In today's hyper-fast political environment, keeping track of things can be a Herculean task. So why not do the hard work for you? Every Friday, Listverse summarizes the most important stories of the week, from the world-changing to the shocking to the inspirational.
In this Thanksgiving week, a significant portion of this week's news was viewed through touches of turkey, alcohol, and / or fierce family quarrels. As America remembered the past, the rest of the world continued to run towards the abyss that marked the "future." There were political earthquakes in Israel, actual earthquakes in the Balkans and the possibility that the newest nation in the world is founded in the Pacific. Let's do it.
0 Israeli Prime Minister Accused of Bribery
We briefly mentioned this in last week's column, but it's such a big story that it's likely to have its own contribution. Here it is. Last Thursday, Israel's Attorney General announced that he had taken a decision on the three pending cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for fraud, corruption and bribery. "With a heavy heart," he wanted to formally accuse the Prime Minister in all three cases. Netanyahu is now the first sitting Prime Minister in Israeli history to be accused of bribery.
To say that Netanyahu has reacted in a mature way is a lie that is so boldly contradicted even by Keyser Soze. The 70-year-old claimed that a coup was afoot, attacked the integrity of the Israeli justice system and attempted to trigger a populist backlash against the rule of law. Hey, what would you expect from a man who reportedly tried to launch a war with Gaza in September to delay the elections?
Netanyahu is a political survivor who has survived storms. But are the winds finally turning? On Sunday, his Likud party announced a contest to replace him as chairman, while one of his former ministers demanded his resignation. Are we experiencing the end of the Bibi era? 
9 Malta's government is about to collapse
Within four months two years ago, the EU was shocked by the brash murder of two anti-corruption journalists. In Malta, a car bomb killed blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017. The following February, the Slovak investigative reporter Jan Kuciak was executed in his house by firearms.
But while the two murders had external similarities (mafia connections, possible involvement of businessmen and politicians), the reactions were very different. In Slovakia, mass protests broke down the government, leading to a continuing wave of arrests and purges of high-level corruption. In Malta … nothing. The stained government continued to limp and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat even allowed – and participated – in a lawsuit against the relatives of Caruana Galizia over the "cuts" she published. For a long time, it seemed as if accountability in Malta was falling behind a former communist state.
Until now. Following the arrest of businessman Yorgen Fenech last week, the Maltese society has exploded. Three ministers associated with Fenech had to leave the government. There have been protests. The leader of the opposition has claimed that the government of Muscat was "abducted by a criminal organization". It could be that the first dominoes fall over. 
8 Albania Albania, one of the poorest countries in Europe, has the misfortune of sitting on a notorious fault line where the Eurasian and African plates meet. In the early hours of Tuesday, these two problems led to a catastrophe. At 4 o'clock in the morning, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit the city of Tirana and near the second city of Durres. Buildings collapsed. Houses were leveled. At the time of publication, more than 30 people were killed by the destruction of the quake. Hundreds were injured.
Bad as the quake itself was, the rescue efforts were hampered by the Albanian economy. Albania is poor, though less backwards than under the communist regime of Enver Hoxha. Within Europe, only Moldova and Ukraine could claim to be poorer. As such, the quake has overwhelmed Albania's forces and exacerbated the situation.
Fortunately, the country's neighbors intervened, and Greece and Italy donated donations and search and rescue services. Nevertheless, the quake is by far the largest natural disaster in Albania for decades. 
7 Bougainville has voted whether to become the newest nation in the world
Bougainville, a small island off the coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a dark region in an already dark country. But it could soon have a tremendous claim to fame. Last Friday, a two-week process began in which the people of the island decide if they want to part with PNG. If, as seems probable, the yes is returned, Bougainville will become the newest country in the world.
Relations between PNG and Bougainville have long been strained. In the 1990s, the two led a civil war in which up to ten percent of the population of Bougainville were killed. In 2001, a peace agreement was finally agreed on the basis that PNG would allow a referendum on independence. After almost two decades of hesitation, this referendum has finally arrived.
The challenges for the vote are numerous. Bougainville is almost entirely rural, there is no island-wide communications network and the literacy rate is around 50 percent. As a result, the conduct of the vote included years of preparation, visits to remote village officials, and interactive plays that told the villagers about the entire voting process. If the vote is successful, there is no time limit for the implementation of the result. Experts warn that PNG could tremble for a decade before Bougainville leaves the country. 
6 Samoa's fatal measles outbreak was attributed to vaccination against Vaxxer
In 1963 it was a true lifesaver. Hundreds – mostly children – died each year in the US alone. Mortality rates fell 80 percent after the vaccine's release. For people at the time who had lost a loved one to measles, the notion that people would someday reject this preventive miracle seemed absurd.
But here we are at the end of 2019 and another measles outbreak was attributed to the insane cult of Anti-Vax. This time it is Samoa in the crossfire, where at the last outbreak nearly 40 people were killed. 35 of these dead were children under 4 years old. Note to Anti-Vaxxer: If your propaganda is about to literally kill children, it's probably time to stop.
The Samoa outbreak started in October, but made headlines as the resources of the tiny nation reached their peak. Surprisingly, soulless pods disguising themselves as social media influencers continue to target anti-vaccine propaganda. Stay classy, guys. 
5 The new EU Commission was finally established
Like so much about the EU, the mission of the Commission is one that is poorly understood outside the political circles and probably less concerned. Their importance, however, can not be emphasized enough. The European Commission is practically the EU Cabinet. It governs the continent day after day, proposes laws and ensures that laws are respected in the Member States. It's a facility that affects the lives of 513 million people (451 million when the UK finally leaves), and it has just changed radically.
After the EU elections in May, the commission's mandate led by Jean Claude Juncker came to an end. After fierce confrontations in the fragmented parliament, the compromise candidate Ursula von der Leyen was selected as the successor. Also this Wednesday, Von der Leven's team was finally voted for the commission after a lot of back and forth. She will formally start her new position on December 1st.
The hard work begins almost immediately. The EU faces the loss of 13 percent of its population and its third largest economy as Brexit progresses. Moreover, the continent is more divided than ever, with the rise of far-right parties on the one hand and the hardcore left-wing party on the other. How Von Leven handles these challenges will determine the future course of the largest trading bloc in the world. 
4 The British Opposition Accused the British Government of Selling the NHS
The National Health Service (NHS) is one of the most British institutions that everyone complains about, while at the same time he is ready to conquer the barricades and die. It was created by the Labor government in the aftermath of World War II to provide the nation with free health care, and has largely remained national property, although almost every other state monopoly has been dissolved by privatization.
But could that change? As part of the ongoing election campaign in the UK, the Labor Party this week unveiled a leaked dossier to show that the NHS was on the table after Brexit in trade talks with the US. It's the kind of claim that could potentially blow up the race.
The documents refer to drug prices and patents, a worrying trend, but not entirely to the fire sale that the Labor Party sold them. Since the NHS is a classic motivating factor for British voters, the claim could do more harm to the Tories than you expect. At least Labor will hope that is the case. The leftist party of Jeremy Corbyn is currently between 11 and 19 points behind the conservatives of Boris Johnson. At this point, they need a big surprise to win. But hey, in the last few years it was all about big upheavals. 
3 Australia accused China of sending a spy to its parliament
On Sunday, Wang Liqiang sat down for an interview with the Australian journalist. For the next hour, he talked about espionage, bribery, extortion, and possible murder that did not seem out of place in a late-night thriller. According to Liqiang, he was a former employee of the Chinese secret service, who was heavily involved in the plot to embed a spy in the Australian parliament. There was even one candidate: luxury car dealer Bo "Nick" Zhao, who was found dead in a motel room in March.
It was apparently planned that Zhao will become a candidate for the Liberal Party and use Chinese funds to make an impact, and then be elected to parliament. That would be easier than it seems. According to security analysts, newly elected MPs are not screened to detect espionage connections. The infiltration of the Australian Parliament would be worryingly easy.
In response, Chinese media released a video in which Wang Liqiang had testified that he had committed fraud in 2016, claiming the man was an unemployed fantasy guest. It remains to be seen who is telling the truth. 
2 The riots in Iraq have been (again) deadly
Chile. Hong Kong. I ran. Bolivia. Lebanon. The list of places where mass protests are taking place against their governments seems to be getting longer, and more and more nations are shaken by political shocks.
Iraq is back on the list this week. Violent protests led to the deaths of 149 people in October, and the violence returned to the streets on Wednesday. In Najaf, demonstrators set fire to the Iranian consulate and the inmates were barely able to flee. The following day, separate protests in Nasiriya spiraled out of control. At least 13 people were killed by security forces. The violence could predict an even greater flare-up.
Like many around the world, Iraqis are demonstrating for less corruption and better living conditions. And like many governments around the world, Iraq has responded with violence. People were beaten, injured by tear gas canisters and shot at with sharp shots. Although Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi has offered his resignation, no substitute has been found who can gain a majority in parliament. 
1 Impeachment Star Witness has been charged with harassment
Another week, another twist in the ongoing story of Donald Trump's Impeachment. Just last week, former US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, was on the news for dropping a bomb on Trump's alleged counter-consciousness with Ukraine over the investigation of Joe Biden's son. Sondland itself is the news this week.
On Wednesday, Portland Monthly magazine published stories of three women accusing Sondland of harassing them. The allegations range from the unmasking of the one-time hotelier to a professional retaliation when he refused to sleep with him.
To call this story complicated would mean underestimating all the contradictory motivations and counter-claims that fly back and forth. One of the named women in the story is the owner of the magazine that conducts the report, although she said she does not interfere editorially. Perhaps Sondland has then stated that the whole thing is a politically motivated hit that aims to discredit its harmful testimonial against Trump through association.
Is this just a right-wing smear campaign? Or does Sondland cynically use the aversion to Trump to protect himself from the consequences of a predator? The story, which is related to several movements in US politics – the impeachment, #MeToo, # MeToo backlash, democratic primary policy – is probably the most recent story we've dealt with so far. One thing is for sure: Whatever the truth, people will probably choose what they want to believe and eliminate everything else.