Reuters US Domestic News Summary

Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.

U.S. states reject $18 billion proposal to settle opioid lawsuits, discussions ongoing: sources

Twenty one states have rejected an $18 billion settlement proposal from three major U.S. drug distributors to resolve lawsuits over their alleged role in the opioid crisis, but discussion are still active, according to three sources familiar with the matter. More than 2,500 lawsuits have been brought nationwide by states, local and tribal governments over the toll the opioid crisis has taken on their communities.

R. Kelly accused of sex with teen girl in 1990s as indictment is updated

Singer R. Kelly, already facing trial in three states on sexual abuse, child pornography, kidnapping and obstruction of justice charges, has been hit with an updated indictment in Chicago stemming from a newly-identified victim, court documents showed on Friday. The superseding indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, identifies the latest accuser only as "Minor 6" and charges Kelly, 53, with engaging in sexual acts with her in the late 1990s, when she was 14 or 15 years old.

Fake flyers and face-mask fear: California fights coronavirus discrimination

A flyer in Los Angeles' Carson area, with a fake seal of the World Health Organization, tells residents to avoid Asian-American businesses because of a coronavirus outbreak. A Los Angeles middle schooler is beaten and hospitalized after students say he is as an Asian-American with coronavirus. And over 14,000 people sign a petition urging schools in the Alhambra area to close over coronavirus risks, even though there is only one case of the virus in Los Angeles County, with its population of 10.1 million.

New York prosecutor says former movie producer Weinstein abused his power

New York prosecutors told jurors that Harvey Weinstein abused his power and pushed back against claims by the former Hollywood producer's defense team that his accusers were not credible. Setting the stage for the jury to begin deliberating next week in Weinstein's weeks-long sexual assault trial, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said Weinstein, 67, had counted on his victims never coming forward.

Emboldened, Trump defends right to interfere in criminal cases

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he has "the legal right" to interfere in criminal cases, capping a tumultuous week that raised questions about whether he is eroding the independence of the U.S. legal system. Trump's criticism of the judge, jury and prosecutors in the criminal case of his longtime adviser Roger Stone prompted an unusual rebuke from Attorney General William Barr, his top law enforcement official, and spurred new demands for investigation from the Democrats who unsuccessfully tried to remove the Republican president from office.

U.S. CDC to work with labs in five states to track people with influenza-like illness

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday it was working with public health laboratories in five states to track people with illnesses similar to influenza, as the agency strives to contain the deadly coronavirus. The agency said the labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York City will test those people for coronavirus who tested negative for the flu.

Ex-Alembic executive pleads guilty in U.S. generic drug price-fixing scheme

A former executive of Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd pleaded guilty on Friday to participating in a scheme to fix prices for generic medicines. The Justice Department said former executive Hector Armando Kellum had pleaded guilty to working to fix the prices of clobetasol, used to treat eczema and psoriasis, and nystatin triamcinolone cream, an anti-fungal drug that also has a corticosteroid.

EPA consulting White House over biofuel waiver program: source

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking White House guidance on the future of its controversial biofuel waiver program after a court ruling cast doubt over its legitimacy, and aims to announce a decision by early next month, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday. In late January the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit said the EPA must reconsider some waivers it gave oil refineries exempting them from the nation's biofuel blending laws. The ruling https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-biofuels-waivers/court-decision-casts-doubt-on-dozens-of-u-s-refinery-biofuel-waivers-idUSKBN1ZR20S has prompted speculation that the EPA will need to reconsider dozens of other waivers it has granted under similar circumstances, and drastically reduce the numbers of waivers handed out in the future.

Trump administration eyes 10% middle-class tax cut proposal

The Trump administration is considering a 10% tax cut for middle-class Americans and making some other tax reductions permanent as part of a package it intends to propose before the November election, a top White House adviser said on Friday. "We'd love to have a 10% middle-class tax cut, and we would love to strengthen and make permanent some of the other tax cuts," National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said in an interview with Fox Business Network, according to excerpts released by the network.

Trump administration taking $3.8 billion more from military for Mexico border wall

The U.S. Defense Department sent Congress a request to shift nearly $4 billion from the military budget to pay for a wall on the border with Mexico, a central promise of President Donald Trump's campaign for the White House four years ago and bid this year for a second term. Lawmakers said they received a request on Thursday to reprogram more than $3.8 billion from funding for the National Guard and weapons programs, setting the stage for a possible confrontation with Democrats.