Hot and Dry conditions have several states battling fires

Revelation 8:7 “The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Wildfires Tear Across Several States, Driven By High Winds
  • Firefighters across the country are battling multiple wildfires as tinder-dry conditions and high winds whip up flames from Arizona to Florida — including a prairie fire in rural southwestern Nebraska that has killed one person, injured at least 15 firefighters and destroyed at least six homes.
  • Nebraska remains critically dry, said Ashford, who urged residents to use caution when doing anything that could spark a fire.
  • “The last thing we need is to have another fire started that we have to then fight,” he said.
  • In Arizona, firefighters also took advantage of lighter winds to boost containment of a more than 33-square-mile (85 square-kilometer) blaze that has been burning outside of Flagstaff for more than a week.
  • In northern New Mexico, evacuations remained in place.
  • The blaze has has grown into the largest wildfire burning in the U.S., charring more than 88 square miles (228 square kilometers).

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Southwest Officials warn of Explosive Fire Season as Arizona Blaze reaches 20,000 acres

Revelation 8:7 “ The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”

Important Takeaways:

  • ‘It’s going to be a long one this year’: Southwest officials warn of explosive wildfire season as blaze in Arizona reaches 20,000 acres and forces hundreds to evacuate their homes
  • The Tunnel Fire, burning near Flagstaff in Arizona, was first reported on Sunday afternoon and by Wednesday night was burning almost 20,000 acres
  • The fire was burning nine square miles on Tuesday evening, and estimated at more than 30 square miles on Wednesday afternoon
  • The blaze is zero percent contained, and firefighters have been hampered by strong winds, which are forecast to continue on Thursday and Friday
  • Officials said Tuesday evening that 766 homes and 1,000 animals had been evacuated near Flagstaff, and about 250 structures remained threatened
  • Firefighters believe that 25 structures have been destroyed, but are unable so far to give precise totals
  • In New Mexico, the Mora County Sheriff’s Office issued mandatory evacuations for more residents as a blaze burned more than 14 square miles since Sunday

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Wildfires have New Mexico and Arizona declaring Emergency as a mega drought persists

Revelation 8:7 “ The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Emergency Declaration for Multiple Wildfires in New Mexico
  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed emergency declarations as 20 wildfires continued to burn Sunday in nearly half of the state’s drought-stricken 33 counties.
  • One wildfire in northern New Mexico that started April 6 merged with a newer fire Saturday to form the largest blaze in the state, leading to widespread evacuations in Mora and San Miguel counties. That fire was at 84 square miles (217 square kilometers) Sunday and 12% contained.
  • Meanwhile in Arizona, some residents forced to evacuate due to a wildfire near Flagstaff were allowed to return home Sunday morning.
  • In Arizona, two large wildfires continued to burn Sunday 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Prescott and 14 miles (22 kilometers) northeast of Flagstaff.
  • In Nebraska, authorities said wind-driven wildfires sweeping through parts of the state killed a retired Cambridge fire chief and injured at least 11 firefighters.
  • The cause of the wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona remain under investigation.

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Feds warn potential water shut off if water level continues to drop

Leviticus 26:18-20 “And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

Important Takeaways:

  • Feds could limit water flow to Arizona, other western states
  • Concern focuses on continually falling water level in Lake Powell, a reservoir that supplies millions with water and hydroelectricity
  • Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science for the U.S. Department of the Interior warned, Should the water level drop below 3,490 feet that the shortage would affect both water flow downriver and power generation at the large power facility. Currently, water levels sit at 3,522 and continue to fall
  • She added that a nearby Arizona city and part of the Navajo Nation would lose drinking water should Lake Powell’s water level be allowed to fall below the threshold.

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Southwest officials warn of explosive fire season as Arizona blaze reaches 20,000 acres

Revelation 8:7 “ The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”

Important Takeaways:

  • ‘It’s going to be a long one this year’: Southwest officials warn of explosive wildfire season as blaze in Arizona reaches 20,000 acres and forces hundreds to evacuate their homes
  • The Tunnel Fire, burning near Flagstaff in Arizona, was first reported on Sunday afternoon and by Wednesday night was burning almost 20,000 acres
  • The fire was burning nine square miles on Tuesday evening, and estimated at more than 30 square miles on Wednesday afternoon
  • The blaze is zero percent contained, and firefighters have been hampered by strong winds, which are forecast to continue on Thursday and Friday
  • Officials said Tuesday evening that 766 homes and 1,000 animals had been evacuated near Flagstaff, and about 250 structures remained threatened
  • Firefighters believe that 25 structures have been destroyed, but are unable so far to give precise totals
  • In New Mexico, the Mora County Sheriff’s Office issued mandatory evacuations for more residents as a blaze burned more than 14 square miles since Sunday

Read the original article by clicking here.

Wildfire spreads to 6,000 acres in Arizona

Revelation 8:7 “The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Arizona wildfire spreads to more than 6,000 acres, prompting evacuations
  • A fast-moving wildfire in northern Arizona has grown to more than 6,000 acres, being fueled by significant winds and dry conditions.
  • Coconino County officials said that over 200 personnel were fighting the fire, but they have not been able to achieve any containment as of Tuesday evening.
  • The so-called Tunnel Fire was burning about 14 miles north of Flagstaff. County officials said nearly 800 households and over 1,000 animals were evacuated from the area that is home to more than 2,000 people

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Analysis: Republicans see election opportunity in Biden border struggles

By Ted Hesson and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The leading Republican vying to unseat an Arizona Democrat in a crucial U.S. Senate race next year gets heated when he talks about Democratic President Joe Biden’s “failed border policies,” occasionally throwing in expletives when decrying their alleged financial cost and what he says is the threat they pose to Americans.

The candidate, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, is betting the message will resonate with voters Republicans need to mobilize in the 2022 elections to change the balance of power in Congress.

“Immigration in and of itself is not a bad thing,” Brnovich, himself the son of immigrants from Montenegro and Croatia, said in an interview with Reuters. “But illegal immigration undermines the rule of law.”

Echoing some of the hardline rhetoric of Republican former President Donald Trump, Brnovich supports the construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico and tougher immigration enforcement.

His opponent, incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, is a well-known retired astronaut and husband to former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. His seat has been rated as vulnerable by election trackers after he won a close victory in a special election last year.

While the Arizona race is one of the most high-profile contests where immigration has emerged as an attack line for Republicans, the strategy is not limited to the Southwestern border state.

Republicans across the country are targeting the policy vulnerability for Biden, whose administration has struggled to curb record arrests of migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border. Some critics say he has failed to find a consistent approach on immigration, keeping some Trump policies in place while rolling back others, inviting attacks on both the right and left.

“We have gone heavily on offense,” said Emma Vaughn, national press secretary for the Republican National Committee, which plays a central role in shaping the party’s election strategy. “Immigration doesn’t just impact border towns; it impacts Americans everywhere.”

Reuters polling backs up the idea that immigration is a prime motivator for likely Republican voters. A Reuters opinion survey in October of nearly 1,600 Republicans found immigration topped the list of issues that would make them “very angry” if the government acted in opposition to their views.

Democrats, on the other hand, did not rank immigration in any of their top 12 anger-provoking issues. Researchers have found anger is more likely to encourage voting compared with other emotions.

Heading into the November 2022 midterm elections, Democrats currently control both chambers of Congress by a narrow margin. The Senate has 48 Democrats and two independents who caucus with them to 50 Republicans, giving Vice President Kamala Harris a tie-breaking vote. In the House of Representatives, Democrats hold 221 seats to the Republicans’ 213, with one seat vacant.

As attorney general, Brnovich filed four lawsuits this year challenging Biden’s immigration actions, including a lawsuit that said Biden failed to assess the environmental effects of illegal immigration, such as pollution and stress on natural resources.

Democrat Kelly has also criticized Biden’s approach to the southern border at times, most recently sending a Dec. 16 letter to the president calling on him to close existing gaps in Arizona’s border barriers. At the same time, Kelly urged Biden to restore areas damaged by Trump-era border wall construction.

“Your administration must make it a priority to address these issues,” Kelly wrote. “Arizona deserves better from Washington on the border.”

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would take steps to close “small gaps” remaining from previous border wall construction and perform other construction work, with a focus on a stretch of the border in Arizona.

Kelly’s tougher border stance contrasts with most of his Democratic colleagues, who disdain Trump’s immigration tactics, a reflection of the threat immigration-focused attacks on the incumbent could pose in the race.

INTERNAL TENSIONS

Biden took office in January promising to roll back almost all of Trump’s restrictive immigration measures, but he has so far been stymied by internal tensions within his administration and ongoing court battles.

Some of the friction has been evident on the president’s Domestic Policy Council. The council’s director, Susan Rice, has tended to push for tougher enforcement at the border, clashing at times with her own more liberal staffers, according to a former U.S. official with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Immigrant advocates who joined the Biden administration have been disappointed with his approach to the border, including the mass deportation of Haitians caught trying to cross from Mexico, a second official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

Some Biden officials have acknowledged internally that large numbers of migrants arriving at the border could derail the president’s broader immigration agenda, Reuters reported earlier this year.

Biden has left in place a sweeping Trump-era border expulsion policy implemented when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and was ordered by a court to resurrect another hardline Trump program that forces migrants to wait in Mexico as their U.S. asylum cases proceed — both moves that dismayed advocates.

A White House spokesperson said all Biden staffers were “committed to implementing a fair and orderly immigration system,” and denied any tensions between Susan Rice and Domestic Policy Council staffers.

The spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Republicans also focused heavily on immigration before the 2018 midterm elections, only to lose the House to the Democrats.

PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS

Republicans and their allies are already airing some immigration-themed commercials, a likely preview of what Democrats can expect in the coming year.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that favors lower levels of immigration, launched a six-figure digital ad campaign in Texas and Arizona last week that attacks Biden and other Democrats and depicts the border as lawless.

“President Biden sabotaged the nation’s immigration controls,” a man’s voice says in the ad over video of migrants clashing with authorities in Mexico. The ad will air in Spanish and English in an attempt to reach Hispanic voters.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, both Republicans facing re-election in 2022, have emerged as leading critics of Biden’s immigration policies. Abbott and DeSantis are viewed as possible Republican presidential candidates in 2024, and the White House is closely following their gubernatorial races, according to a third U.S. official.

The Biden administration is working with allies outside of government to neutralize the criticism, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal plans.

One strategy is to remind voters of Trump’s “zero tolerance” border policy, which led to the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents and drew international condemnation, the official said.

The White House is also banking that its efforts to speed up asylum processing at the southern border – a much-touted plan that has yet to produce significant results – will gain steam next year.

But many pro-immigrant activists remain unconvinced, including Jennifer Quigley, senior director for government affairs with the pro-immigrant organization Human Rights First.

“They do not view humane and lawful entry for asylum seekers as a winning thing politically,” Quigley said.

(Reporting by Ted Hesson and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Jonathan Oatis)

Arizona asks U.S. Supreme Court to allow abortion restriction

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The state of Arizona on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a Republican-backed law that bans abortions performed due to fetal genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome to go into effect.

The emergency request to the justices, made by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, seeks to block part of a September ruling by a federal judge in the state that put the newly enacted measure on hold.

The Arizona Medical Association physicians’ group and abortion rights advocates were among those filing suit after Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in April signed into law the measure banning abortions performed strictly on the basis of genetic disorders detected in the fetus, such as Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis, unless the condition is considered lethal.

It is one of a series of Republican-backed abortion restrictions pursued at the state level in recent years.

Brnovich has asked the high court to allow the provision to go into effect while litigation continues on the appeal.

His request reaches the conservative-majority court as the justices weigh another major abortion case from Mississippi that could lead to the overturning of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized the procedure nationwide. Such a move would make it easier for states to impose restrictions on abortion or possibly ban it entirely.

Mississippi’s law, blocked by lower courts, bans abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy. The conservative justices during arguments on Dec. 1 indicated sympathy toward Mississippi’s law and potential support for overturning Roe.

In another case, the Supreme Court last Friday left in place a Texas ban on abortions starting at about six weeks of pregnancy but allowed a legal challenge to proceed, with the fate of the Republican-backed measure that allows private citizens to enforce it still hanging in the balance.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

Treasury warns Arizona it can’t use federal funds to undermine school mask requirements

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Arizona’s governor on Tuesday that his state could not use federal funds to pay for programs aimed at undermining face mask requirements in schools, and said Arizona could lose funding if it did not change course.

In a letter to Governor Douglas Ducey, Adeyemo raised concerns about two new Arizona state programs funded under the coronavirus relief “American Rescue Plan” which he said would “undermine evidence-based efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Adeyemo’s letter comes a month after the U.S. Department of Education opened civil rights investigations to determine whether five states – Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah – that have banned schools from requiring masks are discriminating against students with disabilities.

One of the Arizona programs offers grants to school districts on condition they not require the use of face coverings during instructional hours. The second gives families a voucher of up to $7,000 per student to cover tuition or other educational costs at a new school that does not require face coverings if the student’s current school requires them.

Both programs tapped a $350 billion fund established under the American Rescue Plan to mitigate the fiscal effects of the COVID-19 emergency, which has killed over 700,000 people in the United States, Adeyemo said in his letter.

“A program or service that imposes conditions on participation or acceptance of the service that would undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 or discourage compliance with evidence-based solutions for stopping the spread of COVID-19 is not a permissible use of (such) funds,” he said.

Adeyemo asked Ducey to respond within 30 days on how Arizona planned to come into compliance with the federal requirements, warning that “failure to respond or remediate may result in administrative or other action.” Such action included federal efforts to recoup the funds, a Treasury official said.

Florida, Texas and Arkansas have also banned mandatory masking orders in schools. The Education Department left those states and Arizona out of its inquiry because court orders or other actions have paused their enforcement, it said in a news release.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mark Porter and Sonya Hepinstall)

U.S. Supreme Court backs voting restrictions in Arizona

By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday endorsed two Republican-backed ballot restrictions in Arizona that a lower court found had disproportionately burdened Black, Latino and Native American voters, handing a defeat to voting rights advocates and Democrats who had challenged the measures.

The 6-3 ruling, with the court’s conservative justices in the majority, held that the restrictions on early ballot collection by third parties and where absentee ballots may be cast did not violate the Voting Rights Act, a landmark 1965 federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

The court’s three liberal justices dissented from the decision.

The decision comes at a time when states are pursuing a series of Republican-backed voting restrictions in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud and irregularities in his 2020 loss to now-President Joe Biden.

The ruling represented a victory for the Arizona Republican Party and the state’s Republican attorney general, Mark Brnovich. They had appealed a lower court ruling that had deemed the restrictions unlawful.

The case involves a 2016 Arizona law that made it a crime to provide another person’s completed early ballot to election officials, with the exception of family members or caregivers. Community activists sometimes engage in ballot collection to facilitate voting and increase voter turnout. Ballot collection is legal in most states, with varying limitations. Republican critics call the practice “ballot harvesting.”

The other restriction at issue was a longstanding Arizona policy that discards ballots cast in-person at a precinct other than the one to which a voter has been assigned. In some places, voters’ precincts are not the closest one to their home.

The case raised questions over whether fraud must be documented in order to justify new curbs.

Democrats have accused Republicans at the state level of enacting voter-suppression measures to make it harder for racial minorities who tend to support Democratic candidates to cast ballots. Many Republicans have justified new restrictions as a means to reduce voter fraud, a phenomenon that election experts have said is rare in the United States.

Republicans are seeking to regain control of the U.S. Congress from the Democrats in the 2022 mid-term elections.

The Arizona legal battle concerned a specific provision called Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act that bans voting policies or practices that result in racial discrimination. Section 2 has been the main tool used to show that voting curbs discriminate against minorities since the Supreme Court in 2013 gutted another section of the statute that determined which states with a history of racial discrimination needed federal approval to change voting laws.

Arizona Republicans said in court papers that voting restrictions have partisan effects and impact elections. Invalidating the out-of-precinct policy would reduce Republican electoral prospects because it would increase Democratic turnout, they told the justices during March 2 arguments in the case.

The Republicans said that “race-neutral” regulations on the time, place or manner of an election do not deny anyone their right to vote and that federal law does not require protocols to maximize the participation of racial minorities.

The Democratic National Committee and the Arizona Democratic Party sued over the restrictions. Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has backed the challenge to the measures.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year found Arizona’s restrictions violated the Voting Rights Act, though they remained in effect for the Nov. 3 election in which Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeated Donald Trump, a Republican, in the state.

The 9th Circuit also found that “false, race-based claims of ballot collection fraud” were used to convince Arizona legislators to enact that restriction with discriminatory intent, violating the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on denying voting rights based on race.

U.S. Senate Republicans on June 23 blocked Democratic-backed legislation that would broadly expand voting rights and establish uniform national voting standards to offset the wave new Republican-led voting restrictions in states.

Biden has sharply criticized Republican-backed state voting restrictions. Biden called a measure signed by Georgia’s Republican governor in March “an atrocity” and likened it to racist “Jim Crow” laws enacted in Southern states in the decades after the 1861-65 U.S. Civil War to legalize racial segregation and disenfranchise Black people.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley in Washington and Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)