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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

November 14, 2017 - 8:04 PM

Washington GOP boosts pressure on Alabama party on Moore

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Republicans tightened pressure Tuesday on Alabama's GOP to keep a defiant Roy Moore from being elected to the Senate next month, with many voicing hope that President Donald Trump could use his clout to resolve a problem that Republicans say leaves them with no easy options.

With Alabama Republicans reluctant to block Moore and enrage his legions of loyal conservative supporters, national GOP leaders were turning to Trump as their best chance of somehow turning the tide. Two women by name have said Moore molested them in the 1970s when one was 14 and the other 16 and he was a local district attorney, and three others said he pursued romantic relationships with them around the same time.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in all-out warfare with Moore, said there'd be conversations about the anti-establishment firebrand after Trump returns Tuesday night from Asia. He said he'd already spoken about Moore to the president, Vice-President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff John Kelly.

"He's obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate and we've looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening," said McConnell, who Monday said he believed Moore's accusers. "This close to election, it's a complicated matter.'"

Maintaining his political brand as an unrepentant outsider, Moore again denied abusing the women in an email that reminded voters of their loyalty to him: "He's the same man you've always known him to be." It added, "On to victory!"

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Sessions denies lying on Russia, pleads hazy memory

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday displayed a hazy memory of the Trump campaign's discussions about and dealings with Russians in the 2016 election, denying he ever lied to Congress about those contacts but blaming the chaos of the race for fogging his recollections.

During more than five hours of testimony to Congress, Sessions sought to explain away apparent contradictions in his earlier accounts by citing the exhausting nature of Donald Trump's upstart but surging bid for the White House. He also denied under repeated questioning from Democrats that he had been improperly influenced in his decision making by Trump.

But after saying under oath months ago that he was unaware of any relationship between the campaign and Russia, Sessions acknowledged for the first time that the arrest of a low-level campaign adviser reminded him after all of a meeting at which the aide, George Papadopoulos, proposed setting up a get-together between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"After reading his account and to the best of my recollection," Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee, "I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government or any other foreign government for that matter.

"But I did not recall this event, which occurred 18 months before my testimony of a few weeks ago," he added, "and I would gladly have reported it had I remembered it because I pushed back against his suggestion that I thought may have been improper."

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Q&A: Donald Trump Jr.'s private messages with WikiLeaks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Evidence that President Donald Trump's eldest son exchanged private messages on Twitter with WikiLeaks has raised new questions about the Trump campaign's communications.

The private messages released by Donald Trump Jr. on Monday show him responding to the WikiLeaks' Twitter account three times, at one point agreeing to "ask around" about a political action committee WikiLeaks had mentioned. He also asked the site about a rumour about an upcoming leak, and tweeted a link that the account sent him.

Questions and answers about the newly revealed messages:

WHY IS WIKILEAKS SIGNIFICANT?

WikiLeaks released hacked emails from top Democratic officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, including thousands stolen from the account of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. In an intelligence assessment released in January, the NSA, CIA and FBI concluded that Russian military intelligence provided the hacked information from the Democratic National Committee and "senior Democratic officials" to WikiLeaks.

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BC-10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. ATTORNEY GENERAL DISPLAYS HAZY MEMORY

Testifying before Congress, Jeff Sessions denies ever lying about the Trump campaign's dealings with Russians, but blames the chaos of the 2016 race for fogging his recollections.

2. GOP ADDS WRINKLE TO TAX OVERHAUL

Senate Republicans say they are intent on repealing the Obama health care law requirement that Americans get health insurance, targeting the provision as a way to finance deep tax cuts.

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Zimbabwe army says 'this is not a takeover' and Mugabe safe

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — In an extraordinary statement after taking over the state broadcaster amid a night of unrest, Zimbabwe's army early Wednesday sought to reassure the country that "this is not a military takeover" and that although President Robert Mugabe was safe and sound, the military was targeting "criminals around him" who have sent the nation spinning into economic despair.

"As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy," the army spokesman said, calling on churches to pray for the country. He urged other security forces to "co-operate for the good of our country," warning that "any provocation will be met with an appropriate response."

Overnight, at least three explosions were heard in the capital, Harare, and military vehicles were seen in the streets. On Monday, the army commander had threatened to "step in" to calm political tensions over the 93-year-old Mugabe's possible successor. The ruling party accused the commander of "treasonable conduct."

The U.S. Embassy closed to the public Wednesday and encouraged citizens to shelter in place, citing "the ongoing political uncertainty through the night." The British embassy issued a similar warning, citing "reports of unusual military activity."

For the first time, this southern African nation is seeing an open rift between the military and Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state who has ruled since independence from white minority rule in 1980. The military has been a key pillar of his power.

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Gunman targets people at random in California town, kills 4

RANCHO TEHAMA RESERVE, Calif. (AP) — A gunman driving stolen vehicles and choosing his targets at random opened fire "without provocation" in a tiny, rural Northern California town Tuesday, killing four people and wounding at least 10 others, including a student at an elementary school, before police shot him dead, authorities said.

The rampage began shortly before 8 a.m. when the gunman fatally shot a neighbour he had been accused of stabbing in January, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said.

Shortly afterward, the gunman rammed through the gate of Rancho Tehama Elementary School about 2 miles away and spent about six minutes shooting into the building, striking at least one student, Johnston said.

Surveillance video showed the gunman, who was not identified, trying unsuccessfully to enter the school, authorities said.

School officials' swift decision to lock the doors after hearing gunfire was "monumental" in saving the lives of countless children, Johnston said. No one was killed there.

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Australians endorse gay marriage, ensuring Parliament bill

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australians supported gay marriage in a postal survey that ensures Parliament will consider legalizing same-sex weddings this year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday 62 per cent of registered voters who responded in the unprecedented survey favoured reform.

The conservative government promised to allow a bill creating marriage equality to be considered in Parliament in the final two-week session that is due to end on Dec. 7.

A "no" vote in the survey would have put marriage equality off the political agenda, perhaps for years. Thousands of marriage equality supporters waving rainbow flags gathered anxiously in city parks around the country and cheered when the results was announced.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a vocal advocate of marriage equality, called on lawmakers to heed the "overwhelming" result and to commit to legislate for gay marriage by next month.

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Senate GOP intent on scrapping health mandate in tax bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans are intent on scrapping the Affordable Care Act's requirement that Americans get health insurance, targeting a repeal of the individual mandate to help finance deep tax cuts in their tax overhaul.

The surprise renewal Tuesday of the failed effort to scrap the law's mandate came a day after President Donald Trump renewed pressure on GOP lawmakers to include the repeal in their tax legislation. It has sharp political stakes for Trump, who lacks a major legislative achievement after nearly 10 months in office.

The move by Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee upended the debate over the tax measure just as it was inching closer to passage following months of fine-tuning and compromise. It turned the debate into an angry partisan referendum on health care and President Barack Obama's signature law.

Republican efforts to dismantle the law collapsed this past summer as moderate Republicans joined with Democrats in rejecting the repeal — a bitter disappointment for Trump, who lashed out at the Senate GOP for failing. Adding the repeal of the mandate to the tax measure would combine two of Trump's legislative priorities.

Beyond Trump's prodding, the repeal move also was dictated by the Republicans' need to find revenue sources for the massive tax-cut bill, which calls for steep reductions in the corporate tax rate and elimination of some popular tax breaks.

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When child sex isn't rape: French to set age of consent

PARIS (AP) — Is a 13-year-old old enough to agree to sex with an adult? That's a question France is asking as the government prepares to set a legal age for sexual consent for the first time.

Twice in recent weeks, French courts have refused to prosecute men for rape after they had sex with 11-year-old girls because authorities couldn't prove coercion. Amid the public disbelief over the situation, the French government is drafting a bill to say that sex with children under a certain age is by definition coercive.

Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet provoked consternation among feminist groups Monday by saying a legal minimum age of 13 for sexual consent "is worth considering."

Activists staged a small protest Tuesday in central Paris to argue that the age of consent should be set at 15. Protesters waved placards that read "for him impunity, for her a life sentence" in reference to the recent cases.

"We want the law to guarantee that before 15 there can be no concept of consent," prominent French feminist activist Caroline de Haas said.

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3 UCLA players face punishment at home after China incident

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting returned home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal.

Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley arrived at Los Angeles International Airport late Tuesday afternoon after a 12-hour flight from Shanghai. They ignored reporters' shouted questions while making their way through a horde of media outside and getting into a van that took off from the departure level.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the matter "has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities."

The players were detained in Hangzhou for questioning following allegations of shoplifting last week before the 23rd-ranked Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai as part of the Pac-12 China game. The rest of the UCLA team returned home last Saturday.

A person with knowledge of the Pac-12's decision said any discipline involving the trio would be up to UCLA. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference doesn't plan any sanctions.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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