Wildfire toll increases
Firefighters began to gain ground yesterday against wildfires that have killed at least 31 people in northern California and left hundreds missing in the heart of the state’s wine country. The latest casualty figure marks the greatest loss life from a single California wildfire in 84 years. With 3500 homes and businesses incinerated, the so-called North Bay fires also rank among the most destructive in the state’s history. The home of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was among those that burned to the ground in Sonoma County, but his widow escaped, her stepson said.
Chief of staff staying put
White House chief of staff John Kelly yesterday slapped down rumours that he was about to resign or be fired, and said his push to bring more order to the West Wing does not extend to controlling US President Donald Trump or his social media habits. Kelly replaced Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, after a tumultuous first six months in office and sought to bring order to an often chaotic operation at the White House. Under his watch, Trump parted ways with chief strategist Steve Bannon and other top officials, while new restrictions were set to streamline meetings and material for the president. But reports of both Kelly’s and the president’s frustrations have persisted, sparking continued speculation of pending shakeups.
Activist ‘was murdered’
An anti-apartheid activist who died 46 years ago when he fell from the 10th floor of a Johannesburg police station was murdered by the South African security services, a judge has ruled. The judgment that Ahmed Timol, 29, a teacher and member of the armed wing of the African National Congress, did not commit suicide in 1971 paves the way for similar cases to be reopened. The ruling is the first time that the authorities have overturned an apartheid-era verdict on a death in custody.