An out-of-control California wildfire that has already destroyed nearly 700 homes in its path of destruction crept closer to the upscale hillside community of Montecito on Tuesday despite calmer winds that slowed its progress. The Thomas Fire, which broke out on Dec. 4 near the community of Ojai, has since traveled 27 miles (43 km) to become the fifth-largest blaze in state history. It has blackened more than 366 square miles (948 square kilometers) in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, an area larger than New York City.
A cooking fire at a homeless camp ignited the wildfire that threatened the affluent Los Angeles neighbourhood of Bel Air, officials have said. “Investigators have determined the fire was caused by an illegal cooking fire at an encampment in a brush area adjacent,” the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement, adding that no arrests had yet been made in connection with the fire. While not as large as the two other blazes that scorched thousands of acres in Los Angeles County, the Skirball Fire attracted attention as it imperilled upscale homes and the Getty Center, feeding on dry brush in the hills.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, a champion for the technology sector and former civil rights attorney who sued the city on behalf of tenants and would go on to lead as its first Chinese American mayor, died early on Tuesday, officials said. Lee, 65, died of a heart attack, the San Francisco Examiner said. "He was a true champion for the people," U.S. House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, whose district includes San Francisco, said on Twitter.
President Donald Trump's claim that Russian meddling in the 2016 election is a “hoax” has been named the biggest lie of the year by fact-checker PolitiFact. Despite bipartisan evidence to the contrary, Mr Trump has continued to suggest that investigations into the Kremlin’s interference in last year’s presidential race are fake news. By making the claim, Mr Trump has contradicted top US intelligence officials, who have concluded that Russia interfered in the election to help Mr Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
By Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. District Court judge ordered Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday to turn over any potential evidence that could be material for when he sentences President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation during his interview in Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia. Flynn has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.
WASHINGTON ― The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, Leonard Steven Grasz, despite the fact that Grasz earned an embarrassing and unanimous “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association.