Tag Archives: California

Catastrophic inferno hits Western United States. [Photos]

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Warnings in place along entire west coast, as high winds fan catastrophic fires in Oregon, Washington and California.

Wildfires raged unchecked across large parts of the western United States on Wednesday in blazes unprecedented in their scale and ferocity, as Oregon warned of many deaths after blazes destroyed at least five small towns.

Winds gusting as high as 80km/h (50mph) fanned dozens of catastrophic fires across a large swathe of Oregon and neighbouring Washington state – places that rarely experience such intense fire activity because of the Pacific Northwest’s cool and wet climate.

Flames ravaged the towns of Detroit, Blue River, Vida, Phoenix and Talent, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said Wednesday.

The blazes, which also forced the evacuation of much of Medford in southern Oregon, could bring “the greatest loss in human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history”, Brown said at a news briefing.

In Washington state, a one year old boy was killed and his parents badly burned as tried to flee a fire, police said.

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Nearly 100 fires are raging across the west of the US, with 28 in California, where nearly 930,800 hectares (2.3 million acres) have been burned and three people were on Wednesday confirmed dead. A massive cloud of smoke has enveloped much of the state leaving San Francisco beneath an eerie orange glow.

A 12-year-old boy and his grandmother died in a wildfire about 50 miles south of Portland, KOIN News reported. In Washington state a 1-year-old boy was killed and his parents severely burned as they tried to flee a fire in Okanogan County, police said.

Firefighters retreated from uncontrollable blazes in Oregon as officials gave residents “go now” orders to evacuate, meaning they had only minutes to leave their homes.

“It was like driving through hell,” Jody Evans told local television station NewsChannel21 after a midnight evacuation from Detroit, southwest of Portland.

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Officials in the Pacific Northwest said they did not recall ever having to deal with so many destructive fires at once in the areas where they were burning.

San Francisco has been left under an eerie orange glow as a result of the smoke from the fires blazing across the western United States [Stephen Lam/Reuters]

Minutes to escape
In suburban Clackamas County, home to about 420,000 people who mostly work in nearby Oregon, four major fires were burning, with sheriff’s deputies travelling with chainsaws in patrol cars to remove fallen trees blocking roads.

“These winds are so incredible and are spreading so fast, we don’t have a lot of time,” said Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts.

Fires were burning in seven Oregon counties, and rural and suburban homes miles away from Portland, Oregon’s largest city, were under preliminary orders to prepare for possible evacuations. Three prisons were evacuated late on Tuesday.

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Brown saw no respite to the hot, windy weather and requested a federal emergency declaration for the state.

“Absolutely no area in the state is free from fire,” said Doug Graf, chief of fire protection for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Flames bear down on vehicles on Highway 162 in Oroville, north of Sacramento in California on September 9 [Noah Berger/AP Photo]

The Pacific Northwest is no stranger to wildfires, but most of the biggest ones until now have been in the eastern or southern parts of the region – where the weather is considerably hotter and drier and the vegetation more fire-prone than it is on the western side of the region.

Fires in 2017 and 2018 reached the top of the Cascade Mountains – the long spine that divides dry eastern Oregon from the lush western part of the state – but had never before spread into the valleys below, said Doug Grafe, chief of Fire Protection at the Oregon Department of Forestry.

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Climate scientists blame global warming for extreme wet and dry seasons in the US West that have caused grasses and scrub to flourish then dry out, leaving abundant fuel for fires.

“We do not have a context for this amount of fire on the landscape,” he said. “Seeing them run down the canyons the way they have – carrying tens of miles in one period of an afternoon and not slowing down in the evening – [there is] absolutely no context for that in this environment.”

Further north in Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee said more than 133,546 hectares (330,000 acres) had burned in a 24-hour period – an area larger than the acreage that normally burns during entire fire seasons that stretch from spring into the autumn.

Fire embers light up a hillside behind the Bidwell Bar Bridge as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, California. The blaze was part of the lightning-sparked North Complex fire, one of dozens of regional fires spread by high winds [Noah Berger/AP Photo]

‘Heartbreaking’
About 80 percent of the small eastern Washington farming town of Malden was levelled by flames from a fast-moving fire on Monday. Among the buildings that burned were the town’s fire station, post office, city hall and library.

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“It’s an unprecedented and heartbreaking event,” Inslee told reporters.

In California, more than 14,000 firefighters continue to battle fires and all 18 National Forests have been closed due to “unprecedented and historic fire conditions.”

To the south, the Creek Fire, about 35 miles (56 km) north of Fresno, tore through the Sierra National Forest, destroying more than 360 homes and structures.

“This fire is just burning at an explosive rate,” said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for California’s state fire authority. “You add the winds, the dry conditions, the hot temperatures, it’s the perfect recipe.”

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“It’s extraordinary, the challenge that we’ve faced so far this season,” Governor Gavin Newsom said.

Helicopters have been used in recent days to rescue hundreds of people stranded in the burning Sierra National Forest, where a fire has destroyed 365 buildings, including at least 45 homes. About 5,000 buildings were threatened, fire officials said.

In Southern California, fires burned in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. People in foothill communities east of Los Angeles were warned to be ready to flee, but the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds were weaker than predicted.


#Newsworthy…

California Creek Fire; Dozens Rescued | Video

Watch video here – California Creek Fire – Noble Reporters tv

Dozens rescued in California wildfire. [United States]

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The Creek Fire sparked on Friday and quickly spread throughout Saturday, trapping campers near the city of Fresno.

A fast-moving brush fire cut off evacuation routes and trapped about 150 people in the Sierra National Forest in California, prompting a military helicopter rescue, authorities have said.

The Creek Fire consumed more than 14,500 hectares (36,000 acres) and threatened numerous mountain communities after igniting on Friday and exploding on Saturday, authorities said.

Military helicopters rescued at least 63 people from the Mammoth Pool Reservoir, which is about 70km (45 miles) from the city of Fresno. Two people were seriously injured, while 10 had moderate wounds, according to the Fresno Fire Department.

The Madera County Sheriff’s office said about 150 people were initially trapped at the popular camping destination, and were advised to shelter in place.

“Emergency crews from multiple agencies need to focus on the critical task at hand – rescue of the approximately 150 people sheltering-in-place at Mammoth Pool Boat Launch,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook, warning people to avoid the area.

The most recent wildfire comes amid a heatwave that has created dry conditions [Ringo HW Chiu/AP Photo]

California National Guard was using Chinooks in the rescue operation, National Guard Bureau chief General Daniel Hokanson said, tweeting a picture taken from the cockpit of a helicopter showing it surrounded by blazing trees.

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Residents of Huntington Lake, Camp Sierra and Big Creek in central California were ordered to evacuate, and portions of Highway 168 were shut down, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said. Shaver Lake was also closed.

Later on Saturday afternoon, evacuation orders were issued for the Kinsman Flat area in North Fork, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies were going door-to-door notifying residents of the danger. The Rock Creek and Fish Creek campgrounds were also being evacuated, officials said.

California has been baking with record-breaking temperatures expected over the Labor Day weekend, bringing dangerous fire weather conditions.

The high temperatures come as the state is recovering from another heatwave in mid-August and devastating wildfires that have burned some 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) in the last three weeks.


#Newsworthy….

California fires: Thousands flee; Governor seek help.

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Some of California’s largest-ever fires raged across the state Saturday, forcing tens of thousands from their homes as the governor called for international help to fight the blazes.

About 12,000 lightning strikes hit across the state in 72 hours, officials said, sparking the fires that left thick smoke blanketing large areas of central and northern California.

“We simply haven’t seen anything like this in many, many years,” California governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday.

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The two largest blazes — dubbed the SCU Lightening Complex and the LNU Lightening Complex — had burned a total of just under 600,000 acres (240,000 hectares) and nearly 500 structures.

Wineries in the famed Napa and Sonoma regions, which are still reeling from blazes in recent years, are under threat by the SCU Complex — the 10th largest fire recorded.

Five deaths have been linked to the latest flare-ups, with four bodies recovered on Thursday, including three from a burned house in a rural area of Napa County.

This video grab made on August 20, 2020 from the online broadcast of the Democratic National Convention, being held virtually amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, shows California Governor Gavin Newsom speaking from California during the last day of the convention. (Photo by – / DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION / AFP)

Nature reserves were also ravaged. The Big Basin Redwoods State Park said in a statement that some of its historic buildings had been destroyed by flames.

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The park, where giant redwood trees of well over 500 years old can be found, was “extensively damaged” it said.

Scorching temperatures and bone-dry conditions had spurred the flames, Cal Fire’s assistant deputy director Daniel Berlant said, though some progress at containing the fires had been made.

Temperatures were expected to cool slightly at the weekend, he added, but there was potential for more ignitions as early as Sunday evening.

“We could again experience a lightning storm so that has us remaining on high alert,” Berlant said.

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About 119,000 people have been evacuated from the area, with many struggling to find shelter and hesitating to go to centers set up by authorities because of coronavirus risks.

Some in counties south of San Francisco opted to sleep in trailers along the Pacific Ocean as they fled nearby fires, while tourists in Santa Cruz County were urged to leave to free up accommodation for those evacuating their houses.

‘World’s best firefighters’
Fire crews, surveillance equipment and other firefighting hardware was coming in from several states including Oregon, New Mexico and Texas, to fight the fires Governor Newsom told reporters Friday.

But faced with the sheer scope of the disaster, he also asked for help from Canada and Australia, which he said had “the world’s best firefighters”.

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Most of the fires are burning in unpopulated areas and statewide have blazed through some 771,000 acres — an area the size of Rhode Island state — he said.

Newsom also walked back criticism of President Donald Trump from Thursday.

Newsom had taken aim at the US leader in a taped speech to the Democratic National Convention, saying Trump had threatened to pull California’s funding for wildfire suppression for alleged poor forest management.

“There is not one phone call I have made to the president where he hasn’t quickly responded, and almost in every instance has responded favorably … as it related to these wildfires,” he said Friday.

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“He may make statements publicly, but the working relationship privately has been a very effective one.”

In San Francisco, the smell of smoke lingered for the third consecutive day on Friday, with authorities urging residents to stay indoors.

“The many fire complexes burning around the Bay Area and Central Coast will keep skies hazy and smoky, at least in the short term,” the National Weather Service said.

Authorities in the Bay Area, which encompasses seven counties, issued an air quality alert in effect through Sunday.


#Newsworthy.

Drivers as Employees’ law could drop operations in California – Uber Chief says

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Being forced to classify drivers as employees could temporarily idle Uber operations in its home state of California, the ride-sharing firm’s chief said Wednesday.

The comments from Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi to MSNBC come after a court gave Uber and rival Lyft until the middle of next week to reclassify drivers as employees instead of contract workers in compliance with a new state law.

“If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly,” Khosrowshahi said in the MSNBC interview.

“We’ll have to essentially shut down Uber until November when the voters decide.”

Uber and Lyft are backing a referendum in the state to overturn the law, while pledging to provide benefits for a social safety net that would keep gig workers independent

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 22, 2017 A woman poses holding a smartphone showing the App for ride-sharing cab service Uber in London. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

The order came Monday when a judge granted a restraining order in a lawsuit filed by California attorney general Xavier Becerra and three cities including San Francisco, where Lyft and Uber are based.

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The suit calls on Lyft and Uber to comply with a state law that went into effect at the start of this year that requires “gig workers” such as smartphone-summoned ride service drivers to be classified as employees, eligible for unemployment, medical and other benefits.

Uber and Lyft expect to appeal the decision, which could buy them more time.

A backup plan for Uber would be to pause operations in California, eventually restarting with “a much smaller service, much higher prices” and probably focused in the center of cities or in suburbs,” according to Khosrowshahi.

The rideshare rivals have maintained that most of their drivers want to remain independent even if they also are looking for benefits.


#Newsworthy…

Driver wage theft: California sues Lyft, Uber

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California has filed lawsuits against Uber and Lyft for alleged wage theft by misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, the Labor Commissioner’s Office said Wednesday.

Classifying their drivers as independent contractors “has deprived these workers of a host of legal protections in violation of California labor law,” the office said in a statement.

Under a California law that came into effect on January 1, workers are considered employees unless they are free from the company’s control and perform work outside its usual line of business.

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The law challenges the business model of the San Francisco-based rideshare platforms and others which depend on workers taking on “gigs” as independent contractors.

California’s lawsuits seek to recover amounts owed to all Uber and Lyft drivers, including nearly 5,000 drivers who have filed claims for owed wages, the Labor Commissioner’s Office said.

“The Uber and business model rests on the misclassification of drivers as independent contractors,” California labor commissioner Lilia García-Brower said.

“This leaves workers without protections such as paid sick leave and reimbursement of drivers’ expenses, as well as overtime and minimum wages.”

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Uber and Lyft each have around 100,000 drivers, the Labor Commissioner’s Office said.

Uber has long argued it is merely a platform linking self-employed drivers with riders.

“The vast majority of California drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under state law,” Uber spokesman Davis White said in a statement quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

In this file photo taken on April 16, 2020, a protestor displays a sign as Uber and Lyft drivers with Rideshare Drivers United and the Transport Workers Union of America prepare to conduct a caravan protest outside the California Labor Commissioners office amidst the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles, California. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

“When 3 million Californians are without a job, our leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry.”

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Uber’s core ride-sharing operations have been hit hard by the global pandemic. The firm is due to announce its second-quarter results on Thursday.

Uber and Lyft have faced several legal challenges over their business models.

In May, California sued both firms alleging they violated a state law by classifying drivers as contractors instead of employees.

The new lawsuits go further by claiming recovery of unpaid wages, penalties and damages for drivers.

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DoorDash, a food delivery platform, is also being sued by San Francisco for illegally classifying workers as contractors.

California’s state court is expected to rule Thursday on a preliminary injunction compelling Uber and Lyft to reclassify drivers as employees.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash are backing a ballot initiative in November’s election which would classify rideshare drivers and other gig-economy workers as independent contractors.

“We believe the courts should let the voters decide,” Lyft spokeswoman Julie Wood told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media)


#Newsworthy…

Firefighters war California inferno, thousands lose to death.

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More than 2,200 firefighters were battling a blaze that was burning out of control Monday in southern California, threatening thousands of people and homes east of Los Angeles.

The Apple Fire, which broke out Friday near the city of San Bernardino, has so far burnt more than 20,000 acres (8,000 hectares), sending up columns of smoke visible for miles.

Record low moisture in the vegetation, low humidity and high temperatures are fuelling the blaze, the United States Forest Service said.

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At least 2,600 homes and nearly 7,800 people were evacuated. Officials said it was not clear when they might be able to return.

CHERRY VALLEY, CA – AUGUST 02: Smoke from the Apple Fire is seen behind a stars and stripes painted building in the community of Calimesa on August 2, 2020 near Cherry Valley, California. David McNew/Getty Images/AFP

By early Monday about 2,260 firefighters backed by helicopters, water-dumping planes and trucks were working to put out the fire.

Crews managed to contain five percent of the fire by Monday, after losing control of the blaze during Sunday afternoon.

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There were no reports of casualties, and the only damage so far has been to two buildings and one home.

The edges of the fire are burning on rugged hills hard for crews to reach, authorities said.

Inmate firefighters arrive at the scene of the Water fire, a new start about 20 miles from the Apple fire in Whitewater, California on August 2, 2020. JOSH EDELSON / AFP

Dense vegetation fueled the blaze near homes, said Fernando Herrera, fire chief in Riverside County, while hot and dry conditions Monday will help the flames keep alive.

Officials said the fire may have been set deliberately and a probe is underway.


#Newsworthy…

Gist+: Hushpuppi gets new lawyer amid California transfer

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Ramon Abbas aka Hushpuppi has been assigned a new lawyer after his case got transferred from Chicago to California.

His legal counsel, Gal Pissetzky who is not licensed to practice outside Chicago will now work with Vicki Podberesky of Andrues/Podberesky law firm based in Los Angeles.

Speaking to Media (known to Noble Reporters Media), Pissetzky stated that the case against his client is yet to go to court.

According to him, the delay is caused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is yet to provide all the evidence against Hushpuppi.

Hushpuppi, Woodberry and other members of his gang were busted in Dubai for alleged cybercrime


#Newsworthy…

Robert Fuller: Black Man seen hanging lifeless on a tree in California. #BLM

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Authorities in the Southern California city of Palmdale are investigating the death of a 24-year-old Black man found hanging from a tree near City Hall, which they originally described as an apparent suicide, prompting outrage in the community.

A passerby reported seeing Robert Fuller’s body around 3 a.m. Wednesday. Emergency personnel responded and found that he appeared to have died by suicide, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said.

Fuller’s death has generated intense scrutiny, especially after nationwide protests rebuking the police killing of George Floyd.

On Saturday, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the high desert city of 150,000, marching from the park where Fuller’s body was found to the sheriff’s station. Many carried signs that said “Justice for Robert Fuller.”

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More than 100,000 people signed an online petition demanding a full investigation into Fuller’s death. Community members confronted city officials at a contentious news briefing Friday, asking why they were quick to label his death a suicide and demanding an independent autopsy.

“I have doubts about what happened,” Marisela Barajas, who went to the press conference and joined a crowd gathered at the tree where Fuller’s body was found, told the Los Angeles Times.

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“All alone, in front of the City Hall — it’s more like a statement,” she said. “Even if it was a suicide, that in itself is kind of a statement.”

Lt. Kelly Yagerlener of the county medical examiner-coroner’s office said a decision on the cause of death is deferred pending an investigation. A full autopsy is planned.

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Residents demanded surveillance video around the time and place where Fuller’s body was found. The city said there were no outdoor cameras, and video recorders on a nearby traffic signal could not have captured what happened.

Sheriff’s Capt. Ron Shaffer said homicide detectives were investigating the circumstances leading to Fuller’s death to determine if foul play was involved. He urged members of the public to contact detectives if they have relevant information, particularly about where Fuller had been and who he had been with in recent weeks.

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Palmdale officials wrote in a statement that investigators have been in contact with Fuller’s family.

NRM reports that at the march Saturday, Fuller’s sister Diamond Alexander insisted her brother was not suicidal.

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“Robert was a good little brother to us and it’s like everything they have been telling us has not been right … and we just want to know the truth,” she said.

Protesters held a moment of silence and took a knee outside the sheriff’s station


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Californianto give affected illegal immigrants $500 each.


California governor, Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced that illegal Immigrants affected by Coronavirus will get $500 each.

The governor made the major announcement on Wednesday, saying State taxpayers will shell out $75 million from their Disaster Relief Fund, and another $50 billion will come from a network of philanthropic foundations to help illegal immigrants struggling to pay bills.

“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportations that are still addressing essential needs of tens of millions of Californians,” said Newsom, who noted 10% of the state’s workforce are immigrants living in the country illegally paid more than $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year.

“Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis,” the Democratic governor added. “We are all in this together.”

California has an estimated 2 million immigrants living in the country illegally but they are not eligible for the $2.2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress last month, which gives cash payments of $1,200 to Americans.

Newsom said the money will not be distributed based on income. “Their personal information will not be required to get those support,” he said.

Illegal immigrants will be able to apply for the money beginning in May.


#Newsworthy…

15-year-old took her life over stay-at-home order pressure in California.


A teenage girl in California died by suicide after she reportedly struggled to cope with the stay-at-home orders amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

15-year-old Jo’Vianni Smith of Stockton was found dead inside her home after she hanged herself last week.


A coach at Jo’Vianni’s school, Bear Creek High School, told Recordnet that ‘the cause of death reportedly was due to the stresses and pressures from coping with the self-isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.’

Her mother, Danielle Hunt, also said she believes that stress from the health crisis may have played a role in her daughter’s death, according to the outlet.


“I felt that I was doing all that I could as a parent to leave the communication open,” Hunt told the news station, adding that “sometimes we may need to stop and worry about the kids that we don’t think we need to worry about,” adding that Jo’Vianni did not leave a note behind.

Hunt described her daughter as ‘bubbly,’ ‘loving,’ and the light of her world.


‘It’s like, how do you explain a girl like her? If you met her one time, like, she made an impact in your life,’ she said.

Jo’Vianni, a high school sophomore, was also a promising student-athlete, playing softball on travel teams as a catcher and second baseman, sports blog Extra Innings Softball reported.


One of Jo’Vianni’s former softball shared a heartbreaking note after he learned of her death.

‘Her name is Jo’Vianni “Jo” SmithJo was a great athlete… [she] was a bright star with a great personality and a huge heart. and a bright future,’ he told Extra Inning Softball.


‘It’s been extremely hard to relate to what these kids are going through. I have daily conversations with my 2 high schoolers and encourage them to reach out to their friends and teammates. I can’t imagine what Jo was going through…’

The Lodi Unified School District released a statement regarding Jo’Vianni’s death.

‘We were deeply saddened to learn of Jo’Vianni Smith’s passing. Jo’vianni was well loved by the Bear Creek High community,’ the statement read.

‘The participated in band, played basketball and softball, and was known for her joyful spirit on campus. She will be dearly missed by those who knew her.’


#Newsworthy…

U.S vs Iran: California working with partner to mitigate possible cyber attacks


Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani
California authorities have ramped up security after a U.S. airstrike killed top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

Mark Ghilarducci, California Homeland Security Advisor and Director of Emergency Services made this known in statement on Saturday.


Ghilarducci added that the state’s office of emergency services maintained strong relationships with security and intelligent departments around the country and the world, and was continually monitoring the situation.

“At the same time, the California Cybersecurity Integration Center is working closely with its partner networks to prevent, protect against and mitigate possible cyber-attacks,” Ghilarducci said in the `Statement on State Threat Assessments’.


While agreeing that the assassination approved by the White House created a sense of unease, the security advisor said that there were currently no specific threats against the Golden State as a result of the events in the Middle East.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on Friday also beefed up security and urged local residents to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.

“While there is no credible threat to Los Angeles, the LAPD is monitoring the events developing in Iran.

“We will continue to communicate with state, local, federal and international law enforcement partners regarding any significant intelligence that may develop,” the LAPD tweeted.


#Newsworthy…

After Adeboye’s prophecy, Earth quake strikes in California, San Jose.


A 3.9 magnitude earthquake hit the San Jose area in California on Wednesday night (Jan.1, 2020), the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The earthquake was reported at 11:16 p.m. about six miles from downtown Morgan Hill and about 11 miles from the southernmost neighborhoods of San Jose.

According to a USGS shake map, the quake was felt from San Jose to Salinas and from Santa Cruz to just west of Interstate 5. The earthquake was calculated to have generated light shaking in Morgan Hill and Gilroy south of San Jose, and weak shaking throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland, as well as areas around Santa Cruz, Salinas, and Monterey


#Newsworthy…