AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT - NEWS 95.7
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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Last Updated Oct 18, 2017 at 12:20 am AST

A short-term health deal by senators _ but Trump a question

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican and Democratic senators joined in announcing a plan Tuesday aimed at stabilizing America’s health insurance markets in the wake of President Donald Trump’s order to terminate “Obamacare” subsidies. The president, at first, spoke approvingly of the deal, but as conservatives rebelled, the White House insisted Trump actually opposed the plan as a bailout of insurance companies.

The agreement followed weeks of negotiations between Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington that sought to address health insurance markets that have been in limbo following GOP failures to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The talks took on added urgency when Trump announced last week that he would end monthly “cost sharing reduction” payments the government makes to help insurance companies reduce costs for lower-income people.

Without that money, premiums for some people buying individual health plans would spike, and some insurers would flee the markets, industry officials warn.

The Alexander-Murray deal would continue the insurer payments for two years, while establishing new flexibility for states under former President Barack Obama’s law.

“This would allow the Senate to continue its debate about the long term of health care, but over the next two years I think Americans won’t have to worry about the possibility of being able to buy insurance in counties where they live,” Alexander said in announcing the deal after a closed-door lunch where he presented it to GOP senators.

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Californians head back home to altered lives, communities

PETALUMA, Calif. (AP) — Some have lost loved ones. Many have survived near-death experiences. Others have lost their homes and a lifetime of possessions.

A week after fleeing raging wildfires, tens of thousands of emotionally ravaged Californians have drifted back home to find their lives and their communities dramatically altered.

At a Red Cross shelter in Petaluma on Tuesday, 69-year-old Sue Wortman recalled the words that raced through her mind when she fled the flames near her home in Sonoma.

“We’re all going up in smoke,” she thought at the time. Since then, she’s been walking around in a daze.

Firefighters gained more control Tuesday of the massive wine country wildfires, even as other blazes erupted in mountains near Los Angeles and Santa Cruz.

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Bannon boosts Flake challenger, snubs Trump plea to back off

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Former presidential strategist Steve Bannon doubled down on his criticism of the GOP establishment at a Tuesday night fundraiser for a challenger to Arizona’s incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake.

Bannon heaped disdain on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other incumbent Republicans, saying they failed President Donald Trump by not backing his agenda and are openly critical of their own president.

“If you saw how they try to rip him apart every day, how they are trying to destroy him every day,” Bannon said. “And yes, I’m talking about Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans.”

Senate candidate Kelli Ward held a campaign kickoff in Scottsdale, Arizona, headlined by Bannon and talk show host Laura Ingraham.

Bannon is promoting a field of primary challengers to take on incumbent Republicans in Congress, especially the Senate. He has said he plans to recruit challengers for every GOP senator standing for re-election next year except Ted Cruz of Texas.

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. KEY SENATORS REACH DEAL ON HEALTH INSURER FUNDING

Republican Lamar Alexander and Democrat Patty Murray forge a plan to resume federal payments to health insurers that were blocked by President Trump.

2. U.S.-BACKED SYRIAN FORCES RECAPTURE ISLAMIC STATE ‘CAPITAL’

The fall of Raqqa marks a new chapter in the fight against the militant group, whose once-vast territory has been reduced to a handful of towns in Syria and Iraq.

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Former hostage says his American wife was rushed to hospital

SMITHS FALLS, Ontario (AP) — Joshua Boyle, a Canadian who was rescued with his family last week by Pakistani troops, said Tuesday that his wife had to be rushed to the hospital and remains there.

Boyle told The Associated Press in an email that his wife, Caitlan Boyle, was admitted Monday. His email did not specify why she was taken to the hospital.

“My wife has been through hell, and she has to be my first priority right now,” Boyle wrote.

Boyle, his American wife and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan on a backpacking trip. The children were born in captivity.

Joshua Boyle said after landing at Toronto’s airport on Friday that the Taliban-linked Haqqani network killed an infant daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held.

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Showrunner alleges sexual harassment by Bob Weinstein

NEW YORK (AP) — Spike network is investigating reports of sexual harassment by the brother of disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein against the female showrunner of a series produced by The Weinstein Co. and aired on Spike.

Amanda Segel, a former executive producer of the sci-fi series “The Mist,” claims Bob Weinstein made repeated overtures to her that included invitations to dinner, to his home and to a hotel room, according to a story published Tuesday by Variety.

“We take all allegations of this nature very seriously, and are investigating,” Spike said in a statement.

She says the propositions began in June 2016 and were put to a stop a few months later only after Segel’s lawyer gave Weinstein Co. executives an ultimatum that Segel would leave the show if Weinstein persisted.

An arrangement reportedly was struck that restricted Weinstein’s contact with Segel while she was doing her job. (“The Mist” was recently cancelled after a 10-episode first season.)

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Politics and the fallen: Trump hasn’t called all families

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has pulled bereaved military families into a painful political fight of his own making, going so far Tuesday as to cite the death of his chief of staff’s son in Afghanistan to question whether Barack Obama and other presidents did enough to honour the military dead.

He’s boasted that “I think I’ve called every family of someone who’s died,” though The Associated Press found relatives of two soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received a call or a letter from him, as well as relatives of a third who did not get a call from him.

The White House said Trump did telephone on Tuesday the families of four soldiers who were killed in Niger nearly two weeks ago, the issue that had spawned the controversy this week.

“He offered condolences on behalf of a grateful nation and assured them their family’s extraordinary sacrifice to the country will never be forgotten,” said a White House statement.

Contending that Trump’s propensity for a political fight has drifted into “sacred” territory, Democrats and some former government officials have expressed anger at his comments that he, almost alone among presidents, called the families of military members killed in war. They accused him of “inane cruelty” and a “sick game.”

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Families of the fallen, and their presidents

The Associated Press spoke Tuesday with family members who have lost loved ones in U.S. military operations and asked them about their interactions, if any, with the president at the time — George W. Bush, Barack Obama or Donald Trump.

Here’s a sampling of their stories:

SPEAK NO ILL

Jodie Missildine’s 20-year-old stepson, Alex Missildine, was killed Oct. 1 when an IED exploded near his vehicle in Ninawa Province, Iraq.

Missildine joined the Army right after finishing high school in Tyler, Texas, and was awarded a Bronze Star. He had been in Iraq for less than a month when he was killed.

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US-backed forces celebrate fall of IS ‘capital,’ Raqqa

BEIRUT (AP) — U.S.-backed Syrian forces celebrated in the devastated streets of Raqqa on Tuesday after gaining control of the northern city that once was the heart of the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate, dealing a major defeat to the extremist group that has seen its territory shrink ever smaller since summer.

Militants took over the vibrant metropolis on the Euphrates River in 2014, transforming it into the epicenter of their brutal rule, where opponents were beheaded and terror plots hatched.

It took thousands of bombs dropped by the U.S.-led coalition and more than four months of grueling house-to-house battles for the Syrian Democratic Forces to recapture Raqqa, marking a new chapter in the fight against the group whose once vast territory has been reduced to a handful of towns in Syria and Iraq.

“Liberating Raqqa is a triumph for humanity, especially women,” who suffered the most under IS, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior member of the SDF political wing.

“It is a salvation for the will to live an honourable life. It is a defeat to the forces of darkness,” said Ahmed, speaking to The Associated Press from Ein Issa, just north of Raqqa.

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Xi says China’s prospects are bright but challenges severe

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping proclaimed his nation’s prospects as bright but made a rare acknowledgement of severe economic challenges as he opened the ruling Communist Party’s twice-a-decade national congress on Wednesday.

Other Chinese leaders have regularly warned since the 2008 financial crisis that China’s economic growth faces “downward pressure” due to weak global demand that threatens export industries in the world’s second-largest economy. But Xi’s comments in the massive Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square were unusual in a keynote speech meant to highlight the party’s confidence and long-range vision.

Among the grave issues Xi said were insufficiently addressed are a widening income gap and problems in employment, education, medical care and other areas.

“The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is no walk in the park or mere drum-beating and gong-clanging. The whole party must be prepared to make ever more difficult and harder efforts,” Xi said. “To achieve great dreams there must be a great struggle.”

He added that the party would have to take big risks and overcome “major resistance.”

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