5 things to know for November 14: Impeachment hearing, Australia fires, fraternity deaths

The House Intelligence Committee opened historic impeachment hearings to investigate whether President Donald Trump and his allies abused the office of the presidency in an attempt to strong-arm Ukraine into investigating his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. CNN's Alex Marquardt reports.

Posted: Nov 14, 2019 11:20 AM
Updated: Nov 14, 2019 11:20 AM

We all know Thanksgiving is a tough travel time, and this year, the TSA says it's expecting a record number of flyers. Better start heading for the airport, uh, now.

Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Impeachment investigation

As expected, the first day of public impeachment hearings brought some interesting developments. Remember the phone call between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that's at the center of the whole investigation? Yesterday, Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, told lawmakers about another conversation when Trump again voiced his desire to push the Ukrainians to publicly announce investigations -- which would give his 2020 campaign a boost.  Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's name also came up a lot yesterday. He was identified by the witnesses as a central player in the decision to withhold US assistance to Ukraine. Mulvaney has denied any involvement and has repeatedly avoided calls to testify. However, it's clear Democrats aren't done putting the pressure on him to speak up. It was a full day, but there's still a long way to go -- and as the impeachment investigation gets thornier and more complicated, Democrats may find it harder to sell to a voting public.

2. Australia fires

A 16-year-old is being questioned by police in connection with a bushfire in the Australian state of Queensland. Almost 60 bushfires are still ripping their way through parts of the country, 30 of which still haven't been contained. Though local police say most have been caused naturally, they reiterated that starting fires of any kind is currently prohibited under a total fire ban affecting two Australian states. The bushfires have claimed four lives, destroyed hundreds of homes and caused millions of dollars in damage. Firefighters have been able to contain the worst of the blazes, but the total cost, in terms of property and wildlife, remains to be seen.

3. Hong Kong

The ongoing protests in Hong Kong have reached a new and frightening phase. Universities around the city have been turned into heavily fortified temporary protest camps where demonstrators are collecting weapons and supplies. Several thousand protesters at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have barricaded themselves inside the grounds for three straight days. At another university, police fought back protesters with tear gas. All schools in the area have suspended classes for the rest of the week, the first time such a shutdown has happened since the protests began. The occupation of these universities, and an increase in critical injuries and violent skirmishes, have led Chinese state media to issue a dire warning to protesters: "You are on the edge of doom."

4. Roger Stone

Prosecutors closed their criminal trial of Republican political strategist Roger Stone on Wednesday. Stone is on trial for charges that include lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional proceeding. Yesterday, prosecutors ended their argument by saying, in no uncertain terms, that they believe Stone lied about his involvement with WikiLeaks in 2016, and that he did so with the singular motivation of protecting Donald Trump. Stone's attorney claims his client didn't know that Russians were behind the 2016 hack into Democratic Party servers, and that he had no motivation to lie. Stone pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. The jury will begin deliberations Thursday morning.

5. Fraternity deaths

Three fraternity-related deaths in less than a week have brought renewed scrutiny on Greek life at campuses across the country. On Tuesday, a 19-year-old Washington State University student died at a fraternity house. Police say the death may be alcohol-related. A day earlier, a fraternity member at Arizona State University was found dead in his room. Officials have not said how the student died. A third person died last Friday at San Diego State University after attending a fraternity event. The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office said the 19-year-old suffered blunt force head injuries after falling from his elevated bunk bed. SDSU President Adela de la Torre suspended 14 fraternities the day after the student was taken to the hospital.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.

Qantas sent off a 19-hour, ultra long-haul flight from London to Sydney

There better be plenty of complimentary pillows on that thing.

Google will start offering checking accounts soon

So now it will know our embarrassing search history AND our embarrassing spending habits.

New study hints that women feel like they don't have enough control of the thermostat 

Blankets and slippers aren't enough. They just want to be warm!

MLB is investigating allegations that the Houston Astros engaged in high-tech sign stealing 

Please spare a thought for all of your Dodgers and Yankees fan friends.

HAPPENING LATER

Healing after the horror 

The El Paso Walmart where 22 people were killed in a mass shooting this summer is reopening today. The store has undergone an extensive renovation and will bear signs of remembrance -- and increased security features -- when the doors open to a community still hurting from the tragedy.

TODAY'S NUMBER

5.4 billion

The number of fake accounts Facebook has shut down so far this year. That's compared to roughly 3.3 billion fake accounts removed in all of 2018.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"I did not do this time by myself. My family did time. My wife did time with me, did the 11 years with me. I couldn't do it on my own, by my own strength. It was God's strength that got me through this."

Ruben Martinez Jr., who was released from a California prison this month after serving 11 years for a series of crimes he didn't commit.

TODAY'S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

I believe I can fly 

Skydiving? Absolutely not. Indoor skydiving? Goodbye acrophobia, hello acrobatics! (Click here to view) 

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