Huge Oregon blaze grows as wildfires burn across the western U.S.
BLY, Oregon — The largest wildfire in the U.S. torched more dry forest landscape in Oregon on Sunday, one of dozens of major blazes burning across the West as critically dangerous fire weather loomed in the coming days.
The destructive Bootleg Fire just north of the California border grew to more than 476 square miles (1,210 square kilometers), an area about the size of Los Angeles.
Erratic winds fed the blaze, creating dangerous conditions for firefighters, said John Flannigan, an operations section chief on the 2,000-person force battling the flames.
“Weather is really against us,” he said. “It’s going to be dry and air is going to be unstable.”
Authorities expanded evacuations that now affect some 2,000 residents of a largely rural area of lakes and wildlife refuges. The blaze, which was 22% contained, has burned at least 67 homes and 100 outbuildings while threatening thousands more.
Vaccine inequity: Inside the cutthroat race to secure doses
PARIS — No one disputes that the world is unfair. But no one expected a vaccine gap between the global rich and poor that was this bad, this far into the pandemic.
Inequity is everywhere: Inoculations go begging in the United States while Haiti, a short plane ride away, received its first delivery July 15 after months of promises — 500,000 doses for a population over 11 million. Canada has procured more than 10 doses for every resident; Sierra Leone’s vaccination rate just cracked 1% on June 20.
It’s like a famine in which “the richest guys grab the baker,” said Strive Masiyiwa, the African Union’s envoy for vaccine acquisition.
In fact, European and American officials deeply involved in bankrolling and distributing the vaccines against coronavirus have told The Associated Press there was no thought of how to handle the situation globally. Instead, they jostled for their own domestic use.
But there are more specific reasons why vaccines have and have not reached the haves and have-nots.
Senator: Bipartisan infrastructure bill loses IRS provision
WASHINGTON — A proposal to strengthen IRS enforcement to crack down on tax scofflaws and help fund a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure spending bill is officially off the table, Republican Sen. Rob Portman said Sunday.
Portman, who is involved in negotiating the bill, cited “pushback” from fellow Republican lawmakers who dislike the idea of expanding the reach of the IRS, which they have accused over the years of unfairly targeting conservatives. He said another reason the IRS provision was shelved is that Democrats are including a more robust enforcement plan in a separate $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill that they intend to pass through the Senate using special budget rules and without Republican votes.
“That created quite a problem because the general agreement is that this is the bipartisan, negotiated infrastructure package and that we will stick with that,” the Ohio senator said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Portman’s announcement that the IRS provision had been removed underscores the difficulty facing the bipartisan group of Republican and Democratic senators in finding mutually agreeable ways to pay for billions of dollars of new spending their White House-backed plan calls for.
Portman said meetings were planned Sunday to discuss alternatives to the IRS provision, which had been estimated to bring in an estimated $100 billion over 10 years. The proposal to go after taxpayers who skip out on income taxes initially had potential bipartisan appeal, but outside groups came forward to lambaste it as a way to enable the IRS to snoop around Americans’ personal finances.
In Trump’s Jan. 6 recast, attackers become martyrs, heroes
WASHINGTON — A cocktail of propaganda, conspiracy theory and disinformation — of the kind intoxicating to the masses in the darkest turns of history — is fueling delusion over the agonies of Jan. 6.
Hate is “love.” Violence is “peace.” The pro-Donald Trump attackers are patriots.
Months after the then-president’s supporters stormed the Capitol that winter day, Trump and his acolytes are taking this revisionism to a new and dangerous place — one of martyrs and warlike heroes, and of revenge. It’s a place where cries of “blue lives matter” have transformed into shouts of “f—- the blue.”
The fact inversion about the siege is the latest in Trump’s contorted oeuvre of the “big lie” compendium, the most specious of which is that the election was stolen from him, when it was not.
Merkel tours ‘surreal’ flood scene, vows aid, climate action
BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel surveyed what she called a “surreal, ghostly” scene in a devastated village on Sunday, pledging quick financial aid and a redoubled political focus on curbing climate change as the death toll from floods in Western Europe climbed above 180.
Merkel toured Schuld, a village on a tight curve of the Ahr River in western Germany where many buildings were damaged or destroyed by rapidly rising floodwaters Wednesday night.
Although the mayor of Schuld said no one was killed or injured there, many other places weren’t so lucky. The death toll in the Ahrweiler area, where Schuld is located, stood at 112. Authorities said people are still missing and they fear the toll may still rise.
In neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state, Germany’s most populous, 46 people were killed, including four firefighters. Belgium confirmed 31 deaths.
Merkel said she came away from Schuld, still partly strewn with rubble and mud in bright sunshine, with “a real picture of, I must say, the surreal, ghostly situation.”
“It is shocking — I would almost say that the German language barely has words for the devastation that has been wreaked,” she said at a news conference in a nearby town.
By wire sources