Nation & World Glance
Wildfire destroys most of California town of Paradise
PARADISE, Calif. — Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town and destroyed hundreds of structures.
“Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it’s that kind of devastation,” said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday. “The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out.”
McLean estimated that a couple of thousand structures were destroyed in the town of 27,000 residents about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco, was ordered to get out. The extent of the injuries and specific damage count was not immediately known as officials could not access the dangerous area.
Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read said at a news conference that two firefighters and multiple residents were injured.
Justice Ginsburg in hospital after fracturing 3 ribs in fall
WASHINGTON — Eighty-five-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fractured three ribs in a fall in her office at the court and is in the hospital, the court said Thursday.
The court’s oldest justice fell Wednesday evening, the court said. She called Supreme Court police to take her to George Washington University Hospital in Washington early Thursday after experiencing discomfort overnight, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.
She was admitted to the hospital for treatment and observation after tests showed she fractured three ribs.
In her absence, the court went ahead Thursday with a courtroom ceremony welcoming new Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who joined the court last month. President Donald Trump and new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker were on hand.
Ginsburg has had a series of health problems. She broke two ribs in a fall in 2012. She has had two prior bouts with cancer and had a stent implanted to open a blocked artery in 2014. She also was hospitalized after a bad reaction to medicine in 2009.
But she has never missed Supreme Court arguments. The court won’t hear arguments again until Nov. 26.
Expert: Acosta video distributed by White House was doctored
NEW YORK — A video distributed by the Trump administration to support its argument for banning CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House appears to have been doctored to make Acosta look more aggressive than he was during an exchange with a White House intern, an independent expert said Thursday.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted the video, which shows Acosta asking President Donald Trump a question on Wednesday as the intern tries to take his microphone away. But a frame-by-frame comparison with an Associated Press video of the same incident shows that the one tweeted by Sanders appears to have been altered to speed up Acosta’s arm movement as he touches the intern’s arm, according to Abba Shapiro, an independent video producer who examined the footage at AP’s request.
Earlier, Shapiro noticed that frames in the tweeted video were frozen to slow down the action, allowing it to run the same length as the AP one.
The alteration is “too precise to be an accident,” said Shapiro, who trains instructors to use video editing software.
The tweeted video also does not have any audio, which Shapiro said would make it easier to alter. It’s also unlikely the differences could be explained by technical glitches or by video compression — a reduction in a video’s size to enable it to play more smoothly on some sites — because the slowing of the video and the acceleration that followed are “too precise to be an accident.” Protesters nationwide seek to protect Russia investigation
NEW YORK — Protesters nationwide have called for the protection of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Several hundred demonstrators gathered Thursday in New York’s Times Square and chanted slogans including “Hands off Mueller” and “Nobody’s above the law” before marching downtown.
In Chicago, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin joined several hundred protesters at Federal Plaza.
Crowds also turned out at the White House and in Greensboro, North Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Las Vegas and many other places.
Organizers say the naming of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is a “deliberate attempt to obstruct the special counsel’s investigation.”
Florida faces prospect of recounts in governor, Senate races
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida faced the prospect of recounts in the razor-thin races for governor and U.S. Senate, potentially prolonging the battle over two of this year’s most-closely watched campaigns.
In the governor’s race, Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign said Thursday it’s prepared for a possible recount. He conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night, though the margin of the race has since tightened. As of Thursday afternoon, DeSantis led Gillum by 0.47 percentage point.
Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson has already begun preparing for a potential recount in a race still too close to call against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Nelson’s lawyer called that race a “jump ball” — though Scott’s campaign urged Nelson to concede. Scott held a 0.21 percentage lead over Nelson on Thursday afternoon.
The tight races underscored Florida’s status as a perennial swing state where elections are often decided by the thinnest of margins. Since 2000, when Florida decided the presidency by 537 votes in a contest that took more than five weeks to sort out, the state has seen many close elections, but never so many dead heats in one year.
And like 2000, the counting process is becoming contentious.
Federal Reserve leaves key policy rate unchanged
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve has left its key policy rate unchanged but signaled that it plans to keep responding to the strong U.S. economy with more interest rate hikes. The next rate hike is expected in December.
The Fed left its benchmark rate in a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent. A statement it issued Thursday after its latest policy meeting portrayed the economy as robust, with healthy job growth, low unemployment, solid consumer spending and inflation near the Fed’s 2 percent target.
Despite a U.S. trade war with key nations, weaker corporate investment and a sluggish housing market, the Fed is showing confidence in the economy’s resilience. To help control inflation, it has projected three rate increases in 2019 after an expected fourth hike of the year next month.
In deciding how fast or slowly to keep raising rates, the Fed will be monitoring the pace of growth, the job market’s strength and gauges of inflation for clues to how the economy may evolve in the coming months. The brisk pace of economic growth — a 3.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, after a 4.2 percent rate in the previous quarter — has raised the risk that inflation could begin accelerating.