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AP News in Brief 11-10-17

Updated: 
November 10, 2017 - 12:05am

GOP leaders bolt after Moore sexual misconduct claim

WASHINGTON — A month before Alabama’s special election, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore abruptly faced lurid allegations Thursday of sexual misconduct with minors decades ago — and an immediate backlash from party leaders who demanded he get out of the race if the accusations prove true.

The instant fallout followed a Washington Post report in which an Alabama woman said Moore, then a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, had sexual contact with her when she was 14. Three other women interviewed by the Post said Moore, now 70, approached them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s. All four women spoke on the record to the Post.

Defiant as ever, Moore himself issued a fundraising appeal asking for emergency donations in a “spiritual battle.”

“I believe you and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values,” he wrote. “I will NEVER GIVE UP the fight!”

Syria deal looms as Trump-Putin meeting possible

WASHINGTON — The United States and Russia are nearing an agreement on Syria for how they hope to resolve the Arab country’s civil war once the Islamic State group is defeated, officials said Thursday.

If clinched, the deal could be announced by President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin after a meeting in Vietnam on Friday, four U.S. officials said. The United States has been reluctant to hold a formal meeting between the leaders unless they have a substantive agreement to announce.

The potential understanding comes as an array of forces are near a final defeat of IS, the extremist group that once controlled vast stretches of both Iraq and Syria. Fighting the group is no longer top priority, shifting the focus back to Syria’s intractable conflict between President Bashar Assad’s government and rebels — and to concerns that foreign powers such as Iran will now dominate the country’s future.

The U.S.-Russian agreement being discussed would focus on three elements, officials said: “deconfliction” between the U.S. and Russian militaries, reducing violence in the civil war and reinvigorating U.N.-led peace talks. The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the deliberations and requested anonymity.

The U.S. and Russian militaries have maintained a “deconfliction” hotline for years to avoid unintended collisions and even potential confrontations as they each operate in Syria’s crowded skies.

From wire sources

A heavy air campaign by Russia has been credited with shoring up the position of Assad, a close ally of Moscow.

Report: 5 women accuse Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct

NEW YORK (AP) — Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of sexual misconduct toward several women, including masturbating in front of them to their horror and embarrassment, according to a report in The New York Times.

Comedians Dana Min Goodman, Abby Schachner, Julia Wolov, Rebecca Corry allege the Emmy-winning star of FX’s “Louie” either pleasured himself in front of them, asked to do it or did so over the phone. A fifth woman detailed her allegations against C.K. to the paper but was not identified.

A lawyer for C.K. did not immediately respond to comment from The Associated Press, but a representative for the comedian said Thursday that C.K. would issue a written statement in the coming days.

Another publicist told the Times the comedian would not respond to their reporting. Schachner, who said she heard C.K. masturbating on the phone in 2003, declined comment to The AP and representatives for the other three named women did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Corry alleges the comedian, while she was working on TV pilot in 2005, asked “if we could go to my dressing room so he could masturbate in front of me.” She declined “and he told me he had issues.” The show’s executive producers, Courteney Cox and David Arquette confirmed Corry’s account to the Times. Cindy Guagenti, Arquette’s representative, told The AP her client had nothing more to add.

In a race against time, Ridley Scott cuts out Kevin Spacey

NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Damon walked onto the set of “The Martian” one morning to find Ridley Scott speaking into multiple walkie-talkies and directing an army of camera operators.

“He was shooting four cameras at a time. I was skeptical about it, and each frame is, like, a Ridley Scott frame — beautiful,” Damon recalled in 2015. “I said, ‘God, Ridley, each of those shots is perfect.’ He says, ‘They’ve been perfect for a long time!’”

Scott’s madman feats of efficiency have long been legend. Now, the director is attempting what could be his greatest trick yet, and all of Hollywood is eagerly watching.

Scott on Wednesday summarily decided to cut Kevin Spacey out of the already completed movie “All the Money in the World,” reshoot the actor’s many scenes using Christopher Plummer — the man Scott originally wanted for the role of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty — and still, somehow, make a release date just six weeks away.

It is, to say the least, an unprecedented move that most filmmakers (and studios) wouldn’t even consider. With Spacey suddenly deemed toxic following a flood of sexual harassment and assault allegations, Scott — in one of the more audacious acts of damage control in recent memory — simply opted to be rid of him.

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How 1-year Trump rally stacks up against other presidents

Donald Trump warned that the stock market was a “big, fat, ugly bubble” just weeks before he was elected. A year later, Wall Street remains on a milestone-shattering run that the president has been eager to tout and tweet about.

The Standard &Poor’s 500 index, the broadest measure of the stock market, has notched 61 record highs and climbed about 21.3 percent in the year since Trump was elected.

That exceeds the S&P 500’s gain in the first-term election anniversaries of all but two presidents since World War II: George H.W. Bush (22.9 percent) and John F. Kennedy (27 percent), according to CFRA Research.

It also outpaces the market’s performance in the same postelection period of several other modern-era White House occupants, including Ronald Reagan (-3.3 percent), Bill Clinton (10.3 percent), George W. Bush (-22.1 percent) and Barack Obama (4.1 percent). But it trails the S&P 500’s gain in the first year after the second-term elections of Clinton (31.7 percent) and Obama (23.4 percent).

The billionaire’s surprise electoral victory initially set off a steep sell-off in Asian markets. But by the end of the day on Nov. 9, 2016, global markets had steadied and the S&P 500 index closed sharply higher. The market’s rally continued for several weeks, driving the major U.S. stock indexes to record highs. This year, stocks have gradually moved higher, clocking new milestones for the indexes along the way.

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Fox’s Smith avoids story covered heavily by colleagues

NEW YORK (AP) — While Fox News Channel has spent hours talking about Hillary Clinton and an Obama-era uranium deal in recent weeks, its news anchor Shepard Smith avoided the story entirely.

Fresh evidence that Smith is an island unto himself at the news network came in research released Thursday by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America. During the three weeks starting Oct. 17, Fox News spent just under 12 hours talking about the Uranium One deal, with 29 percent of that time on opinion host Sean Hannity’s prime-time show.

In recent weeks, the issue has been at the center of the nation’s partisan divide. Hannity calls it “the real Russian conspiracy,” while Democrats suggest the story is used to distract from news about Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump and ties to Russia. Conservatives contend that “mainstream” news outlets are obsessed with Mueller’s investigation.

Republicans have called for a probe into the 2010 purchase of American uranium mines by a Russian-backed company, noting some of the company’s investors had donated money to Clinton. The state department, then led by Clinton, was one of nine U.S. agencies with oversight of the deal, although she has said she wasn’t involved. Trump has said the company’s sale is a scandal on par with Watergate.

Trump’s favorite morning show, “Fox &Friends,” spent an hour and nine minutes talking about the deal, second only to Hannity on Fox, Media Matters said.

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