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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

Last Updated Nov 11, 2018 at 11:20 pm EST

Death toll rises in California wildfire, matching deadliest

PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — As relatives desperately searched shelters for missing loved ones on Sunday, crews searching the smoking ruins of Paradise and outlying areas found six more bodies, raising the death toll to 29, matching the deadliest wildfire in California history.

Wildfires continued to rage on both ends of the state, with gusty winds expected overnight which will challenge firefighters. The statewide death toll stood at 31. The Camp Fire that ravaged a swath of Northern California was the deadliest.

A total of 29 bodies have been found so far from that fire, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told a news briefing Sunday evening. He said 228 people were still unaccounted for.

Ten search and recovery teams were working in Paradise — a town of 27,000 that was largely incinerated on Thursday — and in surrounding communities. Authorities called in a mobile DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify victims of the most destructive wildfire in California history.

By early afternoon, one of the two black hearses stationed in Paradise had picked up another set of remains.

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Winds cause flare-ups of big Southern California wildfire

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — Strong Santa Ana winds returned to Southern California on Sunday, causing flare-ups of a huge wildfire that has scorched a string of communities west of Los Angeles, but no additional structures were believed to have been lost, authorities said.

Huge plumes of smoke rose in the fire area, which stretches miles from the northwest corner of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley to the Malibu coast.

Airplanes and helicopters swooped low over hills and canyons to drop loads of fire retardant and water.

A one-day lull in the dry, northeasterly winds ended at midmorning and authorities warned that the gusts would continue through Tuesday.

The lull allowed firefighters to gain 10 per cent control of the Woolsey fire, which has burned more than 130 square miles (335 square kilometres) in western Los Angeles County and southeastern Ventura County since Thursday.

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Florida election recount continues amid tensions, litigation

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Mishaps, protests and litigation dominated Florida’s first day of recounting the vote for pivotal races for governor and Senate, bringing back memories of the 2000 presidential fiasco.

Much of the drama on Sunday centred on Broward and Palm Beach counties, home to large concentrations of Democratic voters.

In Broward County, the recount was delayed for several hours Sunday morning because of a problem with one of the tabulation machines. That prompted the Republican Party to slam Broward’s supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, for “incompetence and gross mismanagement.”

Broward officials faced further headaches after they acknowledged the county mistakenly counted 22 absentee ballots that had been rejected. The problem seemed impossible to fix because the dismissed ballots were mixed in with 205 legal ballots and Snipes said it would be unfair to throw out all of those votes.

By the end of the day, Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for Senate, filed suit against Snipes in a circuit court. He sought a judge’s order that law enforcement agents impound and secure all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots “when not in use until such time as any recounts.” The lawsuit accused Snipes of repeatedly failing to account for the number of ballots left to be counted and failing to report results regularly as required by law.

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Critics rebuke Mississippi senator’s ‘public hanging’ remark

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A newly published video shows a white Republican U.S. senator in Mississippi praising someone by saying: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who faces a black Democratic challenger in a Nov. 27 runoff, said Sunday that her Nov. 2 remark was “exaggerated expression of regard” for someone who invited her to speak and “any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”

Mississippi has a history of racially motivated lynchings of black people. The NAACP website says that between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,743 lynchings in the United States, and nearly 73 per cent of the victims were black. It says Mississippi had 581 during that time, the highest number of any state.

Hyde-Smith is challenged by former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Espy.

“Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible,” Espy campaign spokesman Danny Blanton said in a statement Sunday. “They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.”

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Running on Empty? Kim Jong Un’s struggle to fuel his economy

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — More than 20 years after his father almost bargained them away for a pair of nuclear reactors, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has his nuclear weapons — and a nation still plagued by chronic blackouts.

Even on the clearest days, plumes of smoke from two towering chimneys linger over the centre of Pyongyang. The Soviet-era Pyongyang Combined Heat and Power Plant smokestacks are one of the North Korean capital’s most recognizable landmarks.

Possibly more than anything else, this is Kim Jong Un’s Achilles heel as he turns his attention from developing the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal to building its economy.

If stalled nuclear talks with Washington ever get back on track, helping Kim solve his country’s chronic energy deficit could be one of the biggest carrots President Trump has to offer. Washington, Seoul and Tokyo tried that back in the 1990s, and were even ready to pay for and build those two reactors Kim’s father wanted.

Years of intensive sanctions have severely impacted North Korea’s supply of fossil fuels from the outside world, but they also have spurred the country to cobble together a smorgasbord of energy resources, some of them off the grid and some of them flat-out illegal.

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Ex-coach says California gunman was volatile, intimidating

MONTCLAIR, Calif. (AP) — A second high school coach of the gunman who killed 12 people at a Southern California bar recalled him on Sunday as volatile and intimidating, and said that repeated complaints to school administrators about his behaviour failed to prompt any discipline.

Evie Cluke coached Ian David Long on Newbury Park High School’s track team in 2007 and 2008. In an interview with The Associated Press, she said Long was a “ticking time bomb” who constantly lost his temper, threw tantrums and would scream at coaches when he didn’t like their decisions. She said she once witnessed him assault a fellow coach.

That coach, Dominique Colell, said Long grabbed her rear and midsection after she refused to return a cellphone. Another time, he used his hand to mimic shooting her, Colell said, adding that she feared for herself whenever she was around him.

Cluke said she also witnessed Long pretending to shoot Colell.

“When Dominique turned around and saw that, she turned pale as a ghost and it was very, very scary.” Cluke said. “Just sadistic. … He was out of control. He would scream and cuss and his face would turn bright red and people would actually back away from him.”

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Democratic state gains may mean tighter gun, looser pot laws

From New York to New Mexico, residents in a number of states can expect a leftward push for expanded health care coverage, gun control, education funding and legalized recreational marijuana as Democrats who gained new or stronger powers in the midterm elections seek to put their stamp on public policy.

While Republicans remain in charge in more states, Democrats nearly doubled the number of places where they will wield a trifecta of power over the governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature. Democrats also broke up several Republican strongholds, forcing GOP lawmakers who have been cutting taxes and curbing union powers to deal with a new reality of a Democratic governor.

All told, Democrats gained seats in 62 of the 99 state legislative chambers, according to data provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures (Nebraska is the lone state with a single legislature). Democrats also added seven new governorships.

In New York, where a new Democratic-run Senate will provide the missing link in liberals’ political power, the expansive agenda could go beyond guns, pot and health care to also include more protections for abortion rights and higher taxes on millionaires.

“We will finally give New Yorkers the progressive leadership they have been demanding,” said Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who stands to lead the Senate when the new session begins in January.

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Gerard Butler’s house ‘half-gone,’ others await fire’s toll

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Celebrities whose coastal homes have been damaged or destroyed in a Southern California wildfire or were forced to flee from the flames expressed sympathy and solidarity with less-famous people hurt worse by the state’s deadly blazes, and gave their gratitude to firefighters who kept them safe.

“Returned to my house in Malibu after evacuating,” Gerard Butler wrote in an Instagram post next to a photo that showed a burned-out structure and a badly scorched vehicle. “Heartbreaking time across California. Inspired as ever by the courage, spirit and sacrifice of firefighters.”

“Half-gone” the “300” actor grumbled in his Scottish accent in a video that shows embers, ashes and what’s left of his home.

Robin Thicke’s Malibu home burned down entirely, according to his representative.

The 41-year-old singer said on Instagram that he, his girlfriend and his two kids are “safe and surrounded by friends and family” and were thankful to firefighters.

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Heart meeting features fish oil, vitamin D, cholesterol news

CHICAGO (AP) — Fish oil, vitamin D, novel drugs, new cholesterol guidelines: News from an American Heart Association conference over the weekend reveals a lot about what works and what does not for preventing heart attacks and other problems.

Dietary supplements missed the mark, but a prescription-strength fish oil showed promise. A drug not only helped people with diabetes control blood sugar and lose weight, but also lowered their risk of needing hospitalization for heart failure.

Good news for everyone: You no longer have to fast before a blood test to check cholesterol. Don’t stop at the doughnut shop on your way to the clinic, but eating something before the test is OK for most folks, the guidelines say.

They’re from the Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology and are endorsed by many other doctor groups. No authors had financial ties to drugmakers.

Here are highlights from the conference, which wraps up Monday:

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In remembering WWI, world warned of resurging ‘old demons’

PARIS (AP) — World leaders with the power to make war but a duty to preserve peace solemnly marked the end of World War I’s slaughter 100 years ago at commemorations Sunday that drove home the message “never again” but also exposed the globe’s new political fault lines.

As Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and dozens of other heads of state and government listened in silence, French President Emmanuel Macron used the occasion, as its host, to sound a powerful and sobering warning about the fragility of peace and the dangers of nationalism and of nations that put themselves first, above the collective good.

“The old demons are rising again, ready to complete their task of chaos and of death,” Macron said.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” he said. “In saying ‘Our interests first, whatever happens to the others,’ you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: Its moral values.”

Trump, ostensibly the main target of Macron’s message, sat stony-faced. The American president has proudly declared himself a nationalist. But if Trump felt singled out by Macron’s remarks, he didn’t show it. He later described the commemoration as “very beautiful.”

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