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California Storms Persist, 1.7 Meters Of Snow and Deluge Expected

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CALIFORNIA — The latest in a run of storms turned rivers into flood zones and prompted hundreds of people to abandon towns with a history of fatal mudslides in California on Tuesday. At least 14 people have perished in the last week.

The storm caused a few tornado warnings early Tuesday and dumped up to 14 inches (36 cm) of rain at higher elevations in central and southern California.

Miles of Sierra highways were closed due to avalanche warnings in the backcountry. The Eastern Sierra’s Mammoth Mountain ski resort recorded 1.4–1.7 meters of snow.

After a little respite, another storm was predicted to hit portions of California on Wednesday, adding to the suffering and further saturating areas already prone to floods.

According to the website poweroutage.us, which analyzes utility data, the storms threatened coastal and riverbank towns and knocked out power to almost 200,000 homes and businesses early Tuesday.

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Wildfires Getting Worse In California

The National Weather Service has a flood warning for the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as the Sacramento Valley and Monterey Bay, until Tuesday. Recent wildfires left areas vulnerable to mud and debris rolling from denuded hillsides that had yet to fully reestablish their protective layer of vegetation.

Forecasters predicted that the storm, the latest extreme weather event to begin in 2023, will deliver enough rain to aggravate existing flooding and increase the risk of mudslides.

Forecasters also cautioned that the storm’s peak wind gusts might reach 60 mph (97 kph), with some locations receiving up to 3 millimeters of rain per hour.

The storm’s death toll rose from 12 to 14 on Monday, according to state officials, after two individuals were killed by falling trees.

California state traffic authorities announced late Monday that portions of U.S. and state highways were closed due to flooding, mudslides, heavy snow, car spinouts, and truck wrecks. The restrictions included the northbound lanes of U.S. 101, a major coastal road.

Storms in California brought down large trees in Sacramento.

Local Clean-up Crews On the Scene

On Monday,  California officials and locals were cleaning up and evaluating the damage caused by torrential rain and severe winds that toppled down huge trees throughout the state Capitol, crushing homes and vehicles.

Santa Cruz County issued evacuation orders for over 32,000 persons who live near rain-swollen rivers and creeks. The San Lorenzo River reached flood stage, and drone footage showed multiple residences submerged in dirty brown water, with the top halves of automobiles poking out.

On Monday, a 5-year-old kid drowned in the flooding. The boy’s mother was driving a truck when it became stranded. Bystanders were able to rescue her, but the youngster was swept out of the truck and taken away, most likely into a river.

A seven-hour search for the missing kid yielded just his shoe before officials called it off because water levels grew too unsafe for divers, officials said. According to San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tony Cipolla, the youngster has not been certified deceased.

Santa Barbara County, roughly 130 miles (209 kilometers) to the south, was told to evacuate 10,000 people.California

Celebrities Forced To Evacuate

The whole seaside village of Montecito was forced to vacate on the fifth anniversary of a mudslide that killed 23 people and destroyed more than 100 homes.

After water and a sinkhole damaged up to 15 homes in the Orcutt neighborhood, county officials ordered the evacuation of 20 dwellings.

Ellen DeGeneres posted a video of herself standing in front of a roaring creek near her Montecito home. She stated in her article that they were ordered to shelter in place because they were on high ground.

The Ventura River in Ventura County reached its highest level on record on Monday, reaching more than 25 feet (8 meters). Firefighters using helicopters rescued individuals stuck on an island in the raging seas. Overnight, the water level decreased to a minor flood stage.

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Many People Stranded

The storm also dumped 1 meter of mud onto State Highway 126, stranding lines of cars and big-rig trucks. Crews worked all night to free them.

A sinkhole in Los Angeles’ Chatsworth neighborhood swallowed two cars Monday night. Two people escaped on their own, while firemen rescued two more who had minor injuries.

The Weather Service warned of a “relentless parade of atmospheric rivers” stretching out into the Pacific that can drop massive amounts of rain and snow. The precipitation forecast over the next few days follows storms that knocked out power, flooded streets, and pounded the shoreline last week.

Monday, President Joe Biden made an emergency declaration to help more than a dozen counties get back on their feet.

Even though the storms have helped fill up empty reservoirs, a lot of California is still in a severe to exceptional drought.

SOURCE – (AP)

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THAILAND: Rescue Dig Saves Toddler Trapped In Well For One Night

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BANGKOK, Thailand — A 19-month-old girl fell into a dry artesian well shaft at a cassava farm in northern Thailand 18 hours before she was saved. It took rescuers all night to get her out.

Rescuers clapped and cheered as the toddler, the daughter of Myanmar migrant workers, was pulled from the 15-meter (49-foot)-deep well shaft and placed on a stretcher that carried her to an ambulance waiting nearby.

“You guys did an excellent job. “We did it!” exclaimed one rescuer as his colleagues wept and hugged each other in Tak province’s Phop Phra district.

While her parents were working at the plantation, the child fell into the hole late Monday afternoon.

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Rescuers In Thailand Were On The Scene Quickly

The deep pit, dug by the landowner to be an artesian well, was left uncovered after it failed to reach groundwater, according to Phop Phra district chief Sanya Phetset on Tuesday.

According to local media, the first rescuers on the scene shouted down the hole and heard the child cry back. After lowering a camera into the hole to assess the situation, a tube was snaked to provide oxygen.

Using backhoes and other excavation tools, rescuers dug a 30-centimeter-wide trench alongside the pit overnight.

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The Child Is Now Safe And Sound

“At first, it appeared to be a simple operation because it appeared to be loose dirt, but once we started digging, we discovered rock, which made it difficult because excavators cannot dig through it,” Sanya explained.

He explained that the operation was risky because the digging could collapse the well’s sides onto the child.

After being carried to safety, the toddler was immediately taken to Phop Phra Hospital in Thailand.

“She is now safe. “She’s a little tired, but nothing serious,” Sanya explained.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

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Pope Francis Clarifies his Remarks on Homosexuality and Sin

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Pope Francis Clarifies his Remarks on Homosexuality and Sin

Pope Francis has clarified his recent remarks about homosexuality and sin, stating that he was referring to official Catholic moral teaching, which states that any sexual act other than marriage is a sin.

In a Friday note, Francis emphasized that even black-and-white teaching is subject to circumstances that may eliminate the sin.

Francis made the remarks in an interview with The Associated Press on January 24, stating that laws criminalizing homosexuality are “unjust” and that “being homosexual is not a crime.”

As he often does, Francis then imagined a conversation with someone who brought up the issue of the church’s official teaching, which states that homosexual acts are sinful or “intrinsically disordered.”

“All right, but first, let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime,” Francis said in the fictitious conversation. “It is also a sin not to be charitable to one another.”

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Pope asked for Clarification.

LGBTQ advocates hailed his comments calling for decriminalizing homosexuality as a watershed moment that would help end harassment and violence against LGBTQ people. However, his use of the word “sin” raised questions about whether he believed that simply being gay was a sin in and of itself.

The Reverand James Martin, an American priest who runs the Outreach ministry for LGBTQ Catholics in the United States, asked Francis for clarification and published the pope’s handwritten response late Friday on the Outreach website.

In his note, Francis reiterated that homosexuality “is not a crime” and that he was trying “to emphasize that criminalization is neither good nor just.”

“When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which states that every sexual act other than marriage is a sin,” Francis wrote in Spanish, emphasizing the final phrase.

However, in a nod to his case-by-case approach to pastoral ministry, Francis noted that even teaching is subject to the circumstances, “which may decrease or eliminate the fault.”

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Sex is a Sin, as is Any Sexual Act

He admitted he could have been more specific in his comments to the AP. However, he stated that he was using “natural and conversational language” in the interview, which did not necessitate precise definitions.

“As you can see, I was generally repeating something. ‘Sex is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of the bonds of holy marriage,’ I should have said. This is to speak of ‘the matter’ of sexual sin, but we all know that Catholic morality considers not only the matter but also freedom and intention, and this for all types of sin,” he said.

According to Human Dignity Trust, which works to end such laws, 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide criminalize same-sex sexual activity, 11 of which can or do impose the death penalty. According to experts, even when laws are not enforced, they contribute to harassment, stigma, and violence against LGBTQ people.

According to Catholic teaching, marriage is a lifelong bond between a man and a woman. It restricts intercourse with married couples and prohibits artificial contraception.

During his decade-long pontificate, Francis has upheld that teaching while prioritizing outreach to LGBTQ people.

Pope Francis has emphasized a more merciful approach to applying church doctrine, preferring to accompany rather than judge people.

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US General Tells His Officers to Prepare for War with China in 2025

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US General Tells His Officers to Prepare for War with China in 2025

In an internal memo, a four-star general in the United States Air Force stated that the US and China risk going to war in two years and advised officers under his command to prepare, including with target practice.

According to NBC, General Mike Minihan, head of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, believes the fight will take place in 2025 but hopes he is wrong. He claimed that presidential elections in the United States and Taiwan in 2024 would allow China to take action against Taiwan.

According to NBC, a Defense Department official stated that the remarks do not represent the Pentagon’s position on China. According to an Air Mobility Command spokesperson, the memo is part of the command’s effort to prepare for conflict if deterrence fails.

The administration of President Joe Biden has repeatedly expressed concern about China’s military buildup and what the US perceives to be a more aggressive Chinese stance toward Taiwan.

According to the administration’s national security strategy, China is the only US competitor “with the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so.”

China has slammed the latest US defense spending bill, which allows up to $10 billion in weapons sales to Taiwan, for exaggerating the China threat and meddling in its internal affairs.

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Blinken Conerned Over Taiwan and China

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern about Beijing’s intentions regarding Taiwan as he prepares for a rare visit to Beijing, China.

When asked if the temperature had cooled with China during a visit to the University of Chicago, Blinken replied, “I think so because when you’re talking and engaging, it tends to have that effect.”

“The rest of the world anticipates that we will manage this relationship responsibly. “They understand that how we manage it will also impact them,” he said.

According to Taipei Times, Blinken will visit Beijing from February 5 to 6, marking the first US secretary of state visit to the rising Asian power since October 2018.

The trip was decided after US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping () met in November in Bali, Indonesia, to discuss wide-ranging disagreements between the world’s two largest economies.

Blinken, on the other hand, expressed concern about Taiwan, citing Beijing’s growing efforts to isolate the country and major military exercises conducted near it in August.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is, I believe, China deciding that it was no longer comfortable with the status quo, a status quo that had prevailed for decades and had been successful in terms of our countries’ relationship and managing what a difficult situation is,” he said.

“What we say to China is that — they say this is a sovereign issue for us; we respond that this is an interest to the United States and countries all over the world,” Blinken said, referring to Taiwan’s dominance in semiconductors, which is critical to the global economy.

Any disruption of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait would be disastrous for the global economy, he said, adding that 50 percent of container ships operating around the world pass through the Taiwan Strait and that Taiwan manufactures 70 percent of higher-end computer chips.

Blinken was in Chicago for a trip that included a stop at the city’s historic Ukrainian community to discuss the response to Russia’s invasion.

By: Geoff Thomas

China Records 1st Population Drop In Decades As Births Fall

China Records 1st Population Drop In Decades As Births Fall

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