Sequoias threatened by latest wildfires
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. -- Fire crews ramped up the battle Wednesday against two expanding forest fires threatening Sequoia National Park's giant sequoia trees and infrastructure.
The Colony and Paradise fires, ignited by lightning strikes last week, covered about 11 square miles in California's Sierra Nevada.
The Colony Fire is a threat to Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 sequoias, but not imminently, said Mark Ruggiero, fire information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
The fires are among the latest in a long summer of blazes that have scorched more than 3,500 square miles in California, destroying hundreds of homes.
Sequoia National Park has been closed and its headquarters and resident employees have been evacuated, along with a portion of the community of Three Rivers outside the entrance.
More than 300 firefighters were on the lines, aided by helicopters and air tankers when smoke conditions allowed. A national interagency management team will take over today, and even more resources are expected, Ruggiero said.
Colorado AG sees bias in city's policing
DENVER -- A civil-rights investigation that started during an outcry over the death of Elijah McClain found that the Aurora Police Department has a pattern of racially biased policing, Colorado's attorney general said Wednesday.
Attorney General Phil Weiser said the investigation found that the department has long had a culture in which officers treat minority groups differently from white people. He said the agency also has a pattern of using unlawful excessive force; frequently escalates encounters with civilians; and fails to properly document interactions with residents.
"These actions are unacceptable. They hurt the people that law enforcement is entrusted" to serve, he said.
Weiser urged the Police Department to commit to recommended changes in officer training, in its policies on use of force and especially in its standards for police stops and arrests.
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson and City Manager Jim Twombly said in statements that they will cooperate with Weiser's office and that they already have been working to implement changes.
Police stopped McClain, 23, as he walked home from a store on Aug. 24, 2019, after a 911 caller reported a man wearing a ski mask and waving his hands.
Officers put McClain in a chokehold and pinned him down. Paramedics injected him with 500 milligrams of ketamine, an amount appropriate for someone 77 pounds heavier than McClain's 143 pounds, according to an indictment against the officers and paramedics involved in the incident.
McClain fell unconscious, was pronounced brain-dead at a hospital and was taken off life support.
Delay denial lets Trump suit move on
NEW YORK -- A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a request by lawyers for former President Donald Trump to delay the progression of a defamation lawsuit by a woman who accused him of rape.
Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan issued a brief denial of the request the lawyers made in December to delay the lawsuit while an appeals court decides whether the United States can be substituted as the defendant.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is to hear arguments in November on whether Trump can be replaced as the defendant in the lawsuit filed by columnist E. Jean Carroll.
The Justice Department has asserted that Trump cannot be held personally liable for "crude and disrespectful" remarks he made about Carroll because he was president at the time.
Former Attorney General William Barr began the effort to replace Trump as the defendant while he was still in office.
Carroll has said Trump raped her in the mid-1990s in an upscale Manhattan department store. The Justice Department has argued that Trump was acting "within the scope of his office" in denying wrongdoing after White House reporters asked him about Carroll's allegations.
Child care report finds low pay, high cost
The U.S. Treasury Department issued a report Wednesday that detailed the high price and low wages for child care, a problem that makes it harder for parents to work and one that the Biden administration aims to fix with its budget proposal.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen presented the findings in remarks that drew on personal experiences. Harris recalled spending weekdays with Regina Shelton, who ran a child care center from her home while Harris' mother was in a lab researching breast cancer.
Yellen recalled posting a classified advertisement for a babysitter when she was returning to work 40 years ago as an economics professor after giving birth. Yellen and her husband, the economist George Akerlof, decided to pay wages above the market rate to receive better care.
But Yellen emphasized that her experience is far from normal. Child care workers earn an average of $24,230. More than 15% of the industry's workers live below the poverty line in 41 states, and half need public assistance.
Meanwhile, an average family with just one child under 5 would need to devote 13% of its income to child care. The report concludes that it's an unaffordable sum.