At least 25 dead in horrific California boat fire; 9 still missing, Coast Guard says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWS)

 

At least 25 dead in horrific California boat fire; 9 still missing, Coast Guard says

At least 25 people are dead and nine are unaccounted for after a diving boat caught fire off Santa Cruz Island in California. USA TODAY

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – At least 25 people are confirmed dead and nine others still missing after a tragic boat fire early Monday that occurred in open water off the California coast.

The dive-boat was carrying 39 people, six crew members and 33 passengers who were asleep on the bottom of the deck, when it became fully engulfed in flames during a recreational scuba diving trip.

Five crew members sleeping on the top deck jumped off and took a dinghy to safety. Two had minor injuries.

The crew members took their dinghy to a private fishing boat, The Grape Escape, that was anchored near the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. The boat’s owners said that two of the crew members went back to look for survivors but found no one.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll said at least 25 people died and the search will continue for the nine others still missing, according to the Associated Press.

What caused the fire? California dive-boat fire highlights need for more than one exit from sleeping quarters

He said five others have been found but not recovered because of unsafe conditions under the boat. Kroll said these numbers are based on initial reports and authorities are awaiting final counts from the autopsies.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said, “You couldn’t ask for a worse situation” than that of the deadly dive boat fire near Santa Cruz Island. USA TODAY

“You couldn’t ask for a worse situation,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a Monday news conference.

Brown said the boat is currently upside down in relatively shallow water with receding tides that are moving the vessel around. A 3,000-foot temporary flight restriction has been established around it. Authorities said it was under discussion whether to tow the vessel to shore or examine it on site.

Meanwhile, authorities opened a family assistance center where counseling was being provided to relatives of those on board. None of their names were immediately released.

Authorities responded Monday to a 3:30 a.m. mayday call of a boat engulfed in flames off Santa Cruz Island, about 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the Coast Guard said at a news conference later that day.

“The call was garbled, it was not that clear, but we were able to get some information out of it to send vessels,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney.

Coast Guard crews, the Ventura County and Santa Barbara County fire departments, and Vessel Assist responded to the call regarding the 75-foot commercial diving vessel called Conception and operated by Truth Aquatics out of Santa Barbara Harbor.

The boat had been anchored in an area called Platts Harbor at Santa Cruz Island, part of the five-island Channel Islands National Park and technically a part of Santa Barbara County.

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‘The flames were 30 feet tall’: Boat owner describes saving distressed crew members after Santa Cruz Island boat fire

Truth Aquatics, a Santa Barbara-based company was founded in 1974. It had been chartered by Worldwide Diving Adventures, which says on its website that it has been taking divers on such expeditions since the 1970’s.

The names of the passengers on the boat were not available as of Monday evening. Truth Aquatics said the list of all the people aboard was in the hands of the Coast Guard.

Authorities said Monday afternoon they were still working to notify next of kin of those who died.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire.

Rodriguez reported out of McLean, VA. Contributing: Cheri Carlson, Gretchen Wenner and Megan Diskin, Ventura County (Calif.) Star; The Associated Press. 

Brazil: Smoke from Burning Amazon Turns São Paulo Afternoon into Midnight

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Smoke from Burning Amazon Turns São Paulo Afternoon into Midnight

Day became night on the afternoon of Monday (Aug. 19) in São Paulo, Brazil.

Day became night on the afternoon of Monday (Aug. 19) in São Paulo, Brazil.
(Image: © Bruno Rocha/Fotoarena/Newscom)

There’s so much smoke from wildfires in the Amazon rain-forest that São Paulo plunged into darkness on Monday afternoon (Aug. 19), with day turning into night.

The atmosphere, reminiscent of Mordor in “The Lord of the Rings,” was a reminder that forest fires in the Amazon have surged 82% this year compared with the same period last year (from January to August), according to data from the Brazilian government’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), as reported by El Pais.

That smoke, combined with clouds and a cold front (it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere), led to the midnight-like darkness in São Paulo, The Washington Post reported. The fires are largely burning in northern Brazil and have prompted the Brazilian state of Amazonas to declare a state of emergency.

Related: Earth in the Balance: 7 Crucial Tipping Points

“The smoke didn’t come from fires in the state of São Paulo, but from very dense and wide fires that have been happening for several days in [the state of] Rondônia and [the bordering country] Bolivia,” Josélia Pegorim, a meteorologist with Climatempo, said in an interview with Globo (translated from Portuguese with Google Translate). “The cold front changed direction, and its winds transported the smoke to São Paulo.”

The Rondônia fire, located near Bolivia, has burnt nearly 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares). This blaze’s thick smoke is prompting health concerns and has already forced an airplane to be diverted due to visibility concerns, according to Painel Politico, a Brazilian publication. This fire is reportedly human-made, Painel Politico noted, which is fairly common for fires in Amazonia.

For much of the year, fires are rare in the Amazon. But during the drier months of July and August, “many people use fire to maintain farmland and pastures or to clear land for other purposes,” NASA’s Earth Observatory reported last week.

(This human-made-fire situation isn’t so different from what the United States faces. From 1992 to 2012, 84% of the 1.5 million reported wildfires in the U.S. were caused by people while 16% were ignited by lightning strikes, a 2017 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found.)

Huge areas of the Amazon rain-forest are burning from human-made fires, as shown by this satellite image taken Aug. 13.

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership)

“Wildfires in the Amazon are not natural events but are instead caused by a combination of droughts and human activities,” researchers of a 2018 study in the journal Nature Communications wrote in The Conversation. “Both anthropogenic climate change and regional deforestation are linked to increases in the intensity and frequency of droughts over Amazonia.”

The fire-drought alternation leads to a nasty feedback loop. Trees store less water during droughts, so their growth slows, meaning they can’t remove as much carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere, the researchers wrote in The Conversation. These trees then drop extra leaves or die, in effect providing tinder for fires. And without a dense canopy to keep in the moisture, the forest loses some of its humidity, which normally prevents fires from starting.

“These changes are exacerbated by ‘selective logging’ of specific tree species, which opens up the canopy and further dries out the under story and forest edges, which are drier than the interiors,” the researchers wrote. “The result: normally fireproof rainforests become flammable.”

The fires are so bad that the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia was trending on Twitter this morning (Aug. 20). This news follows on the heels of another concerning development: Deforestation in the Amazon spiked 278% in July, according to satellite data from the INPE. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic who has promised to open the Amazon to industry, disputed the satellite findings and promptly fired the INPE’s director-general, Ricardo Galvão.

In the meantime, studies show that deforestation could starkly alter the Amazon. If 20% to 25% of the Amazon becomes deforested, the landscape could transform from a forest into a savanna. Currently, deforestation is at 17%, Mongabay reported.

What’s clear is that deforestation affects more than just the Amazon, as the residents of São Paulo found out yesterday. One Twitter user there even called it #gothamcity, referencing Batman’s grim metropolis.

Leandro Mota@leandromota_

São Paulo, 3:30 PM

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5 children killed in fire at Pennsylvania day care center

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

5 children killed in fire at Pennsylvania day care center

erie-pennsylvania-day-care-center-house-fire-01.png
First responders at the scene of a deadly day care center fire in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Sun., Aug. 11, 2019.CBS AFFILIATE WSEE-TV

Erie, Pa. — A morning fire in Pennsylvania killed five children and sent another person to the hospital, authorities said. The fire was reported in Erie, a northwest lake town, at about 1:15 a.m. Sunday, Chief Guy Santone of the Erie Fire Department said.

The victims ranged in ages from 8 months to 7 years, Santone said.

Neighbors a block away told CBS Erie, Pennsylvania, affiliate WSEE-TV they heard the screams of teens who had escaped from a second floor porch roof.

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership lists a day care at the fire address. WSEE-TV reported that the day care may have been operating overnight at a home.

Detectives are working to determine whether any of the victims were staying at the day care, Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny told the Erie Times-News.

Valerie Lockett-Slupski, standing across the street from the fire-damaged house, said she was the grandmother of four of the children, and that they were staying at the day care because their parents were working overnight, the Erie Times-News reported . She said the family had two boys and two girls and had used the day care for almost a year.

“So we are all at a loss, trying to figure out how this happened,” Lockett-Slupski told the newspaper.

The owner of the day care was flown to UPMC Mercy for treatment, Santone said. He said a neighbor was also injured.

Chief Fire Inspector John Widomski told the newspaper that the fire appeared to have started in the living room area on the first floor. The department’s two fire inspectors and three Erie police detectives trained in fire investigations are working to determine the cause of the blaze.

The chamber site lists the Harris Family Daycare at that address as “a 24 hour, 7 days a week childcare service including holidays. We provide transportation and teach kids age appropriate skills.” The state Department of Human Services Office of Child Development and Early Learning listed the day care as in compliance with requirements following a Dec. 28, 2018, inspection.

As Siberia burns, Russia chokes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

As Siberia burns, Russia chokes

Fighting a wildfire in Siberia. From Euronews’s YouTube video “Лесные пожары не тушат из-за экономии средств

An immense forest fire has hit Siberia, where Buryatia, Yakutia, and the Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk regions are ablaze. According to Greenpeace Russia, over four million hectares are burning, an area larger than the size of Belgium. The vast boreal forests sometimes called the “lungs of the northern hemisphere” are at risk.

For nearly two weeks, photos have spread across the Runet of flaming forests, as well as satellite imagery showing the extent of the blaze, accompanied by the hashtags #сибирьгорит (“Siberia is burning”), #гориттайга (“the Taiga is burning”), #потушитесибирь, (“Extinguish Siberia”) and #мирспасисибирь (“World, Save Siberia!”)

Commentators are angry that local authorities did not start to fight the fire sooner. While forest fires are no rarity in Siberia, climate scientists stated that this year’s fires spread particularly aggressively due to a combination of strong winds and the unusually hot summer. The sluggishness in tackling them could also be explained by the fact that the fires first broke out in remote areas.

According to Alexander Uss, governor of the Krasnoyarsk Region, it is impractical to fight fires in such remote regions. Uss added, during a lecture at a youth forum at a Siberian university on 29 July, that the forests were “self-replenishing,” that forest fires were “a common natural phenomenon,” and that fighting them is “meaningless and can even be harmful to try.”

But there is no fire without smoke. In recent days, that smoke has drifted well beyond Siberian cities such as Novosibirsk and Tomsk, where medical personnel have reported a rise in ambulance calls and patients with high blood pressure due to air pollution. Residents as far west as Tatarstan and as far south as Kazakhstan have also reported breathing difficulties; they are sharing images of thick smog in their regions over Instagram. Others are sharing selfies in which they wear breathing masks bearing the words “Siberia Burns.”

One user shared the experience of her relatives living in a town in the Irkutsk region:

говорила сейчас с сестрой, она живет и работает в Усть-Илимске. дышать там нечем совершенно, все сидят в закрытых квартирах с увлажнителями воздуха и терпят. я не нашла информации по погибшим (а в пожары городские люди часто гибнут не от огня, а от сердца, вспомните пожары в Центральной России 2011 года. но умирающие от сердца на счет пожара и совесть властей не пойдут)

I just spoke with my sister, she lives and works in Ust-Ilimsk. It’s really impossible to breathe there; everyone’s sitting locked up in their apartments with air humidifiers and suffering. I haven’t found any information on victims (and during fires, city dwellers often don’t die from the flames but from heart [complications], remember the fires in Central Russia in 2011.

— Oksana Vasyakina, Facebook, 29 July 2019

Another gave a chillingly clinical account of what awaits residents in such places:

Населённые пункты на запад от горящих лесов поглотил густой дым. Люди дышат токсичными продуктами горения. Наверное, вы знаете, что, когда пожарные входят в горящий дом, на них надеты специальные маски, чтобы они не задохнулись от угарного газа. По этой же причине во время пожара в помещении рекомендуется дышать через мокрую тряпку. Но это делают, когда горят только здания, из которых можно выбраться и начать дышать свежим воздухом, а сейчас пламенем охвачены гигантские лесные массивы, а смог от этих пожаров распространяется на тысячи километров. Людей до сих пор не начали эвакуировать, из-за этого они сильно пострадают. […] Многие последствия могут проявляться не сразу, а через несколько недель. Это бомба замедленного действия.

Populated places to the West of the burning forests are enveloped in a thick fog. People are breathing the toxic emissions from the fire. You probably know that, when firemen enter a burning house, they wear special masks so they don’t suffocate from carbon monoxide. That’s the reason why it’s recommended to breathe though a damp cloth in case of fire. But that’s done when a single building is burning, from which you can escape and start to breathe fresh air. But now the flames cover gigantic forests, and smoke from these fires spreads over thousands of kilometres. People still haven’t begun to be evacuated, so they’re seriously suffering. […] Many of the symptoms don’t manifest immediately, but after several weeks. It’s a slow-acting bomb.

— Александра Кукулина, Facebook, 28 July 2019

The St Petersburg based Buryat journalist Alexandra Gamarzhapova reflected on the crisis in her home region:

Больше 3 млн га леса прямо в эти минуты горит в Сибири. В моей родной Бурятии введен режим ЧС.

Мы привыкли, что людям в общем-то друг на друга плевать (чиновников, которые отказывается тушить пожары, терпим мы с вами), но звери-то и леса тут причем?

Сотни тысяч животных гибнут сейчас, потому что человек говорит, что тушить пожары дорого.

Я присоединяюсь ко флешмобу #сибирьгорит и верю, что если нас, неравнодушных, будет миллионы, власти начнут борьбу с огнем.

P.S. За виртуальные флешмобы пока не сажают, так что присоединяйтесь.

More than three million hectares are burning in Siberia this very minute. A state of emergency has been introduced in my native region of Buryatia.

We’re used to people not giving a damn about each other (to those officials who refuse to put out the fires: we suffer with you), but why do the animals and the forests have to suffer?

Hundreds of thousands of animals are dying right now, because one man said that it is too expensive to put out the fires?

I’m joining the flashmob #Siberiaisburning and believe that if there are millions of us who are not indifferent [to this], the authorities will start fighting the fire.

P.S. They don’t jail people yet for virtual flashmobs, so come and join.

— Alexandra Garmazhapova, Facebook, 30 July 2019

Those are just a few reasons why Alexander Uss is probably the least popular man in Russia right now. They’re also why 780,000 people, as of 31 July, signed an online petition demanding that the government introduce emergency status across Siberia.

Nevertheless, Uss’s statements did have a legal basis. As the Russian daily Vedomosti noted, many of the remote areas where the fires broke out are “control zones,” a term introduced in 2015. Due to their distance from settlements and key infrastructure, local authorities are not obliged to fight forest fires in these areas, which saves them money and resources. But Grigory Kukshin of Greenpeace Russia told Sibir.Realii that many of the control zones are far from uninhabited, and that nearly 90 per cent of Russia’s forest fires last summer occurred in such areas. The State Duma, Russia’s legislature, is now considering a review of “control zones.”

So the authorities are beginning to respond to public demand; on 29 July, Rosleskhoz, Russia’s state forestry agency, reported that military units and planes had started to put out the blaze. But it seems to be too little, too late. As was the case during recent floods in Siberia’s Irkutsk region, Russian commentators are already linking the government’s response to broader questions of accountability and state-society relations. This was not helped by president Vladimir Putin’s earlier offer of support to Greece to combat forest fires on 24 July.

Importantly, many of the regions affected already suffer from ecological problems, meaning that existing eco-movements (such as Krasnoyarsk’s “Clear Sky” movement against air pollution) have played an important role in mobilising locals to make their voices heard.

So the idea that fighting forest fires is “economically unprofitable” resonates with people who suspect this is just how the government sees their prior problems. In fact, the phrase has become a meme in its own right, in a similar spirit to Dmitry Medvedev’s words “there’s no money but you hang in there,” which the Russian prime minister said to pensioners in Crimea in 2016.

They tell us that it’s not profitable to extinguish the Krasnoyarsk taiga. And what about paying the multi-million salaries of [Igor] Sechin, [-] Miller, [-] Kostin; is that profitable? Or, perhaps, the construction of a new residence for [Russian Orthodox Patriarch] Kirill for nearly three billion rubles; is that profitable? Have all of you over there in Moscow completely lost your minds? Have you forgotten who saved your asses from the clutches of the fascists in December 1941? We, the Siberian people, demand a full-scale operation to extinguish [the fires] in our forests, using all the forces of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Ministry of Defence.

— Nikolai Salnikov, Ekho MoskvyJuly 27, 2019

Similarly, libertarian activist Mikhail Svetov, who runs a popular YouTube channel, linked discontent over the forest fires to other causes of public concern:

It’s not profitable to extinguish the taiga. But it is profitable to spend 216 billion on supporting the national guard. It is profitable to poison children with landfills and send toxic waste to Shiyes. As we go out to defend Russia and our future, they fight for the right to ravage our country.

— Mikhail Svetov (@msvetov) July 27, 2019

True to form, some Runet users turned tragedy to farce with their acerbic wit:

It’s unpatriotic to say “forest fires.”
As everybody knows:
It’s not an explosion, but a ball of cotton
Not an aviation catastrophe, but a hard landing
Not miserable poverty, but negative income growth
That’s why these are not forest fires, but a smoke screen against NATO spy satellites

— Проф. Преображенский (@prof_preobr), July 30, 2019

‘Unprecedented’ wildfires ravage the Arctic

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘Unprecedented’ wildfires ravage the Arctic

Wildfire smoke is spreading from Alaska across parts of Canada.

Story highlights

  • The wildfires come as the planet is on track to experience the hottest July on record
  • Wildfires contribute to global warming by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere

(CNN)More than 100 intense wildfires have ravaged the Arctic since June, with scientists describing the blazes as “unprecedented.”

New satellite images show huge clouds of smoke billowing across uninhabited land in Greenland, Siberia and parts of Alaska.
The wildfires come after the planet experienced the hottest June on record and is on track to experience the hottest July on record, as heatwaves sweep across Europe and the United States.
Since the start of June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which provides data about atmospheric composition and emissions, has tracked more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle.
Pierre Markuse, a satellite photography expert, said the region has experienced fires in the past, but never this many.
Satellite images show smoke billowing across Greenland and Alaska as wildfires ravage the region.

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at a faster rate than the global average, providing the right conditions for wildfires to spread, according to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at CAMS.
“The number and intensity of wildfires in the Arctic Circle is unusual and unprecedented,” Parrington told CNN.
“They are concerning as they are occurring in a very remote part of the world, and in an environment that many people would consider to be pristine,” he said.
See how Europe is dealing with an extreme heatwave

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See how Europe is dealing with an extreme heatwave 01:34
The average June temperature in Siberia, where the fires are raging, was almost 10 degrees higher than the long-term average between 1981–2010, Dr Claudia Volosciuk, a scientist with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) told CNN.
Parrington said there seemed to be more wildfires due to local heatwaves in Siberia, Canada and Alaska.
The fires themselves contribute to the climate crisis by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
They emitted an estimated 100 megatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere between 1 June and 21 July, almost the equivalent of Belgium’s carbon output in 2017, according to CAMS.
Volosciuk said wildfires are also exacerbating global warming by releasing pollutants into the atmosphere.
“When particles of smoke land on snow and ice, [they] cause the ice to absorb sunlight that it would otherwise reflect, and thereby accelerate the warming in the Arctic,” she said.

Many Are Feared Dead in Suspected Arson at Japanese Anime Studio

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Many Are Feared Dead in Suspected Arson at Japanese Anime Studio

ImageSmoke billowed from Kyoto Animation’s building in the Japanese city of Kyoto on Thursday.
Credit Kyodo News, via Associated Press

TOKYO — A man ignited a flammable liquid around a Japanese animation studio in Kyoto on Thursday, the police said, killing at least seven people — with many more feared dead — in a devastating morning blaze.

About 70 people were inside the offices of Kyoto Animation when the blaze started at about 10:30 a.m., Japan’s NHK public broadcaster reported, citing the police and rescuers.

The Kyoto Fire Department confirmed that seven had died in the blaze and that as many as 17 more were feared to have been killed. At least two dozen others were injured and several people remained missing on Thursday.

The police arrested a 41-year-old man who was suspected to have set the fire after spreading a liquid, according to news reports. The man was under treatment at a hospital.

Kyoto Animation is best known for producing shows and movies including “Full Metal Panic,” “K-On” and “Clannad,” among other works. It was founded by Yoko Hatta and her husband, Hideaki Hatta, in 1981, and most of the studio’s production takes place in the building that was the site of Thursday’s fire.

The blaze came less than two months after a man went on a stabbing rampage in a suburb outside Tokyo, attacking 17 schoolgirls, killing one of them as well as an adult. The rampage by the 51-year-old man cast attention to the phenomenon of Japan’s “hikikomori,” adults who are extreme recluses, and their psychological issues.

Footage of Thursday’s attack from a local TV station showed black smoke rippling out of windows of the three-story building, with one side of the building mostly charred black.

Credit Video by FNN.jp

Citing the Kyoto police, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest mainstream dailies, reported that the suspect had entered the building screaming, “Die!” The newspaper reported that the suspect had tried to escape, but collapsed on the street outside and was captured by members of the studio’s staff.

The shows and movies that Kyoto Animation produces fall into the category of Japanese cartooning known as anime. It is a backbone of Japan’s popular culture and one of the country’s major soft-power exports. With roots going back to the early 20th century, anime has found an international following through artists like Hayao Miyazaki, whose animated feature “Spirited Away” won an Oscar in 2003, and Makoto Shinkai, whose movie “Your Name” was a global phenomenon, particularly in China.

On Twitter, Mr. Shinkai showed his support. “Everyone at Kyoto Animation, please please stay safe,” he said, in a message that was recirculated almost 19,000 times.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also expressed sympathy on Twitter for the victims of the fire.

安倍晋三

@AbeShinzo

本日、京都で発生した放火殺人事件では、多数の死傷者が出ており、あまりの凄惨さに言葉を失います。お亡くなりになられた方のご冥福をお祈りいたします。負傷された皆様にお見舞いを申し上げるとともに、一日も早い回復をお祈りしています。

32.9K people are talking about this

“Today, we had many casualties in a fatal arson attack that happened in Kyoto,” Mr. Abe wrote. “It is so horrifying that I am at a loss for words. I’d like to express my deepest condolences to the victims. I offer my thoughts to those who have been wounded and pray for their recovery, by even one day.”

Witnesses who spoke to other Japanese news outlets described grim scenes near the studio. According to the Mainichi Shimbun, another large daily, a woman in her 60s living near the building said she saw a young woman, her entire body burned, screaming and running into a nearby shop begging for help.

The witness said the woman was bleeding, her clothing torn and her feet bare. “It took a long time until the ambulance arrived,” the witness told the Mainichi. “All I could do was to spray water over her under the fire department’s instruction. She was eventually transferred to an ambulance.”

Another witness who was working near the studio on Thursday when the fire broke out told the Sankei Shimbun that he saw flames coming from the first and second floor of the building and heard screaming. The unnamed witness said he saw a man hanging onto the wall outside the building, and another trying to escape from a first-floor window after breaking it.

If the authorities’ fears about the death toll are proven correct, the fire would be one of the worst in Japan’s recent history. In 2008, 16 people were killed when a video store burned down in Osaka. In 2001, 44 people died after a fire broke out at a crowded gambling club in Tokyo’s busiest entertainment district.

Hisako Ueno, Makiko Inoue and Eimi Yamamitsu contributed reporting.

Israel: Arson suspected in fire at home of daycare manager filmed abusing children

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Arson suspected in fire at home of daycare manager filmed abusing children

No reported injuries from blaze in Rosh Ha’ayin; site of private Baby Love center and several nearby homes damaged; lawyer for parents denies they were involved

A fire burns at the home of Carmel Mouda in the central city of Rosh Ha'ayin on July 6, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

A fire burns at the home of Carmel Mouda in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin on July 6, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Authorities were investigating a fire that broke out Saturday at the home of a daycare manager who has been filmed abusing small children as suspected arson.

Carmel Mouda house’s was damaged by the blaze in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin, as were several nearby homes. There were no reports of injuries.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames as investigators arrived to determine what started the fire, which began when Mouda was at home with her family.

Investigators said Saturday afternoon they believe the blaze started in a storage area of the building.

Embedded video

חדשות 13

@newsisrael13

שריפה פרצה בבניין ברחוב הסנהדרין בראש העין. על פי החשד מדובר בביתה של כרמל מעודה, הגננת שתועדה מתעללת בפעוטות. לא היו נפגעים באירוע @almazmangisto

(צילום: דוברות המשטרה)

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The home is also the site of the private Baby Love daycare center, where the alleged abuse took place.

“We understand the pain and anger of the parents but a red line was crossed. People took the law into their own hands, acting thuggish and endangering lives,” Mouda’s lawyer Guy Ein-Zvi said in a statement.

“Carmela’s trial should be held in court and not the town square,” he added.

A protest organized by parents against Mouda scheduled for Saturday evening was called off after the fire. A lawyer representing the parents denied they were involved.

“The parents of the children are angry and shocked over the grave crimes that were carried out, but are not criminals and I have no doubt that a thorough investigation will conclude they have no connection to the fire,” lawyer Benjamin Malka told Hebrew media.

Firefighters work to extinguish blaze at the home of Carmel Mouda in the central city of Rosh Ha’ayin on July 6, 2019. (Israel Police)

Neighbors reacted angrily to the suspected arson.

“Everyone is taking the law into their own hands,” a woman told the Kan public broadcaster. “In another 30 seconds my granddaughters and I would’ve gone up in flames.”

The fire came after police released graphic security camera footage on Thursday showing Mouda tying up children, force-feeding them, smothering toddlers who refuse to fall asleep with blankets and physically abusing them.

Mouda, 25, was arrested three weeks ago. The children in her care were aged three months to three years.

“I’m in shock,” a parent told Channel 13 news. “My son is in almost every video tied to a chair or [tied up] on the floor, and this isn’t even everything. The police showed me even worse videos.”

Sgt. Fraidi Kamenetsky said the police plan to file charges against Mouda with a request she be held in custody until the end of the proceedings. During an interrogation, an unnamed assistant was also arrested on suspicion that she witnessed the abuse and may have also resorted to violence.

Meanwhile, protests are planned for Sunday at six locations around the country, including the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. Parents are demanding changes to childcare oversight laws, including tougher sentences for abusive daycare workers and better regulations for supervision of daycare centers.

Ahaz Agam, chairman of the National Parks Parents’ Committee and one of the protest organizers, told Channel 13 that parents feel the government is wasting time while more cases of abuse by child care workers come to light.

In recent years numerous cases of abuse have been reported including the killing of an 18-month old baby girl by a caretaker.

In June of 2018 the government came under fire for the continued delay of a proposed supervision law as ministries squabbled over funding the project. The law was finally passed in December, but only mandates security cameras in all daycare centers starting in September 2020, as long as 70 percent of the parents do not object.

Protesters clash after American flag burned outside White House before Trump’s July 4th event

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
(OPED: ITS JUST A THOUGHT BUT, HOW ABOUT DEPORTING THEIR ASSES OUT OF THIS COUNTRY TO WHEREVER THEY WANT TO LIVE BUT DON’T EVER LET THEM STEP ON AMERICAN SOIL AGAIN. JUST A THOUGHT)(oldpoet56)

Protesters clash after American flag burned outside White House before Trump’s July 4th event

Washington (CNN) Leftist protesters burned an American flag outside the White House on Thursday and then clashed with supporters of President Donald Trump, including the far-right Proud Boys group, not long before Trump took the stage for his “Salute to America.”

The protests, which turned into violent clashes at times, took place just blocks from crowds who had gathered to watch Trump’s July Fourth speech and fireworks displays on the National Mall.
Led by activist Joey Johnson, a group from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, linked arms and set an American flag on fire outside as they chanted, “America was never great.” The Secret Service intervened quickly to extinguish the fire.
“Burn, baby, burn,” the protesters chanted.
In a news release before the event, Johnson said he was leading the protest because “I’m going to be speaking to the people of the world letting them know that there are people inside the borders of this country who stand with the people of the world.”
After the flag was extinguished, Johnson’s group clashed with a group of pro-Trump protesters, who began chanting, “Trump 2020.” The two groups traded chants and scuffles that occasionally turned violent.
Multiple protesters, including Johnson, were escorted from the scene in handcuffs by the Secret Service. A news release after the event from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, said Johnson was among those arrested.
Among the protesters were members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group with ties to white nationalism. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the organization a hate group.
The Secret Service tweeted a statement later Thursday that said there had been two arrests, though it included no names. One of those arrested was transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, the statement said, as were two uniformed Secret Service officers.
Trump’s July Fourth event in Washington, branded as a “Salute to America,” drew considerable controversy beforehand for the central role that US military equipment was expected to play, including M1 Abrams tanks and a military plane flyover.
Trump pushed back against criticism of the event, saying the military was “thrilled” to be part of it.

France: President Macron vows to rebuild Notre-Dame

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS)

 

Macron vows to rebuild Notre-Dame after devastating fire

AFP
AFP

AFP

The steeple engulfed in flames collapses as the roof of the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral burns on April 15, 2019 in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, after a colossal fire tore through the building, sending the spire crashing to the ground and wiping out centuries of heritage.

Macron expressed relief that “the worst had been avoided” in a blaze that had at one point threatened the entire edifice, and left France in shock over the damage to a building described as the soul of the nation.

The inferno destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old UNESCO world heritage landmark, whose spectacular Gothic spire collapsed as orange flames and clouds of grey smoke billowed into the sky.

Around 400 firefighters battled into the night to control the flames, declaring in the early hours of Tuesday that the fire was under control, around nine hours after it broke out.

Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said “we can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved” as well as the two towers.

Reuters

Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof.

‘France is Notre Dame’

“Notre-Dame survived all the wars, all the bombardments. We never thought it could burn. I feel incredibly sad and empty,” Stephane Seigneurie, a consultant who joined other shocked onlookers in a solemn rendition of “Ave Maria” as they watched the fire from a nearby bridge.

Gasps and cries of “Oh my god” erupted around an hour after the fire first broke out when the top portion of the church’s spire came crashing down.

“We have been dealt a knockout blow,” a stricken-looking Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit told reporters.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, but the cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work which the fire service said could be linked to the blaze.

French prosecutors said it was being currently being treated as accident.

Historians expressed incredulity at the collapse of a building that has been a symbol of France for almost a millennium.

“If Paris is the Eiffel Tower then France is Notre Dame. It’s the entire culture, entire history of France incarnated in this monument,” Bernard Lecomte, a writer and specialist in religious history told BFM TV.

Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told the channel that workers were scrambling “to save all the artworks that can be saved.” Officials later said teams had managed to salvage an unknown quantity of the cultural treasures.

AFP

Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral as the fire continues to burn on April 16, 2019, in the French capital Paris.

‘Emotion of a nation’

Macron cancelled a planned policy speech and headed to the scene, where he vowed the cathedral would be reborn.

“We will rebuild Notre-Dame because it is what the French expect,” he said, describing Notre Dame as “the epicenter of our life” and the cathedral of “all the French,” whether religious or not.

France’s billionaire Pinault dynasty immediately pledged 100 million euros (US$113 million) for the effort.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Notre-Dame cathedral a “symbol of European culture” as the blaze raged.

The Vatican on Monday expressed its “incredulity” and “sadness” over the fire.

‘Water bombers not used’

One firefighter was seriously injured in the blaze, the fire brigade said.

US President Donald Trump in a tweet said it was “horrible” to watch the fire but caused controversy by offering advice on how to put it out.

“Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” he said.

But France’s civil security service, which oversees crisis management in the country, tweeted back at Trump that the use of water-bombing aircraft was not being considered.

“If used, (this) could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral,” it said.

‘Will never be the same’

The cathedral was located at the center of the French capital in the Middle Ages and its construction was completed in the mid-12th century after some 200 years of work.

During the French Revolution in the 18th century, the cathedral was vandalized in widespread anti-Catholic violence: Its spire was dismantled, its treasures plundered and its large statues at the grand entrance doors destroyed.

It would go on to feature as a central character in a Victor Hugo novel published in 1831, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and shortly afterwards a restoration project lasting two decades got under way, led by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

The building survived the devastation of two global conflicts in the 20th century and famously rang its bells on August 24, 1944, the day of the Liberation of Paris from German occupation at the end of the World War II.

“Paris is disfigured. The city will never be like it was before,” said Philippe, a communications worker in his mid-30s.

Jacky Lafortune, a 72-year-old artist and self-described atheist, stood forlornly on the banks of the River Seine staring at the cathedral.

Comparing the mood in the French capital to the aftermath of a terror attack he said: “But this stirs much deeper emotions because Notre-Dame is linked to the very foundations of our culture.”

French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

The Arnault and Pinault families were among those who said they would devote resources and skills to the restoration of the cathedral, a symbol of French identity.

Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.Credit Bertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Image
Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.CreditCreditBertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the aftermath of the fire at Notre-Dame, one of the great symbols of France, the luxury industry — another symbol of the country, thanks to names such as Dior, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent — has pledged hundreds of millions of euros to the cathedral’s restoration.

The donations were followed on Tuesday by other pledges that soon surpassed 600 million euros, or about $675 million, and included beauty, energy, and finance companies.

On Monday, as Notre-Dame burned and flames lit the sky, the Pinault family — owners of Kering, the second-largest luxury group in France — was the first to publicly offer a significant contribution, pledging to donate €100 million to the rebuilding effort.

“The Notre-Dame tragedy strikes all French people, as well as all those with spiritual values,” said François-Henri Pinault, chairman of Artémis, the family holding company that controls Kering.

“Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible,” he added. “Today, my father and I have committed to donate €100 million from the Artémis fund to take part in the effort needed to fully rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris.”

The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Image
The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Shortly afterward, the Arnault family and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, led by Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, announced that they would give €200 million.

“The LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the relevant authorities all of its teams — including creative, architectural and financial specialists — to help with the long work of reconstruction and fund-raising, which is already in progress,” they said.

LVMH is the largest luxury group in the world. Its fashion holdings include Celine, Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton. The group also owns drinks brands including Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot, as well as the landmark Parisian stores Le Bon Marché and La Samaritaine. The group reported revenue of €46.8 billion in 2018.

Mr. Arnault was an early supporter of Emanuel Macron’s presidential bid, and Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, wears Louis Vuitton for most of her high-profile public events. Mr. Arnault also masterminded the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the contemporary art museum in the Bois de Boulogne designed by Frank Gehry that has helped reshape the landscape of Paris and that will ultimately become a gift to the city.

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press
Image

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press

For its part, Kering owns luxury brands such as Balenciaga, Boucheron and Yves Saint Laurent. The Pinault family — also among the richest in France — owns the wine estate Château Latour. The group’s 2018 revenues were €13.67 billion. François Pinault, the patriarch of the family that controls Kering, is building a contemporary art museum in the former Bourse de Commerce in the center of Paris that will be designed by the architect Tadao Ando.

François-Henri Pinault, Mr. Pinault’s son, is married to the actress Salma Hayek. Kering has its headquarters in Paris, and Ms. Hayek posted a message of condolence and support on Instagram after the fire. “As many others I’m in deep shock and sadness to witness the beauty of Notre-Dame turn into smoke,” she wrote. “I love you Paris.”

The two fashion groups are deeply embedded and invested in the heritage of France as a global beacon of beauty and artistic creativity, a tradition that is also carved into the stones of Notre-Dame.

In recent years, the luxury industry across Europe has become actively involved in restoring historic monuments. The Italian leather goods group Tod’s is underwriting the restoration of the Colosseum in Rome for €25 million. Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, paid €2 million toward the restoration of the Trevi Fountain in the Italian capital (the company held a fashion show there when it was completed). Bulgari, a jewelry brand also under the LVMH umbrella, spent €1.5 million on the Spanish Steps in the city. And Salvatore Ferragamo, an Italian luxury goods company, has supported the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images
Image

Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images

The motives are both altruistic — supplying funds that local governments do not have in the interests of saving a joint inheritance — and self-interested — the companies clearly understand that the more closely they associate with masterpieces of history, the more they bask in their glow.

In addition, when it comes to Notre-Dame, donors will benefit from a hefty tax write-off. Individuals in France can get a 66 percent discount on charitable gifts, while companies can deduct 60 percent of their corporate sponsorship expenses — which would most likely include assistance to the cathedral — from their corporation tax, though the amount is capped at 0.5 percent of turnover.

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Paris, however, such distinctions may not matter. The gifts from the likes of the Arnaults and the Pinaults are a reflection of how personally, and how profoundly, the fire has reached into the identity of French citizens and their businesses.

Indeed, just after the announcement from LVMH, Patrick Pouyanné, the chief executive of the French energy company Total, said on Twitter that his firm would contribute an additional €100 million to the cause, and L’Oréal and the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation, which is backed by the family that founded the cosmetics giant, pledged a total of €200 million. Offers of aid in the reconstruction effort also came from the bank Société Générale (€10 million) and the advertising firm JCDecaux (€20 million), while the tire maker Michelin also promised a large sum and the construction giant Vinci offered to provide workers and architects.

Their legacy will now be part of Notre-Dame’s future.

Liz Alderman contributed reporting.

Vanessa Friedman is The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic. She was previously the fashion editor of the Financial Times. @VVFriedman

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