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Things to Know in the U.S. for Sept. 8

Oregon

Wildfire scars beloved Columbia Gorge

A fast-moving wildfire chewing through Oregon's forestland is threatening more than homes and people. It's also devouring the beloved Columbia Gorge, the heart of the state's nature-loving identity. The federally protected scenic area holds North America's largest concentration of waterfalls and is home to 800 wildflower species. Sixteen of the wildflower species are not found anywhere else. The home of the mighty Columbia River attracts more than 3 million tourists each year. It is beloved by Oregonians, who flock to it in the summer. The blaze was more than 50 square miles Wednesday. It has forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes and closed a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 84. Authorities say it was started by a boy who set off fireworks in the forest.

Washington, D.C.

Don Jr. tells senators: 'No collusion'

President Donald Trump's eldest son told a Senate committee Thursday he was open to receiving information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's "fitness, character or qualifications" in a meeting with a Russian lawyer last year. However, Donald Trump Jr., in the five-hour session, insisted neither he nor anyone else he knows colluded with any foreign government during the presidential campaign. He provided his most detailed account of an encounter that has attracted the attention of congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller. It also is the first known instance of Trump Jr. giving his version of the meeting in a setting that could expose him to legal jeopardy. It's a crime to lie to Congress.

California

No contest plea in pie attack on mayor

A man accused of hitting former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson in the face with a coconut cream pie has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor disturbing the peace. The Sacramento Bee reported activist Sean Thompson was sentenced Thursday two days' time already served in jail after prosecutors agreed to the lesser charge. He had been charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. Prosecutors initially charged Thompson with felony assault after the pie attack at a charity event a year ago. Johnson responded by punching Thompson. A judge declared a mistrial on the felony charge after jurors could not reach a verdict.

Nation

Appeals court: Grandparents not part of Trump's travel ban

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected the Trump administration's limited view of who is allowed into the nation under the president's travel ban, saying grandparents, cousins and similarly close relations of people in the U.S. should not be prevented from coming to the country. The unanimous ruling from three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said refugees accepted by a resettlement agency should not be banned. The decision upheld a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii.

DeVos to scrap Obama rules on campus sex assault

Saying the Obama administration's approach to policing campus sexual assault had "failed too many students," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday her administration would rewrite the rules in an effort to protect the victims of sexual assault and the accused. DeVos did not say what changes she had in mind, but she said she believed the Obama administration's effort to protect victims had gone too far. In a statement, the National Women's Law Center said DeVos' plan to issue new rules to colleges was "a blunt attack on survivors of sexual assault." DeVos echoed complaints by conservatives and lawyers for accused students that colleges were punishing students unfairly. She vowed colleges would not return to the days when sexual assault complaints were ignored. But DeVos' remarks focused more heavily on men who, she said, were denied due process.

Facebook: Accounts from Russia bought ads during U.S. campaign

Hundreds of fake Facebook accounts, probably run from Russia, spent about $100,000 on ads aimed at stirring up divisive issues, such as gun control and race relations, during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook said. Although the number of ads — some 3,000 between June 2015 and May 2017 — is relatively small, the disclosure provides a detailed peek into what investigators believe was a targeted effort by Russians to influence U.S. politics. The 470 accounts appeared to come from a "troll farm," a St. Petersburg, Russia, organization known for promoting pro-Russian government positions via fake accounts, according to two people familiar with the investigation. Facebook has turned over its findings to federal authorities.

New York

Feminist writer Millett dies

Kate Millett, whose 1970 Sexual Politics book made her, as one writer put it, "the principal theoretician of the women's liberation movement," and who went on to be a leading voice on human rights, mental health issues and more, died Wednesday in Paris. She was 82. Her spouse, Sophie Keir, said the cause was cardiac arrest. Living in NYC, they had been going to Paris every year to celebrate their birthdays, she said. Millett was in her mid-30s when her Columbia University doctoral dissertation, Sexual Politics, was published. Her core premise was the relationship between the sexes is political — "arrangements whereby one group of persons is controlled by another." The book became a central work of second-wave feminism. — tbt* wires

Major breach

143M

Americans fell victim to a breach at credit monitoring company Equifax, which exposed social security numbers and other data. The Atlanta company said Thursday that "criminals" exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July. It said consumers' names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver's license numbers were exposed. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. consumers also were accessed. The company said hackers also accessed some "limited personal information" from British and Canadian residents. It doesn't believe any consumers from other countries were affected.

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