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Nation & world briefs, Aug. 31

California

Crews battling blaze making progress

Nearly a third of the huge forest fire burning in and around Yosemite National Park was contained yesterday and some small communities in the mountainous area were no longer under evacuation advisories, but smoke descending into San Joaquin Valley cities was becoming a problem.

Nearly 5,000 firefighters were battling the blaze, but in a sign of progress some were expected to be released to go home, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The 2-week-old blaze burning in the Sierra Nevada northeast of Fresno has scorched 315 square miles of brush, oaks and pine, making it the largest U.S. wildfire to date this year and the fifth-largest wildfire in modern California records. Containment was estimated at 32 percent.

oklahoma

Man pleads guilty to making lewd proposal

An ex-janitor at a 17,000-member Tulsa, Okla., megachurch pleaded guilty yesterday to making a lewd proposal to a 14-year-old girl, less than a week before his trial was set to begin.

Israel Castillo pleaded guilty to a charge alleging he sent lewd Facebook messages to the girl.

Castillo’s case was part of a scandal involving the megachurch that broke last summer. Five church employees – including the son and daughter-in-law of ministry co-founder and head pastor Sharon Daugherty – were charged with waiting two weeks to report the rape of a 13-year-old girl to authorities. Another ex-janitor, Chris Denman, was sentenced to 55 years in prison last December for the 13-year-old’s rape in a ministry stairwell and other sex crimes.

Washington, D.C.

Ginsburg to officiate at same-sex wedding

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will officiate at a same-sex wedding this weekend in what is believed to be a first for a member of the nation’s highest court.

Ginsburg will officiate today at the marriage of Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser and John Roberts, a government economist.

The private ceremony will take place at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a national memorial to President John F. Kennedy. The 80-year-old Ginsburg, an opera lover, is a frequent guest at the center.

The Associated Press

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