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

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

November 27, 2017 - 8:04 PM

Senators consider automatic tax hikes if revenue falls short

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans are considering a trigger that would automatically increase taxes if their sweeping legislation fails to generate as much revenue as they expect. It's an effort to mollify deficit hawks who worry that tax cuts for businesses and individuals will add to the nation's already mounting debt.

The effort comes as a second Republican senator, Steve Daines of Montana, announced Monday that he opposes the tax bill in its current form. Previously, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said he opposed the bill, leaving Senate Republicans no room for error as they hope to vote on the bill this week.

Both senators complained that the tax bill favours large corporations over small businesses. Republicans have only two votes to spare in the Senate, where they hold a 52-48 edge and anticipate Vice-President Mike Pence breaking a tie.

At the White House, President Donald Trump maintained that the bill would help all Americans.

"I think it's going to benefit everybody," the president said. "It's going to mostly benefit people looking for jobs more than anything else, because we're giving great incentives."

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2 fight for control of consumer watchdog; judge yet to rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — With emails, tweets and doughnuts, the two dueling acting directors battled for control of the nation's top financial watchdog agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on Monday.

Leandra English, who was elevated to interim director of the bureau late last week by its outgoing director, sent staff an email offering Thanksgiving wishes. President Donald Trump's choice for the role — White House budget director Mick Mulvaney — then emailed staff to tell them to "disregard" any instructions from English.

Laying down markers in what has quickly become a war of optics, both signed their missives "Acting Director."

English has filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order to block Mulvaney from taking over the bureau. Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee approved recently by the Senate, heard arguments on the case late Monday afternoon but didn't immediately rule.

The judge said he'll read the government's response once it's filed and "go from there."

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10 Things to Know for Tuesday

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

1. WHY TAX BILL MIGHT SATISFY DEFICIT HAWKS

Senate Republicans consider a trigger that would automatically increase taxes if their sweeping legislation fails to generate as much revenue as they expect.

2. ROYAL MATCH MADE ON BENDED KNEE

Newly engaged Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reveal that Harry proposed over a roast chicken dinner, getting down on one knee to pop the question.

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At Capitol, Franken apologizes and sees long fight for trust

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Al Franken apologized Monday to "everyone who has counted on me to be a champion for women" as the Minnesota Democrat fought to bolster his support with his first Capitol public appearance since being drawn into a wave of sexual harassment accusations buffeting Congress.

Franken spoke as lawmakers began returning from an extraordinary weeklong Thanksgiving break that saw sexually tinged problems engulf two other legislators as well: Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Joe Barton, R-Texas. Those revelations were on top of allegations that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl and sought romantic relationships with other teenagers when he was in his 30s four decades ago, which he has denied.

With harassment charges bringing down big names in the worlds of entertainment and journalism, Congress was adding widespread complaints about how it handles such incidents to its pile of year-end work.

In a brief appearance before reporters, Franken stopped short of specifying how his memory differs from four women's accounts of separate incidents in which he allegedly initiated improper sexual contact. He said he recalls "differently" one woman's allegation that he forcibly kissed her but provided no detail, and said he doesn't remember three other times women assert he grabbed their buttocks, citing "tens of thousands" of people he meets annually.

"But I feel that you have to respect, you know, women's experience," he said.

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Conservative group linked to woman who falsely accused Moore

NEW YORK (AP) — A conservative group known for undercover investigations has been linked to a woman who falsely told The Washington Post that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore impregnated her as a teenager, the newspaper reported.

Moore has been accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct. But the Post determined that one accuser who approached the newspaper earlier in the month, identified as Jaime Phillips, made up a fake story likely designed to embarrass the newspaper.

The Post published a story Monday about its dealings with Phillips. Earlier in the day, reporters from the newspaper saw Phillips walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, a conservative group with a long track record of targeting Democratic groups and major media outlets, often by hiding their identities and using hidden cameras.

"We don't comment on investigations real or imagined, or imagined stings," conservative activist and Project Veritas leader James O'Keefe told The Associated Press Monday evening.

O'Keefe released an unrelated video that he said exposed liberal bias at the newspaper hours after the Post story was initially published.

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Trump straddle: Won't stump for Moore, yet blasts Dem foe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Playing all sides in the Alabama Senate race, President Donald Trump made it known Monday he won't set foot in the state on behalf of embattled Republican Roy Moore, even as he intensified his insistence that voters must never elect Moore's Democratic foe.

In search of safe political ground, Trump is embracing a tried-and-true tactic before the Dec. 12 special election. Weighing political needs, loyalty to his base supporters and his own struggles against allegations of sexual impropriety, the president is staking out a position that should bring him the least political exposure.

Trump has repeatedly assailed Democratic candidate Doug Jones, has publicly defended Moore against allegations of child molestation and has broken with other GOP leaders calling on Moore to get out of the race. On the other hand, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday the president has no plans for an in-person appearance on Moore's behalf and in fact is too busy to "do anything between now and Election Day" for the candidate.

In addition, the president previously signed off on a decision by the Republican National Committee to cut off support for Moore's campaign.

Still, Trump had held the door open to personal campaigning for Moore last week, when he all but endorsed the pugnacious conservative's candidacy while criticizing Jones. But he's carefully stopping short of that actual endorsement.

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Volcano gushing ash over Bali closes airport for a 2nd day

KARANGASEM, Indonesia (AP) — A volcano gushing towering columns of ash closed the airport on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali for a second day Tuesday, disrupting travel for tens of thousands, as authorities renewed their warnings for villagers to evacuate.

Mount Agung has been hurling clouds of white and dark grey ash about 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) above its cone since the weekend and lava is welling in the crater, sometimes reflected as an orange-red glow in the ash plumes. Its explosions can be heard about 12 kilometres (7 1/2 miles) away.

The local airport authority said Tuesday that closure for another 24 hours was required for safety reasons. Volcanic ash poses a deadly threat to aircraft, and ash from Agung is moving south-southwest toward the airport. Ash has reached a height of about 30,000 feet as it drifts across the island.

Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency raised the volcano's alert to the highest level Monday and expanded an exclusion zone to 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the crater in places from the previous 7 1/2 kilometres. It said a larger eruption is possible, though a top government volcanologist has also said the volcano could continue for weeks at its current level of activity and not erupt explosively.

Agung's last major eruption in 1963 killed about 1,100 people.

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American actress Meghan Markle to be a new kind of royal

LONDON (AP) — She is an entertainment figure in her own right, and an outspoken woman comfortable talking about her background and her passions. American actress Meghan Markle will be a new type of royal when she weds Prince Harry in the spring.

In some ways, Markle — a mixed-race American raised in California, and a divorcee — makes a surprising addition to Britain's monarchy.

But the institution has moved on with the times, and the romance between Markle and Harry has a decidedly unstuffy, modern feel to it.

Markle, best known for her role as an ambitious paralegal in the hit U.S. legal drama "Suits," surprised many when she shared her feelings for Harry in a September cover story for Vanity Fair. Asked about the media frenzy surrounding their courtship, the 36-year-old said: "At the end of the day I think it's really simple ... we're two people who are really happy and in love."

Describing Harry as her "boyfriend," Markle said that while she expected that she and Harry would have to "come forward" about their relationship at some point, the two were just a couple enjoying time spent with each other.

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FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers' US targets

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI failed to notify scores of U.S. officials that Russian hackers were trying to break into their personal Gmail accounts despite having evidence for at least a year that the targets were in the Kremlin's crosshairs, The Associated Press has found.

Nearly 80 interviews with Americans targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian government-aligned cyberespionage group, turned up only two cases in which the FBI had provided a heads-up. Even senior policymakers discovered they were targets only when the AP told them, a situation some described as bizarre and dispiriting.

"It's utterly confounding," said Philip Reiner, a former senior director at the National Security Council, who was notified by the AP that he was targeted in 2015. "You've got to tell your people. You've got to protect your people."

FBI policy calls for notifying victims, whether individuals or groups, to help thwart both ongoing and future hacking attempts. The policy, which was disclosed in a lawsuit filed earlier this year against the FBI by the non-profit Electronic Privacy Information Center, says that notification should be considered "even when it may interfere with another investigation or (intelligence) operation."

Last week, the FBI declined to discuss its investigation into Fancy Bear's spying campaign, but did provide a statement that said in part: "The FBI routinely notifies individuals and organizations of potential threat information."

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Shoppers take to their phones for Cyber Monday deals

NEW YORK (AP) — Weeks of deals didn't stop people from heading online to shop on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Cyber Monday is likely to be the biggest U.S. online shopping day ever, according to Adobe Analytics, the research arm of software maker Adobe. Nearly $6.6 billion in sales were forecast by the end of the day, up about 17 per cent from a year ago, Adobe said. And more people are picking up their phones to shop: Web traffic from mobile devices, including tablets, is expected to top desktop computers for the first time this year, Adobe said.

When Frank Yanover browsed Amazon's Cyber Monday deals through his phone, he wasn't looking for anything in particular. But he spent $300 on a Vitamix blender that he had eyed before, which he said was a $200 discount.

"I never bought it because it was so expensive," said Yanover, who is retired and lives in Hollywood, Florida.

Over the holiday weekend, he bought an iPad from Best Buy through his phone and then picked it up at a store. And using his voice-activated Echo, he bought Amazon's $30 Echo Dot for his bedroom, which was $20 off.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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