Death toll rises to 23 as tornadoes, severe storms hit South

11:00pm CST

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — A tornado roared into southeast Alabama and killed at least 22 people and injured several others Sunday, part of a severe storm system that caused catastrophic damage and unleashed other tornadoes around the Southeast.

”We are at 22 right now. Unfortunately, I feel like that number may rise yet again,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said of the death toll.

Drones flying overheard equipped with heat-seeking devices had scanned the area for survivors but the dangerous conditions halted the search late Sunday, Jones said. An intense ground search would resume Monday morning.


  1. Deep South Severe Weather
    Image ID : 19063067258523
    This photo shows some damage at the Buck Wild Saloon, located on U.S. Highway 280, east of Smiths Station, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2019, after a powerful storm system passed through the area. (Kara Coleman Fields/Opelika-Auburn News via AP)

Jones said the twister traveled straight down a key local artery in Beauregard and that the path of damage and destruction appeared at least a half mile wide. He said single-family homes and mobile homes were destroyed, adding some homes were reduced to slabs. He had told reporters earlier that several people were taken to hospitals, some with “very serious injuries.”

Lee County Coroner Bill Harris told The Associated Press that he had to call in help from the state, because there were more bodies than his four-person office can handle.

The National Weather Service confirmed late Sunday a tornado with at least an F3 rating and a track at least half a mile (.8 kilometers) wide caused the deadly destruction in Alabama.

Dozens of emergency responders rushed to join search and rescue efforts in hard-hit Lee County after what forecasters said they think was a large tornado touched down Sunday afternoon, unleashed by a powerful storm system that also slashed its way across parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

People walk amid debris in Lee County, Ala., after what appeared to be a tornado struck in the area Sunday, March 3, 2019. Severe storms destroyed mobile homes, snapped trees and left a trail of destruction amid weather warnings extending into Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, authorities said. (WKRG-TV via AP)

Radar and video evidence showed what looked like a large tornado crossing the area near Beauregard shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, said meteorologist Meredith Wyatt with the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service.

”It appears it stayed on the ground for at least a mile and maybe longer,” Jones told the AP.

After nightfall Sunday, the rain had stopped and pieces of metal debris and tree branches littered roadways in Beauregard. Two sheriff’s vehicles blocked reporters and others from reaching the worst-hit area. Power appeared to be out in many places.

President Donald Trump tweeted late Sunday, “To the great people of Alabama and surrounding areas: Please be careful and safe. … To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all!”

Rita Smith, spokeswoman for the Lee County Emergency Management Agency, said about 150 first responders had quickly jumped in to efforts to search the debris after the storm struck in Beauregard. At least one trained canine could be seen with search crews as numerous ambulances and emergency vehicles, lights flashing, converged on the area.

No deaths had been reported Sunday evening from storm-damaged Alabama counties outside Lee County, said Gregory Robinson, spokesman for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency. But he said crews were still surveying damage in several counties in the southwestern part of the state.

Numerous tornado warnings were posted across parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina on Sunday afternoon as the powerful storm system raced across the region. Weather officials said they confirmed other tornadoes around the region by radar alone and would send teams out early Monday to assess those and other storms.

In rural Talbotton, Georgia, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Atlanta, a handful of people were injured by either powerful straight-line winds or a tornado that destroyed several mobile homes and damaged other buildings, said Leigh Ann Erenheim, director of the Talbot County Emergency Management Agency.

Televised broadcast news footage showed smashed buildings with rooftops blown away, cars overturned and debris everywhere. Trees all around had been snapped bare of branches.

”The last check I had was between six and eight injuries,” Erenheim said in a phone interview. “From what I understand it was minor injuries, though one fellow did say his leg might be broken.”

She said searches of damaged homes and structures had turned up no serious injuries or deaths there.

Henry Wilson of the Peach County Emergency Management Agency near Macon in central Georgia said a barn had been destroyed and trees and power poles had been snapped, leaving many in the area without power.

Authorities in southwest Georgia are searching door-to-door in darkened neighborhoods after a possible tornado touched down in the rural city of Cairo, about 33 miles (53 kilometers) north of Tallahassee, Florida, on Sunday evening. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

Authorities said a tornado was confirmed by radar in the Florida Panhandle late Sunday afternoon. A portion of Interstate 10 on the Panhandle was blocked in one direction for a time in Walton County in the aftermath, said Don Harrigan, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.

”There’s a squall line moving through the area,” Harrigan told AP. “And when you have a mature line of storms moving into an area where low level winds are very strong, you tend to have tornadoes developing. It’s a favorable environment for tornados.”

The threat of severe weather continued into the late-night hours. A tornado watch was in effect for much of eastern Georgia, including Athens, Augusta and Savannah. The tornado watch also covered a large area of South Carolina, including the cities of Charleston and Columbia.




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Government Shutdown

The United States Federal Government just concluded a 36 day partial shutdown, the longest in U.S. history. It has been reported by Associated Press that 8 billion dollars in revenue was lost during the shutdown and nearly half of that will be unrecoverable. President Trump signed a temporary bill that halted the shutdown till February 15, 2019 in order to give the 800,000+ federal workers and opportunity to receive a paycheck.

This Friday, February 1, 2019 will be the first pay check workers will receive this year.

If Congress and the President do not come to agreements on border security and funding for Homeland Security, on February 15, the country will again face a shutdown. If this happens, it will be the fourth shutdown during the first term of presidency for Donald Trump.

What is a government shutdown?

Much of the federal government gets its funding from an annual budget appropriations law passed by Congress. When the government shut down, funding for wages for certain federal workers such as TSA agents, the FBI, the Coast Guard, the IRS and ironically the U.S. border patrol was suspended. Some employees whose jobs were deemed necessary, like the FBI, have been working without being paid. Others from agencies the FBI have been “off the clock” otherwise known as being furloughed.

In both cases, federal employees affected by the shutdown have not been paid as of this article.

The fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2018 and Congress has passed just five out of 12 appropriations bills setting spending levels. On Dec. 21,2018 to enact legislation to fund the program covered by the remaining seven appropriations bills, but they allowed that funding to lapse.

The current shutdown began on December 21,2018. It began the longest shutdown in U.S history on January 12, 2019 when it surpassed the Clinton administration shutdown that lasted 22 days.

About 380,000 non- critical employees of nine major agencies were sent home without pay. On January 15, 2019 the Trump administration called 50,000 of them back to work without pay. As the shutdown continues, many are looking for part- time work to pay bills. Congress passed a bill to reimburse federal exempt employees for lost wages once the shutdown ends.

I asked one of the government teachers at Hillsboro High School some questions regarding the shutdown.

How long do you think the government shutdown will last? ” Hopefully sometime this month, a lot of people are going without paying their bills and food. The news said that the people that are suffering from the shutdown can apply to be substitutes for MNPS.”

Now they want people to go back to work without pay, would you and why? ” Honestly, no what would be the point, I would try to find another job if I knew it was going to be a while before getting pay.”

How can congress avoid a shutdown in the future? “Maybe doing a better job at saving money so they have enough to spend for big projects. This is effecting a lot of people so its pretty selfish to cut peoples money for a wall that only he wants.”

 

 




Trump and the disputed border crisis

WASHINGTON — In his prime-time speech to the nation, President Donald Trump declared a border crisis. Following his speech, newly empowered Democrats offered a rebuttal to the claims that there is a national crisis along the Mexican-United States border. Excerpts from Presidents Trump’s speech Oval Office remarks last week.

Illegal drugs trafficking is a cause for concern

PRESIDENT TRUMP: “Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border.”

FILE – In this March 6, 2017 photo, a member of the Border Patrol’s Border Tunnel Entry Team enters a tunnel spanning the border between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, in San Diego. Since 1990, U.S. officials have discovered at least 230 tunnels, most of them running from Mexico into California and Arizona. It’s believed smugglers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the more sophisticated ones with ventilation and lighting. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

Hillsboro Globe verified fact: A wall can’t do much about that when drug trafficking is concentrated at land ports of entry, not remote stretches of the border.

Drug Enforcement Administration says “only a small percentage” of heroin seized by U.S. authorities comes across on territory between ports of entry. The same is true of drugs generally.

In a 2018 report , the agency said the most common trafficking technique by transnational criminal organizations is to hide drugs in passenger vehicles or tractor-trailers as they drive into the U.S. though entry ports, where they are stopped and subject to inspection.

They also employ buses, cargo trains and tunnels, the report says, citing other smuggling methods that also would not be choked off by a border wall.

DO WALLS WORK?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: “This barrier is absolutely critical to border security.”

Hillsboro Globe verified fact:The evidence is inconclusive as to whether walls are “absolutely critical” or actually work in deterring illegal crossings.

Congress’ main watchdog reported in 2017 that the government does not have a way to measure how well barriers work to deter immigrants crossing illegally from Mexico. Despite $2.3 billion spent by the government on such construction from 2007 to 2015, the Government Accountability Office found that authorities “cannot measure the contribution of fencing to border security operations along the southwest border because it has not developed metrics for this assessment.”

Few people dispute that fences contributed to a sharp drop in crossings in cities like San Diego and El Paso, Texas, where people can easily blend in once they enter the country.

Before fences were built in San Diego, crossers played soccer on U.S. soil as vendors hawked tamales, waiting until night fell to overwhelm agents. However, those barriers also pushed people into more remote and less-patrolled areas like in Arizona, where thousands of migrants have perished in extreme heat.

When barriers were built in the Border Patrol’s Yuma, Arizona, sector in the mid-2000s, arrests for illegal crossings plummeted 94 percent in three years to 8,363 from 138,438. When barriers were built in San Diego in the 1990s and early 2000s, arrests fell 80 percent over seven years from 524,231 in 1995 to 100,681 in 2002. But both areas also saw sharp increases in Border Patrol staffing during that time, making it difficult to pinpoint why illegal crossings fell so dramatically.

IMMIGRANT COSTS/BENEFITS

FILE- In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, file photo seen from a window outside the Oval Office, President Donald Trump gives a prime-time address about border security at the White House in Washington. With the standoff over paying for his long-promised border wall dragging on, the president’s Oval Office address and visit to the Texas border over the past week failed to break the logjam and left aides and allies fearful that the president has misjudged Democratic resolve and is running out of negotiating options. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: “America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.”

Hillsboro Globe verified fact: The U.S. is not experiencing “uncontrolled” illegal immigration. The debate is over whether the controls are strong enough.

As for the costs, a major academic study in 2016 by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found the job impacts of immigration, when measured over at least 10 years, are very small. It found immigration — legal and illegal — is an overall benefit to long-term economic growth.

Some evidence suggests that skilled immigrants boost wages. Native-born Americans without a high-school degree are most likely to suffer.

The academy study said estimating fiscal impacts of immigration is complex. Young and old immigrants tend to drain government resources while working-age immigrants contribute.

 

 




President Trump announces a more aggressive Missile Strategy as part of Space Force

WASHINGTON — Thursday the Trump administration will roll out a new strategy space program based a missile defense system.

The intent is to protect the United States against existing threats from North Korea and Iran and counter advanced weapon systems being developed by Russia and China.

The new review concludes that in order to adequately protect America, the Pentagon must expand defense technologies in space and use those systems to more quickly detect, track and ultimately defeat incoming missiles.

Associated Press reports that details about the administration’s Missile Defense Review — the first compiled since 2010 — are expected to be released during President Donald Trump’s visit to the Pentagon with top members of his administration.

“The Missile Defense Agency is the U.S. monitoring agency over BMDS. The Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) mission is to develop, test, and field an integrated, layered, ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and friends against all ranges of enemy ballistic missiles in all phases of flight. (MDA.mil.gov)

Recognizing the potential concerns surrounding any perceived weaponization of space, the strategy pushes for studies.

No testing is mandated, and no final decisions have been made.

Specifically, the U.S. is looking at putting a layer of sensors in space to more quickly detect enemy missiles when they are launched, according to a senior administration official, who briefed reporters Wednesday.

The U.S. sees space as a critical area for advanced, next-generation capabilities to stay ahead of the threats, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose details of the review before it was released.

The administration also plans to study the idea of basing interceptors in space, so the U.S. can strike incoming enemy missiles during the first minutes of flight when the booster engines are still burning.

Rights Reserved-Hillsboro Globe; Associated Press AP File Photo
Missile Defense file photo

Congress, which ordered this review, already has directed the Pentagon to push harder on this “boost-phase” approach, but officials want to study the feasibility of the idea and explore ways it could be done.

“Developments in hypersonic propulsion will revolutionize warfare by providing the ability to strike targets more quickly, at greater distances, and with greater firepower,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Congress last year. “China is also developing increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile warheads and hypersonic glide vehicles in an attempt to counter ballistic missile defense systems.”

Current U.S. missile defense weapons are based on land and aboard ships. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both emphasized space-based capabilities as the next step of missile defense.

The release of the strategy was postponed last year for unexplained reasons, though it came as Trump was trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

 




Romaine recall has restaurants putting Caesar salads on hold

Updated on December 18, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn – “Alert! Lettuce recall due to E.coli!” is a common headline that too often appears in our  local newspapers and news broadcasts. This time, romaine lettuce has been recalled from nine states.

There has been another lettuce recall, this time it’s romaine lettuce sold  o many restaurants and grocery stores through out the United  States. The lettuce has been recalled due to an E-Coli outbreak. E-coli is a virus,  Shiga toxin-producing E. coli with symptoms that develop over an average 2–8 days after swallowing the germ (CDC.org / 12.14.18). E. coli symptoms are abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is updating it’s warning to consumers and is the best source of information about E.coli.

The virus is also found in the gut of some animals. Some versions of E. coli make you sick by making a toxin called Shiga. This toxin damages the lining of your intestine. The strains of E. coli that make the toxin are sometimes called STEC, which is short for “Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.”

It advises that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce purchased in the affected states, in addition retailers and restaurants are advised not serve or sell any romaine lettuce harvested from certain counties in the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California.

If you do not know where the romaine is from, do not eat it.

E.coli is a dangerous virus that has few remedies and can cause numerous secondary complications. It can damage one’s kidneys, digestive tract and can be harmful to senior adults and small children. Affected states are California, Connecticut, Florida, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Tennessee.  More states are expected to be added to the list and a comprehensive list is shown below.

Illustration of a person with stomach pain.Some people with a STEC infection may get a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).E. coli infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample. Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli infections until diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli infection is ruled out.

Several studies have shown that administering antibiotics to patients with E. coli infections might increase their risk of developing HUS, so it is very important to rule out E.coli before you take an antibiotic. For more information, see Symptoms of E. coli Infection.

As of this publishing date (12.14.18),  the number of people infected with people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 has been confirmed at 59 cases.

Contamination can occur on the farm when birds make frequent flights overhead or low-lying fields flood with contaminated water. E. coli can also be spread by farmworkers who don’t wash their hands or via farm equipment that has manure on it. Once the greens are picked, they move to a packaging plant, where they’re exposed to more workers and more equipment. Product from multiple farms is often bagged in the same facility, which increases the odds of cross-contamination.

States with the most outbreaks are: CA – 22; NJ – 32; & NH – 17

Antwanette Williams, employee of a local restaurant, stated that her employer is taking no chances. Managers at Chipotle Mexican Grille in Green Hills even though customers continue to want lettuce on their entrees. Chipotle stopped serving dishes with lettuce until the recall is over. Williams said, “Many of our regular costumers who visit Chipotle were mad that we stopped serving lettuce. Some customers even  left when they couldn’t get lettuce on a burrito.” 

Some romaine lettuce products are now labeled with a harvest location by region. Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should check bags or boxes of romaine lettuce for a label indicating where the lettuce was harvested.

Romaine lettuce labeled with a harvest region outside of the three identified counties of the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California is not linked to the outbreak. Areas not linked to this outbreak include the desert growing region near Yuma, Arizona; the California desert growing region near Imperial County and Riverside County; the state of Florida; and Mexico.

Consumers should be mindful, and make sure that any lettuce they buy has not been grown in Yuma, Arizona.  This includes all bagged romaine lettuces, spring mixes, etc.

As a precaution, ask servers in restaurants if they are aware of where the  lettuce they use is grown, avoid it at all costs until the specific supplier is identified in the E. coli outbreak case.

Update: on December 11, 2018 the CDC said most of the romaine lettuce is now safe to eat.




A humble hero of World War II, Former President George Herbert Walker Bush one last time to Washington

2011, The White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President George H.W. Bush is returning to Washington as a revered political statesman, hailed by leaders across the political spectrum and around the world as a man not only of greatness but also of uncommon decency and kindness.

Bush, who died late Friday at his Houston home at age 94, is to be honored with a funeral service at National Cathedral in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, followed by burial Thursday on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M. Following an arrival ceremony Monday, his body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda for a public viewing until Wednesday morning.

President Donald Trump, who ordered federal offices closed for a national day of mourning on Wednesday, is to attend with first lady Melania Trump and other high-ranking officials.

Bush’s crowning achievement as president was assembling the international military coalition that liberated the tiny, oil-rich nation of Kuwait from invading neighbor Iraq in 1991 in a war that lasted just 100 hours. He also presided over the end of the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

“We didn’t agree much on domestic policy, but when it came to the international side of things, he was a very wise and thoughtful man,” former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, a Democrat who lost the presidency to Bush in 1988, told The Associated Press on Saturday. He credited Bush’s ability to negotiate with former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev as playing a key role.

“It was a time of great change, demanding great responsibility from everyone,” Gorbachev told the Interfrax news agency. “The result was the end of the Cold War and nuclear arms race.”

During that time and after, Gorbachev said, he always appreciated the kindness Bush and his family showed him.

“It was a time of great change, demanding great responsibility from everyone,” Gorbachev told the Interfrax news agency. “The result was the end of the Cold War and nuclear arms race.

In Washington, the former Republican president won praise from leaders of both parties.

The American flag flies at half-mast at Walker’s Point, the summer home of former President George H. W. Bush, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush died at the age of 94 on Friday, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara Bush. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan lauded him for leading the nation with “decency and integrity,” while Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi said it was a “privilege to work with him.”

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Bush “befriended political foes, reminding Americans that there is always more that unites us than divides us.”

At the G-20 summit in Argentina, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was raised in then-divided East Germany, told reporters she likely would never have become her country’s leader had Bush not pressed for the nation’s reunification in 1990.

A humble hero of World War II, Bush was just 20 when he survived being shot down during a bombing run over Japan. He had enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday.

Shortly before leaving the service, he married his 19-year-old sweetheart, Barbara Pierce, a union that lasted until her death earlier this year.

After military service, Bush enrolled in Yale University, where he would become a scholar-athlete, captaining the baseball team to two College World Series before graduating Phi Beta Kappa after just 2 ½ years.

After moving to Texas to work in the oil business, Bush turned his attention to politics in the 1960s, being elected to his first of two terms in Congress in 1967. He would go on to serve as ambassador to the United Nations and China, head of the CIA and chairman of the Republican National Committee before being elected to two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice president.

Soon after he reached the zenith of his political popularity following the liberation of Kuwait, the U.S. economy began to sour, however, and voters began to believe that Bush, never a great orator, was out of touch with ordinary people.

He lost his bid for re-election to then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who would later become a close friend. The pair worked together to raise tens of millions of dollars for victims of a 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, which swamped New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005.

“Who would have thought that I would be working with Bill Clinton of all people?” he joked in 2005.

Clinton said he would be “forever grateful” for that friendship.




California wildfire has killed 79, rain is helming squelch fires but mudslides present recovery problems

A welcome sign stands in front of a residence destroyed by the Camp Fire on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, in Paradise, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

PARADISE, Calif. (AP) —A deadly wildfire is nearly contained thanks to several days of rain in Northern California. But search crews are still completing the meticulous task of combing through ash and debris that are now damp and muddy.

Searchers planned to resume their grim task Saturday after working on-and-off the day before because of a downpour over Paradise, California. Some are now looking through destroyed neighborhoods for a second time as hundreds of people remain unaccounted for. They’re searching for telltale fragments or bone or anything that looks like a pile of cremated ashes.

Search teams on Friday wore yellow rain slickers and hard hats to protect against falling branches as they quietly looked for clues that may indicate someone couldn’t get out, such as a car in the driveway or a wheelchair ramp. They looked not only for bone, but anything that could be a pile of cremated ashes. Craig Covey, who led a team out of Southern California’s Orange County, temporarily pulled his 30-member team off the search as heavy rain and wind knocked down trees and caused dangerous conditions.

7:30 p.m.A Northern California sheriff says two more sets of human remains were found Monday, bringing the total number killed in a devastating California wildfire to 79.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea says the list of names of those unaccounted for after a deadly wildfire has dropped to around 700.

He says that’s about 300 fewer than what was posted at the start of Monday.

Authorities stressed that many of the people on the list may be safe and unaware they have been reported missing.

The so-called Camp Fire swept through the rural town of Paradise on Nov. 8. It has destroyed nearly 12,000 homes.

As the Camp Fire burns nearby, a scorched car rests by gas pumps near Pulga, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

___

3:20 p.m.

Authorities in Northern California are lifting mandatory orders for communities south and northwest of a deadly blaze that decimated the town of Paradise.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office said Monday several communities near Paradise can be re-entered, but it urged residents to make sure they have food, water and fuel in their vehicles and to avoid using the roads as much as possible.

Officials say fire crews are still in the area working to clear downed utility poles, burned trees and other hazards.

Cal Fire officials say the blaze has destroyed nearly 300 apartment buildings and more than 10,000 homes.

The fire has charred 236 square miles (611 square kilometers) since it ignited Nov. 8.

It continues to burn in steep, rugged terrain in Plumas National Forest.

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2:30 p.m.

Fire officials say two men were arrested on suspicion of burglarizing a fire station during a wildfire that decimated a Northern California town.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday Robert DePalma and William Erlbacher were arrested on charges of looting, stealing a vehicle and being in possession of stolen property.

The department says the Concow men were booked into Butte County Jail on $250,000 bail. No information on attorneys for the men was immediately available.

The blaze that started on Nov. 8 leveled the town of Paradise and heavily damaged the communities of Magalia and Concow. The fire continues to burn Monday in steep, rugged terrain in the Plumas National Forest.

Authorities last week arrested five men and a woman six suspected of looting evacuated homes.

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1:50 p.m.

Alcatraz Island, the iconic cable cars and other famous San Francisco Bay Area attractions have been closed because of bad air quality from wildfires in Northern California.

Muir Woods, Oakland Zoo and the just-opened holiday ice rink at San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center were also closed Monday.

Many of the sites have been shut down for several days because of choking smoke from a deadly wildfire in Paradise, about 180 miles (290 kilometers) away.

The attractions said they hoped to reopen Tuesday but would evaluate air quality levels before deciding.

Several San Francisco museums offered free admission over the weekend to give the public options for indoor activities.

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1:20 p.m.

It’s been days since Christina Taft provided a DNA sample to officials so they could try to identify remains that likely belong to her mother, but Taft hasn’t received official confirmation of her death in the Northern California fire.

The 25-year-old Paradise resident says she’s been frustrated by what she feels is a lack of communication from Butte County officials.

She says authorities told her they found the remains last week and asked for the DNA sample. She went to the sheriff’s office to give a cheek swab.

Taft says she’s been unable to get more information from law enforcement.

Sheriff Kory Honea has said the department has been overwhelmed by calls from people seeking information on loved ones.

Taft says her 66-year-old mother was a kind woman who did not evacuate her Paradise home because she did not know it was mandatory.

 




The Latest: Women elected to House in record numbers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Election Day (all times local):

12:20 a.m.

Asma Mohammed and Ashley Fairbanks celebrate as results come in at Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar’s election night headquarters in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. State Rep. Ilhan Omar has won Minnesota’s 5th District race to become the first Somali-American and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. (Mark Vancleave/Star Tribune via AP)


Women will break the current record of 84 serving at the same time in the U.S. House.

With ballots still being counted across the country, women have won 75 seats and are assured of victory in nine districts where women are the only major-party candidates.

From the Women’s March opposing President Donald Trump the day after he was inaugurated in January 2017 through a stream of sexual assault accusations later that year that sparked the #MeToo movement, outrage and organizing by women have defined Democratic Party politics this election cycle.

More than 230 women, many of them first-time candidates, were on the general-election ballots in House races.

Despite the gains, men will continue to hold the vast majority of House seats.

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12:15 a.m.

Democrats have picked up at least 23 House seats, putting them on track to reach the 218 needed to seize control from Republicans after eight years.

Democrats knocked off at least 17 GOP incumbents, picking up moderate, suburban districts across the country. Democrats won seats stretching from suburban Washington, New York and Philadelphia to outside Miami, Chicago and Denver. West Coast results were still coming.

Democrat Abigail Spanberger of Virginia defeated Republican incumbent Dave Brat in suburban Richmond to put Democrats over the top.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is hailing “a new day in America.”

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11:30 p.m.

Republican Ron DeSantis will be Florida’s next governor, riding President Donald Trump’s support to a victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum.

The 40-year-old former congressman and Navy officer won Tuesday after Trump came to Florida twice in the final six days of the election to help increase Republican turnout. Gillum was hoping to become Florida’s first black governor.

DeSantis was considered an underdog until Trump injected himself in the Republican primary, helping DeSantis cruise to victory over better-funded and better-known Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

DeSantis stumbled after his nomination, most notably by saying Floridians shouldn’t “monkey this up” by electing Gillum. Although he took a more moderate turn after the primary, DeSantis relied heavily on Trump in the campaign’s final days.

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11:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is deeming the election results a “tremendous success,” as Republicans maintain control of the Senate but Democrats make gains in the House.

Trump tweeted Tuesday night: “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!”

Trump spent the evening watching returns in the White House with family and friends. He spent the days leading up to Election Day on a campaign rally blitz, aimed at boosting Republicans running for Senate.

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11:15 p.m.

Florida Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum is conceding to his Republican rival Ron DeSantis. AP has not called the race.

The Tallahassee mayor was seeking to become the state’s first black governor and become the first Democrat to win the governor’s race in more than 20 years.

Returns show that DeSantis has a narrow lead in the race. DeSantis was supported by President Donald Trump.

Gillum tells a crowd at Florida A&M University: “I sincerely regret I couldn’t bring it home for you.” But Gillum, who is just 39 years old, vowed to remain involved in politics.

“I can guarantee you this I’m not going anywhere,” said Gillum. “We’re going to fight, we’re going to keep fighting.”

Gillum pulled off an upset when he won the Democratic primary in August.

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11 p.m.

Democrats have won half the seats they need to reclaim the House majority, while Republicans were picking up key Senate contests.

Democrats picked up at least 12 Republican-held House seats in early returns but fell short in a closely watched race in Kentucky as they fought to wrest control of the chamber after eight years of GOP rule.

Democrats needed a net gain of 23 seats to control the House and gain a check on President Donald Trump.

Democratic gains included several suburban districts eyed for turnover because they were won by Hillary Clinton, including seats outside Washington, Philadelphia, Miami and Denver.

Meanwhile, Republicans Mike Braun and Kevin Cramer won Democratic-held Senate seats in Indiana and North Dakota, ousting incumbents Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp.

___

10:50 p.m.

Republicans have retained Senate control for two more years, shattering Democrats’ dreams of an anti-Trump wave sweeping them into the majority.

The result was all but assured when Republican Kevin Cramer ousted North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and when Republican businessman Mike Braun ousted Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz fended off a spirited challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn triumphed in Tennessee.

The GOP’s gains come even as the results in Nevada and Arizona have yet to be determined.

___

10:25 p.m.

Democrats are gaining ground in their fight for control of the House, picking up key seats in Florida, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

The early wins give Democrats a share of the seats they’ll need for House control. They won two seats in Florida, knocking off two incumbents there, and have won three seats in Pennsylvania, where court-ordered redistricting made the terrain more favorable to Democrats. They have also defeated a Republican incumbent in Minnesota.

Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House.

___

9:50 p.m.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says a Democratic wave may look more like a “ripple.”

Sanders spoke to reporters at the White House Tuesday night, as election returns were still coming in. She says, “Maybe you get a ripple but I certainly don’t think that there’s a blue wave.”

She says there is still a “long way to go,” but the White House feels “good about where we are right now.”

Should Republicans lose the House, Sanders says the president’s agenda is not going to change.

Speaking on Fox News, Sanders said the candidates that Trump campaigned for are doing well. She also said that if Republicans should lose the House, Democrats should try to work across the aisle.

__

8:10 p.m.

Polls have closed across the East Coast, but the results in some of the most closely watched races remain too close to call.

Polls across six states closed at 7 p.m. EST, including battlegrounds Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky. Polls in other key states including Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey closed at 8 p.m. EST.

At least two lower-profile elections with presidential implications were decided after the first major wave of polls closed in the East.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders easily won his third term as he considers another bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. And Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another potential 2020 contender, also won her race.

Health care and immigration were high on voters’ minds as they cast ballots in the midterm elections, per a wide-ranging survey by The Associated Press.




Dems gain in quest for House control but GOP retains Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats were gaining significant ground in the battle for House control Tuesday night, while Republicans held their Senate majority as voters rendered a mixed verdict in the first nationwide election of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency.

The results allowed both parties to claim partial victory, but highlighted an extraordinary realignment of U.S. voters by race, sex and education. Republicans maintained their strength in conservative, rural states, while Democrats made inroads across America’s suburbs.

With control of Congress, statehouses and the president’s agenda at stake, some of the nation’s top elections were too close to call.

Yet Democrats’ dreams of the Senate majority as part of a “blue wave” were shattered after losses in Indiana, Tennessee, North Dakota and Texas. They also suffered a stinging loss in Florida, where Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis ended Democrat Andrew Gillum’s bid to become the state’s first African-American governor.

In the broader fight for control in the Trump era, the political and practical stakes on Tuesday were sky high.

Democrats could derail Trump’s legislative agenda for the next two years should they win control of the House. And they would claim subpoena power to investigate Trump’s personal and professional shortcomings.

Some Democrats have already vowed to force the release of his tax returns. Others have pledged to pursue impeachment, although removal from office is unlikely so long as the GOP controls the Senate.

Democrats won half the seats they needed to claim House control with dozens additional competitive contests remaining. Victories in contested races across Florida, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Minnesota gave them cause for optimism.

Trump sought to take credit for retaining the GOP’s Senate majority, even as the party’s foothold in the more competitive House battlefield appeared to be slipping.

“Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!” Trump tweeted.

History was working against the president in the Senate: 2002 was the only midterm election in the past three decades when the party holding the White House gained Senate seats.

Nearly 40 percent of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to AP VoteCast, the national survey of the electorate, while one-in-four said they voted to express support for Trump.

Overall, 6 in 10 voters said the country was headed in the wrong direction, but roughly that same number described the national economy as excellent or good. Twenty-five percent described health care and immigration as the most important issues in the election.

Nearly two-thirds said Trump was a reason for their vote.

Trump encouraged voters to view the first nationwide election of his presidency as a referendum on his leadership, pointing proudly to the surging economy at recent rallies.

He bet big on a xenophobic closing message, warning of an immigrant “invasion” that promised to spread violent crime and drugs across the nation. Several television networks, including the president’s favorite Fox News Channel, yanked a Trump campaign advertisement off the air on the eve of the election, determining that its portrayal of a murderous immigrant went too far.

The president’s current job approval, set at 40 percent by Gallup, was the lowest at this point of any first-term president in the modern era. Both Barack Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s numbers were 5 points higher, and both suffered major midterm losses of 63 and 54 House seats respectively.

Democrats, whose very relevance in the Trump era depended on winning at least one chamber of Congress, were laser-focused on health care as they predicted victories that would break up the GOP’s monopoly in Washington and state governments.

Yet Trump’s party will maintain Senate control for the next two years, at least.

In Texas, Sen Ted Cruz staved off a tough challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke, whose record-smashing fundraising and celebrity have set off buzz he could be a credible 2020 White House contender.

In Indiana, Trump-backed businessman Mike Braun defeated Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly. And in Tennessee, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn defeated former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a top Democratic recruit.

In the leadup to the election, Republicans privately expressed confidence in their narrow Senate majority but feared the House could slip away. The GOP’s grip on high-profile governorships in Georgia and Wisconsin were at risk as well.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin won re-election. And in New Jersey, Democrats re-elected embattled Sen. Bob Menendez, who, less than a year ago, stood trial for federal corruption charges. The Justice Department dropped the charges after his trial ended in an hung jury.

Democrats’ performance in the House battlefield was mixed.

In Virginia, political newcomer Jennifer Wexton defeated two-term GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock. The Republican incumbent had been branded Barbara “Trumpstock” by Democrats in a race that pointed to Trump’s unpopularity among college-educated women in the suburbs.

In south Florida, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala defeated Republican Maria Elvira Salazar.

Democrats failed to defeat a vulnerable incumbent in Kentucky, where Republican Rep. Andy Barr won over former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath.

All 435 seats in the U.S. House were up for re-election, although fewer than 90 were considered competitive. Some 35 Senate seats were in play, as were almost 40 governorships and the balance of power in virtually every state legislature.

Meanwhile, several 2020 presidential prospects easily won re-election, including Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Tuesday’s elections also tested the strength of a Trump-era political realignment defined by evolving divisions among voters by race, gender, and especially education.

Trump’s Republican coalition is increasingly older, whiter, more male and less likely to have a college degree. Democrats are relying more upon women, people of color, young people and college graduates.

Women voted considerably more in favor of their congressional Democratic candidate — with fewer than 4 in 10 voting for the Republican, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 113,000 voters and about 20,000 nonvoters — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

In suburban areas where key House races were decided, voters skewed significantly toward Democrats by a nearly 10-point margin.

The demographic divides were coloring the political landscape in different ways.

Democrats performed well in the race for the House, a sprawling battlefield set largely in America’s suburbs where more educated and affluent voters in both parties have soured on Trump.

Democrats’ chances were always considered weak in the Senate, where they were almost exclusively on defense in rural states where Trump remains popular.

Democrats boasted record diversity on ballots.

Three states could elect their first African-American governors, while several others were running LGBT candidates and Muslims. A record number of women were running for Senate, House, governorships and state legislative seats.

“Tomorrow will be a new day in America,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who’s in line to become the next House speaker should Democrats take the majority.




2018 Election Central

National and State Results

Highlights from State Election Results from 2018 as of 1:03 am local time

U.S. Senate Class I

1,917 of 1,969 precincts – 97 percent

Marsha Blackburn, GOP 1,198,410 – 54 percent

Phil Bredesen, Dem 972,563 – 44 percent


Governor

1,832 of 1,969 precincts – 93 percent

Bill Lee, GOP 1,268,772 – 59 percent

Karl Dean, Dem 838,237 – 39 percent


U.S. House District 1 Eastern Corner of State

186 of 206 precincts – 90 percent

Phil Roe, GOP (i) 159,224 – 77 percent

Marty Olsen, Dem 44,307 – 21 percent

Michael Salyer, Ind 3,869 – 2 percent


U.S. House District 2 East, Knoxville/Knox Co

177 of 177 precincts – 100 percent

Tim Burchett, GOP 171,994 – 66 percent

Renee Hoyos, Dem 86,635 – 33 percent


U.S. House District 3 SE and NE, Chattanooga

276 of 276 precincts – 100 percent

Chuck Fleischmann, GOP (i) 156,385 – 64 percent

Danielle Mitchell, Dem 84,632 – 34 percent

Rick Tyler, Ind 4,514 – 2 percent


U.S. House District 4 South Central

217 of 240 precincts – 90 percent

Scott DesJarlais, GOP (i) 139,064 – 63 percent

Mariah Phillips, Dem 75,801 – 34 percent

Michael Shupe, Ind 6,882 – 3 percent


U.S. House District 5 Central, Nashville

185 of 185 precincts – 100 percent

Jim Cooper, Dem (i) 177,661 – 68 percent

Jody Ball, GOP 84,196 – 32 percent


U.S. House District 6 North Central

254 of 263 precincts – 97 percent

John Rose, GOP 168,828 – 70 percent

Dawn Barlow, Dem 67,605 – 28 percent

David Ross, Ind 3,361 – 1 percent

Lloyd Dunn, Ind 2,100 – 1 percent


U.S. House District 7 West Central

281 of 281 precincts – 100 percent

Mark Green, GOP 169,769 – 67 percent

Justin Kanew, Dem 81,574 – 32 percent

Lenny Ladner, Ind 1,583 – 1 percent


U.S. House District 8 NW Corner of State

247 of 247 precincts – 100 percent

David Kustoff, GOP (i) 166,400 – 68 percent

Erika Pearson, Dem 74,126 – 30 percent

James Hart, Ind 5,509 – 2 percent


U.S. House District 9 SW Corner, Memphis

129 of 129 precincts – 100 percent

Steve Cohen, Dem (i) 143,690 – 80 percent

Charlotte Bergmann, GOP 34,710 – 19 percent

Leo AwGoWhat, Ind 1,414 – 1 percent




TSSAA State Cross Country crowned 2018 Champions

Early in November both the top cross country runners in the state meet at 3,180 acres of forest and fields the makes up the most iconic course that acts as the Tennessee State Secondary Athletic Associations course for determining a champion in Small Class and Large Class Division I and II for high school.

Stratford High School Cross Country runners at the TSSAA 2018 Cross Country Championship Rights Reserved-Hillsboro Globe; Photographer Mike Strasinger; TSSAA Cross Country Championships 2018

Several mid-state cross country athletes qualified for the 2018 state championship.

Notable Metro Nashville Public Schools had several runners who qualified to run on Saturday’s final event: They are:

Girls

14) Saddie Frogge : East Nashville; 21:57.85

Boys

11) Miles Ally : Martin Luther King 16:13.02

65) Time Yuyisunge : Stratford; 19:28.21

74) Silly Rivera-Lopez : Stratford; 19:39.16

Large Class Division I Girls

  1. Jenna Hutchins : Science Hill; 17:37.01
  2. Landry Wilcox : Cookeville; 18:05.57
  3. Leigh Walters : Fred J. Page; 18:25.01

Small Class Division I Girls

  1. Loral Wynn : Dreaden; 19:37.02
  2. Mattie Parkert : Signal Mountain; 19:53.66
  3. Tara Jeessen : Signal Mountain; 20:34.77

Large Class Division I Boys 

  1. Jake Renfrew : Knoxville Catholic; 15:25.58
  2. David Alhmeyer : Beech; 15:40.85
  3. Cole Bullock : Red Bank; 15:44.44

Small Class Division I Boys

  1. Emerson Fulton : Gatlinburg-Pittman; 16:41.02
  2. Porter Bradley : US Johnson City; 16:42;47
  3. Alex Ponce : Meryl Hyde; 16:45.52

The Iroquois Steeplechase course at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park is an historic track and the long-time home of the TSSAA State Cross Country Championships.