Firefighters partially surround deadly California fire; U.S. says Russia aims to fabricate evidence in prison deaths | Hot off the Wire podcast

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Firefighters have gotten their first hold on California’s deadliest and most destructive fire of the year and say the blaze probably will remain stalled through the weekend. Fire officials say the McKinney Fire near the Oregon border was 10% contained Wednesday night and crews were making progress carving firebreaks around much of the rest of the blaze.

The Associated Press has obtained nearly 12,000 pages of sealed records from a child sex abuse lawsuit against the Mormon church. The documents offer the most detailed and comprehensive look yet at the church’s so-called “help line” for dealing with child sex abuse accusations against officials and members.

China says it has conducted “precision missile strikes” in the Taiwan Strait as part of military exercises by its navy, air force and other departments in six zones surrounding the island. The drills were prompted by a visit to the island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week.

Jurors in the trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz are preparing to visit the still-bloodstained building where he murdered 17 people four years ago. The 12 jurors and their 10 alternates will arrive at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by bus Thursday along with the judge, prosecutors and Cruz’s attorneys. Cruz will not be present.

U.S. officials believe Russia is working to fabricate evidence concerning last week’s deadly strike on a facility housing prisoners of war in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine. U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Russia is looking to plant false evidence to make it appear that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the July 29 attack on Olenivka Prison that left 53 dead and wounded dozens more, a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence finding told The Associated Press.

Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski has been killed in a car accident in her northern Indiana District. The Elkhart County sheriff’s office says the 58-year-old Walorski and two staff members were inside a SUV that was hit head-on Wednesday afternoon by a car that crossed the centerline on a state highway.

The Mets beat the Nationals and the Phillies beat the Braves in NL East action, former Reds pitcher Luis Castillo debuts as a Mariner, the NFL appeals a disciplinary decision to seek a longer suspension for Deshaun Watson and a UConn star is out with an injury.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed in part at making it easier for women seeking abortions to travel between states to obtain access to the procedure. One of the directives will allow states that have not outlawed abortion to apply for Medicaid waivers that would help them treat women who’ve traveled from out of state.

Temperatures are soaring in a region of eastern Kentucky where people are shoveling out the wreckage of massive flooding. Some are working without electricity. Officials opened cooling centers for residents. Gov. Andy Beshear says the death toll from the historic flooding in Kentucky remains at 37.

U.S.-China relations are teetering on a precipice after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Pelosi was greeted by a rapturous welcome in Taipei and applauded with strong bipartisan support in Washington despite White House misgivings. 

The 21-year-old man accused of killing seven people and wounding dozens more in a shooting at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago has pleaded not guilty, a week after prosecutors announced he faces 117 felony counts in the attack. Robert E. Crimo III appeared for a brief hearing Wednesday in Lake County’s circuit court to enter a plea.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says he now understands it was irresponsible of him to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100% real.” Testifying Wednesday in his own defense at a civil trial to determine how much he owes for defaming the parents of one of the children who were killed in the 2012 attack in Connecticut, the Infowars host acknowledged that it was irresponsible of him to push the false claims that the massacre didn’t happen.

A new lab in Uganda gives early alerts for zoonotic diseases, such as monkeypox and COVID-19.

The OPEC oil cartel and its allies have decided to boost production in September by a much slower pace than in previous months. The move Wednesday comes amid high gasoline prices and unstable energy supplies exacerbated by the war Russia is waging on Ukraine. 

A woman with an open bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey in a bag was arrested for driving a golf cart on Florida’s busiest interstate while drunk. According to a police report, the 58-year-old woman was arrested Saturday night on the shoulder of Interstate 95. 

Everyone who moves through downtown Atlanta today passes places where in 1906, innocent Black men and women were chased and beaten to death by a mob of 10,000 white men. The massacre claimed more than 25 victims and shaped Atlanta’s geography and politics in ways that continue today. But it’s less widely known than the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Activists say that’s because it doesn’t fit with the civil rights story Atlanta likes to tell. They’re hoping to change the narrative with tours, performances and memorials. They’re also looking for 500 hosts to set tables for 5,000 people for dinners where the massacre will be discussed.

—The Associated Press