Marines considered dead — The Marine Corps says the 12 Marines who were in two helicopters that crashed off Hawaii are considered dead. The status of the missing Marines changed to deceased Wednesday, after five days of searching for them. The Marine Corps says specially qualified officers personally notified each family of the change. The search began late Thursday when a civilian on a beach reported seeing the aircraft flying and then a fireball. The Marines were alerted when the CH-53E helicopters carrying six crew members each failed to return to their base at Kaneohe Bay following a nighttime training mission.
263 years for rapist cop — A former police officer convicted of raping and sexually victimizing women while on his beat in a low-income Oklahoma City neighborhood was ordered Thursday to spend the rest of his life in prison. Jurors had recommended that Daniel Holtzclaw be sentenced to 263 years in prison for preying on women in 2013 and 2014. District Judge Timothy Henderson agreed, said Holtzclaw will serve the terms consecutively and denied his request for an appeal bond. Holtzclaw waived his right to remain in custody in the county jail for 10 days, instead opting to be taken directly to prison. Defense attorney Scott Adams said Holtzclaw will appeal.
Coal regulations — In a significant victory for President Barack Obama, a federal appeals panel on Thursday rejected an effort by 27 states and dozens of corporations and industry groups to block the administration’s signature regulation on emissions from coal-fired power plants while a lawsuit moves through the courts. The rule, issued last summer by the Environmental Protection Agency, is at the heart of Obama’s efforts to tackle climate change. It would require each state to significantly cut greenhouse gas pollution from electric power plants, the nation’s largest source of such emissions.
Clinton’s message — Hillary Clinton has questioned Bernie Sanders’ electability. She’s criticized his plans for health care, foreign policy and Wall Street. And she’s tagged him with flip-flopping on gun control. None of it appears to be sticking, say some Democrats who have raised concerns that a monthslong primary campaign could create lasting damage for their party. While most believe Clinton will still capture the nomination, some say she is failing to respond effectively to Sanders, fueling both his primary rise and strengthening the Republican argument against her. Others say she got too a late of a start going after Sanders and is still not hitting him enough — eroding her lead in states that should be safe.
Trump or Cruz — With Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas battling for the Republican nomination, two powerful factions of their party are now clashing over the question: Which man is more dangerous? Conservative intellectuals have become convinced that Trump, with his message of nationalist-infused populism, poses a dire threat to conservatism, and planned to issue a manifesto online to try to stop him. However, Republican lobbyists, operatives and elected officials in Washington are much more unnerved by Cruz, a go-it-alone, hard-right crusader who campaigns against the political establishment.
Visa rules — The Obama administration on Thursday announced changes to a visa-waiver program that would make it harder for travelers to enter the United States from Europe if they had dual citizenship from Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria, or had visited one of those countries in the last five years. Those travelers will now have to go through the more rigorous regular visa application process to enter the country. The Department of Homeland Security said the changes would take place immediately.
Russia, U.S. and Syria — As diplomats from Russia and the United States work to bring Syria’s government and its domestic opponents to peace talks next week, the two countries are jockeying for position on the ground in Syria in a battle that will continue regardless of any peace deal: the fight against the Islamic State. Both powers seem to be presuming that the peace effort will fail and digging in for the next phase of war. Their separate, and competing, new efforts against the Islamic State are part of a parallel battle over who will lead the fight against the extremist group.
Migrants in Germany — After a year in which Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany welcomed more than 1 million asylum seekers, that decision has left her more embattled and isolated. It is a change that threatens not only Merkel’s position, but the cohesion of an already deeply troubled European Union, where her strength and that of Germany — the Continent’s No. 1 economy — has served as the linchpin through more than a half decade of economic crisis. Merkel is now under increasing pressure to change course, particularly in the weeks since asylum seekers were linked to sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve in Cologne.
Haiti vote — After spending more than $33 million on a widely discredited election in Haiti, the United States has been pressing the country’s leaders to go ahead with a runoff presidential election this Sunday, despite a growing chorus of warnings that the vote could lead to violence. Haitian leaders, political parties and others have denounced the first round of voting in October as a fraud-riddled fiasco and protested in the streets to stop the runoff.