The VICE Morning Bulletin

Senate passes huge tax bill, investigators wonder if Amtrak driver was distracted, Democrats split Virginia House after winning race by one vote, and more.

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Dec 20 2017, 4:21pm

Everything you need to know about the world this morning, curated by VICE.

US News

Senate Republicans Pass Tax Bill
The Senate voted 51-48 to pass the Republican party’s overhaul of the US tax code early Wednesday. Though the House of Representatives passed a version of the bill Tuesday, the discovery of three snags in the legislation will force the House to vote again on the Senate's version Wednesday before President Trump can sign it into law. Senator Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, suggested the GOP's tax plan amounted to delivering “one gut punch after another to hard-working people.”—The Washington Post / VICE News

Democrat Wins Virginia Race by One Vote
Democrat Shelly Simonds won the 94th District in Virginia’s House of Delegates after a recount showed she beat Republican David Yancey by just one vote. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Simonds won 11,608 votes to 11,607. The House is now split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. The Virginia Democrats’ chair said the result “should strike fear into the heart of every Republican on the ballot next year.”—NBC News

Trump's UN Ambassador ‘Taking Names’ over Israeli Capital Fight
In a letter to her fellow diplomats, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said President Trump had asked her to “report back on those countries who voted against us” on his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy to the city. Haley also sent a tweet warning that the US “will be taking names.”—CBS News

Investigators Wonder if Amtrak Driver Was Distracted
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) official investigating the cause of the Amtrak train derailment in Washington state said establishing whether the driver was preoccupied in any way was a top priority. Bella Dinh-Zarr noted a new conductor was with the driver when the crash occurred. Investigators are also keen to know why no crew member used the emergency brake.—The New York Times

International News

At Least 9,000 People Killed in Mosul, NGOs Say
The number of civilians killed during the military operation to liberate the Iraqi city from ISIS is way higher than previously suggested, according to a new estimate. Databases compiled by independent outfits, mainly based on names registered at morgues, indicated that between 9,000 and 11,000 residents died from October 2016 to June 2017.—AP

Saudi Arabia Closes Land Border with Qatar
Saudi authorities ordered the permanent closure of a narrow physical border the country shares with Qatar. The Saudis and some other Arab nations have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. Separately, the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen decided to keep a major Yemeni port open around the same time its air strikes killed at least nine.—Al Jazeera / Reuters

A Dozen Tourists Killed in Bus Crash in Mexico
Twelve people were killed and 18 injured when a bus taking cruise ship passengers on a trip to a Mayan site at Chaccobén lost control and flipped. It was carrying tourists from the US, Brazil, Italy, and Sweden. “We are doing all we can to care for our guests,” the Royal Caribbean cruise company said.—BBC News

Philippine President Orders Ten-Day Ceasefire
President Rodrigo Duterte said police and military operations against Maoist militants would be suspended over Christmas so people in the Philippines can enjoy a “stress-free” holiday. Duterte’s spokesman said the president anticipated the communist fighters, operating in rural areas, would offer up "a similar gesture of goodwill.”—Reuters

Everything Else

Gorillaz Plan New Album for 2018
Jamie Hewlett revealed the group will begin work on their next album “with no break” after touring on the recent-released LP Humanz. He said the group had "ideas for a few more albums so we’re going to go straight into that.”—Billboard

Ta-Nehisi Coates Leaves Twitter
The celebrated writer deleted his account after academic Cornel West attacked him for a “neoliberal” worldview in an op-ed. Although Coates defended his work, his final tweets stated: “I didn’t get in it for this” and “peace, y’all. I’m out.”—AP

Chance the Rapper and Jeremih Drop Holiday Mixtape
The artists released a joint mixtape entitled Merry Christmas Lil Mama: ReWrapped. The project is a follow-up to last year’s Christmas album from the duo, with nine brand new tracks.—Noisey

Facebook and Microsoft Take On North Korean Hackers
The companies revealed they’ve been working together to “disrupt the activities” of the Lazarus Group, widely believed to be working for the North Korean government. Facebook deleted accounts it believed may have been connected to the group while Microsoft disrupted malware used by the hackers.—Motherboard

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