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CALIFORNIA: Wildfire threatens 100 homes

A wildfire in the rugged hills overlooking Santa Barbara threatened about 100 homes Wednesday in an area where in 1990 a fire killed one person and burned 550 homes. Residents were told to leave the isolated Painted Cave area, a mix of cabins and homes near a rocky ridge. The fire erupted not far from Highway 154 and, within a few hours,had spread through 15 acres of brush. Firefighters were leery that late-day winds might bring the blaze new life.

ILLINOIS: Congressman's silence baffling

With Election Day three weeks away, things could hardly be worse for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.: He hasn't been to work in months, recovering from hospitalization for depression. There are whispers he's under investigation for misusing campaign donations. Headlines claim he's been spotted at a Washington, D.C., bar, downing drinks. But the Jackson camp has maintained the same, often baffling approach: virtual silence. To political observers, the long stretch of Jackson scarcity is as unusual as it is surprising. Since he quietly went on leave in June, Jackson, 47, has made no statements or appearances to explain his health status or his plans for seeking re-election to the congressional seat he has held for 17 years. Many are starting to wonder how much his absence may be hurting his chances.

WASHINGTON STATE: Canadian guard shot at border

An unarmed Canadian border guard shot in her booth at a U.S.-Canada crossing north of Seattle was on her way to a full recovery Wednesday as investigators sought to learn why a motorist targeted her before committing suicide. The man, driving a van into Canada, shot Officer Lori Bowcock in the neck Tuesday afternoon at the crossing at Blaine, then turned the gun on himself. Bowcock remained hospitalized in British Columbia. The gunman, identified as Andrew Michael Crews, 32, had lived in Bremerton but moved to the Seattle area recently.

NATIONWIDE: 13 million in 'Great ShakeOut' drill

More than 13 million people from Los Angeles to southern Italy are asked to crouch under desks and tables Thursday in an earthquake drill organizers say is the biggest ever. The survival technique known as "Drop, Cover and Hold On" will be on at 10:18 a.m. in each time zone in the Great ShakeOut conceived by the U.S. Geological Survey, according to the Southern California Earthquake Center.

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