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January 1, Wildfires rampage as West wrestles with heatwave, drought



Greetings Americans,

Firefighters were working in extreme temperatures across the US West, struggling to contain wildfires as a heatwave continues to bake the region. The largest wildfire of the year in California was raging along the Nevada state line and has burned about 140 square miles as of Monday morning. Oregon’s Bootleg Fire erupted to 240 square miles as it spread through nearby forests. Washington is battling a 60-square-mile blaze as well. Firefighters are working in temperatures that exceed 100 degrees. In Arizona, a plane that was surveying a wildfire in Mohave County crashed on Saturday, killing both crew members.

In Texas, Democrats in the House of Representatives are planning to leave the state in order to prevent the GOP from passing an overhaul of election laws. By leaving days after Governor Greg Abbott convened a special legislative session, Democrats would deny the quorum needed in the House to pass the voting measures. The bill would create new ID requirements for voting by mail and ban drive-thru and overnight early voting. It would mark the first time since 2003 that Texas Democrats crossed state lines to break the quorum.

Coordinated crime sprees in various US cities are forcing retailers to close stores and restrict operating hours. Five Target stores in San Francisco are closing at 6 pm instead of the usual 10 pm, in an effort to curb the spike in shoplifting. Walgreens has closed 17 locations in the Bay area over the last five years due to theft. Thieves calculate the worth of stolen goods to fall below the felony threshold, meaning that officers are unable to take action for misdemeanor theft, and stores must hire security guards in order to make a private person’s arrest, according to San Francisco Police Chief William Scott.

Experts are warning that five hot spots around the country could soon experience a “surprising amount of death” from Covid-19. The US is averaging 19,455 new cases over the last week — a 47% increase from the week prior — and a third of those come from the aforementioned hot spots: Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Nevada. “We will start to see an increase in mortality in this country,” CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner said. “The vaccines we have work really well against this variant. It doesn’t need to be this way.” According to CDC data, 99% of US Covid-19 deaths last month were among unvaccinated people.

Expectations of inflation have surged among consumers, regardless of the Federal Reserve’s assurance that the current pressures are temporary. The June Survey of Consumer Expectations showed that median inflation expectations over the next 12 months jumped to 4.8% — the highest reading in history. A recent report from the Federal Reserve reiterated that the current inflationary pressures are “transitory” and largely due to supply chain bottlenecks during the pandemic, though it appears that consumers are not thoroughly convinced.

The top US commander in Afghanistan relinquished his position on Monday, bringing the US one step closer to ending its 20-year war. General Scott Miller served as the top commander since 2018. General Frank McKenzie will assume the post until the US withdrawal concludes by August 31. The move comes as the Taliban continues to gain territory across the country. Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said that the US and NATO withdrawal has left a vacuum that resulted in the country’s national security forces stranded on the battlefield without supplies, including food and ammunition.

Stay safe,

Fraser Dixon


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