Nation/World Briefs

U.S. endures tough wildfire season

Nationally, the scorching heat and relentless drought this year helped spark a disastrous wildfire season.

For only the third time on record, the total number of acres burned by wildfires across the country so far this year has topped 9 million, according to data from the National Interagency Fire Center.

The area scorched, as of Friday – 9,101,461 acres – is roughly the size of the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.

“Since 1960, when we began keeping good records, surpassing 9 million acres burned has only happened three times: this year, 2006 and 2007,” reports Randy Eardley, spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

African leaders agree to send troops to Mali

LAGOS, Nigeria – Nigerian state-run TV says a bloc of West African nations has agreed to send 3,000 troops to stabilize northern Mali.

The decision came late Sunday at the end of an emergency ECOWAS bloc summit in Nigeria’s capital.

Military experts from the U.N., ECOWAS, Europe and the African Union have drafted a plan to recapture northern Mali from militants, but it would need final approval from the African Union and the U.N. Security Council before it could be carried out.

Mutinous soldiers overthrew Mali’s democratically elected president more than seven months ago, creating a power vacuum that paved the way for Islamists to grab the north.

Murder suspect missing in Arizona jail

PHOENIX – A man being held on murder and robbery charges at an Arizona jail has vanished, and authorities say it’s unclear if he escaped from his cell or is hiding somewhere at the sprawling facility, which also contains America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff’s famous “tent city” lockup.

Maricopa County authorities say they’ve launched a manhunt for 26-year-old Adan Orduno Jr.

They’re also searching the almost 600,000-square-foot jail, which has a section where all inmates are housed in surplus military tents.

Sheriff’s spokesman Officer Christopher Hegstrom says Orduno was being housed in the jail’s psychiatric unit and was discovered missing just before 9 a.m. Sunday.

Judy’s Garland’s Oz dress fetches $480K

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The now-faded blue gingham dress Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz” has sold for $480,000.

Auction house Julien’s Auctions says the pinafore fetched the highest price of any item during a two-day auction of Hollywood memorabilia that attracted bids from around the world. The auction ended Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Steve McQueen’s racing jacket sold for $50,000, as did a purple skirt worn by Marilyn Monroe while filming “River of No Return” in Canada. Julie Andrews’ “Sound of Music dress” brought $38,400.

Sunglasses worn by Jean Reno in “Leon” went for $8,320, while Johnny Depp’s shades fetched $3,250.

Bidders also snapped up pieces of royal wedding cakes. Prince William and Kate Middleton’s cake sold for $7,500 while Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s cake sold for $1,375.

Associated Press, USA TODAY

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