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Crowds of protesters gather outside the Broward County of Supervisor of Elections Office as the statewide election recount is underway while ballots for governor, Senate, Agricultural Commission were run through scanning machines in Broward for a second time under the watchful eye of representatives of both parties and the campaigns on Sunday. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP)
Death toll rises in California wildfire, matching deadliest
PARADISE, Calif. — As relatives desperately searched shelters for missing loved ones on Sunday, crews searching the smoking ruins of Paradise and outlying areas found six more bodies, raising the death toll to 29, matching the deadliest wildfire in California history.
Wildfires continued to rage on both ends of the state, with gusty winds expected overnight which will challenge firefighters. The statewide death toll stood at 31. The Camp Fire that ravaged a swath of Northern California was the deadliest.
A total of 29 bodies have been found so far from that fire, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told a news briefing Sunday evening. He said 228 people were still unaccounted for.
Ten search and recovery teams were working in Paradise — a town of 27,000 that was largely incinerated on Thursday — and in surrounding communities. Authorities called in a mobile DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify victims of the most destructive wildfire in California history.
Florida election recount continues amid tensions, litigation
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Mishaps, protests and litigation dominated Florida’s first day of recounting the vote for pivotal races for governor and Senate, bringing back memories of the 2000 presidential fiasco.
Much of the drama on Sunday centered on Broward and Palm Beach counties, home to large concentrations of Democratic voters.
In Broward County, the recount was delayed for several hours Sunday morning because of a problem with one of the tabulation machines. That prompted the Republican Party to slam Broward’s supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, for “incompetence and gross mismanagement.”
Broward officials faced further headaches after they acknowledged the county mistakenly counted 22 absentee ballots that had been rejected. The problem seemed impossible to fix because the dismissed ballots were mixed in with 205 legal ballots and Snipes said it would be unfair to throw out all of those votes.
By the end of the day, Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for Senate, filed suit against Snipes in a circuit court. He sought a judge’s order that law enforcement agents impound and secure all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots “when not in use until such time as any recounts.” The lawsuit accused Snipes of repeatedly failing to account for the number of ballots left to be counted and failing to report results regularly as required by law.
Critics rebuke Mississippi senator’s ‘public hanging’ remark
JACKSON, Miss. — A newly published video shows a white Republican U.S. senator in Mississippi praising someone by saying: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who faces a black Democratic challenger in a Nov. 27 runoff, said Sunday that her Nov. 2 remark was “exaggerated expression of regard” for someone who invited her to speak and “any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”
Mississippi has a history of racially motivated lynchings of black people. The NAACP website says that between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,743 lynchings in the United States, and nearly 73 percent of the victims were black. It says Mississippi had 581 during that time, the highest number of any state.
From wire sources
Hyde-Smith is challenged by former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Espy.
“Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible,” Espy campaign spokesman Danny Blanton said in a statement Sunday. “They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.”
Running on Empty? Kim Jong Un’s struggle to fuel his economy
PYONGYANG, North Korea — More than 20 years after his father almost bargained them away for a pair of nuclear reactors, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has his nuclear weapons — and a nation still plagued by chronic blackouts.
Even on the clearest days, plumes of smoke from two towering chimneys linger over the center of Pyongyang. The Soviet-era Pyongyang Combined Heat and Power Plant smokestacks are one of the North Korean capital’s most recognizable landmarks.
Possibly more than anything else, this is Kim Jong Un’s Achilles heel as he turns his attention from developing the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal to building its economy.
If stalled nuclear talks with Washington ever get back on track, helping Kim solve his country’s chronic energy deficit could be one of the biggest carrots President Trump has to offer. Washington, Seoul and Tokyo tried that back in the 1990s, and were even ready to pay for and build those two reactors Kim’s father wanted.
Years of intensive sanctions have severely impacted North Korea’s supply of fossil fuels from the outside world, but they also have spurred the country to cobble together a smorgasbord of energy resources, some of them off the grid and some of them flat-out illegal.
Gerard Butler’s house ‘half-gone,’ others await fire’s toll
LOS ANGELES — Celebrities whose coastal homes have been damaged or destroyed in a Southern California wildfire or were forced to flee from the flames expressed sympathy and solidarity with less-famous people hurt worse by the state’s deadly blazes, and gave their gratitude to firefighters who kept them safe.
“Returned to my house in Malibu after evacuating,” Gerard Butler wrote in an Instagram post next to a photo that showed a burned-out structure and a badly scorched vehicle. “Heartbreaking time across California. Inspired as ever by the courage, spirit and sacrifice of firefighters.”
“Half-gone” the “300” actor grumbled in his Scottish accent in a video that shows embers, ashes and what’s left of his home.
Robin Thicke’s Malibu home burned down entirely, according to his representative.
The 41-year-old singer said on Instagram that he, his girlfriend and his two kids are “safe and surrounded by friends and family” and were thankful to firefighters.
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