Happening Today: Shutdown, Syria, OxyContin, Steve Carell, Chris Hansen - NBC New York

Happening Today: Shutdown, Syria, OxyContin, Steve Carell, Chris Hansen



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    The latest forecast from Storm Team 4. (Published Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Officials are gearing up for this year's fire season and fear the shutdown could make it even harder than one of the worst in history

    • There are new court documents that have been released that are shedding light OxyContin drug's sales

    • Carell is reteaming with Greg Daniels for a Netflix series inspired by Trump's plan for a space force as the sixth branch of the military

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    Government Shutdown Taking Toll on Wildfire Preparations

    Just two months after a wildfire wiped out Paradise, California, officials are gearing up for this year's fire season and fear the government shutdown could make it even more difficult than one of the worst in history. The winter months are critical for wildfire managers who use the break from the flames to prepare for the next onslaught, but much of that effort has ground to a halt on U.S. land because employees are furloughed. Firefighting training courses are being canceled from Tennessee to Oregon, piles of dead trees are untended in federal forests and controlled burns to thin dry vegetation aren't getting done. Although the furloughs only affect federal employees, the collaborative nature of wildland firefighting means the pain of the four-week-long shutdown is having a ripple effect — from firefighters on the ground to federal contractors and top managers who control the firefighting strategy. State and local crews who need training classes, for example, are scrambling without federal instructors. Conservation groups that work with the U.S. Forest Service to plan wildfire-prevention projects on federal lands are treading water. Annual retreats where local, state and federal firefighting agencies strategize are being called off.

    Syria Attack Kills 4 Americans, Raising Questions on Pullout

    A suicide bombing killed at least 16 people, including two U.S. service members and two American civilians, in northern Syria, just a month after President Trump declared ISIS had been defeated and he was pulling out U.S. forces. Though ISIS has claimed credit for the attack, the terrorist network has not produced evidence to support that claim. The attack in the strategic northeastern town of Manbij highlighted the threat posed by ISIS despite Trump's claims. It could also complicate what had already become a messy withdrawal plan, with the president's senior advisers disagreeing with the decision and then offering an evolving timetable for the removal of the approximately 2,000 U.S. troops. The attack, which also wounded three U.S. troops, was the deadliest assault on U.S. troops in Syria since American forces went into the country in 2015.

    New Documents in OxyContin Case Shed Light on Drug's Sales

    A member of the family that owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma told people at the prescription opioid painkiller's launch party in the 1990s that it would be "followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition," according to court documents. The details were made public in a case brought by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey that accuses Purdue Pharma, its executives and members of the Sackler family of deceiving patients and doctors about the risks of opioids and pushing prescribers to keep patients on the drug longer. The documents provide information about former Purdue Pharma President Richard Sackler's role in overseeing sales of OxyContin that hasn't been public before. The drug and the closely held Connecticut company that sells it are at the center of a lawsuit in Massachusetts and hundreds of others across the country in which government entities are trying to find the drug industry responsible for an opioid crisis that killed 72,000 Americans in 2017. Purdue Pharma accused the attorney general's office of cherry-picking from millions of emails and documents to create "biased and inaccurate characterizations" of the company and its executives.

    Steve Carell to Star in Netflix Comedy Based on Trump Space Force

    If anyone can figure out what the heck Space Force is supposed to be... maybe it's Steve Carell. Carell is reteaming with "The Office" creator Greg Daniels for a Netflix series inspired by President Trump's plan for a space force as the sixth branch of the military. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Netflix delivered a straight-to-series order for "Space Force", which will star Carell. It's described as a workplace comedy centered around the people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services — Space Force. Carell's salary for "Space Force" — including co-creator and exec producer fees — sets a new overall record for talent, likely topping the $1 million per episode.

    Chris Hansen, From 'To Catch a Predator,' Arrested in CT

    Chris Hansen, the former host of NBC’s “To Catch a Predator,” has been accused of bouncing checks and failing to pay for thousands of dollars worth of marketing material, according to police in Connecticut. Stamford Police Sgt. Sean Scanlan confirms Hansen, 59, was charged with issuing a bad check and for failing to pay $13,000 worth of marketing materials he received from a local vendor. Scanlan says Hansen was released after signing a written promise to appear in court. Police say Hansen agreed to make a statement at the Stamford police station, but never showed up. It was not immediately clear if Hansen retained an attorney who could comment on the accusations.

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