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  • Firefighters wrestle to control California wildfire as winds persist

    Firefighters wrestle to control California wildfire as winds persistBy Ben Gruber VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - Firefighters on Tuesday fought to take further control of a massive California wildfire, the fifth largest in the state's history, as relentless wind gusts and bone-dry weather were expected to persist throughout the week. The blaze, known as the Thomas Fire, has burned 234,200 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties about 100 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and grew by about 2,500 acres overnight, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) on Tuesday. "Severe fire weather will continue to promote significant fire growth further into Santa Barbara County, threatening the communities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Montecito and Summerland," Cal Fire said in a statement.




  • Voters head to polls in Alabama race with high stakes for Trump

    Voters head to polls in Alabama race with high stakes for TrumpBy Andy Sullivan MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Reuters) - Voters in Alabama headed to the polls on Tuesday in a hard-fought U.S. Senate race in which President Donald Trump has endorsed fellow Republican Roy Moore, whose campaign has been clouded by allegations of sexual misconduct toward teenagers. Moore, 70, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, is battling Democrat Doug Jones, 63, a former U.S. attorney who is hoping to pull off an upset victory in the deeply conservative Southern state. Polls opened at 7 a.m. (1300 GMT) in the Alabama special election for the seat vacated by Republican Jeff Sessions, who became U.S. attorney general in the Trump administration.




  • U.S. soldier who deserted to North Korea in 1965 dies aged 77

    U.S. soldier who deserted to North Korea in 1965 dies aged 77A U.S. soldier who deserted to North Korea more than half a century ago, but who was eventually allowed to leave the secretive state, has died in Japan aged 77. One of the Cold War's strangest dramas began in 1965 when Charles Robert Jenkins, then a 24-year-old army sergeant nicknamed "Scooter" from tiny Rich Square in North Carolina, disappeared one January night while on patrol near the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. At an emotional court martial in Japan in 2004, Jenkins - who had never gone to high school - said he deserted to avoid hazardous duty in South Korea and escape combat in Vietnam.




  • Cuba tells U.S. suspension of visas is hurting families

    Cuba tells U.S. suspension of visas is hurting familiesCuba told senior U.S. officials during talks on migration in Havana on Monday that the U.S. decision to suspend visa processing at its embassy on the island was "seriously hampering" family relations and other people exchanges. Relations between the former Cold War foes became strained after Donald Trump became the U.S. President, partially reversing the thaw seen during Barack Obama's presidency.




  • Trump denies accusations of sexual misconduct, attacks Democrats

    Trump denies accusations of sexual misconduct, attacks DemocratsU.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he did not know the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct and alleged their claims were a political attack pushed by Democrats, rejecting renewed calls to look into his behavior. On Monday, three women who had previously accused Trump of misconduct called on the U.S. Congress to investigate the president's behavior. Trump has denied the allegations and the White House has said the women were lying.




  • New York charges Times Square bomb suspect; Bangladesh questions wife

    New York charges Times Square bomb suspect; Bangladesh questions wifeBy Ruma Paul and Daniel Trotta DHAKA/NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York officials on Tuesday said they charged a Bangladeshi man with terrorism, accusing him of setting off a pipe bomb a day earlier in a crowded Manhattan commuter hub, as investigators in his home country questioned his wife. Akayed Ullah, 27, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an act of terrorism, and making a terroristic threat under New York state law, the New York Police Department said, adding U.S. authorities may also bring federal charges. Investigators in Bangladesh were questioning Ullah's wife, according to two officials who declined to be identified as they were not permitted to discuss the matter publicly.




  • San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee dies at 65: mayor's office

    San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee dies at 65: mayor's officeSan Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, the city's first mayor of Chinese descent, died early on Tuesday, the mayor's office said in a statement that did not cite the cause of death. Lee, 65, died at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, with family and friends at his side about 1:11 a.m. local time. “It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away," the statement said.




  • Bangladesh authorities question wife of New York bomb suspect: police

    Bangladesh authorities question wife of New York bomb suspect: policePolice in Bangladesh are questioning the wife of Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi man U.S. authorities say set off a pipe bomb in a crowded New York City commuter hub, two senior police officials in Bangladesh said on Tuesday. Ullah set off an explosion in an underground pedestrian corridor between New York's Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal at rush hour on Monday, injuring himself and three others in what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called an attempted terrorist attack.




  • Special Report: Unfettered construction raises U.S. hurricane costs

    Special Report: Unfettered construction raises U.S. hurricane costsBy Benjamin Lesser and Ryan McNeill PATTON VILLAGE, Texas (Reuters) - When Hurricane Harvey sent two feet of water rolling into this small community about 35 miles north of Houston, Alfredo Becerra had to flee his modest 1,500-square-foot house. One month later, across the Gulf of Mexico in Big Pine Key, Florida, moving company driver Byron Keeble lost about $10,000 worth of belongings, including a new sofa and his television, when Hurricane Irma sent a surge of seawater through his rented ground-floor apartment. Keeble said FEMA paid for him to stay in a hotel for a few weeks while he tried to figure out where he would go next.




  • Trump's push to cut federal jobs has modest impact, mostly in defense

    Trump's push to cut federal jobs has modest impact, mostly in defensePresident Donald Trump's campaign to shrink the "bloated federal bureaucracy" so far has made a small dent in the federal workforce, and that largely because of a decline in civilian defense jobs. Days after his Jan. 20 inauguration, Trump ordered a hiring freeze later replaced with an order for federal agencies to cut staff immediately, and in March he proposed a 2018 budget that sought to shift $54 billion to the military from other departments.




  • U.S. safety board to review final report on 2015 El Faro sinking

    U.S. safety board to review final report on 2015 El Faro sinkingU.S. safety officials were due to meet on Tuesday to discuss their final report on the 2015 sinking of the El Faro freighter, which killed all 33 crew members in the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than three decades. The NTSB said the meeting, which could last several hours, would be broadcast online. "There are definitely some things that could have changed the outcome," NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said of the long-running investigation into the loss of the ship.




  • U.S. transit agencies cautious on electric buses despite bold forecasts

    U.S. transit agencies cautious on electric buses despite bold forecastsCommunities across the United States are looking to replace their dirty diesel buses, ushering in what some analysts predict will be a boom in electric fleets. Out of more than 65,000 public buses plying U.S. roads today, just 300 are electric. The technology is still a gamble for many cities at a time when bus ridership is falling nationwide and officials are trying to keep a lid on fares, says Chris Stoddart, an executive at Canadian bus maker New Flyer Industries Inc .




  • Five years after Sandy Hook, U.S. gun-control advocates switch strategy

    Five years after Sandy Hook, U.S. gun-control advocates switch strategyInstead of pressuring lawmakers to push new gun-control measures through the U.S. Congress, volunteers from groups including Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are now running for office themselves. Nine of 13 volunteers trained by the group ran for office this year and won seats, ranging from New Hampshire state representative to city council member in West University Place, Texas. Fourteen more have already declared their intentions to run for office in 2018, seeking seats in Congress, state legislatures and local government, all running as Democrats.




  • Bangladesh police looking for family, associates of New York bombing suspect

    Bangladesh police looking for family, associates of New York bombing suspectOfficials in Bangladesh are trying to track down the extended family and any known associates of Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi man U.S. authorities say set off a homemade pipe bomb in a crowded New York City commuter hub on Monday. "Police are looking for his family, but so far they've not been able to trace them," said Abul Khair Nadim, the Chair of Musapur Union council, a local government body in the Chittagong division in southern Bangladesh, where Ullah's family originally lived.




  • Doubts about U.S. State redesign deepen with erroneous comments

    Doubts about U.S. State redesign deepen with erroneous commentsU.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson holds a town hall with staff on Tuesday amid skepticism about his planned agency reorganization that has been aggravated by his recent inaccurate comments about the State Department, a dozen current and former officials said. The embattled diplomat, who has endured repeated media speculation about how long he will last, appears under fire both from the White House and his own workers, who resent his embrace of a 30 percent cut to the department and planned reorganization. Tillerson made erroneous statements about the top echelon of U.S. diplomats during a question-and-answer session after a Nov. 28 speech, misstating their title and ages at retirement.




  • Firefighters hold back massive Southern California wildfire

    Firefighters hold back massive Southern California wildfireBy Ben Gruber VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - Firefighters, taking advantage of a lull in the winds, on Monday held in check a massive Southern California wildfire that has torched hundreds of buildings and charred an area larger than New York City. The Thomas Fire ignited a week ago and has burned 231,700 acres, in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, about 100 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) officials said at a news conference. The fire threatens 18,000 structures, including some in the wealthy enclave of Montecito where a number of celebrities have their homes.




  • Subway bomber wounds self, three victims in New York

    Subway bomber wounds self, three victims in New YorkA Bangladeshi man set off a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his body in a crowded New York City commuter hub during the morning rush hour on Monday, officials said, immediately calling it an attempted terrorist attack. The suspect, Akayed Ullah, 27, was taken to a hospital after suffering burns from the explosive device, which was attached to his body with Velcro and zip ties and did not fully ignite, officials said. Investigators told Reuters they believe the attack in midtown Manhattan was intended to be a suicide bombing.




  • U.S. House Democratic women seek probe of Trump misconduct accusations

    U.S. House Democratic women seek probe of Trump misconduct accusationsMore than 50 female Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives called on Monday for a congressional investigation into allegations by various women of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump, who has denied the accusations. "We cannot ignore the multitude of women who have come forward with accusations against Mr. Trump," the lawmakers wrote in their letter, though a formal inquiry was unlikely to result because Republicans control the agenda in Congress. The letter, spearheaded by the Democratic women's working group, which is composed of all the party's female members in the House, was signed by 56 lawmakers.




  • Houston man arrested for trying to aid Islamic State: U.S. government

    Houston man arrested for trying to aid Islamic State: U.S. governmentAn 18-year-old Houston man was charged on Monday with trying to support the radical group Islamic State and distributing information about how to make bombs, the U.S. Justice Department said. Kaan Sercan Damlarkaya, who is a U.S. citizen, was arrested on Friday in Houston after the filing of a criminal complaint by federal prosecutors, the Justice Department said in an emailed statement. This followed an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that found he had allegedly said he planned to travel overseas to fight for Islamic State or failing that, commit an attack in the United States, the statement said.




  • Ex-investigator tells of fleeing Turkey with evidence of corruption

    Ex-investigator tells of fleeing Turkey with evidence of corruptionHuseyin Korkmaz, 30, was testifying in Manhattan federal court for U.S. prosecutors in the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at the majority state-owned Halkbank, who is accused of taking part in a scheme with gold trader Reza Zarrab to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions. Halkbank has denied involvement with any illegal transactions. Zarrab, a Turkish and Iranian national, has pleaded guilty and testified against Atilla, saying he used fraudulent food and gold transactions to launder money for Iran with the help of Atilla and others.




  • Monsanto offers cash to U.S. farmers who use controversial chemical

    Monsanto offers cash to U.S. farmers who use controversial chemicalBy Tom Polansek CHICAGO (Reuters) - Monsanto Co will give cash back to U.S. farmers who buy a weed killer that has been linked to widespread crop damage, offering an incentive to apply its product even as regulators in several U.S. states weigh restrictions on its use. The incentive to use XtendiMax with VaporGrip, a herbicide based on a chemical known as dicamba, could refund farmers over half the sticker price of the product in 2018 if they spray it on soybeans Monsanto engineered to resist the weed killer, according to company data. The United States faced an agricultural crisis this year caused by new formulations of dicamba-based herbicides, which farmers and weed experts say harmed crops because they evaporated and drifted away from where they were sprayed.




  • Subway bomber wounds self, three victims in New York

    Subway bomber wounds self, three victims in New YorkBy Nick Zieminski and Daniel Trotta NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Bangladeshi man set off a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his body in a crowded New York City commuter hub during the morning rush hour on Monday, officials said, immediately calling it an attempted terrorist attack. The suspect, Akayed Ullah, 27, was taken to a hospital after suffering burns from the explosive device, which was attached to his body with Velcro and zip ties and did not fully ignite, officials said. Investigators told Reuters they believe the attack in midtown Manhattan was intended to be a suicide bombing.




  • Factbox: Attacks on mass transit around the world

    Factbox: Attacks on mass transit around the worldLondon: A homemade bomb on a packed rush-hour commuter train in London engulfed a carriage in flames and injured 30 people, but apparently failed to fully explode. April 3, 2017 - St. Petersburg: A suicide bomber killed 16 people and wounded more than 40 on a metro train. March 22, 2016 - Brussels: A suicide bomber detonated a bomb on a train in the city's downtown Maelbeek subway station, about an hour after bomb attacks on the main airport.




  • 'Soup Nazi' company's former CFO pleads guilty to tax evasion

    'Soup Nazi' company's former CFO pleads guilty to tax evasionThe former chief financial officer of a company that licensed the name and recipes of the chef who inspired the tyrannical “Soup Nazi” character on the TV comedy “Seinfeld” pleaded guilty on Monday to tax evasion, according to court records. Robert Bertrand, 63, pleaded guilty to one count of failing to pay taxes before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn federal court. Michael Weil, a lawyer for Bertrand, declined to comment on the plea.




  • New York subway attack shows limits of counterterror strategy

    New York subway attack shows limits of counterterror strategyMinutes after a man set off a pipe bomb strapped to his body in one of New York's busiest transit hubs, throwing the Monday morning commute into chaos for many, a suspect was in custody, trains were rerouted and throngs of police swarmed the streets. The massive response exposed the limits of the antiterrorism force the city has built since the deadly attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It has learned to respond quickly and effectively to attacks but faces an almost impossible task in trying to thwart every threat, particularly the acts of "lone wolves" targeting public places and New York's vast transit system.




  • Monsanto offers cash to U.S. farmers who use controversial chemical

    Monsanto offers cash to U.S. farmers who use controversial chemicalMonsanto Co will give cash back to U.S. farmers who buy a weed killer that has been linked to widespread crop damage, offering an incentive to apply its product even as regulators in several U.S. states weigh restrictions on its use. The incentive to use XtendiMax with VaporGrip, a herbicide based on a chemical known as dicamba, could refund farmers over half the sticker price of the product in 2018 if they spray it on soybeans Monsanto engineered to resist the weed killer, according to company data. The United States faced an agricultural crisis this year caused by new formulations of dicamba-based herbicides, which farmers and weed experts say harmed crops because they evaporated and drifted away from where they were sprayed.




  • U.S. judge warns of mistrial in Nevada rancher Bundy's trial

    U.S. judge warns of mistrial in Nevada rancher Bundy's trialA U.S. federal judge in the criminal conspiracy trial of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and three other men on Monday warned that prosecutors' failure to produce documents that could support defense arguments may lead to a mistrial. The four men, including two of Bundy's sons Ammon and Ryan, are accused of conspiring to use the threat of force in a 2014 armed standoff with federal agents near Bundy's ranch. The revolt was sparked by the court-ordered roundup of Bundy's cattle by government agents over his refusal to pay fees required to graze the herd on federal land.




  • U.S. military must accept transgender recruits by Jan. 1, judge rules

    U.S. military must accept transgender recruits by Jan. 1, judge rulesIn a ruling, with which the Pentagon said it would comply, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington refused to lift part of her Oct. 30 order stopping the ban from taking effect until the case is resolved, saying it likely violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law. The White House said the Justice Department was reviewing its options. The Pentagon said in a statement that it would follow court orders and begin processing transgender applicants on Jan. 1.




  • California wildfire rages, threatens communities

    California wildfire rages, threatens communitiesBy Ben Gruber VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - Crews battling a massive wind-driven California wildfire that has torched nearly 1,000 buildings and charred an area larger than New York City on Monday struggled to protect communities menaced by flames along the state's scenic coastline. The Thomas Fire ignited a week ago and has burned 230,500 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, about 100 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Firefighters were contending with severe weather as the fire expanded into Santa Barbara County, threatening the communities of Montecito and Summerland, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said in a statement.




  • Trump wants to send U.S. astronauts back to moon, someday Mars

    Trump wants to send U.S. astronauts back to moon, someday MarsBy Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At a time when China is working on an ambitious lunar program, President Donald Trump vowed on Monday that the United States will remain the leader in space exploration as he began a process to return Americans to the moon. "We are the leader and we're going to stay the leader, and we're going to increase it many fold," Trump said in signing "Space Policy Directive 1" that establishes a foundation for a mission to the moon with an eye on going to Mars. "This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars," Trump said.




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