Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 14, 2017

Trump announces decertification of the Iran deal, states launch legal challenge to ObamaCare subsidy decision, and more


Trump announces decertification of Iran deal

President Trump on Friday 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, announcing he will not certify the deal again and will let Congress decide whether to amend the agreement. Trump also ordered the Treasury Department to sanction the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an arm of the country's military, "for its support for terrorism." Iran expert Barbara Slavin called the decision "reckless beyond the extreme," adding that "to designate the armed forces of another country as terrorists is to invite retaliation."


States launch legal challenge to ObamaCare subsidy decision

The White House said Thursday night it cannot lawfully make subsidy payments to insurers who use the federal funding to reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income ObamaCare customers. On Friday, 18 states and Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit in federal court in California challenging the decision. Without the subsidies, "millions more would be left in the cold without coverage," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D). The payments, made monthly, cost about $7 billion this year and were expected to increase to $10 billion in 2018. In a previous lawsuit from House Republicans against the Obama administration, a judge ruled the subsidies were not lawful.


Trump tweets defense of health policy changes

President Trump tweeted Friday night and Saturday morning to defend his decision to end ObamaCare subsidy payments to insurance companies. "Money pouring into Insurance Companies profits, under the guise of ObamaCare, is over. They have made a fortune," he wrote. "Health Insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!" Trump continued Saturday morning, adding, "Very proud of my Executive Order which will allow greatly expanded access and far lower costs for HealthCare. Millions of people benefit!"


Firefighters begin to see progress in California

Over 9,000 firefighters are battling California's 17 wind-fueled wildfires that have spread across the wine country north of San Francisco this week. On Friday, as reinforcements continued to arrive from surrounding states, authorities reported some headway has finally been made. "The emergency is not over, and we continue to work at it, but we are seeing some great progress," said California's emergency operations director, Mark Ghilarducci. At least 35 people have died in the fires, and hundreds more are still missing. About 90,000 people have evacuated their homes, and at least 5,700 homes and businesses have been destroyed.


Trump backtracks on threat to pull Puerto Rico aid

President Trump tweeted a promise Friday to "always be with" the "wonderful people of Puerto Rico, with their unmatched spirit" as Hurricane Maria relief efforts continue. One day prior, he had tweeted that Puerto Rico could not expect open-ended federal relief aid, prompting widespread condemnation. Nearly three weeks after Maria hit, many in the island territory remain without consistent access to electricity, clean water, or medical care. Some residents have resorted to drinking water sourced at a hazardous waste facility because they have no other options.


Canadian-American family freed from Taliban speak about captivity

The Canadian-American family freed this week from a five-year captivity in Afghanistan spoke to reporters about their ordeal upon arriving in Toronto Friday night. Joshua Boyle, a Canadian citizen, said the Taliban raped his wife, Caitlan Coleman, an American, and killed their baby. "The stupidity and the evil of the [Taliban-linked] Haqqani network's kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter, Martyr Boyle," he said.


U.S.-backed fighters predict imminent victory in Raqqa

Kurdish fighters working with the United States to recapture the Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, on Saturday said victory in the besieged city is imminent. Raqqa "may finally be cleared of the jihadists on Saturday or Sunday," Reuters reports the coalition troops predicted. About 100 ISIS militants have surrendered since Friday, and Kurdish militia representative Nouri Mahmoud said ISIS "is on the verge of being finished." A U.S. spokesman refused to "set a time for when we think [ISIS] will be completely defeated in Raqqa," but said the city is 85 percent liberated.


Corker blasts Trump's decision to 'publicly castrate' Tillerson

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) continued his critique of President Trump in a Washington Post interview published Friday, this time targeting the president's tweets undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in his diplomatic efforts pertaining to North Korea. "You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice" between war and a nuclear-capable North Korea, Corker said. "The tweets — yes, you raise tension in the region [and] it's very irresponsible." Corker has escalated his public denunciation of Trump since the president attacked him on Twitter last weekend.


Social Security announces 2 percent benefits increase for 2018

The Social Security Administration on Friday announced an overall 2 percent increase in benefits next year. The bump, while modest, is the program's biggest boost since 2011, when it was increased by 3.6 percent. The change affects over 66 million Americans who rely on monthly Social Security payments, and the average Social Security recipient will receive a roughly $25 boost in their monthly check in 2018. Social Security is adjusted yearly based on a cost-of-living analysis; critics argue this year's increase does not match rising medical costs for most seniors.


Facebook launches embedded food-delivery service

Facebook on Friday rolled out an embedded food-delivery service, partnering with established companies like Delivery.com and DoorDash to make food options available to its users immediately within its app. The social media behemoth has also partnered directly with restaurants like Chipotle and Papa John's, as well as more local establishments, to ensure a variety of options. In Facebook's Explore menu, users will now find an option marked Order Food. From there, hungry scrollers can browse featured options or search by location, cuisine, delivery or pickup, price, or hours.


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