Nation and world news briefs

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Wildfire on California-Nevada border kills 1, destroys more than 80 structures

One person was killed and more than 80 structures, including dozens of homes, have been damaged or destroyed as yet another wildfire scorched more than 20,000 acres, this time on the California- Nevada border.

The fire started Tuesday just after noon Pacific time, according to InciWeb, a fire-incident reporting agency.

On Wednesday California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Mono County.

More than 100 families had been displaced, and as of late Wednesday it had been just 20% contained, the Mono County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce put out an appeal for assistance. Evacuation orders in effect for three counties were starting to be lifted late Wednesday into Thursday, the Mono County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

On the upside, rain and snow that fell above 5,000 feet altitude slowed the fire’s growth, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing the federal Bureau of Land Management.

“The goal of wildland fire crews today is to remain focused on protection of the communities of Walker, Coleville and Topaz as well as the Camp Antelope Native American Community,” the bureau said.

The dead person’s identity was not released, and the fire’s cause has not been determined.

—New York Daily News


Could Lara Trump run in NC in 2022? Open Senate seat expected to draw a GOP crowd

WASHINGTON — The votes in North Carolina’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, the most expensive in history, have not yet been certified and there is already jockeying for 2022.

Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who is in his third term, does not plan to run for a fourth term in 2022, opening up a rare opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to compete for an open seat in the state.

The last time North Carolina had a U.S. Senate race without an incumbent was 2004, when Democratic incumbent John Edwards ran for president instead of reelection. Before that, Republican Jesse Helms retired rather than run for another term in 2002. Before that: 1974.

Lara Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, is considering a run for the Republican nomination, The New York Times reported Thursday. Trump, who is married to Eric Trump, grew up in Wilmington and attended North Carolina State. She was a key surrogate for President Donald Trump during his reelection bid.

In December, she told McClatchy that she could consider a run for Congress in the future. Club For Growth conducted a poll for a New York U.S. House seat and showed her as a strong contender. Trump said she was not interested in that seat.

“Honestly, I can’t think of something more flattering than for people to have shown such great support. That’s so nice. I never really considered that I would have that much support out there,” she said at the time.

Outgoing Rep. Mark Walker, whose Greensboro-area district was redrawn into a Democratic-leaning one in late 2019, is considering a run for the seat. He did not run for reelection in 2020, but toured the state throughout the election season.

Outgoing Rep. George Holding’s Raleigh-area district was also redrawn into a Democratic-leaning seat. Holding did not run for reelection in 2020, but in December 2019 did not rule out a Senate run. North Carolina is also likely to gain another U.S. House seat after the Census.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who represented far-western North Carolina, has been mentioned as a candidate. Meadows left Congress to work for the Trump administration. He has been involved in campaigns far from his own former district, including as a prominent supporter of Reps. Dan Bishop and Greg Murphy during their 2019 special elections. Both won.

Former Gov. Pat McCrory has also been mentioned.

—The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)


Front-line workers in Capitol keep getting COVID-19

WASHINGTON — Front-line workers on Capitol Hill are continuing to contract COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, 153 legislative branch employees have tested positive or are presumed positive for COVID-19, according to a Democratic aide for the House Administration Committee.

This cumulative total, as of Nov. 18, includes 59 employees from the Capitol Police, 57 from the Architect of the Capitol and 37 contractors working construction in the Cannon House Office Building.

This marks a jump of 30 cases since Roll Call reported on these numbers on Oct. 6. Since that date, 13 more Capitol Police employees, 15 more Architect of the Capitol employees and two more contractors have tested positive.

The coronavirus has permeated all of the congressional community, including lawmakers and staffers. Just this week, 87-year-old Senate President Pro Tempore Charles E. Grassley, R- Iowa, revealed he tested positive for the disease. Republican Reps. Dan Newhouse of Washington and Doug Lamborn of Colorado both said on Wednesday that they tested positive for COVID-19.

Recently, COVID-19 testing became more readily available, but still on a voluntary basis, for members and staff in the Capitol. The Democratic aide did not have data on positive COVID-19 cases among lawmakers or congressional staffers.

—CQ-Roll Call


Death toll from storm Iota rises past 45 in Central, South America

MEXICO CITY — More than 45 people are dead in Central and South America in the wake of Iota, the storm that has ravaged the region in recent days, according to new figures on Thursday.

The death toll includes at least 18 victims in Nicaragua, 16 in Honduras, six in Guatemala, three in Panama, two in Colombia and one in El Salvador.

Iota struck Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast on Monday as a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 155 miles per hour. It later weakened and was downgraded to a tropical storm.

The storm had dissipated by Thursday, but its humidity was still bringing some rains and causing landslides.

In Honduras, where more than 2 million people were affected by Iota, residents continued being evacuated from risk areas.

The civil protection agency COPECO was trying to “access areas where several places have been left isolated, without food and water,” Jaime Omar Silva from the agency told radio station HRN.

Deaths in the country included 13 people who were hit by two landslides in the western regions of Lempira and Ocotepeque.

In Guatemala, Iota affected more than 140,000 people, David Leon from the disaster management agency CONRED said on television.

The new storm came just two weeks after Hurricane Eta had killed at least 174 people and left about 100 missing in Central America.

Iota is already the 30th storm this year that has been strong enough to be given a name — the previous Atlantic record was 28.