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Millions Buying Insurance Outside Exchanges Amid ObamaCare Woes
While premiums are set to rise by double digits on the ObamaCare exchanges, millions of Americans already have made the decision to abandon the markets altogether and shop for health care on their own – a trend the administration is fighting to reverse. Unclear is whether the bad headlines surrounding the health care program will prompt even more insurance-shoppers to bolt the state and federal exchanges, which are one-stop portals like where customers can pick from qualified health plans. “If it is a bad year in the exchanges and the ship is sinking, people will figure out a way to find a life raft,” said Tom Miller, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Fox News

Cranberries Squashed As Folk Remedy For Urinary Infections
Another folk medicine remedy bites the dust. Cranberry capsules didn't prevent or cure urinary infections in nursing home residents in a study challenging persistent unproven claims to the contrary. The research adds to decades of conflicting evidence on whether cranberries in any form can prevent extremely common bacterial infections, especially in women. Many studies suggesting a benefit were based on weak science, but that hasn't stopped marketers and even some health care providers from recommending cranberry juice or capsules as an inexpensive way to avoid these uncomfortable and potentially risky infections. Fox News

Dakota Access Pipeline: Authorities Start Removing Protesters
The monthslong protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline came to a head on Thursday, as authorities and protesters clashed over disputed territory near the pipeline's path. North Dakota authorities started removing roadblocks protesters set up to demarcate a camp that they say is located on tribal land. Protesters set up teepees, tents and other structures on Sunday to set down roots for a "winter camp." But authorities say they are trespassing and brought in police in riot gear to forcibly remove protesters from what they say is private property. State authorities called in reinforcements from seven other states to help, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services spokeswoman Cecily Fong said. As of Thursday afternoon, about 100 protesters remained. "Protesters escalated unlawful behavior this weekend by setting up illegal roadblocks, trespassing onto private property and establishing an encampment (actions that) forced law enforcement to respond at this time," Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said. CNN

Cruz Cites 'Long Historical Pecedent' Of SCOTUS Vacancies, Lays Ground For Potential Fight
Sen. Ted Cruz signaled Wednesday his interest in slow-walking any new Supreme Court appointments to fill the seat vacated by Antonin Scalia's death, arguing that there is precedent for leaving the ninth seat vacant. So far, Senate Republicans have refused to hold hearings for President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, following Scalia's unexpected death last February. Cruz's comments show his willingness to hold open the vacancy in the event Democrat Hillary Clinton emerges victorious on Election Day. Clinton has not indicated whether she plans to renominate Garland or make a different appointment if she wins the White House. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, said he strongly disagrees with the idea that a GOP-controlled Senate could block a Supreme Court nomination from a President Clinton for up to four years and said he doesn't think there will be wide support for the idea among Senate Republicans. CNN

US Says Iraqis Have Retaken 40 Villages From IS Near Mosul
The U.S. military says Iraqi forces have retaken 40 villages from the Islamic State group near Mosul since a massive operation to drive the militants from the city began last week. U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew C. Isler said Friday that Iraqi troops are consolidating gains made east and south of the city earlier this week, but insisted "momentum" was still on their side. The fight to retake Mosul, which fell to IS in a matter of days in the summer of 2014, is the largest military operation undertaken in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Philadelphia Inquirer

Clinton Donor Got State Department Invite — And Bill Got $17M
The head of a for-profit university that donated up to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation was rewarded with an invite to a high-profile State Department dinner at the request of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Doug Becker, CEO of Laureate International University, got his senior VP, Joseph Duffey, into the meeting of world-class academics at the August 2009 dinner because Becker was someone “who Bill likes a lot” and his school was “the fastest growing college network in the world,” Clinton wrote in an e-mail to her chief of staff revealed on WikiLeaks. Roughly nine months later, the university signed Bubba to a sweet deal as an “honorary chancellor,” paying him $17.6 million over five years until the contract ended in 2015 as his wife launched her presidential run. NY Post

Hillary Considering Joe Biden For Secretary Of State
Joe Biden could find himself with a new job in Washington after the election if Hillary Clinton wins, as the Democratic nominee is reportedly considering hiring the VP as her Secretary of State. Clinton’s transition team is believed to have Biden at the top of a short list of candidates for the key position, according to Politico. “He’d be great, and they are spending a lot of time figuring out the best way to try to persuade him to do it if she wins,” a source told the paper about the choice. NY Post


Thomas On 2nd Amendment: 'We Want To Pretend [It] Doesn't Exist'
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said on Wednesday that the Constitution contains everything needed to interpret the law, despite efforts by some to downplay certain portions of it, particularly the Second Amendment. Thomas was asked by John Malcolm, director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, about ensuring personal and economic liberty. “You talk a little bit about privileges or immunities; you’ve made some statements about substantive due process,” Malcolm said at the Heritage’s Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture in Washington, D.C. where Thomas made his remarks. “So when you look at different clauses in terms of protecting personal liberties, economic liberties, which clauses do you sort of gravitate to – due process clause, equal protection clause, privileges or immunities clause or what other provisions?” “Whatever’s in the Constitution,” Thomas said. “It is all there. The Bill of Attainders is there.” CNS News

Susan Rice: U.S. Must Integrate LGBT Rights Into Gov’t And Foreign Policy
National Security Advisor Susan Rice told students at American University in a speech on LGBT rights Wednesday that the “United States must continue to integrate LGBT rights into our government and foreign policy,” including “creating a more diverse national security workforce.” “This is an issue that I’m particularly passionate about, and one that President Obama has prioritized,” Rice said, “because without tapping America’s full range of races, religions, ethnicities, social and economic experiences—without embracing people of every sexual orientation and gender identity—we’re leading in a complex world with one hand tied behind our back.” CNS News

Obama Shortens Prison Sentences For 98 Convicts: White House
U.S. President Barack Obama shortened the prison sentences for 98 convicts serving time for drug-related offenses in his latest round of commutations, including for 42 people serving life sentences, the White House said on Thursday. Obama has granted 688 commutations this year, for a total so far of 872 during his presidency, which ends on Jan. 20. "These are individuals - many of whom made mistakes at a young age - who have diligently worked to rehabilitate themselves while incarcerated," White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement. The commutations are part of Obama's push to reform the criminal justice system to reduce the number of people serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses. Reuters

Pope Heads To Sweden, Here Catholics Thrive After 500 Years
After the Protestant Reformation five centuries ago, Sweden became a grim place for Roman Catholics: Those who rejected the new Lutheran faith were punished with deportation or death. The circumstances couldn't be more different as Pope Francis arrives in the Scandinavian country next week to commemorate the split in Western Christianity that started with Martin Luther's revolt. The once-omnipresent Lutheran Church is bleeding members in Sweden, now considered a bastion of tolerance, while the country's small Catholic community is growing, mainly due to immigration. Tampa Tribune

Israel To Name Nuclear Facility After Shimon Peres
Israel's prime minister says a nuclear facility will be named after late former President Shimon Peres. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement at a ceremony Friday marking 30 days since Peres' death, where his tombstone was unveiled. He said the facility, located in Israel's Negev desert, will be called "The Shimon Peres Center for Nuclear Science." Peres, who died last month at 93, spearheaded the development of Israel's nuclear program when he led the country's Defense Ministry in the 1950s. He helped Israel create what is believed to be a nuclear arsenal. Tampa Tribune

After Election Day, Access To Marijuana Likely To Reach All-Tme High Across Nation
Nearly 60 million Americans may wake up Nov. 9 to find voters in their states have abolished long-standing marijuana prohibitions, a three-fold expansion for legal cannabis across the country. Another 24 million Americans could find themselves in states with newly legal medical marijuana use, a smaller but still significant expansion of legalized pot around the United States. Already, half of the states permit some form of medical marijuana use, and more than half of all Americans live in a state that has approved medical marijuana. California, experts say, will likely play the most significant role in cannabis legalization on Nov. 8. Voters in our most populous state are widely expected to approve the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” adding nearly 40 million names to the list of people who live in a state with legal pot. USA Today

U.S. Lawmakers Raise Privacy Concerns Over New Hacking Rules
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. Congress on Thursday asked the Justice Department to clarify how a looming rule change to the government's hacking powers could impact privacy rights of innocent Americans. The change, due to take place on December 1, would let judges issue search warrants for remote access to computers located in any jurisdiction, potentially including foreign countries. Magistrate judges can normally only order searches within the jurisdiction of their court, which is typically limited to a few counties. “We are concerned about the full scope of the new authority that would be provided to the Department of Justice,” 23 senators and representatives wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Reuters


Conflicting Numbers but One Clear Conclusion - Clinton Is Ahead
In the last 24 hours, one national poll showed Hillary Clinton with a 14-point lead. Another had her ahead by just three points. And another found it right in the middle -- Clinton up nine points. In the battleground states, meanwhile, one survey had Clinton leading in New Hampshire by nine points while another one had her up four in the Granite State. Then there was that recent Florida poll that found Donald Trump ahead by two. How to make sense of the plethora of polls? Well, here's an answer: Clinton is clearly ahead, though the margin is larger in some polls than others. MSNBC

Trump Son: Dad 'Started The Conversation' About Obama Birthplace
Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of starting the birther controversy but Trump's own son praised his dad for "starting the conversation" about where Barack Obama was born. Eric Trump's comments came during a series of previously unpublished interviews from 2014, in which he and his older brother, Donald Jr., compared him to Winston Churchill, bragged that he was paid $2 million to have dinner with the mother of a construction contractor, and insisted there were "hundreds" of billionaires who would "take a bullet" for the Republican presidential candidate. MSNBC

Trump’s Path To Victory Runs Through Florida; Enthusiasm ‘Through The Roof’
Prognosticators have issued a grim assessment of Donald Trump’s chances, but the GOP nominee’s path to the White House is still alive and runs through Florida, where his campaign has gained momentum in the final stretch of the race. He’s rising in the polls in the Sunshine State and remains competitive in Ohio — the two biggest battleground prizes on the map — and the volatility of the 2016 election leaves his backers confident that he holds the advantage thanks to an enthusiasm gap that the tycoon holds over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Anybody who says the race is over — that’s preposterous,” said Peter Feaman, a GOP national committeeman in Florida. “Now that early voting has started and the turnout so far is setting records, that bodes well for Trump, not Clinton, because the enthusiasm for Trump is through the roof.” Washington Times

Donald Trump Hasn't Invested $100 Million In White House Race - Yet
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly declared he's putting $100 million of his own money into his White House bid. But he still has a long way to go, according to reports his campaign filed Thursday night with the Federal Election Commission. During the first part of October, the real-estate mogul donated $30,681.67 to his presidential campaign, the filings show. That brings his total investment through Oct. 16 to $56.1 million, through a combination of direct contributions and personal loans that he has since forgiven. He has less than two weeks to dump in the remaining $44 million or so to hit his much-touted target. USA Today

Facing Potential Loss, Trump Expands The List Of Conspirators Plotting Against Him
Donald Trump’s claim that the 2016 presidential election is “rigged” against him has become a central part of his closing argument to voters in the final days of the campaign, as the GOP nominee insists that a growing range of “corrupt” public institutions are to blame for his sharply narrowing path the White House. As he heads into a potential loss on Nov. 8, Trump has expanded the scale and scope of his accusations to include Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, the media, establishment leaders from both parties and unidentified “global financial powers.” “When the people who control the political power in our society can rig investigations like [Clinton’s] investigation was rigged, can rig polls, you see the phony polls, and rig the media, they can wield absolute power over your life, your economy and your country and benefit big-time by it,” Trump told a crowd this week in St. Augustine, Fla. “They control what you hear and what you don’t hear, what is covered, how it’s covered, even if it’s covered at all.” Washington Post

Sexual Harassment Claims Continue To Follow Justice Clarence Thomas
Some 25 years after surviving the most contentious confirmation hearing in history, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is facing a fresh round of sexual harassment allegations. According to a published report — stemming from a Facebook post — an attorney, who was 23-years-old at the time, claims that Thomas groped her at a dinner party in 1999. By then, Thomas had been on the bench for eight years. Thomas has denied the charges through a court spokesperson. Moira Smith, an Alaska energy firm attorney, was a Truman Scholar fresh out of Georgetown when she said Thomas grabbed her buttocks several times at the Virginia home of her boss..’” Atlanta Journal

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Vladimir Putin Rejects Claims Of Russia Interfering In U.S. Election
President Vladimir Putin on Thursday dismissed claims that Russia is interfering in the U.S. presidential election, saying the allegations are designed to distract the public from real issues. The United States has accused Russia of coordinating the hacks of Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails to influence the outcome of the election. Speaking to international foreign policy experts in Sochi, Putin dismissed “the hysteria about Russia’s influence on the U.S. presidential election.” He argued that U.S. elites have used the “mythical and fictitious” issue to distract attention from real problems such as government debt and police violence. “Does anyone seriously think Russia can somehow influence the American people’s choice?” Putin said. “Is America some kind of banana republic? America is a great power!” CBS

Michelle Obama Says It "Will Be On Us" If Hillary Clinton Loses
Laying out her case for Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama warned on Thursday that it “will be on us” if the Democratic nominee loses the election on November 8. “Hillary has done her job,” Obama said, speaking at a joint campaign rally with Clinton at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. “Now we need to do our job and get her elected President of the United States. Because, here’s where I want to get real. If Hillary doesn’t win this election, that will be on us. It will be because we did not stand for her. It will be because we did not vote for her.” It may have sounded like she was stating the obvious but, in front of one of Clinton’s largest crowds to date, Obama was fighting back against Donald Trump’s claims that the election is “rigged” in Clinton’s favor.  CBS

On The Campaign Trail With Former KKK Leader David Duke
Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke has shed the Klan robes and closed his KKK-themed store, but his message hasn’t changed, not even in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana. Throughout his campaign, Duke has consistently professed his support for Donald Trump and criticized fellow Republicans for not doing the same. “I'm kind of like Trump,” Duke said, noting his passionate support for ending illegal immigration, his sense that law enforcement have been unfairly demonized by groups such as Black Lives Matter, and his disgust with political correctness. ABC

UN Says IS Reportedly Using 'Human Shields'
The United Nations' human rights office says the Islamic State group appears to be using tens of thousands of civilians in and around the Iraqi city of Mosul as "human shields." It has received reports of more than 200 people being killed for refusing to comply with IS orders or previously belonging to Iraqi security forces. Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said Friday in Geneva that "credible reports" suggest IS has been forcing tens of thousands from their homes in districts around Mosul. She said: "ISIL's depraved, cowardly strategy is to attempt to use the presence of civilian hostages to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations, effectively using tens of thousands of women, men and children as human shields." Shamdasani says 232 people, mostly former officers, were reportedly shot Wednesday, and 24 Tuesday. Houston Chronicle

Deep South Drought Kills Crops, Threatens Herds, Dries Lakes
Six months into a deepening drought, the weather is killing crops, threatening cattle and sinking lakes to their lowest levels in years across much of the South. The very worst conditions — what forecasters call "exceptional drought" — are in the mountains of northeast Alabama and northwest Georgia, a region known for its thick green forests, waterfalls and red clay soil. "Here at my farm, April 15 was when the rain cut off," said David Bailey, who had to sell half his cattle, more than 100 animals, for lack of hay in Alabama's scorched northeast corner. "We've come through some dry years in the '80s, but I never seen it this dry, this long," Bailey added. "There's a bunch of people in a lot of bad shape here." The drought has spread from these mountains onto the Piedmont plateau, down to the plains and across 13 southern states, from Oklahoma and Texas to Florida and Virginia, putting about 33 million people in drought conditions, according to Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor. Houston Chronicle

French Lawmakers Want Higher Taxes On Airbnb Renters
French lawmakers have approved a measure to increase taxes on people renting their homes, cars and other goods on the internet when their earnings exceed a certain amount. The measure means people using Airbnb and similar websites would be subject to the same tax as professional services like hotels and car rental companies. It would apply on property owners making more than 23,000 euros ($25,132) per year by renting their apartment or house, and on people making more than 7,720 euros per year by renting their car or other items. Lawmakers want to restore some "equity" between occasional renters and professional ones, who often suffer from the competition. Charlotte Observer


Project Veritas Bought Insider Democratic Access With $20K Donation, Video Shows
Project Veritas Action gained entree to top Democratic operatives involved with Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid the old-fashioned way: with cash. In a video released Wednesday, Project Veritas Action said an undercover “donor” gave $20,000 to Americans United for Change, paving the way for an internship for the fake donor’s “niece” and access to Democratic strategists Robert Creamer and Brad Woodhouse. “The more money that was promised to Creamer, the more access Project Veritas journalists seemed to get,” the conservative group said in a Wednesday statement accompanying the release of the fourth video in its “Rigging the Election” series. Washington Times

Number Of US Foster Kids Rises; Parents' Drug Abuse A Factor
After dropping sharply between 2005 and 2012, the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for a third year in a row, according to new federal data released Thursday. A major factor: Worsening substance abuse by parents. The annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services tallied 427,910 children in the foster care system as of September 30, 2015, up from about 414,429 a year earlier. The peak was 524,000 children in foster care in 2002, and the number had dropped steadily to about 397,000 in 2012 before rising again. According to the report, the foster care population rose in 2015 in nearly three quarters of the states, with the largest increases in Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Arizona and Minnesota. ABC

Justice Thomas Accused Of Groping Woman At 1999 Dinner Party
A woman is accusing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of groping her at a dinner party in 1999 when she was a young scholar. Moira Smith, now vice president and general counsel at Enstar Natural Gas Co. in Alaska, says Thomas squeezed her buttocks several times at the party, according to the National Law Journal, which first reported the allegations. “When Justice Thomas touched me inappropriately and without my consent, I was 23 years old -- and felt there was nothing I could do,” she said in a statement provided to Bloomberg News by Laura Fink, who said she was Smith’s housemate at the time. Thomas, 68, who was accused during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearing of sexual harassment, denied Smith’s allegations. Bloomberg

Mark Kirk Questions War Vet And Senate Opponent On Her Family’s Military Service
A Republican senator who once called Donald Trump “too bigoted and racist” to be president has sparked outrage online with a racially charged statement questioning his opponent’s family’s military service. Mark Kirk, a first-term senator from Illinois, currently trails Democratic congresswoman and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth in most polls, but he has drawn praise from some within his state for being one of the first and few Republican senators to disavow Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. That goodwill from political moderates could soon be in jeopardy. During a debate Thursday night, Duckworth, a double-amputee who lost both her legs in Iraq, was speaking about her family’s military service stretching back to the American Revolution when Kirk replied, “I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.” Charlotte Observer

Jury Qcquits Leaders Of Oregon Standoff Of Federal Charges
A jury delivered an extraordinary blow to the government Thursday in a long-running battle over the use of public lands when it acquitted all seven defendants involved in the armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge in rural southeastern Oregon. Tumult erupted in the courtroom after the verdicts were read when an attorney for group leader Ammon Bundy demanded his client be immediately released, repeatedly yelling at the judge. U.S. marshals tackled attorney Marcus Mumford to the ground, used a stun gun on him several times and arrested him. U.S. District Judge Anna Brown said she could not release Bundy because he still faces charges in Nevada stemming from an armed standoff at his father Cliven Bundy's ranch two years ago. Kansas City Star

Syrian Rebels Launch Aleppo Offensive To Break Siege
Fierce fighting broke out around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo Friday as rebels announced a large-scale offensive to break the government's nearly two-month siege of opposition-held areas. A reporter inside the city on the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV channel reported attacks on "all sides" of the city, "from the furthest points north to furthest south." Sounds of heavy gunfire, mortar fire, and explosions were heard in the background of his broadcast. Dark smoke was seen rising above the city on the overcast morning. Presumed government or Russian jets were also heard flying overhead. Rebel factions in and around Aleppo have been preparing to launch a counteroffensive to try and break the government's suffocating siege off Aleppo's eastern-held neighborhoods for several weeks. Miami Herald

No Injuries After Pence Plane Slides Off Runway In NYC
Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence's campaign plane slid off a runway during a rainstorm at New York's LaGuardia Airport late Thursday, tearing up concrete before coming to rest on a patch of grass. When the plane came to a stop, U.S. Secret Service agents rushed from the back of the plane to the front, where Pence was seated, to check on the candidate. He said he was fine, though, and no one had been injured. "We can see mud on the front windows," a calm Pence said in the press cabin about a minute after the plane came to rest. Later, the Indiana governor tweeted: "So thankful everyone on our plane is safe. Grateful for our first responders & the concern & prayers of so many. Back on the trail tomorrow!" SF Gate

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Clinton Campaign Battles Complacency In Race’s Last Stretch
Hillary Clinton’s lead in national and battleground polls and her forays into Republican strongholds belie deep concerns within her campaign that supporters, whether enthusiastic or marginal, may consider a victory over Donald Trump a foregone conclusion and skip casting a vote. In the closing days of the race, the Democratic presidential nominee and her strategists are pulling out all their weapons, including celebrity endorsements and almost non-stop campaigning by her most prominent and popular surrogate, President Barack Obama. Clinton will campaign alongside first lady Michelle Obama, who’s been especially effective in motivating the Democratic base, in the battleground state of North Carolina on Thursday. “No complacency here. Nobody flagging. We’ve got to get everybody out to vote,” Clinton told her audience Wednesday in Tampa, Florida. Bloomberg

After Voting Machine Issue, Georgia Officials Blame Testing
A Georgia voting machine apparently malfunctioned as a voter tried to cast an early ballot for Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump's name kept showing up instead. But election officials say they still have confidence in the state's voting machines. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ( ) first reported the account on Thursday. The newspaper says an unnamed Bryan County voter complains that a touch-screen machine incorrectly showed his presidential selection. The voter said he touched the screen to vote for Democrat Clinton, but instead it selected Republican Trump — twice. On his third try, the voter said he was able to select Clinton. A spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp says the county improperly tested the machine. The unit won't be used again this year but ballots on it will be counted. Las Vegas Sun

US Charging 61 People In Call Center Scam Based In India
It can be a frightening call to get. Callers posing as tax and immigration agents are threatening arrest, deportation or other punishment unless money is sent to help clear up what they say is a deportation warrant or to cover unpaid income taxes. The government says it's a scam — one that's tricked at least 15,000 people into shelling out more than $300 million. Now the Justice Department is announcing charges in connection with a call center operation that officials say is based in India. Federal prosecutors have unsealed an indictment charging 61 defendants in the United States and abroad, including five call center groups. The department says the extorted funds ended up being laundered with the help of prepaid debit cards. Arrests are taking place throughout the United States. Las Vegas Sun

Hillary Clinton Leads Donald Trump By 3 Points
The UPI/CVoter daily presidential tracking poll for Thursday shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by roughly 3 percentage points. The online poll shows Clinton with 49.38 percent, to Trump's 46.52 percent. The most recent data reflect a slight uptick for Clinton and a minor shift downward for Trump compared to data collected a day earlier. However, over the course of seven days, the poll's full sample size, Trump has gained roughly a half-point on Clinton, narrowing the gap with less than two weeks to go before the election. The UPI/CVoter online tracking poll surveys more than 200 people each day, leading to a sample size of at least 1,400 people during any seven-day span. UPI

College Costs On The Rise As Financial Aid Borrowing Decreases, Reports Say
The cost of attending a four-year college, including tuition, books and living expenses, hit another record high in 2016, while overall student loan borrowing continues to decrease, the College Board said. Continued increases in tuition and fees -- between 2.2 percent and 3.6 percent -- have outpaced the growth in financial aid, family incomes and the average price of goods and services, the New York-based non-profit found. The average in-state student in a public four-year school pays $20,090 for tuition, fees and room and board. That's up 2.7 percent from $19,570 in 2015-16. Private school tuition increased 3.4 percent to $45,370 this year from the previous academic year. UPI

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Right-Wing Politicians Call To Rescind Palestinian Building Permits In Area C
The security cabinet gave the approvals at an October 5 meeting. Its deliberations and decisions are generally kept secret, but on Thursday Haaretz reported on the approvals. The Knesset Land of Israel caucus on Thursday called on the security cabinet to rescind initial approvals for Palestinian construction projects in Area C of the West Bank that were granted earlier this month. “We are appealing to the ministers of the security cabinet to correct this shameful decision,” the caucus said in a statement issued by its two chairmen, MKs Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi). They noted that news of the decision broke in the midst of a battle by right-wing politicians to prevent the demolition of the Amona outpost and nine homes in the Ofra settlement and what they believe is a de facto freeze on the advancement of plans for new settler homes. They believe that the small amount of authorizations do little to meet the needs of many of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Jerusalem Post

Texas Rejects Vote-Flipping Complaints
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has claimed that voting booths in Texas are malfunctioning. There have been a few complaints from voters that their selection was switched to Hillary Clinton, just as they were about to submit their ballot. Election officials say they are confident that any incorrect votes are due to "voter error", not rigging. "A lot of call-ins about vote flipping at the voting booths in Texas," Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday morning. "People are not happy. BIG lines. What is going on?" he wrote, without citing any sources or reports. BBC

US Election: 'Cruel' Trump Claim Dismays Dead Soldier's Family
Republican Donald Trump has been criticised by the family of a dead US soldier after saying as president he would have kept him alive. "Had I been president, Captain Khan would be alive today. We wouldn't have been in this horrible, horrible mistake, the war in Iraq," he said. The soldier's father, Khizr Khan, said it was a "cruel" remark. He is campaigning for Hillary Clinton, who is making her first appearance with First Lady Michelle Obama. The two shared a stage at Winston-Salem in North Carolina. Introducing Mrs Obama, the former first lady said her voice was needed in this election "more than ever". BBC

Uber Won't Build Flying Cars But They Sure As Hell Want Someone Else To
Uber’s eyes are on a new prize: flying cars. Outlined in a white paper published this week, the company’s chief product officer, Jeff Holden, describes a network of small, electric aircraft that can take-off and land vertically (VTOL, or vertical take-off and landing, aircraft) to enable speedy and reliable commuting that it claims will ease congestion in cities. Uber doesn’t plan to build any of these “flying cars”, but has produced a plan called Elevate to set out what needs to be done for the dozens of companies that are building them, including Terrafugia, AeroMobil, Moller International and Pal-V. Guardian

Vladimir Putin Dismisses Claims Of Meddling In US Election
Vladimir Putin has denied that Russia has interfered in the US election, claiming that those who believed Moscow could influence the vote were implying the US was a “banana republic”. Putin dismissed claims of Russian meddling as “hysteria” and lectured the US on democracy. He also denied that Donald Trump was the Kremlin’s favoured candidate, though he praised the tycoon’s controversial campaign. In a speech to an annual gathering of Russian and foreign politicians and analysts in Sochi on Thursday, Putin attacked the US over its foreign policy in recent years. “Does anyone seriously think that Russia can affect the choice of the American people? What, is America a banana republic? America’s a great power. Correct me if I’m wrong,” he said. Guardian

We Must Hit Raqqa Now Before Isil Targets West With Revenge Attacks, Says General
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is plotting attacks on the West from its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, a senior US general has warned, adding urgency to the coalition’s plan to retake the city. Lt Gen Stephen Townsend, the top American military commander in Iraq, declined to name a specific threat but described a “sense of urgency” in reaching Isil’s capital before it can be carried out. “We know this plot and planning is emanating from Raqqa,” Lt Gen Townsend said. “We think we’ve got to get to Raqqa pretty soon.”  Security officials have previously raised concerns of an increase in Isil attacks in the West as the group loses its territory in Syria and Iraq. Telegraph

Italians Call For Billions To Be Spent On Quake-Proofing The Country After Thousands Left Homeless By Twin Tremors
Italians demanded that more money be spent on making buildings resistant to earthquakes on Thursday, as the country counted the cost of twin quakes that reduced villages in the Apennines to rubble and left thousands homeless. Several thousand people were preparing to spend a second night in community halls, sports centres or in their cars, after the earthquakes struck within two hours of each other on Wednesday evening. The second quake was the most powerful, measuring 5.9 in magnitude. Casualties were far less severe than two months ago, when a 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit a string of villages in central Italy, leaving nearly 300 people dead. Telegraph

‘We Are Not Giving Up,’ Despite Evacuation Failure – UN Envoys On Syria
Expressing their disappointment that the sick and wounded were not evacuated from Syria’s war-torn eastern Aleppo, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria and his Senior Advisor today vowed to press on with their efforts to extract those with medical emergencies and get assistance to those with desperate needs inside the city.
“This is a dirty, ugly, horrible war, so we should never be surprised when things go wrong, over lack of trust, or pre-conditions that are put by either side,” Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy on Syria, told the press following a humanitarian taskforce meeting on Syria, in Geneva today. UN News

UN Health Strategy Making Access To New, Revolutionary Hepatitis C Treatment Possible
According to the United Nations heath agency, since the approval of new medicines for hepatitis C – offering a cure rate of over 95 per cent, fewer side effects and complete cure within three months – about two years back, more than one million patients in low- and middle-income countries have been treated. However, an initial estimated price of $85,000 for the drugs meant that most of the 80 million people with chronic hepatitis C infections worldwide, even those in high-income countries, were not able to afford the treatment. UN News

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