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Vox Sentences: 5 Million Dollar Baby

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

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Rep. Trent Franks resigns after surrogacy scandal; 14 UN peacekeepers are killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; election turmoil continues in Honduras.


The case of Trent Franks and the surrogacy scandal

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
  • Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) announced his immediate resignation from the House today, amid a bizarre tale involving the subject of surrogacy and accusations of sexual harassment. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • Roll Call first reported Thursday that the House Ethics Committee was investigating complaints by female staffers that Franks had asked them to act as surrogates so that he and his wife could have a baby. [Roll Call / Bridget Bowman and Lindsey McPherson]
  • Today, the Associated Press reported that a former Franks aide said the Congress member had repeatedly asked her to carry his child, at one point offered a whopping $5 million as an incentive. [Associated Press]
  • And female aides said they were uncomfortable that the surrogacy method might involve having intercourse with Franks, though it was unclear whether he actually suggested in vitro fertilization or sexual intercourse. [Politico / Rachael Bade and Jake Sherman]
  • In a statement today, Franks said he was resigning effective immediately (he had previously been planning to step down next month). He also said that his wife had been hospitalized. [NPR / Jessica Taylor]
  • Amid a wave of sexual harassment allegations hitting Congress, Franks is the actually the first House Republican to resign. Two Democratic Congress members, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, stepped down this week. [CNBC / Jake Novak]
  • Yet to resign is Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, who paid out thousands in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim made by a former staffer. [Politico / Rachael Bade]

A deadly day in the DRC for UN peacekeepers

Eduardo Soteras/AFP/Getty Images
  • The United Nations says that 14 of its peacekeepers working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been killed in an attack believed to be carried out by Islamic militants. [NYT / Rick Gladstone and Alan Cowell]
  • The attack is the deadliest on UN peacekeepers in recent years, the organization said. [United Nations News Center]
  • More than 50 other people were injured in the attack, which was an ambush on a UN base that lasted over three hours. All of the dead are Tanzanian nationals, authorities said. [CNN / Joe Sterling, Robyn Kriel and Eric Levenson]
  • The Trump administration recently cut US aid to the program, which is one of the largest UN peacekeeping programs in the world (and comes with a hefty price tag). [Associated Press]
  • The DRC is also historically a deadly place for UN officials — almost 300 peacekeepers have been killed since the organization started working there in the late 1990s. [NPR / Maggie Penman]
  • Officials believe this attack was carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces, a local extremist group known for violence. The ADF has been blamed for other deadly attacks in the region earlier this year. [Guardian / Jason Burke]

Honduras is without a constitution — or election results

Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images
  • It’s been nearly two weeks since Hondurans went to the polls to elect a new government, and the country is still without official results. [NBC News / Maria Martin]
  • President Juan Orlando Hernández currently has a narrow edge in the polls, but his challenger, Salvador Nasralla, is claiming there was election fraud and calling the results into question. [Associated Press / Christopher Sherman, Garance Burke, and Martha Mendoza]
  • After international pressure, the country’s election tribunal will recount more than 4,000 votes that have been called into question by the opposition. [Reuters / Gustavo Palencia]
  • Violence has gripped the country for the past few weeks. Though the government suspended constitutional rights and imposed a curfew, those curfews were recently lifted in some parts of the country. [NPR / Jose Olivares]
  • The Organization of American States is calling on the country’s main electoral court to review the election results and study whether there were irregularities before declaring a final vote. They have until the day after Christmas to do so. [BBC]
  • Even with the suspension of the constitution, the Trump administration has approved American aid to Honduras, and state department officials recently praised Hernandez’s government for “fighting corruption and supporting human rights.” [Newsweek / Robert Valencia]

Miscellaneous

  • This winter, why ski down slopes when you can just climb up them in your skis instead? [NYT / Elaine Glusac]
  • Black mothers in the US die at rates three to four times higher than white mothers, according to the CDC. Researchers think that may be due to stress and the mental toll racism has on the body. [NPR / Nina Martin and Renee Montagne]
  • By decriminalizing all drugs more than a decade ago, Portugal managed to dramatically lower rates of disease, drug deaths, and incarceration. Even with these outcomes, the model is still controversial, and few other countries have adopted it. [Guardian / Susan Ferreira]
  • Years after debuting its ubiquitous fuzzy boot, Ugg is here with a sleeker, heeled (but still fuzzy) version. But that raises the question: Why mess with something that — while ugly — is still ridiculously popular? [Racked / Elana Fishman]

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