Wisconsin governor-recall rally draws tens of thousands

Posted Nov. 20, 2011, at 8:53 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. — In a demonstration reminiscent of those that occurred in February and March, between 25,000 and 30,000 protesters took over Capitol Square in Madison, Wis., on Saturday to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s policies and to promote a signature drive to recall him.

The petition drive must amass 540,208 signatures by Jan. 17 to force a recall election for Walker. As of Friday night, four days into the recall process, organizers had collected more than 105, 000 signatures, according to the organizing group United Wisconsin. The claim could not be independently verified Saturday.

Many more people signed at Saturday’s rally, and others picked up blank petitions so they can gather signatures later.

Organizers have said their goal is 600,000 to 700,000 signatures.

The recall attempt has been in the works since February, when Walker introduced a bill to repeal most collective bargaining for public employees.

If the drive is successful, it would prompt only the third recall election for a governor in the history of the United States.

Wilderness Society cuts staff, citing weak economy

LOS ANGELES — The weak economy has taken a big bite out of the Wilderness Society, which last week laid off 17 percent of its staff.

Kitty Thomas, senior director of advocacy communications, said the staff had been trimmed to 155, about the size it was five years ago. Thirty-two people lost their jobs across the organization, which has nine regional offices. The cuts included a number of positions in the Denver office and in Washington, as well as one in California, according to staff members.

Headquartered in Washington, the organization is one of the nation’s most venerable land preservation groups and has been a major force behind the creation and expansion of the federal wilderness system.

Fire crews focusing on hot spots in Reno fire

RENO, Nev. — An unusual, out-of-season fire that destroyed 32 homes was 95 percent contained Sunday, as fire crews from the Reno region were focusing on a few lingering hot spots, Sierra Fire Protection District Mike Brown said.

They were also repairing areas where vegetation was burned and hillsides damaged by bulldozers in an effort to prevent mudslides.

The blaze that spread by gale force winds Friday and ripped through the Sierra foothills ravaged about 2,000 acres.

Gov. Brian Sandoval was among a number of leaders who opined on Saturday that it was a miracle that scores more homes weren’t lost. There are about 4,000 homes in the area.

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