Briefs: 'Evacuate now!' Some 500,000 flee advancing wildfires

Dora Negrete is consoled consoled by her son Hector Rocha after seeing their destroyed mobile home at the Talent Mobile Estates, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Talent, Ore., after wildfires devastates the region. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)

Associated Press

News headlines for September 11

The Associated Press

PHOENIX, Ore. — Deadly wildfires in heavily populated northwest Oregon were growing, with hundreds of thousands of people told to flee encroaching flames while residents to the south tearfully assessed their losses. 

People evacuated statewide because of fires had climbed to an estimated 500,000 — more than 10 percent of the 4.2 million people in the state, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management reported late Thursday. 

One fire approached Molalla, triggering a mandatory evacuation order for the community of about 9,000 people located 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Portland. A police car rolled through the streets with a loudspeaker blaring "evacuate now."

Inmates were being moved from a women's prison less than a mile from Interstate 5 in Portland's southern suburbs "out of an abundance of caution," the Oregon Department of Corrections said.

With two large fires threatening to merge, some firefighters in Clackamas County, which includes Molalla, were told to disengage temporarily because of the danger. Officials tried to reassure residents who abandoned their homes, and law enforcement said patrols would be stepped up to prevent looting. 

10 dead as California fire becomes deadliest of year

GRIDLEY, Calif. — A Northern California wildfire that destroyed a foothill hamlet has become the state's deadliest blaze of the year with 10 people confirmed dead — and the toll could climb as searchers look for 16 missing people.

The North Complex fire that exploded in wind-driven flames earlier in the week was advancing more slowly Friday after the winds eased and smoke from the blaze shaded the area and lowered the temperature, allowing firefighters to make progress, authorities said.

However, the smoke made for poor visibility and fire helicopters couldn't fly Thursday.

In most parts of the state, red flag warnings of extreme fire danger because of hot, dry weather or gusty winds were lifted. 

Only a day or two earlier, the North Complex fire tore through Sierra Nevada foothills so quickly that fire crews were nearly engulfed, locals fled for their lives to a pond, and the town of Berry Creek, population 525, was gutted.

Trump, struggling to define Biden, steps up Harris attacks

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Donald Trump barely mentioned Tim Kaine when he was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2016. But four years later, the president has plenty to say about Kamala Harris.

Trump said this week that "nobody likes" Harris, feeding into a standard of likability that is applied to women in leadership far more often than men. He told voters in North Carolina it would be "an insult to our country" if Harris became the first female president. And Trump and his allies repeatedly mispronounce Harris' first name, a pattern her supporters say amounts to a deliberate effort to portray the daughter of immigrants as someone who does not belong at the top ranks of politics.

Trump is focusing on Harris as he has sometimes struggled to land on a consistent, coherent attack against Biden, who has built a reputation as a bipartisan deal maker rather than a progressive ideologue. And the racism and sexism underlying Trump's critique of the first Black woman and person of Asian descent on a major party ticket are part of an aggressive strategy to appeal to white suburban voters.

"It's hard to see that as not somehow tied to what you view as 'our country,'" said Kelly Dittmar, director of research and scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. 

For her part, Harris has been sharp in her criticism of Trump, but has largely limited her comments to the president's job performance. Campaigning in Miami on Thursday, she called Trump "reckless" for downplaying the potential toll of the coronavirus while privately describing it as "deadly stuff."

Schools that are mostly Black, Latino favor starting online

Missi Magness wanted her children back in school. 

The parent of a first-grader and a sixth-grader who attend schools on Indianapolis' southeast side struggled trying to oversee her children's schooling while working from home this spring.

"They need the structure, they need the socialization, they just need to go," said Magness. "'I love you, but here's your backpack, here's your lunch ... have a good day!'"

Many other local parents agreed. Now, their school district, Franklin Township — where two-thirds of the 10,000 students are white, as is Magness — has allowed younger children to return to school buildings full time. 

But two districts over, it's a different story. In Indianapolis Public Schools, where nearly three-quarters of about 26,000 students in traditional public schools are Black and Hispanic, the school year started virtually — despite relying on the same local health guidance as Franklin Township. 

Asia Today: India adds 96K virus cases, orders some retests

NEW DELHI — India edged closer to recording nearly 100,000 coronavirus cases in 24 hours as it ordered retesting of many people whose first results were from the less reliable rapid antigen tests being widely used.

There were a total of 96,551 confirmed cases, taking the tally to over 4.56 million. The Health Ministry on Friday also reported another 1,209 deaths for a total of 76,271.

India has the second-highest caseload behind the United States, where more than 6.39 million people have been confirmed as infected.

The Health Ministry has asked states to allow testing on demand without a doctor's prescription. It also said some negative rapid antigen tests should be redone through the more reliable RT-PCR method, the gold standard of coronavirus tests that looks for the genetic code of the virus. 

The retesting order applied to people who had negative results but had fever, coughing or breathlessness, or those who developed the COVID-19 symptoms within three days of their negative test results. 

COVID beds fill up as virus pressure builds in Marseille

MARSEILLE, France — All five intensive care beds dedicated to COVID patients are in use at the Laveran Military Training Hospital in Marseille, and its doctors are bracing for more.

It's a small ward in a mid-sized hospital, but what's happening here reflects growing pressure on medical facilities across France as infections resurge. The hospital's medical staff suit up to enter the COVID zone, hook patients up to monitors and tubes for hydration, nourishment and medicine, and meet frequently to discuss their prognosis.

While France's daily case count climbed back up as summer vacations brought relaxed virus vigilance, the number of infected patients in hospitals and intensive care units stayed low and stable for several weeks. Until now.

Doctors in Marseille — the country's latest virus hotspot — started sounding the alarm this week. The 70 ICU beds dedicated to virus patients in France's second-biggest city and the surrounding Bouches-du-Rhone region were all occupied by Tuesday. The number of ICU virus patients in the region has doubled in the past 10 days and now surpasses 100.

"The beginning of summer was relatively calm but in the past few weeks there is a new rise," said Laveran's chief doctor, Pierre-Yves. He can only be identified by his first name according to military policy. "What is going on here is just like what is going on in other hospitals of the region."

Vancouver Public Schools retires chieftain mascot

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The Vancouver Public Schools Board of Directors on Tuesday unanimously voted to stop using the chieftain name and mascot at Columbia River High School and Minnehaha Elementary School.

Board members last month expressed their desire to halt the use of the image of a Native American chief in a feathered headdress, The Columbian reported. Local tribal leaders urged the school board to stop using the image, and more than 1,700 people signed a petition this summer opposing its continued use.

The mascot has been a source of controversy for decades and came back under the spotlight recently by renewed national conversations about racial justice. The Washington State Board of Education adopted a resolution in 1993 for districts to reevaluate use of Native American imagery in mascots, reaffirming that position in 2012.

In 1994 and again in 2019, students voted to keep the image.

Anastasia McAllister, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and graduate of Columbia River High School, said the mascot does not honor her community or the Native presence in the lower Columbia River.

Some alumni and former school staff protested the resolution, urging the district to preserve the chieftain mascot. A counter-petition drew more than 800 signatures.

Others suggested retiring the mascot would erase Native American history in the region. Philip Harju, the newly sworn-in chair of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, rebuked that. He called on the district to invest in curriculum that includes the history of local tribes.

School board president Wendy Smith acknowledged the anger and disappointment some feel at replacing the chieftain. However, she said it's unacceptable for the district to keep a mascot that has and continues to harm students.

"If some students, any students, feel alienated from their school community, then it is not the right mascot for their school," Smith said.

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