5 issues for November 17 – Al Franken, tax overhaul, Zimbabwe, Russia, elephants

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1. Al Franken

Al Franken’s future in the Senate is in doubt after a radio news anchor said he forcibly kissed and groped her a decade ago during a USO tour overseas. Leeann Tweeden also released a photo of what appears to be Franken grabbing Tweeden’s breasts while she’s sleeping. Franken apologized, but the reaction has been swift. A Senate ethics investigation has been called for, including by Franken himself, and some Dems say this really could lead to Franken’s expulsion from the Senate.

About things
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5 things for November 17: Al Franken, tax overhaul, Zimbabwe, Russia, elephants

About November
November is the eleventh and penultimate month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and the fourth and last month to have the length of 30 days. November was the ninth month of the ancient Roman calendar. November retained its name (from the Latin novem meaning “nine”) when January and February were added to the Roman calendar. November is a month of late spring in the Southern Hemisphere and late autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, November in the Southern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent of May in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa. In Ancient Rome, Ludi Plebeii was held from November 4–17, Epulum Jovis was held on November 13, and Brumalia celebrations began on November 24. These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.
November was referred to as Blōtmōnaþ by the Anglo-Saxons. Brumaire and Frimaire were the months on which November fell in the French Republican Calendar.

Meantime in Alabama, Democrat Doug Jones has opened an eight-point lead on Republican Roy Moore in a special election for the US Senate, according to a new poll, as Moore faces sexual assault and harassment allegations.

2. Tax overhaul

5 things for November 17: Al Franken, tax overhaul, Zimbabwe, Russia, elephants

Maybe President Trump will get his Christmas wish after all. The House passed its tax overhaul bill filled with cuts that could significantly revamp the tax code. The House bill would mean tax cuts on average for all income groups in 2018 — and most groups in 2027 — but the biggest benefits go to those at the top. The Senate’s tax bill moved out of committee and is expected to be voted on after Thanksgiving. If the Senate bill passes (that’s not a sure thing), the differences between the two bills would have to be reconciled. That’s quite possible, meaning Congress could send tax legislation to Trump before Christmas.

3. Zimbabwe

Looks like Robert Mugabe is not going out without a fight. The Zimbabwean President, who’s been in power since 1980, is said to be resisting efforts to push him out. And he appeared this morning at a university graduation, just two days after he was put under house arrest. Military leaders, who this week carried out what seemed like a coup, now say they’re “engaging” with Mugabe.

A source from Zimbabwe’s opposition party told CNN that plans for a takeover had been in the works for a while and that ousted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was definitely in on it. The plan was put into action after Mugabe appeared to be installing his own wife to replace Mnangagwa.

4. Russia investigation

Senate judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein sent a letter Thursday requesting more information on Jared Kushner related to his security clearance and questions over whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.

The two senators specifically requested “transcripts from other committee interviews, additional documents from previous requests, communications with (former National Security Adviser) Michael Flynn and documents related to his security clearance,” according to their statement. They wrote there are missing documents, such as emails to Kushner on WikiLeaks and a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” that Kushner forwarded to another campaign official.

5. Elephant trophies

The Trump administration will soon allow the importation of African elephant trophies, and some folks are ticked off about it. The decision means Americans will be able to hunt elephants in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Fish and Wildlife service said the move will help the two countries’ management plans for the elephants and generate some revenue. But animal rights groups are outraged and note that restrictions against this sort of thing were made in 2014 because of big drops in the African elephant population. 

NUMBER OF THE DAY

210,000

That’s the total number of gallons of oil leaked from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota. The pipeline’s been shut down as crews work to find the cause of the leak. 

BREAKFAST BROWSE

People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.

RIP, Lil Peep

You may have never heard of the rapper Lil Peep, but his death at age 21 is sparking a conversation about the opioid epidemic.

Good timing

The president of the American Heart Association picked a pretty good spot to have a heart attack — right in the middle of the group’s conference.

Galactic getaway

If we continue to screw this planet up, we may have somewhere else to go. It’s only 11 light years away.

Tough truck

Tesla’s latest is an electric semi-truck that can go 500 miles on a single charge, but the real buzz is over its futuristic, sci-fi bad guy look.

CNN NEWS QUIZ

Where is the newest nation located? North America, Asia, Europe, or outer space? Go to Total Recall, CNN’s weekly news quiz, to test your knowledge.

AND FINALLY …

We don’t know you that well, so …

Let’s end the week with some cuteness. Here’s a golden retriever dad being really overprotective when a human tries to shake the paw of his puppy. (Click to view)