Reuters US Domestic News Summary

Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

Cargill suspends shifts at Kansas beef facility after explosion

Cargill said on Thursday it had suspended some shifts at its Dodge City, Kansas, beef-packing plant after an explosion injured two employees. Cargill spokesman Daniel Sullivan said the company expects the facility to be fully operational soon and that it would meet all it customer commitments. The company is investigating the cause of the accident at a stand-alone building on the site, he said.

Elijah Cummings, U.S. civil rights icon who led House probe of Trump, dead at 68

U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a civil rights champion who over the last quarter century became one of the most influential Democrats in Congress and a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, died on Thursday. He was 68. A powerful speaker with a formidable presence, Cummings had clashed with Trump on subjects ranging from congressional oversight of the White House to Trump's attacks on Cummings' native city of Baltimore, which the president called "rat-infested."

When it comes to U.S. national security, what's candidate Warren's plan?

Elizabeth Warren has jumped to the front of the race to take on Donald Trump in 2020 by promising far-reaching domestic reforms that highlight the Democratic senator's wide differences with the Republican president. When it comes to foreign policy and national security, however, Warren sounds a bit like Trump.

White House acknowledges strings attached in Trump withholding Ukraine aid

President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim - debunked as a conspiracy theory - about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection. Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.

U.S. ramps up testing in search of vaping illness cause as cases near 1,500

U.S. health officials on Thursday reported another 180 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses and announced plans to start testing aerosols produced by e-cigarettes and vaping products as they search for the source of the nationwide outbreak that has so far killed at least 33 people in 24 states. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said it plans to start testing lung tissue and fluids collected from people who became sick in the outbreak. The CDC said the new testing may lend insight into chemical exposures contributing to the outbreak.

California launches earthquake early warning system it calls best in world

California rolled out the nation's first statewide earthquake warning system on Thursday, designed to detect seismic waves and alert residents through a mobile phone app even before the ground starts shaking. Governor Gavin Newsom, who urged Californians to download the MyShake app on the anniversary of the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake on Oct. 17, 1989, boasted the program was more sophisticated than early warning systems already used in Mexico and Japan.

Former Pimco chief to plead guilty in U.S. college scam case

Douglas Hodge, the former chief executive of the investment firm Pimco, has agreed to plead guilty to participating in what prosecutors say is the largest college admissions scam uncovered in the United States, according to a court filing on Thursday. Hodge is scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston on Monday to enter the plea after being charged in March with paying bribes to facilitate his younger daughter's admission to the University of Southern California.

Chicago teachers picket across the city on first day of strike

Chicago teachers went on strike on Thursday and set up picket lines outside many of the city's 500 public schools, as union leaders and officials of the third-largest U.S. school district pushed ahead with negotiations over a new contract. The work stoppage forced officials to cancel classes for more than 300,000 students, but school buildings stayed open for children who need a place to go during the strike.

Trump says U.S. Energy Secretary Perry to step down at end of the year

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry will step down by the end of the year, President Donald Trump said on Thursday, a day before a deadline set by congressional Democrats for Perry to turn over documents in the impeachment probe. Trump told an event in Texas that he had known for months that Perry would resign.

New York city council votes to close infamous Rikers Island jails

The New York City Council voted on Thursday to close the city's infamous Rikers Island jail complex by 2026, casting off a detention system plagued by chronic violence and decrepit facilities, as the nation rethinks mass incarceration. The council approved an $8.7 billion legislative package to close Rikers and three other jails, replace them with four more humane facilities throughout the city, and eventually turn Rikers Island itself into a public space.