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October 19, 2017

On Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced their bipartisan health-care bill, flanked by 11 more Democratic co-sponsors plus 11 more Republican co-sponsors. "I think I might want to get a bipartisan interim deal," Alexander quoted President Trump as saying last weekend; the president and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had come out against the bill Wednesday.

The legislation seeks to stabilize health insurance markets by extending for two years government subsidy payments that insurance companies use to lower costs for poorer customers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a co-sponsor of a previous GOP health-care bill, said Thursday that he thinks Trump can be convinced to come around, while Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — who authored the previous bill with Graham — said he would be a co-sponsor on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill.

Axios writes that "the story of the Alexander-Murray bill likely won't be over until December, when Congress has to take care of several must-pass bills, in negotiations where Democrats have a lot of leverage." An initial tally on Thursday, assuming all Democrats would support the measure, indicated the bill could garner the 60 votes it needs to pass the Senate. Jeva Lange

8:23 p.m.

Cyclone Kenneth, the strongest storm to ever hit Mozambique, made landfall Thursday in the northern part of the country, with wind speeds of up to 140 mph.

The cyclone formed off the coast of Madagascar earlier this week, and comes just five weeks after Cyclone Idai caused widespread destruction; Idai left more than 1,000 people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe dead and thousands more homeless. "It's really an anomaly in the history of cyclones in this region," meteorologist Eric Holthaus told The Guardian. "There's never been two storms this strong hit in the same year, let alone within five weeks of each other in Mozambique."

The storm is expected to stay stalled north of the port town Pemba, dumping at least three feet of rain over the next several days. Holthaus said a "blocking pattern" in the upper atmosphere is likely behind the stall, adding that there is evidence climate change is making blocking patterns stronger. Catherine Garcia

7:08 p.m.

Anita Hill feels that former Vice President Joe Biden still owes her a true apology for the way he handled Justice Clarence Thomas' Senate confirmation hearings, and until she receives one, Hill won't be able to support his 2020 presidential bid.

"I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I'm sorry for what happened to you," she told The New York Times during an interview published Thursday. "I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose."

Biden's campaign announced on Thursday that he called Hill earlier this month, to share "his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country." Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, when Hill accused Thomas, then a Supreme Court nominee, of sexual harassment. Biden has been criticized for allowing Republicans to attack Hill, and not calling more witnesses to support her.

Hill told the Times that this is about more than just expressing regret, and that Biden "needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public because we know now how deeply disappointed Americans around the country were about what they saw. And not just women. There are women and men now who have just really lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence." Catherine Garcia

5:01 p.m.

Watch out influencers, the CIA is officially on their Instagram game.

As promised, the agency launched their newest social media account on Thursday — and who would have thought intelligence agents would be such good content-curators? For its first post, the agency shared a staged photo of CIA Director Gina Haspel's desk space in the form of a clever "I spy" game with Easter eggs hidden all over the scene.

With quite the Pinterest aesthetic, Haspel's desk is filled with books, plants, stationery, illustrations and other adorable objects that also seem fit for a college student's dorm room — travel-themed coin bank included. Getting playful, the picture also features a Top Secret Pulp bag, maps of Russia and Iran spread on the desk, a notebook with the words "We share what we can and protect what we must" and even Haspel's first-ever CIA badge.

CIA spokesperson Chelsea Robinson told The Verge that the account's main goal is to spark curiosity on the CIA's mission and that "joining Instagram is another way we're sharing stories and recruiting talented Americans to serve." Robinson guaranteed the account "will give a peek into Agency life, but can't promise any selfies from secret locations."

For their official bio, the agency kept it traditional with their mission statement: "We are the Nation's first line of defense. We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go." The account only has about 2,000 followers right now, but if they keep up with the quality content, the CIA could score some lucrative deals with detox tea brands or teeth whitening companies. Marina Pedrosa

4:26 p.m.

Sri Lankan officials on Thursday lowered the death toll from Sunday's attacks from 359 to 253, CNN reports.

Coordinated suicide bombings targeted several churches and hotels on Sunday, and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, though the bombers were reportedly a part of a lesser-known militant group.

The death toll was initially estimated above 300, but the Sri Lankan Health Ministry revised the estimate after further investigation. "Some of the bodies get severely damaged in these kinds of explosions and it's possible for some bodies to get completely destroyed or break into parts, making the identification of full bodies difficult," said the ministry statement. "Hence, counting an exact death toll is challenging." Read more at CNN. The Week Staff

3:50 p.m.

Twitter seems to have a not-so-public answer to why white supremacist content is permeating its site.

Over the past few years, Twitter has found success in algorithmically banning content and accounts linked to ISIS and other terrorist groups. It sometimes leads to "innocent accounts" such as Arabic language broadcasters being caught up in anti-ISIS sweeps, Vice News' Motherboard reports a Twitter executive saying at a recent all-staff meeting. But "society, in general, accepts" that sacrifice, the executive reportedly continued.

That apparently isn't the case when it comes to white supremacist content, though. "In separate discussions" beyond the meeting, one Twitter employee says the site "hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians," Vice News writes. Vice News then explained further:

The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn't be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda, he argued.

A Twitter spokesperson said that this “is not [an] accurate characterization of our policies or enforcement — on any level." Still, it raises questions about why Twitter doesn't have a public explanation for why white supremacist posts persist, and how "societal norms" could be stopping Twitter from banning that content altogether, Vice News writes. Read more from Vice News here. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:43 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden expressed "regret" in a private conversation with Anita Hill, his 2020 campaign says.

Biden, who on Thursday officially announced he is running for president in 2020, spoke with Hill and "shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country," a campaign spokesperson said, CNN's Manu Raju reports.

The spokesperson did not offer any other details about the conversation and did not specify when it occurred. Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991, and he has faced criticism for his handling of the hearings, including for not calling more witnesses to testify and back up Hill's account.

Biden said in March that "to this day I regret I couldn't come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved." He also said in December, "I owe her an apology." But Hill noted in September 2018 that Biden had not apologized to her, telling Elle, "it's become sort of a running joke in the household when someone rings the doorbell and we're not expecting company. 'Oh,' we say, 'is that Joe Biden coming to apologize?'" Brendan Morrow

3:11 p.m.

Avengers: Endgame may offer an ending for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it's certainly not the ending. So what will the franchise's next chapter look like?

Marvel has only officially set a release date for one post-Endgame film: Spider-Man: Far From Home, which hits theaters in July. But a number of other projects are in the works, one being a Black Widow solo movie, in which Scarlett Johansson's co-stars will reportedly include Rachel Weisz and David Harbour. A 2020 release is rumored.

Also in the works is The Eternals, which revolves around a race of super-powered beings and will reportedly star Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani. It could land in 2020 as well.

Another new franchise is Shang-Chi, which is based on the Kung Fu master hero and will be Marvel's first film centering around an Asian lead. That might make its way in 2021, a year that could also bring Black Panther 2 and Doctor Strange 2.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is also on the way; it's set to close out the trilogy and be the last film featuring the current version of the Guardians. It was originally expected for 2020 but was delayed after the firing — and re-hiring — of director James Gunn. Now, don't expect it until 2022.

A third Spider-Man is also happening, and a Captain Marvel follow-up is all but confirmed. Plus, a third Ant-Man seems likely, and there have reportedly been discussions of a fourth Thor. And yes, eventually, there will be another Avengers film.

Marvel's future will also rely heavily on Disney+, the streaming service where shows based on Loki, Scarlet Witch and Vision, Falcon and Winter Soldier, and Hawkeye are all on the way, and they'll tie directly into the film universe.

Marvel likely has even more surprises up its sleeve, especially after obtaining Fox's characters like the Fantastic Four. But one thing is certain: beyond Endgame, the Avengers will return — in some form, at least. Brendan Morrow

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