What to Know
- Britain and the European Union have made a significant breakthrough in Brexit talks
- Modern birth control pills that are lower in estrogen have fewer side effects than past oral contraceptives
- Director Bryan Singer has been accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy at a party more than a decade ago
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California Wildfires Spread to New Counties, Trigger New Evacuations
The biggest and most destructive of the windblown fires raking Southern California shut down one of the region's busiest freeways and threatened Ojai, a scenic mountain town dubbed "Shangri-La" and known for its boutique hotels and New Age spiritual retreats. Most of Ojai's 7,000 residents were warned to clear out and patients unable to walk were moved from the Ojai Valley Community Hospital because of unprecedented, hurricane-force Santa Ana winds in the forecast. The winds turned out to be less fierce than expected, but firefighters still had to contend with gusts that fanned the fire to 150 square miles and put thousands of homes in jeopardy. As firefighters tried to corral the Ventura fire and at least three other fires in the Los Angeles area, a blaze in rural San Diego County expanded to four square miles in just a matter of hours.
Britain and EU Reach Breakthrough in Brexit Talks
Britain and the European Union have made a significant breakthrough in Brexit talks, after a flurry of telephone calls between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Irish and EU leaders bridged differences over Irish borders. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he would recommend to European Union leaders that "sufficient progress has been achieved" on the terms of the divorce to starting talking about issues like future relations and trade. EU leaders meet in Brussels next week.
In Franken's Fall, GOP Has Sudden Chance to Take Gain Senate Seat
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken's departure from the Senate solves one problem for Democrats, demonstrating their will to push out one of their own when sexual harassment allegations pile up. Now they must worry about keeping one more vulnerable seat when they already had their hands full in next year's election. Franken said he would resign, just a day after new allegations brought the number of women alleging he had groped or tried to kiss them to at least eight. In a sometimes emotional speech delivered on the Senate floor, Franken said some of the accusations were false, but acknowledged he couldn't continue. The former comedian is the latest to fall in the national wave of sexual harassment allegations, coming just two days after the resignation of Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who was the longest-serving member in the current House.
Gene Therapy Shows Promise Against Blood-Clotting Disease
Gene therapy has freed 10 men from nearly all symptoms of hemophilia for a year so far, in a study that fuels hopes that a one-time treatment can give long-lasting help and perhaps even cure the blood disease. Hemophilia almost always strikes males and is caused by lack of a gene that makes a protein needed for blood to clot. Small cuts or bruises can be life-threatening, and many people need treatments once or more a week to prevent serious bleeding. The therapy supplies the missing gene, using a virus that's been modified so it won't cause illness but ferries the DNA instructions to liver cells, which use them to make the clotting factor. The treatment is given through an IV. In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, all 10 men given the therapy now make clotting factor in the normal range. Bleeding episodes were reduced from about one a month before gene therapy to less than one a year. Nine of the 10 no longer need clotting factor treatments, and the 10th needs far fewer of them. There were no serious side effects.
Hormone Contraceptives Carry Risk of Breast Cancer, Study Finds
Modern birth control pills that are lower in estrogen have fewer side effects than past oral contraceptives. But a large Danish study suggests that, like older pills, they still modestly raise the risk of breast cancer, especially with long-term use. Researchers found a similar breast cancer risk with the progestin-only intrauterine device, and they couldn't rule out a risk for other hormonal contraceptives like the patch and the implant. But the overall increased risk was small, amounting to one extra case of breast cancer among 7,700 women using such contraceptives per year. Experts who reviewed the research say women should balance the news against known benefits of the pill — including lowering the risk of other cancers. Women in their 40s may want to consider non-hormonal IUDs, getting their tubes tied or talking with their partners about vasectomy, according to one doctor.
Bryan Singer Accused in Lawsuit of Sexually Assaulting Teen at Party
Director Bryan Singer has been accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy at a party more than a decade ago. The lawsuit filed in Seattle claims Singer demanded sex from Cesar Sanchez-Guzman during a 2003 yacht party. After the then-teenager refused, the lawsuit says, Singer pushed him on the bed and sexually assaulted him. A representative for Singer tells The New York Times that the director denies the allegations. Messages left by The Associated Press seeking comment from Singer's representatives early Friday were not immediately returned. He is the latest in a wave of sexual harassment and abuse allegations against powerful men in the entertainment industry, media and politics.
NJ Orders “Sopranos” Strip Club Owners to Surrender Liquor Licenses
Authorities say the family that owns a New Jersey strip club where fictional mobsters hung out in “The Sopranos” has been defying state law for years and must hand over its liquor licenses. The Satin Dolls in Lodi, which served as the fictional “Bada Bing” club in the popular HBO crime drama, has until Dec. 17 to stop providing entertainment and must sell or transfer its liquor license by Jan. 3, Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced. State authorities have ordered A.J.’s Gentleman’s Club in Secaucus to do the same. The two strip clubs, owned by various members of the Cardinalle family, have been the target of investigations and legal proceedings by the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control for more than six years. Porrino said if they don’t cease operations by the set date, their licenses will be suspended and they could face disciplinary charges.