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Kirk Siegler

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.

Siegler grew up near Missoula, MT, and received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Colorado.  He’s an avid skier and traveler in his spare time.

In Sidney, Neb., Cabela's corporate headquarters and flagship superstore sit up on a hill like a castle over the prairie. Pretty much everybody in town has deep ties to it. Melissa Norgard got her first job there working in the store's deli when she was 16.

"When I was growing up here, no, I never would have ever thought, Cabela's leaving, no," Norgard says.

Wildfires in December are the new norm for California.

In the West, they are burning hotter and more intensely than ever due to climate change, and the situation is made worse by the explosion of development in fire prone areas and past firefighting decisions. Here are three reasons the fires are massive and likely won't abate anytime soon.

1. It's nearly impossible to put out a modern mega-fire

The destructive wildfires in Southern California are capping one of the worst fire seasons on record in the state. They come less than two months after thousands of homes burned and more than 40 people were killed by fires in Northern California. Climatologists warn that this is the new reality for the region, where wildfires are occurring year-round.

Los Angeles residents Neil Fazzari and his wife, Kirsten, are stunned to see such a large wildfire this late in the year. "It was a shock this morning when our neighbors knocked on our door," Kirsten said.

President Trump has dramatically scaled back two national land monuments in Utah. The administration and Republican leaders in Utah say taking the land out of the hands of the federal government will allow the state to decide what to do with it, including protecting some areas and possibly allowing development in others.

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Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

On a visit to Utah on Monday, President Trump announced his proclamations dramatically shrinking the size of the state's two massive national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Taken together, Trump's orders mark the largest reversal of national monument protections in U.S. history.

The change has already been challenged in court by conservation groups.

The federal conspiracy trial against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is hitting right at the heart of the country's divide over information and truth.

Opening statements began this week in the case of Bundy's armed standoff with federal agents near his ranch in 2014. Bundy, his two sons and another militiaman are accused of assaulting federal officers when the government tried to remove Bundy's cows that were grazing on U.S. public land without permits.

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Cliven Bundy is finally set to face a federal jury.

Bundy is the recalcitrant Nevada rancher who has refused to recognize the U.S. government's control of public land, and is accused of leading an armed standoff against federal agents in April 2014. Bundy owed more than a million dollars in unpaid grazing leases and fines. But when the Bureau of Land Management came to round up his cows, it was met by an armed citizen militia and were forced to stand down.

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A federal trial opens in Las Vegas today. This is over a 2014 standoff where ranchers drew guns against federal agents. So far, prosecutors have struggled to convict Cliven Bundy and his sympathizers in related cases. Here's NPR's Kirk Siegler.

Lawsuits are starting to be filed on behalf of victims of the Las Vegas massacre, even as recent history shows victims of mass shootings face an uphill battle with such challenges.

The first negligence lawsuit naming the hotel company itself was filed on behalf of 21-year-old victim Paige Gasper, who suffered life-threatening injuries when a bullet lacerated her liver and broke her ribs.

Chris Hernstrom was brewing in the craft beer mecca of Bend, Ore., when an ad caught his eye: Want to live somewhere gorgeous and make beer for a small community?

"It just seemed like an interesting challenge to come out to basically the exact opposite of Bend, some place where the brewing industry is still in its fledgling stages," Hernstrom says.

That place, Hernstrom's new home, is the cattle ranching hub of Valentine, Neb., population 2,700, tucked into the Niobrara River valley in the Sand Hills.

A federal judge in Las Vegas on Friday will consider a motion to delay the start of next week's high profile trial of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his militia associates.

Next door to the Mandalay Bay casino where Sunday night's shooting rampage occurred on the Las Vegas strip, British tourist Gary Shepherd was struggling like nearly everyone else to process what happened.

"Whether this will finally change your gun laws, I fancy not, personally," Shepherd says.

The country's latest – and now deadliest in recent history – mass shooting has again reignited debate over gun control, and whether tougher gun laws could prevent future tragedies.

The early analysis is that Shepherd's hunch is probably right.

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Irma might not have hit quite as hard as people had feared, but the storm has upended lives, especially along the coast, where there's widespread flooding and damage. Florida Governor Rick Scott says people need to stay alert.

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Hunters, fishermen and other sportsmen had high expectations when Ryan Zinke was tapped to be President Trump's interior secretary, in part because of his promise to bring a balanced, Teddy Roosevelt-style vision to managing public lands.

But the former Republican congressman from Montana is now the target of a critical ad campaign by one of those groups, a symptom of eroding support among a deep-pocketed faction that has become increasingly influential.

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Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says he's "under no illusions" that President Trump will heed a late-hour plea to postpone a campaign rally planned in his city for Tuesday night.

"We don't want to cancel the presidential visit overall, but a delay would be the appropriate action by the White House," Stanton said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

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Heavily armed militia members and white nationalists listing the crimes of the federal government on camera. That's what happened in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. And it's also what happened 25 years ago at Ruby Ridge.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is pledging to do all he can to help displaced residents of two derelict public housing projects in the small, southern Illinois river town of Cairo.

The secretary paid a visit Tuesday to the town, which is on life support.

"There is a big problem here," Carson said at a hastily organized forum in the high school gym. "We have to do everything that we have the ability to do to fix it."

In the rural West, the jailed rancher Cliven Bundy and his militia followers were early and savvy users of social media. Bundy is the man who inspired two armed standoffs against federal agents over control of U.S. public lands.

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Anti-government militants are using social media to promote armed protests. NPR's Kirk Siegler reports on jailed rancher Cliven Bundy, his followers and Facebook Live.

For Heather Gijanto, going to the doctor means taking a day off work and driving at least 60 miles round trip from her home in McNeal, Ariz., to the town of Bisbee. And that is assuming there is a primary care doctor available in Bisbee to get her in.

"You select one doctor and then you find out a few months later that that doctor is no longer going to be available," Gijanto says. "So then you have to start the whole process over again. And then you find that doctor and, for whatever reason, that doctor leaves as well."

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In the sweltering Sonoran Desert along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, a humanitarian group has decided to shut down operations for now at an aid camp for migrants who cross the border and need immediate medical help and water.

Aid workers say they can no longer guarantee a temporary shelter for migrants, after U.S. Border Patrol agents raided the camp and made arrests.

"Our clinic space being compromised will directly lead to more suffering and more death in this desert," said aid worker Geena Jackson.

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