⚡ Happy Friday! Breaking: "In a harbinger of potentially big changes for Medicare, seniors in many states will be able to get additional services such as help with chores, safety devices and respite for caregivers next year through private 'Medicare Advantage' insurance plans." (AP)
📺 I hope to see you Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT for Episode 2 of "Axios on HBO." (See the full-page ad in today's N.Y. Times.)
Matt Whitaker has been acting attorney general for just one full day but he's already under extreme pressure, Jonathan Swan reports:
A new problem emerged yesterday. Prominent attorneys Neal Katyal and George Conway wrote a New York Times op-ed in which they argue Trump's appointment of Whitaker is illegal because the Constitution dictates that anyone serving in a "principal role" must be confirmed by the Senate.
Trump's case: There are respected lawyers arguing that Trump is well within his legal rights to appoint Whitaker as acting attorney general, as Axios' Stef Kight and Alayna Treene report. (See their arguments.)
Be smart: Trump likes and trusts Whitaker, and a source close to the president told Axios he could easily imagine Trump appointing Whitaker as Sessions' permanent replacement.
The context, from USA Today: The California rampage "came during three weeks of hate and terror that have jolted the country: a bloodbath at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 elderly people dead and a series of 16 pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats, CNN and critics of President Donald Trump."
"More Latinos will serve in Congress next year than ever before — at least 42, with one House race to be decided," AP reports:
Double-header Florida recount? "Razor-thin margins in Florida's bitter races for the U.S. Senate and governor are raising the specter of possible recounts, potentially prolonging two of the most closely watched contests of the nation's midterm elections," AP reports from Tallahassee.
This graphic shows the suburban shift toward Democrats that helps explain how they flipped the House in the midterms — and shows that even deep-red rural districts elected Republicans with smaller margins than in 2016.
How to read this chart, by Axios senior visual journalist Chris Canipe: A CityLab data project categorized every U.S. House district by the density of its neighborhoods. By comparing the margin victory for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in 2016 to the vote margin in the 2018 midterms, we can see which districts shifted to the left or right by comparison.
"Former first lady Michelle Obama blasts President Trump in her new book, writing [that] she reacted in shock the night she learned he would replace her husband in the Oval Office and tried to 'block it all out,'" per AP's Deb Riechmann:
"Obama writes that she assumed Trump was 'grandstanding' when he announced his presidential run in 2015. ... She remembers how her body 'buzzed with fury' after seeing the infamous 'Access Hollywood' tape."
"Obama launches her promotional tour Tuesday not at a bookstore, but at Chicago's United Center, where tens of thousands of people have purchased tickets — from just under $30 to thousands of dollars — to attend the event moderated by Oprah Winfrey."
"The Trump administration introduced new measures ... to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, invoking national security powers to curb long-standing humanitarian protections for foreigners arriving on American soil," per WashPost's Nick Miroff:
The context: The announcement "comes as an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 Central Americans move north through Mexico in caravan groups. Trump has demanded new tools to stop them from entering the United States."
"The Food and Drug Administration plans to sharply restrict the sale of most flavored pod-style e-cigarettes, effectively pulling them from most convenience stores and gas stations and requiring strict age verification controls for online sales," The Wall Street Journal's Jennifer Maloney reports (subscription):
P.S. New York would become the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, under plans by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to be announced as early as next week, per WSJ's Jimmy Vielkind.
"Amazon executives defended the company’s controversial facial recognition technology at an all-hands staff meeting [yesterday] after employees raised civil rights concerns about the tech’s potential misuse," BuzzFeed's Davey Alba reports:
Why it matters: "Amazon faced extensive criticism from civil rights groups, Amazon shareholders, and its own employees. ... [T]hey sounded the alarm on mass surveillance and free speech questions surrounding Amazon’s campaign to provide facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies."
P.S. "Apple boosts land holdings to more than 7,000 acres ... triples US property purchases for data centers during the past 2 years." (Financial Times)
"China’s government is cracking down on dissent ... and detaining up to 1 million Muslims in 're-education camps,' but at a UN Human Rights Council review this week, many countries saw fit to applaud China’s human rights record, rather than criticize it," Axios World editor David Lawler reports:
P.S. "Hong Kong barred the Asia news editor of the Financial Times from entering the city as a visitor, ... after authorities refused to renew his work visa in October, raising questions about the city’s commitment to free speech." (Reuters)
A wheelchair used by physicist Stephen Hawking has sold at auction for $393,000, while a copy of his doctoral thesis fetched $767,000, auctioneer Christie's told AP in London:
"Diagnosed with motor neuron disease at 22 and given just a few years to live, Hawking instead died in March at 76. He expanded scientific thinking about black holes and the origins of the universe and attained celebrity status, writing best-selling books and guest starring on 'The Simpsons.'"