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5 things to watch in Alabama's U.S. Senate election

Alabama voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide the race for U.S. Senate between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, and the outcome is being closely watched across the nation.

>> Who is Judge Roy Moore?

No Democrat has been elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama since 1992, and President Donald Trump won the state by nearly 30 percentage points. But allegations that Moore pursued sexual relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s have rocked the race. He’s denied the claims.

>> Read more trending news

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, has highlighted his opponent’s outspoken conservative views in his bid to energize the state’s Democratic base and flip suburban voters who typically vote for the GOP. Polls show a tight race, though special elections like the one Tuesday are notoriously hard to predict.

Moore is deeply popular with the state’s evangelical voters, a powerful voting bloc that has enthusiastically supported him in past statewide votes. In the closing weeks of the race, he’s had scattered appearances in rural churches while largely relying on supporters to defend him.

Here are five things to watch with Tuesday’s vote to succeed Jeff Sessions, whose seat became open when Trump tapped him to become U.S. attorney general:

>> Trump tweets support for Roy Moore in Alabama Senate race

1. It’s a big deal. Republicans now control 52 seats in the U.S. Senate, including the one held by Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill Sessions’ seat and was soundly defeated by Moore in September. A Democratic win would mean that Republicans could only afford one “no” vote to pass a Senate measure on party lines, since Vice President Mike Pence would break a 50-50 tie. Some Republicans fear a Moore victory could be equally unsettling for the party. Moore has repeatedly called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to step down, and he in turn has withheld his support and funding for the former judge’s campaign. And Democrats would look to tie Moore to a host of GOP candidates seeking office in the midterm elections in 2018, highlighting not only accusations that he’s a sexual predator but also his history of controversial statements.

>> WaPo: Another Roy Moore accuser comes forward with evidence of relationship

2. The bombshell allegations. Allegations against Moore of sexual misconduct involving teenagers while a prosecutor in Etowah County, Alabama, from 1977 to 1982 have threatened to upend the race. Moore has denied the allegations while claiming media outlets and Washington status quo enforcers are trying to derail his campaign. The women have stuck by their stories, and several said they are willing to testify under oath. They have left GOP voters who are concerned by the allegations in a quandary, debating between supporting a candidate accused of being a sexual predator or sending a Democrat to Washington. Some could also stay home on Tuesday or write in a candidate.

3. Alabama’s rural base. The state’s rural Republican base holds outsized sway in Alabama, where grass-roots Republicans have helped ensure that no Democrat has been elected to major statewide office since 2006. But Moore’s margins as a statewide candidate show he has underperformed other Republicans. In 2012, he narrowly won a vote for Supreme Court chief justice even as Mitt Romney carried the state by 22 percentage points. And in his 9-point victory over Strange in the primary, Moore struggled in the affluent, conservative suburbs in Birmingham and Huntsville. Moore has tried to shore up his base by crisscrossing rural areas he hopes to carry by overwhelming victories, and his advisers expect enthusiastic turnout to mark the difference in Tuesday’s vote.

4. The key to a Democratic victory. Jones must rely on a two-pronged strategy to flip the seat. He needs Alabama’s black population – a predominantly Democratic voting bloc that accounts for about 27 percent of the state – to turn out in droves. Jones, who is white, has leaned on African-American supporters, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, to energize black voters in populous areas like Birmingham in the closing days of the race. He has also wooed voters in Republican-leaning suburbs in the outskirts of Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile in hopes of convincing them to vote across party lines – or not cast a ballot at all. Some suburban voters who have never cast Democratic ballots say they’ve proudly posted Jones signs in their yards.

5. How the election will affect the 2018 elections in other states. For example, although Georgia and Alabama are vastly different states, Peach State strategists are closely watching their neighbor for clues about next year’s elections in Georgia. Like in Alabama, Democrats in Georgia hope to flip independent voters in affluent suburbs who have fled to the GOP. And Republicans in both states see a path to victory through maximizing their advantage in rural areas. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, was among the black leaders enlisted to help Jones’ campaign across the state line. And Stacey Evans, a Democratic candidate for governor, has already made clear she intends to weaponize Moore’s campaign. She called on her GOP rivals to disavow Moore’s candidacy. None did so.

North Carolina sheriff responds after 'tasteless' Narcan meme released

One police department is under fire after a meme circulated through what Sheriff Charles McDonald referenced as an interdepartmental email of crime analysis and a “tasteless attempt at humor,” according to WLOS.

>> Read more trending news

According to the report, the image of Narcan was passed around the Hendersonville, North Carolina Police Department followed by the text, “Robbing Darwin of the bountiful harvest since 1971.”

Narcan is used as an antidote to drug overdoses, which helps reverse the effects of opioids and heroin.

Here’s what McDonald said in a statement released to WLOS:

Regarding the offensive slide, there is no excuse for it regardless of the intention. I’m told it was an attempt at dark humor, but it was in no way humorous, and I know it does not reflect the true heart of the actual sender, or that of our staff and volunteers. I am aware that every person saved is someone’s child, parent, spouse, neighbor or employee caught in a desperate web of addiction from which I am certain they desire to be free.

According to the report, the email was sent on May 23, but the image wasn’t sent to the news station until early December.

Georgia trucker runs over disabled wife in argument over his ‘infidelity’

Walter Gabriel’s wife of 26 years said they locked eyes before he ran her over with his tractor-trailer.

>> Read more trending news

She testified to as much at his trial, which ended Thursday with an aggravated assault conviction.

Gabriel, 56, faces up to 170 years in prison. His sentencing hearing has not yet been set, according to the Cobb district attorney’s office.

The defense argued that what happened on Sept. 25, 2015, was an accident.

“But what do you do after you cause an accident? You say you’re sorry. You say you didn’t mean for this to happen. Mr. Gabriel has never apologized for hitting his wife with his vehicle. He never visited her in the hospital. His actions were malicious. He knew what he’d done,” prosecutor Jared Parrish told jurors.

About 2 a.m. in September 2015, Gabriel and his wife were arguing about his “infidelity” at an extended-stay motel on Powers Ferry Road.

Gabriel was a long-haul trucker, and sometimes his wife, who prosecutors said has multiple sclerosis, would accompany him on the road.

According to a warrant, Gabriel had a mistress and was mad that his wife had put “the mistress’ seductive photos on Facebook.”

He got into his truck to leave and his wife followed after him to get her medication from the cab, but he locked it, the warrant said. So she walked around to the front of the truck and “begged” for him to open the door.

>> Related: Grandmother left for dead after struck by hit and run driver

“She testified that they made eye contact before he put the truck in gear and accelerated toward her,” unable to get out of the way due to her disability, the DA’s office said.

After hitting her with the truck, he drove off.

The wife told investigators that she thought he was just trying to scare her, adding that he has done this before but this time she fell on her side.

Her femur, fibula, left foot and two ribs were broken, the warrant said, prompting two operations. She is now 54.

Gabriel was convicted of aggravated assault, four counts of aggravated battery, four counts of serious injury by vehicle and two of hit and run.

Grandmother left for dead in road after struck by hit and run driver

A 59-year-old DeKalb County, Georgia woman is in critical condition after she was hit while crossing the street to get to a bus stop, her daughter said.

>> Read more trending news

The driver of an SUV struck Deborah Gee as she was crossing Clairmont Road in Brookhaven in metro Atlanta, headed for the bus stop she walks to every day, daughter Michaelyn Jones told Channel 2 Action News.

The impact happened about 7 p.m. on Dec. 6, according to a Brookhaven police report. 

Gee is expected to survive, but her family said it would take years to recover from several broken bones and doctors may have to amputate her right leg.

“They just left her there. It's awful,” Jones told Channel 2. “I don’t understand how somebody could do that. They left her there to die.”

Daughter Chastity Shanahan said Gee is tough. 

Shanahan and Jones said bystanders rushed to help after the driver drove off.

“Thank God that there were two witnesses that stopped and saved her life or she would have died,” Jones said.

The driver kept driving west on Clairmont Road toward Buford Highway and likely has front-end damage to the SUV, according to evidence police found at the scene. 

Police said that driver faces felony hit-and-run charges despite the fact that Gee wasn’t in a crosswalk when she was hit.

>> Related: Georgia trucker runs over disabled wife in argument over his ‘infidelity’

“It's our understanding that Brookhaven police are going through some camera data that records tags at that intersection,” family attorney Joe Habachy told Channel 2.

Gee’s daughters are hoping she will be able to walk again someday. For now, they just want justice.

“We need to find the person that left my mom laying on the ground,” Jones said.

WATCH: Manatees caught on video huddling together to stay warm

Incredible video shows manatees gathered at Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, Florida Sunday morning.

>> Read more trending news

Air temperature at dawn was 30 degrees Fahrenheit compared to 73 degrees Fahrenheit in the spring.

Cold weather can weaken manatees' immune systems and eventually kill them. 

Adult manatees can weigh up to 1,200 pounds and grow to be 10 feet long. During the warmer months, manatees leave Florida and can be found as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts - although sightings along the Gulf Coast and near the Carolinas are also common.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Another star reporter, this time at the New Yorker, out after ‘improper sexual conduct’

The New Yorker has fired its Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza, over what the magazine called “improper sexual conduct.”

>> Read more trending news

New Yorker officials said in a statement that they recently learned of the “improper” conduct and made the decision to let Lizza go.

“We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza,” according to the magazine’s statement.

It’s unclear what the “improper sexual conduct” refers to, but Lizza issued a statement denying any improprieties.

“I am dismayed that The New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate. The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated,” Lizza said.

Lizza, who has worked at the magazine for the past decade, apologized to his family and colleagues for any embarrassment, but said The New Yorker was wrong.

“This decision, which was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts, was a terrible mistake,” Lizza said.

The New Yorker hasn’t revealed any details of the complaint against Lizza and apparently has no plans to do so.

“Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further,” according to the magazine’s statement.

>> Related: Charlie Rose fired from CBS amid sexual harassment allegations; PBS cuts ties with newsman

Lizza’s termination follows other recent high-profile firings over allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, including former “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer, former CBS “This Morning” anchor Charlie Rose and New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush.

Father’s heart-warming talk with emotional 6-year-old daughter goes viral

A video of an Ohio man consoling his daughter has gone viral with its positive message. Randy Gaines of Kettering didn't know his wife, Deceena Gaines, was recording him at the time, but neither of them knew the video was going to reach over 3.2 million views by Monday afternoon. 

>> Read more trending news

On Dec. 2, Gaines found his 6-year-old daughter upset in her room because he had teased her by calling her a name after a book he reads to her, "Moody Moose Buttons." Gaines said his family of six are very playful and like to tease each other. "We are very close," he said. 

Gaines said he began to talk with his daughter and got her to open up about what was bothering her. He discussed with her how to handle her emotions and to talk with him in the video. 

>> Related: Salvation Army of Hamilton has shortage of Red Kettle bell ringers

Gaines said he thinks the story is viral because, "It's an open, honest, genuine moment that was very personal and positive. I don't think you see a lot of that in the media or online. Most people aren't used to seeing this parenting style. People all over the country are reaching out. A lot of people have said they didn't receive this as a child and are going to do this for their kids." 

Gaines said he is honored, humbled, and flattered by all of the positive feedback.

Family, friends celebrate Kirk Douglas’s 101st year

Kirk Douglas had a lot of help to blow out his many birthday candles over the weekend.

Deadline Hollywood reported that the Hollywood legend rang in 101 years on Saturday at his Beverly Hills home and was showered with tributes from his famous family. 

>> Read more trending news

The senior Douglas’ 17-year-old grandson, Dylan Douglas, posted a photo on an Instagram of himself planting a peck on his grandfather’s face.

“Happy birthday 101 years and still sexy love you with all my heart Pappy,” Dylan captioned the photo.

Dylan’s mother, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, offered her own well wishes for her father-in-law. She shared a photo on Instagram of Douglas and herself with the caption, “101 today!!!! My darling Pappy on my knee. Happy Birthday to my wonderful, inspirational and loving father in law, Kirk. Love you with all my heart.”

Zeta-Jones’ posts came in lieu of her presence at Douglas’s lunchtime birthday bash, but she definitely didn’t miss out on singing her father-in-law a personalized rendition of “Happy Birthday” through FaceTime, according to The Daily Mail

In addition to his 73-year-old son, Michael Douglas, — who flew in and out of the celebration to rejoin his son Cameron at the birth of his granddaughter — Kirk was joined in celebration by his wife of 63 years, Anne, 98, nieces and nephews and Hollywood bigwigs. 

Douglas’ family presented him with a bright, sunflower-patterned cake with his age written in frosting, and his cardiologist allowed the “Spartacus” star to enjoy his yearly, physician-permitted shot of vodka, according to Deadline

Born on Dec. 9, 1916, Kirk Douglas has enjoyed a storied career spanning several decades. The veteran was known for playing the title character from “Ulysses” (1954), starring in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954) and his famed role as “Spartacus” (1960). 

Considering the 101-year-old actor was up and dancing just last year, he’s still got plenty of youth left inside.

Trump signs directive to send Americans back to the moon, eventually Mars

President Donald Trump signed a new space mandate at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon, announcing his administration’s intent to send American astronauts back to the moon and eventually to Mars. 

>> Read more trending news

Space Policy Directive 1 “will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” Trump said during remarks at the ceremony.”

“It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use. This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps, some day, to many worlds beyond,” he said.

Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of  the National Space Council, also spoke at the signing ceremony, calling the new directive “a momentous occasion in the history of American space exploration.”

Pence said the new directive will “ensure that America will lead in space once again.”

“Establishing a renewed American presence on the moon is vital to achieve our strategic objectives and the objectives outlined by our National Space Council.”

The move comes after recommendations by the National Space Council.

>> Related: NASA launching probe for deep dive into sun’s atmosphere

Trump signed an executive order in June re-establishing the National Space Council’s oversight of NASA. The council was first established in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush, then disbanded in 1993. Another version of the council, called the National Aeronautics and Space Council, existed between 1958 and 1973. 

From Weinstein to Lauer: A timeline of 2017’s sexual harassment scandals

In October, the New York Times published allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

>> Read more trending news

Since then, multiple high-profile men in media, politics and other industries have faced allegations ranging from inappropriate behavior to forced sexual misconduct to rape.

Related: Sexual harassment in the workplace: What is it, how to report it and more you should know

Some, but not all, have been ousted from their companies or resigned themselves amid the allegations.

Related: Why sex scandals are finally leading to consequences

A timeline of dozens of sexual misconduct scandals against high-profile men since Weinstein:

This list will be updated periodically. Included is the accusation, response and aftermath. This is not an exhaustive list of accusations. 

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