Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
House Democrats to introduce bill clawing back border wall funds
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are working on new legislation that would "claw back" funds the White House took from the Pentagon's budget to fund construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, the chairman of the House Armed Services committee said on Thursday. The legislation would aim to restore $3.8 billion back to the Pentagon's weapons procurement and National Guard budgets.
Actress Lori Loughlin among parents to face U.S. college scam trial in October
A federal judge on Thursday said actress Lori Loughlin in October will be among eight parents accused of participating in a vast U.S. college admissions bribery and fraud scheme to face the first trial to result from the scandal. The "Full House" star, along with her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are among 15 parents fighting charges brought by federal prosecutors in Boston stemming from the U.S. college admissions scandal.
Kobe Bryant handprints among Beverly Hills auction items
A copy of Kobe Bryant's handprints, cast in cement outside Hollywood's famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre, are going up for auction in April along with other memorabilia of the basketball legend who died in January. Julien's Auctions said on Thursday that the handprints are tests that were made by Bryant in 2011 when he became the first athlete to leave his mark alongside some of the movie industry's biggest stars in the forecourt of the theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
Baltimore ex-mayor sentenced to three years in prison in children's book fraud scheme
Former Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced on Thursday to three years in federal prison for fraud and tax evasion schemes involving bogus sales of her children's book series. U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow ordered Pugh, who served for three years as mayor of Maryland's largest city, to surrender no later than April 13.
Stocks plunge on coronavirus fears even as U.S. ramps up fight against spread
U.S. stocks plummeted on Thursday as fears about the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on economic growth flared even as U.S. officials pledged that they were stepping up efforts to safeguard Americans from the virus' spread. A day after President Donald Trump told Americans that the risk from coronavirus remained "very low," the S&P 500 logged its fastest correction in history in a sixth straight day of declines.
Exclusive: U.S. mulls using sweeping powers to ramp up production of coronavirus protective gear
President Donald Trump's administration is considering invoking special powers through a law called the Defense Production Act to rapidly expand domestic manufacturing of protective masks and clothing to combat the coronavirus in the United States, two U.S. officials told Reuters. The use of the law, passed by Congress in 1950 at the outset of the Korean War, would mark an escalation of the administration's response to the outbreak. The virus first surfaced in China and has since spread to other countries including the United States.
How the Democratic nominating battle could end in a messy 'brokered convention'
Seemingly every four years, political pundits speculate about a "brokered" U.S. presidential convention - only to see a nominee selected with little or no drama. But that may not be the case in 2020. With the field of Democratic contenders deeply fragmented ahead of the all-important Super Tuesday contests in 14 states on March 3, chances are growing that no contender will amass the majority of delegates needed to clinch the nomination outright.
Mixed messages, test delays hamper U.S. coronavirus response
Even as U.S. officials warn of an inevitable outbreak of coronavirus in the United States, and are alerting Americans to take precautions, some health agencies charged with protecting the public appear unprepared to deal with the threat. Barely more than a handful of public health departments across the country are able to test for the novel virus, which began in China and has spread to at least 44 countries. The federal government has less than 10% of the protective masks required to protect healthcare workers and the public. And Washington still does not have adequate funding in place to support health departments' efforts, though more money is on the way.
U.S. judge mulls holding Russian firm linked to election meddling in contempt
A federal judge is weighing civil contempt charges against a Russian company accused of funding a Russian troll farm's interference in the 2016 U.S. election to boost President Donald Trump's candidacy after prosecutors accused the St. Petersburg-based firm of defying subpoenas to hand over documents. Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich to hold Concord Management and Consulting LLC - a company that prosecutors said is controlled by a businessman named Evgeny Prigozhin with ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin - in contempt. Friedrich on Thursday ordered company representatives to appear in court on Monday for a contempt hearing.
'I could fall to my death:' tightrope walker Wallenda readies to cross active volcano
Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda fears the worst-possible outcome as he prepares for his latest high wire act - trekking across a live volcano in Nicaragua on Wednesday. "I could fall to my death." But the 41-year old member of the seven-generation family of daredevils, The Flying Wallendas, is taking it in stride.