Thomas Fire, 5th-Largest In Modern California History, Shows Few Signs Of Slowing

Updated 10:40 p.m. ET Firefighters in California's Ventura and Santa Barbara counties find themselves still locked in a desperate struggle with what has become the fifth-largest wildfire in modern state history. The Thomas Fire , which for a time Sunday was ratcheted down just 10 percent contained, has ticked back upward to 20 percent containment. Late Monday, CalFire reported , "Gusty Santa Ana winds will continue to push fire to the west. Very high fuel loading, critically low fuel...

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Editor's Note: This story was originally published in September and has been republished with updates about the U.N. investigation of extreme poverty in Alabama and other U.S. locations.

The United Nations is investigating extreme poverty in the U.S.

When the cargo ship El Faro set out from port in Jacksonville, Fla., en route to Puerto Rico, there was little indication of trouble. A gathering weather system named Joaquin was still just a tropical storm. But within days, Joaquin had swelled into a major hurricane — and a broken El Faro lay almost three miles below the surface of the sea, along with all 33 members of its crew.

In Westfield, N.Y., perch, bass, catfish and trout are growing fat on the byproducts of an adjacent brewery and distillery. The fish, still young but intended to be harvested and eaten next year, are the first fruits of an innovative project aimed at turning waste into food while addressing a suite of problems associated with more conventional means of catching and farming seafood.

France's education chief says that when students go back to school next fall, all mobile phone use will be banned in schools for students roughly 15 and younger.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in southern New York has filed federal terrorism charges against Akayed Ullah, the 27-year-old man who police say attempted to carry out a suicide bombing in a pedestrian tunnel near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan on Monday.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said Ullah "came to kill, to maim, and to destroy" as thousands of New Yorkers were using the transit system to get to work and go about their lives. Ullah acted "in support of a vicious cause," Kim said.

As a cattle herder in Benue, a rural state in central Nigeria, Sale Tambaya's life revolved around his herd of roughly 100 cows and a few dozen sheep. Normally, he would take them out from a pen near his thatched hut every morning to graze freely in the surrounding grassland. But on Nov. 1, taking grazing animals in the open was designated a criminal activity in Benue. Overnight, his family's livelihood had become a threat to their safety.

So at 6 a.m., he made his decision: The only way to keep both family and herd safe was to flee.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

For a chaotic year, I'm offering a chaotic "Best Books" list — but I think my list is chaotic in a good sense. These books zing off in all directions: They're fresh, unruly and dismissive of the canned and contrived.

You can't go wrong with any of these books. As one of Dashiell Hammett's dangerous dames might have said: They're all the bees' knees.

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