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California winds fuel state's third-largest wildfire

California winds fuel state's third-largest wildfire(Reuters) - Strong winds that have powered the third-largest wildfire in California's history were expected on Sunday to further fuel a blaze that has burned 267,500 acres. Nearly 8,500 firefighters are battling the so-called Thomas Fire in Southern California, which began Dec. 4 and has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more, including homes in the wealthy town of Montecito just outside the coastal city of Santa Barbara. While the winds were expected to ease on Sunday near Santa Barbara, northeast wind gusts up to 55 mph were forecast through Sunday for parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, National Weather Service forecasters said.

Sun, 17 Dec 2017 05:09:42 -0500
Thousands flee as wildfire 'beast' grows to California's third-largest

Thousands flee as wildfire 'beast' grows to California's third-largestBy Caroline Anderson VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - A raging California wildfire powered by fierce winds grew into the third-largest in state history on Saturday as forced evacuations turned neighborhoods into ghost towns and ash fell in some areas like heavy snow. High winds and dry conditions were expected to remain through the weekend to power the so-called Thomas Fire in Southern California. It has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more since erupting on Dec. 4, including homes in the wealthy enclave of Montecito just outside the coastal city of Santa Barbara.

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 22:51:57 -0500
Congressman will not seek relection amid misconduct probe

Congressman will not seek relection amid misconduct probeU.S. Representative Ruben Kihuen announced on Saturday that he will not seek re-election, becoming the latest member of Congress to end his legislative career in the face of sexual harassment allegations. The first-term Nevada Democrat, who is the subject of an ethics investigation in the House of Representatives, denied the allegations against him but concluded that the charges would distract from "a fair and thorough discussion of the issues" on the campaign trail. "It is in the best interests of my family and my constituents to complete my term in Congress and not seek reelection," Kihuen, 37, said in a statement issued by his campaign committee.

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 18:03:31 -0500
Winds fuel California wildfire, state's third-largest on record

Winds fuel California wildfire, state's third-largest on recordBy Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A raging California wildfire on Saturday became the state's third-largest on record, with more devastation possible from a resurgence of the harsh winds that have fueled the deadly blaze since the beginning of the month. The so-called Thomas Fire has destroyed more than 1,000 structures, including about 750 homes, in Southern California coastal communities since erupting on Dec. 4, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement. Authorities described the current conditions, including returning winds and extremely low humidity, as "critical fire weather." Coastal Santa Barbara and more sparsely populated inland areas were of special concern, they said.

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 14:25:15 -0500
N.J. nuclear power subsidy bill could cost $320 million per year

N.J. nuclear power subsidy bill could cost $320 million per yearLast week, Ralph Izzo, chief executive of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc, which operates three reactors in the state at the Salem and Hope Creek plants, said he may be forced to shut the units unless the state provides subsidies. Izzo, who made his comments at a joint committee session in the New Jersey legislature, said the reactors were profitable now but could start losing money over the next couple of years because cheap natural gas has depressed power prices. If it ultimately passes and becomes law, it would require utilities to recover 0.4 cent per kilowatt hour from customers to cover the cost of the subsidy.

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:24:47 -0500
Turkish banker on trial denies helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions

Turkish banker on trial denies helping Iran evade U.S. sanctionsAn executive at Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank took the witness stand in a New York courtroom on Friday and denied charges that he participated in a scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions. Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who has been on trial in federal court for three weeks, told jurors that he "never" conspired with fellow defendant, Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, as U.S. prosecutors have charged. U.S. prosecutors have charged nine people with conspiring to help Iran evade sanctions through fraudulent gold and food transactions.

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:50:01 -0500
Judge blocks Trump administration rules on contraceptive coverage

Judge blocks Trump administration rules on contraceptive coverageA U.S. judge on Friday blocked President Donald Trump's administration from moving forward with new rules that undermined an Obamacare requirement for employers to provide health insurance that covers women's birth control. U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia issued a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of rules the administration announced in October that allowed businesses or non-profits to obtain exemptions on moral or religious grounds. Beetlestone wrote that Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who sued to block the rules, was likely to succeed in establishing that the administration did not follow proper notice procedures when issuing the new rules.

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:49:38 -0500
Former cell phone company executive convicted of text message scam

Former cell phone company executive convicted of text message scamA U.S. jury on Friday found the former chief executive of mobile aggregation company Mobile Messenger guilty of defrauding mobile phone customers by charging them millions of dollars for unwanted text messages. Darcy Wedd, 40, was convicted in Manhattan federal court of wire fraud and conspiracy charges after a two-week trial, the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan said. Robert Caliendo, a lawyer for Wedd, declined to comment on the verdict, which came after Wedd's third trial.

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:36:34 -0500
Crews wary as gusty winds stoke huge California wildfire

Crews wary as gusty winds stoke huge California wildfireBy Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Crews battled shifting winds and difficult terrain on Friday to stop a mammoth wildfire that has burned for nearly two weeks along the scenic California coastline, killing a firefighter and destroying more than 720 homes. The so-called Thomas Fire, which broke out on Dec. 4 near a private college in the community of Ojai, has since raged across 252,000 acres, or nearly 400 square miles, making it the fourth-largest wildfire since record-keeping began in California in 1932. Fire officials said a return of gusty Santa Ana winds made further progress difficult.

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:44:55 -0500
Turkish banker on trial denies helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions

Turkish banker on trial denies helping Iran evade U.S. sanctionsAn executive at Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank took the witness stand in a New York courtroom on Friday and denied charges that he participated in a scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions. Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who has been on trial in federal court for three weeks, told jurors that he "never" conspired with fellow defendant, Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, as U.S. prosecutors have charged. U.S. prosecutors have charged nine people with conspiring to help Iran evade sanctions through fraudulent gold and food transactions, although only Zarrab, 34, and Atilla, 47, have been arrested by U.S. authorities.

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:57:11 -0500
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