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    European Union nations are making their last-moment pitches for who should get to host two key EU agencies that are due to leave Britain in 2019 because of Brexit.EU ministers headed into several rounds of voting on Monday to decide where to move the London-based European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority.Even though rules were set up to make it a fair decision, the process has turned into a deeply political contest.Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra said that 'in the end it is a very strategic game of chess.' He added that beyond bartering, 'Every now and then in politics, I hope that content can be decisive.'The EMA is responsible for the evaluation, supervision and monitoring of medicines while the EBA monitors the banking sector.
  • The European Union's top Brexit negotiator says that is up to the United Kingdom to offer solutions on how to settle its border with Ireland and insisted it was not up to the EU to offer compromises.Michel Barnier told a conference Monday that London would need to provide clear proposals soon if they were to find a way for the U.K. to leave the EU but still have a transparent, open border with Ireland.He said that 'those who wanted Brexit must offer solutions.' The EU wants 'sufficient progress' on the Irish issue, the rights of EU citizens remaining in Britain and the outstanding bill Britain must pay before the negotiations can move to future relations next month.
  • Under Robert Mugabe's decades-long rule over Zimbabwe, China grew into one of the African nation's biggest investors, trading partners and diplomatic allies.Now, as Zimbabwe appears on the verge of its first transition of power since independence, Beijing is poised to be among the biggest winners.A look at the increasingly close relationship between the two countries:___THE BACK STORYMugabe began drawing closer to China's communist leaders under a 'Look East' policy when Western countries imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 over land seizures and human rights concerns. 'We have turned East, where the sun rises, and given our backs to the West, where the sun sets,' he famously said.Mugabe has made frequent visits to Beijing, and sent his daughter Bona to university in Hong Kong. China, meanwhile, has vetoed United Nations Security Council sanctions on Zimbabwe.Both sides portray the relationship as one between 'all-weather friends.' But 'behind the scenes, things are a little bit different,' said Derek Matyszak, a Harare-based senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.'Relations between China and Mugabe have been quite fractious over the past year and a half, and the current situation is going to make things worse,' he said.China is unhappy about Mugabe's mismanagement of Zimbabwe's economy and is believed to favor as his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who's seen as more of an 'economic pragmatist,' Matyszak said.Mnangagwa was elected Sunday as the new leader of Zimbabwe's ruling party and is positioned to take over as the country's leader.___MILITARY LINKSZimbabwe's army commander, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, visited Beijing in early November, around the same time Mnangagwa disappeared. The Chinese Foreign Ministry called it a 'normal military exchange,' but the timing raised suspicions that it was anything but.The countries' military links date back to the 1960s, when China helped train and supply guerrilla fighters from the Zanu's military wing in the fight for liberation. Mnangagwa, 75, was part of that effort — he received military training in China in 1963, soon after he joined the fight against white minority rule in then-Rhodesia.These days, China is a key supplier of military hardware to Zimbabwe. Major sales in recent years include a radar system, jet trainers and fighters, military vehicles and AK-47 assault rifles.A Chinese company built the National Defense College in Harare, which opened in 2014 and was financed with an interest-free $98 million loan from China. The college, the biggest of its kind in the country, trains soldiers, intelligence operatives and police from Zimbabwe and other Southern African countries.'China, of course, wants Zimbabwe to maintain a peaceful and stable political environment,' said Wang Xinsong, a longtime observer of China-Zimbabwe relations at Beijing Normal University. 'China's best interest lies in ensuring a peaceful and smooth transfer of power without major turmoil.'___ECONOMIC WOESOnce known as the 'breadbasket of Africa,' Zimbabwe's decline accelerated with the seizure of white-owned farms, sending the economy into a tailspin with skyrocketing inflation and widespread unemployment and poverty.The lack of a clear succession plan for the 93-year-old Mugabe as well as an industrial nationalization plan have contributed to political uncertainty and spooked overseas investors. Zimbabwe's foreign direct investment fell for a second straight year in 2016, slumping by a quarter to $319 million, according to the latest U.N. World Investment Report.Analysts believe one major reason Mnangagwa is popular with China is that he is seen as more investor-friendly than Mugabe.'Of course, we must know that the investment can only go where it gets a return,' Mnangagwa said in an interview with state-run China Central Television during a visit to Beijing in 2015. 'So we must make sure we create an environment where investors are happy to put their money because they will have a return.'Chinese investors are likely holding off while they wait for a resolution, experts said.'Chinese businessmen will become more prudent,' said Zhang Chun, an expert in African studies at the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Studies. 'For those that are prepared to make an investment there, they will delay their projects.'___DIAMOND DEALSA big source of tension between Beijing and Harare was Mugabe's abrupt move to nationalize Zimbabwe's diamond mines.Two Chinese companies, Anjin Investments and Jinan Mining, had partnered with the military and become big players in the Marange diamond field in Zimbabwe's east.Mugabe, however, moved last year to revoke licenses from the Chinese and other foreign mining companies and consolidate all operations into a single company half-owned by Zimbabwe's government. He had apparently become alarmed that the government was missing out on revenue, blaming private companies after only $2 billion of an anticipated $15 billion had flown into government coffers since the field was discovered in 2006.The Institute for Security Studies' Matyszak speculated that Mnangagwa could reverse that move, winning favor with both the military and China in the process.Chinese tobacco company Tianze, meanwhile, has given interest-free loans and training to farmers, many of whom work on land seized from white farmers, to help beef up production and help fill cigarette demand back home.The Beijing Automotive Group teamed up this year with two local partners in a joint venture, Beiqi Zimbabwe, selling Grand Tiger pickup trucks assembled from kits to compete with pricier imports.___HARD ASSETSChina has helped build and pay for some big-budget infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe, including $46 million to fund the construction of the country's new parliament building in Harare last year.Chinese state-owned Sinohydro is building $2 billion worth of expansion projects at Zimbabwe's two main, aging power stations to help deal with chronic electricity shortages. Chinese companies have also built a $150 million expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport and upgraded Zimbabwe's busiest highway.Other deals announced during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015 included building a pharmaceutical warehouse, expanding the national fiber optic broadband network and supply wildlife monitoring gear.___SOFT POWERChina and Zimbabwe have been growing closer in other ways too, although results have been uneven.In 2015, Zimbabwe sold China 35 elephants that were moved to wildlife parks in Shanghai, Beijing and Hanghzhou. But animal conservation groups raised concerns about the plan over fears that the animals would be split up from their herds and end up living under poor conditions.China also has an image problem among many ordinary Zimbabweans, who see it mainly as a supplier of cheap but shoddy products like shoes and kettles that have been labeled with derogatory names for their famously short-lived lifespans.The Mugabe family has been involved in a legal dispute over a multimillion-dollar Hong Kong property, and made headlines there in 2009 when Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace, allegedly assaulted a photographer during a shopping trip. She left the specially administered Chinese city without being charged.___Associated Press writer Yi-ling Liu in Hong Kong and researcher Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.
  • Toys R Us is once again planning to open on Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m. for 30 continuous hours of holiday deals. It won’t close until 11 p.m. on Black Friday. Despite some criticism, many department stores and big-box stores are expected to open for business on the holiday. RELATED: Black Friday ad scans 2017 Early Black Friday: These retailers will be open on Thanksgiving 2017  According to BestBlackFriday.com, more than 40 national retailers will try to get a jump on Black Friday by welcoming customers on the Thursday holiday. As of November 20, the website has confirmed the following Thanksgiving Day openings: Bass Pro Shops – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Bealls Florida – 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Belk – Thanksgiving 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Black Friday Bergner’s – Thanksgiving 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Black Friday Best Buy – Thanksgiving 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Black Friday Big Lots -7 a.m. to midnight Bon-Ton – Thanksgiving 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Black Friday Boscov’s – Thanksgiving 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Black Friday Boston Store – Thanksgiving 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Black Friday Cabela’s – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Carson’s – Thanksgiving 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Black Friday Dick’s Sporting Goods – Thanksgiving 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Black Friday Dollar General – 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Elder-Beerman – Thanksgiving 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Black Friday Five Below – Thanksgiving 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Black Friday GameStop –  4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Herberger’s – Thanksgiving 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Black Friday JCPenney – Thanksgiving 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Black Friday Kohl’s – 5 p.m. Kmart – Opens 6 a.m.; Doorbusters Thanksgiving 6 p.m. to 2 p.m. Black Friday; Some stores to close at 12 a.m. or 2 a.m. and reopen at 6 a.m. Friday Macy’s – Thanksgiving 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Black Friday or Thanksgiving 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Black Friday before reopening at 6 a.m. Friday. Doorbusters until Friday at 1 p.m. Meijer – 6 a.m. Michaels – 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Opens at 5 p.m. for Rewards members Rite Aid – Varies by location Sears – 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Shopko – Thanksgiving 4 p.m. to 2 p.m. Black Friday Stage Stores – Thanksgiving 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Black Friday Target – 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Toys R Us – Thanksgiving 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Black Friday ULTA – Thanksgiving 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Black Friday Walgreens – Varies by location Walmart – 6 p.m. Younkers – Thanksgiving 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Black Friday If you’re looking for the best deals, you don’t have to run to the stores on the holiday. Money expert Clark Howard says the sales are being spread out over a six-week period this year. Plan your holiday shopping around these 6 days to get the best deals! Related Articles from clark.com: Travelers from 9 states will need passports for domestic flights in 2018 Read More Vegetables sold at Aldi, Walmart, Trader Joe’s recalled over listeria fears Read More 9 things to know before your first trip to Costco Read More
  • Many retailers will once again start their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, but dozens of stores are choosing to keep their doors shut this year. The retailers that are staying closed on Thanksgiving will let their employees spend the holiday with family and friends. RELATED: Plan your holiday shopping around these 6 days to get the best deals These retailers won’t be open on Thanksgiving 2017 This is a difficult decision for some businesses to make. With online shopping increasing in popularity, major retailers often decide to open their physical stores for competitive reasons. However, BestBlackFriday.com has found that opening on Thanksgiving isn’t all that popular with consumers. In a survey of more than 500 Americans conducted in late September of this year, 57% of respondents didn’t like the idea of stores opening on Thanksgiving. “How do you feel about stores being open on Thanksgiving Day?” Strongly favor it: 5.60% Favor it: 10.62% Indifferent: 26.25% Dislike it: 20.66% Strongly dislike it: 36.87% Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine even have so-called “blue laws” to prevent many retailers from opening on Thanksgiving. List: Stores closed on Thanksgiving Day 2017 The folks at BestBlackFriday.com put together a list of stores that will be taking Thanksgiving Day off this year, which includes these major retailers: A.C. Moore Abt Electronics Academy Sports + Outdoors Ace Hardware At Home Babies R Us BJ’s Wholesale Club Blain’s Farm and Fleet Burlington Cost Plus World Market Costco Craft Warehouse Crate and Barrel Dillard’s dressbarn DSW – Designer Shoe Warehouse Ethan Allen Fry’s Electronics Gardner-White Furniture Guitar Center H&M Half Price Books Harbor Freight Hobby Lobby Home Depot HomeGoods Homesense IKEA JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores Jos. A. Bank La-Z-Boy (all corporately owned stores) Lowe’s Marshalls Mattress Firm Menards Micro Center Mills Fleet Farm Music & Arts Neiman Marcus Nordstrom Nordstrom Rack Office Depot and OfficeMax Outdoor Research (closed Black Friday too) P.C. Richard & Son Party City Patagonia Petco PetSmart Pier 1 Imports Publix Raymour & Flanigan Furniture REI (closed Black Friday too) Sam’s Club Sears Hometown Stores Sears Outlet Shoe Carnival Sierra Trading Post Sportsman’s Warehouse Sprint (mall kiosks may open) Staples Stein Mart Sur La Table The Container Store The Original Mattress Factory T.J. Maxx Tractor Supply Trollbeads Von Maur West Marine You can see the full list, which will be updated frequently, at BestBlackFriday.com. RELATED: These major retailers are closing stores in 2017 Holiday tipping: Who to tip and who to skip Related Articles from clark.com: Travelers from 9 states will need passports for domestic flights in 2018 Read More Vegetables sold at Aldi, Walmart, Trader Joe’s recalled over listeria fears Read More 9 things to know before your first trip to Costco Read More
  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has offered to China an opportunity to operate a new, third telecommunications carrier in the country, his spokesman said Monday.The move is aimed at breaking a telecoms duopoly in a country that is said to have the slowest internet speed in the Asia Pacific. It is unclear if China or any Chinese companies would be keen to take Duterte up on his offer.Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte made the offer to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during their bilateral meeting in Manila last week.The market now is dominated by domestic telecoms operators Globe Telecom Inc. and PLDT Inc.In 2007, the Philippines signed a contract with China's ZTE for a national broadband network. The project was plagued with problems such as alleged overpricing and kickbacks and was eventually scrapped.Last week, the government signed an agreement with a Facebook subsidiary for the 'Luzon Bypass' project. It involves installation of submarine cables for a high speed internet infrastructure and providing 2 terabits per second of bandwidth — equivalent to the current combined capacity of Globe and PLDT.'So the good news is, the consumers can look forward now to better telecommunications, not just in terms of cellular technology but also in terms of internet speed as well as access,' Roque said.China's state-owned China Mobile Ltd. is the world's biggest phone carrier by subscribers, with 880 million mobile accounts and 106 million broadband internet customers. China Telecom Ltd. and China Unicom Ltd. are nearly as large.All three have been slow to expand outside their lucrative and sheltered home market but have stepped up investment in the past two years, usually by taking stakes in carriers in other developing countries such as Brazil, Thailand and Pakistan.
  • The White House says it's willing to strike a health-care provision from Senate legislation to cut taxes and overhaul the tax code if the provision becomes an impediment to passing one of President Donald Trump's top legislative priorities.The provision would repeal a requirement that everyone in the U.S. have health insurance or pay a fine, but has emerged as a major sticking point for Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, whose vote the White House needs. Collins said Sunday that the issue should be dealt with separately.Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said the White House is open to scrapping the provision, which would repeal a key component of the Affordable Care Act health law enacted by President Barack Obama. Trump had pressed for the provision to be added to the bill, partly to show progress on the GOP goal of undoing the health care law following Congress' failed attempts to repeal it earlier this year.'I don't think anybody doubts where the White House is on repealing and replacing Obamacare. We absolutely want to do it,' Mulvaney said Sunday. 'If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that's great.'If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we're OK with taking it out,' Mulvaney added.Legislative director Marc Short said Sunday that the White House 'is very comfortable with the House bill,' which does not include the so-called individual mandate. But Short also said the White House views the mandate as a tax and 'we like the fact that the Senate has included it in its bill.'At issue is a provision to repeal the requirement that everyone in the U.S. have health insurance or pay a fine. Eliminating the individual mandate would add an estimated $338 billion in revenue over 10 years that Senate tax-writers used for additional tax cuts.Collins said Sunday that the tax advantage that some middle-income consumers would reap under the tax bill could be wiped out by repealing the mandate. She said they would face higher insurance premiums coupled with the loss of federal subsidies to help them afford coverage.'The fact is that if you do pull this piece of the Affordable Care Act out, for some middle-income families, the increased premium is going to cancel out the tax cut that they would get,' Collins said.Collins said she hasn't decided how to vote on the bill because it will be amended before it reaches the Senate floor. But her vote is crucial in a chamber where Republicans hold a slim 52-48 advantage.Last week, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin became the first Republican to declare opposition, saying the plan wouldn't cut business taxes enough for partnerships and corporations. GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Rand Paul of Kentucky have also expressed concerns.Republicans can lose just two senators on the final vote, which would allow Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking 51st vote in his capacity as president of the Senate. Democrats are not expected to support the bill, as was the case when the House passed its version last week.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the mandate amounts to 'an unfair tax on poor people.'The president thinks we should get rid of it. I think we should get rid of it,' he said, but added: 'We're going to work with the Senate as we go through this.'Mulvaney and Collins were interviewed on CNN's 'State of the Union.' Mnuchin spoke on 'Fox News Sunday.' Collins also appeared on ABC's 'This Week,' as did Short.___The news summary in this story has been revised to correct Mick Mulvaney's first name.___Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • Nebraska regulators are set to decide Monday whether to approve or deny an in-state route for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It's the last major regulatory hurdle facing project operator TransCanada Corp.The Nebraska Public Service Commission's ruling is on the Nebraska route TransCanada has proposed to complete the $8 billion, 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) pipeline to deliver oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. The proposed Keystone XL route would cross parts of Montana, South Dakota and most of Nebraska to Steele City, Nebraska.A vote in favor of the company's proposed route through Nebraska would give a boost to the long-delayed project, which was rejected by President Barack Obama in 2015, citing concerns about carbon pollution. President Donald Trump revived it in March, approving a permit.The project has faced a barrage of criticism from environmental activists and some landowners for nearly a decade. A ruling against the company would cast renewed doubt on the proposal and could lead to another drawn-out legal fight.Here are some things to know about the decision:___WHAT OPTIONS DOES THE COMMISSION HAVE?The five-member Nebraska Public Service Commission is forbidden by law from factoring pipeline safety or the risk of spills into its decision because pipeline safety is a federal responsibility. So, it will not take into account a spill of 210,000 gallons (790,000 liters) of oil on the existing Keystone pipeline in South Dakota announced on Thursday.The proposed Keystone XL would expand the existing Keystone pipeline, which went into service in July 2010. The current pipeline network runs south through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and extends east into Missouri and Illinois.The simplest choice is a yes-or-no vote on TransCanada's 'preferred route' through a dozen Nebraska counties. But the commission could include major caveats that would add years to the project's timetable.Commissioners could tweak TransCanada's proposed route, or pick one of the company's 'alternative' routes. Company officials have said their preferred route causes the least amount of disruption.If the commission denies the request outright, state law gives TransCanada a 60-day window to revise and resubmit its proposal for another review.'It's not as simple as a 'guilty' or 'not guilty' verdict,' said Brian Jorde, an attorney for Nebraska landowners who are fighting the project.No matter what the commission decides, any group that presented arguments at an August hearing could appeal the decision to a state district court. The case would likely end up before the Nebraska Supreme Court.___WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE DECISION?The commission's vote could play a pivotal role in whether TransCanada moves ahead with the pipeline. After years of lobbying for the project, TransCanada acknowledged in a July conference call that executives won't decide until late November or early December whether to begin construction.TransCanada spokesman Matthew John reiterated that timeline on Wednesday.'We're going through the process with every intention to get this project built,' John said. 'But there are factors that we need to work out prior to making that decision,' including regulatory approval in Nebraska.John said the company also needs to finalize its contracts with shippers that want to use the pipeline.TransCanada has been working to line up long-term contracts for the pipeline, which can carry an estimated 830,000 barrels a day. The company has not announced the results of its open season bidding process, which ended Oct. 26.___WILL THERE BE PROTESTS IF THE COMMISSION APPROVES THE PIPELINE?Opponents in August vowed to stage mass protests against the pipeline if Nebraska regulators approve it, but say they will exhaust legal options first.Pipeline opponents have lined parts of the proposed route with obstacles, including trees, solar panels, sacred corn from the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and a barn powered by renewable energy. Some opponents may try to physically block construction and have likened their resistance to the activists who protested the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota.___IS KEYSTONE XL STILL FEASIBLE?Despite low oil prices and repeated delays, TransCanada has a strong financial incentive to keep pursuing the pipeline, said Zachary Rogers, a Houston-based analyst for Wood Mackenzie, an energy research and consulting firm.Rogers said Western Canadian producers have been forced to ship their product by train, which is more expensive than a pipeline, and Keystone XL would reduce costs and improve their bottom line.At the same time, Texas refineries face uncertainty because of political instability in Venezuela, one of their top oil sources, and a slowdown in Mexican production.'Western Canada has been held captive by geography and hasn't been able to cheaply access the markets,' Rogers said. 'Any opportunity for them to get better access will buoy their margins.'___Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte___Sign up for the AP's weekly newsletter showcasing our best reporting from the Midwest and Texas: http://apne.ws/2u1RMfv
  • A Nebraska regulator is set to decide whether to approve the proposed route of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline through the state.The decision Monday could have a big impact on whether TransCanada Corp. decides to proceed with construction of the project, which was first proposed in 2008 but repeatedly delayed.The five-member Nebraska Public Service Commission vote is the last major regulatory hurdle for Keystone XL, which was approved earlier this year by President Donald Trump in a reversal of the Obama administration's rejection in 2015.Landowners along the route and environmentalists have opposed the project. Some businesses and unions have supported it as a job creator.The commission will not be allowed to take into account an oil spill on the existing Keystone pipeline last week.
  • Japan's exports grew 14 percent over a year earlier in October on strong demand for vehicles, electronics and machinery. However, customs data released Monday showed even faster growth in imports of oil, gas and coal that caused the trade surplus to fall more than 40 percent from the year before.As China recovers momentum following a slowdown, demand from the region's biggest economy is helping to breathe fresh life into its neighbors' economies.Exports are helping to drive a moderate recovery in Japan, the world's third-largest economy, as its factories struggle to keep up with demand for cars, electronic components and manufacturing equipment.At the same time, Japan's imports have risen thanks to higher costs for crude oil and other commodities: surging 19 percent from the same month a year earlier in October to 6.41 trillion yen ($57 billion) versus exports of 6.7 trillion yen ($59 billion). The resulting surplus of 285.4 billion yen ($2.54 billion) compared with a 481.2 billion yen surplus a year earlier and 667.7 billion yen in September.China displaced the U.S. as Japan's biggest export market in October, as shipments to Asia's biggest economy jumped 26 percent to 1.35 trillion yen ($12 billion). Its imports from China rose 14 percent to 1.62 trillion yen ($14 billion).Japan's surplus with the U.S. jumped 11 percent to 644.7 billion yen ($5.75 billion) on exports of 1.28 trillion yen ($11 billion), led by chemicals and machinery. Imports from the U.S. climbed 3.1 percent to 637 billion yen ($5.7 billion), with the biggest growth in imports of fish, soybeans, coal, liquid petroleum gas and iron ore.Imports of crude oil, gas, coal and other fuels surged 37.5 percent from a year earlier to 1.24 trillion yen ($11 billion). Rising prices and the weakening of the Japanese yen over the past year contributed to that increase.'Looking ahead, the export climate index remains elevated and suggests that export growth will continue at a similar pace as the 6.4 percent year-on-year increase recorded last quarter,' Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.But the economies of Japan's major trading partners are likely to slow in the next year, he said. 'We therefore we expect real export growth to slow from 6 percent year-on-year this year to 3 percent in 2018.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A woman accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, of groping her during a photo-op in Minnesota in 2010, two years after the former comedian and radio show host was voted into the U.S. Senate, CNN reported on Monday. >> Read more trending news Lindsay Menz, now 33, told CNN that she was posing for a photo with Franken at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair when the senator “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, (Franken) put his hand full-fledged on my rear.” She said the “uncomfortable” incident left her feeling “gross.” 'It wasn't around my waist. It wasn't around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,' she told CNN. 'I was like, ‘Oh my God, what's happening?’' In a statement to CNN, Franken said that he felt “badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected,” but he said he didn’t remember taking the photo with her. Menz came forward in the wake of allegations against Franken made by Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden. In a blog post for KABC, Tweeden wrote that Franken, who was a radio host for Air America at the time, forced himself on her as they were practicing a skit he wrote for the tour. Franken has since apologized for the incident. >> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent “I felt disgusted and violated,” Tweeden wrote. “No one saw what happened backstage. I didn’t tell the sergeant major of the Army, who was the sponsor of the tour. I didn’t tell our USO rep what happened.” She said she focused on entertaining the troops and didn’t speak up because she “didn’t want to cause trouble.” “We were in the middle of a war zone, it was the first show of our holiday tour, I was a professional and I could take care of myself,” she wrote. “I told a few of the others on the tour what Franken had done, and they knew how I felt about it.” >> Related: 'SNL' slams former cast member Al Franken on 'Weekend Update' Franken called for an investigation into the 2006 incident after apologizing to Tweeden in a statement last week. 'The truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories,' Franken said. 'They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”
  • A DNA expert is testifying Monday in the murder trial of a man accused of raping and killing a 27-year-old woman at her downtown Orlando apartment. Police said Stephen Duxbury strangled Sasha Samsudean in October 2015 at the Uptown Place apartments after she returned from a night out. Duxbury worked as a security guard at the apartment building at the time. Read: Investigators testify in downtown Orlando security guard's murder trial On Friday, jurors were shown physical evidence in the case, including a pair of Skechers sneakers prosecutors said Duxbury was wearing when he killed Samsudean. Police said Duxbury tried to pass off a different pair of shoes as the ones he had worn that night, but they said the sneakers match shoe prints found in her apartment. Prosecutors on Friday had a cellphone expert testify that Duxbury googled how to open Samsudean's unique front door lock before she died. The expert said Duxbury tried erasing his phone afterward. Read: Testimony continues in downtown Orlando security guard's murder trial Photos: Sasha Samsudean Duxbury told police he never went into Samsudean's apartment. Investigators said DNA evidence was discovered on Samsudean's body and her bedsheets, and Duxury's fingerprints were found on her toilet and her nightstand. Investigators said surveillance footage shows Duxbury walking with an intoxicated Samsudean. Read: Video shows murder suspect, victim at downtown Orlando apartment His attorneys claim that investigators botched the case and that the true killer remains at large. Duxbury faces life in prison if convicted in Samsudean’s death. Click here to watch the trial live. Read: New report outlines how suspect broke into woman's downtown apartment
  • Police are investigating a fatal shooting that happened at Barcelona Wine Bar. According to Atlanta police, officers responded to the restaurant in the 1000 block of Howell Mill Road just before 2 a.m. Sunday on a report that a person had been shot. Police said they found 29-year-old Chelsea Beller, of Atlanta. Police told WSBTV, Beller had been shot once in the shoulder during an apparent robbery. >> Read more trending news As the restaurant was closing, three men entered the location and tied up employees with electrical tape, according to police. They said the victim was forced upstairs to open the safe and then shot. She was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where she later died. 'She was just a positive person, fun loving. She didn't have an enemy to speak of,' said her cousin, Brandi Borgwat. 'Everybody that knew her, loved her.' Friends left flowers and candles outside the restaurant Sunday afternoon. While the investigation continues, Beller's family hopes that her killers are not on the streets for much longer. 'She deserves justice for this,' said Borgwat.
  • Dashcam footage from two different vehicles captured a plane crash Sunday on a busy Clearwater road. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office shared the video on YouTube Sunday, within hours of the crash. Two deputies were driving on North Keene Road as the plane tried to make an emergency landing.  The plane’s wing clipped a wing, sending the plane crashing into a wooded area. A resident in the area quickly recorded video of the response. According to reports, the pilot and passenger were able to escape the wreckage uninjured. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating the incident.
  • Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a phallus and the U.S. Navy says it’s responsible for the obscene sky drawing. Maverick and Ice have nothing on this pilot. Navy officials were forced to apologize after residents of Okanogan County, Washington noticed a sky drawing many said looked like male genitalia on Thursday. In a statement to KREM-TV, officials at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island said, 'The Navy holds its aircrew to the highest standards and we find this absolutely unacceptable, of zero training value and we are holding the crew accountable.' So just to be clear, the Navy says, there is ‘zero training value’ in drawing a giant penis in the sky.