Kanye visits Trump — After a week of extensive interviews, rallies and tweets, President Donald Trump, a fan of a good media spectacle, temporarily ceded the glare of the spotlight Thursday to someone even more comfortable with it: Kanye West. In a visit to the White House for what was ostensibly a working lunch to discuss workforce training programs, sentencing reforms and African-American employment, West wore a “Make America Great Again” hat — an accessory he said made him feel like Superman — and delivered a 10-minute soliloquy. The president, a consummate showman not accustomed to sharing the camera, seemed to marvel at West’s ability to command the room.
Tactical retreat for the GOP — Republican Party leaders are racing to reinforce their candidates in about two dozen congressional districts, trying to create a barricade around their imperiled majority. They are pouring money and effort mainly into moderate suburban areas that they see as critical to holding the chamber by even a one-seat margin. And they have begun to pull millions of dollars away from Republican candidates who have fallen substantially behind. Republicans believe that by intensifying their efforts in a smaller number of districts, they can limit Democratic gains to perhaps 20 seats on Nov. 6 — just short of the 23 seats Democrats need to take over the House.
ACA price will dip — Prices for the most popular type of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will drop slightly next year in the federal marketplace, after several years of rapid increases, the Trump administration said Thursday. Specifically, it said, the average premium for the second-lowest-cost plans offering mid-level coverage will decline by 1.5 percent, the first time this bench mark has declined since the federal insurance exchange made its debut in 2014. Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the online marketplace serving 39 states, said the new numbers vindicated Trump administration policies that many health care experts say have destabilized insurance markets.
F-35 fighter jets grounded — The Pentagon grounded its fleet of F-35 strike fighter jets Thursday, weeks after one crashed in South Carolina in another setback for the advanced aircraft that has long been mired in mechanical problems. The decision to halt F-35 flights stems from what the military suspects is a faulty fuel tube installed in some of the aircraft, according to a Pentagon statement. There are roughly 220 F-35s in the U.S. inventory, purchased from defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Israel, Britain and other allies that have bought the F-35 must also ground and inspect the fuel tubes in the jets.
Washington deems death penalty unconstitutional — Washington on Thursday became the latest state to end the death penalty, following a scathing state Supreme Court decision that declared the practice unconstitutional. The ruling commuted the sentences of the eight men on the state’s death row to life in prison and made Washington the 20th state where courts or legislatures have abolished or overturned capital punishment. Use of the death penalty has been in decline across the nation for nearly two decades, and Washington has not executed anyone since 2010. Capital punishment remains legal in 30 states and is also allowed by the federal government and the U.S. military.
Fewer children receiving vaccines — A small but growing proportion of the youngest children in the U.S. have not been vaccinated against any disease, worrying health officials. An estimated 100,000 young children have not had a vaccination against any of the 14 diseases for which shots are recommended, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday. “This is pretty concerning. It’s something we need to understand better — and reduce,” said the CDC’s Dr. Amanda Cohn. Most young children — 70 percent — have had all their shots. The new estimate is based on finding that, in 2017, 1.3 percent of the children born in 2015 were completely unvaccinated. That’s up from the 0.9 percent seen in an earlier similar assessment of the kids born in 2011. A 2001 survey with a different methodology suggested the proportion was in the neighborhood of 0.3 percent. Young children are especially vulnerable to complications from vaccine-preventable diseases, some of which can be fatal.
Army expelled 500 immigrant recruits in year — Over the course of 12 months, the U.S. Army discharged more than 500 immigrant enlistees who were recruited across the globe for their language or medical skills and promised a fast track to citizenship in exchange for their service, The Associated Press found. The decade-old Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest recruiting program was put on hold in 2016 amid concerns that immigrant recruits were not being screened sufficiently. The Army began booting out those enlistees last year without explanation.
Turkish officials believe columnist was killed — The Turkish government has told U.S. officials it has audio and video recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul this month, according to U.S. and Turkish officials. The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in on Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said. The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi’s death, the officials said.