Searchers in California wildfire step up efforts; 77 dead CHICO, Calif. (AP) — Volunteers in white coveralls, hard hats and masks poked through ash and debris Sunday, searching for the remains of victims of the…
Searchers in California wildfire step up efforts; 77 dead
CHICO, Calif. (AP) — Volunteers in white coveralls, hard hats and masks poked through ash and debris Sunday, searching for the remains of victims of the devastating Northern California wildfire before rains forecast this week complicate their efforts.
While the predicted downpours could help tamp down blazes that have killed 77 people so far, they also could wash away telltale fragments of bone, or turn loose, dry ash into a thick paste that would frustrate the search.
A team of 10 volunteers went from burned house to burned house Sunday in the devastated town of Paradise, accompanied by a cadaver dog with a bell on its collar that jingled in the grim landscape.
The members of the team scrutinized the rubble in five-minute sweeps, using sticks to move aside debris and focused on vehicles, bathtubs and what was left of mattresses. When no remains were found, they spray-painted a large, orange “0” near the house.
Up to 400 people were involved in the overall search and recovery effort. Robert Panak, a volunteer on a different team from Napa County, spent the morning searching homes, but didn’t find any remains.
As Florida recount ends, Sen. Nelson concedes race to Scott
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida political icon who first arrived on Capitol Hill in the decades when Democrats dominated this presidential battleground state, conceded his bitterly close re-election bid to Republican Rick Scott on Sunday after a bruising recount left Nelson thousands of votes short of the outgoing governor.
Nelson gave up his quest after days of tense and often acrimonious recounting wrapped up at midday Sunday, when Florida’s counties had to turn in their official results. Florida will not officially certify the final results until Tuesday, but the totals showed Nelson trailing Scott by more than 10,000 votes.
“It has been a rewarding journey as well as a very humbling experience,” Nelson said in a videotaped statement. “I was not victorious in this race but I still wish to strongly re-affirm the cause for which we fought: A public office is a public trust.”
The close of nearly two weeks of high political drama in the presidential swing state likely spelled the end of the political career of the 76-year-old Nelson. First elected to the U.S. House 40 years ago, Nelson had been a Democratic survivor in an era when Republicans swept to power in Florida in the ’90s. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and was making his fourth bid at Senate re-election.
A Florida native with a distinct twang, Nelson fought a hard race against Scott, a multimillionaire businessman and relative newcomer to the state who had been urged to run by President Donald Trump. A Scott victory will help Republicans boost their Senate majority.
Another House win caps Democratic rout in California
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Democrat Gil Cisneros captured a Republican-held U.S. House seat in Southern California, capping a Democratic rout in which the party picked up six congressional seats in the state.
In what had been the last undecided House contest in California, Cisneros beat Republican Young Kim for the state’s 39th District seat.
The Cisneros victory Saturday cements a stunning political realignment that will leave a vast stretch of the Los Angeles metropolitan area under Democratic control in the House.
With Kim’s defeat, four Republican-held House districts all or partly in Orange County, once a nationally known GOP stronghold, will have shifted in one election to the Democratic column. The change means that the county — Richard Nixon’s birthplace and site of his presidential library — will only have Democrats representing its residents in Washington next year.
The Orange County Democratic Party said it’s the first time since 1940 that all seven House seats in the county, home to 3.2 million people, are in Democratic control. Three seats all or partly in the northwestern end of the county are held by Democrats who were easily re-elected.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump isn’t committing to a previous pledge to keep chief of staff John Kelly for the remainder of his term, part of widespread speculation about staffing changes that could soon sweep through his administration.
Trump, in a wide-ranging interview that aired on “Fox News Sunday,” praised Kelly’s work ethic and much of what he brings to the position but added, “There are certain things that I don’t like that he does.”
“There are a couple of things where it’s just not his strength. It’s not his fault. It’s not his strength,” said Trump, who added that Kelly himself might want to depart.
Asked whether he would keep Kelly in his post through 2020, the president offered only that “it could happen.” Trump had earlier pledged publicly that Kelly would remain through his first term in office, though many in the West Wing were skeptical.
Trump said he was happy with his Cabinet but was thinking about changing “three or four or five positions.” One of them is Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen, whose departure is now considered inevitable. Trump said in the interview that he could keep her on, but he made clear that he wished she would be tougher in implementing his hard-line immigration policies and enforcing border security.
Tijuana protesters chant ‘Out!’ at migrants camped in city
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Hundreds of Tijuana residents congregated around a monument in an affluent section of the city south of California on Sunday to protest the thousands of Central American migrants who have arrived via caravan in hopes of a new life in the U.S.
Tensions have built as nearly 3,000 migrants from the caravan poured into Tijuana in recent days after more than a month on the road, and with many more months ahead of them while they seek asylum. The federal government estimates the number of migrants could soon swell to 10,000.
U.S. border inspectors are processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at Tijuana’s main crossing to San Diego. Asylum seekers register their names in a tattered notebook managed by migrants themselves that had more than 3,000 names even before the caravan arrived.
On Sunday, displeased Tijuana residents waved Mexican flags, sang the Mexican national anthem and chanted “Out! Out!” in front of a statue of the Aztec ruler Cuauhtemoc, 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from the U.S. border. They accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana. They also complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.” And they voiced worries that their taxes might be spent to care for the group.
“We don’t want them in Tijuana,” protesters shouted.
Trump on Khashoggi death tape: ‘No reason for me to hear it’
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said there is no reason for him to listen to a recording of the “very violent, very vicious” killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which has put him in a diplomatic bind: how to admonish Riyadh for the slaying yet maintain strong ties with a close ally.
Trump, in an interview that aired Sunday, made clear that the audio recording, supplied by the Turkish government, would not affect his response to the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who had been critical of the Saudi royal family.
“It’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it,” Trump said in the interview with “Fox News Sunday.” ”I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it.”
On Saturday, Trump said his administration will “be having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday.” He said the report will include “who did it.” It was unclear if the report would be made public.
American intelligence agencies have concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey, according to a U.S. official familiar with the assessment. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Others familiar with the case caution that while it’s likely the crown prince was involved in the death, there continue to be questions about what role he played.
Finland’s president rakes memory for source of Trump remark
HELSINKI (AP) — Finland’s president isn’t sure where U.S. President Donald Trump got the idea that raking is part of his country’s routine for managing its substantial forests.
Trump told reporters Saturday while visiting the ruins of the Northern California town where a fire killed at least 76 people that wildfires weren’t a problem in Finland because crews “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things” to clear forest floors.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said in an interview published Sunday in the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper that he spoke briefly with Trump about forest management on Nov. 11, when they both were in Paris for Armistice Day events.
Niinisto said their conversation focused on the California wildfires and the surveillance system Finland uses to monitor forests for fires. He remembered telling Trump “We take care of our forests,” but couldn’t recall raking coming up.
The U.S. leader’s comment generated amusement on social media in Finland, which manages its vast forests with scientific seriousness.
Rhodes scholar class features plenty of women, immigrants
BOSTON (AP) — The latest crop of U.S. Rhodes scholars has more women than any other single class, and almost half of this year’s recipients of the prestigious scholarship to Oxford University in England are either immigrants or first-generation Americans, the Rhodes Trust announced Sunday.
Among the 32 winners is Harvard University senior Jin Park, the first recipient covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era program that shields young immigrants from deportation.
Park, 22, of the New York City borough of Queens, arrived from South Korea with his parents when he was 7, studied molecular and cellular biology at Harvard, and founded a nonprofit to help undocumented students apply to college.
He hopes to become an immigrant advocate, saying it’s important for him to use the opportunity to better others, not just himself.
“When you grow up as an undocumented immigrant in America, that understanding that your talents don’t really belong to you in the traditional sense, that you have to share the fruits of your labor with others, that’s just something you learn,” Park said.
Bloomberg donates ‘unprecedented’ $1.8B to Johns Hopkins
BALTIMORE (AP) — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Sunday he’s donating $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, to boost financial aid for low- and middle-income students.
The Baltimore university said the contribution — the largest ever to any education institution in the U.S. — will allow Johns Hopkins to eliminate student loans in financial aid packages starting next fall. The university will instead offer scholarships that don’t have to be repaid.
University President Ronald Daniels said Bloomberg’s contribution will also let the institution permanently commit to “need-blind admissions,” or the principle of admitting the highest-achieving students, regardless of their ability to pay for their education.
“Hopkins has received a gift that is unprecedented and transformative,” he said in a statement, noting the prestigious school was founded in 1876 by a $7 million gift from Baltimore merchant Johns Hopkins that was, similarly, the largest gift of its kind at the time.
By way of comparison, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Gates Millennium Scholars program in 1999 with a $1 billion commitment over 20 years. The Chronicle of Higher Education listed it as the largest private donation to a higher-education institution in the U.S. earlier this month.
Why a salmonella outbreak shouldn’t ruin your Thanksgiving
NEW YORK (AP) — There’s no reason to skip Thanksgiving dinner because of a salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey.
That’s according to health officials who’ve been monitoring the year-old outbreak. But they say it’s a reminder to properly prepare your holiday bird. Cooking kills salmonella.
The ongoing outbreak and recall last week of ground turkey may nevertheless leave you with a few questions when reaching for a plate of turkey.
CAN MY TURKEY HAVE SALMONELLA?
Salmonella is considered widespread in poultry, and it’s perfectly legal for supermarkets to sell raw turkey that has the bacteria. Part of the rationale for allowing salmonella is that people don’t eat chicken medium rare, said Timothy Lytton, a Georgia State University law professor. In 1974, a court said that “American housewives and cooks normally are not ignorant and stupid” and that they know how to prepare food so people don’t get sick.