Reuters US Domestic News Summary
Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
Biden video says world leaders are laughing at Trump
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is attacking President Donald Trump as a laughingstock among world leaders in a new video that has gone viral. The minute-long video https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1202401954644865024 plays off a clip taken at a NATO summit in Britain this week that appeared to show Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joking about Trump’s press appearances during a chat with other world leaders.
New York doctor convicted of taking kickbacks from opioid maker Insys
A New York doctor was convicted on Thursday of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics Inc in exchange for prescribing his patients an addictive fentanyl spray the drug manufacturer produced. Gordon Freedman was the fourth medical practitioner to face trial on charges stemming from what prosecutors say was a wide-ranging bribery scheme orchestrated by the now-bankrupt drugmaker that helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic.
R. Kelly faces new bribery charge in Brooklyn criminal case
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn on Thursday unveiled a new criminal charge against singer R. Kelly, accusing him of arranging to bribe an official as part of a scheme to recruit underage girls for sex. The 52-year-old R&B singer, known for such hits as “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Bump N’ Grind,” was arrested in Chicago in July on separate sets of charges brought by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and Chicago. He has pleaded not guilty.
Watchdog report faults EPA efforts to eliminate pollution rules for some trucks
The Trump administration failed to do a cost-benefit analysis to assess air quality or take into account the impact on children’s health when it sought to eliminate pollution limits on heavy-duty trucks with rebuilt engines, according to a report from an EPA watchdog on Thursday. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General also faulted the EPA for failing to keep adequate records of the discussions and said the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) impeded the inspector general and refused to turn over some requested information.
U.S. health spending recovers after two slow years: CMS
U.S. healthcare spending recovered in 2018 after two consecutive years of decline, a government health agency reported on Thursday. The total national health expenditures last year grew 4.6% to $3.6 trillion, or $11,172 per person, boosted by faster growth in private health insurance and government-sponsored health insurance programs, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said.
Black Hawk helicopter, with three aboard, goes down in Minnesota: National Guard
A Black Hawk helicopter, with three soldiers aboard, went down in central Minnesota on Thursday after the Minnesota National Guard lost contact with it during a maintenance test flight, the Guard said on social media. Emergency crews were at the scene of the downed UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter south of St. Cloud. The Minnesota National Guard said in a tweet it lost communication with the aircraft at about 2 p.m. local time.
GM, LG Chem to build $2.3 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Ohio
General Motors Co and South Korea’s LG Chem said on Thursday they will invest $2.3 billion to build an electric vehicle battery cell joint venture plant in Ohio, creating one of the world’s largest battery facilities. The plant, to be built near GM’s closed assembly plant in Lordstown in northeast Ohio, will employ more than 1,100 people, the companies said. Construction is to begin in mid-2020 and the plant will have an annual capacity of more than 30 gigawatt hours with the flexibility to expand.
U.S. vaping-related deaths rise to 48, cases of illness to 2,291
U.S. health officials on Thursday reported one new case and one more death from a respiratory illness tied to vaping over a two-week period, taking the total death toll to 48. As of Dec. 4, 2019, there were 2,291 hospitalized cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories. There are more deaths under investigation, health officials said.
Second evacuation order lifted in Texas city hit by explosion, chemical fire
Authorities on Thursday lifted a second evacuation order in a week for thousands of people in a Texas city as U.S. safety officials began examining what caused the latest in a series of chemical plant fires in the state. The about 14,000 residents of Port Neches 95 miles (153 km) east of Houston were told to flee late on Wednesday when air monitors detected high levels of cancer causing petrochemicals butane and butadiene following an explosion last week.
Most U.S. states have cut environmental budgets and staffing since 2008: study
Most U.S. states have cut funding and staffing at their environmental agencies over the past decade, according to a study by a green advocacy group, raising questions about the Trump administration’s policy to shift more enforcement of federal environmental laws to states. The report by the Environmental Integrity Project released on Thursday showed some 30 states have reduced funding for pollution control programs, 16 of them by more than 20%. Forty states, meanwhile, have cut staffing at environmental agencies, half of them by at least 10%, the report showed.
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