“Sorry” doesn’t cut it. Democratic Sen. Al Franken is the latest public figure to face accusations of sexual misconduct after a TV and radio presenter claimed the former comedian kissed and groped her without her consent during a 2006 tour of the Middle East. Leeann Tweeden detailed her account in a Thursday post, which included a photo of Franken grabbing her breasts as she slept. Franken quickly apologized, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’ll send the matter to the Ethics Committee.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s the end of an era. President Robert Mugabe, 93, has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, when the former British colony declared independence. Now Mugabe is confined to his house after the country’s military quietly took control of government buildings and state broadcaster ZBC. His wife and would-be successor, Grace, hasn’t been seen. South African state media is reporting that a transitional government is in the works, while South African ministers have traveled to Harare. Emergency talks will be held in Botswana today on returning Zimbabwe to stability.
Nothing is certain but death and debates about taxes. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson was the first Republican to publicly oppose the tax overhaul bill, saying it favored corporations over small businesses. Now more GOP senators have voiced concerns about the proposal, which cuts $1.5 trillion in taxes and repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate. That could jeopardize the hasty approval that Republican leaders need to score a legislative victory by the end of the year. The House passed their version today, but numbers aren’t so certain in the Senate.
It’s he said, they said. A total of nine women have now spoken out about the Republican Senate candidate’s past conduct, describing his history of cruising for underage girls at the mall and groping women who came to him as legal clients. Moore is still campaigning. Meanwhile, despairing GOP leaders are exploring drastic strategies like asking current Alabama Sen. Luther Strange to resign, potentially allowing them to call another special election. On Thursday, the White House said President Donald Trump isn’t calling for Moore to bow out, but finds the allegations “very troubling.”
He just needs space. French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear he wasn’t offering Saad Hariri exile, but merely “a few days” in France with his family. But many are speculating about Hariri’s fate after his sudden, unexpected resignation 11 days ago — and questioning why Macron had to discuss Hariri’s travel with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Lebanese officials claim Hariri’s been held captive as part of a power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran. They’ve demanded his return, while Riyadh has ordered Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon.
Know This: South Korea delayed its countrywide college entrance exam due to a 5.4 magnitude earthquake yesterday. Russia’s appeals to reinstate its athletes have been rejected by the World Anti-Doping Agency. And Papa John’s pizza is attempting to distance itself from neo-Nazi groups that praised its CEO’s comments condemning the NFL kneeling protests.
Look at This: A photo of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife posing with a sheet of $1 bills became an instant meme as people on Twitter mocked them for looking like “Bond villains.”
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They’re fed up with “fake news” too. Russia’s lower house of Parliament approved legislation Wednesday that allows the Kremlin to officially label critical international media outlets as “foreign agents.” The move is retaliation against a new U.S. requirement that the American branch of RT, a Russian state broadcaster, declare itself a foreign agent in compliance with a 1938 law typically reserved for lobbyists with foreign contacts. Both the upper house and President Vladimir Putin are expected to approve the new law, which Amnesty International called a “serious blow” to Russian media freedom.
Keep on truckin’. Elon Musk is slated to unveil Tesla’s plans for an electric semi truck today — quite a departure from the company’s sleek Model S car. Electric engines would make trucking cleaner and more efficient, despite the clunky aerodynamics of large vehicles and the limited range of batteries — or reduced cargo space to make room for them. But Tesla’s not alone: Siemens, Toyota and several startups are all developing various electric trucks aimed at making transportation infrastructure more sustainable in the long haul.
It’s a new kind of shrimp cocktail. When the mantis shrimp strikes its prey, its lightning-fast claws generate tiny vapor bubbles that quickly implode under pressure, creating powerful shock waves. That process, called cavitation, has now been adapted for industrial use — including beer-making. Cavitation’s so far been shown to reduce waste in the brewing process and to speed up the extraction of flavors from hops and fruit. It’s even been used to quick-age wine and spirits — and so far the industry is lapping it up.
The meek won’t inherit this art. Salvator Mundi, a painting of Jesus by the Renaissance master, was auctioned at Christie’s in New York for a record $450,312,500 — the most ever paid for a work of art. The long-lost painting, one of fewer than 20 by Leonardo known to exist, was commissioned by King Louis XII of France around 1500. It had been restored after being badly damaged and partially painted over. The seller was a Russian oligarch, but the identity of its new owner remains a mystery.
This time the Ball did the stealing. LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill are back home after being detained for shoplifting in China, but they’re not back on the court. The UCLA basketball players, accused of stealing sunglasses from a Hangzhou Louis Vuitton store, have been suspended indefinitely. President Donald Trump, who was visiting China at the time, took credit for their release. “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump?” he tweeted. All three players have apologized and thanked him publicly.