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News Roundup: Brexit, Impeachment, & Cookies in Space

Brexit Passes – UK Will Leave EU January 31

On Wednesday, the British Parliament finally approved an agreement for the United Kingdom (UK) to leave the European Union (EU). Though the UK announced its plan to leave in March 2017, it took nearly two years for the country to reach an agreement with the EU on how to do that. It took longer still for the British Parliament to agree.

Brexit is a word made up to describe the British Exit   from the European Union. In 2016, in a special vote called a “referendum”, more than half of the people of the United Kingdom   chose to leave the EU.

After Parliament rejected or blocked Brexit deals many times, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called a general election in December, hoping to get enough votes to approve the deal. He got his wish.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson signs the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is shown signing the Brexit agreement after it was passed by Parliament and the Queen agreed to it. The deal will allow the UK to leave the EU on January 31.
(Source: Number 10, via Flickr.com.)
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The Brexit bill finally passed on Wednesday. The House of Lords tried to change the bill to add protection for young refugees in the EU whose families are in the UK, but the House of Commons rejected all changes. Queen Elizabeth II agreed to the bill on Thursday.

The deal is expected to pass a vote in the European Parliament next week. If it does, the UK will leave the EU on January 31. 

Impeachment: Democrats Make the Case Against Trump

The impeachment trial against US President Donald Trump began in the Senate  this week. The first days were spent agreeing on rules about how the trial will be run.

From Wednesday to Friday, seven Democratic “Impeachment Managers” from the US House of Representatives presented the case against Mr. Trump.

They went through the evidence gathered during the House investigation. The Managers said that Mr. Trump’s behavior made it clear that he should be found guilty and removed from office.

Representative Adam Schiff, acting as an impeachment manager, presents the case against the president to the Senate.
From Wednesday through Friday, Democrats presented the case against the president to the Senate. Mr. Trump’s defense began on Saturday. Above, Representative Adam Schiff, one of the Impeachment Managers, is shown speaking.
(Source: Screenshot via Senate.gov.)

The days were long and full of speeches. The Senate had special rules during the impeachment, and senators weren’t allowed to use phones or drink coffee. Some senators seemed bored and a few even fell asleep.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers began their three days of defending the president, saying the president did nothing wrong.

So far, Republicans, who control the Senate, haven’t shown much interest in bringing in witnesses or new information, in spite of strong arguments by Democrats. 

Astronauts Bake the First Cookies in Space

In December, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) tried something new – baking chocolate chip cookies in space. Baking cookies may sound easy, but in space it’s a challenge.

There’s very little gravity on the ISS. That means heat doesn’t rise like it would in a regular oven, since there is no “down”. Also, the dough would just float around in the oven.

So the astronauts tested a special new oven. The Zero G Oven is shaped like a tube, and heats things from all sides. To keep the dough from flying around, it was sealed inside a special tray as it baked into a cookie.

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Christina Koch pose in the International Space Station with the first cookies baked in space. Ms. Koch joked that they had baked cookies and milk for Santa.
Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Christina Koch pose in the International Space Station with the first cookies baked in space. Ms. Koch joked that they had baked cookies and milk for Santa. The cookie is in the floating box and the milk is in the pouch Ms. Koch is holding.
(Source: Christina Koch/NASA, via Twitter.)

It took astronaut Luca Parmitano several tries before his cookies came out well. The first few cookies came out undercooked. But he left the fourth and fifth cookies in the oven for over two hours, and they came out nice and brown.

Sadly, the astronauts weren’t allowed to taste the cookies. They had to put them in a freezer for testing back on Earth. Luckily, they had a small supply of cookies that were already baked.

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