Blazing. Nine wildfires threaten residents in California’s San Diego County as firefighters work against drought, wind, and hot weather to contain the blazes. They gained ground overnight on all but one fire in the city of San Marcos. More than 20,000 residents there received evacuation notices yesterday, while the campus of California State University shut down in the middle of final exams.
Marriage uncertainty. Confusion reigns in Arkansas about the state of same-sex marriage. Pulaski County Judge Chris Piazza last week struck down the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but left intact a law that prohibits clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The state Supreme Court has refused to stay the ruling, leaving county clerks wondering what to do. Attorneys for a group of gay couples have asked the judge to clarify his initial ruling.
Day of reckoning. The captain and three crew members from the sunken South Korean ferry face homicide charges today in the deaths of more than 300 passengers. The indictment accuses the crew of negligence in delaying the evacuation of the ferry after it started to list. The captain and crew members were some of the first people rescued from the ferry, while hundreds of passengers remained onboard. Prosecutors have filed less severe charges against 11 other crew members and the owner of the ferry company. Authorities suspect improper stowage and overloading of cargo may have contributed to the disaster.
Mine disaster. Rescue teams are still working to recover the victims of a mining explosion in Turkey that so far has killed 282 people. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine at the time of Tuesday’s explosion. More than 350 were rescued, including scores who were injured. The tragedy has further tarnished the public image of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the one who tried to ban Twitter and YouTube), who assumed a “these things happen” attitude on his visit to the disaster site. It didn’t help when bystanders took photos of one of Erdogan’s aides kicking a protester who was already on the ground.
Oil spill. About 10,000 gallons of crude oil gushed into Los Angeles streets overnight after a high-pressure pipe burst in an industrial area near Glendale. The oil reached knee-high in some parts of the area, though firefighters and hazardous materials crews had most of it cleaned up by dawn. A handful of nearby businesses was affected, as well as a strip club that was evacuated.