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South Carolina governor orders evacuation ahead of hurricane

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South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and ordered an evacuation of more than a million people in coastal areas starting Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew.

Florida and Georgia have also called states of emergency for a storm that has pounded the Caribbean with 145 mile-per-hour (230 kph) winds and surging seas and was expected to start affecting U.S. coastal areas late on Thursday or early Friday.

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Haley pleaded with people to get 100 miles (160 km) away from the coast, but did not say if there would be penalties for those who refuse to comply.

“We don’t do voluntary or mandatory anymore. An evacuation is an evacuation,” Haley told reporters.

By declaring a state of emergency, Haley can mobilize 1,800 members of the National Guard.

Highways will have all traffic lanes directed away from the coast for the evacuation, and the state will close schools and county government offices in 26 of the state’s 46 counties staring Wednesday.

Matthew will be a Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane when it brushes or hits South Carolina on Friday night, she said. Officials anticipate 100 mph (160 kph) winds and five- to seven-foot (1.5- to 2-meter) storm surges in coastal South Carolina, she said.

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Heavy storms in South Carolina last October killed at least 17 people.

Several coastal schools, universities and municipalities, including the city of North Charleston, announced they would close starting on Wednesday.

Emergency officials in the Myrtle Beach area advised residents of evacuation zones and routes.

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Florida Governor Rick Scott, who declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties on Monday, has activated 200 members of the Florida National Guard to support any needed hurricane response and put another 6,000 on standby.

Other state agencies prepared by ensuring fuel supplies in potential evacuation zones, readying shelters and highways to handle any evacuees, and taking inventory of emergency food supplies in state schools and warehouses.

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In Georgia, Governor Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency for 13 counties in coastal areas.

“I’ve ordered the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMHSA) to work with appropriate state and local agencies to ensure all precautions are taken to protect residents and minimize risks to property and roads,” Deal said in a statement.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Tom Brown)

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In a secluded region in Russia’s Arctic they are rejecting Putin in rare protest

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Lyudmila Laptander, an activist advocating autonomy for her mineral-rich Nenets region in the Russian Arctic, worries authorities are planning to sacrifice its traditions for the promise of economic enrichment.

"If Nenets is merged with another region, I worry that no one will look after our language or our traditions, and that our small villages in the tundra will be forgotten," said Laptander, 61, a member of the Yasavey cultural group.

The autonomous region on the edge of the Arctic Ocean was gripped by protests in May against the government's plans to integrate it with neighbouring Arkhangelsk.

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People are paying to hire this donkey to crash their Zoom meetings

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The coronavirus pandemic has led millions of people to embrace meetings via Zoom, but admittedly, those can be as tedious as in-person conferences.

So one animal sanctuary in Canada, in dire need of cash after being forced to close to visitors, found a way to solve both problems.

Meet Buckwheat, a donkey at the Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, who is ready to inject some fun into your humdrum work-from-home office day -- for a price.

"Hello. We are crashing your meeting, we are crashing your meeting -- this is Buckwheat," says sanctuary volunteer Tim Fors, introducing the gray and white animal on a Zoom call.

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Republican senators are suddenly trying to social distance — from Trump

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There’s something interesting in today’s news:

A number of Republican Senators have said they are skipping the Republican National Convention this year. The convention was originally scheduled in Charlotte, North Carolina, but at Trump’s insistence was relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, last month. The stated reason was that Democratic North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper would not commit to permitting a full convention out of concerns about the spread of coronavirus, but the abrupt switch to Florida, less than 80 days before the convention, still seems odd to me. Regardless, the switch has created a new problem: Florida is in the midst of a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases, setting a record for new cases in a single day during the weekend —11,458—and running low of ICU beds.

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