1. Volkswagen answers to Congress for cheating U.S. emissions tests

Michael Horn, Volkswagen’s boss in the U.S., will face questions from a House subcommittee Thursday over the manipulative software installed in up to 11 million diesel cars worldwide — which fooled regulators into believing that the vehicles were compliant with emissions standards. Horn’s reputation for candor could make him more relatable. But it also presents a risk for a company that’s already facing a slew of class-action lawsuits and government investigations.


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2. Oil changes in 90 seconds? Castrol claims breakthrough

Castrol, a division of BP, will announce Thursday a breakthrough in motor-oil system design that makes the 20-minute oil change now a 90 second job. The new system, which Castrol has dubbed Nexcel, must be integrated into vehicle engines at the design stage. That means it won’t hit mainstream cars for another five years or so. The company did not reveal many details about the technology but says it will offer environmental benefits. It lowers carbon emissions when the car is driving and enables improved recycling of oil cells back into refined petroleum.

3. Goodbye, Speaker Boehner. Hello, McCarthy?

House Republicans will gather behind closed doors Thursday to nominate a new leader, prompted by House Speaker John Boehner’s surprise announcement that he would resign this month. Kevin McCarthy, currently the House majority leader, is the odds-on favorite to win the top slot. He only needs a majority of GOP votes Thursday to win the nomination, but he will need 218 votes on the floor at the end of the month to be elected speaker. The Californian is being challenged by Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah. Rank-and-file conservatives are pushing for a series of rules changes that would give them a larger role in setting the legislative agenda for the House before they commit to vote for anyone for speaker.

4. Report: Iran pushed Russia to intervene in Syria, Iraq

Tehran apparently lobbied hard for Moscow to play a larger role in conflicts in Syria and Iraq, including by conducting airstrikes, according to a media report. The head of Iran’s elite special forces unit Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, traveled to Russia in August to forcefully argue the case for military intervention in the region by President Vladimir Putin, the Associated Press said Thursday. Its story cited anonymous Iraqi government officials. Representatives from the Iranian and Russian governments declined comment. However, if Soleimani did visit Russia this summer, if would have been in contravention of a United Nations travel-sanctions ban on the general.

5. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces 2016 nominees

A wide range of genres fall under the rock ‘n’ roll umbrella, and it’s evident in the Hall of Fame nominations announced Thursday. Cheap Trick, Janet Jackson, The Cars and Los Lobos were all nominated for the first time. Chaka Khan, Steve Miller, Chicago and Nine Inch Nails also made the list. Inductees will be determined by more than 800 artists, historians and music-industry professionals. And you can vote, too! The top five artists will make up a fans’ ballot, which counts as a single vote. The 2016 inductees will be announced in December and the induction ceremony will be held in New York in April.

And the essentials:

Weather: Mostly nice weather is forecast across the nation on Thursday, with some trouble spots in the Southwest and Upper Midwest.

Stocks: U.S. stock futures were lower Thursday, ahead of the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting.

TV tonight: Wondering what to watch tonight? TV critic Robert Bianco looks at Vampire Diaries, Billy on the Street and How to Get Away with Murder.

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