Close to 200,000 Northern California residents, many of them left in the dark by a third power shutdown in a month, have been ordered to leave their homes as historic winds fueled an explosion of wildfires in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, shut off power to an estimated 2.3 million people across 38 counties starting Saturday evening in an effort to avoid having its equipment spark fires amid dry conditions and powerful winds.
A similar precautionary move did not prevent the Kincade Fire from igniting late Wednesday, and early indications point to malfunctioning PG&E equipment as the cause of it.
On Sunday afternoon, PG&E announced it's monitoring another extreme-wind event that could trigger yet another power outage Tuesday and Wednesday, the third such blackout in a week and fourth in October. Up to 32 counties in Northern and Central California could be affected.
The Kincade Fire has now grown to 54,298 acres and was only 5% contained as of 7:10 p.m. PDT Sunday, forcing authorities to impose mandatory evacuations for 180,000 residents in Sonoma County, best known for its wine production.
Flames also flared on both sides of Interstate 80 near the Carquinez Bridge in Vallejo, 20 miles north of Oakland, forcing the freeway to be temporarily shut down in both directions and the nearby California State University Maritime Academy to be evacuated.
A stretch of two interstate highways was also closed for a while in the state capital of Sacramento because of a grass fire whose smoke impaired visibility for drivers.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency as the extreme weather conditions significantly heightened the risk of wildfires .
Concerns that the winds could blow embers and spread the Kincade Fire across a major highway prompted the evacuation orders covering parts of Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 that was devastated by wine country fires two years ago. (USA Today)
The new Biden administration has yet not disclosed the secrets of Area 51 or explained what the Air Force really knows about UFOs, but it did clarify, at least, the mystery of the vanished "Diet Coke button" former President Donald Trump would use to summon refreshments in the Oval Office. The usher button, as it is formally known, is not gone, even if it is no longer used to summon Diet Cokes, a White House official tells Politico. The White House official "unfortunately wouldn't say what Biden will use the button for," Politico's Daniel Lippman writes, suggesting Biden might summon Orange Gatorade and not the obvious answer, ice cream — or, let's get real, coffee. What's more, there are evidently two usher buttons in the Oval Office, one at the Resolute Desk and the other next to the chair by the fireplace, a former White House official told Politico, adding that Trump didn't actually use the Diet Coke button all that much because "he would usually just verbally ask the valets, who were around all day, for what he needed." In any case, it is not the placement of the button that matters, of course, but how you use it. And Biden will presumably know better than to order ice cream treats during a top-secret national security briefing. More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorChuck Schumer tried to unseat Susan Collins, and now it's personalDemocrats are getting Chuck Grassleyed
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants President Biden to explore use of emergency executive powers to fight climate change, he told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night.Driving the news: Schumer said it "might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency," and noted, "Then he can do many, many things under the emergency powers of the president ... that he could do without legislation."Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * Schumer added, "Now, [President] Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall which wasn't an emergency. But if there ever was an emergency, climate is one."Why it matters: Via Bloomberg, "Declaring a climate emergency could unlock new powers for Biden, including the ability to redirect funding for clean energy projects, shut down crude oil exports, suspend offshore drilling and curtail the movement of fossil fuels on pipelines, trains, and ships."Yes, but: Use of emergency powers would face near-certain litigation.Where it stands: Schumer also said Democrats are looking at ways to move climate-related efforts via the budget reconciliation process, which enables some spending- and revenue-related policy measures to move via simple majority. * He flagged his proposal to spur electric vehicle purchases via discounts for consumers who trade in gasoline-powered cars and funding for charging infrastructure.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked the Biden administration's 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants.Why it matters: Biden has set an ambitious immigration agenda, but could face pushback from the courts.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.The big picture: U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee, issued a temporary restraining order blocking the policy for 14 days. * Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration last week, claiming the freeze "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security, per a press release from Paxton’s office. * "The issues implicated by that Agreement are of such gravity and constitutional import that they require further development of the record and briefing prior to addressing the merits," Tipton wrote in his Tuesday order. * Tipton also said Texas has provided evidence that the freeze would result in "millions of dollars of damage" by spurring an increase in spending on public services for unauthorized immigrants, according to the judge’s order.What they're saying: "Texas is the FIRST state in the nation to bring a lawsuit against the Biden Admin. AND WE WON," Paxton tweeted. "Within 6 days of Biden’s inauguration, Texas has HALTED his illegal deportation freeze." * Neither DHS nor Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately responded to Axios' request for comment.Of note: Former President Trump was frequently met with injunctions for his immigration policies.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus won't allow Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to dictate the agenda in the Democratic-led 50-50 Senate or demand an end to the legislative filibuster as a precondition for a power-sharing pact. "We've told McConnell no on the organizing resolution, and that's that. So there's no negotiations on that," Schumer said, suggesting he had a secret plan. "There are ways to deal with him." Maddow included an update when she broadcast the interview Monday night. "While we were airing that right now, and you were watching it, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just put out a statement that he is folding on this" and willl "agree to go forward with what Sen. Schumer told him he must," she said. "Sen. Mitch McConnell has caved and Sen. Schumer has won that fight. That was quick. Let's see what else we can do." No sooner has the portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aired than Mitch McConnell has put out a statement that he is folding, ending the stand-off. pic.twitter.com/9qR1jpKXkf — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 McConnell said he would allow the Senate to move forward because two Democrats had reiterated their opposition to ending the filibuster, effectively taking that option off the table. Maddow asked Schumer about that, too, and he didn't answer directly. "The caucus is united with the belief that I have: We must get big, strong, bold things done," Schumer said. The Democratic caucus is also "totally united" that "we will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do," and "we have tools that we can use," notably the budget reconciliation process," he added. "We will come together as a caucus and figure it out." "We will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do." Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in his interview with Rachel Maddow, talking about the filibuster specifically, and getting things done. pic.twitter.com/xOAKWfe2Fu — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 Schumer also suggested he is not interested in playing cat-and-mouse with McConnell's Republicans again. Watch below. "We will not repeat that mistake." Senate Majority Leader Schumer cites Obama era lessons in prioritizing legislation over bad faith Republican 'bipartisanship.' pic.twitter.com/gpc1kBP45w — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorChuck Schumer tried to unseat Susan Collins, and now it's personalDemocrats are getting Chuck Grassleyed
A federal judge on Tuesday barred the U.S. government from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium that is a key immigration priority of President Joe Biden. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas, which sued on Friday against a Department of Homeland Security memo that instructed immigration agencies to pause most deportations.
A 19-year-old Tibetan monk has reportedly died after battling two months of alleged mistreatment under Chinese authorities. Tenzin Nyima, also known as Tamay, served at Dza Wonpo monastery in Wonpo township, Kandze prefecture, a Tibetan area in the Sichuan province of China. Nyima was first arrested in November 2019 after distributing leaflets with three other monks according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will have his work cut out for him as he tries to maneuver through the 50-50 upper chamber. To pass most legislation, he'll need to work with Republicans to get things done, but that won't be easy, especially after he rigorously campaigned against a few of them in recent election cycles, CNN reports. Take, for example, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who ultimately won a hard fought re-election campaign last year against Democratic challenger Sara Gideon. Despite the victory, Collins appears to have taken Schumer's efforts to unseat her personally. "What this campaign taught me about Chuck Schumer is that he will say or do anything in order to win," she told CNN. "It was a deceitful, despicable campaign that he ran." Collins is generally considered one of the more bipartisan voices in the Senate and has crossed the aisle not infrequently throughout her tenure, but those words don't make her sound like someone who's excited to help hand Schumer easy wins. Read more at CNN. Susan Collins doesn't sound like she's keen on cutting lots of deals https://t.co/YHgj2ydgN6 — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) January 26, 2021 The only way governing with the filibuster can ever work is if Republicans are willing to engage in good faith negotiations. Even SUSAN COLLINS is explicitly stating she’s a partisan who has no interest in working with Democrats. — Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
The CEO of MyPillow will no longer be able to use his Twitter. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has been permanently banned from Twitter for "repeated violations of our Civic Integrity Policy," the company told CNN. While Twitter didn't specify what tweet prompted Lindell's final suspension, he has in recent weeks been pushing false claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Twitter's Civic Integrity Policy states that users may not use the platform "for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes," including by posting "false or misleading information about the procedures or circumstances around participation in" elections. Under this policy, five or more strikes will lead to a permanent suspension. Lindell, who visited former President Donald Trump at the White House earlier this month and was seen with notes referencing "martial law," also could soon be hit with a potential defamation lawsuit for his election claims. Dominion Voting Systems has threatened to sue the MyPillow boss over his promotion of a false conspiracy theory that the company's machines were used to change the outcome of the presidential race. Dominion on Monday sued Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who also promoted the false claims. Lindell told The New York Times he would "welcome" a lawsuit from Dominion. Twitter's suspension of Lindell comes after the company earlier this month permanently banned Trump due to the "risk of further incitement of violence" following the deadly Capitol riot. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has defended the decision, while at the same time saying that "a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation." More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorChuck Schumer tried to unseat Susan Collins, and now it's personalDemocrats are getting Chuck Grassleyed
Israel's military chief Tuesday warned the Biden administration against rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, even if it toughens its terms, adding he's ordered his forces to step up preparations for possible offensive action against Iran during the coming year. The comments by Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi came as Israel and Iran both seek to put pressure on President Joe Biden ahead of his expected announcement on his approach for dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.
The Philippines has confirmed domestic transmission of the new, highly contagious British variant of the coronavirus, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to abandon a plan to allow some minors to go outside their homes. "Right now, we have local transmission where this individual or these cases with the variant have already infected their community, their family," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told news channel ANC on Tuesday. The world is scrambling to contain the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, despite travel bans, new lockdowns and a tightening quarantine measures in dozens of countries, amid concerns it could not only be more transmissible, but deadlier.
A World Health Organization official said recently that it is “definitely too early” to conclude that the coronavirus first started in China. Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said Friday that “all hypotheses are on the table” as a team of WHO experts kick off an investigation in China into the origins of the virus. “I think we have to say this quite plainly; all hypotheses are on the table and it is definitely too early to come to a conclusion of exactly where this virus started either within or without China,” Ryan said at a press conference in Geneva in response to a question regarding the head of China’s CDC’s claims that the virus had not originated in the country. Ryan said virus discovered in sewage and blood tests outside of China could indicate “earlier infection.” “Let’s step back, let’s follow the evidence, let’s follow the science. Our team are on the ground, they’re having a good experience working with our Chinese colleagues. We’re working through the data. The data will lead us to the next phase, where we need to go next to look at the origins of this virus,” Ryan said. “It is too early to come to any conclusion but again we believe we are making some progress and we hope to continue to do so in the interests of public health in future,” he added. However, health experts the world over have said that the novel coronavirus likely originated in Wuhan, China in November 2019. Scientists in recent months have questioned whether the virus originated at a live animal market in Wuhan or was the result of a lab accident at one of the city’s two laboratories — the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Centers for Disease Control — that had been studying coronaviruses that originated in bats. The coronavirus has since infected more than 100 million people globally and is responsible for more than 2 million deaths. Earlier this month WHO secretary Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed frustration over delays in beginning its investigation in China, caused by the Chinese government’s efforts to block the experts from starting their probe. China has worked hard to control the narrative surrounding the virus, punishing citizen journalists who spoke out against the government’s explanation of events. The government has also controlled all research in the country into the origins of the virus, according to the Associated Press. In April, then-President Donald Trump halted U.S. government funding for WHO while the administration launched a review of the organization’s handling of the pandemic. He accused the group of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.” However, President Joe Biden has vowed to reinstate funding for WHO.