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Inside Daily Brief (Nov 16th, 2017)

House Republicans have passed a tax reform bill. In a 227-205 vote on Thursday, lawmakers passed the sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code, which would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. The proposal changes some tax breaks and decreases the individual tax brackets from seven to four. "A simple, fair, and competitive tax code will be rocket fuel for our economy, and it’s within our reach," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. A tax plan under Senate consideration differs in various ways including its proposal for individual tax rates. Lawmakers in both chambers have limited time to resolve their differences and pass a final conciliatory bill. - USAT

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Senator Al Franken apologized to a newscaster after she said the former comedian kissed and groped her without her consent. Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles-based journalist, detailed the allegations in a post published on KABC radio’s website. She says that Franken forcibly kissed her and later groped while she slept during a 2006 tour of the Middle East. Tweeden says Franken insisted that they rehearse a kissing scene as part of a skit for the USO tour. “We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth," she wrote. "I felt disgusted and violated." Tweeden also posted a photo that shows Franken putting his hands over her breasts while she slept. “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken said in a statement. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.” - NYT

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A 16-year-old girl has accused Sylvester Stallone of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s, according to a police report. DailyMail.com first obtained the report and published the allegations on Thursday. The report states that Stallone, who was 40 years old at the time, coerced the unnamed teenager into sex with him and his bodyguard Michael De Luca at a Las Vegas hotel in 1986. The report states the girl was "very uncomfortable" but felt like she had "no choice." The girl claimed that Stallone threatened her and said they would "beat her head in" if she told anyone about the encounter. A retired police detective sergeant confirmed that the report copy obtained by the Daily Mail is of the original report. - DAILYMAIL

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The federal corruption trial of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez has ended in a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision. U.S. District Judge William Walls declared the mistrial on Thursday after interviewing jurors, saying that "further deliberations would be futile." Prosecutors can still refile charges against the New Jersey senator, who is accused of taking gifts, donations and vacations from Florida eye doctor and codefendant Salomon Melgen in exchange for government favors. Jurors became deadlocked on all 18 counts against Menendez and Melgen, who have denied the charges. The maximum penalty for the fraud charge is 20 years in prison. “We have each tried to look at this case from different viewpoints, but still feel strongly in our positions, nor are we willing to move away from our strong convictions,” jurors said in a note sent to the judge. - AP

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The Trump administration will allow hunters to import elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe, reversing a prior ban on the practice, ABC reports. A 2014 ban enacted under President Barack Obama attempted to conserve the population of the endangered animals. A provision in the Endangered Species Act allows permits for the animal trophies, "if there is evidence that hunting benefits conservation for a species." The Fish and Wildlife Service has information from both African countries that supports reversing the ban. A service spokesperson said that "Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation." - ABC

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A suicide bomber killed at least 14 people outside a hotel in Kabul on Thursday. The unnamed attacker detonated near a political gathering of the Jamiat-i-Islami party. Attendees had gathered to support Atta Mohammad Noor, a senior party member, who was not in attendance. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. The New York Times reports that the death toll likely would have been higher if Afghan Police Lt. Sayed Basam Pacha had not intervened. Pacha hugged the bomber as he detonated his explosive vest, killing Pacha, seven other officers and six civilians. “My son sacrificed himself to save other people,” Pacha’s father, Gen. Sayed Nizam Agha, said. - WAPO

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London police say 71 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire. The final death toll, released on Wednesday, has ended rumors about the June 14 blaze. A false report claimed that a baby was found alive inside the West London building nearly two weeks after the fire. Amid the rumors, police conducted an extensive search of the 24-story building. Authorities said this week that all of the people who were reported missing have been located. “I cannot imagine the agony and uncertainty that some families and loved ones have been through whilst we have carried out our meticulous search, recovery and identification process,” London Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said. - WAPO

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Bon-Ton plans to close at least 40 of its stores next year. The retailer, with co-headquarters in York, Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee, fell short of its goals for the fiscal third quarter, President and CEO William Tracy said. The parent company of Younkers, Boston Store and other brands lost nearly $45 million in the third quarter, for a total of $135.4 million in reported losses during the first three quarters of the year. Closing the locations will enable the company to move forward "with a more productive store footprint" and redirect capital "toward investments designed to drive sales growth," Tracy said. Bon-Ton has 260 department stores, clearance centers and furniture galleries in the United States. - USAT

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Actress Rose McGowan has been arraigned on felony cocaine charges. Prosecutors said traces of cocaine were found in McGowan’s belongings that were left behind on a January flight to Washington D.C. McGowan, one of the actresses who claims Harvey Weinstein forced her into sex, told The New Yorker that she will plead not guilty. She and her attorney claim the drugs found in her wallet may have been planted. "Depending on when and where the wallet was lost, individuals other than Ms. McGowan had access to the wallet for somewhere between approximately 5 hours 40 minutes and more than 11 hours," McGowan's lawyer wrote in a memo. Last month, the actress tweeted that there was a warrant out for her arrest in Virginia. "What a load of HORSES**T," she wrote. The actress faces a charge for controlled substance possession. - CNN

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Students at a Georgia high school reached a $3 million settlement against a sheriff's office after they were forced to undergo body searches during an April drug raid. The settlement, which still requires approval from a judge, would give most of the 850 students between $1,000 and $6,000 each, according to the Southern Center for Human Rights, which represented some of the students. Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby was recently replaced because of the April 14 incident. Hobby ordered the search of students at Worth County High School, despite the fact that only three of the 15 students suspected of having drugs were present that day. According to NBC, “The deputies searched their clothing and bodies, leaving some students feeling sexually violated by officers.” “We hope this settlement sends a message to law enforcement beyond just south Georgia — or beyond Georgia — that this abuse of power is just not tolerated,” said Mark Begnaud, a civil rights attorney who represented the students. - NYT

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