Analysis indicates partisan gerrymandering has benefited GOP The 2016 presidential contest was awash with charges that the fix was in: Republican Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged against him, while Democrats have accused the Russians of stacking the odds in Trump's favor. Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it - in the drawing of lines for hundreds of U.S. and state legislative seats. The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Republicans had a real advantage. The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage.
Possible effects of gerrymandering seen in uncontested races When voters cast ballots for state representatives last fall, millions of Americans essentially had no choice: In 42 percent of all such elections, candidates faced no major party opponents. Political scientists say a major reason for the lack of choices is the way districts are drawn - gerrymandered, in some cases, to ensure as many comfortable seats as possible for the majority party by creating other districts overwhelmingly packed with voters for the minority party. "With an increasing number of districts being drawn to deliberately favor one party over another - and with fewer voters indicating an interest in crossover voting - lots of potential candidates will look at those previous results and come to a conclusion that it's too difficult to mount an election campaign in a district where their party is the minority," said John McGlennon, a longtime professor of government and public policy at the College of William & Mary in Virginia who has tracked partisan competition in elections.
Overturned oil tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing 148 BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan (AP) - An overturned oil tanker burst into flames in Pakistan on Sunday, killing 148 people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel, an official said. The death toll could rise further as another 50 people are still in critical condition, said Dr. Mohammad Baqar, a senior rescue official in the area. There were dozens of other injuries of varying degree, he said. Local news channels showed black smoke billowing skyward and scores of burned bodies, as well as rescue officials speeding the injured to hospital and army helicopters ferrying the wounded.
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Koch chief says health care bill insufficiently conservative COLORADO SPRING, Colo. (AP) - Chief lieutenants in the Koch brothers' political network lashed out at the Senate Republican health care bill on Saturday as not conservative enough, becoming a powerful outside critic as GOP leaders try to rally support for their plan among rank-and-file Republicans. Tim Phillips, who leads Americans For Prosperity, the Koch network's political arm, called the Senate's plans for Medicaid "a slight nip and tuck" of President Barack Obama's health care law, a modest change he described as "immoral." "This Senate bill needs to get better," Phillips said. "It has to get better." Some Republican senators have raised concern about cuts to Medicaid, which provides health care coverage to millions of poor and middle-income Americans.
10 bodies found, scores missing in massive China landslide MAO COUNTY, China (AP) - Rescuers recovered 10 bodies and were still searching for 93 other people on Sunday, a day after a massive landslide buried a picturesque mountain village in southwestern China. More than 2,500 rescuers with detection devices and dogs were looking for signs of life amid the rubble of huge boulders that rained down on Xinmo village in Sichuan province early Saturday. As of Sunday afternoon, only three people - a couple and their month-old baby - had been rescued from the disaster site. Sitting on the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau in Aba prefecture's Mao County, Xinmo has in recent years become a tourism destination for its picturesque scenery of homes in lush meadows tucked between steep and rugged mountains.
Southern Utah wildfire grows, crews make slight gains SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A southern Utah wildfire has grown more, reaching 62.7 square miles (162.4 square kilometers) by Saturday night. The fire near the town of Brian Head is 8 percent contained and has destroyed at least 13 homes, fire officials said. About 1,000 firefighters and support personnel are battling the blaze, which started June 17 by someone using a torch to burn weeds. More than 1,500 people have been evacuated from several hundred homes and cabins, fire information officer Erin Darboven said Saturday night. Evacuation orders were given in nearby alpine communities that are generally known for second homes as a weekend getaway for Las Vegas residents.
Venezuelan protesters, security forces clash at air base CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Young protesters broke down a metal fence guarding an air base in Caracas on Saturday before being repelled by security forces firing tear gas in another day of anti-government protests in Venezuela's capital. Demonstrators threw stones, and some protesters were injured. The clashes took place after a peaceful mass demonstration next to La Carlota base where a 22-year-old protester was killed this week when a national guardsman shot him in the chest at close range with rubber bullets. Protesters also fought with security forces outside the base Friday, and activists burned some vehicles during the confrontation. President Nicolas Maduro said in an address to troops Saturday that he had managed to break up a U.S.-backed plot to oust him.
Q&A: Afraid of sharks? Flu, asteroids pose far greater risk BOSTON (AP) - You might want a bigger boat, but you probably don't need better odds. The confirmed return of great white sharks to Cape Cod has rattled some boaters and beachgoers. Yet the chances of an encounter involving a human are infinitesimally small, and the likelihood of an attack resulting in serious injury or death is smaller still. How small? With apologies to "The Hunger Games," may the odds be ever in your favor - because they are. In 2016, there were 53 unprovoked shark attacks in the U.S. - none fatal - according to the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File.
Lawyer: Race a factor in St. Louis cop being mistakenly shot An off-duty black St. Louis police officer's race factored into him being mistakenly shot by a white officer who didn't recognize him after a shootout with black suspects this week, the wounded officer's lawyer contends. The 38-year-old black officer was off duty when he heard a commotion near his home and ran toward it with his service weapon to try to help his fellow officers, police said. St. Louis' interim police chief, Lawrence O'Toole, said the incident began when officers with an anti-crime task force followed a stolen car and were twice fired upon by its occupants. One suspect was shot in an ankle and was arrested, along with another teenager who tried to run from police, O'Toole said.