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Al Franken's Improbable Political Rise and Sudden Fall - New York Times

“It just adds another level of difficulty,” he said.

It was a funereal moment in the Senate as tears were shed on the floor, in the spectator’s gallery and among the Franken aides seated somberly on a bench against the back wall on the Democratic side of the chamber. Mr. Franken himself remained composed and was at times defiant, saying that he was confident that he would be exonerated by an ethics investigation but that he had lost his effectiveness as a senator.

“There is a big part of me that will always regret having to walk away from this job with so much work to be done,” Mr. Franken said.

The two top Senate Democrats — Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois — turned in their seats to listen to their junior colleague who had meant so much to the party upon his arrival in July 2009 after a contested recount of an election that he noted Thursday he won by a...


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Read more: Al Franken's Improbable Political Rise and Sudden Fall - New York Times

Al Franken's Improbable Political Rise and Sudden Fall - New York Times

“It just adds another level of difficulty,” he said.

It was a funereal moment in the Senate as tears were shed on the floor, in the spectator’s gallery and among the Franken aides seated somberly on a bench against the back wall on the Democratic side of the chamber. Mr. Franken himself remained composed and was at times defiant, saying that he was confident that he would be exonerated by an ethics investigation but that he had lost his effectiveness as a senator.

“There is a big part of me that will always regret having to walk away from this job with so much work to be done,” Mr. Franken said.

The two top Senate Democrats — Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois — turned in their seats to listen to their junior colleague who had meant so much to the party upon his arrival in July 2009 after a contested recount of an election that he noted Thursday he won by a...


Read full article on News GN Politics World


Read more: Al Franken's Improbable Political Rise and Sudden Fall - New York Times

Al Franken's Improbable Political Rise and Sudden Fall - New York Times

“It just adds another level of difficulty,” he said.

It was a funereal moment in the Senate as tears were shed on the floor, in the spectator’s gallery and among the Franken aides seated somberly on a bench against the back wall on the Democratic side of the chamber. Mr. Franken himself remained composed and was at times defiant, saying that he was confident that he would be exonerated by an ethics investigation but that he had lost his effectiveness as a senator.

“There is a big part of me that will always regret having to walk away from this job with so much work to be done,” Mr. Franken said.

The two top Senate Democrats — Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois — turned in their seats to listen to their junior colleague who had meant so much to the party upon his arrival in July 2009 after a contested recount of an election that he noted Thursday he won by a...


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Read more: Al Franken's Improbable Political Rise and Sudden Fall - New York Times

Franken resignation shows Democrats' line in the sand

WashingtonSen. Al Franken (D) of Minnesota’s decision to resign his seat – announced Thursday from the floor of a somber, almost funereal Senate chamber – reflects just how quickly, and comprehensively, his party is moving to stake out an uncompromising position on the issue of sexual misconduct.

Calling himself a champion of women, Senator Franken said flatly that some of the allegations against him “are simply not true” and that others he “remembers very differently.” He insisted that as a senator, he has done nothing to bring dishonor on the institution.

Yet Franken acceded to demands that he step down. In the end, he may not have had much choice: After yet another accusation against him emerged this week, many of his Senate colleagues, led by a group of female lawmakers, came forward publicly to say “enough is enough.”

Franken’s decision follows that of Rep. John...


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Read more: Franken resignation shows Democrats' line in the sand

Franken resignation shows Democrats' line in the sand

WashingtonSen. Al Franken (D) of Minnesota’s decision to resign his seat – announced Thursday from the floor of a somber, almost funereal Senate chamber – reflects just how quickly, and comprehensively, his party is moving to stake out an uncompromising position on the issue of sexual misconduct.

Calling himself a champion of women, Senator Franken said flatly that some of the allegations against him “are simply not true” and that others he “remembers very differently.” He insisted that as a senator, he has done nothing to bring dishonor on the institution.

Yet Franken acceded to demands that he step down. In the end, he may not have had much choice: After yet another accusation against him emerged this week, many of his Senate colleagues, led by a group of female lawmakers, came forward publicly to say “enough is enough.”

Franken’s decision follows that of Rep. John...


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For Trump, an Embassy in Jerusalem Is a Political Decision, Not a Diplomatic One - New York Times

4338127 for-trump-an-embassy-in-jerusalem-is-a-political-decision-not-a-diplomatic-one-new-york-times

In doing so, Mr. Trump invited opprobrium from foreign leaders, who said the move was reckless and self-defeating. He also acted against the counsel of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who worried about anti-American blowback, not least to diplomats and troops serving overseas.

Mr. Trump conceded the provocative nature of his decision. But as he has before, whether in pulling the United States from the Paris climate accord or disavowing the Iran nuclear deal, the president on Wednesday seemed to relish playing a familiar role: the political insurgent, defying foreign policy orthodoxy on behalf of the people who elected him.

“People are waking up to the fact that the president doesn’t see grays and doesn’t like pastels,” said Christopher Ruddy, a conservative news media executive and friend of Mr. Trump’s. “He is very proud that he’s fulfilled so...


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Read more: For Trump, an Embassy in Jerusalem Is a Political Decision, Not a Diplomatic One - New York Times

Does Iran's deep religious influence in Iraq translate to politics? - PBS NewsHour

4338129 does-iran-s-deep-religious-influence-in-iraq-translate-to-politics-pbs-newshour

Reza Sayah:

Iran’s religious presence here sometimes extends to where the lines that separate faith, politics, and power begin to blur.

Images of Iran’s supreme leader and the late Imam Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, are common sights. So are posters of the Iranian-backed militia that played a key role in fighting ISIS in Iraq.

The sheer number of Iranians here creates the impression that Iran, its government and its leadership have huge influence in Iraq, and perhaps even intervening in Iraqi affairs, something that has very much alarmed Washington.

But during our visit here, we learned that Iran’s influence is not as clear-cut, not as simple, and not as extensive as many in Washington describe.

There are powerful barriers to Iran’s influence in Iraq. Among them is Iranian-born cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Sistani is Iraq’s highest religious authority. His...


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Berlusconi's improbable return to politics: Why Italy is giving him ... - Christian Science Monitor

4338131 berlusconi-s-improbable-return-to-politics-why-italy-is-giving-him-christian-science-monitor

RomeJust a few years ago, it seemed safe to assume that Silvio Berlusconi's political career was over.

The billionaire businessman was forced to resign as Italy's prime minister in 2011 over his management of the country's debt crisis and revelations of risqué parties involving actresses and models. Two years after that, he was banned from holding public office as a result of a tax fraud conviction. Meanwhile, Italian politics moved on under a center-left government and a rising, upstart Five Star populist movement.

But after forging a center-right coalition that swept to victory in regional elections in Sicily last month, today Mr. Berlusconi is back at the forefront of Italian politics – and even has a chance of becoming Italy’s leader again.

And while that speaks in part to the loyalty of the outspoken tycoon's supporters, it also highlights the mood of the Italian...


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Read more: Berlusconi's improbable return to politics: Why Italy is giving him ... - Christian Science Monitor

Will tax cuts spur the American economy? Maybe with a time machine.

Finally, Americans are going to get that massive corporate tax cut they’ve been clamoring for.

OK, not really — voters don’t put taxes high on the list of issues that keep them up at night, and the bill now careening through Congress is even less popular than the president, which is saying something. But Republicans are finally going to get the elusive legislative victory they can talk about in their districts over the winter break, and that’s why they’re hurrying to pass a bill they’ve barely had time to read.

A lot’s been said about this tax bill and the motives that underlay it. Critics charge that it’s really just payback for the corporations and contributors who have invested so heavily in Republican campaigns. They say Republicans who voted for the plan know full well that their economic program won’t magically pay for itself, and that the bill is a political weapon,...


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Read more: Will tax cuts spur the American economy? Maybe with a time machine.

Bernie Sanders thinks Trump should consider resigning over sexual misconduct

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said that President Trump should consider resigning over the various sexual assault allegations against him.

On Thursday morning, during an appearance on “CBS This Morning,” Sanders was asked to weigh in on the sexual misconduct controversies embroiling the Senate right now. Democratic lawmakers were calling on Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to resign over allegations that he groped and forcibly kissed women. Meanwhile, Roy Moore, who is accused of sexually assaulting teenaged girls, is running for Senate in Alabama. Trump and other prominent Republicans still support his candidacy.

“Well, let me take it a step further,” Sanders said on the morning show. “We have a president of the United States who acknowledged on a tape widely seen all over the country that he assaulted women. So I would hope maybe the president of the United States might pay attention to...


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Al Franken announces intention to resign from Senate over sexual misconduct allegations

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., announced his plans to resign following a series of allegations from women accusing him of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Franken said that while he believes an ethics committee investigation would find him innocent, he didn’t feel he could continue to serve and would be stepping down in the coming weeks. He contended that some of the allegations were not true and others he remembered differently.

“This decision is not about me,” Franken said Thursday. “It is about the people of Minnesota.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. — one of the first lawmakers to ask Franken to resign — took her glasses off and wiped tears from her eyes several times during his speech. More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers, including McCaskill, hugged Franken at the conclusion of his address. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., was the only Republican senator on the floor during the announcement,...


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White House slams 'ridiculous' Trump health questions

WASHINGTON — President Trump will undergo the traditional physical examination at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in early 2018 and make public the results of that checkup, the White House promised on Thursday. Press secretary Sarah Sanders also dismissed what she called “ridiculous questions” about Trump’s health after he seemed to slur some words in a speech a day earlier.

“There were a lot of questions on that — frankly, pretty ridiculous questions,” Sanders told reporters at her daily briefing. “The president’s throat was dry, nothing more than that.”

Her comments came after speculation fueled by Trump’s speech patterns near the end of Wednesday speech in which he formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Sanders also said that Trump would undergo a checkup — “the full physical that presidents go through” — at Walter Reed in “the first part of next year.”


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In one day, U.S. has off-again, on-again Olympic Games plans

WASHINGTON — Apart from the 1980 boycott, American participation in recent Olympic Games has never really been in doubt. But over the 24 hours, the Trump administration left it unclear whether the threat from North Korea might lead the U.S. to skip the upcoming competition in South Korea.

It began with Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, telling Fox News late Wednesday that “there’s an open question” about whether American athletes would go to the February 9-25 Winter Games in the city of Pyeongchang.

“I think those are conversations that we’re going to have to have,” she added. “But what have we always said? We don’t ever fear anything. We live our lives.”

The Trump administration will “make sure we are taking every precaution possible,” she said, but ultimately the safety of American competitors “depends on what’s going on at the time in the country.”

Haley’s...


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Read more: In one day, U.S. has off-again, on-again Olympic Games plans

Why you should believe women in politics who speak out about sexual misconduct - Los Angeles Times

Why you should believe women in politics who speak out about sexual misconduct
Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, left, chats in 2014 with Raul Bocanegra, who resigned from the Assembly last week. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Personally, I almost always believe the woman — any woman who accuses a man of sexual misbehavior or worse.

It’s instinctive. To not, it seems to me, would be intellectually dishonest, especially in the political world. Partisan affiliation has nothing to do with sexual predation, whether it involves President Trump or Bill Clinton, Roy Moore or Rep. John Conyers Jr.

No political party has a monopoly on truth, justice and decency. There are nasty apples in every barrel.

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In Sacramento, where political pros of the opposite sex are looking at each other kind of funny amidst all the harassment accusations, I believe the female lobbyist who says she was trapped in a Las Vegas hotel bathroom last year by a...


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Read more: Why you should believe women in politics who speak out about sexual misconduct - Los Angeles Times

Steve Bannon: Electing Roy Moore Isn't Politics, It's War - Daily Beast

It’s been announced that Steve Bannon will accompany Roy Moore in the final days of his campaign for the Alabama Senate seat.

Bannon believes Moore’s victory is important to his effort to transform the GOP into a populist-nationalist party and he plans to back other like-minded candidates against establishment Republican candidates in future primaries and elections. President Trump has backed Bannon’s strategy vis-à-vis Moore, to the extent that he said Moore denies the allegations made against him by numerous women, as if Moore’s denial proves the testimony against him false, finally even endorsing Moore via tweet Monday morning.

Bannon has extolled Moore as a prototype of the kind of populist and nationalist figure he wants to represent Americans in both houses of Congress. On Tuesday night, Bannon spoke alongside Moore at a rally in Southern Alabama. He made his fight against the...


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Read more: Steve Bannon: Electing Roy Moore Isn't Politics, It's War - Daily Beast

Two faiths, but one mind on keeping politics out of the pews - The Hill (blog)

We come from two different faiths, but we and many other religious and denominational organizations are in absolute agreement that Congress must uphold one of the fundamental principles of our great country: the separation between church and state. That is in jeopardy with the tax bill that the House and Senate are working to finish in the coming days.

The separation of church and state was so important to our Founders that they enshrined it in the Constitution’s First Amendment, and it has remained an essential part of American democracy for more than 225 years.

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Congress should not undo this by repealing the Johnson Amendment. Sponsored by then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson and enacted in 1954, the law prohibits all churches and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. The House-passed tax bill would remove that restriction, allowing...

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Al Franken resigning, calls out Trump and Moore - CNN

"I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate," Franken said in an emotional address in which he said some of the allegations against him weren't true.

The resignation brings a sudden and dishonorable end to the unlikely political career of the comedian-turned-progressive darling, first known to most Americans for his work on "Saturday Night Live."

"I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party," Franken said.

More than 20 Democrats, including many who publicly called on Franken to resign Wednesday, were in the chamber to hear his speech, which lasted about 12 minutes. Republican Sen. Jeff...


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NBC's Todd talks politics, news and more - Cleveland Jewish News

Being Jewish in today’s society, ever-changing political strategies and the current state of news coverage were among the topics “Meet the Press” host and NBC political director Chuck Todd discussed in front of a sellout crowd during his Mandel Jewish Community Center Cleveland Jewish Book Festival appearance. 

An audience of 1,300 gathered Dec. 6 at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights to listen to Todd and grab a signed copy of his book, “The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House.” 

Working in the news industry isn’t easy, said Todd. He’s been attacked via social media and through his inbox in the past, but in recent years, for the first time, these mentions have pointed out his faith. 

“I’ve never been reminded how often I’m Jewish than on social media these days,” said Todd, who is a member of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Va. “I’m very proud of it. I would say, ‘Yeah,...


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House bill expands concealed-carry rights and background checks

WashingtonRepublicans rammed a bill through the House on Wednesday that would make it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines, the first significant action on guns in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people.

The House approved the bill, 231 to 198, largely along party lines. Six Democrats voted yes, while 14 Republicans voted no.

The measure would allow gun owners with a state-issued concealed-carry permit to carry a handgun in any state that allows concealed weapons. It now goes to the Senate.

Republicans said the reciprocity measure, a top priority of the National Rifle Association, would allow gun owners to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state laws or civil suits.

Opponents, mostly Democrats, said the bill could endanger public safety by overriding state laws...


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Does Iran's deep religious influence in Iraq translate to politics? - PBS NewsHour

4336285 does-iran-s-deep-religious-influence-in-iraq-translate-to-politics-pbs-newshour

Reza Sayah:

Iran’s religious presence here sometimes extends to where the lines that separate faith, politics, and power begin to blur.

Images of Iran’s supreme leader and the late Imam Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, are common sights. So are posters of the Iranian-backed militia that played a key role in fighting ISIS in Iraq.

The sheer number of Iranians here creates the impression that Iran, its government and its leadership have huge influence in Iraq, and perhaps even intervening in Iraqi affairs, something that has very much alarmed Washington.

But during our visit here, we learned that Iran’s influence is not as clear-cut, not as simple, and not as extensive as many in Washington describe.

There are powerful barriers to Iran’s influence in Iraq. Among them is Iranian-born cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Sistani is Iraq’s highest religious authority. His...


Read full article...


Read more: Does Iran's deep religious influence in Iraq translate to politics? - PBS NewsHour

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