Trump’s plan on drug costs — President Donald Trump will propose lowering prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries by allowing them to share in rebates that drug companies pay to insurers and middlemen, an administration official said Thursday. A senior administration official outlined the plan on condition of anonymity ahead of the release of Trump’s 2019 budget plan next week. Pharmaceutical companies now pay rebates to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers to help their medications gain a bigger slice of the market. Insurers apply savings from rebates to keep premiums more manageable. Under Trump’s proposal, seniors covered by Medicare’s popular “Part D” prescription benefit would be able to share in the rebates for individual drugs they purchase at the pharmacy.
Islamic State militants captured — The American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces captured two notorious British members of an Islamic State insurgent cell commonly dubbed “The Beatles” and known for beheading hostages, U.S. military officials said Thursday. Air Force Col. John Thomas said El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey were captured in early January in eastern Syria. The two men are among four members of the IS cell that captured, tortured and beheaded more than two dozen hostages including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig. The State Department has imposed sanctions on both men. They are believed to be linked to the British terrorist known as Jihadi John, the masked IS militant who appeared in several videos depicting the graphic beheadings of Western hostages. Thomas, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said American officials have been able to interrogate the two detainees. And he characterized their capture as “certainly a big deal for America” as well as the families of the people the two men killed.
Bermuda revokes gay marriage — Bermuda has banned same-sex marriage, only nine months after legalizing it. Same-sex marriage became legal in Bermuda, a British overseas territory, in May as a result of a ruling by the island’s Supreme Court. But the unions are unpopular with some voters. In 2016, Bermudians voted against same-sex marriage in a referendum. After the court ruling, the territory’s legislature drafted a bill banning same-sex marriage but giving all couples legal recognition as domestic partners. Gov. John Rankin signed it into law Wednesday. British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain was “seriously disappointed,” but the Foreign Office said Thursday it would be inappropriate to block the measure.
Road near Stonehenge — Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in England that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, is closer to getting a traffic tunnel nearby to “enhance and protect” the tranquil environment of the ancient landscape. Initial designs for the project were unveiled Thursday. They are part of a project to cost 1.6 billion pounds to upgrade a highway near the monument. The designs address concerns that the tunnel portals and deep cuttings would scar the landscape and cause irreparable damage. Heritage groups had also been concerned that the proposed tunnel exit would be too close to the Normanton Down Barrows, a collection of tombs that is a part of the Stonehenge landscape.
Corruption case in Israel — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at the country’s police chief, Roni Alsheich, whom he accused of airing “delusional and mendacious” insinuations against him just days before police are expected to publish recommendations regarding potential charges against Netanyahu in two corruption investigations. Critics said Netanyahu was trying to discredit police in order to delegitimize investigations that could undermine his political future.
EPA fines — The Trump administration on Thursday released data showing a large increase in penalties against polluters, as well as $20 billion in commitments from companies to correct problems that have caused environmental damage. The data from the EPA represented activity during the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, meaning the totals included the final 3 1⁄2 months of the Obama administration, when some of the EPA’s biggest cases were settled. The data also reflected cases that were resolved during the Trump administration but had been initiated and largely handled under President Barack Obama.