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WEDNESDAY BRIEFING: ALABAMA DRAMA DING-DONGIs it the turning of the Trump tide, or simply a victory for decency? Roy Moore, the tainted Republican candidate thumpingly endorsed
by the president, has lost his run for the Senate in Alabama. Jubilation among Democrats at the victory overnight of their candidate, Doug Jones, has been accompanied by sighs of relief among senior Republicans who feared the spectacle of a man accused of pursuing underaged girls being elected to represent their party in Congress.
Results showed Jones had won the seat with 49.9% of votes against Moore’s 48.4%. In his victory speech, Jones declared the campaign had been about “dignity, respect and the rule of law”.
Moore declined to concede as he appeared before supporters in Montgomery, the state capital. His campaign chairman raised the prospect of a recount. Moore complained he had been “painted in an unfavourable and unfaithful light” during the race. Donald Trump, though, congratulated Jones on a “hard fought victory” in a tweet that was uncharacteristically tame. “The Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time,” said the president. “It never ends!”
Guardian US columnist Richard Wolffe says Moore’s defeat reveals the limitation of Trump-style politics: “No accusation of fake news that can cover the tracks of the disastrous results for the president. This wasn’t a marginal contest in some familiar swing state. We’re talking about Alabama, one of the most Republican states in the union … If Trumpism has any future, any constituency moving forward, it should be thriving here.”

‘Davis-proofing’ the divorce – EU lawmakers are moving to personally censure David Davis after he talked down last week’s breakthrough agreement as not legally binding. In an unusual move, the European parliament’s main parties have announced an amendment to their Brexit resolution, on which MEPs will vote today, condemning the Brexit secretary personally for damaging trust. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has warned that the UK’s divorce deal with the EU depends on the British government sticking to the deal made last week on Ireland, citizens’ rights and the financial settlement – “we will not accept any backtracking”.
Meanwhile, rebel Conservative MPs are backing Dominic Grieve, who will press ahead today with plans to force the government to guarantee MPs a vote on any final Brexit deal. And it is feared that hundreds of thousands of EU citizens could miss out on their right to “settled status” in Britain post-Brexit. The Migration Observatory at Oxford says difficulties in providing a history of living in the UK and meeting other requirements could complicate numerous cases.

Sexual harassment in Bollywood – Women in India’s film industry have shared their stories of sexual assault and harassment with the Guardian. “The casting couch is one of Indian cinema’s most open secrets,” says Anna MM Vetticad, journalist and author. This year, in Kerala state, a male actor known as Dileep was arrested for allegedly orchestrating the kidnapping and sexual assault of a prominent female actor. The case led to formation of a women’s film collective aimed at quashing mistreatment. “It is an industry where actors have to wear any kind of dress or do intimate scenes,” says the female actor Padmapriya, winner of a National Film award. “And people assume, if you’re up for doing that, then what’s the big deal?”
Night out ends in tragedy – A Norfolk man has been found dead after walking off into a sub-zero night wearing only a T-shirt and jeans. Ian Tang was last seen by friends at 2.30am on Sunday morning leaving the KA club in the town of North Walsham. A motorist later spotted him walking along a road between 5.45am and 6am. Tang’s body was found yesterday, close to the village of Swafield, near North Walsham, after an extensive search. The death is not being treated as suspicious but police say they are trying to piece together the exact circumstances.
More muscles the better – Women mostly prefer a strong-looking man even if they say they don’t, according to researchers. A panel of 160 women were shown photographs of male bodies, with the head blanked out, and asked to rate them for attractiveness. “Our data couldn’t find even a single woman that preferred weaker or feminine male bodies,” said Aaron Sell, a senior lecturer at Griffith University in Australia. The men were also given a strength test, and it was by far the strongest predictor of attractiveness, explaining a 70% of the difference in scores. Being tall added a few points; being overweight deducted a few. “Our results suggest that even if you’re a bit overweight, looking strong can buffer that. Basically, being a strong, fat guy is OK, which I think would bring comfort to many.”
‘She came out crying’ – In a UK medical first, a baby girl has survived after being born with her heart outside her body. Three weeks after her early delivery by caesarean, Vanellope Hope Wilkins has undergone three delicate operations at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, to correct the condition, known as ectopia cordis, and move her heart back inside her chest.
Her parents, Naomi Findlay, 31, and Dean Wilkins, 43, have told of their relief after being told during the pregnancy that Vanellope’s hopes were slim. “Twenty minutes went by [after the delivery] and she was still shouting her head off – it made us so joyful and teary,” said Wilkins. Branko Mimic, lead surgeon at the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre, says Vanellope still has a long road ahead.

Lunchtime read: What the Force did after awakening

The verdict is out on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. “An explosive thrill-ride of galactic proportions,” writes Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw, as Rey and Kylo Ren cut, parry and slash onwards to destiny, while a grizzled Luke Skywalker re-emerges from the shadows.
“The Last Jedi gives you an explosive sugar rush of spectacle. It’s a film that buzzes with belief in itself and its own mythic universe – a euphoric certainty that I think no other movie franchise has. And there is no provisional hesitation or energy dip of the sort that might have been expected between episodes seven and nine.”


José Mourinho has questioned whether Manchester City’s players have the same “education” as their Manchester United counterparts and insisted the Premier League leaders were to blame for the brawl at Old Trafford that has left the clubs facing the possibility of disciplinary action. Some hope has been restored for Crystal Palace, meanwhile, after they plucked an improbable win from the jaws of defeat against Watford.
Tyson Fury has set his sights on a title fight with Anthony Joshua after being cleared to box again following a deal with UK Anti-Doping. And in Ashes news, Joe Root has urged his players to forget about England’s wretched past at the Waca and jolt their flatlining defence back into life in the third Test after Trevor Bayliss issued the squad with final warnings over their off-field behaviour.


US stock futures, Treasury yields and the dollar have all fallen overnight in Asian trading, while Asian shares edged up as crude oil futures took back lost ground. South Korea says it may tax capital gains from trading in Bitcoin and its ilk, while Australia’s central bank chief has warned of a “speculative mania” around cryptocurrencies.
Sterling has been trading at $1.333 and €1.133 overnight.

The papers

The premiere of – and verdicts on – Star Wars: The Last Jedi make most fronts, but that aside it’s a mixed bag of leading stories.
The Guardian splashes on an exclusive about corporate spies infiltrating activist groups. The extraordinary story of the baby who survived after being born with her heart outside her body makes the front of the Sun and the Mirror. There’s a dash of Brexit, with the Express reporting a poll boost for Theresa May following last week’s deal. The Times claims European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has been “dragged into” a wiretapping investigation in Luxembourg, where he was formerly prime minister.
Abuse on social media aimed at Tory MPs during the election campaign is the Daily Mail lead (a broader take on that story is here), while the i follows up the prime minister’s column in yesterday’s Guardian on the importance of tackling climate change. Meanwhile, the Telegraph warns that a gas shortage could push up fuel bills. The Financial Times thinks Fox and Disney are close to a deal. Metro leads on a court hearing for a Tory aide charged with raping a woman in the Houses of Parliament.


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