US Domestic News Roundup: U.S. trial of Mexico's 'El Chapo'; Trump-Democrats; Two states pass abortion measures
Following is a summary of current US domestic news briefs.
Jury chosen for U.S. trial of Mexico's 'El Chapo'
Twelve New Yorkers were chosen Wednesday to sit on the jury that will decide the fate of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, whose trial on U.S. drug trafficking charges begins next week. Among the seven women and five men are at least three immigrants, three Spanish speakers and several people with ties to law enforcement. Almost all had heard of Guzman, but said they could be impartial.
Trump fires Sessions, vows to fight Democrats if they launch probes
President Donald Trump on Wednesday forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions a day after congressional elections and vowed to fight if the U.S. House of Representatives' new Democratic majority launches probes into his administration. Sessions - an early Trump supporter who ran afoul of the president by recusing himself from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 White House campaign - said in a letter to Trump that he had submitted his resignation "at your request."
Eyeing conservative U.S. top court, two states pass abortion measures
Voters in Alabama and West Virginia on Tuesday passed ballot measures that could pave the way for new limits or a full ban on abortion in those states if the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion. In Oregon, meanwhile, an initiative that would prohibit the use of taxpayer money to fund abortion except in cases of medical necessity appeared headed for defeat.
Nevadans back Buffett's Berkshire in energy spat with Adelson
Nevada voters have blocked efforts supported by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to open up the state's electricity market, delivering welcome news to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The two billionaires' interests clashed in the Silver State desert over the cost and control of power for uses ranging from the Las Vegas Strip's neon lights to equipment in the state's precious metal mines.
Victorious U.S. House Democrats could stymie census citizenship query
With their party set to control the U.S. House of Representatives after Tuesday's congressional elections, Democrats are already looking to halt the Trump administration's efforts to collect citizenship data during the 2020 U.S. Census. The decision to ask respondents to the census whether they are American citizens has drawn scorn since it was announced in March by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross - including from House Democrats who made futile calls to subpoena Ross earlier this year over his motives.
U.S. senator adds to pressure on Pentagon to clean up military housing
A U.S. senator added to calls on the Department of Defense to address housing hazards documented by Reuters at military bases across the country. Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, asked Secretary of Defense James Mattis to lay out plans to ensure military homes are safe and called for legislative proposals to ensure more accountability over the private companies that run the housing on bases.
Supreme Court divided over USS Cole bombing lawsuit against Sudan
U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared divided on Wednesday as they weighed an effort by Sudan, backed by the U.S. government, to avoid paying $314.7 million in damages to American sailors injured in a 2000 deadly bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole by the al Qaeda militant group. The justices heard oral arguments in Sudan's appeal of a 2015 lower court ruling that allowed the sailors to collect the damages.
Voters in three U.S. states reject initiatives to curb fossil fuel use
Voters in Colorado, Arizona and Washington states rejected ballot initiatives that sought to curb fossil fuels use by restricting drilling, putting a fee on carbon emissions and mandating wider use of renewable energy. The results were a setback for green activists, but a win for the energy industry and the Trump administration, which has sought to unfetter oil, gas, and coal production by rolling back environmental protections.
Pentagon drops 'Faithful Patriot' moniker for Mexico border mission
The Pentagon said on Wednesday it would no longer refer to a mission to send thousands of troops to the U.S. border with Mexico as "Operation Faithful Patriot," a name critics saw as having political overtones. "We are no longer calling it by the name Operation Faithful Patriot," said Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. He said the Pentagon would, instead, say the mission was in support of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), but he did not give a reason for the name change.
Colorado man pleads guilty to murdering wife, children
A Colorado man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of murdering his pregnant wife and two small daughters and dumping their bodies in an oil field in an agreement that will spare him the death penalty. Christopher Watts, 33, admitted in Weld County District Court to strangling his wife, Shanann, 34, and the couple's two daughters, Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4, in August at the family's home in Frederick, about 30 miles (48 km) north of Denver.
(With inputs from Reuters)
(With inputs from agencies.)