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Vox Sentences: Raging wildfires have consumed 2,000 homes and businesses in California

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A deadly wildfire is raging in California's wine country; high-profile actresses level new accusations at Harvey Weinstein; Kenya's opposition leader drops out of the presidential election rerun.

Up in flames

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  • Wildfires burning out of control in Northern California have so far claimed at least 13 lives and totaled or damaged more than 2,000 buildings. [LA Times / Paige St. John and Sonali Kohli]
  • Among the dead were "senior citizens who simply were not able to escape the flames that overcame their homes," according to Vice President Mike Pence, who visited California on Tuesday. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • Two of the dead were a 100-year-old World War II veteran, Charles Rippey, and his wife, Sara, 98, who had been married for 75 years. [LA Times / Hailey Branson-Potts and Alene Tchekmedyian]
  • Another 150 people have been reported missing, and while authorities are hopeful they can locate them, they are also telling the public to prepare for the death toll to rise. [Washington Post / Cara Strickland, Scott Wilson, Breena Kerr, and Kristine Phillips]
  • The disaster struck at the heart of American wine country; about 17 separate wildfires are burning over 100,000 acres of land in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. [NYT / Thomas Fuller, Jonah Engel Bromwich, and Julie Turkewitz]
  • There could be long-term economic ramifications for tourism: The blaze comes at the end of the annual grape harvest, and so far, wineries say they are focused on protecting their crops and haven’t begun to estimate how much damages will cost them. [Sacramento Bee / Mike Dunne]
  • But in the case of wineries, it’s not just the buildings that matter. If vines burn, it can take years for new vines to mature enough to produce wine. [Vinfolio]
  • Heat, dry weather, and winds have caused the fires to grow at an extremely rapid rate. California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency and asked President Trump for federal relief. [CNN / Ralph Ellis, Joe Sterling, Paul P. Murphy, and Eliott C. McLaughlin]
  • California’s wildfire season is worst in September and October, but the sheer volume of fires has grown in recent years. A recent federal report is also predicting a longer fire season this year and said the US government is spending more to combat wildfires. [Vox / Anastasia Selby]

The list of Harvey Weinstein accusers keeps growing

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  • Today saw a fresh number of allegations of sexual assault, harassment, and rape being leveled at Hollywood film executive Harvey Weinstein, including from some very famous actresses. [Vox / Constance Grady and Caroline Framke]
  • Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have now joined the ranks of women accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment; they are the most high-profile actresses to do so. [NYT / Jodi Kantor and Rachel Abrams]
  • Paltrow, who first worked with Weinstein on the Jane Austen adaption Emma, told the New York Times that the producer propositioned her when she was just 22 years old, and she rejected him. Jolie said a similar thing happened to her. [NYT / Jodi Kantor and Rachel Abrams]
  • The New Yorker, meanwhile, published the results of a long investigation chronicling alleged abusive and predatory behavior from Weinstein toward a number of actresses and assistants who worked at his film companies for the past few decades. [New Yorker / Ronan Farrow]
  • Actresses including Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, and Mira Sorvino went on the record about Weinstein’s behavior, with Argento alleging she’d been raped. [New Yorker / Ronan Farrow]
  • The New Yorker also released a recording of Weinstein alternately pleading with and threatening an Italian woman named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez to come into his hotel room, a day after Gutierrez alleged he groped her. The audio was collected as part of an NYPD sting operation, but a case was never brought against Weinstein. [New Yorker]
  • Equally disturbing to the latest batch of allegations against Weinstein is the culture of silence around it. Though some male actors and directors have spoken out, more than 20 who worked with Weinstein over the years have so far remained silent about the allegations. [The Guardian / Sam Levin and Julia Carrie Wong]
  • And rumors of Weinstein’s behavior have been out in the open for years but have been quashed in part because of Weinstein’s influence. Some in the industry have openly said they were afraid of speaking out against him. [Vox / Constance Grady]

Kenya could be headed for a constitutional crisis

Bryan Jaybee/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • In a surprise move, Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga has dropped out of a rerun of that country’s presidential election. [Agence France-Presse]
  • Odinga says he’s doing this to protest an election system he believes is rigged for President Uhuru Kenyatta, and in doing so, he’s hoping for an entirely new election to be called. There’s some legal precedent for this — the Kenyan Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that this is the right course of action in this situation. [Washington Post / Rael Ombuor and Paul Schemm]
  • But Kenyatta’s lawyers are insisting the law spells out that if one candidate drops out of a two-candidate race, the remaining candidate will be declared the winner. [NPR / Eyder Peralta]
  • Odinga's exit comes about a month after he won a major victory, successfully pressuring the Kenyan Supreme Court to invalidate the results of the August 8 presidential election that Kenyatta won. In its decision, the Supreme Court said there were too many irregularities in how votes were counted. [Reuters / George Obulutsa and John Ndiso]
  • There have also been lingering questions about the violent kidnapping and killing of a prominent Kenyan election official named Chris Msando this summer. Msando was charged with overseeing the electronic vote count for the August election. There’s still an investigation into who killed him. [BuzzFeed / Tamerra Griffin]
  • Since then, Odinga has claimed the country’s election commission has not made sufficient changes to guarantee that the new elections will be free and fair. [Washington Post / Rael Ombuor and Paul Schemm]
  • Many experts say this is hurtling Kenya into unchartered waters on the limits of its constitution, and could possibly be setting up the country for a constitutional crisis. [Bloomberg / Samuel Gebre and Felix Njini]


  • Maine lobster is still bountiful, but lobstermen have seen Atlantic fish decline sharply over the past few decades. Now some are turning to more sustainable pursuits, like oyster farming. [NYT / Jess Bidgood]
  • It’s been a few months since websites and internet platforms kicked out neo-Nazis en masse. And while these groups’ online presence has certainly diminished, it’s tough to tell how much of an impact it has had. [The Verge / Adi Robertson]
  • Per the new Last Jedi trailer, get ready for porgs to replace BB-8 as the cutest Star Wars character. The creatures made their debut on Monday and already have a dedicated fan base. [Gizmodo / Matt Novak]
  • Back when a 28-year-old Jared Kushner owned the New York Observer, the paper’s editors had to gently remind him that, no, you cannot order a journalistic hit job on someone your family doesn’t like. [Columbia Journalism Review / Kyle Pope]
  • The prepper community is taking applications for people to join their group of survivors if and when nuclear war happens. They’re looking for a range of applicants, from computer programmers to plumbers (hey, you have to be practical, right?). [Select All / Lauren Smiley]


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