*Once a Long Shot, Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race:
Doug Jones, a Democratic former prosecutor who mounted a seemingly quixotic Senate campaign in the face of Republican dominance here, defeated his scandal-scarred opponent, Roy S. Moore, after a brutal campaign marked by accusations of sexual abuse and child molestation against the Republican. The upset delivered an unimagined victory for Democrats and shaved Republicans’ unstable Senate majority to a single seat. Mr. Jones’s victory could have significant consequences on the national level, snarling Republicans’ legislative agenda in Washington and opening, for the first time, a realistic but still difficult path for Democrats to capture the Senate next year. It amounted to a stinging snub of President Trump, who broke with much of his party and fully embraced Mr. Moore’s candidacy, seeking to rally support for him in the closing days of the campaign. Amid thunderous applause from his supporters at a downtown hotel, Mr. Jones held up his victory as a message to Washington from voters fed up with political warfare. For once, he said, Alabama had declined to take “the wrong fork” at a political crossroads.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has offered to begin engaging in direct talks with North Korea—without pre-conditions. “Let’s just meet,” Tillerson said in a speech on Tuesday. The new position backs away from what has long been a demand from the U.S.—that Pyongyang must understand that giving up its nuclear arsenal would be a large part of negotiations. It was not clear on Wednesday whether the White House had given approval for Tillerson’s speech. “The president’s views on North Korea have not changed,” the White House said. “North Korea is acting in an unsafe way… North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea.”
Omarosa Manigault Newman plans to leave the White House next month, according to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The former Apprentice star works in the Office of Public Liaison and will resign effective Jan. 20, one year to the day after President Trump was inaugurated.
In a much-anticipated tweet early Wednesday morning following the Alabama election, President Trump wrote, “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!” Democrat Doug Jones ultimately pulled off a hard-fought victory on Tuesday night in Alabama’s U.S. Senate election, stunning the nation with the unexpected results. Moore faced numerous sexual-misconduct allegations during the course of his campaign, including from women who were underage when they were reportedly targeted.
A wildfire in the ritzy Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles that destroyed six homes and damaged a dozen more last week was sparked by “illegal cooking” in a homeless camp, authorities said Tuesday. The Skirball Fire, one of at least five to erupt in Southern California last week, was traced back to an encampment underneath an overpass in a brush area. “It does appear as if people were sleeping and cooking in that area. The fire department was not aware of this encampment prior to the fire,” Capt. Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department told reporters. The fire, which also prompted the evacuation of 700 homes in Bel-Air, was 85 percent contained as of Tuesday. A larger fire northwest of Los Angeles, the Thomas Fire, continued to rage Tuesday, with authorities extending a red-flag warning for the fourth time since the blaze erupted last Monday. The fire, which has scorched at least three counties, was 25 percent contained as of Tuesday, but wind gusts later this week are expected to stoke the flames again.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was reportedly targeted with a forged sexual-harassment claim shopped around to multiple media outlets. The New York Democrat told Axios that his office called Capitol Police over a document claiming to contain scandalous accusations by a former Schumer staffer. “This was an apparent effort to dupe a news organization and smear a senator,” Axios’ Mike Allen wrote. “The former staffer told me in a phone interview that she did not author the document, that none of the charges ring true, and that her signature was forged.” The password-protected PDF document was reportedly sent around to major media outlets and, per Axios, named no lawyer for the plaintiff (a “red flag,” Allen noted) and made several accusations that did not line up with Schumer’s whereabouts at their alleged times. Last month, The Daily Beast reported that Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) was apparently the target of fraudulent sexual-misconduct claims from a fake Twitter account.
Senior F.B.I. officials who helped investigate Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign last year wrote in text messages that Hillary Clinton “just has to win” and described a potential Trump victory as “terrifying,” according to texts released Tuesday night. A top counterintelligence agent, Peter Strzok, exchanged the messages with Lisa Page, a senior F.B.I. lawyer. Some messages criticized Mrs. Clinton’s team, the Obama administration, Congress and other Democrats. But the two appeared appalled at some of Mr. Trump’s comments during the campaign and feared that he would politicize the F.B.I. For example, after Mr. Trump made an apparent sexual allusion related to the size of his hands, Ms. Page wrote: “This man cannot be president.” In another exchange, Mr. Strzok wrote of a potential Trump presidency, “I’m scared for our organization.” He also referred to Mr. Trump as a “douche.” The messages were turned over to Congress and obtained by The New York Times. Mr. Strzok went on to become one of the top investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. But over the summer, Mr. Mueller removed Mr. Strzok from his team as soon as he became aware of the texts. Their release is certain to fuel suspicion among Republicans that the investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia was politically motivated from the beginning.
The federal government collected record total tax revenues of $443,715,000,000 in the first two months of fiscal 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017 through the end of November), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement. Despite these record tax revenues, the federal government still ran a deficit of $201,761,000,000 for those same two months. That is because the government spent $645,476,000,000 in October and November.
The Devil is more intelligent than mere mortals and should never be argued with, Pope Francis has warned. Satan is not a metaphor or a nebulous concept but a real person armed with dark powers, the Pope said in forthright remarks made during a television interview. “He is evil, he’s not like mist. He’s not a diffuse thing, he is a person. I’m convinced that one must never converse with Satan – if you do that, you’ll be lost,” he told TV2000, a Catholic channel, gesticulating with his hands to emphasize his point. “He’s more intelligent than us, and he’ll turn you upside down, he’ll make your head spin.
U.S. President Donald Trump will make a final push on Wednesday to shepherd a Republican tax overhaul across the finish line, hosting congressional negotiators for lunch before a speech in which he will make closing arguments for the legislation. Republican tax writers from the Senate and House of Representatives worked into Tuesday evening to reconcile differences between the separate plans passed by each chamber, as important details, including a final corporate tax rate, remained in flux. Republican leaders are aiming to vote on the sweeping legislation before Christmas. That timetable became more crucial after Tuesday’s upset win by Democra tDoug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special U.S. Senate election.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said Tuesday that it is unlikely that the American Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem before 2020. “It’s not going to be anything that happens right away,” Mr. Tillerson said, adding, “Probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious.” President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem last week as the Israeli capital, but he nevertheless signed a national security waiver, which will allow him to delay the movement of the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv for an additional six months. Administration officials have said there are functional and logistical reasons the United States cannot open a new embassy any time in the near future.
California is moving closer to charging drivers for every mile they drive. The state says it needs more money for road repairs, and the gas tax just isn’t bringing in enough revenue.The state recently road-tested a mileage monitoring plan. The California Road Charge Pilot Program is billed as a way for the state to move from its longstanding pump tax to a system where drivers pay based on their mileage.
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LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Porush