They’re one step closer. Scrambling to pass major legislation before the end of the year to boost midterm prospects in 2018, House Republicans won a 227-205 vote in favor of President Donald Trump’s signature tax reform bill, which rolls back the estate tax and slashes the corporate tax rate. The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-12 along party lines to approve their bill, which also repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate. That could complicate passage in the Senate, which is far from assured, as Republicans can afford only two defectors before the bill’s scuttled.
The Presidential Daily Brief
“Sorry” doesn’t cut it. Democratic Sen. Al Franken is the latest public figure to face accusations of sexual misconduct after a radio newscaster said the former comedian kissed and groped her without consent during a 2006 USO tour of the Middle East. Leeann Tweeden detailed her account yesterday, sharing a photo of Franken appearing to grab her breasts as she slept. He quickly apologized and requested an Ethics Committee investigation — which he’ll get. President Trump, who has himself faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, immediately attacked “Al Frankenstien” via Twitter.
They can do this the hard way or the easy way. Long-time Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe appears to be refusing to step down after a military takeover put him under house arrest and detained several members of his Cabinet. Gen. Constantino Chiwenga met with Mugabe last night — and the 93-year-old made an appearance today at a graduation ceremony — but it’s unclear what the next steps will be. If the president refuses to go quietly, the military may force him out via impeachment, assuming it can muster a parliamentary majority.
It’s a crude reminder. A total of 210,000 gallons of oil leaked from an underground section of the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota yesterday, according to operator TransCanada. The pipeline has been shut down while investigators search for the cause of the leak and the extent of its environmental damage. Nebraska will decide next week whether to grant a permit for a sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has faced years of debate and protest but was recently cleared of federal obstacles by a White House executive order.
Know This: At least 20 people have been injured in a major fire at a retirement home in Pennsylvania. Italian mafia boss Toto Riina has died of cancer at the age of 87. And the corruption trial of Sen. Robert Menendez has ended in mistrial.
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They’re fair game. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Thursday that hunters — like Donald Trump Jr., who was pictured holding a severed elephant’s tail in 2011 — will be allowed to import legally hunted pachyderm trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia. The restriction had been in place since 2014. The agency said it had reconsidered conservation efforts in those countries and will start approving imports of elephant body parts to the United States immediately. Zimbabwe’s elephant population has decreased by 6 percent in recent years.
You could be gone in 1.9 seconds. That how long it takes to get from 0 to 60 mph in Tesla’s $200,000 electric Roadster, announced unexpectedly at an event ostensibly meant to unveil a new electric semi truck. It’s a revival of Tesla’s first car, only bigger and zippier, with top speeds of 250 mph rivaling the fastest mass-produced cars. Critics warn that Tesla’s got a history of overpromising — but that hasn’t deterred some drivers from paying $50,000 to join the waiting list for the Roadster’s planned 2020 release.
They’re the coolest kids on the bloc. Germany has replaced the United States as the most reputable country in the world, according to the new Nation Brands Index. Measuring the “power and quality” of 50 countries’ images, Germany ranked in the top five for almost every category in the survey. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel hailed the finding as proof that the country’s image “no longer rests on our economic strength.” Researchers say the “Trump effect” was responsible for the U.S. dropping from first place in 2016 to sixth this year.
He had just started. The YouTube sensation, born Gustav Åhr, has died of a suspected drug overdose. The Long Island native was a rising star in the indie scene where he blended early 2000’s emo with modern hip-hop and EDM. Åhr’s drug use was no secret: Hours before his death he posted on Instagram about taking six Xanax. His manager responded to the news, tweeting, “I’ve been expecting this call for a year.” Rapper Post Malone said Åhr’s music had “changed the world and it’ll never be the same.”
They’re the top. The World Series champs can add another accolade to their stellar year: Second baseman Jose Altuve, in his fourth consecutive All-Star season, led the majors with a .346 average and 204 hits. Only the second MVP in Astros history, he easily beat out Yankees Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge. In the NL, the Marlins’ powerful slugger Giancarlo Stanton and his MLB-leading 59 home runs — the most since record-smashing 2001 — edged out Cincinnati’s Joey Votto in the closest MVP vote since 1979.