Thursday morning news: August 2, 2018

Wildfire update » A massive wildfire rampaging through Northern California is now one of the largest in the state’s history.

The Carr Fire has torched more than a thousand homes in and around the city of Redding. National Guard Battalion Commander Andrew Hanson said the destruction is hard to believe.

HANSON: It really looks like something from another world. It’s very surreal. I kind of liken it to some of the devastation you see overseas in other countries. You’re just not used to seeing that here in the United States. 

The blaze, which started July 23rd, has forced 38,000 people from their homes and killed six, while scorching 180 square miles. It’s now the sixth most destructive fire in California’s history

As of Wednesday, the Carr Fire was 35 percent contained.

And new fires continue to explode. Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean:

MCLEAN: As of yesterday evening, we’re looking at 17 significant fires throughout the state of California. As we progress each day, we’re getting better at fighting those different types of fires.

But he added it seems as though as firefighters get a handle on one fire, another one erupts. He said rain early in the year grew lots of grass and brush creating a Catch-22 as that growth created more kindling for the fire.

Trump calls on Sessions to end Russia probe » President Trump has again called for an end to the Russia probe. The president tweeted Wednesday that “Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further.”

He went on to call special counsel Robert Mueller “totally conflicted” and blasted the investigation as lacking objectivity.

It’s highly unlikely that Sessions will get involved after recusing himself from the matter last year. Mueller reports directly to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

U.S. hits Turkish officials with sanctions over Brunson detainment » The White House announced Wednesday that the Treasury Department is imposing sanctions on two Turkish officials over the NATO ally’s refusal to release American pastor Andrew Brunson.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday called Pastor Brunson a victim of unfair and unjust attention…

SANDERS: At the president’s direction, the Department of the Treasury is sanctioning Turkey’s minister of justice and minister of interior, both of whom played leading roles in the arrest and detention of Pastor Brunson. 

The Turkish government almost immediately called on the U.S. to reverse the sanctions and threatened to retaliate.

Andrew Brunson remains under house arrest in Turkey awaiting trial on espionage and terror-related charges, all of which he denies.

Appeals court: Trump sanctuary cities order illegal » The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Wednesday that President Trump’s executive order threatening to cut off federal funds to sanctuary cities is unconstitutional.

In the 2-to-1 ruling, the court said the White House cannot withhold appropriated funds without approval from Congress.

But the court also said it didn’t have enough evidence to support a nationwide ban on the order and sent the case back to the lower court for more hearings on that question.

Trump administration allows limited-coverage health insurance » Cheaper healthcare options may be on the way for some, as the Trump administration chips away at Obamacare regulations, but not everyone’s happy about it. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has more.

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The Trump administration announced a new rule Wednesday that loosens regulations on basic short-term coverage. Under that rule, consumers can purchase cheaper, stripped-down plans, renewable for up to three years. The coverage would not include maternity care or pre-existing conditions.

Critics call the move just another way to sabotage Obamacare. Some note the rule could drive up costs for Americans with medical conditions who need more comprehensive benefits.

Estimates show the revamped plans could cost nearly two-thirds less than comprehensive coverage, about $160 a month.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.

Ceremony – soldiers remains arrive from NoKo » North Korea has returned what are believed to be the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War …

AUDIO: Korean War ceremony sound

… The military held a repatriation ceremony for those soldiers Wednesday in South Korea.

AUDIO: Korean War ceremony sound

Following the ceremony, servicemembers loaded the remains onto a military plane for transport to a DNA testing laboratory in Hawaii. As officials identify the remains, they’ll turn them over to the families of the fallen soldiers.

North Korea returned the remains as part of an agreement struck with the U.S. during the June summit in Singapore.

Violent clashes in Zimbabwe » AUDIO: Zimbabwe clash sound

Rioting erupted Wednesday in Zimbabwe’s capital of Harare over delays in announcing the results of the presidential election. Some opposition supporters burned cars and threw rocks while security forces opened fire with guns, water cannons and tear gas. WORLD Africa reporter Onize Ohikere reports.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Zimbabwe’s election commission announced Wednesday that the ruling ZANU-PF party won a majority of seats in parliament but it held off on revealing the winner of the presidential vote.

Election observers with the United States and European Union monitoring missions urged the commission to release the results as soon as possible. They say the longer the commission waits, the more it stirs up suspicions about the election’s fairness.

But observers also have their own concerns. The EU mission questioned why the commission counted presidential votes first but announced those results last.

The commission said it would release vote totals “sometime” today.

Officials said Wednesday they had most of the presidential results, but the commission was still waiting for agents from all 23 candidates to verify them.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere.

I’m Kent Covington. Up next, Leigh Jones covers the rise in classical education. Plus, a WORLD investigation into the financial interests behind the push to legalize marijuana. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger) Flames consume a home as the River Fire tears though Lakeport, Calif., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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