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Minority Leader Harry Reid bid farewell to the Senate Thursday after 30 years in the chamber and more than a decade as top Democrat, a remarkable run during which he shepherded key Obama administration legislation including the sweeping health care law. In an uncharacteristically lengthy and personal farewell speech on the Senate floor, Reid warned of "a new gilded age" ahead and lamented how the Senate has changed, even while declaring he loves it still. He cautioned colleagues to "temper" use of the filibuster, "Otherwise, it will be gone."
Signs marking the eastern and western ends of the longest continuous road in the U.S. have been unveiled on both coasts. Historic U.S. Route 20 runs between Boston and Newport, Oregon. On Thursday, Massachusetts highway officials installed a mileage sign on the eastern end of the road in Boston's Kenmore Square. It informs motorists that Newport, Oregon, is a mere 3,365 miles away on Route 20 westbound. A similar sign went up in Newport marking the same distance to Boston.
The House passed a stopgap spending bill on Thursday to keep the government open beyond Friday's midnight deadline. The bill's fate in the Senate is uncertain.
The measure would fund federal agencies and departments through April 28. It also would expedite the process for confirming President-elect Donald Trump's choice for defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis.
The House approved the bill Thursday on a 326-96 vote.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 struck Thursday morning about 100 miles of the coast of Ferndale, in Humboldt County, California. There were no immediate reports of damage. The US Geological Survey originally reported the 6:50 a.m. PT quake as having a magnitude of 6.8. An area police dispatcher told NBC Bay Area that she barely felt it on land, and a USGS "did you feel it" map shows light shaking was felt in Eureka and the nearby California coast.
The foreman of the jury that couldn't reach a verdict in the murder trial of a former South Carolina police officer initially wanted to convict Michael Slager of murder.
That's what Dorsey Montgomery said Thursday on NBC's "Today." But after reviewing evidence, including cellphone video of the shooting, Montgomery said that he thought the 35-year-old Slager was guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Walter Scott.
Jurors deliberated more than 22 hours over four days before a mistrial was declared Monday. The white former officer was charged with shooting Scott, who was black, five times in the back as he fled a traffic stop in April 2015, an incident captured by a bystander on cellphone video that was shared online and horrified many.
Sgt. Jessica Hawkins has been a police officer for 22 years. She’s served all over the country -- in rural areas, the mountains, and Washington, D.C., for the past 16 years. She told NBC Out that she was never more scared than when she came out as transgender to her work colleagues after transitioning in 2014.
“At one point, I wanted to turn around and go home and just call in. I was like, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t.’ I was petrified,” Hawkins said.
But as she walked into her department’s office, her peers lined the hallways to show their support for her. At the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, Hawkins has found a niche as the head of the LGBT unit.
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Pope Francis says the majority of the world's bishops back his suggestion that civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion, adding fuel to the debate that has riled some conservative Catholics.
In an interview Wednesday with the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio, Francis said his 2016 document "The Joy of Love" — which contains the suggestion — was the fruit of two meetings of bishops over two years.
"It is interesting that all that (the document) contains, it was approved in the Synod by more than two thirds of the fathers. And this is a guarantee," he said.
Some conservatives have voiced increasing concern that Francis' opening on the divisive issue of Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics is sowing confusion among the faithful about the church's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.
A teenager accused of producing a racist video of a black classmate eating chicken and posting it online could face criminal charges, a Pennsylvania prosecutor said Wednesday. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said he's considering ethnic intimidation and harassment charges against a 14-year-old white student at Saucon Valley High School. The teenager recorded a 16-year-old black boy eating chicken wings and in narrating the video called the older boy the N-word and made references to "being broke and on welfare," said Morganelli, who called the video "reprehensible" and "repulsive."
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The investigation into last week's devastating Oakland warehouse blaze has yet to reveal what caused the inferno, which claimed 36 lives and has been deemed the United States' deadliest fire in 13 years, federal officials said Wednesday. City officials revealed that the building, which was used for artist's studios and illegal living spaces, hadn't been looked into by city building inspectors in over 30 years. And the NBC Bay Area I-Team found that there is no record that Oakland fire inspectors had been inside the warehouse in the last decade. An electronic music party was in full swing at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse when a three-alarm fire sparked around 11:30 p.m. Friday. City officials identified two more victims — Jason McCarty, 35, and Wolfgang Renner, 61, both of Oakland — on Wednesday, bringing the total number of names released to 28.
The trucking industry scored a victory this week when Republican lawmakers effectively blocked Obama administration safety rules aimed at keeping tired truckers off the highway. But there's more coming down the road.
The American Trucking Associations is pledging to come back next month, when Republicans will control the White House and Congress, and try to block state laws that require additional rest breaks for truckers beyond what federal rules require. The group says there should be one uniform national rule on work hours for interstate truckers.
The trucking industry's latest triumph has caused concern among safety advocates that it may signal the start of a broad rollback of transportation safety regulations once there's no longer a Democratic president to check the tendency of Republican lawmakers to side with industry.
"Unfortunately, it's going to be an open season on safety in this coming Congress," said Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board during the Clinton administration.
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A Christmas tree farmer has found and returned a wedding ring a New Jersey man lost roughly 15 years ago. David Penner says his wedding band slipped off his finger during a visit to Wyckoff's Tree Farm in White Township with his wife years ago. Penner thought he had lost the ring forever. But in April, John Wyckoff, a third-generation tree farmer, found it by chance in the soil.
Hyundai is recalling more than 41,000 older minivans because the hoods can fly open while they're being driven.
The recall covers the Entourage minivan from the 2007 and 2008 model years. Hyundai says a secondary hood latch can rust and remain in the unlatched position. So if the primary latch is released, the secondary latch may not keep the hood in place.
The company says it has no reports of crashes or injuries caused by the problem.
The U.S. surgeon general is calling e-cigarettes an emerging public health threat to the nation's youth.
In a report being released Thursday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy acknowledged a need for more research into the health effects of "vaping," but said e-cigarettes aren't harmless and too many teens are using them.
"My concern is e-cigarettes have the potential to create a whole new generation of kids who are addicted to nicotine," Murthy told The Associated Press. "If that leads to the use of other tobacco-related products, then we are going to be moving backward instead of forward."
Battery-powered e-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor without the harmful tar generated by regular cigarettes. Vaping was first pushed as safer for current smokers. There's no scientific consensus on the risks or advantages of vaping, including how it affects the likelihood of someone either picking up regular tobacco products or kicking the habit.
Amid social, political and environmental tumult around the world, the Pantone Color Institute on Thursday plucked fresh and zesty "greenery" as the color of the year for 2017.
The vibrant green with yellow undertones is an answer, of sorts, to bruising 2016, signaling a yearning to rejuvenate, and to reconnect to both nature and something larger than oneself, said Laurie Pressman, the institute's vice president.
"It's a realization for many people," she said in an interview Wednesday. "This country is politically divided, and we see that around the world. It's not just us. There's a real division in terms of globalization and this desire to pull back from globalization. It's Brexit. It's what we just saw in Italy."