Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
U.S. vaping-related deaths rise to 18, illnesses surpass 1,000: CDC
U.S. health officials on Thursday reported 18 deaths due to a mysterious lung illness linked to e-cigarettes and other vaping products and said the number of confirmed and probable cases of the condition now exceeds 1,000. Public health officials are still at a loss to explain the cause of the severe lung illnesses, which have now reached 1,080 cases across 48 states and one U.S. territory so far, up from 805 cases last week.
Trump woos seniors with order to boost Medicare health program
U.S. President Donald Trump sought to woo seniors on Thursday with an executive order aimed at strengthening the Medicare health program by reducing regulations, curbing fraud, and providing faster access to new medical devices and therapies. The order, which Trump discussed during a visit to a retirement community in Florida known as the Villages, is the Republican president's answer to some Democrats who are pushing for a broad and expensive expansion of Medicare to cover all Americans.
Former U.S. Army interpreter from Iraq gets 30 years for dealing fentanyl on dark web
An Iraqi immigrant who worked as a U.S. Army interpreter was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Thursday for dealing the powerful opioid fentanyl over secret online networks, leading to the drug death of a Marine, prosecutors said. Alaa Mohammed Allawi, 30, who pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges, was also ordered to forfeit his San Antonio, Texas home, a Maserati sportscar, firearms, jewelry, his stake in a California-based coffee franchise and nearly $50,000 in U.S. and crypto-currencies.
Biden lags Sanders, Buttigieg with $15.2 million in third-quarter fundraising
Joe Biden raised $15.2 million in the third quarter for his U.S. presidential bid as he seeks the 2020 Democratic nomination, his campaign said on Thursday. Though the former vice president is one of the leading candidates for the nomination, his take lagged behind those of fellow presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, who raised $25.3 million and $19.1 million in the third quarter, respectively.
Treason! Arrest him! The Democratic lawmaker who enrages Donald Trump
For nearly three years, President Donald Trump has dismissed the investigations that have shadowed almost every day of his presidency as hoaxes and witch-hunts, and the people leading them as crooks and liars. But, so far, none of his targets has produced a public display of wrath to equal what the president directed at his latest antagonist, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff. The Democratic lawmaker, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has become the public face of a rapidly escalating impeachment inquiry that is the latest and perhaps most serious threat to Trump’s presidency.
Las Vegas massacre survivors, families reach $735 million settlement with MGM
Survivors and family of 58 people who were slain in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history have reached a settlement of at least $735 million with MGM Resorts, a law firm representing the victims and MGM Resorts International said on Thursday. MGM Resorts owns the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas where Stephen Paddock, 64, fired over 1,100 rounds from his 32nd-floor suite into a crowd of 22,000 people at an outdoor country music festival on Oct. 1, 2017, slaying 58 and wounding 800 others before killing himself.
Trump publicly asks China to investigate Biden, even amid impeachment inquiry
President Donald Trump on Thursday again invited foreign interference in a U.S. presidential election by publicly calling on China to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden, the kind of request that has already triggered an impeachment inquiry in Congress. The Republican president said he believed both China and Ukraine should look into 2020 presidential hopeful Biden and his businessman son Hunter, and described the impeachment probe as "crap."
Security stepped up as 'Joker' opens in U.S. movie theaters
Police in major U.S. cities were on alert on Thursday as "Joker" opened in movie theaters after weeks of publicity surrounding its disturbing portrait of a bullied loner raised fears it might spark violence. "Joker," an origin story about Batman's comic-book nemesis, stars Joaquin Phoenix in what movie reviewers have called a brilliant but terrifying performance as a mentally unhinged outcast who unwittingly finds fame through an act of violence.
New York sues big U.S. student loan servicer for abusing borrowers
New York state on Thursday sued one of the largest federal student loan servicers, whose practices the U.S. government singled out for criticism earlier this year, saying it abusively treated borrowers working in lower-paying public service jobs. The lawsuit by state Attorney General Letitia James adds to a growing list of complaints by borrowers and regulators against the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which operates as FedLoan and American Education Services.
Harvey Weinstein loses bid to have rape trial moved out of New York City
Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein on Thursday lost his bid to get his upcoming rape trial moved out of New York City, where he has said intense media scrutiny would make it impossible for him to get a fair jury. Once among Hollywood's most powerful producers, Weinstein 67, is scheduled to stand trial in Manhattan in January. He is accused of assaulting two women in 2006 and 2013. To bolster their case, prosecutors will call a third woman to testify that Weinstein raped her in 1993.