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Dem Rep. Kihuen Won't Seek Re-Election
"I want to state clearly again that I deny the allegations in question," Kihuen said in a statement. "However," the freshman congressman added, "the allegations that have surfaced would be a distraction from a fair and thorough discussion of the issues in a reelection campaign." "Therefore," Kihuen went on, "it is in the best interests of my family and my constituents to complete my term in Congress and not seek re-election." The announcement by Kihuen, 37, came one day after the House Ethics Committee announced it had opened an investigation into the harassment claims against him. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Smart move.

Mattis Says North Korea Isn't Capable Of Striking The US
Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Friday he does not believe that North Korea's current intercontinental ballistic missiles are capable of hitting the continental US. North Korea's November ICBM "has not yet shown to be a capable threat against us right now," Mattis said during an off-camera briefing with reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. He added that the United States is still assessing the situation. "We are still examining the forensics, we're still doing the forensics analysis, it takes a while," he said.  CNN
VOA VIEW: Mattis is right, but NK is still a big threat.

Four Of The Most Explosive Claims Against Uber
A salacious letter alleging questionable and deceptive business practices by Uber Technologies Inc. was released to the public Friday as part of Alphabet Inc.’s lawsuit over trade-secret theft. The letter, written by an attorney representing former Uber security employee Richard Jacobs, said the ride-hailing company spied on rivals, bribed officials and used encrypted messaging software to hide its tracks. Jacobs has since retreated on some claims in the letter. Bloomberg

How You Can Exploit The Tax Bill Right Now
If the bill passes, new tax rates and countless other provisions would go into effect on Jan. 1. Most of the old rules though would still apply in the last two weeks of 2017—and that gives individuals a shrinking window of time to employ strategies that would lower their taxes for next year’s tax season. (While the legislation would take effect in the new year, it won’t be reflected in your tax forms until the 2019 tax season). So, here are suggestions from accountants, financial planners, and other tax experts on how to make the most of this opportunity.  Bloomberg


Mueller Improperly Obtained Documents In Russia Probe
The transition legal team argues the GSA “did not own or control the records in question” and the release of documents could be a violation of the 4th Amendment – which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Kory Langhofer, the counsel to Trump for America, wrote in Saturday's letter that the GSA handed over “tens of thousands of emails” to Mueller's probe without "any notice" to the transition. The attorney said they discovered the “unauthorized disclosures” by the GSA on December 12th and 13th and raised concerns with the special counsel’s office.  Fox

President Trump Brushes Off Concerns On Tax Plan
"I think the greatest benefit is going to be for jobs and the middle class," Trump told reporters Saturday on the South Lawn prior to his departure for Camp David. His comments followed congressional Republicans' release Friday evening of a thousand-page tax bill that includes deep tax cuts for corporations and tax breaks for the wealthy while offering what most economists say are more limited benefits for middle-class Americans. ABC News

Trump Calls Wife Of Hospitalized Sen. John McCain
President Donald Trump has called the wife of John McCain as the Arizona senator is hospitalized for cancer treatments. The White House said Trump called Cindy McCain on Friday to send his best wishes and check on her and her husband. John McCain was admitted this week to Walter Reed Medical Center due to side effects from his cancer treatment. The Republican was diagnosed earlier this year with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.  ABC News

Fire In California Continues To Grow
The third-largest wildfire in California history continues to grow and threaten thousands of homes despite armies of fire crews and fleets of bulldozers and aircraft. Although Santa Ana winds eased on Friday amid the blaze northwest of Los Angeles, they are expected to return with a vengeance over the weekend. And the fire is so large that winds on one end may be gustier than those on the other side. The 11-day-old Thomas Fire surging through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties had devoured some 400 square miles of brush and timber and burned more than 1,000 buildings, including well over 750 homes.  CBS News


Russia Could Cut Off Internet To NATO Countries
Russia could try to sever global underwater communications cables, potentially triggering catastrophic repercussions for the economy and way of life in the West, the head of Britain’s military has warned. The vast majority of global internet and telephone traffic relied on by Western governments, economies and civilians is carried by cables that crisscross the world's seabeds, according to analysts. NBC News

Could Trump Be Impeached For Sexual Harassment?
Several women again went public this week with allegations that Donald Trump had harassed them before he became president. Could Trump, who called the claims "false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met," be removed from office because of the allegations? A number of high-profile figures in politics, the media and show business have lost their jobs recently as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct. Most of those working in the news and entertainment business have employment contracts with clauses that allow for their termination for cause or for bad conduct. NBC News
VOA VIEW: Desperate liberal thought.

Justice Department Watchdog Not Consulted Before FBI Texts Released
The Justice Department's inspector general's office said it wasn't consulted before the agency released text messages sent between two FBI agents to the media. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz had discovered FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page had exchanged texts critical of Donald Trump and favorable of his presidential campaign opponent Hillary Clinton. Strzok and Page are no longer part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election. UPI

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U.N. Official Condemns Latest Mass Execution In Iraq
The execution of 38 militants in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah this week drew outrage from the United Nations Human Rights office and Amnesty International. Iraq's judiciary convicted the male prisoners on terrorism-related charges and all appeal options available were exhausted before they were executed Thursday, the Justice Ministry said.  UPI

Trump Says People Are 'Very Angry' At FBI
President Donald Trump stopped to speak to reporters on his way out of the White House on Friday, criticizing the FBI on his way to speak to graduates of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. "It's a shame what's happened with the FBI," Trump said. "Everybody, not me, everybody, the level of anger at what they've been witnessing with respect to the FBI is certainly very sad." CNS News
VOA VIEW: The American people are worried about the FBI.

Catholic League: 'Homosexuals Committed Most Of The Abuse'
Commenting on an Australian commission report that recommends ending mandatory celibacy of priests in the Catholic Church to apparently curtail sexual abuse, Catholic League President Bill Donohue said this possibly is Australia's way of saying there are too many homosexuals in the Catholic clergy, and he added that in the United States "homosexuals committed most of the abuse" in the church over the last 50 years. CNS


Delivery Companies On Overdrive
'Tis the season to be shopping and shipping at Li-Lac Chocolates in Brooklyn where more than 20 percent of their sales will be shipped for the holidays. "Getting gifts on time is super important they just can't be late, we really rely on the carrier to deliver when they promise they will," co-owner Anthony Cirone said. This year Christmas lands on a Monday, giving retailers one less day to get gifts delivered on time. UPS, Fedex and the U.S. postal service are working on overdrive to collectively deliver over 60 million packages a day -- even weekends -- a 50 percent increase over normal volume. CBS News

U.N. Council Mulls Call For U.S. Jerusalem Decision To Be Withdrawn
The United Nations Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would insist any decisions on the status of Jerusalem have no legal effect and must be rescinded after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital. The one-page Egyptian-drafted text, which was circulated to the 15-member council on Saturday and seen by Reuters, does not specifically mention the United States or Trump. Diplomats say it has broad support but will likely be vetoed by Washington. The council could vote early next week, diplomats said. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Any country can name any city their Capitol.

Trump Defends Tax Plan As 'Great Christmas Gifts' To Middle Class
U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday defended a Republican tax-cut plan against Democratic charges that it favors the rich, saying it will be “one of the great Christmas gifts” for the middle class with just days to go before Congress votes. With a vote on the biggest tax rewrite in three decades set for Tuesday, Republicans were working to ensure party members were holding the line in favor of the legislation against entrenched Democratic opposition. The plan was finalized on Friday after Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Corker pledged their support. Reuters

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Congress Urged To Reauthorize Children’s Health Program
More than 350,000 New York children enrolled in the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program — including 66,000 on Long Island and 132,000 in New York City — are at risk of losing their health coverage by March if Congress does not re-extend the decades-old program, according to state health data. Social service agency heads in the region have said without the program, known as CHIP, thousands of children enrolled in the health plan may face lapses in lifesaving medical treatments, immunizations and routine checkups.  Newsday

Trump Won’t Second-Guess Himself On Alabama
First of all, Donald Trump doesn’t want you to think he was surprised in the least that Republican Roy Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama. “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!” Newsday

Words Banned At Multiple HHS Agencies
The Trump administration has informed multiple divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services that they should avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is part of HHS, were given a list of seven prohibited words or phrases during a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget. The words to avoid: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Washington Post

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Pope Begs Journalists To Avoid 'Sins Of Communication'
Pope Francis, in speaking to a group of journalists Saturday, addressed the importance of a free and responsible press while also warning against falling "prey to the sins of communication." He was speaking to members of the Italian Periodical Press Union and the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies and said that in a field "dominated by the anxiety of speed, by the drive for sensationalism," reliable information is at a premium. "There is an urgent need for reliable information, with verified data and news, which does not aim to amaze and excite, but rather to make readers develop a healthy critical sense, enabling them to ask themselves appropriate questions and reach justified conclusions," he said, according to the official speech log from the Vatican. NPR

Sydney Man Charged With Brokering North Korea Missile Sales
A Sydney man has been charged with acting as an agent for North Korea in Australia by allegedly attempting to broker sales for Pyongyang including components used in ballistic missiles. The Australian Federal Police say the 59-year-old naturalized Australian used encrypted communication to broker sales and discuss the supply of weapons of mass destruction. Police say the man was generating tens of millions of dollars for Pyongyang by arranging the sale of missiles, componentry and expertise from North Korea to other international entities, and was trying to arrange the transfer of coal from the country to Indonesia and Vietnam. NBC News

Republican Elite — Not Trump's Base
Here we go again. In the aftermath of Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama on Tuesday night, the same familiar faces on television are coming to the same familiar, yet inaccurate conclusions about the latest Republican debacle. The sun rises in the morning. President Trump tweets. And pundits and political strategists get it wrong. So let’s talk about the real takeaways from the Alabama Senate race. Roy Moore was a supremely flawed candidate, without a doubt. However, simply blaming Alabama voters — and Steve Bannon — for picking a flawed candidate is foolish. The Hill

‘Rumor On The Hill’ Of Trump Plan To Fire Mueller
A White House lawyer is refuting a rumor voiced by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) that President Donald Trump intends to fire special counsel Robert Mueller before Christmas. On Saturday, White House special counsel Ty Cobb told CNN that no such plans exist: “As the White House has consistently said for months, there is no consideration of firing the special counsel,” Ty Cobb, the White House special counsel, told CNN in a statement.

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