Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 15, 2017

Republicans add ObamaCare mandate repeal to Senate tax bill, gunman kills at least four in California rampage, and more

1

Senate Republicans add repeal of ObamaCare mandate to tax bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that the Senate tax bill would include a proposal to repeal ObamaCare's mandate for Americans to acquire health insurance. Conservatives led by GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) demanded the provision, which would raise up to $400 billion over the next year that Republicans want to use to help pay for corporate and individual tax cuts. Republican leaders said the measure to repeal the mandate would help them muster the votes needed to pass the overhaul despite Democrats' opposition and the reluctance of some Republicans. "We're optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful," McConnell said.

2

Gunman kills 4 in California rampage

A gunman killed at least four people Tuesday at a home and several other locations, including an elementary school, in Northern California before he was shot dead by police. At least two children were wounded, including one student who was shot at Rancho Tehama Elementary School. The gunman tried to enter the school but staffers had locked the doors at the sound of gunfire. The attacker appeared to have gone from one shooting scene to another "randomly picking targets," said Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston. Authorities did not immediately release the suspect's name. Johnston said the gunman had a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns, and apparently started the rampage after a dispute with neighbors.

3

Ryan joins GOP leaders calling for Roy Moore to drop out

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday became the latest Republican leader to call for Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore to "step aside" from the Alabama race, after five women accused the former judge of initiating inappropriate relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday urged Moore to withdraw after Beverly Young Nelson alleged Moore assaulted her in his car after offering her a ride home from work. She produced her high school yearbook, signed by Moore. Fox News host Sean Hannity walked back his defense of Moore, calling for him to drop out immediately if he can't "fully come up with a satisfactory explanation" for inconsistencies in his denials.

4

Sessions denies lying about Russia contacts

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that he hadn't lied under oath about his contacts with Russians during last year's presidential campaign. Sessions said that, until news reports came out, he had "no recollection" of a meeting he attended in which Trump's former campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had proposed a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. "I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump hotel that [George] Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting," Sessions said. He rejected any suggestion that he lied about any Trump campaign contacts with Russians.

5

Report: Russian bots unleashed Twitter barrage to disrupt Brexit vote

Russian Twitter accounts posted more than 45,000 messages aimed at dividing voters ahead of last year's Brexit referendum, the British newspaper The Times reported Wednesday. The Times report cited research from an upcoming paper by data scientists at Swansea University and the University of California, Berkeley, that found a barrage of tweets by Russian-controlled bots that came in the 48 hours around the vote, mostly encouraging people to vote for Brexit. Tho Pham, one of the paper's authors, said the researchers concluded that "bots were used on purpose and had influence."

6

Australians back gay marriage in non-binding vote

Australians overwhelming supported gay marriage in a historic non-binding vote on Tuesday, clearing the way for Parliament to make same-sex marriage legal in the country. In the survey, 61.6 percent voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no, officials announced early Wednesday. Turnout was 79.5 percent. "The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly 'yes' for marriage equality," said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Supporters burst into cheers in public squares as the result was announced. "Finally I can be proud of my country," said Chris Lewis, 60, an artist from Sydney. "No" advocate Lyle Shelton, a Christian lobbyist, said he would "accept the democratic decision."

7

Sessions declines to say whether DOJ told AT&T to sell CNN

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday declined to answer questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee about whether White House officials had encouraged the Justice Department to demand that AT&T sell CNN-parent Turner Broadcasting as a condition for its proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner. A report that the Justice Department was calling for the sale of CNN has sparked criticism of the Trump administration, because President Trump has frequently criticized CNN, calling it "fake news." The White House has said no administration officials have discussed the matter with Sessions, and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said his company would fight any call for the sale of CNN.

8

Police search neighborhood after 4th killing

Police and federal agents fanned out in a Tampa neighborhood, knocking on doors and looking for clues on Tuesday, after a 60-year-old man was fatally shot from behind as he crossed the street in what appeared to be the fourth attack by a serial killer. The shootings started on Oct. 9, when someone shot 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell to death. Monica Hoffa, 32, was killed two days later, and 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa was fatally shot on Oct. 19. The killings have left residents fearing that another attack could happen at any time. "Whoever is doing it, they're familiar with the neighborhood and they're able to vanish very quickly," Interim Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said.

9

Lawyer asks court to reinstate Sandy Hook wrongful death lawsuit

A lawyer for relatives of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims on Tuesday asked the Connecticut Supreme Court to reinstate a wrongful death lawsuit against Remington Arms, maker of the Bushmaster rifle Adam Lanza used in the 2012 attack. Attorney Joshua Koskoff said Lanza "heard the message" from the North Carolina-based company, which he said markets the Bushmaster as a weapon preferred by elite military forces. "Remington may never have known Adam Lanza, but they had been courting him for years," he said. Remington lawyer James Vogts said the Bushmaster is legal and safely used by millions for hunting, self-defense, and target shooting, and that the lawsuit isn't allowable under a law exempting gun-makers from liability when their products are used in crimes.

10

Zimbabwe military takes Mugabe into custody

Zimbabwe's military said Wednesday that it had taken President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, into custody in an apparent military takeover of the southern African nation. Two uniformed officers appeared on TV after apparently seizing the state broadcaster, ZBC, and said Mugabe, who reportedly is stepping down, and his family were "safe and sound, and their security is guaranteed." The officers denied the military had staged a coup. "We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice," said the main speaker, identified as army chief of staff Maj. Gen. S. B. Moyo.

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