Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 29, 2017

North Korea tests a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, NBC fires Matt Lauer after sexual harassment allegation, and more


North Korea tests its most powerful ballistic missile yet

North Korea conducted its first ballistic missile launch in 10 weeks early Wednesday local time, and it was its longest-range rocket yet. Experts said it could put Washington, D.C., within range, signaling an ongoing commitment by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to develop the ability to strike the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-tipped missile. President Trump said the U.S. would "handle" the situation. "We will take care of it," Trump said. Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said the missile flew 620 miles before coming down in the Sea of Japan about 200 nautical miles from Japan. South Korea responded by testing shorter-range missiles, practicing a strike against North Korea's launch site.


NBC fires Matt Lauer after sexual harassment allegation

NBC has fired longtime Today show host Matt Lauer after a colleague accused him of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Lauer's former co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie, announced the news Wednesday at the start of the show. "We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these last few weeks: How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?" Guthrie said. In a memo to staff, NBC News chairman Andy Lack explained that "on Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer." Lack added that while "it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he's been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."


Senate panel advances GOP tax overhaul

The Senate Budget Committee approved the Republican tax overhaul in a 12-11 party-line vote on Tuesday after two GOP senators who have expressed opposition agreed not to block it from advancing to the full Senate. One of the potential GOP holdouts, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), said he had received assurances that it would include a "trigger" to "ensure greater fiscal responsibility should economic growth estimates not be realized." The other, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), flipped to "yes" to move it along, hoping to get taxes on smaller businesses reduced before a final vote. With a slim 52-to-48 Senate majority and all Democrats opposed, Republicans can only afford two defections and still pass the legislation. Protesters outside shouting "kill the bill" were arrested.


Judge says Trump's acting director of financial watchdog can stay

A federal judge on Tuesday refused to block President Trump's appointment of White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as acting director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, handing Trump a victory in a brief battle over the watchdog agency's leadership. The CFPB's deputy director, Leandra English, filed a suit saying she was the "rightful" interim leader of the agency because she was appointed by former director Richard Cordray, in accordance to a succession procedure spelled out in the Wall Street reform law that established the agency. The White House said Trump had the right to appoint a director under federal law. The judge's ruling isn't final, but it lets Mulvaney continue to loosen regulations at an agency Republicans have criticized as too aggressive toward big banks.


Fed nominee says December rate hike likely

Jerome Powell, President Trump's nominee to succeed Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chairman, signaled in his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the central bank probably would raise interest rates at its December meeting. "I think the case for raising interest rates at our next meeting is coming together," Powell told the Senate Banking Committee. Powell said the Dodd-Frank Act, passed after the 2008 financial crisis, had made the U.S. financial system stronger, but some regulations covering smaller banks could be eased, something President Trump and Wall Street support. "We will we continue to consider appropriate ways to ease regulatory burdens while preserving the core reforms," Powell said.


Jury convicts Libyan militia leader of terrorism in Benghazi attacks

A federal jury on Tuesday found former Libyan militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala guilty on terrorism charges for his role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Khattala, 46, was convicted of providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy, destroying property, and endangering lives at the U.S. diplomatic mission, and carrying a semiautomatic firearm during a crime of violence. He was acquitted on 14 other charges, including murder, but faces life in prison. Prosecutors said they had no evidence Khattala fired any shots, but he orchestrated the attacks aiming to kill Americans and steal U.S. property. State Department and CIA operatives gave dramatic testimony about the battles at a diplomatic compound and a CIA annex nearby.


Tampa police to charge suspect in string of murders

Tampa, Florida, police said Tuesday that they had arrested an armed person and would charge him with a series of four fatal shootings that have terrorized a local neighborhood. Officers found the man, identified as 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, after receiving a tip about someone with a gun in the Ybor City neighborhood. He was taken into custody and police questioned him about the shooting deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, 22, Monica Hoffa, 32, Anthony Naiboa, 20, and Ronald Felton, 60, on the streets of the Seminole Heights neighborhood in four separate incidents since Oct. 9. "I am guarded but optimistic," said Police Chief Brian Dugan. "Yes, I believe this has to do with Seminole Heights."


Democrats skip meeting with Trump after discouraging tweet

Democratic congressional leaders pulled out of a meeting with President Trump on Tuesday after he tweeted that he saw no way to reach an agreement on keeping the government funded or on immigration. Trump tweeted that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE taxes. I don't see a deal!" Pelosi and Schumer responded: "Given that the President doesn't see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead."


Pope Francis calls for peace in Myanmar without mentioning Rohingya

Pope Francis made a plea for peace Tuesday during his visit to Myanmar, but he avoided mentioning the country's persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority by name. "The future of Myanmar must be peace, a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity," he said, standing beside Myanmar's civilian leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has faced criticism for failing to take a stand against the military crackdown that has sent 620,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh. Three months ago, Pope Francis denounced "the persecution of our Rohingya brothers" from outside Myanmar.


Jay-Z leads Grammy nominations

The 60th Grammy Awards announced their nominations Tuesday morning, with rapper Jay-Z leading the pack with eight. Kendrick Lamar followed with seven nominations, Bruno Mars with six, and Childish Gambino, SZA, Khalid, and No I.D. coming in with five each. The hit "Despacito," by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, was nominated for song of the year, and could become the first Spanish-language track to ever win that award. Taylor Swift's new album, Reputation, which sold over 1.2 million copies in its first week, did not make the cutoff to qualify for this year's awards; however, her single "Look What You Made Me Do" did, but was not nominated. The awards will air live on CBS on Jan. 28.


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