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November 14, 2017

If you live in Alabama and receive a call from someone calling himself Bernie Bernstein, tell him you'd rather hear from Woody Woodward and hang up — it's a scam.

Pastor Al Moore from Creola shared with WKRG a strange voicemail message he recently received, left by a robocaller. "Hi, this is Bernie Bernstein, I'm a reporter for The Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5,000 and $7,000," the person said, in what sounded like an exaggerated fake New York accent. "We will not be fully investigating these claims, however we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at albernstein@washingtonpost.com. Thank you."

Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, has been accused by several women of making sexual advances on them when they were teens and he was in his early 30s. Al Moore, who did not tell WKRG if he is any relation to Roy, said he sent an email to the address given, but it bounced back. John Rogers of the Roy Moore campaign told WKRG this was the first he had heard of the robocall, and had no idea who was behind it. In a statement, the Post's executive editor, Marty Baron, said the man claiming to be Bernie Bernstein is, to no one's surprise, a fraud. "The call's description of our reporting methods bears no relationship to reality," he added. "We are shocked and appalled that anyone would stoop to this level to discredit real journalism." Catherine Garcia

10:48a.m.

Conflict between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip is at its most intense since 2014, The Associated Press reports.

The IDF estimate Hamas has launched about 400 rockets since Monday, and Israeli strikes have reportedly hit around 100 targets in Gaza, including the building housing Hamas's television station. Six Palestinians have been killed in this round of strikes, though reports vary as to how many were militants. Another two dozen people have been wounded, and one Israeli civilian has also died.

U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt on Twitter Monday reiterated U.S. support for Israel against Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist organization. "Terrorists in Gaza are again attacking Israel with tools of war," he wrote. "These rocket & mortar attacks on Israeli towns must be condemned by all. Israel is forced once again into military action to defend its citizens. We stand with Israel as it defends itself against these attacks."

Truce negotiations facilitated by the United Nations, Egypt, and Qatar are underway, and further escalation is expected if they are derailed by this week's violence. Bonnie Kristian

10:42a.m.

Winter is coming — next spring.

HBO announced in a teaser video Tuesday that Game of Thrones' long-anticipated final season will premiere in April 2019. Before you get too excited, there's no new footage in the teaser; it's just a 30-second compilation of some of the series' highlights. But snuck in right at the end is confirmation that the series is coming back within a few months.

HBO had previously only said that the show's last season would air sometime in the first half of the year, making fans worry that the premiere could be as late as the summer. Many had guessed the show would return in April, as this used to be the series' typical premiere month, and star Maisie Williams even said as much in an interview once. But Season 7 came out in July, and Williams later reversed her comments, both of which opened up the possibility of a later-than-usual start.

There's no trailer for the final season of Game of Thrones yet, but some details were recently revealed in an Entertainment Weekly cover story, including that the first episode will feature a lot of callbacks to Season 1 as Daenerys Targaryen makes her arrival in Winterfell. The show's cast and crew have also been promising that the final season features the biggest battle sequence of all time — not just on television, but in movies, too. If that's the case, it sounds like the extended 20-month wait between seasons should turn out to be well worth it. Just don't hold your breath for those books. Brendan Morrow

10:31a.m.

President Trump has your new go-to excuse for getting out of dreary mandatory functions: Blame it on the Secret Service.

On Saturday, Trump was scheduled to appear at an American cemetery in France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. But when a "light steady rain" persisted just outside Paris, per Reuters, the White House said Trump would skip out "due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather."

The change of plans inspired trolling from even the French army, and dredged up Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's rain-soaked 2017 speech honoring WWI troops who endured much more than wet suits and hair. "On that day ... the rain wasn't rain, it was bullets," Trudeau said. Three days later, a seemingly defensive Trump still hadn't let it go.

Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron all managed to make it to Saturday ceremonies throughout France. And somehow, Chief of Staff John Kelly made it to the cemetery visit Trump missed, the White House statement said.

Trump did ditch his umbrella for a cemetery visit in France the next day — where he complained about the weather. But when he returned to the U.S. on Monday, Trump didn't make a traditional Veterans Day appearance at Arlington National Cemetery. And as France's U.S. Embassy displayed in a tweet, the weather was perfect. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:27a.m.

About 200 of the firefighters battling California's deadly Camp Fire are inmates, a local ABC affiliate reports, who have joined a volunteer firefighting program through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The inmate firefighters earn $2 per day plus $1 per hour for their work, which is well above average for prison wages in the state. They can also receive time off their sentences. Previous blazes have seen far larger groups of inmates at work; around 2,000 participated in efforts to stop the Mendocino Complex Fire earlier this year.

Despite the training and experience inmates accrue through the firefighting program, they likely will not be able to become firefighters upon release. California firefighters are required to be licensed emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and EMT licensure can be blocked for anyone with a criminal record.

"The persistent, horrific wildfires year after year make this human rights issue even more pressing for the men and women fighting these fires every day who cannot do so once released," Katherine Katcher of Root and Rebound, which works on prison re-entry issues in California, told Reason. The state's licensing rules, Katcher said, "shut people out of living wage careers that they are trained and qualified for solely because of old, expunged, and irrelevant convictions." Bonnie Kristian

10:11a.m.

CNN will press charges over a press pass.

After the White House suspended CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials last week, the news network filed a lawsuit Tuesday, arguing that Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated, CNN reports.

There are six defendants in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.: President Trump, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, and an unnamed Secret Service officer who took away Acosta's pass.

Acosta's access was suspended after he would not give over the microphone to a White House intern while attempting to ask Trump a follow-up question at a press conference. The White House subsequently claimed that Acosta was being suspended because he "[placed] his hands on a young woman," releasing a deceptively sped-up video as proof. Counselor Kellyanne Conway defended this decision Sunday. "You have to show respect to the White House, to the presidency certainly, to the president," she said.

The network is seeking a preliminary injunction so that Acosta's pass can be returned, as well as a ruling that Trump can not take such actions in the future. "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials," CNN said. Brendan Morrow

9:16a.m.

A 26-year-old security guard at Manny's Blue Room in suburban Chicago apprehended a gunman who had opened fire in the bar early Monday, but when police arrived, they shot the guard, Jemel Roberson, who is black. He was the only one killed in the incident, though four other people were injured. "Everybody was screaming out, 'He was a security guard,' and they basically saw a black man with a gun and killed him," witness Adam Harris told Chicago's WGN.

Manny's is in Robbins, Illinois, but police from neighboring suburbs responded to the call about shots fired at the bar. It was an officer from the Midlothian Police Department who fatally shot Roberson. Illinois State Police will investigate the killing. Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney did not say whether the officer who shot Roberson has been placed on administrative leave. Roberson had a valid permit to own a gun.

Roberson grew up in Wicker Park, he played the organ at several local churches, and he was studying to become a police officer. He is at least the 840th person shot and killed by a police officer in the U.S. this year, by The Washington Post's count, and one of 181 — or 22 percent — who were black. The U.S. is about 13 percent African American. Peter Weber

9:15a.m.

The results of Georgia's tight gubernatorial election were expected to be certified tomorrow, but the state — and the country — will have to wait a few more days.

A federal judge has ordered Georgia Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden to hold off on certifying the results until at least the evening of Friday, Nov. 16, The New York Times reports. Republican Brian Kemp leads Democrat Stacey Abrams in the closely-watched race with just 50.3 percent of the vote. If his lead drops below 50 percent, a runoff election will be held in December.

The delay would give the state a few more days to review the 27,000 provisional ballots cast this year, with Judge Amy Totenberg ordering counties to ensure provisional ballots are not improperly rejected, The Wall Street Journal reports. Totenberg also ordered the state to set up a hotline voters can call to ensure their provisional ballot is counted, or to find out why it was rejected.

Kemp leads by more than 50,000 votes, but Abrams has refused to concede. She would need to gain about 21,000 votes for a runoff to be triggered, per The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

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