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Inside Daily Brief (Dec 7th, 2017)

Many world leaders have voiced concern about President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Several U.S. allies – including the UK, France and Germany – said the move will undermine peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, while China and Russia raised similar issues. Pope Francis expressed "profound concern" over the situation, and appealed "for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions." The harshest words came from Arab leaders. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the decision "irresponsible," and Saudi Arabian media reported that King Salman told Trump by telephone that the move constitutes "a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the decision will prompt "extremist organizations to wage a religious war that would harm the entire region." – BBC

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Australian lawmakers have legalized gay marriage. According to the bill approved by both chambers of the legislature, Australia now defines marriage as "the union of two people" instead of the "union of a man and a woman." The passage of the bill follows from a voluntary postal vote in November in which nearly 62 percent of Australians voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. "What a day! What a day for love, for equality, for respect! Australia has done it," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. The first same-sex marriages are expected to take place in January. Australia is the 26th country in the world to approve same-sex marriages. – NPR

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General Electric plans to cut 12,000 jobs. The job losses will affect GE’s power division, which makes gas and steam turbines, as well as nuclear plant infrastructure. CEO John Flannery in November said that GE needed to streamline its power business because of lower demand for its products and services to generate power from coal and gas. Uncertainty over climate policy is prompting many countries to reduce investments in fossil fuel power plants. Faced with strong competition from renewable energy generation, GE’s rival, Siemens, is cutting around 7,000 jobs, most of them from its power and gas division. – REUTERS

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According to a Democratic lawmaker, Donald Trump Jr. refused to give House investigators details about a conversation he had with President Trump this summer. Earlier this year, Trump Jr. released emails about a meeting that he had in June 2016 with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who had offered him damaging information on Hillary Clinton. President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and then Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort also took part in the meeting. Trump Jr. said he had a conversation with his father after the meeting became public. But he said that, since a lawyer was present when the conversation took place, he is not obliged to disclose details of the talk. Democratic Representative Adam Schiff said "the presence of counsel does not mean communications between father and son are privileged." – CBS

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On Monday, drugmaker Pfizer will launch a cheaper generic version of Viagra in the U.S. Although Viagra is blue and trades for $65-per-pill, the generic version will be white and will sell for half the price. The move will allow Pfizer to get ahead of expected competition once Viagra loses patent protection in the U.S. in 2020. The erectile dysfunction treatment is one of the world’s best selling drugs. – FORTUNE

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Fires continue raging through Southern California, prompting authorities to issue more evacuation orders. The Thomas Fire – the largest of several blazes in the area – has now burned around 90,000 hectares, and is only five percent contained. The flames are threatening around 12,000 homes and about 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate. Strong winds continue stoking the fires, with forecasters predicting gusts of up to 80 mph today. "There will be no ability to fight fires in this kind of wind," said Ken Pimlott, head of California's fire response. Meanwhile, the so-called Skirball Fire destroyed several homes in the opulent L.A. neighborhood of Bel-Air, forcing residents to flee. Approximately 11,000 firefighters have been deployed to battle the flames in Southern California. – LATIMES

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U.S. lawmakers approved a bill on Wednesday allowing those with a permit to carry concealed guns to other states while traveling. The legislation was approved mostly along party lines in a 231-198 vote. The National Rifle Association supported the bill. Representative Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat, called the bill "a disgraceful handout to the powerful gun lobby and gun manufacturers." The legislation includes provisions to enhance background checks on prospective gun owners, and to limit the use of bump stocks that enable semiautomatic weapons to fire faster. Texas Senator John Cornyn said the GOP may struggle to rally enough votes to approve the bill in the upper chamber and suggested splitting the bill in two. "I support both of those bills but I recognize that if you combine them it makes it a lot harder to pass the consensus bill," he said. – CNN

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Six women have sued Harvey Weinstein and his companies for racketeering. The civil lawsuit alleges that Weinstein’s former companies Miramax and The Weinstein Company took part in a conspiracy to "perpetuate and conceal [Weinstein’s] widespread sexual harassment and assault." The lawsuit also names members of The Weinstein Company’s board. It comes after The New York Times published a story detailing how Weinstein used his power and influence to silence his accusers. Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault, rape and harassment by over 50 women. He denies the allegations. – PEOPLE

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A U.S.-based Volkswagen executive has been sentenced to seven years in jail for his role in a scheme to fake vehicle emissions results. Oliver Schmidt had pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to mislead U.S regulators and violate clean-air laws. Volkswagen had also pleaded guilty to three felony counts that it installed secret software in vehicles in order to elude emissions tests. The German automaker has paid over $16 billion in fines and settlements over so-called "Dieselgate." Several current and former Volkswagen executives have been indicted over their role in the scheme. – REUTERS

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Ford plans to build a plant to manufacture electric SUVs in Mexico, reversing a decision to produce the cars in Michigan. The vehicles are part of Ford’s future line of electric or hybrid vehicles, which includes 13 models. Taking the production to Mexico will allow Ford to increase production of driverless vehicles at its Flat Rock factory in Michigan. To that end, Ford will invest $200 million in the Flat Rock plant, and add 150 jobs there. Before taking office, President Trump criticized Ford's plans to build a $1.6 billion facility plant in Mexico and the company later cancelled those plans "due to market demand." BLOOMBERG

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THROWBACK THURSDAY

Every Thursday, we’re going to back-track to see what happened around this time in history. Hop in the time machine and let’s go!

Date: December 7, 1941

On the morning of December 7, 1941, a swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes launched an attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, catching the U.S. entirely off-guard. The incident eventually drew the U.S. into World War II.

Around 7 a.m. on December 7, radar operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward Pearl Harbor. However, they were expecting B-17s from the U.S., and chose not to sound the alarm. As a result, the attack was largely devastating to the naval base, which could not prepare in time.

Five battleships, as well as seven other ships, were severely damaged or sunk. More than 200 aircraft were destroyed, and about 2,400 Americans lost their lives. Another 1,200 were wounded. Japan lost 30 planes, five submarines, and less than 100 men.

Following the attack, President Roosevelt asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the “state of war” between the U.S. and Japan. The measure was approved, and three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the U.S.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Adm. Husband Kimmel and Gen. Walter Short, the Navy and Army commanders on Oahu, were relieved of their duties. The U.S. also began investigations at once. Later insight into the incident concluded that although U.S. officials knew that an attack by Japan was “probable,” they did not know how or when it would occur. 

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