SHOTLIST LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATESSEPTEMBER 23, 2020SOURCE: AFPTV 1. Pan right Mt Wilson Observatory saved from the Bobcat Fire, one of the largest fire in LA county hitstory2. Wide shot Mt Wilson Observatory, saved from the BobCat Fire, one of the largest fire in LA county hitstory3. Pull focus Mt Wilson Observatory, saved from the BobCat Fire, one of the largest fire in LA county hitstory4. Mid shot firetruck in front of Mt Wilson Observatory5. Wide shot firefighter watering brushes, a few yards from Mt Wilson Observatory6. Mid shot firefighter watering brushes, a few yards from Mt Wilson Observatory7. Wide shot firefighter watering brushes, a few yards from Mt Wilson Observatory8. Mid shot firefighter watering brushes, a few yards from Mt Wilson Observatory9. Mid shot firefighter watering brushes, a few yards from Mt Wilson Observatory10. Wide shot Mt Wilson Observatory, fire trucks11. Close-up “100-inch telescope” sign, which was the largest aperture telescope in the world from its completion in 1917 to 194912. Mid shot firetruck, burnt wood13. Wide shot Los Angeles National Forest with red retardant that fire planes dropped from the air14. Wide shot fire department helicopter15. Mid shot smoky mountain ///-----------------------------------------------------------AFP TEXT STORY: FOCUSRebuild or leave? Future uncertain for US communities in fire zones By Javier TOVARLos Angeles, Sept 23, 2020 (AFP) - Deadly blazes raging across the western United States have again destroyed thousands of homes nestled in forested areas this year -- with months of the fire season still to come in a region perilously exposed to climate change. With many insurers now refusing or charging exorbitant rates to cover at-risk houses, some homeowners are questioning what the future holds for their exhausted communities.Populations of settlements built on the forested margins of cities -- officially known as the wildland–urban interface (WUI) -- have exploded in recent decades, and now total some 50 million households.One example is Paradise, a town bordering Northern California's national forests which was devastated by the state's deadliest modern-day fire in 2018.Rebuilding from the inferno that claimed 86 lives had not even finished when it was threatened by another fire burning in a neighboring town this month.Despite the inherent risk of living in settlements like Paradise, the idea of evicting citizens "is the last solution residents want to resort to and policymakers want to resort to, because it's so dramatic and so costly," said Gregory Pierce, of University of California Los Angeles."But for some communities, it's the only answer for survival," the urban planning professor told AFP. - 'Out in the wilderness' - So far this year, some 6,500 structures have been destroyed in California alone, according to CalFire, with massive devastation extending far into Oregon and Washington states up the Pacific coastline.But WUI housing has grown exponentially due to the region's "housing affordability crisis," said Pierce.California's real estate is among the nation's costliest, but it remains "cheaper to build new development in outlying areas than it is in core urban areas," he added.WUI housing boomed nationwide from 1990 to 2010, both in number of new homes (41 percent) and land area used (33 percent), according to the US Forest Service."We have communities that are building around canyons that have brush, that are tough (to access)," said Darrell Robert, a 20-year-old firefighter in Southern California. "I mean, everybody wants that beautiful home with the trees over the top and out in the wilderness -- we get that." But the risks are high, he added. - Prescribed fires - There are many factors behind California's record fires. Besides overpopulation of the WUI, years of drought worsened by climate change have left endless acres of excess, dry vegetation.For President Donald Trump, a climate change skeptic, poor forest management is the leading culprit.One management tactic is to deliberately light "prescribed fires" that remove the fuel that feeds wildfires in a controlled way."Plans and practices like that can be very successful, but it's very, very difficult to do today because of the fact that there is a lot of people living out there," said David Shew, a retired California fire chief."Can you guarantee that it's not going to escape its control and burn down somebody's house?"Shew agreed that evicting inhabitants would be a radical solution. And simply banning construction -- as is done in flood-prone parts of the Mississippi Delta -- is also problematic, because it is "much harder to predict" precisely which areas will burn. - Incentives - Another alternative would be to shift new housing stock to less flammable materials, said Shew.Reinforced walls, windows and roofs built from highly fire-resistant products, and covered fireplaces, could even be applied to existing homes.The remodeling would be expensive, but could make the vital difference in surviving the next inferno, he added -- and besides, there is no other easy option."We'll never have enough fire engines to park in every driveway," said Shew.Insurance companies -- who have lost millions of dollars underwriting homes in fire zones, but are obliged to extend policies for 800,000 at-risk homes by California state law -- could financially incentivize customers to make modifications to their properties."For people who are already living in harm's way, there aren't many options to get out without losing a big chunk of the value of your assets," said Amy Bach of NGO United Policyholders, which looks after the rights of insured homeowners.jt/amz/caw/ -------------------------------------------------------------
- Yahoo News 360
Recent history shows the opportunity to pass major bills can disappear quickly. What should Democrats’ top priority be?
- The Telegraph
Police in Portland, Oregon have arrested fifteen suspects after a mob of around 200 alleged Antifa members smashed up the Democrat headquarters and federal immigration offices in the city on Wedensday, while three people were arrested after a crowd in Seattle attacked buildings and burnt a US flag. The two Pacific Northwest cities have been hotspots for protests and violence since the Black Lives Matter demonstrations began last year in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. There were also protests in Denver, Colorado; Columbus, Ohio and Sacramento in California. Portland Police released photographs of eight of the 15 arrested suspects as well as images of confiscated items including knives, batons and bullet-proof vests.
Residents of Kamala Harris' ancestral village are celebrating with firecrackers and food as she is sworn into office as vice president of the United States. The story: According to the Associated Press, Thulasendrapuram, a village in Tamil Nadu, India, beamed with a festive atmosphere during Harris’ inauguration as U.S. vice president on Wednesday. The villagers watched the inauguration live, holding Harris’ portraits while setting off firecrackers.
- Yahoo News
Counterintelligence official Michael Orlando joins a growing chorus of voices on both sides of the political aisle who point to China as a major national security threat, particularly in terms of technology and cybersecurity.
- The Week
The evenly split Senate is having a hard time agreeing who's in charge.Georgia's two new Democratic senators were sworn in Wednesday, giving Republicans and Democrats 50 senators each, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a Democratic tiebreaker. The two parties are now working out a power-sharing agreement, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) commitment to the filibuster is standing in the way.McConnell on Thursday formally acknowledged Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber's new majority leader. But as he has been for days, McConnell again implored Democrats to preserve the filibuster that lets a senator extend debate and block a timely vote on a bill if there aren't 60 votes to stop it. Democrats "have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they're about to govern," Politico reports; More progressive senators do want to remove the option completely.If his filibuster demands aren't met, McConnell has threatened to block the Senate power-sharing agreement that would put Democrats in charge of the body's committees. But Democrats already seem confident in their newfound power, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) telling Politico that "Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader." Giving in to McConnell "would be exactly the wrong way to begin," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed.Other Democrats shared their resistance to McConnell's demands in tweets. > McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It's an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.> > -- Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021> So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate's organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again.> > Huh.> > -- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office Biden has stopped construction on Trump's border wall, but the fate of outstanding contracts is unclear
The European Union and Turkey pressed each other on Thursday to take concrete steps to improve relations long strained by disagreements over energy, migration and Ankara's human rights record. Turkey, which remains an official candidate for EU membership despite the tensions, is facing the threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, but the mood music between Brussels and Ankara has improved since the new year.
- Yahoo News
With Joe Biden sworn in as president, the long wait for Donald Trump’s health care plan is now officially over. If he ever had one, no one ever saw it.
- Associated Press
Iran's capital and major cities plunged into darkness in recent weeks as rolling outages left millions without electricity for hours. With toxic smog blanketing Tehran skies and the country buckling under the pandemic and other mounting crises, social media has been rife with speculation. Within days, as frustration spread among residents, the government launched a wide-ranging crackdown on Bitcoin processing centers, which require immense amounts of electricity to power their specialized computers and to keep them cool — a burden on Iran's power grid.
The United Nations Office for Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs said on Wednesday it has halted programs in Venezuela that provide cash transfers to the poor via local nonprofit organizations. The U.N. office known as OCHA is asking the government of President Nicolas Maduro to establish clear rules regarding cash transfers. "We're working with pertinent authorities so that the (cash transfer programs) are in line with the country's financial/banking regulatory framework with the aim of reactivating them, guaranteeing the safety of humanitarian workers and continuing to support ... vulnerable people," OCHA said in an email.
- National Review
Biden Admonishes Reporter for Questioning Whether Vaccine Goal Is Ambitious Enough: ‘Give Me a Break’
President Biden pushed back on a reporter at a press briefing on Thursday, who questioned whether the new administration’s coronavirus vaccine goal is ambitious enough. Biden has set a goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office. During the press conference, Biden called the Trump administration’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure so far,” warning that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.” However, the seven-day rolling average for coronavirus vaccine doses administered to Americans currently sits at 912,000, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker. (On Wednesday alone, 1.6 million doses were administered.) This indicates that the Biden administration is not far from its goal of vaccinating one million Americans per day. On Thursday, Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller asked Biden if the vaccination goal was “high enough,” since “that’s basically where the U.S. is right now.” “When I announced it you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” Biden responded. “It’s a good start, a hundred million.” Internal projections from the Trump administration showed that the U.S. could administer at least 170 million doses by the end of April, two Trump administration officials told Bloomberg. During the press conference, Biden also announced that he would invoke the Defense Production Act to “accelerate the making of everything that’s needed to protect, test, and vaccinate and the care of our people.” Biden warned that the death toll from coronavirus infections would hit 500,000 in February. Over 408,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of Thursday.
- The Week
Seven Senate Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Thursday, asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate whether they coordinated with leaders of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" rally that took place immediately before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.In a letter, the Democrats — Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Tina Smith (Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) — said the committee "should also offer recommendations for strong disciplinary action, including up to expulsion or censure, if warranted by the facts uncovered."Prior to the rally and attack on the Capitol, Hawley and Cruz said they would object to the vote counts in several states lost by former President Donald Trump. This "amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state and local officials around the country," the letter stated, adding that Hawley and Cruz "touted their plan to challenge the electors to drum up campaign contributions."The Democrats said the question that must be answered is whether Cruz and Hawley "failed to 'put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or government department' or engaged in 'improper conduct reflecting on the Senate' in connection with the violence on Jan. 6."Hawley and Cruz have both defended themselves by saying they believed they were protecting the integrity of the election.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office Biden has stopped construction on Trump's border wall, but the fate of outstanding contracts is unclear
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities on Thursday ended the search for remaining victims and debris from a Sriwijaya Air jet that nosedived into the Java Sea, killing all 62 people on board. Transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi said retrieval operations have ended after nearly two weeks, but that a limited search for the missing memory unit from the cockpit voice recorder will continue. The memory unit apparently broke away from other parts of the voice recorder during the crash.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved Avril Haines as the Director of National Intelligence, the nation's top intelligence job, making her the first of President Joe Biden's nominees to be approved. The vote was 84-10, with all the "no" votes coming from Republicans. Both Democrats and leading Republicans issued statements praising the nominee.
- Architectural Digest
800 feet up in the sky, the Dreamy 6,000 square foot space offers panoramic views from the East River to the HudsonOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
Beau Biden, who served in the Guard, is buried at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church cemetery in Greenville, Delaware.
- Associated Press
A powerful earthquake shook parts of the southern Philippines on Thursday night, but authorities said it was too deep to cause major damage and no tsunami warning was issued. The quake measured magnitude 7.0 and was located 95.8 kilometers (60 miles) below the sea and about 210 kilometers (130 miles) southeast of Pondaguitan in Davao Occidental province, the U.S. Geological Survey said. In Davao city, President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, some residents ran out of their houses as the ground shook and power cables and business signs swayed, but there were no reports of damage or injuries.
The European Parliament called on EU governments to recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president in a resolution on Thursday, after a downgrade of his status by the bloc earlier this month. The EU's 27 states said on Jan. 6 they can no longer legally recognise Guaido as the country's legitimate head of state after he lost his position as head of parliament following legislative elections in Venezuela in December, despite the EU not recognising that vote. The European Parliament "calls on ... the member states to unequivocally recognise the constitutional continuation of the legitimate National Assembly of Venezuela elected in 2015 and the legitimate interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaido", it said.
- Yahoo News Video
At separate press conferences on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded to reporters’ questions about the role members of Congress may have played in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.
- The Week
It's the end of a very caffeinated era.When former President Donald Trump occupied the Oval Office, he quite literally had a button on his desk that ordered a Diet Coke to the room whenever it was pressed. But as a glimpse at President Biden's desk just hours after his inauguration shows, the soda-summoning button is gone.> President Biden has removed the Diet Coke button. When @ShippersUnbound and I interviewed Donald Trump in 2019, we became fascinated by what the little red button did. Eventually Trump pressed it, and a butler swiftly brought in a Diet Coke on a silver platter. It's gone now. pic.twitter.com/rFzhPaHYjk> > — Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) January 21, 2021While it may have sounded just too weird to be true, Trump's Diet Coke obsession and his button to match were absolutely real. No word on if Biden will install some kind of ice cream-ordering alternative.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden has stopped construction on Trump's border wall, but the fate of outstanding contracts is unclear The Daily Show and Colbert's Late Show joke about Biden's Peloton and other 1st-day 'scandals'
- Associated Press
China imposed sanctions on nearly 30 former Trump administration officials moments after they left office on Wednesday. In a statement released just minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated, Beijing slapped travel bans and business restrictions on Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and U.N. ambassador, Kelly Craft. Others covered by the sanctions include Trump’s economic adviser Peter Navarro; his top diplomat for Asia, David Stilwell; health and human services secretary, Alex Azar; along with former national security adviser John Bolton and strategist Stephen Bannon.