5 things to know Thursday | News Coverage from USA

5 things to know Thursday

Democrats take the House as new Congress convenes

The 116th Congress will convene Thursday, including a new Democratic majority in the House after female candidates spearheaded gains for the party during the 2018 midterms. The presumptive incoming House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview that President Donald Trump can expect a “different world” from his first two years in office. She and her Democratic colleagues plan to confront Trump on such issues as the deaths of migrant children and the protection of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. And they will have subpoena power, giving them new leverage in the clashes.

Government shutdown: Fight for funding takes a new turn

Shortly after Nancy Pelosi returns as House speaker and Democrats reclaim the House majority Thursday, they will put their new political power to the test by moving to reopen the federal government. Democratic leaders have scheduled two votes on a package of bills to end the shutdown and give Congress more time to negotiate a deal with the White House over border funding.  But the bills still must clear the GOP-controlled Senate, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has said he won’t call for a vote to end the standoff unless President Donald Trump backs it. 

App could change the way we react to earthquakes

Los Angeles officials will formally announce a new app for Apple and Android smartphones Thursday that may give residents a few seconds to prepare for an earthquake. Similar to an Amber Alert, ShakeAlertLA will give warnings when significant shaking starts nearby, ideally allowing users to get to a safe place. The U.S. Geological Survey has been developing the alert system for the West Coast since 2006, ShakeAlertLA says. Users will only receive alerts for earthquake and aftershocks over 5.0 magnitude, which are deemed capable of creating damage and affecting public safety.  

PGA Tour begins 2019 with a notable absence

The Sentry Tournament of Champions begins Thursday in Hawaii, but Tiger Woods will not be participating after speculation he could start his 2019 campaign at Kapalua. Woods has not played the TOC since 2005, but will likely begin 2019 at the Farmers Insurance Open on Jan. 24 at Torrey Pines. Among the notable players in the field in Hawaii are defending champion Dustin Johnson, 2018 PGA Player of the Year Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau. 

Didn’t get what you want over the holidays? Well, you’re in luck!

Thursday is expected to be the second biggest day for holiday returns which will mean shoppers may face crowds or issues when exchanging or bringing back unwanted gifts. In anticipation for the annual return-a-thon, — UPS is expecting returns to hit 1.3 million — retailers also have launched their after-Christmas sales.  According to the National Retail Federation’s annual December survey, 50 percent of consumers plan to take advantage of after-Christmas sales in stores and 45 percent plan to do the same online. If you plan on returning gifts, experts recommend reading store policies and deadlines to avoid post-holiday-gift-return headaches. 

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