What to Know
- House Speaker Paul Ryan is denying reports that he plans to leave Congress after the Republicans' treasured tax bill is approved
- The Health Department says influenza is now prevalent in New York as 1,800 confirmed cases of influenza in 54 counties and all NYC boroughs
- The NYPD has opened an investigation into Russell Simmons, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by a group of women, sources say
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Paul Ryan Denies Reports He May Leave Congress
House Speaker Paul Ryan is denying reports that he plans to leave Congress after the Republicans' treasured tax bill is approved. Politico and The Huffington Post published stories speculating that Ryan would make this two-year Congress his last or even resign after lawmakers approve the $1.5 trillion tax bill, which could happen next week. Ryan took the job hesitantly in 2015 after John Boehner, R-Ohio, abruptly stepped aside as speaker under pressure from party conservatives, who remain a formidable and rebellious force. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump called Ryan and said he'd be unhappy if Ryan left Congress. Even so, several GOP operatives said privately that there have long been whispers that the 19-year House veteran wouldn't keep the post for a long time and a departure wouldn't be surprising.
Firefighter Dies Battling Massive California Blaze
A 32-year-old Cal Fire engineer from northern San Diego County was killed while fighting the massive Thomas Fire in Ventura County. Cory Iverson of Escondido died near Fillmore while helping battle the 10-day-old inferno, which has spread over about 242,500 acres and destroyed nearly 1,000 structures. Iverson, who leaves behind a pregnant wife and toddler daughter, had been with the state agency since 2009, according to Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott. Officials did not immediately disclose how Iverson died. Iverson, who was assigned to the Thomas Fire as part of a fire-engine strike team from Cal Fire's San Diego unit, is survived by his wife, Ashley; 2- year-old daughter, Evie; mother, Denise Butler; stepfather, Scott Butler; and father, Craig Iverson.
Flu Widespread in New York This Season, Health Department Says
The state Health Department says influenza is now prevalent in New York state, which means health care workers who haven't had a flu shot must wear procedural masks around patients. The agency says there have been over 1,800 confirmed cases of influenza in 54 counties and all boroughs of New York City. More than 600 required hospitalization. Influenza season typically runs from October through May, often peaking in February. Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says everyone over 6 months old is encouraged to get a flu shot as soon as possible. He says the vaccine is especially important for people at high risk of complications from flu, including children under 2, pregnant women and adults over 65.
NY, NJ and CT Among Healthiest States, Annual Report Says
All three states in the tri-state are among the healthiest in the country, according to an annual report on the nation’s health. Connecticut was the top performer, coming in at number five on the list. New York was ranked 10 and New Jersey was ranked 12. The United Health Foundation publishes the state-by-state America’s Health Rankings report based on the World Health Organization’s definition of health: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The report credited Connecticut and New York with having 200 primary care physicians per 100,000 people. And it recognized New Jersey for having 80 dentists per 100,000 people. Connecticut had the lowest number of cancer deaths in the tri-state at 173.7 per 100,000 people, but it had the highest number of drug deaths at 18.4 per 100,000.
NYPD Opens Investigation Into Russell Simmons, Sources Say
The NYPD has opened an investigation into music mogul Russell Simmons, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by a growing group of women, sources told NBC News. Two sources familiar with the matter say the department has opened a preliminary investigation into sexual assault allegations against Simmons based in part on public reporting. The Los Angeles Times was the first to report that detectives from the department’s special victims unit are looking into accusations from New York. Simmons did not respond to a request for comment by the Times. Sherri Hines, known as Sheri Sher during her time in the hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, told the Times the NYPD had contacted her after she said Simmons raped her at his New York office in 1983. Simmons has vehemently denied the allegations.
Dustin Hoffman Accused of New Incidents of Sexual Misconduct
More women are accusing Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct, including an incident in which a playwright says the actor exposed himself to her in a New York hotel room when she was 16-years-old. Playwright Cori Thomas described the 1980 incident in a story published by the trade outlet Variety. She confirmed the story in an email to The Associated Press. Thomas was a classmate of Hoffman's daughter when she says she met the actor, who invited her to his hotel room to wait for her mother after a dinner with the teenagers. Thomas says after Hoffman's daughter left, the actor took a shower and came out wearing only a towel, which she told Variety he dropped, exposing himself to her. Hoffman then put on a robe and asked Thomas to massage his feet, Thomas said, and repeatedly asked her if she wanted to see him naked again. The Variety report included the account of another woman. Hoffman's publicist and attorney did not return email messages seeking comment.