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Nation and World briefs for October 10

Wind-whipped wildfires sweep through California wine country

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — More than a dozen wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country Monday, destroying at least 1,500 homes and businesses and sending an estimated 20,000 people on a headlong flight to safety through smoke and flames.

One person was killed in a fire further north, in Mendocino County.

The state’s fire chief called the damage estimates for the fire in the wine country conservative and said the fires were burning throughout an eight-county swath of Northern California, including Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

Numerous people had been hurt and some were missing, although no estimates were immediately available, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott. Later he said there were likely fatalities.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered after the blazes broke out late Sunday. Long lines formed at gas stations when many families heeded a middle-of-the-night call to get out. A representative of Pacific Gas & Electric said 114,000 customers were without power.

Hollywood condemnation of Weinstein grows louder

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Hollywood establishment, slow to react to the initial sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, began speaking out against him more forcefully Monday after the powerful studio boss was fired by his own company.

Among the A-listers weighing in were his longtime allies and beneficiaries Meryl Streep, Judi Dench and director Kevin Smith. They spoke up with a combination of disgust over his alleged behavior and remorse or defensiveness over their own business entanglements with him.

“He financed the first 14 years of my career,” Smith, whose movies “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy” were produced by Weinstein, wrote on Twitter. “Now I know while I was profiting, others were in terrible pain. It makes me feel ashamed.”

Weinstein, 65, was fired Sunday by the Weinstein Co., the studio he co-founded, three days after a bombshell New York Times expose alleged decades of crude sexual behavior on his part toward female employees and actresses, including Ashley Judd. The Times said at least eight settlements had been reached with women.

Streep, who once called Weinstein “God” while accepting the Golden Globe for “The Iron Lady,” condemned his alleged conduct as “inexcusable” while also saying she did not know about it before.

Engineers: lives lost in Mexico quake could have been saved

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Warm lighting would enhance the wood floors’ natural glow, the developer promised, so when all the custom lightbulbs burnt out, Anahi Abadia and her husband grudgingly drove to Home Depot to replenish supplies for their chic new flat in central Mexico City.

They had just reached the register when the earthquake hit, shaking the store so fiercely the structure screeched. Minutes later, a text came in from their neighbor: The elegant apartment they had purchased only six months earlier had collapsed, rendering their new home a pile of crushed concrete.

They were among the fortunate: Two women working in their building and dozens more perished on Sept. 19 in structure failures that several prominent engineers now say could have been prevented. Nearly two-thirds of the 44 buildings that fell in Mexico City were designed with a construction method called flat slab — in which floors are supported only by concrete columns — now forbidden in parts of the United States, Chile and New Zealand according to data compiled by a team of structural engineers at Stanford University and obtained by The Associated Press.

Mexico City officials were widely lauded for tightening their building codes after thousands died in the 1985 earthquake. But they left out one crucial reform: a prohibition on the building technique that caused 61 percent of the building collapses in last month’s magnitude 7.1 quake, which killed 369 people and blanketed tree-lined avenues in rubble.

“I keep thinking about what would have happened if I had still been in bed that afternoon.” said Abadia, 26, who was in her bedroom that morning recovering from thyroid cancer, dreaming of furnishing the home she and her husband moved into in March. “That was where we used to feel safe.”

As Trump challenges Iran nuclear deal, those in Tehran worry

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — As U.S. President Donald Trump threatens the Iran nuclear deal, those living in Tehran feel that an accord they have yet to benefit from may already be doomed, hardening their skepticism about America.

Trump is set to deliver a speech on Iran this week in which he is expected to decline to certify Iran’s compliance in the landmark 2015 agreement, referring it to Congress, and perhaps targeting the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard with new sanctions.

In the streets of the Iranian capital on Monday, The Associated Press spoke to a series of people about the nuclear deal: students and teachers, young and old, men in fashionable clothes and women in chadors.

Nearly all had the same concerns: Benefits from the 2015 accord have yet to reach Iran’s 80 million people despite its government signing billion-dollar airplane deals. Inflation remains high while job opportunities stay low.

They also said Trump’s threats fall in line with what Iranian leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution have warned: Americans can’t be trusted. That feeling has unified hard-liners supporting Iran’s clerically overseen government, as well as reformists seeking to change it.

Seeing hope: FDA panel considers gene therapy for blindness

A girl saw her mother’s face for the first time. A boy tore through the aisles of Target, marveling at toys he never knew existed. A teen walked onto a stage and watched the stunned expressions of celebrity judges as he wowed “America’s Got Talent.”

Caroline, Cole, Christian. All had mere glimmers of vision and were destined to lose even that because of an inherited eye disease with no treatment or cure.

Until now.

On Thursday, U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers will consider whether to recommend approval of a gene therapy that improved vision for these three youths and some others with hereditary blindness.

It would be the first gene therapy in the U.S. for an inherited disease, and the first in which a corrective gene is given directly to a patient. Only one gene therapy is sold in the U.S. now, a cancer treatment approved in August that engineers patients’ blood cells in the lab.

 

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