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Friday, Dec 15th

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Senate Passes Sweeping Republican Tax Overhaul Bill

Senate passes sweepin tax billThe Senate passed the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades early Saturday, with Republicans lining up to approve an overhaul that will touch almost every corner of the United States economy, affecting families, small business owners and multinational corporations, with the biggest benefits flowing to the highest-earning Americans.

Senators voted 51-49, as Republicans approved the nearly 500-page bill in the early morning hours after lawmakers received a rewritten version, which contained significant changes from the original bill that passed two Senate panels last month along party lines. The last-minute revisions prompted an outcry from Democrats, who said it was impossible — and irresponsible — for lawmakers to read and digest a significant piece of legislation in such a short period of time.

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Lawmaker behind secret $84K sexual harassment settlement unmasked

Rep. Blake Farenthold behind secret sexual harassment payout

Rep. Blake Farenthold used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by his former spokesman — the only known sitting member of Congress to have used a little-known congressional account to pay an accuser, people familiar with the matter told POLITICO.

Lauren Greene, the Texas Republican’s former communications director, sued her boss in December 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

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Kushner Is Said to Have Ordered Flynn to Contact Russia

Kushner is said to have ordered Flynn to contact Russia

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's guilty plea Friday for lying to the FBI is alarming news for Donald Trump. But the first person it's likely to jeopardize will be the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Two former officials with the Trump transition team who worked closely with Flynn say that during the last days of the Obama administration, the retired general was instructed to contact foreign ambassadors and foreign ministers of countries on the United Nations Security Council, ahead of a vote condemning Israeli settlements.

Flynn was told to try to get them to delay that vote until after President Barack Obama had left office, or oppose the resolution altogether.

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Earthquake centered in Delaware shakes Philadelphia region

Earthquake hits DelawareA rare earthquake jolted the Philadelphia region on Thursday, but there have been no reports of damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 4.1 magnitude quake struck just after 4:45 p.m., and was centered about 6 miles (10 kilometers) east-northeast of Dover, Delaware.

The dramatic shaking motion was captured by a surveillance camera owned by WavLab Studios.

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Former U.S. Marine jailed for raping and murdering woman on Japanese island of Okinawa

US marine jailed for rape, murder

A U.S. military contractor was found guilty of raping and murdering a Japanese woman on Okinawa and sentenced to life imprisonment Friday. The case caused outrage among locals about the presence of the U.S. military on the southern Japanese island.

The Naha District Court also found Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, a former Marine, guilty of abandoning the body of Rina Shimabukuro, 20. She was discovered in a forest, three weeks after disappearing while taking a walk.

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Beastie Boys' Adam Horovitz sides with women accusing his father of sexual abuse

Adam Horovitz' son sides with accusers

Nine women who have accused playwright Israel Horowitz of sexual misconduct have the support of his son, Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys.

The women detail their allegations against Horovitz in a story Thursday in The New York Times. Some were in the teens and others were in their 20s when they say the incidents occurred.

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Manafort strikes $11 million bail deal with prosecutors

Manafort strikes $11K bail dealTrump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were indicted last month; they pleaded not guilty. And Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty for making a false statement to the FBI over contacts with officials connected to the Russian government.

But the charge against Flynn is the first in Mueller's probe that has reached someone in the Trump White House and is the latest sign that the special counsel's investigation is intensifying.

Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador

Mike Flynn flipped: pleads guilty to lying to FBIFormer Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to "willfully and knowingly" making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador.

In court Friday morning, Flynn's only comments were to answer yes and no to questions from the judge.
He is the first official of President Donald Trump's campaign and the fourth connected to his campaign to be charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump's team, as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.
TVNL Comments:  This is the first card to fall in the fragile House of Trump.  Flynn is the key to the whole Trump clan: Donald, Don Jr., Jared and Ivanka. Fun time ahead.

Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry

Senate Intel CommitteePresident Trump over the summer repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to end the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a half dozen lawmakers and aides. Mr. Trump’s requests were a highly unusual intervention from a president into a legislative inquiry involving his family and close aides.

Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the intelligence committee chairman, said in an interview this week that Mr. Trump told him that he was eager to see an investigation that has overshadowed much of the first year of his presidency come to an end.

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