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Nation & World Briefs


Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Hundreds missing amid California fires; loved ones go online

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Friends and relatives desperately checked hospitals and shelters and pleaded on social media for help finding loved ones missing amid California’s wildfires, with hundreds of people unaccounted for Wednesday.

“We’ve been to 17 evacuation centers. We’ve called probably 12 hospitals. I mean, my whole family, all my friends looking for her,” Jessica Tunis said as she searched for her mother, who was last heard saying “I’m going to die” before the phone at her burning mobile home in Santa Rosa went dead.

Hours later Wednesday, the daughter texted a reporter to say that the remains of her mother, 69-year-old Linda Tunis, had been found in the ruins of her home.

As of Wednesday, 22 wildfires were burning in Northern California, up from 17 the day before. The blazes killed at least 21 people and destroyed an estimated 3,500 homes and businesses, many of them in California wine country.

White House: Trump picks deputy chief of staff to lead DHS

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will nominate his deputy chief of staff, Kirstjen Nielsen, as his next secretary of Homeland Security, the White House announced Wednesday. Nielsen formerly served as John Kelly’s chief of staff when he held the position of Trump’s first DHS secretary. She moved with Kelly to the White House when Trump tapped him to serve as his own chief of staff, and was quickly named principal deputy.

Dems who opposed Iran nuke deal urge Trump to keep pact

WASHINGTON — Several congressional Democrats who split with President Barack Obama to oppose the nuclear agreement with Iran are now urging President Donald Trump to uphold the international accord, arguing that robust enforcement is the best way to counter Tehran’s malign behavior in the Middle East.

The reversal underscores deep concerns among lawmakers that Trump will inform Congress in the coming days that the landmark 2015 agreement with Iran is contrary to America’s national security interests. That declaration could lead to an unraveling of the seven-nation pact and leave the United States, not Iran, as the country that balked at honoring its commitments.

Judge allows Dakota Access pipeline to keep running

BISMARCK, N.D. — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Dakota Access oil pipeline can continue operating while a study is completed to assess its environmental impact on an American Indian tribe.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s decision will come as a blow to the Standing Rock Sioux, who have argued that an oil spill from the pipeline under Lake Oahe — from which the tribe draws its water — could have a detrimental effect on the tribal community. “Today’s decision is a disappointing continuation of a historic pattern: Other people get all the profits, and the tribes get all the risk and harm,” said Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice attorney representing the tribe in an ongoing federal lawsuit.

US demands raise fears that leaving NAFTA could hurt economy

WASHINGTON — The North American Free Trade Agreement is in its 23rd year. But there are growing doubts that it will survive through its 24th.

President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from the agreement if he can’t get what he wants in a renegotiation. But what he wants — from requiring that more auto production be made-in-America to shifting more government contracts to U.S. companies — will likely be unacceptable to America’s two NAFTA partners, Mexico and Canada.

“What is the administration going to do? Are they going to be patient and work through these things?” asks Phil Levy, senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Or are they going to take this as a pretext and say, ‘We tried negotiations; they failed. Now we need to blow this up?’ ”

Blowing up the deal appears to be Trump’s favored choice. On the campaign trail, he called NAFTA a job-killing disaster. And in an interview with Forbes magazine published Tuesday, Trump said: “I happen to think that NAFTA will have to be terminated if we’re going to make it good. Otherwise, I believe you can’t negotiate a good deal.”

From Associated Press