Monday, November 19, 2018
National News

AP Top News at 11:54 p.m. EST

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — A city reeling from the tragedy of a mass shooting was under a siege of a different sort Friday as raging wildfires on both sides of the city forced widespread evacuations and shut down part of the main freeway to town. Flames driven by powerful winds torched at least 150 homes in Southern California, burning parts of tony Calabasas and mansions in Malibu and prompting orders for 250,000 people — including some celebrities — to flee as the fire marched across the Santa Monica Mountains toward the sea. The cause of the blazes was not known.Pacific Gas & Electric Company says it will cooperate with any investigations stemming from a massive wildfire in Northern California. The utility told state regulators Thursday that it experienced a problem on an electrical transmission line near the site of the blaze minutes before the fire broke out. The company said it later observed damage to a transmission tower on the line. PG&E spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo said Friday the information was preliminary and stressed that the cause of the fire has not been determined. The fire has killed at least nine people and destroyed more than 6,000 homes. It forced the evacuation of roughly 30,000 people in the town of Paradise, about 180 miles (289 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.WASHINGTON (AP) — Matthew Whitaker's future at the helm of the Justice Department appeared uncertain at best Friday as President Donald Trump denied even knowing the man he had named acting attorney general just two days earlier. The Senate's top Republican predicted a permanent replacement could be named soon for Whitaker, who is now overseeing the Trump-Russia probe. The comments from Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came as Whitaker's past business ties and remarks on special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and other topics were drawing scrutiny from Democrats and ethics groups. Speaking to reporters Friday, Trump said, "I don't know Matt Whitaker." That contradicted Trump's remarks on Fox News last month, when he called Whitaker "a great guy" and said, "I mean, I know Matt Whitaker." McConnell, meanwhile, said, "I think this will be a very interim AG." Another Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, said she was concerned by some of Whitaker's past comments and called for legislation that would place limits on his ability to fire special counsel Mueller.FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is once again at the center of election controversy, but this year there are no hanging chads or butterfly ballots, like in 2000. And no angry mobs in suits — at least not yet. The deeply purple state will learn Saturday whether recounts will be held in the bitter, tight U.S. Senate race between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson; and in the governor's race between former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum. The state's recount procedures have been revised since Florida held the country hostage for a month 18 years ago, when George W.THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The gunman who killed 12 people at a country music bar in Southern California went on social media during the attack and posted about his mental state and whether people would believe he was sane, a law enforcement official said Friday. Also, one of the possibilities investigators are looking into is whether gunman Ian David Long believed his former girlfriend would be at the bar, the official said. Authorities have not determined a motive for Wednesday night's rampage at the Borderline Bar and Grill. The official was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.WASHINGTON (AP) — Matthew G. Whitaker, the nation's new acting attorney general, repeatedly chided presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in public statements during 2016 while he was speaking for a group that is barred by its tax-exempt status from supporting or opposing political candidates during a campaign. Before coming to the Justice Department in 2017, Whitaker was president and executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a charitable organization that styles itself as nonpartisan government watchdog promoting ethics and transparency. The tax-exempt group — known by its initials, FACT — is supposed to serve the public interest under Section 501c3 of the U.S.SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Donald Trump ordered Friday that anyone who enters the U.S. illegally from Mexico by going around official border crossings is ineligible for asylum. His edict takes aim at the cherished principle of asylum, which grants haven to people who flee persecution on grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion and other factors. Illegal border crossings are low compared to the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s but there's no question the asylum system is under severe strain. Here are questions and answers about the new rules: WHAT DOES THE NEW BAN DO? The president is denying asylum to people who enter the country from Mexico without going through official border crossings, effective Saturday.Facebook is dropping a requirement for mandatory arbitration of sexual misconduct allegations, acceding to a demand recently pressed by other Silicon Valley tech workers. Google made a similar change on Thursday, a week after thousands of employees briefly walked off their jobs to protest how the company handled sexual-misconduct allegations against prominent executives. The move at Facebook, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, means that employees no longer have to submit to private arbitration, which kept misconduct allegations secret and sometimes allowed abusers to continue their behavior. Employees can now press their claims in court instead. Other tech companies such as Microsoft and Uber have previously dropped mandatory arbitration.

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