A year ago Democrats were blindsided by Donald Trump's upset victory
, and they've been squabbling about finding a way forward ever since. Now, after a night of big election victories, they may have found a path
. Democrats won key gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey
, giving the beleaguered party its first major taste of victory in the Trump era. It also raises their hopes of wrestling control of the House and Senate away from Republicans.
In Virginia, Ralph Northam won the governor's race, beating out GOP insider Ed Gillespie in a vote that was not as close as expected. Gillespie embraced Trump's agenda, but that was a losing strategy in a purple state that is steadily turning blue. The President promptly distanced himself from the loss with a tweet
. In New Jersey, Phil Murphy will be the Garden State's next governor. He beat Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who was sandbagged by Gov. Chris Christie's unpopularity.
It was a night of firsts
, too, with several minority and LGBT candidates across the country riding the blue wave to victory. Two openly transgender candidates won, including Danica Roem. She beat a GOP incumbent who'd been openly hostile to LGBT issues. She'll be the first openly transgender candidate to be elected and serve in a state legislative body. Voters also elected the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey's history, the first lesbian mayor in Seattle and the first black woman mayor in Charlotte.
2. Texas church shooting
Devin Kelley escaped from a mental health facility
in 2012 after sneaking guns onto an Air Force base and threatening commanders, according to a police report. This new information comes as investigators continue to piece together what led Kelley to kill more than 20 people Sunday in a mass shooting at a rural Texas church. He was reportedly consumed with a dispute with his mother-in-law and posted atheist and pro-gun statements on social media. The pastor of the First Baptist Church said Kelley had previously attended services there, but he was not welcome because he "was not a good person to be around."
3. Trump in Asia
President Donald Trump delivered a blunt message to North Korea: Do not try us
. Trump gave the tough talk Wednesday while addressing South Korea's National Assembly
in Seoul -- and standing a mere 35 miles from the North Korean border. The President warned Kim Jong Un's regime that its nuclear ambitions could lead to the isolated nation's doom
. "Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face," Trump said, vowing to counter provocations from the North with military force, if needed.
Today Trump is making the big stop on his Asian tour -- China. The President and first lady, accompanied by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, toured the Forbidden City and watched an outdoor opera performance there. Trump will also be the first foreign leader to dine there
since the founding of modern China. After a few days there, the President moves on to Vietnam and the Philippines.
4. Saudi Arabia
Riyadh's lavish Ritz-Carlton Hotel is reportedly a posh prison
for some of the Saudi royals swept up in a corruption investigation. At least 17 Saudi princes and top government officials have been detained in the sweep, and some of them are said to be held at the five-star hotel, which usually hosts the world's top executives, not detainees. Bookings at the hotel are unavailable for the rest of this month, people buzzed on social media about hotel guests being forced out over the weekend, and the gates to the hotel are currently closed.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud ordered the anti-corruption sweep
, but some observers say it's really just a bid to consolidate power.
5. Climate change
Syria will join the Paris climate agreement, so that leaves only one country
that's not signed on to it -- the United States. In June, Trump said he was pulling the United States out of the landmark climate pact, hoping to renegotiate and get a better deal. Trump's decision sparked massive outcry around the world. The United States trails only China as the world's worst emitter of carbon dioxide, according to the European Commission's emissions database.
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Flip or flop?
Switch out Kevin Spacey for Kevin James
on "House of Cards"? That's what some of the show's fans are calling for. And hey, Hollywood's done this before.
Disney banned the Los Angeles Times
because it was ticked off about a story. Then seemingly all of journalism boycotted the House of Mouse. That ended that, and Disney backed off.
At least you can still be a back-seat driver
Steering wheels? Brake pedals? That's so 20th century. A French tech company unveiled a self-driving car
that ditches those items and the driver's seat.
Sia always hides her face, but the "Chandelier" singer wasn't about to let somebody sell nude pictures of her online, so she beat 'em to the punch
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
CNN town hall
CNN will host a town hall on sexual harassment
at 9 p.m. ET Thursday. What questions would you like us to address? Please contact us using #MeTooTownHall or Text, iMessage or WhatsApp 347-322-0415.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
The number of jobs that reportedly could be wiped out in Baltimore if Netflix ends production on "House of Cards" for good
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"There are no words to describe the sadness. ..."
The Philadelphia Phillies
, reacting to the death of former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay
. The two-time Cy Young Award winner was killed in a plane crash off Florida's Gulf Coast. Halladay, 40, played 16 seasons in the big leagues, with the Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays.
AND FINALLY ...
Watched the second season of "Stranger Things"? Want to make the triple-decker Eggo extravaganza? Chef Andrew Rea shows you how. (Click to view