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    Making his second visit to Egypt since 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin flew to Cairo on Monday for talks with his Egyptian counterpart on the two countries' rapidly expanding ties and regional issues.Egypt's general-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, has visited Russia three times since the ouster of his Islamist predecessor in 2013. After taking office, el-Sissi has bought billions of dollars' worth of Russian weapons, including fighter jets and assault helicopters.The two countries are also in the late stages of negotiations over the construction by a Russian company of Egypt's first nuclear energy reactor.Last month, Russia approved a draft agreement with Egypt to allow Russian warplanes to use Egyptian military bases, a significant leap in bilateral ties and evidence of Moscow's expanding military role in a turbulent Middle East.Putin flew to Cairo after a brief and previously unannounced visit to a Russian military air base in Syria, according to Russia's Tass news agency. The air base has served as the main foothold for the air campaign Russia has waged since September 2015 in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad against armed groups opposed to his rule.Egypt's currently close ties with Russia harken back to the 1950s and 1960s, when Cairo became Moscow's closest Arab ally during the peak years of the Cold War.Egypt changed allies in the 1970s under the late President Anwar Sadat, who replaced Moscow with Washington as his country's chief economic and military backer following the signing of a U.S.-sponsored peace treaty with Israel. Egypt has since become a major recipient of U.S. economic and military aid.In what would have been unthinkable during the Cold War, Egypt has under el-Sissi been able to maintain close ties with both Russia and the United States.Egypt, however, has not been able thus far to persuade Russia to resume its flights to Egypt, suspended since October 2015 when a suspected bomb brought down a Russian airliner over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Egypt has since spent millions of dollars to upgrade security at its airports and undergone numerous checks by Russian experts to ascertain the level of security at the facilities.The suspension of Russian flights has dealt a devastating blow to Egypt's vital tourism industry. Britain, another major source of visitors, has since the Russian airliner's crash also suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, a Red Sea resort in Sinai from which the Russian airliner took off shortly before it crashed.'Your Excellency: When will Russian tourism return to Egypt?' read the front-page banner headline in a Cairo daily loyal to the government, in both Arabic and Russian.There have been speculations that el-Sissi and Putin might during the visit finalize and announce a deal on the construction of the nuclear reactor on Egypt's Mediterranean coast after months of wrangling over technical and financial details.Egypt and Russia have already initialed an agreement for a $25 billion Russian loan to finance the construction.
  • Venezuela's ruling socialists swept nearly all the races for mayors across the country, and President Nicolas Maduro is now threatening to ban key opposition parties from future elections in the oil-rich country wracked by economic crisis.Hundreds of supporters shouted 'Go Home, Donald Trump' to interrupt Maduro at a rally late Sunday in the colonial center of Caracas, where he announced that pro-government candidates grabbed more than 300 of the 335 mayoral offices.Sunday's voting marked the last nationwide elections before next year's presidential race when Maduro is expected to seek another term despite his steep unpopularity.'The imperialists have tried to set fire to Venezuela to take our riches,' Maduro told the crowd. 'We've defeated the American imperialists with our votes, our ideas, truths, reason and popular will.'The elections played out as Venezuelans struggle with triple-digit inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and charges that Maduro's government has undermined democracy by imprisoning dissidents and usurping the powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.Three of the four biggest opposition parties refused to take part in Sunday's contests, protesting what they called an electoral system rigged by a 'dictator.' The last time the opposition refused to compete in congressional elections in 2005 it strengthened the government's hand for years.After dropping his vote into the cardboard ballot box earlier in the day, Maduro responded to the boycott.'A party that has not participated today cannot participate anymore,' Maduro said. 'They will disappear from the political map.'This has been a turbulent year for Venezuela, which holds the world's largest oil reserves but has been battered by low crude prices and a crash in production. The country saw months of protests that left more than 120 dead earlier this year, and it is now facing U.S. economic sanctions as it seeks to refinance a huge international debt.The struggles have caused the president's approval rating to plunge, although the opposition has been largely unable to capitalize on Maduro's unpopularity.Maduro said the third electoral victory for the ruling party in little more than four months signaled that the socialist 'Chavista' revolution begun by the late President Hugo Chavez has defeated its opponents who are intent on sowing violence in the country.In a country of 30 million people, 9 million cast ballots — about half of eligible voters. Maduro's opponents on social media questioned the figures.The mayoral elections follow a crushing defeat of opposition candidates in October's gubernatorial elections, where anti-Maduro candidates won just five of 23 races amid allegations of official vote-buying and other irregularities.Given the opposition's disarray, political analysts said they doubted Maduro's opponents would be able to rally behind a single candidate in next year's presidential election.'These were absolutely predictable results,' local pollster Luis Vicente Leon said on Twitter. 'It's absurd to think that an abstaining political force can win the majority of mayorships.
  • Clashes have erupted between police and protesters in Spain's northeastern Catalan city of Lleida after a judicial ruling ordered the city's museum to return 44 pieces of religious art to the neighboring regional government of Aragon.Regional police cordoned off the area around Lleida Museum early Monday as technicians prepared to remove the disputed artwork.Several hundred people turned up to protest the transfer and there were brief scuffles and police baton charges as officers tried to move them further away from the museum.An Aragon provincial court had given till Monday for the museum to hand over the art — which was originally housed in the region's Sijena monastery — following a 2015 court ruling.Catalonia bought the art from nuns in 1983 but the court ruled the sale illegal.
  • Declaring a victory in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday visited a Russian military air base in the country and announced a partial pullout of Russian forces from the Mideast nation.Putin's visit marks his first trip to Syria, drawing a symbolic line under the campaign that has shored up President Bashar Assad's government. It is also the first visit by a foreign head of state to war-ravaged Syria since its bloodletting started nearly seven years ago.Putin's brief stop at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia while on route to Egypt comes days after the Russian president declared his bid to run for re-election in the March 18 vote, helping encourage the feelings of pride about Russia's revived global clout and prestige.It also follows the Russian announcement last week that the Syrian army under the Russian air cover routed the Islamic State in eastern Syria and fully restored control over the border with Iraq.In a televised speech to the Russian troops at the base, the Russian leader hailed their valor.'You have shown the best qualities of a Russian soldier,' Putin said.The Hemeimeem base, in the heartland of Assad's Alawite minority, has served as the main foothold for the Russian military campaign in Syria.In a speech to the troops, Putin said that he had ordered the military to withdraw a 'significant part' of the Russian contingent in Syria.'Friends, the Motherland is waiting for you,' Putin said. He added that 'if the terrorists again raise their heads, we will deal such blows to them they have never seen.'Russian television stations showed Putin walking off the plane, embracing and shaking hands with Assad at the air base.Putin said that the Russian military will maintain their presence at the Hemeimeem air base and the naval facility in Tartus.Syrian TV said Assad thanked Putin for his troops' effective contribution to the fight against terrorism in Syria.Russia launched its air campaign in Syria at the end of September 2015 when Assad's government was teetering on the brink of collapse and quickly changed the course of the conflict in its favor.
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May says there is a new sense of optimism in the talks to secure Britain's departure from the European Union.May is set to address the House of Commons on Monday, updating lawmakers on the negotiations just days after hammering out a deal with the EU on the so-called divorce issues, including the Irish border and Britain's financial obligations. Brexit talks are now expected to move onto trade and security cooperation.But Britain's argument that nothing is settled until all is agreed upon is causing unease among other countries involved in the decision. Irish officials have rejected assertions that the deal is merely a 'statement of intent' rather than legally binding.The Irish government branded the view 'bizarre' and insisted that an agreement is binding.
  • Snow and wintry weather are still wreaking havoc on travelers in Britain, with flights cancelled, roads sheathed in ice and rail travel disrupted.With temperatures dropping overnight as low as minus 11.6 Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit), hundreds of schools were closed Monday. Europe's largest airport, Heathrow, warned Monday that some flights would be cancelled as it cleared the backlog of flights delayed by Sunday's snowfall.Heathrow asked travelers to check with their airlines. In the world of interconnected air travel, any extended disruption quickly leaves planes and flight crews out of position, knocking them out of rotation for their next assignments.National Rail said poor weather conditions are affecting travel across England and Wales. Trains on Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Great Western, and Virgin Trains will all also be affected.
  • Saudi Arabia announced on Monday it will allow movie theaters to open in the conservative kingdom next year, for the first time in more than 35 years, in the latest social push by the country's young crown prince.It's the latest stark reversal in a county where movie theaters were shut down in the 1980's during a wave of ultraconservatism in the country. Many of Saudi Arabia's clerics view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt and Lebanon as sinful.Despite decades of ultraconservative dogma, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought to ram through a number of major social reforms with support from his father, King Salman.The crown prince is behind measures such as lifting a ban on women driving next year and bringing back concerts and other forms of entertainment to satiate the desires of the country's majority young population.The 32-year-old heir to the throne's social push is part of his so-called Vision 2030, a blueprint for the country that aims to boost local spending and create jobs amid sustained lower oil prices.According to Monday's announcement, a resolution was passed paving the way for licenses to be granted to commercial movie theaters, with the first cinemas expected to open in March 2018.Many Saudis took to Twitter to express their joy at the news, posting images of buckets of movie theater popcorn and moving graphics of people dancing, fainting and crying.'It's spectacular news. We are in a state of shock,' said Saudi actor and producer, Hisham Fageeh.Fageeh starred in and co-produced the Saudi film 'Barakah Meets Barakah' by director Mahmoud Sabbagh, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. The movie, which has been called the kingdom's first romantic comedy, tells the story of a civil servant who falls for a Saudi girl whose Instagram posts have made her a local celebrity.'We are essentially pioneers because we all took risks to work in this industry,' he said. 'We were super lucky, because luck is always a factor of whether we make it or not.'Even with the decades-long ban on movie theaters, Saudi filmmakers and movie buffs were able to circumvent traditional censors by streaming movies online and watching films on satellite TV. Many also travel to neighboring countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to go to movie theaters.Despite there being no movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, young Saudi filmmakers have received government support and recognition in recent years.The government has backed a Saudi film festival that's taken place for the past few years in the eastern city of Dhahran. This year, some 60 Saudi films were screened.The film 'Wadjda' made history in 2013 by becoming the first Academy Award entry for Saudi Arabia, though it wasn't nominated for the Oscars. The movie follows the story of a 10-year-old girl who dreams of having a bicycle, just like boys have in her ultraconservative neighborhood where men and women are strictly segregated and where boys and girls attend separate schools. The film was written and directed by Saudi female director Haifaa al-Mansour, who shot the film entirely in the kingdom.That film and 'Barakah meets Barakah', though four years apart, tackle the issue of gender segregation in Saudi Arabia, which remains largely enforced.It was not immediately clear if movie theaters would have family-only sections, segregating women and families from male-only audiences. Another unknown was whether most major Hollywood, Bollywood and Arabic movie releases would be shown in theaters and how heavily edited the content will be.The Ministry of Culture and Information said there are no additional details available at this time, responding to a query from The Associated Press. The government said it will announce regulations in the coming weeks.Fageeh said that while he's concerned with the censorship rules that might be in place, he's also concerned that scenes of violence are typically permitted on screens across the Arab world, but 'any kind of intimacy and love is considered taboo and a moral violation.'It's a global conversation we need to have,' he said.The Saudi government says the opening of movie theaters will contribute more than 90 billion riyals ($24 billion) to the economy and create more than 30,000 jobs by 2030. The kingdom says there will be 300 cinemas with around 2,000 screens built in the country by 2030.Fageeh said it's important the government provides even greater support to local filmmakers now that international films will dominate theaters.'There needs to be an effort to be cognizant and inclusive for this element of local films or we will be completely flushed out because of the nature of capitalism and will be operating in the margins,' he said.___Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
  • An American scientist who shared this year's Nobel Prize for medicine bluntly criticized political developments at home in his address at the awards' gala banquet, saying that U.S. scientists are facing funding cutbacks that will hurt research.Michael Rosbash, who was honored for his work on circadian rhythms — commonly called the body clock — expressed concern that U.S. government funding such as that received by him and Nobel colleagues Jeffrey Hall and Michael Young is endangered.'We benefited from an enlightened period in the postwar United States. Our National Institutes of Health have enthusiastically and generously supported basic research ... (but) the current climate in the U.S. is a warning that continued support cannot be taken for granted,' Rosbash said in a short speech Sunday night at Stockholm's ornate city hall.The 2018 federal budget proposed by President Donald Trump calls for cutting science funding by billions of dollars.'Also in danger is the pluralistic America into which all three of us of born were born and raised after World War II,' Rosbash said. 'Immigrants and foreigners have always been an indispensable part of our country, including its great record in scientific research.'Literature laureate Kazuo Ishiguro of Britain expressed concern about increasing tensions between social factions.'We live today in a time of growing tribal enmities of communities fracturing into bitterly opposed groups,' said Ishiguro, who was born in Japan.He said Nobel prizes can counterbalance such animosity.'The pride we feel when someone from our nation wins a Nobel prize is different from the one we feel witnessing one of our athletes winning an Olympic medal. We don't feel the pride of our tribe demonstrating superiority over other tribes. Rather it's the pride that from knowing that one of us has made a significant contribution to our common human endeavor,' he said.In the Norwegian capital of Oslo, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima compared her struggle to survive in 1945 to the objectives of the group awarded this year's Nobel's Peace Prize.Setsuko Thurlow, who was 13 when the U.S. bomb devastated her Japanese city during the final weeks of World War II, spoke as a leading activist with the Nobel-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.Thurlow said the Hiroshima blast left her buried under the rubble, but she was able to see light and crawl to safety. In the same way, the campaign to which she belongs is a driving force behind an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons, she said after ICAN received the Nobel prize it won in October.'Our light now is the ban treaty,' Thurlow said. 'I repeat those words that I heard called to me in the ruins of Hiroshima: 'Don't give up. Keep pushing. See the light? Crawl toward it.''The treaty has been signed by 56 countries — none of them nuclear powers — and ratified by only three. To become binding it requires ratification by 50 countries.ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn, who accepted the prize along with Thurlow, said that while the treaty is far from ratification 'now, at long last, we have an unequivocal norm against nuclear weapons.'This is the way forward. There is only one way to prevent the use of nuclear weapons — prohibit and eliminate them,' Fihn said.The prize winners were announced in October. All except the peace prize were awarded in Sweden on Sunday.The other laureates were American Richard Thaler for his work in behavioral economics; American physicists Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss and Barry Barish for confirming the existence of gravity waves; and Jacques Dubochet of Switzerland, American Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson of the United Kingdom for advances in electron microscopy.___Heintz reported from Moscow.
  • Baby milk maker Lactalis and French authorities have ordered a global recall of millions of products over fears of salmonella bacteria contamination.The French company, one of the largest dairy groups in the world, said it has been warned by health authorities in France that 26 infants have become sick since Dec. 1.According to a list published on the French health ministry's website, the recall affects customers in countries around the world, including: Britain and Greece in Europe, Morocco and Sudan in Africa, Peru in South America and Pakistan, Bangladesh and China in Asia.Company spokesman Michel Nalet told The Associated Press on Monday that the 'precautionary' recall both in France and abroad affects 'several million' products made since mid-February.Lactalis said in a statement that the 26 cases of infection were linked to products called Picot SL, Pepti Junior 1, Milumel Bio 1 and Picot Riz.It said it is 'sincerely sorry for the concern generated by the situation and expresses its compassion and support to the families whose children fell ill.'The company said a possible source of the outbreak has been identified in a tower used to dry out the milk at a production site in May. Disinfection and cleaning measures have been put in place at the suspected site in western France.The health scare started earlier this month when Lactalis was told that 20 infants under six months of age had been diagnosed with salmonella infection. The company ordered a first recall that has been extended to more products at the request of French authorities following new cases of infections.Lactalis employs 75,000 people in 85 countries, with a turnover of 17 billion euros ($20 billion).The symptoms of salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever. Most people recover without treatment.
  • Several U.S.-based climate scientists are about to hit the jackpot, as French President Emmanuel Macron prepares to award them multi-year, all-expenses-paid grants to relocate to France.The 'Make Our Planet Great Again' grants are part of Macron's efforts to counter U.S. President Donald Trump on the climate change front. Macron announced a competition for the projects in June, hours after Trump declared he would withdraw the U.S. from the global accord reached in Paris in 2015 to reduce climate-damaging emissions.Macron is unveiling the first winners Monday evening at a startup incubator in Paris called Station F, where Microsoft and smaller tech companies are announcing projects to finance activities aimed at reducing emissions.Monday's event is a prelude to a bigger climate summit Tuesday aimed at giving new impetus to the Paris accord and finding new funding to help governments and businesses meet its goals.More than 50 world leaders are expected in Paris for the 'One Planet Summit,' co-hosted by the U.N. and the World Bank. Trump was not invited.Initially aimed at American researchers, the research grants were expanded to other non-French climate scientists, according to organizers. Candidates need to be known for working on climate issues, have completed a thesis and propose a project that would take between three to five years.The time frame would cover Trump's current presidential term.The applicant list was whittled down to 90 finalists in September, the majority of them Americans or based in the U.S., according to French national research agency CNRS.About 50 projects will be chosen overall, and funded with 60 million euros ($70 million) from the state and French research institutes.Some French researchers have complained that Macron is showering money on foreign scientists at a time when they have been pleading for more support for domestic higher education.
  • Three people were hospitalized and 10 are homeless after a Cincinnati woman and started a house fire instead, authorities said. >> Teen trying to kill bedbug starts fire, causes $300,000 in damage, firefighters sayThe rubbing alcohol — which is extremely flammable — ignited because of a nearby open flame, according to authorities cited by the New York Post. The ensuing fire caused $250,000 in damage to the five-unit multi-family Ohio home. Three people had to be hospitalized for smoke inhalation, according to CBS News. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening. For now, the American Red Cross is assisting and providing housing for those displaced by the inferno, WXIX reported. >> Read more trending news This is the second time that a rubbing-alcohol-fueled fire has burned down a Cincinnati house in as many months. Just after Thanksgiving, a 19-year-old lit a match after dousing a bedbug in rubbing alcohol, causing a fire that did $300,000 in damage to six apartments and left eight people homeless. Cincinnati District 3 Fire Chief Randy Freel told WXIX that people should stay away from any home remedies for bedbugs, especially the more flammable kinds. “Get a professional,” he said. Read more here.
  • With two weeks until Christmas, the to-do list is a long one for the Congress, as GOP lawmakers try to finish work on a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code, fund the government into 2018, and look to deal with a number of other contentious issues that have eluded lawmakers and the White House, but it’s not clear how much the House and Senate will be able to accomplish before going home for the holidays “If things don’t get done, we are going to have quite a catastrophe,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), one of many GOP lawmakers who remain confident that Republican leaders will find a way to reach a deal on tax reform. “I think this is one that we’re going to get done,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). “There’s unanimity in the conference to get this done.” Here is what lies ahead for lawmakers in the Congress: 1. GOP must move quickly to finish tax reform bill. If Republicans are going to get a tax reform bill on the President’s desk before Christmas, they don’t have much time. Lawmakers certainly don’t want to be on Capitol Hill after Friday the 22nd; the first formal meeting of the House-Senate tax reform “conference” committee is on Wednesday, but that’s really more for show. Behind the scenes, key GOP lawmakers have already been trying to reach agreements on final language in the bill. If you want a full rundown on the differences between the House and Senate versions, read this comparison from the Joint Committee on Taxation. There have already been a number of stories about mistakes and loopholes in the GOP tax reform plan – we’ll see if those get resolved as well. This is no slam dunk, but the odds still favor the GOP. Tight squeeze. Conference draft by 11th. Many hairy issues. Must finish by 18th to do budget due on 22nd. Stephen Cooper and Dylan Moroses: 'Brady Says International Tax Changes May Need Transition' https://t.co/LutCCAUq2V — Martin Sullivan (@M_SullivanTax) December 8, 2017 2. Next stop gap budget runs out on December 22. There isn’t enough time to write a full “Omnibus” spending bill (Speaker Ryan said that last week), so the question is more likely how much will Congress get done on funding the operations of the federal government, and how much gets booted into 2018. Republicans have been making noise about approving a funding bill for the military, keeping all other agencies on a temporary budget, and then adding in a bunch of year-end sweeteners to the bill. It’s also possible that such a deal could increase the ‘budget caps,’ allowing for a larger defense budget, and maybe more domestic spending as well. The idea of increasing spending just before the holidays does not sit well with more conservative Republicans. And what about DACA and the immigrant Dreamers? There could be a lot of wheeling and dealing in the days ahead. Would Freedom Caucus support a CR compromise that includes CHIP, health CSR, or defense/non=BCA cap breaking? If not, Dems may be able to demand DACA in CR without getting full blame for shutdown or threat — Matt Grossmann (@MattGrossmann) December 10, 2017 3. Will there be more shoes dropping on Capitol Hill? After what was a historic week – where three members announced their resignations due to allegations of sexual misconduct – it’s not unreasonable to wonder if more stories will surface in coming days. There’s already pressure on Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) to resign – an ethics probe was announced last Friday on Farenthold, who says he will pay back an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement with a former staffer. Over the weekend, reports surfaced about another possible taxpayer payout related to a harassment lawsuit, involving Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL). As a reporter, I cannot stress how unusual last week was on Capitol Hill. If you have one lawmaker announce a resignation, that’s a big deal. Two resignations was a major headline. And then a surprise third. One cannot discount the possibilities that more such stories are in the pipeline. Stay tuned. Taxpayers paid $220,000 to settle a sexual harassment suit involving Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings… https://t.co/j5dQct1nea — George Bennett (@gbennettpost) December 9, 2017 4. From member of Congress to anti-filibuster PAC? Last Thursday, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) stunned his colleagues by announcing his resignation, effective January 31. But on Friday, he decided to make it effective immediately, citing the hospitalization of his wife, after revelations that he had tried to get female staffers in his office to be a surrogate for his child (not a campaign surrogate). In between those events, a Minnesota television news crew that was in Washington to cover the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), stumbled into Franks at their hotel, as they overheard the Arizona Republican on the phone soliciting big money donations to start a political action committee that would fight to get rid of the filibuster in the Senate, which Franks, and other more conservative Republicans in the House have been blaming for inaction on the GOP agenda. The news crew that stumbled into that story must still be shaking their heads about their luck. Amazing: Minnesota news crew in DC for Franken overhears Trent Franks soliciting $2 million to start an anti-filibuster PAC https://t.co/TkAzUXx6Yz — Matt DeLong (@mattdelong) December 9, 2017 5. Roy Moore and the Alabama U.S. Senate race. Tuesday is finally Election Day in the Yellowhammer State, and no matter what else is happening in the halls of Congress this week, the outcome of this race will be a big deal. If Moore wins, a lot of GOP Senators won’t like the outcome. If Democrat Doug Jones wins, that will be a setback for President Donald Trump, who tried to stir support for Moore during a Fright night rally in Pensacola, Florida. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telegraphed last week that if Roy Moore wins, then the new Alabama Senator is certain to face a review by the Senate Ethics Committee. Alabama’s senior Senator, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), made it clear again on Sunday that he wrote in someone else – instead of voting for Roy Moore. Just that part of the story is highly unusual, let alone all the other news stories that keep coming out about Moore’s past actions and beliefs. It would be an unprecedented situation if Moore wins, since so many GOP Senators have made it crystal clear that they want no part of him.
  • As Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and any ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump, Republicans in the Congress have joined Mr. Trump in stepping up attacks on the FBI, raising questions about political bias inside the top ranks of that agency, an effort that could well form the basis for partisan opposition to the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Those sentiments were on full display last Thursday at the first Congressional oversight hearing for the new FBI Director, as Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly pressed Christopher Wray for answers on GOP allegations that partisan bias among top FBI officials had infected both the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, and the review of any ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. At the hearing, it didn’t take long for Republican frustration to boil over, as the FBI Director repeatedly refused to give detailed answers about the Clinton and Trump probes, saying – accurately – that the Inspector General of the Justice Department was reviewing how those matters were handled, as Wray sidestepped GOP requests for information. But that didn’t matter to GOP lawmakers. “I think you’re walking into a Contempt of Congress,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) snapped, criticizing Wray for fending off a variety of questions, as a number of GOP lawmakers all but asserted that the FBI was illegally withholding information from Congress on a number of fronts. Republicans also pressed for more background about two leading FBI officials, who were involved in both the Clinton and Trump probes, demanding more information about Peter Strzok and Andrew Weissman, who GOP lawmakers say expressed anti-Trump feelings to others inside the Justice Department, impacting both of those probes. Tied into all of this is the contention of some in the GOP that the FBI wrongly used the controversial “dossier” put together about President Trump during the 2016 campaign – which the GOP says was paid for by the Democrats – and possibly funneled to the FBI for its use. “I mean, there are all kinds of people on Mueller’s team who are pro-Clinton,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), as some Republicans suggested a top to bottom review of key people in the Russia investigation to see if they are harboring anti-Trump sentiments. During the over five hour hearing, Democrats asked Wray several times about President Trump’s recent assertion that the FBI was in “tatters” after the stewardship of former Director James Comey. NEW: FBI Director Chris Wray responds to Pres. Trump's claim that bureau's reputation is in 'tatters': 'The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of brave men and women…decent people committed to the highest principles of integrity and professionalism.' pic.twitter.com/e7hb6GjK2u — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 7, 2017 “I am emphasizing in every audience I can inside the bureau, that our decisions need to be made based on nothing other than the facts and the law,” Wray said. But judging from the reaction at this oversight hearing – which could have covered any subject – the biggest concern for Republicans right now is pursuing allegations that the FBI was too lenient on Hillary Clinton, and too quick to investigate Donald Trump.
  • All crimes are bad, but a theft on Saturday at a south Tulsa Walmart can be described as despicable. KRMG has learned someone drove up to the front of the store near 81st and Lewis and stole a Salvation Army donation kettle filled with money.  The thief even got away with the tripod.   Capt. Ken Chapman, area commander of the Salvation Army Tulsa Metro Command, summed up the situation. “They’re literally taking food out of the mouths of people who are hungry,” Chapman said.  “People who need clothing and shelter.”  It's believed the kettle could have had around $800 at the time.  Investigators hope they find a suspect by reviewing surveillance video.   Chapman adds the theft is especially distressing because they are running about 20 percent behind on donations. Anyone with information regarding the theft is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS.   
  • Get ready for a major change in the weather today. National Weather Service Meteorologist Chuck Hodges says the sun will come out and the forecast is looking gorgeous. “We should bounce back into the 60s,” Hodges said.  “Probably the mid-60s for the high.  It’s going to feel considerably warmer than what we’ve had for the last several days.” The low Sunday night will drop to 33 degrees. Your work week is going to be up and down temperature wise.  Hodges reports we’ll see highs in the 60s and the low 50s.   One thing we won’t have in Tulsa is snow.   “At least looking out at the next seven days, no, we’re looking pretty dry,” Hodges said.   Would you like to see snow in the Tulsa area?  Let us know in the comments.