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Senator Al Franken quits amid sexual misconduct allegations

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Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced Thursday he will resign from Congress in the coming weeks following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations and the collapse of support from his Democratic colleagues, a swift political fall for a once-rising Democratic star.

“I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice,” Franken said in the otherwise-hushed Senate chamber.

Franken quit just a day after new allegations brought the number of women alleging misconduct by him to at least eight. On Wednesday, one woman said he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006, an accusation he vehemently denied. Hours later, another woman said Franken inappropriately squeezed “a handful of flesh” on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009.

“I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution,” Franken declared Thursday.

Franken is the latest to fall in the national wave of sexual harassment allegations that have brought down powerful men in Hollywood, the media and state capitals across the nation. His announcement followed Tuesday’s resignation of Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House.

Franken, the former comedian who made his name on “Saturday Night Live,” had originally sought to weather the allegations, disputing many of the specifics but apologizing to his accusers publicly. He had promised he would cooperate with an ethics investigation and work to regain the trust of Minnesotans.

“Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” Franken said Thursday. “Others I remember quite differently.” Still, he said he could not both cooperate with an investigation and fully carry out his duties to his constituents.

Franken, 66, had gained respect as a serious lawmaker in recent years and had even been mentioned in talk about the 2020 presidential race.

Franken pointedly noted that he was being forced out while President Donald Trump — who has been accused of worse offenses and bragged on a leaked “Access Hollywood” videotape of grabbing women by their genitalia — emerged unscathed. Trump has also endorsed Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct with them when they were teens and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s.

“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said.

His resignation means Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a fellow Democrat, will name a temporary replacement. The winner of a special election in November 2018 would serve through the end of Franken’s term in January 2021. Among the possibilities is Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, a trusted Dayton ally.

Dayton said after Franken’s remarks that he hasn’t yet decided on an appointment to fill the seat but expects to announce his decision in the next couple of days.

In a Senate chamber with a heavy atmosphere, several Democratic women, including some who had called for Franken’s resignation, sat somberly for Franken’s 11-minute speech and embraced him afterward. But they had lost patience with the growing tally of allegations and paved the path for Franken’s exit.

“Enough is enough,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York declared on Wednesday. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.” A torrent of Democrats quickly followed Gillibrand.

“I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington State. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”

Franken has acknowledged and apologized for some inappropriate behavior, but he strongly denied the new accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide, who said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The woman, who was not identified, told Politico that she ducked to avoid his lips but Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

Franken said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right was “preposterous.”

The allegations against Franken began Nov. 16 when Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan.

Other allegations followed, including a woman who says Franken put his hand on her buttocks as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two women told the Huffington Post that Franken squeezed their buttocks at political events during his first campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth woman, an Army veteran, alleged Franken cupped her breast during a photo on a USO tour in 2003.

A special election for Franken’s seat in 2018 would seem to favor Democrats. The party nationally is banking on favorable winds since midterm elections are often difficult for the party that holds the White House, and Minnesota Republicans have struggled in recent years to recruit top-tier candidates for statewide office.

Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by just 1.5 points in Democratic-leaning Minnesota, preserving a four-decade run for the party in presidential elections.

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Indonesian plane with 189 aboard crashes into sea

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PAKISJAYA, Indonesia, Oct 29 (Reuters) – An Indonesian aircraft with 189 people on board crashed into the sea and sank on Monday soon after taking off from the capital, Jakarta, on a flight to a tin-mining region, officials said.

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency confirmed the crash of Lion Air flight, JT610, adding that it lost contact with ground officials 13 minutes after takeoff, and a tug boat leaving the capital’s port saw it fall.

“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” agency head Muhmmad Syaugi told a news conference, adding that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft’s emergency transmitter.

“We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”

Items such as handphones and life vests were found in waters about 30 meters to 35 meters (98 to 115 ft) deep near where the plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, lost contact, he said.

“We are there already, our vessels, our helicopter is hovering above the waters, to assist,” Syaugi said. “We are trying to dive down to find the wreck.”

Ambulances were lined up at Karawang, on the coast east of Jakarta and police were preparing rubber dinghies, a Reuters reporter said.

At least 23 government officials were on board the plane, which an air navigation spokesman said had sought to turn back just before losing contact.

“We don’t dare to say what the facts are, or are not, yet,” Edward Sirait, the chief executive of Lion Air Group, told Reuters. “We are also confused about the why, since it was a new plane.”

The privately owned airline said in a statement, the aircraft, which had only been in operation since August, was airworthy, with its pilot and co-pilot together having accumulated 11,000 hours of flying time.

BLACK BOXES

The head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee said he could not confirm the cause of the crash, which would have to wait until the recovery of the plane’s black boxes, as the cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder are known.

“The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane, and that we will review too. But the most important is the blackbox,” said Soerjanto Tjahjono.

Safety experts say nearly all accidents are caused by a combination of factors and only rarely have a single identifiable cause.

The weather at the time of the crash was clear, Tjahjono said.

A Lion Air Boeing 737 passenger plane crashed into the sea, moments after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct. 29, 2018. It was carrying 188 people on board, including members from the nation’s finance ministry and trainee flight attendants.

Investigators will focus on the cockpit voice and data recorders and building up a picture of the brand-new plane’s technical status, the condition and training of the crew as well as weather and air traffic recordings.

The effort to find the wreckage and retrieve the black boxes represents a major challenge for investigators in Indonesia, where an AirAsia Airbus jet crashed in the Java Sea in December 2015.

Under international rules, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will automatically assist with the inquiry into Monday’s crash, backed up by technical advisers from Boeing and U.S.-French engine maker CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and Safran.

Boeing was deeply saddened by the loss, it said in a statement.

“Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation,” it said, adding that in accordance with international protocol, all inquiries should be directed to Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee.

FAST-GROWING MARKET

The flight took off from Jakarta around 6.20 a.m. and was due to have landed in Pangkal Pinang, capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining region, at 7.20 a.m., the Flightrsdar 24 website showed.

Data from FlightRadar24 shows the first sign of something amiss was around two minutes into the flight, when the plane had reached 2,000 feet (610 m).

Then it descended more than 500 feet (152 m) and veered to the left before climbing again to 5,000 feet (1,524 m), where it stayed during most of the rest of the flight.

It began gaining speed in the final moments and reached 345 knots (397 mph) before data was lost when it was at 3,650 feet (1,113 m).

Its last recorded position was about 15 km (9 miles) north of the Indonesian coast, according to a Google Maps reference of the last coordinates from Flightradar24.

The accident is the first to be reported involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer’s workhorse single-aisle jet.

Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets, but its safety record is patchy.

“The industry has grown very quickly and keeping pace with that growth is challenging in keeping the safety culture intact,” said Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor of industry publication FlightGlobal, which keeps an accident database.

If all on board prove to have died, the Lion Air crash would rank as Indonesia’s second-worst air disaster, after a Garuda Indonesia A300 crash in Medan that killed 214 people in 1997, he said.

Founded in 1999, Lion Air’s only fatal accident was in 2004, when an MD-82 crashed upon landing at Solo City, killing 25 of the 163 on board, the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network says.

In April, the airline announced a firm order to buy 50 Boeing 737 MAX 10 narrow body jets with a list price of $6.24 billion. It is one of the U.S. planemaker’s largest customers globally.

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Shooting at Pittsburgh Synagogue Leaves at least 4 dead

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Law enforcement sources tell CBS News and KDKA that the suspect in a fatal shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue is 48-year-old  Robert Bowers. His online activity shows he posted anti-Semitic threats and conspiracy theories in the weeks before Saturday’s shooting, which left at least eight dead.

Here’s what we know about Bowers so far:

  • Police said Bowers shouted “All Jews must die!” while firing indiscriminately in the Tree of Life synagogue during services. He exchanged gunfire with officers while confined on the third floor of the synagogue before being taken into custody.
  • Bowers was a regular user on Gab, a social network often associated with white supremacists and extremists. Shortly after the attack, Gab was alerted to a user profile of the alleged Tree of Life Synagogue shooter. The account was verified and matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name, which was mentioned on police scanners.
  • On Gab, Bowers posted dozens of anti-Semitic messages in the past month, including denials of the Holocaust and conspiracy theories about Jews destroying the planet and fueling mass migration. Many of the posts included a slur for Jews. A quote on the top of his page said, “jews are the children of satan.” He also posted about popular right-wing conspiracy theories such as QAnon.
  • Bowers posted several messages on Gab supporting President Trump. “Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist,” he wrote on Thursday. “There is no #MAGAas long as there is a k–e infestation.”
  • Bowers also appeared to post two cryptic warnings about the shooting hours before the attack. On Friday, he wrote about HIAS, a Jewish organization that aids refugees and recently listed congregations across America that held Shabbat services for refugees. “Why hello there HIAS! You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us? We appreciate the list of friends you have provided,” Bowers wrote. On Saturday morning, about two hours before the attack, he wrote in another post, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

                                                          Photo of Mass Shooter Robert Bowers

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Tina Turner finally opens up about son’s suicide

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Tina Turner is opening up about her son’s suicide.

Craig Turner, Tina’s eldest son, took his own life in July.

“I think Craig was lonely, that’s what I think really got him more than anything else,” Tina told CBS News.

Authorities found Craig dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his Studio City, Calif., home on July 3.

Tina would later scatter her son’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean.


Tina told CBS that she’s at peace with everything, and she thinks her son is too.

“I have pictures all around of him smiling,” she said. “I think I’m sensing that he’s in a good place. I really do.”

Craig was born in 1958 when his famous mother was 18 years old. His biological father is a musician named Raymond Hill. Tina said in her memoir that she never saw Raymond once she got pregnant. After Tina married Ike Turner, Ike adopted Craig as his own.

“I have everything,” she said. “When I sit at Lake Zurich in the house that I have, I am so serene. No problems. I had a very hard life. But I didn’t put blame on anything or anyone. I got through it, I lived through it with no blame. And I’m a happy person.”

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