Friday's Mini-Report, 12.20.19

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Brexit: "British lawmakers on Friday finally voted to back a plan to withdraw from the European Union. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's bill, backed by a huge parliamentary majority, will take the country out of the 28-member bloc on Jan. 31, and lays the groundwork for sweeping foreign and trade policy shifts."

* Stunning: "Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who has come under fire for a spree of over 400 pardons as he was leaving office, defended his commutation of the sentence of a man convicted of raping a young girl, saying there 'was zero evidence' of the assault because her hymen was 'intact.'"

* You're likely to see more on this on tonight's show: "Facebook took down more than 600 accounts tied to the pro-Trump conspiracy website The Epoch Times for using identities created by artificial intelligence to push stories about a variety of topics including impeachment and elections."

* Brazil: "Deforestation and other fast-moving changes in the Amazon threaten to turn parts of the rainforest into savanna, devastate wildlife and release billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere, two renowned experts warned Friday."

* We're talking about temperatures down under above 118 degrees Fahrenheit: "The fourth day of a historic heat wave in Australia shattered monthly heat records for the state of Victoria and numerous localities, and caused destructive bush fires to expand their reach."

* A ruling we wouldn't see here: "The Supreme Court of the Netherlands on Friday ordered the government to cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by the end of 2020. It was the first time a nation has been required by its courts to take action against climate change."

* The Durham investigation: "The federal prosecutor scrutinizing the Russia investigation has begun examining the role of the former C.I.A. director John O. Brennan in how the intelligence community assessed Russia's 2016 election interference, according to three people briefed on the inquiry."

* Not the first time Shea's tactics have made headlines: "State Rep. Matt Shea planned and participated in domestic terrorism against the United States before and during the armed takeover at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, an investigation commissioned by the Washington state House found."

* Congressional ethics: "The House Ethics Committee has sanctioned Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) after a five-year investigation found a 'concerning pattern' of paying official consultants using campaign funds or accepting voluntary services -- in violation of House rules and laws."

* Maybe this was a joke gone awry? "The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) removed the fictional country of Wakanda from an online list of nations that have free trade agreements with the United States on Thursday. There was no immediate response from the USDA for comment."

Enjoy the weekend. (My plan, by the way, is to maintain a fairly normal publishing schedule on Monday.)