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In Washington and around the country, Democrats and Republicans are trying to make sense of Doug Jones' stunning upset in the Alabama Senate race.

Jones' victory in a state that hadn't sent a Democrat to Washington in almost 30 years was even more shocking than when Republican Scott Brown won the late Ted Kennedy's seat in a Massachusetts special election in 2010.

Here are 5 takeaways from Tuesday's political earthquake:

1. The blue wave looks real

It has been called antiquated and even insulting.

But back in 1900, "Negro" was considered modern — a term that could replace a flawed set of categories used to classify people of African descent for the U.S. census.

The nomination of Brett Talley, the Justice Department official in line for a lifetime judicial appointment, "will not be moving forward," a Trump administration official told NPR on Wednesday.

Talley had been rated "unanimously unqualified" for the post by the American Bar Association this year after an evaluation that questioned his experience. Talley had never argued a case, or even a motion, in federal court, he testified.

The chief executives of 59 private colleges and seven public universities took home more than $1 million in total compensation in 2015, according to an analysis released this week by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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When a pregnant woman finds out that she's likely to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome, she's often given the option to terminate the pregnancy. But families affected by the genetic disorder, which causes developmental delays, are conflicted over whether such abortions should be legal.

In deep-red Texas, Republicans will have to fight for every seat in Congress during next year's midterm elections. For the first time in 25 years, Democrats are running in all of Texas' 36 congressional districts, according to documents filed with the Texas Secretary of State's office.

Those filings set a record for the number of Democratic challengers in an era of Republican dominance, says Mark Jones, political science fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute. It is a departure from 2016, he says, when eight Republican-held congressional seats went uncontested by Democrats.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. would negotiate with North Korea without demanding that the country first agree to nuclear disarmament. This marks a significant change in a approach for Tillerson, who has spent much of this year working on the pressure campaign to cut off financial resources for the North Korean nuclear program.

How much would you pay to avoid traffic jams on your daily commute? $10? $20? How about $40?

That's how much a tollway in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., charged for a short time last week. Outraged commuters call it highway robbery.

But transportation officials say the high-priced toll is less about money and more about changing commuter behavior and reducing congestion, and commuters all across the country might soon see more tolls in the future.

When you're facing a major life change, it helps to talk to someone who has already been through it. All Things Considered is connecting people on either side of a shared experience, and they're letting us eavesdrop on their conversations in our series Been There.

North Carolina band Blame the Youth has been playing together in and around Charlotte for three years.

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Flipping through O Magazine this month, we saw a blurb that read reckless decorating.

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And we laughed and thought, like, what does that mean, mixing tinsel and garland?

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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Dies At 65

Dec 12, 2017

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San Francisco lost its mayor early this morning. Ed Lee died after suffering a heart attack last night. He first took office in 2011 as acting mayor, succeeding Gavin Newsom. Here is Lee at that swearing-in ceremony.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Thousands of firefighters who have traveled from across the country to Southern California have started making progress containing the fifth-largest wildfire in the state's history.

The week-old, nearly 230,000-acre Thomas Fire is now 20 percent contained, after firefighters on the ground and in aircraft took advantage of weakened Santa Ana winds on Monday night. The fire has consumed an area larger than the size of New York City.

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Updated at 9:40 p.m. ET

San Francisco's Mayor Ed Lee, most recently known for embracing the "sanctuary city" label, has died at age 65. Lee was not known to be ill; he reportedly died at a San Francisco hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Member station KQED cites a statement from the mayor's office, saying he died at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital:

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The U.S. Department of Transportation released a statement last week announcing it would withdraw a proposed rule that would force airlines to disclose baggage and other fees at the time of ticket purchase. The decision to rescind the yet-to-be-enforced regulation from the Obama administration received heated responses from members of Congress and airline consumer rights organizations.

This week marks five years since the mass shooting deaths of 20 young children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

One of those killed was 6-year-old Avielle Richman, who was shot in her first-grade classroom. Her parents, Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel, plan to spend this year's anniversary day quietly, at home with the two children they had after Avielle's death.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

In a tug-of-war with a massive wildfire north of Los Angeles, authorities said the ground they lost to the fire a day ago had been regained.

Firefighters on the ground, as well as water-dumping fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, had managed to bring the week-old, nearly 236,000-acre Thomas Fire, to 25 percent containment, after retreating from the massive blaze on Sunday.

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Open enrollment on the federal health law's marketplace — HealthCare.gov — ends Friday, and most people who want a plan for next year need to meet the deadline.

But some consumers who miss the cutoff could be surprised to learn they have the opportunity to enroll later.

"While a lot of people will be eligible ... I am still worried that a lot of consumers won't know it," says Shelby Gonzales, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

Following a federal court ruling, the Pentagon has confirmed it will allow openly transgender individuals to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1. The Trump administration had resisted that deadline in court, seeking to have its ban on new transgender troops reinstated — but on Monday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly upheld an earlier decision to temporarily block President Trump's ban.

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