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IS counterattacks in Mosul...ACA repeal consideration nears...Flag dispute

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MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are facing fierce counterattacks today by Islamic State group fighters at a government complex in the heart of western Mosul. The Iraqi forces stormed the buildings in an overnight raid, hoisting an Iraqi flag on the complex of buildings in the Dawasa neighborhood. By noon, troops on the ground said the complex had not yet been secured and that they are battling a wave of intense IS counterattacks.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The bill dismantling of the Affordable Care Act is just a day away from House hearings, and despite years-long Republican vows of ACA repeal it's still not a sure thing despite the GOP's control of Congress. The legislation would limit future federal funding for Medicaid, and it would loosen rules imposed for health plans directly purchased by individuals, while also scaling back insurance subsidies. Some moderate Senate Republicans worry that fewer people will have coverage.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An African-American attorney who wants to revive his lawsuit against Mississippi over the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag is set to argue before a federal appeals court in New Orleans today. Carlos Moore contends the flag is "state-sanctioned hate speech" but a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in September, saying he lacked legal standing to sue. Moore wants the appeals court to order a full trial on his arguments.

PARIS (AP) — The European Space Agency has launched a fifth Sentinel satellite as part of its Copernicus earth observation program. The Sentinel-2B is designed to provide high-resolution optical images for land services. ESA says the satellite, and its twin, Sentinel-2A will help produce extremely precise data expected to benefit agriculture as well as study climate and environment.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's Culture Ministry has given the green light to the release of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" movie despite protests over a gay character. The ministry told The Associated Press today that it has granted a screening license to the film with a 16+ age restriction. The decision comes several days after Vitaly Milonov, a lawmaker known for his extreme right views, petitioned the ministry to ban it. The film will be released later this month.

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