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4:25 PM ET, December 16, 2017


 Top Items: 
New York Times:
Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program  —  WASHINGTON — In the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was almost impossible to find.  —  Which was how the Pentagon wanted it.
Discussion: Vox, Business Insider and Mashable
Bryan Bender / Politico:
The Pentagon's Secret Search for UFOs  —  The Pentagon, at the direction of Congress, a decade ago quietly set up a multi-million dollar program to investigate what are popularly known as unidentified flying objects—UFOs.  —  The “unidentified aerial phenomena” claimed to have been seen …
Discussion: Axios, The Daily Caller and Mediaite
Josh Delk / The Hill:
Democrat: Rumor is Trump could fire Mueller before Christmas  —  (D-Calif.) said Friday that “rumors” on Capitol Hill suggest President Trump  —  could fire special counsel Robert Mueller before Christmas, after Congress leaves Washington for the winter recess.
Discussion: RedState and IJR
KQED News:
Rep. Speier: ‘Rumor on the Hill’ is Trump to Fire Mueller Before Christmas  —  Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) told KQED Newsroom on Friday that she believes Republicans are trying to shut down the House Intelligence Committee's probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Rep. Adam Schiff “worried” about GOP working against House Intel
Discussion: Political Wire
Washington Post:
CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity … The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation's top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year's budget.
Washington Post:
After Alabama loss, Trump has ambitious plans to campaign in 2018 midterms  —  President Trump is not on the ballot in 2018, but the White House is planning a full-throttle campaign to plunge the president into the midterm elections, according to senior officials and advisers familiar with the planning.
Discussion: RedState and Mediaite
Caroline Orr / Shareblue Media:
So much losing: Trump is least popular first year president ever, down 49 points from Obama  —  President Obama's net approval rating was 49 points higher than Trump's at the same point during his presidency.  Sad!  —  Donald Trump's plunging approval rating has officially made him the most unpopular …
Associated Press:
AP-NORC Poll: 52 percent say country worse off under Trump
Discussion: Shareblue Media
Dan Balz / Washington Post:
On the eve of the tax vote, Republicans place a big bet for 2018
Discussion: Politico
New York Times:
‘Trump, Trump, Trump!’  How a President's Name Became a Racial Jeer  —  For more coverage of race, sign up here to have our Race/Related newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox.  —  The high school basketball squad from Eagle Grove, population 3,700, had traveled 60 miles up Highway 69 …
Discussion: Politicus USA
Mike Allen / Axios:
Scoop: Mueller obtains “tens of thousands” of Trump transition emails  —  Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained “many tens of thousands” of Trump transition emails, including sensitive emails of Jared Kushner, transition team sources tell Axios.  — Trump officials discovered Mueller …
Discussion: The Right Scoop
New York Times:
2 Navy Airmen and an Object That 'Accelerated Like Nothing I've Ever Seen'  —  The following recounts an incident in 2004 that advocates of research into U.F.O.s have said is the kind of event worthy of more investigation, and that was studied by a Pentagon program that investigated U.F.O.s.
Discussion: Raw Story
New York Times:
World's Most Expensive Home?  Another Bauble for a Saudi Prince  —  A $300 million chateau is one of a string of extravagant purchases for a prince who is cracking down on ill-gotten wealth and preaching fiscal austerity.  —  LOUVECIENNES, France — When the Chateau Louis XIV sold …
New York Times:
Omarosa, Leaving the White House, Suggests the Show Will Go On  —  WASHINGTON — Every must-watch television show needs two ingredients to survive its first season: a believable villain and a nail-biter of a cliffhanger.  Omarosa Manigault Newman, a veteran of “The Apprentice,” …
Tara Palmeri / ABC News:
Omarosa Manigault Newman's White House role fraught with tension, sources say
Discussion: Business Insider and Raw Story
Devlin Barrett / Washington Post:
FBI officials' text message about Hillary Clinton said to be a cover story for romantic affair  —  Two senior FBI officials who texted each other about President Trump and Hillary Clinton relied on work phones to try to hide their romance from a spouse and made the bureau's probe …
John Hudson / BuzzFeed:
Trump's Ambassadors Are Going Rogue On Twitter  —  Callista Gingrich, Nikki Haley and Scott Brown are all running afoul of federal guidelines on social media while the State Department whistles in the wind.  —  Reporting From Washington, D.C.  —  US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has her staff support her personal Twitter account.
Discussion: Raw Story
David Sirota / International Business Times:
Donald Trump And GOP Leaders Could Be Enriched By Last Minute Tax Break Inserted Into Final Bill  —  Republican congressional leaders and real estate moguls could be personally enriched by a real-estate-related provision GOP lawmakers slipped into the final tax bill released Friday evening …
Perry Stein / Washington Post:
The owner of Steve Bannon's D.C. rowhouse wants a 3-foot security fence.  D.C. government is not having it.  —  (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)  —  While the Breitbart News operation pushes an anti-establishment message across the country, it is also steeped in a municipal battle in the nation's capital.
Discussion: The Hill
Kathy Lally / Washington Post:
The two expat bros who terrorized women correspondents in Moscow  —  Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames trafficked in hideous stereotypes and body-shaming.  —  There's more than one way to harass women.  A raft of men in recent weeks have paid for accusations of sexual harassment with their companies, their jobs, their plum political posts.
Caroline Orr / Shareblue Media:
“It just seems wrong.”  GOP rep admits tax scam he voted for rips off working people  —  There's not much to like about the GOP tax scheme.  The bill, drafted hurriedly and under the cover of darkness, is wildly unpopular among the American people and economists alike …
Discussion: The Daily Beast and CNBC
Associated Press:
Trump calls wife of hospitalized Sen. John McCain  —  WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has called the wife of John McCain as the Arizona senator is hospitalized for cancer treatments.  —  The White House said Trump called Cindy McCain on Friday to send his best wishes and check on her and her husband.
Discussion: Axios and The Daily Caller
Paul Kane / Washington Post:
How the oldest Senate ever is taking a toll on the business of Washington  —  McCain, 81, has been diagnosed with brain cancer and is recuperating at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
Josh Delk / The Hill:
Roy Moore fundraising for ‘election integrity fund’ ahead of election certification  —  's campaign announced Friday that it is seeking donations for an “election integrity fund” following the former judge's unsuccessful bid for an Alabama Senate seat.  —  Moore has refused to concede the race …
Maureen Dowd / New York Times:
The Grande Dame of Documentary is Leaving Her Home at HBO  —  After almost 40 years, she has reels of memorable film, a pile of awards and plenty of perspective on the current battle of the sexes.  —  When Sheila Nevins first started working in television in the 1970s, she thought …
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 More Items: 
Andrew C. McCarthy / National Review:
Was the Steele Dossier Used to Obtain a FISA Warrant Against Trump's Campaign?
Nolan D. McCaskill / Politico:
Rep. Scott denies sexual misconduct allegation
Discussion: Axios
Financial Times:
Trump to accuse China of ‘economic aggression’
Daily Mail:
Jared Kushner's parents are spotted at his D.C. home
Los Angeles Times:
With winds picking up, Thomas fire threatening hundreds of homes in Montecito
Discussion: The Week
Melissa Richmond / Washington Post:
Trent Franks rescinded my internship when I wouldn't come to his house
Discussion: Political Wire
Sheryl Gay Stolberg / New York Times:
As a Must-Pass Republican Tax Bill Headed for the Finish Line, Rubio Saw an Opening
Discussion: Politico
David J. Lynch / Washington Post:
Trump promised ‘America First’ would keep jobs here. But the tax plan might push them overseas.
 Earlier Items: 
Max Greenwood / The Hill:
Brookings fellow rips Trump: I entered through lottery system
Discussion: Althouse and Hullabaloo
Jason Horowitz / New York Times:
In Italy, #MeToo Is More Like ‘Meh’
Heather Caygle / Politico:
Why Democrats failed to tank tax reform
Cara Buckley / New York Times:
Anita Hill to Lead Hollywood Commission on Sexual Harassment
John Nichols / The Nation:
If Trump Fires Mueller, We Must Impeach
Discussion: Common Dreams
A. N. Devers / Longreads:
This is How a Woman is Erased From Her Job