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Alabama's Doug Jones Facing Early Pressure To Vote With GOP
Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in the Alabama Senate race dashed Republicans’ hard-fought efforts to keep the open seat and retain their narrow, two-seat majority. But GOP leaders already are angling to convince Jones to back their legislative agenda, hoping he'll be willing to buck his own party to retain support from the state's largely conservative voters. “I hope Senator-elect Doug Jones will do the right thing and truly represent Alabama by choosing to vote with the Senate Republican majority,” said Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Fox
VOA VIEW: Jones will not make 2018 unless he turns against liberals and Democrats.

Trump Announces Americans Will See Tax Cuts By February
“We're so close right now, so close,” the president said during a speech at the White House. The president spoke as House and Senate negotiators were holding a meeting on a compromise plan that still must pass both chambers. Trump declared they have reached an agreement that will “deliver more jobs, higher wages and massive tax relief for American families and for American companies.”  Fox

Why Trump's 'Giant' Middle Class Tax Cut Is Less Than Advertised
President Trump on Wednesday made what the White House billed as his "closing argument" for the Republican tax plan making its way through Congress. His main argument: The proposals will result in a "giant tax cut" for the middle class. "We want to give you ... a giant tax cut for Christmas and when I say 'giant' I mean giant," Trump said. The final bill is still being worked out. But based on what is known of the House and Senate tax bills that are currently being merged, the president is overstating it when he describes middle class tax cuts as "giant." Here's some context on the cuts in store for middle-income households based on nonpartisan analyses of the Senate-passed bill: CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN will like to make the tax break less than right for Americans.

Joe Biden Consoles Meghan McCain
Joe Biden and Meghan McCain shared an emotional moment Wednesday, with the former vice president consoling the daughter of his friend and onetime political rival Sen. John McCain. Visiting ABC's "The View" to talk about his book, "Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose," Biden was asked by McCain, a co-host on the morning show, about his son Beau's cancer diagnosis. McCain's father was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor, in July. Beau Biden passed away from the same cancer in 2015. CNN


Here’s Where The GOP Tax Plan Stands Right Now
Republican Senator John McCain is away from the Capitol indefinitely while he undergoes medical treatment for “normal side effects” of his ongoing cancer treatment, his office says, a development that has potential to interfere with Republican leaders’ plans to approve their final tax legislation as early as Monday. McCain, who has missed Senate votes since Monday, is receiving care at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, according to the statement.  Bloomberg

House Republicans To Push Defense Increase With Funding Bill
House Republicans have decided to move forward with a plan that would dare Senate Democrats to shut down the government next week if they don’t accept a military spending bill paired with a measure to keep the rest of the government open after Dec. 22. The plan, which has been pushed by the conservative House Freedom Caucus, jettisons for now attempts to forge a bipartisan budget deal with Democrats. Bloomberg

Nikki Haley Vows To Present 'Irrefutable Evidence' Iran 'Deliberately Violated International Obligations'
Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, is set to lay out Thursday what the Trump administration claims is "irrefutable evidence that Iran has deliberately violated its international obligations and has tried and failed to cover up these violations," her office said in a statement Wednesday.ABC News

Trump Adviser Omarosa Manigault Resigning, White House Says
Omarosa Manigault, the firebrand antagonist from the “The Apprentice”-turned-top Trump administration staffer, officially resigned her post Tuesday as the White House's communications director for the Office of the Public Liaison. According to the White House, Manigault will stay on until Jan. 20. Omarosa weds Pastor John Allen Newman at Trump's DC hotel. This marks the departure of one of Trump's most prominent supporters and team members, a rare minority on his senior staff and often the only person of color at White House meetings. ABC News


Trump Says Democrats Like His Tax Plan "A Lot"
President Trump made his closing argument for his tax plan Wednesday, saying Democrats like the legislation "a lot" but can't talk about it or vote for it for purely political reasons. "We will have very little Democratic support, probably none, and that is purely for political reasons," Mr. Trump said in a speech at the White House Wednesday, surrounded by Christmas trees and families the White House invited to promote his tax plan. CBS News

Under Fire After Moore Loss, Bannon Reloads For War On McConnell
Steve Bannon is bloodied but ready for the next round of his guerrilla war against the GOP establishment after his candidate lost a shot at a Senate seat that's been in Republican hands for more than two decades. The first step, according to sources in Bannon's camp, is to use the defeat in conservative Alabama to argue that Republican Roy Moore would have won if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other establishment GOP leaders hadn't abandoned him in the face of allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls. Moore denies that he did anything improper.  NBC News
VOA VIEW: Bannon is the biggest loser.

Inside Trump’s White House: Fallout From Alabama’s Senate Race
The reverberations from Doug Jones' projected victory extended into the West Wing, with President Donald Trump's political shop facing a potential crisis, according to multiple White House officials and Republicans close to the administration. One administration official Wednesday-morning-quarterbacked Trump's endorsement of Roy Moore last week in the Alabama Senate contest, acknowledging there are those in the White House who questioned the president's decision to get behind the GOP candidate in the first place. NBC News
VOA VIEW: Expected liberal media bias.

House, Senate Reach Tax Bill Agreement
Republicans in the House and Senate on Wednesday reached an agreement, in principle, on a consensus tax bill, keeping the party on track for final votes next week and a push to President Donald Trump's desk by Christmas. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican whip, said he is confident the deal will be approved. Details of the agreement were not immediately available. UPI

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Putin Asks Lawmakers To Keep Russian Navy In Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday sent a draft treaty to lawmakers that could expand Moscow's navy presence in Syria until 2092. The draft of the proposal came after Putin's surprise visit to Syria on Monday -- during which he declared victory and announced the withdrawal of troops, adding that a Russian presence would remain at air and naval bases. Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Defense and Security Franz Klintsevich said the move further assures Syria's stability, which Moscow has supported politically and militarily. UPI

Rosenstein: I Know What Mueller Is Investigating
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, said he knows what Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating, and he has seen no good reason to fire Mueller. Rosenstein said if he were ordered today to fire Mueller, he would “follow the regulation” covering special counsels. “If there were good cause, I would act. If there were no good cause, I would not,” Rosenstein said. “And you've seen no good cause?” CNS News

Schwarzenegger: Trump Pulled Out Of The Paris Climate Accord, The Hasn't
Prominent American climate change campaigners had a message for the world at French President Emmanuel Macron’s “One Planet” summit in Paris this week:  President Trump may have pulled out of the Paris climate accord, but the United States hasn’t. The refrain was repeated in various ways by, among others, former California Governor and Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who serves as the U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for “cities and climate change.” CNS News


Disney Deal Set To Value Fox At More Than $75 Billion
Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) deal to buy film, television and international businesses from Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O) will value the latter at over $40 per share, or $75 billion, a person familiar with the matter said. The deal, which is set to be announced on Thursday, will end more than half a century of expansion by Murdoch, 86, who turned a single Australian newspaper he inherited from his father at age 21 into one of the world’s most important global news and film conglomerates.  Reuters

Bumper Crop Of New Drugs Fails To Lift Big Pharma R&D Returns
It is shaping up to be a bumper year for drug approvals, with U.S. officials clearing twice as many novel medicines as in 2016, yet returns on research investment at leading pharmaceutical companies are down. In fact, projected returns at 12 of the world’s top drugmakers have fallen to an eight-year low of only 3.2 percent, consultancy Deloitte said on Thursday. The disconnect reflects the rising cost of developing new drugs, meager peak sales expectations for individual products and the fact that younger biotechnology companies are accounting for a growing proportion of new products. Reuters

GOP's Not All That Sad
Weary national Republicans breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday, a day after voters knocked out their own party's scandal-plagued candidate in deep-red Alabama. Yet all is not well in a party confronted with new rounds of infighting and a suddenly shrinking Senate majority heading into next year's midterm elections. A semi-humbled President Donald Trump conceded that Roy Moore's loss was not his preferred outcome. He said he "would have liked to have had the seat" and an important Senate vote as GOP lawmakers scratch for legislative victories. Newsday

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FBI Agent Removed From Russia Probe Called Trump An 'Idiot'
Two FBI officials who would later be assigned to the special counsel's investigation into Donald Trump's presidential campaign described him with insults like "idiot" and "loathsome human" in a series of text messages last year, according to copies of the messages released Tuesday. One of the officials said in an election night text that the prospect of a Trump victory was "terrifying." Peter Strzok, a veteran FBI counterintelligence agent, was removed over the summer from special counsel Robert Mueller's team following the discovery of text messages exchanged with Lisa Page.Newsday
VOA VIEW: There is something troubling.

When Breitbart Isn’t Enough
At a pre-Thanksgiving event, Dean Young, the chief strategist for Roy Moore’s failed Senate campaign, echoed winning lines from Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign. “The Washington Post and all the fake media for the last two weeks have said everything they could say about Judge Moore,” said Young. “They’re trying to dig people up, put them on TV and say, ‘Judge Moore is a bad guy.’”  Washington Post

Deputy AG Defends Mueller
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Wednesday that he has no cause to remove Robert Mueller from the Russia investigation, even as Republicans stepped up charges of “extreme” political bias on the special counsel’s team. “Based upon his reputation, his service, his patriotism and his experience with the department and the FBI, I believe he was an ideal choice for this task,” Rosenstein told lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee. Rosenstein was the second official hauled before Congress in the past week forced to defend the integrity of officials at the Justice Department and the FBI. The Hill
VOA VIEW: Rosenstein seems more Democrat.

White House Says Not Right Time For North Korea Talks
No negotiations can be held with North Korea until it improves its behavior, a White House official said on Wednesday, raising questions about U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s offer to begin talks with Pyongyang any time and without pre-conditions. “Given North Korea’s most recent missile test, clearly right now is not the time,” a White House official told Reuters. Tillerson said on Tuesday the United States was “ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk,” appearing to back away from a key U.S. demand that Pyongyang must first accept that any negotiations would have to be about giving up its nuclear arsenal. Reuters

Two Trump Judge Nominees Out After Criticism
The White House is giving up on two of President Donald Trump's nominees for the federal bench. The president will not pursue the nominations of Brett Talley to a district court slot in Alabama and Jeff Mateer to a district court post in Texas, a White House official confirmed to POLITICO Wednesday. Talley indicated he was prepared to withdraw from consideration after coming under criticism for a lack of experience and for failing to disclose that his wife works in the White House counsel's office.  Politico

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Number Of Jailed Journalists Hits Historic High
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide has hit another new record, which it says reflects a "dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press." In its annual survey of journalists in jail published on December 13, the New York-based media watchdog found 262 journalists behind bars around the world in relation to their work, a new record after a historical high of 259 last year. Radio Liberty Europe

Sen. John McCain Hospitalized
Sen. John McCain has been hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center where he's being treated for "normal side effects of his ongoing cancer therapy," according to a statement Wednesday from his office. McCain, who missed votes on Monday and Tuesday, will return to work in the U.S. Senate "as soon as possible," the statement said. His hospitalization comes amid speculation about his future, and as the House of Representatives and Senate attempt to hold final votes next week on a $1.5 trillion tax cut bill. AZ Central

Don't Argue With The Devil - Says Pope Francis
Pope Francis frequently refers to the Devil in his homilies, sermons and on Twitter, where he is followed by 40 million people in nine languages. He uses various terms to refer to the Prince of Darkness, including Satan, the Evil One, the Seducer, Beelzebub and the Great Dragon. "It's a Jesuit thing. Telegraph

Will Trump's Lows Ever Hit Rock Bottom?
With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Rhetoric from the liberal media.

France Proposes Age-Of-Consent Rule For Facebook Users
All French children under the age of 16 will have to seek parental approval to open an account on Facebook or any other social network under draft legislation presented on Wednesday. The requirement is part of a French bill that seeks to adapt data privacy regulations and improve access to the information internet companies gather, store and in many cases sell to other firms about people’s online activity. Reuters

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