polls (NBC News). That was 2017. Now, two years later, London Bridge was again the scene of tragedy and bravery this weekend, and the center of national debate in the U.K.


CITIES: CHARLESTOWN MAYOR-ELECT UNHAPPY WITH OUTGOING COUNCIL'S PLANS - The potential creation of a Sanitary Sewer Board by the lame duck Charlestown City Council is being criticized by the city's incoming mayor (News & Tribune). Mayor-elect Treva Hodges issued a late Saturday night news release, alerting citizens to a move she criticized as seeking to "subvert the authority" of both herself and the Board of Public Works. "As Mayor-Elect, I have expressed my opposition to the timing of this ordinance to current council members," Hodges stated in the news release. "If the mayor is to sit on a newly created board, then the mayor who will hold that seat should have a voice in the board’s creation."

CITIES: WASHINGTON MAYOR-ELECT ANNOUNCES ADMINISTRATION - With a change of mayors, the new year is expected to bring a new administration into the city building in Washington (Grant, Washington Times Herald). Mayor-elect Dave Rhoads has announced the appointees for his administration. The city leadership will include a number of familiar faces and a few new ones. “I am really trying to keep some continuity in these departments,” said Rhoads. 

CITIES: TAX APPEAL COMMITTEE ESTABLISHED IN HOBART - To gather a better understanding of the city’s financial future, Hobart has established a property tax appeal committee (Reilly, NWI Times). The committee, which consists of council members Matt Claussen, Dave Vinzant and Josh Huddlestun, sets out to gather best and worst case scenarios as well as other information about pending appeals.

CITIES: TOWN COURT MAY CLOSE IN MERRILLVILLE - The Merrillville Town Court could be at risk of closing, and finances appear to be a determining factor (Reilly, NWI Times). The Town Council wasn’t ready to make a decision about the matter on Tuesday, so it tabled the issue until its Dec. 10 meeting. Councilman Jeff Minchuk said that will provide “more time go over the details.”

CITIES: SECOND SOURCE OF TOXINS IN FRANKLIN - Just as one source of toxic contamination in Franklin — a Johnson County community with a cluster of childhood cancer cases — is on its way to being cleaned up, a second source of toxins has been announced (Bowman, IndyStar). Last week, state officials released a map identifying a second plume of cancer-causing chemicals underneath Franklin. That plume, though being shown on a map for the first time, is nothing new. In fact, it was first discovered nearly eight years ago.

CITIES: INDY POLICE CHIEF ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT - There are changes coming to the leadership of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (Fox59). IMPD  Chief Bryan Roach announced his retirement Friday. Roach made the announcement after nearly 29 years of service to the city. Chief Roach will continue to serve as police chief through the end of the year.

COUNTIES: STUDENT TRANSFERS COSTING ELKHART SCHOOLS MILLIONS - Student transfers are costing two of Elkhart County’s largest school districts millions in state funding (Yankey, Elkhart Truth). Elkhart Community Schools lost $10,232,882 while Goshen Community Schools is seeing a loss of $2,296,272 due to students attending other public districts or participating in the private voucher program. The latest school transfer report from the Indiana Department of Education lists the number of students leaving their home districts and shows the districts they chose to attend instead for fall of 2019.

COUNTIES: METH ABUSE RAMPANT IN BARTHOLOMEW - Local police and health care providers are grappling with a drug epidemic that has long been prevalent in Bartholomew County but has largely been overshadowed by the opioid crisis — methamphetamine — which experts say is cheaper, more potent and more readily accessible than ever (East, Columbus Republic). Dozens of people in Bartholomew County have sought help for methamphetamine addiction over the past several months, while fatal drug overdoses involving methamphetamine have ticked up.

COUNTIES: LAND-BASED CASINO TO OPEN IN HARRISON - A southern Indiana casino is preparing to move its gambling operations from a decades-old riverboat to a new land-based casino complex (Associated Press). Horseshoe Southern Indiana’s riverboat will close Dec. 12, when a new $90 million, 110,000-square-foot casino opens in Harrison County.

COUNTIES: VANDERBURGH JAIL EXPANSION DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE - Vanderburgh County government officials face a list of difficult questions this week as they dive back into jail expansion discussions (Martin, Evansville Courier & Press). How many more jail beds does the county need? How many might be required in 10 years, 20 years? What can taxpayers reasonably afford? Could temporary structures become part of the solution? What about federal inmates? The county’s consultants on the jail issue, American Structurepoint and Rosser International, will show a list of alternatives during Wednesday’s County Council meeting.

COUNTIES: NO CHARGES IN HAMILTON INVESTIGATION - After an investigation into the Hamilton County treasurer's office that stretched over more than seven months, a special prosecutor declined to criminally charge anyone on accusations of accepting late property tax payments (Lange, IndyStar). Special prosecutor Brent Eaton said he concluded his investigation Wednesday after finding "insufficient" evidence that the property tax payments were turned in late because of how records are kept in the office.