Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
Trump administration bars California from requiring cleaner cars
President Donald Trump's administration said on Thursday it is revoking California's authority to set its own auto tailpipe emissions standards and require some zero-emission vehicles, a move certain to spark a legal battle between federal officials and the most populous state over the future of U.S. vehicles. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the decision will ensure nationwide rules that provide "much-needed regulatory certainty for the automotive industry." Currently, California's more stringent vehicle emissions rules are followed by a dozen other states that account for more than 40% of U.S. vehicle sales.
Alien enthusiasts gather in Nevada desert near secretive Area 51
UFO enthusiasts began descending on rural Nevada on Thursday near the secret U.S. military installation known as Area 51, long rumored to house government secrets about alien life, with local authorities hoping the visitors were coming in peace. Residents of Rachel, Nevada, a remote desert town of 50 people about 12 miles outside the base, worried their community might be overwhelmed by unruly crowds turning out in response to a recent viral social-media invitation to "storm" Area 51.
Lawmaker accuses Justice Department of blocking whistleblower disclosure
The U.S. House Intelligence Committee chairman on Thursday accused the Justice Department of blocking intelligence officials from giving Congress a whistleblower complaint reported to involve communications between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader.The panel's Democratic chairman, Adam Schiff, charged the Trump administration with blocking a congressional inquiry after receiving a closed-door briefing from the inspector general for U.S. spy agencies. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters the whistleblower complaint at the center of the dispute alleged "multiple acts" by Trump, not just a phonecall with a foreign leader as first reported on Wednesday by the Washington Post. The source requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
U.S. cases of vaping-related illness rise to 530 as outbreak widens
U.S. health officials said on Thursday there are now 530 confirmed and probable cases and seven deaths from severe lung-related illnesses tied to vaping, and there are no signs that the outbreak is easing. That is up from 380 cases reported a week ago as health officials link more illnesses and deaths to vaping. Three-fourths of the cases are male, and two-thirds are between the ages of 18 and 34.
Border wall, Iran, Space Force among hurdles for $700 billion U.S. defense bill
Disputes between U.S. Republicans and Democrats over President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, Space Force and his ability to launch a war with Iran are among the biggest obstacles Congress faces in passing a massive annual defense policy bill. Members of the House of Representatives and Senate formally launched on Thursday this year's negotiations on the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, the $700 billion bill that sets policy for the Pentagon.
Trump signs order aimed at development of better flu vaccines
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at spurring the development of better vaccines to protect against seasonal influenza as well as a potential pandemic flu outbreak. The order does not allocate additional funding for now, but calls for an evaluation of current flu vaccine manufacturing abilities and a task force report including cost estimates, administration officials said on a call with reporters.
Democratic donor charged with distributing drug resulting in death of man
Democratic Party donor Ed Buck was charged in federal court in Los Angeles with drug distribution resulting in the death of a 26-year-old man, officials said on Thursday following his arrest on separate charges in state court. The man, Gemmel Moore, died of a methamphetamine overdose at Buck's West Hollywood apartment in July 2017, prosecutors said in court papers. Another man, identified in media reports as 55-year-old Timothy Dean, died of an overdose at Buck's apartment in January 2019.
Wildfire victims in PG&E bankruptcy to present $24 billion reorganization plan
The committee for wildfire victims in the bankruptcy of PG&E Corp said in a court filing on Thursday it was prepared to present a $24 billion reorganization plan for the power provider. The committee, joined by a group of unsecured noteholders, said in the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Francisco that the plan would provide for a "comprehensive settlement" of all claims against PG&E stemming from massive California wildfires in recent years that pushed the company to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January.
U.S. House approves stopgap funding bill to avoid government shutdown
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a stopgap government funding bill on Thursday that would avoid a government shutdown by maintaining current spending levels through Nov. 21. By a 301-123 vote, lawmakers sent the measure, known as a continuing resolution, on to the Senate. To take effect, it must be approved by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump.
UAW says some progress has been made in GM talks
The United Auto Workers union said Thursday that some progress has been made in lengthy talks to end a four-day old strike of about 48,000 workers at General Motors Co but added that many issues "remain unresolved" and said talks could continue into the weekend. A GM spokesman said that talks were continuing but declined to elaborate. UAW vice president Terry Dittes told members in a letter released to media outlets Thursday that meetings "will continue this weekend and beyond if a tentative agreement is not reached."