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The 10-Point: My Guide to the Day's Top News

The Wall Street Journal
Good morning,
Down to the Wire
Welcome to another busy and potentially pivotal week in U.S. politics. In Alabama, the heated race for a U.S. Senate seat entered its final 24 hours with Democrat Doug Jones trying to mobilize voters to pull off an improbable victory for the party in the Deep South. Mr. Jones’s allies say he faces a challenge in taking advantage of the GOP’s uncertainty about Roy Moore, who was hit by allegations by several women that he sought dates with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Mr. Moore has denied the accusations. The Jones campaign has been scrambling to galvanize voters in part because it was unprepared at the onset for a truly competitive race, according to Democratic strategists. Meanwhile, in Washington, GOP lawmakers are rushing to write the final tax bill. Some high-income business owners could face marginal tax rates exceeding 100% under the Senate’s plan. That means a business owner’s next $100 in earnings, under certain circumstances, would require paying more than $100 in additional federal and state taxes. Lawmakers already are looking at changes to prevent this from happening. Senate Republicans also included a measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in their tax overhaul. Democrats have said the move would have disastrous consequences, but some experts say the effects might not be as devastating to the ACA as was thought a few years ago.

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Healthy Alliance
Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health, both nonprofits, are in talks about a possible merger that would create the largest U.S. owner of hospitals, according to people familiar with the discussions. A deal would create an entity of unprecedented reach, with 191 hospitals in 27 states and annual revenue of $44.8 billion, based on the most recent fiscal year. The two major hospital operators have been talking for months, and a merger is far from assured, according to the people. Nearly 60% of U.S. hospitals are private nonprofits, a status that exempts them from some taxes but requires in exchange that they provide community benefits such as free care for low-income patients. The sector’s latest wave of consolidation could mean more tightly managed networks of medical care, which proponents say could reduce unnecessary spending but critics fear could raise prices and limit patient choice.
Winning the Battle
The war in Afghanistan is at a stalemate, according to Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan. But in Achin, on the Pakistan border, the U.S. and its Afghan allies have driven militants from farms and villages in a monthslong offense largely overshadowed by high-profile battles to retake militant-held cities in Syria and Iraq. The campaign in eastern Afghanistan plays to U.S. strengths. Islamic State fighters, now holed up in unforgiving mountains and isolated from civilians, are vulnerable to American airstrikes. The U.S. is conducting a bombing campaign to trap them in the mountains over winter, a top U.S. commander said. The Wall Street Journal in October was granted exclusive access to allied forces on the Islamic State front. Read the full story to understand what the fight is like for U.S. Special Forces troops operating from two outposts that look out onto Islamic State turf, about 7 miles from snow-covered peaks in Pakistan.
Women’s Work
In this week’s Keywords column, our tech commentator Christopher Mims argues that sexism in the tech industry is as old as the tech industry itself. At its genesis, computer programming faced a double stigma—it was thought of as menial labor, like factory work, and it was feminized, a kind of “women’s work” that wasn’t considered intellectual. In the U.K., women in the government’s low-paid “Machine Operator Class” performed knowledge work including programming systems for everything from tax collection and social services to code-breaking and scientific research. Later, they would be pushed out of the field, as government leaders in the postwar era held a then-common belief that women shouldn’t be allowed into higher-paid professions with long-term prospects because they would leave as soon as they were married. Today, in the U.S., about a quarter of computing and mathematics jobs are held by women, and that proportion has been declining over the past 20 years. A string of recent events suggest the steps currently being taken by tech firms to address these issues are inadequate.
TODAY'S VIDEO
Bitcoin 101
That Was Painless
The virtual currency continues surging to new highs as a frenzy of investors get in on the action. The WSJ’s Paul Vigna explains what you need to know, and how to invest should you want to join the bitcoin mania.
TOP STORIES
U.S.

California Wildfires Strengthened by Strong Winds

Americans Give Trump Higher Grades on Economy Than Overall
WORLD

Mideast Tensions Simmer in Wake of U.S. Shift in Israel Policy

Three Arrested in Firebomb Attack on Swedish Synagogue
BUSINESS

Meet Your New Boss: An Algorithm

Disney Deal for Fox Would End Era of the ‘Big Six’ Studios
MARKETS

JPMorgan Chase’s Sapphire Reserve Card Gets a New Chief

Electric-Vehicle Bulls Shake Up Metals Markets
NUMBER OF THE DAY
88,000
The number of people who have been chased from their homes by the Thomas Fire, one of the 20 largest on record in California. Fire crews are tracking the inferno and trying to predict where it might strike next.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Just because I’m a felon, does that make me not a citizen?
Clarence Office Jr., a former convict who requested a restoration of his voting rights in Florida, but hasn’t heard back yet. Organizers are pushing to lift voting barriers on people with felony records through a ballot measure in that state.
TODAY'S QUESTION
Returning to our story above, what are your thoughts on continuing GOP tax-bill negotiations? Send your comments, which we may edit before publication, to 10point@wsj.com. Please include your name and location.
—Compiled by Charity L. Scott
READER RESPONSE
Responding to Friday’s question about Sen. Al Franken, Ray Woodcock of North Carolina noted: “Planning to resign isn’t the same as resigning. Is he waiting for the outcome of the Roy Moore election to make a final decision?” Michael Flood of Virginia weighed in: “I suspect Mr. Franken’s resignation is the tip of the iceberg in an organization that has become arrogant, self-absorbed and insular from the people they are supposed to serve.” Catherine Learoyd of Texas wrote: “In our haste to accuse and judge, we have lost the principle of fairness. Would rather Sen. Franken had gone through the Ethics Committee process so we could put some of our outrage where it belongs: on the coverups, mistreatment of women who speak up and use of taxpayer money to keep them silent. Members of Congress can’t be exempt from its own laws!”

This daily briefing is named “The 10-Point” after the nickname conferred by the editors of The Wall Street Journal on the lead column of the legendary “What’s News” digest of top stories. Technically, “10-point” referred to the size of the typeface. The type is smaller now but the name lives on.

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