Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
U.S. appeals court blocks Trump administration birth control exemptions
A federal appeals court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing new rules allowing employers to obtain exemptions from an Obamacare requirement they provide health insurance that covers women's birth control. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld a nationwide injunction that blocked the implementation of rules allowing employers with religious and moral objections to seek exemptions from the 2010 healthcare law's requirement.
U.S. House approves funding for 9/11 responders, sends to Senate
The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved legislation to permanently compensate first responders to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center who have been suffering from cancers and other illnesses as a result of working at the contaminated site. The House voted 402-12 to pass the "Never Forget the Heroes Act" that had been championed by Jon Stewart, the popular former host of the late-night comedy program The Daily Show, and highlighted by recent gripping testimony by a dying 9/11 New York police detective.
Lockheed Martin plans to expand Milwaukee plant workforce by 15%
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp said on Friday it plans to increase the workforce at its Milwaukee facility by more than 15% this year. The announcement came after President Donald Trump gave a 30-minute speech on trade at the plant run by Derco, a unit of the F-35 fighter jet maker.
Magnitude 4.9 aftershock hits near California town rocked by big quakes
A magnitude 4.9 aftershock struck on Friday roughly 5 miles east of the remote California town of Ridgecrest, which was rocked by a pair of major earthquakes over the past week, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no reports of damage or injuries in Friday's temblor, which occurred at 6:11 a.m. Pacific time, one of thousands of aftershocks felt since a magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook Ridgecrest on July 4, followed by a 7.1 quake the following day.
Epstein sought to pay off potential witnesses, U.S. prosecutors say
Jailed American financier Jeffrey Epstein made payments to two potential witnesses seeking to influence them in the child sex trafficking case against him late last year, prosecutors said late on Friday. In a filing in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said Epstein wired a total of $350,000 to the two individuals, who were not named. They said they learned of the payments through records they obtained from a financial institution, which was not identified.
California governor signs bill for $21 billion wildfire fund
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill approved by lawmakers a day earlier that creates a $21 billion fund to help bankrupt PG&E Corp and the state's other investor-owned utilities cover liabilities arising from future wildfires caused by their equipment. Both chambers of California's legislature rushed this week to approve the bill and send it to Newsom to meet the July 12 deadline demanded by S&P Global Ratings.
Sandy Hook parents lose state court appeal against Newtown over school shooting
A Connecticut state appeals court has rejected an appeal by the parents of two shooting victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre to hold the town of Newtown and its school district liable. While calling the case "undeniably tragic," the appeals court ruled 3-0 on Friday against the parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner, and agreed with a lower court judge that governmental immunity shielded the defendants.
'Life-threatening' Tropical Storm Barry grinds toward Louisiana
City officials warned New Orleans residents on Friday to secure their homes, stock up on supplies and prepare to huddle indoors with Tropical Storm Barry poised to make landfall as the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019. Barry's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 65 miles per hour (100 kph) as it churned through the northern Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana. Meteorologists warned that torrential rains - as much as 2 feet (60 cm) in some places - are likely to unleash severe flooding.
Trump's Labor Secretary Acosta resigns amid Epstein case
U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned on Friday amid fresh scrutiny of his handling of the sex abuse case against financier Jeffrey Epstein, becoming President Donald Trump's latest adviser to leave the administration in controversy. Acosta, joining Trump at the White House before the president left for a trip to Wisconsin, said he did not want to be a distraction to the administration's work because of his leadership of the Epstein case more than a decade ago.
Crackdown on immigrant families to start Sunday, Trump says
A nationwide wave of arrests of immigrants facing deportation will commence over the weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday, confirming that the plan, intended to discourage a surge of Central American migrants, was on track after a delay. The operation is expected to target hundreds of families in 10 cities that have recently been ordered deported by an immigration court but have not yet left the country.