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Californians fear more wildfires as winds pick up
15 October 2020, 4:04 AM

Thousands of households across Northern California braced for power blackouts on Wednesday as dry weather threatened to touch off a new round of the wildfires that have ravaged the state.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co (PG&E), which provides power to much of California, said it would cut power to about 53 000 customers across 24 counties as a preventative measure against potential fires because of severe weather conditions. The shutoffs were set to begin on Wednesday night.

The company has acknowledged that its equipment started the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest in state history.

The National Weather Service is predicting strong, dry “Diablo” winds in Northern California, and temperatures over 32 C in the southern part of the state.

A combination of strong, gusty winds, low humidity and accumulated buildup of dried-out shrubs, trees and grasses was creating ideal conditions for fires, said Eric Kurth, meteorologist in the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service.

The agency has issued a “red flag” warning for much of the state through Friday, warning residents that fires can spread and start easily under current conditions.

“Fires which typically would be easily handled with what they call the initial attack are a lot more difficult to handle” in these conditions, Kurth said. “They grow much more quickly.”

More than 4.1 million acres (1.7 million hectares) have burned over the course of the year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), shattering a record set in 2018.

At least 31 people have died in the more than 8 500 fires that have burned in the state in 2020.

Fire officials and law enforcement have made some progress in determining the causes of the massive California blazes.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Justice charged a Redding, California, man with setting four smaller fires in Shasta County in June and July.

A 2017 study by researchers at the University of Colorado and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that 84% of US wildfires were caused by human activity, both accidental and intentional.

Mainland China reports 11 new COVID-19 cases versus 20 a day earlier
15 October 2020, 3:41 AM

Mainland China reported 11 new COVID-19 cases on October 14, down from 20 a day earlier, the country’s health authority said on Thursday.

The National Health Commission said 10 of the cases were imported infections originating from overseas, compared with 14 a day earlier.

One new local infection was reported in Qingdao, where the city government is seeking to test every person this week due to recent cases linked to a hospital treating imported infections.

The commission also reported 23 new asymptomatic cases, up from 18 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 85 622, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4 634.

Trump’s son Barron tested positive for COVID-19, says Melania Trump
15 October 2020, 3:18 AM

President Donald Trump’s 14-year-old son, Barron, tested positive for COVID-19 but exhibited no symptoms after both of his parents contracted the virus, first lady Melania Trump said on Wednesday.

“Luckily he is a strong teenager and exhibited no symptoms,”Melania Trump said in a statement.

She said she and Barron had since tested negative for the virus.

Donald Trump told a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, that Barron”is just fine now” and said it was an example of why schools should reopen.

“I don’t even think he knew he had it, because they’re young and their immune systems are strong and they fight it off,”Trump said. “Get the kids back to school,” he said.

Melania Trump said her symptoms were “minimal” and that she hoped to resume her duties as first lady “as soon as I can.”

“I experienced body aches, a cough and headaches, and felt extremely tired most of the time,” she said.

“I chose to go a more natural route in terms of medicine, opting more for vitamins and healthy food,” Melania Trump said.

Donald Trump spent three nights in a military hospital after announcing on October 2 that he and Melania had tested positive.

To treat the virus, he received an experimental dual anti-body therapy developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral remdesivir, as well as the steroid dexamethasone.

“In one way I was glad the three of us went through this at the same time so we could take care of one another and spend time together,” Melania Trump said.

US Foreign Policy: Will Joe Biden do things differently?
15 October 2020, 2:30 AM

When it comes to US foreign policy under President Donald Trump, Africa, hasn’t featured prominently.

Despite his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka visiting African countries, the President hasn’t travelled to the continent.

His actions on the world stage have been controversial – often angering long-standing American allies – including banning travel from some majority-Muslim countries and conducting a trade war with Africa.

North Korea’s Kim pushes for major construction in typhoon-hit areas: KCNA
15 October 2020, 2:11 AM

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited construction sites for new homes that are part of a “grandiose plan” to rebuild towns hit hard by typhoons and summer floods, state news media reported on Thursday.

The visit was the latest by Kim to typhoon-hit areas of the country after he had promised this week to build at least 25,000 homes over the next five years as citizens begin an 80-day campaign to achieve economic goals.

The state newspaper Rodong Sinmun featured Kim’s tour of newly built dwellings in the eastern areas of Sinpho City and Hongwon County on the front page on Thursday, displaying the leader smiling in front of lines of houses with red and cyan roofs and white walls.

The houses were built by members of the military and the ruling Workers’ Party.

“He said that they built the houses flawlessly as well as professional builders, noting with great satisfaction that those houses are a crystal of the loyalty of Party members,” KCNA said.

North Korea was hit by “disastrous meteorological phenomena” this summer with heavy rains and typhoons, bringing the second highest rainfall in the past 25 years. The storms had paralysed the transportation system and destroyed thousands of houses.



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