Tribune News Service
News Budget for Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Updated at 11 p.m. EST (0400 UTC).
Adds AFGHAN-AUSTRALIAN-TROOPS:BLO, RIVERA-DROWNING:LA, CORONAVIRUS-VACCINE-FREEZERS:BLO, TRUMP-THANKSGIVING:NY, CALIF-MARIJUANA:LA
Updates ELN-WIS-TRUMP:BLO, ELN-PA-TRUMP-LAWSUITS:PH, ELN-GA-RECOUNT:AT, CORONAVIRUS-VACCINE-PFIZER:BLO
Additional news stories appear on the MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.
This budget is now available at TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.
^Pfizer plans filing as its COVID-19 vaccine proves 95% effective<
CORONAVIRUS-VACCINE-PFIZER-1ST-LEDE:BLO _ Pfizer Inc. said a final analysis of clinical trial data showed its COVID-19 vaccine was 95% effective, paving the way for the company to apply this week for the first U.S. regulatory authorization for a coronavirus shot.
The U.S. drugmaker and partner BioNTech SE said their vaccine protected people of all ages and ethnicities, with no significant safety problems so far in a trial that includes almost 44,000 participants.
The update is the latest in a string of promising developments on the vaccine front in recent days. Moderna Inc.'s rival shot appears equally effective, judging from data published earlier this week, and a third contender, from AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford, is expected to release trial results soon.
550 by Robert Langreth. MOVED
^Trump ups the ante in his Pa. court fight, asking judge to upend state's Electoral College selection process<
ELN-PA-TRUMP-LAWSUITS-1ST-LEDE:PH _ Seeking to revise the case they laid out in court just a day earlier, President Donald Trump's campaign lawyers asked a federal judge in a new filing Wednesday to consider a drastic new solution in their challenge to Pennsylvania's election results: Declare the statewide vote "defective" and empower the state's Republican-controlled Legislature to appoint the state's delegates to the Electoral College.
That remedy _ laid out in a revised complaint submitted by Trump's legal team _ has only limited basis in the law and would effectively disregard the votes cast by 6.8 million Pennsylvanians.
750 by Jeremy Roebuck in Philadelphia. MOVED
^Boeing 737 Max can return to the skies, FAA says<
BOEING-MAX-RETURN:SE _ Twenty months after Boeing's new 737 Max was grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes, the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday approved Boeing's fixes for the airplane and cleared the Max to return to service.
In a statement, the FAA said airlines that have parked their Max aircraft must make required maintenance and system modifications to prepare them to fly again. The agency will review each U.S. airline's Max pilot-training program. And it will inspect and issue an airworthiness certificate for every Max Boeing built after the March 2019 grounding order.
2350 by Dominic Gates in Seattle. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED
^ICE is deporting women amid criminal investigation into Georgia doctor<
ICE-DOCTOR-COMPLAINTS-DEPORTATIONS:LA _ Four months ago, a Honduran immigrant named Jackelin was taken from Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia to see a local gynecologist.
Then a few weeks ago, lawyers for Jackelin and 16 other women detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement informed investigators that the women wanted to testify against the doctor, who's now at the center of a criminal investigation amid allegations that he pressured patients at Irwin to undergo unnecessary medical procedures, including hysterectomies.
1950 (with trims) by Molly O'Toole in Washington. MOVED
^Coronavirus death toll surges past 250,000 in US<
CORONAVIRUS-US:NY _ The still-raging coronavirus pandemic reached another grim milestone Wednesday, with the U.S. death toll surging past 250,000.
The quarter-million milestone, confirmed by Johns Hopkins University, is higher than the number of American military deaths in every conflict since the Korean War as well as those recorded during the U.S. Civil War.
The once-unthinkable tally follows a series of alarming records across the nation as the number of new cases and severe infections continues to skyrocket.
500 by Nelson Oliveira. MOVED
^Customs agents held more Iranian Americans and others at US-Canada border than it admitted, records show<
IMMIGRATION-IRANIAN-AMERICANS:LA _ When Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Mark Morgan admitted in February that agents had improperly detained Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canada border, he said in "one instance leadership got a little overzealous."
But agency documents made public Tuesday by order of a federal judge indicate that Customs agents held far more people at the Blaine, Washington, border crossing in early January than previously revealed. The internal emails show that in all, agents sent 277 people for secondary, intensive questioning _ sometimes for several hours overnight.
1200 by Richard Read and Sarah Parvini in Seattle. MOVED
^Why the third wave of coronavirus could be the most difficult for California<
CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-THIRDWAVE:LA _ Faced with a third COVID-19 wave just as we enter the holiday season, it would be fair for Californians to pose some existential questions.
Why does this virus seem to be targeting us yet again? Why have we struggled to control it? Where did we go wrong?
The simple answer is: We actually do know how to fight the virus. We just got tired of doing it.
This third coronavirus wave is particularly troubling because "we never got back down" to a low baseline number of cases, said Dr. Sara Cody, the Santa Clara County health officer and a key architect of the nation's first regional stay-at-home order.
Even worse, this surge is happening during the traditional cold-and-flu season, exacerbated because people tend to stay indoors, where it's easier to pass along germs.
1550 by Rong-Gong Lin II. MOVED
^Analysis: Gov. Newsom, legislators face angry backlash over party and Hawaii trip<
CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-LAWMAKERS-ANALYSIS:LA _ No politician escapes the heightened scrutiny that comes with running for office. And most, if not all, have been criticized for not doing enough to align their actions with their words.
But few see their missteps lead so quickly to white-hot anger as did California Gov. Gavin Newsom, after admitting that he joined several other couples at a birthday dinner less than two weeks ago, or members of the California Legislature currently enjoying a trip to Hawaii while schmoozing with interest groups.
In both cases, the personal decisions of the elected officials involved gave the impression that their privilege led them to believe they are immune to the pandemic.
1150 by John Myers in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED
^Illinois surpasses 11,000 COVID-19 deaths as officials report another 140 fatalities<
CORONAVIRUS-ILL:TB _ Illinois' COVID-19 death toll topped 11,000 on Wednesday, already meeting a projection the state's top public health official recently gave for the entire year.
Officials reported 140 additional deaths of people with COVID-19, raising the state-reported death toll to 11,014 over the course of the pandemic.
250 by Jamie Munks in Chicago. MOVED
^Florida COVID-19 cases soar past 905,000<
CORONAVIRUS-FLA:MI _ Florida's Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed 7,925 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's known total to more than 900,000 cases, at 905,248, the third-highest number of cases in the country.
Also, the state announced 87 resident deaths, bringing the resident death toll to 17,731.
The number of new deaths is the most since Oct. 21 when the state announced 105.
450 by Howard Cohen and Michelle Marchante in Miami. MOVED
^NYC schools to close temporarily because of rising COVID-19 rates<
CORONAVIRUS-NY-SCHOOLS:NY _ New York City public schools will shut down temporarily starting Thursday because of surging coronavirus cases, top city officials said Wednesday.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said the closure would be "temporary" in an email to staffers Wednesday afternoon, but did not signal when schools would reopen. Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed the closures on Twitter minutes later after delaying his morning press briefing by at least five hours and counting.
600 by Michael Gartland and Michael Elsen-Rooney in New York. MOVED
^Higher viral load more deadly for COVID-19 hospital patients, analysis finds<
CORONAVIRUS-DEATHS-LEVELS:SE _ COVID-19 patients who have high levels of coronavirus in their bodies when admitted to the hospital are four times more likely to die than those with lower amounts of virus, according to a new analysis from the University of Washington.
But viral loads, which could help identify patients most at risk, are not generally measured or reported for COVID-19, says the report published this week in the journal Open Forum Infectious Disease.
650 by Sandi Doughton in Seattle. MOVED
^At-home health tests are booming amid coronavirus. Experts warn about their safety<
^CORONAVIRUS-ATHOME-TESTS-WARNINGS:LA_<The pandemic has been a boon for start-ups selling lab tests to anxious Americans who don't want to leave home for a doctor's visit.
In August, citing the pandemic and a desire to reduce bureaucracy, the Trump administration made an unexpected move to limit the Food and Drug Administration's already minimal oversight of the type of tests widely used by the industry _ products known as lab-developed tests.
The decision has heightened worries from some health experts that consumers could be harmed, as few of the tests are backed by scientific studies and most don't require a doctor's prescription.
1300 (with trims) by Melody Petersen. MOVED
^COVID-19 vaccine freezers in place for rollout once FDA gives OK<
CORONAVIRUS-VACCINE-FREEZERS:BLO _ Freezers required to store COVID-19 vaccines are in place at health systems that are preparing to administer the initial doses once the two leading candidates for shots receive a green light from regulators, U.S. health officials said Wednesday.
The federal government will have 40 million doses _ enough to vaccinate 20 million _ ready to distribute by the end of December should vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE, and Moderna Inc. receive emergency-use authorizations, said Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser of the joint-effort led by the Department of Health and Human Services and Defense Department to expedite the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines, dubbed Operation Warp Speed.
900 by Riley Griffin and Jeannie Baumann. MOVED
^COVID-19 hospitalizations in North Carolina set another new record<
CORONAVIRUS-NC:RA _ Officials in North Carolina reported a record 1,537 people hospitalized with the coronavirus Wednesday, the third consecutive day the state has hit a new high.
Hospitalizations were reported at 1,423 Monday. On Tuesday, that increased to 1,501, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The department says its data is preliminary and can change.
DHHS reported 3,367 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the second highest daily increase since the pandemic began in March.
300 by Ben Sessoms in Raleigh, N.C. MOVED
^Year-end fiscal cliffs are approaching for millions of Americans<
^CORONAVIRUS-RELIEF-EXPIRING:BLO_<A whole range of pandemic aid programs are set to expire in the new year, leaving millions of Americans without the government support that's helped keep them afloat _ and threatening to hold back a rebounding economy.
The biggest blow will likely come from the end of two federal unemployment-insurance programs, with roughly 12 million people facing a late-December cutoff, according to a study released Wednesday by The Century Foundation. Also, measures that froze student-loan payments, offered mortgage forbearance and halted evictions have a year-end deadline and so do Federal Reserve lending facilities for small businesses and local governments.
1100 by Reade Pickert and Olivia Rockeman. MOVED
^Washington state wedding with 300 guests turns into a COVID-19 superspreader event<
CORONAVIRUS-WASHSTATE-WEDDING:SE _ About 40 cases of COVID-19 and two subsequent coronavirus outbreaks are the legacy of a wedding at a private venue near Ritzville that drew more than 300 attendees, according to health officials in Grant and Adams counties.
On Tuesday, officials said the tally was nearing 40 in Grant County and was at four and counting in Adams.
"This is the perfect example of what we don't want to see," said Karen Potts, community director of the Adams County Health Department.
500 by Christine Clarridge in Seattle. MOVED
^Is it COVID-19? Feverish Harvey Weinstein is being 'closely monitored' in prison<
^CORONAVIRUS-WEINSTEIN:LA_<Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is "being closely monitored" by medical staff in a New York state prison after coming down with a fever, according to his representatives. It is unclear whether the former producer has COVID-19.
"We can neither confirm nor deny that Mr. Weinstein has tested positive for COVID-19," his publicist Juda Englemeyer and authorized prison spokesman Craig Rothfeld said in a statement to The Times on Wednesday.
The 68-year-old inmate is currently in the care of the medical staff at Wende Correctional Facility, the maximum security prison in upstate New York where he is serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in the landmark #MeToo case.
400 by Nardine Saad. (Moved as an entertainment story.)
^4 takeaways from the race for a COVID-19 vaccine<
CORONAVIRUS-VACCINES-TAKEAWAYS:LA _ There's no silver bullet that will bring the COVID-19 pandemic to a rapid close, but an effective vaccine is the next-best thing. And now there are two candidates that have delivered encouraging reviews.
Preliminary results from tests of a vaccine being developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health suggest it may be up to 95% effective at preventing the disease. A similar vaccine created by Pfizer and BioNTech was also found to be 95% effective in a separate preliminary analysis.
Here are four takeaways from the race for a COVID-19 vaccine.
1500 by Melissa Healy. MOVED
^White House signals acceptance of omnibus spending package<
TRUMP-SPENDING-BILL:CON _ The Trump administration appears ready to accept a $1.4 trillion, full-year omnibus appropriations bill rather than a simple short-term government funding extension, according to top Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby met separately on Wednesday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to talk about year-end legislative priorities. Meadows also had lunch with GOP senators on Wednesday.
"It's our hope, and I think this is (Speaker Nancy Pelosi's) view as well, that we can come together on an omnibus and pass it," McConnell told reporters. "I believe that that's the preference of the White House as well."
700 by Jennifer Shutt in Washington. MOVED
^Biden says Trump's refusal to accept defeat could delay coronavirus vaccine distribution by 'weeks or months'<
WHITEHOUSE-TRANSITION:NY _ President-elect Joe Biden said Wednesday that President Donald Trump's refusal to accept defeat could delay distribution of coronavirus vaccines by "weeks or months."
As Trump digs in his heels, Biden said his incoming team is hamstrung by the administration's refusal to coordinate with those who will be in charge of fighting the pandemic and planning to roll out millions of doses of vaccines.
250 by Dave Goldiner. MOVED
^Trump hunkers down at White House for Thanksgiving as ouster looms<
TRUMP-THANKSGIVING:NY _ Turkey Day is going to be different this year for the Trumps.
The First Family will spend Thanksgiving at the White House as President Donald Trump hunkers down for what he wants the public to think is an epic fight for his political life.
400 by Dave Goldiner. MOVED
^Judge blocks Trump policy to expel migrant children<
IMMIGRATION-CHILDREN:BLO _ The Trump administration must stop expelling migrant children who cross into the U.S. on their own, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington blocked an order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that authorized the immediate expulsion of unaccompanied minors who crossed the southern border during the pandemic. The policy has led to at least 2,000 rapid deportations, according to court papers.
300 by David Yaffe-Bellany in Washington. MOVED
^New defense secretary makes another major military change, this one on Special Forces<
MILITARY-SPECIALFORCES:WA _ Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller on Wednesday made his second major change since taking charge of the Pentagon, streamlining the command structure for the Special Forces.
One day after announcing a reduction in U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, Miller visited Fort Bragg, home of Army Special Operations Command, and signed a memo authorizing the change in the command structure.
350 by Tara Copp in Fort Bragg, N.C. (Moved as a Washington story.) MOVED
^Analysis: Congress unlikely to tie Trump's hands on Afghan plan<
DEFENSE-BILL-ANALYSIS:CON _ House and Senate negotiators must decide in the coming days whether to send President Donald Trump a final defense authorization bill that would aim to bar him from slashing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan.
But the strongest National Defense Authorization Act language yet written along these lines may not survive conference, and it's probably not potent enough in any event to stay Trump's hand _ as if he would obey it anyway.
As a result, Congress will have once again deferred to presidential authority on a matter of national security.
1200 by John M Donnelly in Washington. MOVED
^Pelosi affirms promise that next term as speaker will be her last<
CONGRESS-PELOSI:CON _ Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday affirmed a promise she made to her caucus two years ago that she would give up the gavel after the 117th Congress.
Ahead of the 116th Congress, Pelosi cut a deal with a handful of members threatening to vote against her for speaker on the floor. To win their support, the California Democrat agreed to allow the caucus to vote on proposed term limits for the top three Democratic leaders and to abide by the proposal herself regardless of whether it was adopted.
600 by Lindsey McPherson in Washington. MOVED
^Rep. Katherine Clark wins assistant speaker race <
CONGRESS-DEMOCRATS-LEADERSHIP:CON _ House Democrats elected Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark as assistant speaker on Wednesday, making her the second-highest ranking woman ever in Democratic leadership, behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Clark, 57, who got her start in leadership this Congress serving as caucus vice chair, beat Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, 59, the outgoing chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, for the No. 4 position in the caucus. The vote was 135-92.
550 by Lindsey McPherson in Washington. MOVED
^Senate panel considers slate of 3 nominees to the FEC<
SENATE-FEC:CON _ Roy Blunt, chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, said Wednesday he wants to move this year to confirm three nominees to the Federal Election Commission, an agency that spent nearly all the 2020 campaign season with too many vacancies to even convene meetings.
The Rules panel held a hearing Wednesday with a bipartisan trio of nominees who, if confirmed, would restore the beleaguered agency to its full slate of six commissioners. Shana M. Broussard, who is the Democrats' pick and currently serves as counsel to FEC Commissioner Steven Walther, would be the agency's first Black commissioner in its 45 years.
400 by Kate Ackley in Washington. MOVED
^Trump campaign asks for partial vote recount in Wisconsin<
ELN-WIS-TRUMP-1ST-LEDE:BLO _ President Donald Trump's campaign asked for a partial recount of the presidential vote in Wisconsin in a long-shot bid to overturn the result in a key swing state that helped give President-elect Joe Biden his victory this month.
The campaign filed petitions Wednesday morning for recounts in two heavily Democratic counties: Milwaukee and Dane, which includes the city of Madison. The two counties also account for a majority of Wisconsin's Black population.
500 by Amanda Albright and Stephen Joyce. MOVED
^Trump campaign seeks to invalidate Nevada's vote tally<
ELN-NEV-ELECTORS-LAWSUIT:BLO _ The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit targeting Nevada's six presidential electors, who are planning to cast their votes for President-elect Joe Biden, including one woman who claims she's a homeless military veteran.
The suit seeks to invalidate the state's vote tally in the Nov. 3 election, claiming "substantial irregularities, improprieties and fraud" and naming the Biden-pledged electors individually as defendants.
250 by Bob Van Voris and Patricia Hurtado. MOVED
^Recount finds thousands of Georgia votes missing from initial counts<
ELN-GA-RECOUNT-1ST-LEDE:AT _ The vote recount in Georgia is expected to confirm the election results, as intended. But it also exposed flaws in voting systems that almost resulted in some ballots being overlooked.
Election workers in three counties discovered a total of more than 3,300 new votes stored on memory cards that hadn't been loaded into election computers. A different issue in Floyd County led to another 2,600 ballots going unscanned.
Those votes are now being counted, reducing Joe Biden's lead over Donald Trump to 12,781 votes. Trump gained about 1,400 votes that county election officials hadn't tallied before the recount.
950 by Mark Niesse and David Wickert in Atlanta. MOVED
^If Miami-Dade goes more Republican, is Florida still a swing state?<
^ELN-FLA-MIAMI-DADE:MI_<As Democrats and Republicans begin to plan for the next set of elections _ which will include governor, statewide cabinet positions and one of two U.S. senate seats in Florida _ political strategists and candidates want to know one thing: Which Miami-Dade County will show up on Nov. 8, 2022?
Miami-Dade's rightward shift in 2020 has already generated talk that the nation's biggest swing state might be losing its swing.
1050 (with trims) by David Smiley in Miami. MOVED
^Perdue's debate dodge highlights opening Ga. runoff strategy<
GASENATE-RUNOFF-PERDUE:AT _ In the two weeks since the presidential election, U.S. Sen. David Perdue has held one public event, conducted a Fox News interview and announced he wouldn't participate in any debates with his Georgia runoff opponent, Jon Ossoff.
The first-term Republican's opening strategy diverges sharply not only from Ossoff, who has accused Perdue of being "chicken," but also from fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the other Georgia incumbent facing a Jan. 5 runoff to determine control of the U.S. Senate.
800 by Greg Bluestein in Atlanta. MOVED
^2020 lessons, Democratic divisions define race for DCCC chair<
HOUSE-DEMOCRATS-DCCC:CON _ House Democrats will have to beat the odds, and history, if they are to keep the majority in 2022.
Before they get there, they have to choose who will lead that fight. And the battle between Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York and Tony C rdenas of California to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee comes as the party debates what led to unexpected losses in 2020, and how to keep internal divisions in a shrunken caucus from breaking open wider.
Both Maloney and C rdenas believe it's possible for Democrats to not only hold but also grow their majority in 2022 with Joe Biden in the White House, despite the president's party losing an average of 33 seats in recent midterm elections.
1450 (with trims) by Bridget Bowman and Kate Ackley in Washington. MOVED
^Brooklyn federal judge drops charges against Mexico's former top defense official<
USMEXICO-EXOFFICIAL:NY _ A Brooklyn federal judge agreed Wednesday to dismiss narcotics trafficking charges against Mexico's former defense secretary and send him back to his home country _ a stunning about-face a mere month after the ex-official was arrested.
The decision came a day after the Department of Justice suddenly announced they were dropping the drug cartel case against Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and handing him over to Mexican authorities.
600 by Noah Goldberg in New York. MOVED
^Wisconsin defendant in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot plans to fight his extradition to Michigan<
MICH-GOV-PLOT:DE _ A Wisconsin man charged in the alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is planning to challenge his extradition to Michigan, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Michigan's extradition paperwork for Brian Higgins, 52, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, is improper because it was signed by Whitmer, the target of the alleged plot, Higgins' lawyer argued in a court filing in advance of Wednesday's status conference in Columbia County Circuit Court in Wisconsin.
550 by Joe Guillen and Darcie Moran in Detroit. MOVED
^Will 'Amtrak Joe' Biden bail out California's troubled bullet train? Don't bet on it<
^BIDEN-CALIF-RAIL:LA_<President-elect Joe Biden is a self-professed train fanatic who estimates that he has ridden more than 2 million miles on 16,000 trains. This fall, he rode the rails to campaign across Ohio and Pennsylvania, part of the "Build Back Better" train tour.
For months, some supporters of California's troubled high-speed rail project have pined for a Biden presidency, hoping his administration would throw its support behind the planned system between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, with trains running at 220 mph.
But while state officials anticipate more peaceful dealings with the new administration, nobody expects an imminent bailout. Some doubt that the president-elect will make investment in high-speed rail a priority.
1350 (with trims) by Ralph Vartabedian. MOVED
^UC Berkeley to remove names of LeConte and Barrows halls due to 'controversial legacies'<
CMP-BERKELEY-NAMES:LA _ Two halls at the University of California, Berkeley will have their names removed Wednesday in response to growing awareness of their namesakes' controversial legacies, campus officials said.
For now, Barrows Hall will be referred to simply as the Social Sciences Building, while the two buildings that comprise LeConte Hall will be known as Physics North and Physics South, according to a news release from the university. Their original namesakes were early, prominent members of the university faculty who also promoted racist rhetoric and colonialist ideas.
1000 (with trims) by Hayley Smith in Los Angeles. MOVED
^LAPD sergeant sues after being disciplined over his social media posts on Nipsey Hussle, other topics<
LAPD-SERGEANT-SOCIALMEDIA:LA _ A Los Angeles police sergeant who was repeatedly disciplined over controversial posts on his personal Facebook and Instagram accounts is suing the LAPD and its top commander for violating his constitutional rights, alleging they punished him simply for expressing political viewpoints they didn't like.
Sgt. Joel Sydanmaa, a 24-year veteran of the department, posted his opinions about Muslims, the appointment of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle.
550 by Kevin Rector in Los Angeles. MOVED
^Fires rage along California-Nevada border, destroying homes in Reno and forcing evacuations<
CALIF-NEV-WILDFIRES-1ST-LEDE:LA _ A pair of fires ignited Tuesday afternoon along the California-Nevada border, burning more than 30,000 acres and damaging at least 20 homes in a Reno neighborhood.
Spurred by strong winds, the Mountain View fire broke out around noon Pacific time in the Mono County town of Walker, south of Topaz Lake.
With the fire raging, residents in the eastern Sierra communities of Coleville, Walker and Topaz were ordered to evacuate.
350 by Lila Seidman in Los Angeles. MOVED
^Court dismisses California cities' lawsuit challenging cannabis deliveries<
CALIF-MARIJUANA:LA _ In a win for California's struggling cannabis industry, a Fresno judge has dismissed a lawsuit by 24 cities seeking to invalidate state regulations allowing delivery of cannabis to homes in communities that have outlawed sales in shops.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge Rosemary McGuire said in a ruling made public Wednesday that she agreed with attorneys for the state Bureau of Cannabis Control that the state regulation does not prevent cities from enforcing local ordinances restricting home delivery.
850 by Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED
^Landmark Flint water crisis settlement grows to $641 million as it moves to court<
MICH-FLINT-WATER:DTN _ A landmark settlement in the Flint water crisis came a step closer to reality late Tuesday, when attorneys in the class-action lawsuit presented the agreement to a federal court with an additional $41.2 million.
The $641.25 million settlement, if approved by the court, would largely go to victims of the water crisis that emerged after Flint residents learned their drinking water had been contaminated with lead after a source switch to river water in 2014.
1100 Riley Beggin in Detroit. MOVED
^University of Miami law professor tries to make a case for Trump on Twitter. Some of his colleagues object<
CMP-MIAMI-LAWPROFESSOR:MI _ Like many supporters of Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Nov. 3 presidential election, a University of Miami law school lecturer jumped on social media to criticize the ballot counting in a half-dozen battleground states that would decide the next occupant of the White House.
Daniel Ravicher, without identifying himself as a UM instructor, turned to Twitter to declare that Trump's challenger, Joe Biden, "lost" in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and other swing states _ yet their goal is "to deny @realDonaldTrump (the) ability to win tonight, to falsely claim (the) election was close, to weaken him. Like all their other dirty tricks, it won't work."
Ravicher, who views himself as a conservative, also tweeted that "Latinos are clearly now the most politically important minority group in America" and that "blacks allow themselves to be taken for granted and treated horribly by Democrats." Then he added that the population difference between the two groups will grow because "blacks have 50% more abortions than Latinos per (capita)."
His comments have drawn some backlash. After talking with the law school's dean last week, Ravicher announced on Twitter that he was going to be fired from his job as a lecturer _ though apparently that won't be happening.
850 by Jay Weaver in Miami. MOVED
^Water district officials and others were negligent in actress Naya Rivera's drowning, lawsuit says<
RIVERA-DROWNING:LA _ As the actress Naya Rivera and her young son swam in Lake Piru in July, gusts of wind and currents likely pushed her rented boat away from her as she struggled to swim and eventually drowned, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed this week by the boy's father and others.
Ryan Dorsey, Rivera's former boyfriend, filed the lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of the 4-year-old boy. In it, he claims the United Water Conservation District, which operates the lake, as well as Ventura County and the boat rental company failed to properly warn against the dangers of swimming in the lake and to provide adequate safety equipment on the rented pontoon boat.
550 by Richard Winton in Los Angeles. MOVED
^2 disturbances could soon form in the Atlantic, forecasters say<
WEA-ATLANTIC:FL _ Two disturbances in the Tropics are being monitored, both have a low chance of developing over the next five days, but neither is a threat to Florida.
With a few more weeks left in hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center is monitoring two areas for potential development in the Atlantic basin.
350 by Robin Webb and Victoria Ballard in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. MOVED
^Australian forces unlawfully killed 39 Afghans, inquiry alleges<
AFGHAN-AUSTRALIAN-TROOPS:BLO _ Australian special forces soldiers serving in Afghanistan were allegedly involved in 39 unlawful killings of prisoners, farmers and other civilians, a government-commissioned report has found.
Following a four-year inquiry, the report found there was credible information that 25 personnel may have been complicit and 36 matters should be referred to police for criminal investigation, Chief of the Australian Defense Force Angus Campbell told reporters Thursday.
350 by Jason Scott in Canberra, Australia. MOVED
^At least 22 dead in Central America after Hurricane Iota as rescue crews work through flooding and debris<
WEA-IOTA:MI _ Hurricane Iota's death toll in the Central America region on Wednesday rose to 22, including two children, as survivors and rescuers continue to wade through murky waters and catastrophic debris.
Five people died in Honduras and six in Nicaragua, Gonzalo Atxaerandio, the Central America disaster and crisis coordinator for the Red Cross who is organizing relief efforts in Honduras, told the Miami Herald.
1050 by Jimena Tavel, Jacqueline Charles and Syra Ortiz-Blanes. MOVED
NEWSBRIEFS:MCT _ Nation and world news briefs.
^TODAY'S TOP NEWSFEATURES<
^Double lung transplants at are allowing seriously ill patients to survive COVID-19's 'bomb blast'<
CORONAVIRUS-LUNG-TRANSPLANTS:TB _ At a dark moment over the summer, Rodney Wegg was forced to consider removing his wife from life support.
After testing positive for COVID-19 in July, Kari Wegg, a previously healthy nurse, worsened until she was placed on a ventilator and given a grim outlook for survival.
"Give me some more time," Wegg's doctor told her husband, offering him and their two sons a glimmer of hope.
Their perseverance paid off when, months later, Wegg, a 48-year-old neonatal intensive care unit nurse, awoke as the sixth COVID-19 patient at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to receive a groundbreaking lung transplant surgery, free of the disease and breathing with two new lungs.
1900 by Madeline Buckley in Chicago. MOVED
^A consequence of the coronavirus pandemic for these Baltimore activists? Freezers full of dead birds<
BIRDS-ACTIVISTS:BZ _ The Ziploc bags are tucked into a shoe box in Aaron Heinsman's freezer, near pouches of frozen vegetables and a cauliflower pizza crust.
Inside are birds. Hundreds of them. Common yellowthroats and American woodcocks and ovenbirds, avian ice cubes tightly sealed in plastic.
Each met a devastating end in Baltimore City during this year's migration season, at the hands of glass buildings they didn't see coming. The birds are collected by Lights Out Baltimore _ a group that advocates for making area buildings "bird-safe," and collects data on bird collisions along the way.
And frozen they will remain _ at least for the time being. Normally, the frosty songbirds would be bound for a museum collection or a laboratory. But because of COVID-19 Heinsman and the group's other bird-gathering volunteers have nowhere to take them.
1350 by Christine Condon in Baltimore. MOVED
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