NEWS   MONDAY, DECEMBER  18, 2017   NEWS

Power Outage At Atlanta Airport Causes 'Pandemonium'
The airport reported on its Facebook page that departures were delayed because airport equipment in the terminals is not working. One person in the airport's Concourse D told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she's seen smoke in the area, which airport workers apparently tried to move people away from, while another woman said she smelled electrical fire-type smoke. Fox
VOA VIEW: A major mess.

Was The FBI Weaponized To Take Down The Trump Presidency?
We have a growing mountain of evidence to suggest the FBI was attempting to overthrow a duly elected president. We have evidence to suggest the FBI was protecting Hillary Clinton so she might be elected president. There is no smoking gun just yet – but the evidence is staggering – it is simply staggering. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) told the Todd Starnes Radio Show there are “very serious implications.” Fox
VOA VIEW: America should be afraid of liberals.

Sen. McCain Returning To Arizona
Sen. John McCain is heading home to Arizona to continue recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy for a brain tumor and will not be in Washington for the tax vote this week, two sources close to McCain confirmed to CNN. McCain is unlikely to return to Washington this year, one of the sources said. But his ability to get on a plane to Arizona was a "good sign," a source said. McCain left Walter Reed Medical Center "exhausted, but ok," a Republican close to him said. McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, confirmed that the senator would be in Arizona for Christmas. CNN

'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Has Monster Box Office Opening
"The Last Jedi," the eighth installment in the "Star Wars" saga, premiered this weekend to the second-biggest opening ever in North America. It brought in an estimated $220 million, according to Disney. The Disney film's opening is second only to its predecessor, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which opened to $248 million in December 2015.  CNN

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Cause Of Canadian Billionaires' 'Suspicious' Deaths At Home Revealed
Pharmaceuticals billionaire Barry Sherman, 75, founder of Apotex Inc., and his 70-year-old wife, Honey, were found dead in their north Toronto mansion on Friday. Multiple Canadian media outlets reported that police initially were investigating the deaths as a possible murder-suicide, citing unidentified police sources. The bodies were found hanging from a railing on the edge of a basement swimming pool, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, and CTV News reported, all citing police sources. Investigators were working on the theory that Sherman killed his wife at some place in the mansion, hanged her body and then hanged himself at the pool’s edge. Fox

Track Palin, Son Of Sarah Palin, Arrested
The oldest son of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was arraigned Sunday on domestic violence charges, according to online court records. Track Palin, was arraigned Sunday morning on charges of felony burglary, assault in the fourth degree and criminal mischief for causing property damage in Wasilla, Alaska, according to court records. The criminal mischief charge was for causing between $250 and $999 in property damage.  NBC News

Carolina Panthers Owner Announces Sale Of Team
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said Sunday that he would sell the National Football League franchise amid allegations that he used a racial slur against an African-American employee and sexually harassed female workers. The announcement came after the allegations first reported by Sports Illustrated — and on the same day the Panthers defeated the Green Bay Packers, making them 10-4 and ranked fifth in their conference. In a statement, Richardson said there had been “no greater mission or purpose in my life” than bringing an NFL team to Charlotte, North Carolina. NBC News

Trump Indicates He's Not Considering Firing Special Counsel
Trump replied, “No, I’m not” in response to a reporter’s question about whether he intends to dismiss Mueller. He made the comment after returning to the White House from Camp David on the same day that John Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, came to the defense of Mueller, saying it “would be a mistake” for Trump to fire the special counsel, even as many GOP lawmakers ramp up criticism of his probe.  Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

Bitcoin Hits A Bigger Wall Street Stage
Bitcoin futures started trading Sunday night at CME Group Inc.’s venue, a week after Chicago rival Cboe Global Markets Inc. introduced similar derivatives on the volatile cryptocurrency. The January contract rose 5.5 percent to $20,580 at 6 p.m. New York time. As CME launched its contract, bitcoin rose toward a record $20,000. CME’s version could make a bigger splash because the company is a much bigger player in futures than Cboe, handling about 55 times more volume during the first nine months of 2017, according to the Futures Industry Association. In its first week, Cboe traded more than 10,000 contracts representing about $180 million in bitcoin, data compiled by Bloomberg show.  Bloomberg

Putin Called Trump To Thank CIA For Tip On Bomb Threat
Russia's main state broadcaster, Vesti, said Sunday that Putin called Trump to thank him for a CIA tip that helped Russian police thwart a terrorist attack in St Petersburg. According to Vesti, Putin asked Trump to thank CIA Director Mike Pompeo for providing the information, and he told the U.S. president that "the Russian security services, in the case where they receive information regarding terrorist threats in relation to the U.S. and its citizens, will without question and immediately pass it to their American colleagues." ABC News

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Here's What The GOP Tax Plan Could Mean For You
The more than one thousand-page tax bill released by House and Senate Republicans on Friday evening moves the needle closer to possible passage of sweeping legislation that could impact millions of Americans. The bill provides provisions for deep tax cuts for corporations, tax breaks for the wealthy, and what experts say are more limited benefits for middle-class Americans. ABC News

A New Era For Women In Public Office
In all the swirl of news this week it might have gone unnoticed that with the naming of Tina Smith as Al Franken's replacement, the number of women in the Senate will reach a record high -- twenty-two women will serve next year. The culture of American life is changing at a rapid pace from Hollywood to the restaurant kitchen to the corporate boardroom. Politics takes a while to catch up, but change is taking place there too. Roy Moore lost in Alabama and there have been other ripples. Change will continue. So far, there are 374 women potentially running for the House in next year's election, 305 are democrats, 69 Republicans.  CBS News
VOA VIEW: Women will have a tough time in public and private office.

Toymaker Opens Up About The Season's Hot New Toy
It's called L.O.L. Surprise, and it's THE toy story of the season. Much in demand, it's a little complicated to explain why. So we're leaving that to John Blackstone, who reports our Cover Story:  As the surprise hit of this holiday season, L.O.L. Surprise has its own surprising backstory. It begins in Van Nuys, California, at the headquarters of toymaker MGA Entertainment, behind a secure door. . CBS News

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Record Sexual Harassment Settlement Exposes Byzantine Congressional Process
Of all the secret deals cut on behalf of accused members of congress, the one that resulted in the largest settlement yet uncovered may be the most surprising. The details provide a window into a process so opaque, convoluted and confusing that even the accused congressman was left in the dark about exactly how and why his accuser ended up being paid $220,000 for her claim. With new harassment accusations being revealed on a nearly daily basis in Congress, documents obtained by NBC News from this one case shed light on how taxpayer money ends up being used to essentially sweep such incidents under a bureaucratic rug with little accountability. NBC

North Koreans Mourn On Anniversary Of Kim Jong Il's Death
On the anniversary of the death of the the former North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, the state news agency published footage of thousands of mourners bowing, paying their respects and laying flowers at the foot of a statue of Jong-Il. The "Dear Leader" died on December 17, 2011. It is also the anniversary of the death of Kim Il Sung, the country's founder. According to reports, senior government officials visited the mausoleum where the remains of Kim Il Sung are interred. UPI

New Space Station Crew Members Are En Route After Sunday Blastoff
Members of Expedition 54 are on their way to the International Space Station after the Russian Soyuz rocket and spacecraft successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sunday morning. The craft is carrying commander Anton Shkaplerov, NASA flight engineer Scott Tingle and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai. The Soyuz-FG rocket blasted off at 2:21 a.m. ET, 1:21 p.m. local time. UPI

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AirPods Sold Out
If you head to Apple’s Online Store, you’ll see that the company is quoting delivery in the first and second weeks of January – well past the holiday season. This means you’ll have to look elsewhere if you waited until the last-minute to buy AirPods for that special someone this year. When it comes to buying online, your options are pretty sparse at this point. Best Buy, Verizon, and Sprint all list early January delivery dates or no availability at all. B&H also shows AirPods as back-ordered. AT&T seems to have some availability for 2-day shipping, but be sure to act fast as that could change within a few minutes. You can also try your luck at carrier retail stores, Best Buy, and Apple Stores.  Wired

Trump: "My People Are Very Upset" About Mueller Obtaining Emails
Officials of President Trump's transition team plan to ask Special Counsel Robert Mueller to return "many tens of thousands" of transition emails they contend were unlawfully provided to him. But the prosecutor's office says emails being used in the investigation were properly obtained. President Trump, returning to the White House on Sunday, said when asked about the emails: "Not looking good. It's not looking good. It's quite sad to see that. My people are very upset about it.  Axios

NBC Silent On Whether MSNBC's Chris Matthews Could Face Other Sexual Harassment Accusations
A day after it was revealed that NBC paid money to a female staffer in 1999 who accused MSNBC’s Chris Matthews of sexual harassment, the network kept mum Sunday about whether there were other women who had accused the long-time host of inappropriate behavior. The Daily Caller first reported on the payment Saturday. The website reported that Matthew paid $40,000 to the woman who worked on his show “Hardball with Chris Matthews” as an assistant producer. Representatives at NBC, CNBC and MSNBC did not respond to Fox News emails and calls Sunday requesting comment on whether other sexual harassment complaints had been filed against Matthews since the payout.  Fox

Abbas Says He Will Press UN To ‘Annul’ Trump’s Jerusalem Decision
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has signaled plans to have the U.N. Security Council “annul” President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but according to an international law expert, the proposal is “fantasy.” Abbas said in Istanbul Wednesday that under the U.N.’s founding charter it is possible for a resolution to be brought to a vote before the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), which the U.S. would not be able to veto. The U.S. would instead be compelled to abstain, on the grounds that it is a party to the dispute in question. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Nothing the UN can do to annul Trump's decision.

Republican Tax Bill Says Your 16-Year-Old Won’t Be Your Child Next Year
The final version of the Republican tax bill released by a congressional conference committee on Friday holds that your 16-year-old child who is living in your home this year and attending high school will no longer be your child next year—even if they continue living in your home and attending high school. That is because they will turn 17--the age at which the Republican congressional leadership has decided American parents should no longer be able to claim a child tax credit for their child. CNS

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner Sued
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are being sued for allegedly omitting information from their public financial disclosure forms, Politico reported Sunday. The couple, who are both serving as advisers in the White House, are facing a lawsuit from lawyer Jeffrey Lovitky, who claims they both didn’t include assets from 30 investment funds they are a part of. He also alleges they both didn’t identify the income they received from two other investment groups. "The failure of Defendants to provide the information as herein described deprived Plaintiff of (a) an opportunity to make an independent judgment as to whether Defendants are or reasonably could be influenced by conflicts of interests, (b) information required to evaluate and judge the performance of Defendants in their official duties, (c) information required to determine whether trust in the integrity of Defendants is warranted, and (d) information required to participate in the political process in an informed manner," the complaint reads. The Hill

California Issues 1st Licence For Cannabis Business
"I couldn't be more excited", said Jordan Lams, CEO of Moxie whose parent-company Pure CA received the first distributer license. In January, the state is expected to issue its first licenses for marijuana businesses. On Thursday, the state's Bureau of Cannabis Control approved its first wave of businesses applying for licenses.  Google News

Google Assistant On Phones Now Offers A Choice Of Hotwords
Google created a mild amount of confusion when it launched its Home speaker. You could say "hey, Google" to start a command with the living room device, but you still had to use the time-honored "OK, Google" on your Android phone. Needless to say, that could be confusing if you used both platforms. However, Google is finally sorting things out. Many Android phone users have reported that Assistant is asking them to reconfigure the voice modeling, and is giving them a choice between "hey, Google" or "OK, Google" afterward. You can embrace consistency across devices or stick to tradition, in other words. Engadget

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Aconex Receives $1.19 Billion Takeover Offer From Oracle Corp
Aconex said in a statement its directors had unanimously recommended the offer, which represents a 47.4 percent premium to Friday’s closing price of A$5.29. “With the addition of Aconex, we significantly advance our vision of offering the most comprehensive cloud-based project management solution for this $14 trillion industry,” said Mike Sicilia, Oracle senior vice president and general manager for its Construction and Engineering Global Business arm said in a statement. Reuters

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Says Tax Bill Simplifies Filing
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday that 90 percent of Americans will be able to file their taxes on a postcard under a federal tax overhaul that President Donald Trump predicted would be signed before Christmas. “This is about simplifying taxes and simplifying the business systems,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “So there will always be people who complain they are losing tax breaks, but this is about making it simple for the American public.” Mnuchin was among several administration officials and Republican lawmakers pitching the plan on Sunday morning talk shows. Newsday

U.S. Soldier Ambushed In Niger Wasn't Captured
An American soldier killed in an ambush in Niger with three comrades but recovered days later wasn't captured alive by the enemy or executed at close range, The Associated Press has learned, based on the conclusion of a military investigation. It found evidence he apparently fought to the end. Dispelling a swirl of rumors about how Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, died, the report has determined that he was killed by enemy rifle and machine gun fire as he fled the attack by an offshoot of the Islamic State group about 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of the African country. The attack took place Oct. 4; Johnson's body was recovered two days later. Newsday

Obama Administration Undermined Anti-Hezbollah Task Force To Help Secure Iran Nuke Deal
An elaborate campaign led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, known as Project Cassandra, reportedly targeted the Lebanese militant group’s criminal activities. But by tossing a string of roadblocks holding back the project, Obama administration officials helped allow the 35-year-old anti-Israel criminal enterprise to evolve into a major global security threat bankrolling terrorist and military operations, the report added. “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” David Asher, who helped establish Project Cassandra as a Defense Department illicit finance analyst in 2008, told Politico.  Fox
VOA VIEW: Obama was a traitor.

GOP Faces 5-Day Scramble To Pass Tax Bill
Republicans return to Congress on Monday facing a packed agenda with little time to enact it, as party leaders aim to quickly pass their massive tax plan and then cut a budget deal with Democrats before the end of Friday to avert a government shutdown. Republicans’ tight timing on taxes is self-imposed. GOP lawmakers have for months been racing to meet President Trump’s demand that they send him tax legislation before Christmas — a timeline that gained new urgency when Alabama Democrat Doug Jones won the Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Luther Strange (R). Washington Post

Trump Criticizes How Mueller Obtained Transition Emails
President Trump appeared to back the claims of a lawyer for his presidential transition team that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III improperly obtained Trump associates’ emails, saying Sunday that “a lot of lawyers thought that was pretty sad.” Trump also said he has no plan to fire Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the presidential election, including the possibility of coordination with the Trump campaign. Washington Post

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Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Restores Power After Crippling Outage
Nearly 11 hours after a power outage paralyzed the world's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International got its electricity back late Sunday night. The lights flickered on shortly before midnight, after an exhausting day for travelers, that had left thousands stranded in dark terminals and on planes sitting on the tarmac. A ground stop in Atlanta disrupted air travel across the United States and led to cancellations of more than 1,000 flights in and out of the airport. The outage, which affected all airport operations, started with a fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said. CNN

Bolton: U.S. Might Have To Attack North Korea
The time may come soon when the U.S. will have no other option but to attack North Korea militarily, former United States ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said here Saturday night. Negotiations have not stopped North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and China has not done what it could to deter the North from proceeding with work that would allow it to hit U.S. cities with a nuclear weapon, Bolton told about 450 at the annual holiday dinner hosted by former Republican Congressman Charles Taylor.  But he said the risks to the United States of North Korea having nuclear weapons may outweigh that concern. USA Today

US Soldier Ambushed In Niger Fought To The End
An American soldier killed in an ambush in Niger with three comrades but recovered days later wasn’t captured alive by the enemy or executed at close range, The Associated Press has learned, based on the conclusion of a military investigation. It found evidence he apparently fought to the end. Dispelling a swirl of rumors about how Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, died, the report has determined that he was killed by enemy rifle and machine gun fire as he fled the attack by an offshoot of the Islamic State group about 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of Niamey, the capital of the African country. NY Post

Alabama's New Senator Doug Jones Not SureAbout GOP Tax Plan
Alabama’s newly elected senator Doug Jones said Sunday he’s not sure how he would vote on the Republican tax reform bill Congress is expected to consider this week. Jones probably won’t get that chance. The Democrat, who pulled off a stunning upset last Tuesday in the red state, may not be seated in the Senate for a few weeks. Alabama election officials have to officially certify the results of the race in which Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Jones is happy he doesn't have to make the tax vote.

Texas First-Grader Asks For Food And Blanket In Santa Letter
A young girl's letter to Santa asking for food and blanket struck a chord with the community and lead to donations of help. Ruth Espiricueta, a teacher at Monte Cristo Elementary School in Edinburg, Texas, posted a photo of the girl's letter to Facebook, which was then shared 257 times. First-grader Crystal Pacheco wrote, "I have binde good this day. This Christmas I would like a ball and a food. I need a blancet." The Washington Post reported that Crystal wanted to the ball to play with her little brother and the food and blanket for her family.  Live

Terry Crews Accuses WME Of Spying On Him And His Family Over Sexual Assault Case
Terry Crews took to Twitter on Friday to accuse WME of “retaliation” in his ongoing legal battle with the agency. Last month, Crews accused the then-head of WME’s Motion Picture Department, Adam Venit, of groping him at a party. Now, he’s accusing the agency of hacking his son’s computer and possibly bugging his family. “I believe my family is being tracked and possibly bugged,” Crews said in a series of tweets, “Someone hacked into the computer my son and I built together. I have to shut it down and replace the hard drive.” The Wrap

Democrats Hold Biggest Lead In Congressional Preference Since 2008
Fresh off their victory in Alabama’s special Senate election, Democrats now enjoy their largest advantage in congressional preference in nine years, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, signaling a dangerous political environment for Republicans entering next year’s midterm elections. Fifty percent of registered voters say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, versus 39 percent who want Republicans in charge.  NBC News
VOA VIEW: Liberal media wishful thinking.

British Embassy Worker Found Dead By Roadside In Lebanon
A British woman who worked at the U.K. embassy in Beirut was found strangled by the side of the road east of the Lebanese capital and authorities are investigating whether she was also sexually assaulted, officials said Sunday. Britain's Foreign Office in London confirmed the death of the embassy staffer, who worked for the British Department for International Department. British officials declined to provide further details. She was named by British media and her friends as Rebecca Dykes. In a statement released by the Foreign Office, the family requested that the media respect their privacy "at this very difficult time." NBC News

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