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Franken won’t resign, staffer says.
CNN

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken has no intention of stepping down, a Franken staffer told the Star Tribune on Saturday. A spokesperson for Franken told the Minnesota paper "no" when asked if the senator would resign in the wake of a woman saying Franken forcibly kissed her and groped her while she slept in 2006. "He is spending time with his family in Washington, DC, and will be through the Thanksgiving holiday," the spokesperson said. "And he's doing a lot of reflecting." Franken's office did not immediately respond to a request to confirm or clarify the spokesperson's comments to the newspaper. Franken's Senate colleagues have called for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his behavior, and in a statement, Franken apologized for his actions and said he welcomed an ethics probe into his conduct.

Rep. Upton won’t seek Michigan Senate seat.
The Hill

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced Friday that he will not seek a Senate seat in 2018 and will instead focus on his House reelection bid. "I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate. There was a path, but today we are choosing not to follow it," Upton said in a statement. “Instead, my focus will remain on helping all of my constituents with problems big and small and improving the quality of life for all in Michigan.” "We need focus and fortitude in Washington now more than ever. We are full speed ahead for re-election in 2018." The longtime Michigan congressman and former head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee had been considered the far-and-away favorite for Republicans looking to run against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), with rumors swirling about his potential bid. The move is a mixed bag for Republicans in Washington.

Trump economists say opioid epidemic much worse than they had originally envisioned.
Bloomberg

The opioid epidemic sweeping the U.S. is far costlier than once thought, with the economic impact of the crisis exceeding half a trillion dollars, according to a new report by White House economists. The epidemic cost the American economy $504 billion in 2015, which was the equivalent of 2.8 percent of gross domestic product that year, according to the report by the Council of Economic Advisers, or CEA. The White House’s figures are more than six times larger than a previous study because it incorporates the value of lives lost to the epidemic. The findings come less than a month after the Trump administration declared widespread opioid abuse a public health emergency while stopping short of freeing up federal disaster funds to tackle the problem. A study released last year estimated the cost of the opioid crisis in 2013 at $79.9 billion, adjusted to 2015 dollars. The White House economists said prior research didn’t capture the full impact because it at times only measured health-care expenditures or earnings lost from those who die -- which overlooks “other valuable activities in life besides work.”

Wisconsin bill seeks to lower drinking age to 19.
Fox News

A bill proposed by lawmakers in Wisconsin aims to lower the beer-loving state’s drinking age to 19. However it will face some though obstacles along the way, including the possibility of losing part of the state’s federal funding. The bill, circulated Wednesday by three Republican lawmakers including the former president of the Wisconsin Tavern League, faces an uphill battle as it needs the support of key GOP lawmakers. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who plays a central role in determining which bills are brought up for vote, has said he would not support the bill. Neither the leader of the Wisconsin Senate nor Gov. Scott Walker have voiced their opinion on the bill. Under the proposed bill, the legal drinking age would drop to 19. However, if the bill were to pass, there is a possibility of Wisconsin losing some of its federal highway money. Current federal law, passed in 1984, said any state with a drinking age lower than 21 can lose 8 percent of federal highway funding.

U.S. forces confined to Okinawa bases, barred from alcohol use after deadly crash.
NBC News

U.S. service members on Okinawa have been banned from drinking and restricted to base or their off-base residences following a fatal accident between a U.S. service member and a local resident, the U.S. military said Sunday. In addition, all U.S. service members on mainland Japan are prohibited from buying or consuming alcohol on or off base after the accident before dawn Sunday, in which a local man was killed and a U.S. Marine suffered minor injuries. Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash in Naha, in Okinawa prefecture, the U.S. military said. The U.S. government-funded Voice of America quoted local police as saying the Marine's blood-alcohol level registered three times the legal limit during a breath test. ... U.S. Forces Japan comprises about 50,000 U.S. service members, about half of them on Okinawa, and their presence has been a source of tension among local residents for years. Tens of thousands of people turned out in a massive protest in June 2016 after a U.S. base worker was arrested in connection with the killing of a local woman.

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Two prominent Minnesota Dems call on Franken to resign.
Washington Examiner

Two prominent members of Minnesota's Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party are calling on Sen. Al Franken to resign his Senate seat following allegations of sexual misconduct. Although many other Democrats have called the former comedian's actions disturbing, state auditor Rebecca Otto and Megan Thomas, president of the party's official Feminist Caucus, say he should leave office. The allegations were made Thursday morning by radio host Leeann Tweeden, who said Franken harassed her during a 2006 USO trip to the Middle East, before he was elected to the Senate in 2008. Tweeden said Franken wrote a play to be performed in front of troops featuring a kiss, and then forced his tongue into her mouth after insisting on practice. A photo also shows a grinning Franken's hands over Tweeden's breasts while she was asleep. Otto, a candidate for governor in Minnesota, said in a statement that "I believe it's in the best interest of Minnesotans and of women everywhere for Senator Franken to resign, and to set an example to powerful men across America that sexual harassment will not be tolerated."

Alabama GOP sticking with Roy Moore.
The Hill

Alabama's Republican Party is reportedly refusing to pull its support from Roy Moore, even after additional women came forward to accuse the GOP Senate nominee of sexual misconduct. Party officials told NBC News that they would continue to support Moore after the state GOP's steering committee, which has the power to remove him from the ballot, met on Wednesday. The development comes after The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that two additional women had accused Moore of making unwanted advances toward them in the past. The state party's response to the revelations stands in contrast with the national Republican Party. ... Moore has vehemently denied the accusations, saying the charges are politically motivated. “If you are a liberal and hate Judge Moore, apparently he groped you,” the campaign said in a statement on Wednesday. “If you are a conservative and love Judge Moore, you know these allegations are a political farce."

Keystone pipeline spills in South Dakota.
The Hill

The Keystone oil pipeline spilled more than 5,000 barrels of oil on Thursday before workers took it offline, a large spill that comes days before operators hope to secure a key permit for a sister project. A TransCanada crew shut down the Keystone pipeline at 6 a.m. Thursday morning after detecting an oil leak along the line, the company said in a statement. The leak was detected along a stretch of pipeline about 35 miles south of a pumping station in Marshall County, South Dakota. TransCanada estimates the pipeline leaked 5,000 barrels of oil, or about 210,000 gallons, before going offline. The company said it shut off the pipeline within 15 minutes of discovering the leak, and it's working with state regulators and the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to assess the situation.

U.S. House of Representatives approves tax overhaul.
Yahoo

Republican U.S. lawmakers on Thursday took an important step toward the biggest tax code overhaul since the 1980s as the House of Representatives approved a broad package of tax cuts sought by President Donald Trump. The tax debate now moves to the U.S. Senate, where that chamber's separate plan has already encountered resistance from some Republicans. No decisive Senate action is expected until after next week's Thanksgiving holiday. Trump, who is looking for his first major legislative win since he took office in January, went to the U.S. Capitol just before the vote to urge House Republicans to pass the tax bill, which Democrats call a give-away to the wealthy and businesses. "A simple, fair and competitive tax code will be rocket fuel for our economy, and it's within our reach. Now is the time to deliver," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said after the largely party-line House vote of 227-205. Congress has not thoroughly overhauled the sprawling U.S. tax code since Republican Ronald Reagan was president. The House measure is not as comprehensive as Reagan's 1986 sweeping package, but it is more ambitious than anything since then.

Israel sees rising threat from Iran after ISIS.
The Wall Street Journal

While much of the world celebrates the impending defeat of Islamic State, Israeli officials look at Syria and see little reason for joy. To them, a lesser enemy is being supplanted by a far more dangerous one—Iran and its allies. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is consolidating control, and his forces—aided by Iran and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah—are eliminating Islamic State’s final pockets in the country while inching closer to the Israeli-held Golan Heights. “Every place we see ISIS evacuating, we see Iran taking hold,” warned Sharren Haskel, an Israeli lawmaker from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. “We have been dealing with this threat of Iran through Hezbollah on our northern border [with Lebanon], and we would not want to see the same setup on our Syrian border.” Like Islamic State, Iran and Hezbollah call for Israel’s destruction. But unlike Islamic State, they have the military capability to pursue that goal. With the Israeli-Lebanese border largely quiet since the devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, Iran and its allies don’t disguise their desire to open a second front in Syria.

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Trump hails Asia trip as ‘tremendous success’ and declares: ‘America is back’.
The Guardian

Donald Trump has declared his 12-day Asia tour as a “tremendous success”, claiming that “America is back” as a global leader. The US president did not take questions from reporters, instead delivering an extended account of his five-nation trip, in which he claimed to have unified the world against the North Korean nuclear weapons programme, paved the way for a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, and insisted on “free and reciprocal” trade relations with the Pacific Rim. “The days of the United States being taken advantage of are over,” Trump declared in the Diplomatic Room at the White House. On North Korea, Trump claimed to have had a productive meeting with the Chinese president Xi Jinping, but restated the US rejection of the diplomatic option that Beijing has been promoting – a “freeze-for-freeze” deal under which Pyongyang would pause its nuclear and missile development and the US would rein in military exercises with its regional allies. Trump did not repeat his prior threats of military action against Kim Jong-un’s regime, simply noting the oft-repeated formula that “all options remain on the table”.

Sessions said to not be interested in write-in campaign.
Washington Examiner

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly has no intention of trying to reclaim his old Senate seat as Republican leaders scramble to find an alternative to their party's nominee, Roy Moore, who is facing a slew of allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers. Sources told Politico that Sessions is not interested in returning to the upper chamber of Congress, despite being contacted by former colleagues, like Alabama's senior senator, Richard Shelby. A number of top Republicans have called on Moore, a longtime judge from Alabama, to step aside as accusations mount, though Moore has maintained he has done nothing wrong and by all accounts is dead-set on remaining in the race. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is one such doubter and has floated Sessions as a potential write-in candidate. According to the Politico report on Wednesday, McConnell and his team are looking at whether it would be possible to, if Moore were to resign, trigger a new special election contest as Alabama law states Moore can't be replaced on the ballot for the contest set for Dec. 12.

AT&T acknowledges nationwide outage.
CBS News

AT&T said Wednesday that some US customers are experiencing trouble placing wireless calls but rebooting the device would fix the problem. DownDetector.com, which monitors reports of outages in real time, showed customers complaining about a lack of service across the country including in Houston, New York and San Francisco. AT&T, which also owns DirecTV, said it was aware of the issue and was working to restore services to affected customers. "We are aware of an issue affecting some users' ability to make certain wireless calls," AT&T said in a statement. "These users should restart their devices, which should resolve the issue." The outage appears to have begun around 1 p.m. PT, according to DownDetector, which counted more than 6,000 customer complaints of service outages at 3 p.m. PT. Of those, 42 percent reported problems related to internet access, while 32 percent complained of phone issues.

Trump to allow imports of African elephant trophies.
The Hill

The Trump administration is reversing an Obama administration ban on bringing to the United States the heads of elephants killed in two African countries. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said it has determined that hunting African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia “will enhance the survival of the species in the wild,” which is the standard by which officials judge whether to allow imports of parts - known as trophies - of the animals. “Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” an FWS spokesman said in a statement late Wednesday, after hunting group Safari Club International announced the policy. Imports will be allowed for elephants killed between Jan. 21, 2016 and the end of 2018.

North Korea on Trump’s Asia visit: He deserves death.
USA Today

North Korea gave its version of a diplomatic verdict Wednesday on President Trump's recent trip to Asia: He's a coward who deserves to die. Pyongyang's state media slammed Trump for insulting North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un while on a five country tour of Asia. It said the American president, who Kim has feuded with for months, deserves the death penalty. "The worst crime for which (Trump) can never be pardoned is that he dared (to) malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership. He should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people," it said. The comments were published in an editorial in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, a mouthpiece for Kim's ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

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Alabama polls show close race after Moore accusations.
POLITICO

The first wave of flash polls conducted after Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore was accused of abusing a 14-year-old girl nearly four decades ago point to a close race between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. Since The Washington Post published a story online Thursday afternoon in which four women accused Moore of making romantic or sexual advances on them when they were teenagers, four polls — all conducted using less expensive methodologies — have showed the candidates roughly neck-and-neck. The most recently released survey, an automated poll from the Republican-leaning firm JMC Analytics and Polling, shows the Democrat leading by 4 percentage points. Jones leads Moore in the JMC Analytics poll, 48 percent to 44 percent, with 8 percent undecided or favoring another candidate in Alabama's Dec. 12 special Senate election. The poll was conducted last Thursday through Saturday. The previous JMC Analytics survey, conducted in late September and early October, showed Moore ahead by 8 points. JMC conducts landline-only polls administered by an automated interviewer.

Biden sends mixed messages regarding 2020 aspirations.
Washington Examiner

Former Vice President Joe Biden has tamped down speculation he is considering another run for the White House. "I'm just not sure it's the appropriate thing for me to do," Biden, 74, told Snapchat's Good Luck America in an interview to be released Tuesday. AD 00:06 / 00:15 Attention gym rats: Now there's a foam roller that can fit in your bag Watch Full Screen Biden, who launched unsuccessful bids for the presidency in 1988 and 2008, made the comments during an appearance alongside Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich at the University of Delaware in October. "We gotta turn this ship around," Biden continued, referring to the country. "And I'd much prefer to be helping someone turn it around than being the guy trying to turn it around." But the Delaware Democrat, currently promoting his forthcoming book Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose, told Oprah Winfrey in a pre-recorded interview published in full on Sunday that he had "not yet" ruled out another attempt to become elected commander in chief. "And I say that 'not yet' because I'm a great respecter of fate," Biden said. In the Winfrey "SuperSoul Sunday" interview, Biden admitted after doing 83 campaign events for Hillary Clinton in 2016 he suspected "we're going to lose this election." "I think what happened is we got to the point where it became identity politics," Biden said. "They learned the wrong lessons from Barack's brilliant campaigns."

Trump delivers speech at Asia-Pacific economic summit.
CNN

President Donald Trump brought his hard-line economic nationalism to a summit of Pacific Rim leaders here Friday, issuing a stern rebuke of trade practices that have harmed American workers. But the President also continued to insist his US predecessors are to blame. "We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore," Trump said in a speech at the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. "I am always going to put America first, the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first." It was a familiar message delivered to an audience that's still coming to grips with Trump's protectionist views. Even as Trump makes his debut appearance at this yearly set of meetings, other leaders are hoping to announce a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership -- the landmark trade accord negotiated by the Obama administration but scrapped by Trump -- that doesn't included the United States.

US increases strikes against extremists in Somalia.
The Hill

The U.S. carried out three drone strikes over a span of 24 hours in Somalia, according to a report from The Associated Press. The first strike occurred 250 miles southwest of the capital city of Mogadishu on Saturday afternoon, killing a militant from the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab. The second strike, which took place 40 miles west of the capitol at 3 a.m. on Saturday, also targeted al-Shabab. The third strike took aim at the Islamic State group at 9 a.m. on Sunday, marking the second U.S. strike against the Islamic State in that country. The U.S. announced last Thursday it had killed "several militants" in a strike targeting al-Shabab 100 miles west of Mogadishu.

60,000 join far-right march on Poland’s Independence Day.
Time

Tens of thousands of nationalists marched in a demonstration organized by far-right groups in Warsaw Saturday, as Poles celebrated their country’s Independence Day. The far-right march was one of many events marking Poland’s rebirth as a nation in 1918 after being wiped off the map for 123 years. Earlier in the day, President Andrzej Duda presided over state ceremonies also attended by European Union president Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister. But the march has become the largest Independence Day event in recent years, overshadowing official state observances and other patriotic events. Some participants expressed sympathy for xenophobic or white supremacist ideas, with one banner reading, “White Europe of brotherly nations.” Participants marched under the slogan “We Want God,” words from an old Polish religious song that President Donald Trump quoted during a visit to Warsaw earlier this year. Speakers spoke of standing against liberals and defending Christian values.

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Roy Moore faces allegations of sexual misconduct.
NPR

In the flood of powerful men who are facing allegations of sexual misconduct, here's another one - Roy Moore. He's the Republican nominee in Alabama for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Jeff Sessions. Several women have told The Washington Post that Moore pursued them while they were teenagers in the '70s and '80s. They say they had varying levels of sexual contact with him when he was a district attorney in his early 30s. One of those women was below the age of consent. Leigh Corfman told The Washington Post she was 14 years old at the time. Here's Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen: Leigh Corfman told us that she first encountered Roy Moore in 1979 when she was 14 years old in a courthouse in Gadsden, Ala., with her mother. They were sitting on a wooden bench outside the courtroom when Roy Moore, who was then a district attorney, 32 years old, approached them, started chatting with them. And the mother was about to take her daughter inside the courtroom. And according to Leigh's mother, Roy Moore offered to look after her daughter. When he was alone with her, he chatted with her. He got her phone number. And some days later, he called her. She says that he picked her up around the corner from her house. She says that he drove her about 30 minutes away to his home outside of Gadsden and that on the first visit there, she says that there was kissing and hugging.

Big Luther mum on write-in campaign.
Washington Examiner

Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., who lost to Roy Moore in the Republican primary for the Senate, declined to say whether he would run as a write-in candidate after it was reported Moore allegedly pursued sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl in 1979. “They’ve just come to light, and I’ve just read about them. It’s very, very disturbing, what I’ve read about. And I’ll have more to say about it I’m sure after I learn more,” Strange told reporters Thursday. “I’ll have more to say about it after I learn more about the facts.” Strange did not answer when asked if he would run as a write-in candidate.

Virginia Republican Goodlatte will not seek re-election.
Reuters

U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Thursday he will not seek re-election next year. “This is a natural stepping-off point,” Goodlatte said in a statement. The announcement came on the heels of Tuesday’s elections in Virginia, where Democrats won the governor’s office and triumphed in local races in some Republican strongholds. Goodlatte has represented Virginia’s 6th congressional district for 25 years. He joins a string of Republican lawmakers who have announced their retirements from Congress in recent weeks. Two other House committee chairmen, Representatives Lamar Smith and Jeb Hensarling, both of Texas, said last week they would not seek re-election. Hensarling leads the House Financial Services Committee, while Smith leads the Science, Space and Technology panel.

Senate panel to start tax bill markup on Monday.
The Hill

The Senate Finance Committee will begin to mark up its tax proposal on Monday, Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced. “This is just the start of the legislative process in the Senate," Hatch said in a statement. "We expect robust committee debate on the policies in this bill, will have an open amendment process, and hope to report legislation by the end of the week." The Senate proposal, which Republicans unveiled Thursday, lowers the top individual and corporate tax rates and keeps some of the tax breaks that are eliminated in the House GOP tax bill. Unlike in the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee traditionally does not mark up legislative text. Instead it considers legislation written in plain English. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the plan would cost $1.496 trillion in lost federal revenue in its first 10 years. That's just under the maximum $1.5 trillion in federal revenue that the bill is allowed to lose under the budget resolution that enables tax legislation to pass the Senate with a simple majority.

Trump will not formally meet with Putin.
The Hill

President Vladimir Putin will meet U.S. President Trump will not have a "formal" meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam, the White House said Friday. Sanders blamed "scheduling conflicts on both sides" but said it is likely the two leaders will have some informal interaction at the summit meeting. Regarding a Putin meeting, there was never a meeting confirmed, and there will not be one that takes place," Sanders told reporters traveling with Trump. "There is no formal meeting or anything scheduled for them. It is common, however, for leaders to have brief, "pull-aside" conversations at international summits when no formal bilateral meeting is scheduled.

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