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October 17, 2017
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A federal judge blocked most of the newest iteration of President Trump's travel ban Tuesday, declaring that the administration cannot restrict the travel of people from six of the eight blacklisted countries, Politico reports. The order was set to kick in at midnight Wednesday.

The third version of Trump's ban, announced in late September, placed indefinite restrictions on visitors from Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and Somalia. Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii temporarily stopped the ban for all of the countries except North Korea and Venezuela. Trump's last two versions of the restrictions were also blocked from being imposed.

Groups including the State of Hawaii and the International Refugee Assistance Project asked judges to block the latest ban, arguing that "Trump had exceeded his legal authority to set immigration policy, and the latest measure — like the last two — fulfilled his unconstitutional campaign promise to implement a Muslim ban," The Washington Post reports.

The Supreme Court had been scheduled to hear oral arguments about the ban in October, but it removed the case after the Trump administration announced its new approach. Jeva Lange

October 17, 2017
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Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have reached a bipartisan deal to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, The New York Times reports. Alexander said Tuesday that the deal would "extend federal subsidies for two years and provide states with flexibility," Reuters writes.

The subsidies lower costs for low-income customers; President Trump decided last week to end the payments, although he signaled approval of the Alexander-Murray deal Tuesday. "This is a short-term solution," Trump said. "It will get us over this intermediate hump."

Conservatives are wary of "bailing out" insurers, though, and while Alexander has the support of some Senate Republicans, it is not clear if the plan would pass the House. Jeva Lange

October 17, 2017

U.S.-backed forces seized complete control of the Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, on Tuesday, a commander told The Associated Press. Brig. Gen. Talal Sillo deemed the victory "the fall of the capital of terrorism."

Fighting with ISIS militants had been pushed back to a stadium in Raqqa, the terrorist group's last stronghold in the city, and on Tuesday the Syrian Democratic Forces at last raised their flag over the base, Reuters reports. The Kurdish YPG flag was planted in the stadium grounds.

ISIS has lost massive swaths of territory this year, including the city of Mosul, Iraq, and its forces have been pushed back into the Euphrates River Valley, where experts expect the militants to make their "final stand." Jeva Lange

October 16, 2017
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A prominent Maltese journalist known for cracking corruption scandals involving her country's highest officials was killed by a car bomb near her home in Bidnija, Malta, on Monday, The Guardian reports. Four months ago, Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, linked Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to the Panama Papers scandal. Muscat and his wife "denied claims that they had used secret offshore bank accounts to hide payments from Azerbaijan's ruling family," the BBC writes.

Caruana Galizia's investigative work has been hailed abroad, with Politico calling her "a one-woman WikiLeaks" and listing her as one of the 28 people "making and shaking Europe." In her last post, published hours before her death, Caruana Galizia wrote: "There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate."

On Monday, Muscat condemned Caruana Galizia's murder: "I will not rest until I see justice done in this case," he said. "Our country deserves justice." Jeva Lange

October 15, 2017
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Colin Kaepernick, the free-agent quarterback who protested police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem, has filed a grievance, alleging that the NFL and the league's owners have colluded to keep him off the field because of his kneeling.

Attorney Mark Geragos has sent a copy of his complaint to the NFL, all 32 teams, and the NFL Players Association, saying they "have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick's leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States." Kaepernick, whose filing demands an arbitration hearing, left the San Francisco 49ers in March. In a statement Sunday night, Geragos said the grievance was filed "only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives." Catherine Garcia

October 14, 2017
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Four people were killed when a cargo plane crashed in the ocean off Côte d'Ivoire Saturday shortly after take-off from the city of Abidjan. The plane was carrying French military cargo and was staffed by a French and Moldovan crew. All four of the crew members killed were Moldovan, and another two Moldovans and four French crew members were injured.

The plane crashed in shallow water near the beach and broke in two. The crash was likely caused by stormy weather, including heavy winds, that made flying difficult. "There was winds yesterday, and I saw how planes seemed to have difficulties in getting up," said Ange Koutaye Ismael, a student who saw the aftermath of the crash. Bonnie Kristian

October 13, 2017

On Friday, President Trump largely washed his hands of the nuclear deal reached with Iran, Russia, China, and three European countries under former President Barack Obama. "Importantly, Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal," Trump said.

Trump has long railed against "the worst deal ever," grudgingly certifying Iran's compliance two times earlier this year. On Friday, Trump announced he is not certifying the deal again; he will leave it up to Congress whether to amend the deal.

Trump also ordered the Treasury's Office to sanction the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an arm of the country's army, "for its support for terrorism." Iran expert Barbara Slavin told BuzzFeed News the decision is "reckless beyond the extreme," adding "that to designate the armed forces of another country as terrorists is to invite retaliation."

"Would the designation mean that U.S. drone attacks on IRGC personnel are fair game?" she asked. "If so, expect to see Iranian proxies start killing U.S. military personnel again in Iraq or in Afghanistan or Syria." Watch Trump's comments below. Jeva Lange

October 12, 2017

A Taliban affiliate has freed an American woman, her three children, and her Canadian husband after the family spent five years as hostages, The New York Times reports. "In 2012, Caitlan Coleman, an American citizen, and her husband, Joshua Boyle, a Canadian citizen, were taken captive and held hostage by the Haqqani network," the White House said in a statement Thursday. "Ms. Coleman gave birth to the couple's three children while they were in captivity. Yesterday, the United States government, working in conjunction with the Government of Pakistan, secured the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity in Pakistan."

Coleman and Boyle were kidnapped while backpacking near Kabul. Over the years, the Haqqani network has threatened to kill the family if its own hostages weren't released. In a 2016 video, Coleman said the terrorists "threaten to retaliate against our family. Their group will do us harm and punish us. So we ask that you are merciful to their people and, God willing, they will release us."

Trump teased the release of the family in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Fox News reports. "Something happened today, where a country that totally disrespected us called with some very, very important news," he said. "And one of my generals came in. They said, 'You know, I have to tell you, a year ago they would've never done that.' It was a great sign of respect. You'll probably be hearing about it over the next few days. But this is a country that did not respect us. This is a country that respects us now. The world is starting to respect us again, believe me." Jeva Lange

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