More than 1,600 firefighters battled on Monday to contain a fast-spreading wildfire that has forced hundreds of evacuations in the drought-parched canyons north of Los Angeles, destroying 18 homes, killing at least one person and closing a highway. It was threatening a string of small communities near Santa Clarita, just outside the Angeles National Forest, the Los Angeles county sheriff's department said. "This is the fifth year of an ongoing drought, so we have very extreme fire behavior," the fire department chief, Daryl Osby told a Sunday news conference.
Southeast Asian nations avoided rebuking Beijing or mentioning a recent UN-backed tribunal ruling against its claims in the South China Sea in a statement issued Monday that will be seen as a victory for the regional giant. The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) instead repeated it was "seriously concerned" by "land reclamations and escalation of activities" and merely called for self-restraint in the strategic waterway. Diplomats gathered for a summit in the Laos capital spent days wrangling over how to respond to this month's ruling by a Hague-based tribunal which delivered a hammer blow to most of China's historical claims over the region.