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10 things you need to know today: October 11, 2017

Death toll in Northern California wildfires rises to 17, Catalonia leader stops short of declaring independence, and more


California fire death toll rises to 17 as blazes rage on

The death toll from an outburst of wildfires raging across Northern California rose to 17 on Tuesday. Eleven of the deaths occurred in Sonoma County, where the Tubbs fire incinerated entire neighborhoods in the city of Santa Rosa. Another 200 people have been reported missing in that county since Sunday, although at least 45 had been located by late Tuesday. Two people were killed in Napa County, which with Sonoma forms the heart of California's wine country. Vice President Mike Pence visited California's emergency management headquarters and said President Trump has approved a "major disaster declaration," helping clear the way for California to get federal aid to face one of the worst firestorms in its history. At least 115,000 acres have burned in the state.


Catalan leader stops short of declaring independence

Catalonia's regional president, Carles Puigdemont, stopped short of declaring independence from Spain in a speech that some had expected to call for a clean break. Instead, Puigdemont called for more dialogue with the Spanish government. The shift away from his calls for secession came as critics of the Catalan government and its independence referendum, in which the vast majority of voters backed leaving Spain, feared the crisis could fuel more separatist sentiment across the European Union. Spain's government rejected negotiation shortly before Puigdemont spoke. Madrid, which called the referendum illegal and tried to stop it, deployed police around Barcelona and threatened to jail Puigdemont if he took another step toward declaring Catalonia to be a separate country.


Pruitt signs proposal to withdraw from Obama-era Clean Power Plan

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Tuesday signed a measure to withdraw from the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era strategy that set national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Pruitt had indicated Monday at an event with coal miners in Kentucky that he would sign the proposal. Former President Barack Obama instituted the CPP in 2015 in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, but the Trump administration has said the emissions standards kill U.S. jobs and cost consumers billions. In a statement Tuesday, the EPA said rolling back the CPP will "facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens" associated with their development.


Black man beaten by white supremacists charged over incident

DeAndre Harris, the black man beaten in Charlottesville by six white men after a "Unite the Right" rally, has been charged with a crime. A local magistrate issued an arrest warrant on Monday after a white man, identified by Harris' attorney as Harold Ray Crews, complained that he had been injured in the August incident. Crews describes himself as an attorney and "Southern Nationalist" on Twitter. Harris suffered a spinal injury and a head laceration in the beating, which was captured on a video that went viral after the rally. Police said the magistrate's warrant caught them by surprise. "We were expecting to do our own investigation into the man's allegations," said Detective Sgt. Jake Via. Two men have been charged in Harris' beating. Right-wing critics say Harris instigated the violence, which he and his lawyer strongly deny.


Utah detective fired over handcuffing of nurse

The Salt Lake City Police Department on Tuesday fired the detective seen on video handcuffing a nurse who refused to allow a blood draw on an unconscious patient. Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown made the decision after an internal investigation found evidence that Detective Jeff Payne had violated department policies when he arrested the nurse, Alex Wubbels, and dragged her screaming out of the hospital. Payne's supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, was demoted to officer. Payne told Wubbels his supervisor told him to arrest her. The incident set off an avalanche of criticism and prompted an apology from the police department, which changed its policies to put them in line with hospital rules. Payne's attorney said the detective believes the firing was unfair and he plans to appeal it.


NFL owners to discuss making players stand for anthem

NFL team owners soon will discuss requiring football players to stand for the U.S. national anthem, an NFL chief spokesman said Tuesday after President Trump suggested using tax laws to punish the league if player protests persist. Trump has harshly criticized player efforts to call attention to police mistreatment of minorities, and on Tuesday he escalated the feud by suggesting punishing the league using tax laws. "Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!" Trump tweeted, although the NFL gave up its tax-free status two years ago. The owners plan to address the anthem protests at their fall meeting next week.


Supreme Court dismisses challenge to Trump's expired travel ban

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a challenge to President Trump's old travel ban, ruling that it was moot since the order banning nationals from six majority-Muslim countries expired on Sept. 24. The court did not mention another ruling suspending the U.S. refugee program, although the court also could vacate that ruling. The high court had planned to hear arguments in the cases on Oct. 10, but cancelled them after Trump issued new, targeted travel restrictions affecting eight countries — Chad, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. Hawaii and the ACLU, which fought the original ban saying it targeted Muslims, plan to challenge the new one, too.


MacArthur Foundation announces winners of 'genius grants'

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on Wednesday announced the 24 winners of its annual $625,000, no-strings-attached fellowships, known as "genius" grants. This year's winners include Grammy-winning musician Rhiannon Giddens, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker, theater artist Taylor Mac, writers Jesmyn Ward and Viet Thanh Nguyen, painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby, mathematician Emmanuel Candès, New York Times Magazine staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, and University of Michigan anthropologist Jason De Léon, who studies objects left behind by people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. "I feel released from a profound, decades-old financial anxiety," Baker told The New York Times by email. "Now my job is just to wake up every morning and ask myself: What do I want to write?"


U.S. men's soccer team fails to qualify for World Cup

The U.S. men's soccer team lost to Trinidad and Tobago 2-1 on Tuesday, failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 28 years. The heavily favored, 28th-ranked U.S. needed only a tie to make it into next year's tournament in Russia. Trinidad is ranked 99th in the world, and had lost eight of its nine last matches heading into the game. U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez's own goal, combined with a goal by Trinidad's Alvin Jones, buried U.S. hopes for an eighth straight World Cup appearance. "We let down an entire nation today," Gonzalez said.


Allegations of sexual harassment and assault mount against Harvey Weinstein

Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette, and French actress Judith Godreche said disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed them early in their careers. Paltrow said Weinstein summoned her to his hotel suite after hiring her for the lead in the Jane Austen adaptation Emma when she was 22 years old, and suggested they massage each other. She refused, and he later warned her not to tell anyone. The other actresses had similar experiences. Jolie said she rejected Weinstein's advances, refused to work with him again, and warned others. Other women told The New Yorker the producer sought naked massages, or forced them to perform or receive oral sex. The Weinstein Company's board, which has fired Weinstein, issued a statement Tuesday saying it had no prior knowledge of the allegations.


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