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10 things you need to know today: December 7, 2017

Harold Maass
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
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1.

Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital

President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, breaking with decades of U.S. policy and defying warnings that the move would derail efforts to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Both claim Jerusalem as their capital. Palestinians planned a day of strikes and protests on Thursday. Trump said it was time for a change after decades of failed peace talks. He added that the U.S. embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although not immediately. Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise but Saudi Arabia's King Salman warned it was "a dangerous step that provokes the feelings of Muslims around the world." Trump said despite the objections "we are confident that ultimately ... we will arrive at a place of greater understanding and cooperation."

2.

Democrats call on Franken to resign after more sexual harassment allegations

More than two dozen Democratic senators on Wednesday called on Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign after a seventh and eighth woman publicly accused him of sexual harassment. In the latest allegations, a former Democratic congressional aide said Franken tried to kiss her without her consent after a taping of his radio show, and told her, "It's my right as an entertainer." Franken, a comedian before entering politics shortly after the alleged incident, called the woman's account "categorically not true." Later Wednesday, another woman, Tina Dupuy, wrote for The Atlantic that Franken groped her in 2009. Franken's office said he will make an announcement Thursday, fueling speculation that he would step down.

3.

Trump Jr. declines to discuss conversation with his father about Russia meeting

Donald Trump Jr. told the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday he couldn't discuss a phone conversation he and his father had this summer about his 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer, citing attorney-client privilege. Neither Trump is an attorney, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Trump Jr. claimed that the conversation was confidential because lawyers were on the call. In a statement over the summer, which President Trump reportedly had a hand in drafting, Trump Jr. described the meeting as being short and solely about the adoption of Russian children; it was later revealed Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting because the Russian government was promising compromising information on Hillary Clinton.

4.

Flynn told associate Russia sanctions would be 'ripped up'

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn reportedly told a business associate that economic sanctions against Russia would be "ripped up" as soon as President Trump took office, allowing a project Flynn had worked on to move forward. The associate in June shared the information with top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.). "According to the whistleblower, Gen. Flynn reportedly sent a key communication on Inauguration Day indicating that the project was now 'good to go' and directing his business colleagues to move forward," Cummings wrote. The whistleblower's account, made public Wednesday, suggested Flynn had financial incentive to improve Russian ties, according to The New York Times. Last week, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russians.

5.

Australia makes same-sex marriage legal

Australia's Federal Parliament on Thursday approved legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, a move expected after the public embraced marriage equality in a postal survey last month. Public opinion has shifted since Australian politicians changed the Marriage Act 13 years ago to explicitly prohibit same-sex unions. "Australia has done it. What a day for love, for equality, for respect," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. "This belongs to us all. This is Australia — fair, diverse, loving, and filled with respect for every one of us. This has been a great, unifying day in our history."

6.

House backs bill allowing gun owners to conceal-carry over state lines

House Republicans pushed through a bill that would let gun owners with concealed-weapon permits freely travel between states without fear of conflicting state laws. The reciprocity measure, a high priority for the National Rifle Association, passed along party lines, 231-198. It marked the first major gun legislation to get this far in Congress since the recent mass shootings in Nevada and Texas, which left more than 80 people dead. Democrats objected. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) said the bill would curtail states' rights, "hamstring" police, and let criminals "walk around with hidden guns anywhere" they choose. "It's unspeakable that this is Congress' response to the worst gun tragedies in American history," Esty said. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it faces a tougher challenge.

7.

Wildfires continue to rage in Southern California

Wildfires have burned more than 100,000 acres across Southern California, spurred by unusually strong Santa Ana winds and extremely dry terrain. The Thomas Fire, burning in Ventura County just northwest of Los Angeles, is the largest blaze. It has burned more than 90,000 acres and prompted the mandatory evacuation of nearly 50,000 people. It grew exponentially after starting Monday night, and remained just 5 percent contained as forecasters warned of winds up to 80 miles per hour and low humidity, "a recipe for explosive fire growth," on Thursday. A separate fire erupted early Wednesday in Bel-Air, a wealthy area of Los Angeles, and is spreading quickly, fanned by strong winds.

8.

Bitcoin continues soaring to new records

Bitcoin continued its meteoric rise on Thursday, passing $15,000 to a new record high after rising by 20 percent in just over a day. It hit $12,000 for the first time on Tuesday night. The cryptocurrency started the year under $1,000. It gained steadily then took off recently on the news that Chicago-based Cboe Global Markets plans to launch bitcoin futures on Sunday, to be followed the next week by the world's largest futures exchange, CME. The sale of bitcoin futures by two respected exchanges suggests the digital currency is gaining mainstream acceptance, although skeptics still warn it is a classic example of a bubble ready to burst.

9.

Women sue Weinstein and studio over sexual misconduct

Six women filed a lawsuit they hope will become a class-action case against disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein and the studio he co-founded, accusing them of a massive scheme to facilitate his alleged sexual assaults of actresses and other women. "We are but six women representing hundreds," the plaintiffs — Louisette Geiss, Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Masse, Melissa Sagemiller, and Nannette Klatt — said in a statement Wednesday. "Dozens have come forward so far, and many more remain in the shadows, still trying to find their courage." So far, more than 80 women have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct over four decades. Weinstein has denied through attorneys that he ever pressured anyone to have non-consensual sex.

10.

'The Silence Breakers' behind #MeToo movement named Time's Person of the Year

Time named "the Silence Breakers" who helped launch the #MeToo movement as its 2017 Person of the Year. "The people who have broken their silence on sexual assault and harassment span all races, all income classes, all occupations, and virtually all corners of the globe," Time writes. "Their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results." Runners-up include President Trump, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins.

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