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Donald Trump and California: A battle of wildfires and wills | Climate Change



As wildfires raged across California late last year, scorching more than 100,000 acres and driving tens of thousands from their homes, US President Donald Trump lashed out at the state’s Democratic Party leadership and threatened to cut off federal aid.

“You’ve got fires eating away at California every year, because management is so bad,” Trump claimed.

The battle over wildfires between Trump and California reveals fundamentally different views about the dangers posed by climate change, and the choice voters face in the 2020 presidential election over taking action to combat it.

“Because of Trump’s philosophy, he is inevitably drawn into conflict with California,” says Jerry Brown, who served four terms as Democratic governor of California and ran three times for president.

“When it comes to the green economy and climate change, California is in front and given our tremendous economic dynamism, California does refute the Trumpian claim that reducing carbon emissions hurts the economy.”

The suffering will take place primarily after Trump is dead … He won’t have to pay for what he is imposing on billions of people.

Jerry Brown, former California governor

Brown, who held a Global Climate Action Summit while governor in 2018, sees Trump’s disregard for climate change as a serious threat to the planet.

“The suffering will take place primarily after Trump is dead and that’s the evil of it,” Brown says. “He won’t have to pay for what he is imposing on billions of people into the future.”

California wildfires

Errol Navickas experienced the full fury and destructiveness of the California wildfires last October. He lost his home and virtually all his possessions in the Saddleridge fire, which burned close to 9,000 acres (3,640 hectares) in northern Los Angeles.

The flames were “going about 70 miles an hour with the wind, so it’s the fastest fire I’ve ever seen,” he says. In the fall, California is buffeted by winds that flow off the mountains towards the coast, increasing the spread and intensity of fires.

Firefighters tackle a wildfire threatening nearby hillside homes in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2019 [Getty Images]

Navickas does not give much credence to President Trump’s claim that wildfires are the result of mismanagement of the forests.

“There’s no forest around here,” he says. “And if there’s no rains you’re going to have four feet of just crispy, dry plants ready to burn. And for about 15 years it’s been getting drier and drier.”

In fact, “about 50 percent of the area burned in California in the last 30 years has been due to anthropogenic or human-caused climate change,” according to Crystal Kolden, a professor at the University of California, Merced, specialising in wildfire behaviour. She says that the scientific evidence connecting California wildfires and climate change is “overwhelming”.

“It dries the vegetation out so that it’s more flammable. And then with climate change rains are on average getting pushed back by several weeks in some cases. So now we see that where winter used to be far too wet for things to burn, now we can have long dry periods when the winds are starting to really pick up and it means that fires can burn really intensely.”

“[The majority] of the most destructive fires in the last decade, they’re not in places that are forests,” Kolden adds. “And we’re seeing the same types of increases in fire intensity, in fire size and this extension of fire season across the entire globe.”

But the science does not carry much weight for President Trump, a point Joe Biden hammers home in a campaign ad in which the president is shown blaming California wildfires on a lack of “pre-emptive raking”, and which reprises Trump’s remark about climate change that “a lot of it is a hoax, it’s a hoax”.

People and Power - Trump v California part 2

A whirlwind of hot ash and embers moves through a wildfire, dubbed the Cave Fire, burning in the hills of Santa Barbara, California in 2019 [Reuters]

Clean air agreements

The president is pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement in which 195 countries pledged to meet emissions reductions goals.

Trump “wants to free up fossil fuel companies, he wants to let it rip regardless of the natural environment”, Brown says. In 2018, the California legislature and Brown committed the state to 100 percent zero-carbon electricity and economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2045.

California is also a leader in setting fuel efficiency standards for cars and promoting the use of electric vehicles. Autos are the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

Green energy sounds great, but how many jobs is it actually going to produce and how reliable is the energy going to be?

Charles Kesler, California conservative

For 50 years, California has had a waiver under the Clean Air Act allowing it to establish fuel efficiency standards beyond national requirements.

In 2012, the Obama administration adopted California’s goal of achieving 54 miles (87 km) a gallon by 2025 as the national standard. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in March, the Trump administration reduced it to only about 40 miles (64 km) per gallon.

The administration has also revoked the waiver allowing California to set its own clean car standards. The state and 14 others are now challenging the rollbacks in court.

“The Chinese are moving inexorably to zero-emission cars,” Brown says. “If Trump were to succeed to be able to subsidise the old-fashioned gasoline car with the lowest possible regulation, we’ll wake up in the next five to seven years and the American industry will be in collapse. And we in California are trying to hold him back to prevent it.”

Brown believes Trump is blinded by his belief in the sanctity of the free market, and that for him imposing a fuel efficiency standard is “what you would call blasphemy if you were trying to see this in religious terms”. “And that’s what it is, it’s almost a religious war and therefore they have to stop California.”

Watch: Trump v California (Part 1)

Trump supporters and opponents

Trump’s understanding of freedom, and the threats California liberals pose to it, resonates not only with supporters across the rest of the US, but also those in the rural northern part of California. Members of the right-wing Tea Party movement and other conservatives there are trying to break away from California and set up a new 51st state – the State of Jefferson.

Radio hosts Terry Rapoza and Win Carpenter are leaders in the effort to establish a new state, which has thousands of supporters in 23 northern counties. They feel Democratic representatives from urban areas have too much power in shaping policy. “Los Angeles has 11 senators, and 11 counties in northern California have one,” Rapoza says.

Carpenter says the list of government policies they object to is “way too long”. “You’re looking at taxation, I mean just the restrictions on basic things to take care of yourself and to defend yourself.”

In his view, the wildfire problem is largely the result of regulations that restrict logging, not climate change. “We live in a four-season part of the state,” Carpenter says. “The climate changes every season.”

Rural counties in northern California, like those across the US, voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the 2016 election. “People understand the truth. They can spot a liar a mile away. Thank God we had Mr Trump run for the presidency,” Carpenter says.

People and Power - Trump v California part 2

President Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California after it was vandalised in 2018 [Reuters]

But in West Hollywood, people are so dismayed by the Trump presidency that the city council passed a resolution calling for the removal of Trump’s star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“Donald Trump has harassed and otherwise demeaned women throughout his career,” West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath says. “He has targeted immigrants, LGBT people, he is a bully in chief. We do not need national monuments that glorify the kind of behaviour that he has exhibited.”

So far, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has refused to remove Trump’s star, which is repeatedly vandalised, exasperating Horvath. “We’re tired of resources being spent on this,” she says. “The crisis of homelessness has hit our region hard. We could be spending those dollars actually caring for people and uplifting people.”

In his State of the State Address last February, Gavin Newsom made combatting homelessness California’s top priority. The governor called for investing $750m in a new housing fund, on top of $1.5bn the state has allocated to local governments to combat homelessness over the last two years.

Common threats and common sense

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has pledged to invest $640bn over 10 years to expand the supply of affordable housing, and to provide vouchers to help people pay rent in California and other states. But at his rallies, President Trump has repeatedly bashed California politicians for the state’s homelessness problem. “It’s a shame. It’s a disgrace to our country,” he says. His administration has proposed cuts in the federal housing budget.

People and Power - Trump v California part 2

Donald Trump surveyed homes destroyed by fires with Gavin Newsom, first responders and Jerry Brown in Malibu in November 2018 [Reuters]

Charles Kesler, a California conservative who edits the Claremont Review of Books, says Trump’s attacks on California for homelessness are “part of his general reaction to the failure of blue-state policies”. Along with the president, he believes that homelessness in California reflects Democratic policies that have harmed the middle class, and that the strategy of building a green economy to reinvigorate the American Dream is fundamentally flawed.

“Green energy sounds great, but how many jobs is it actually going to produce and how reliable is the energy going to be,” Kesler says.

At the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last September, Governor Newsom pointed out that: “California is significantly outperforming the United States of America in GDP growth over a five-year period because of our environmental strategies. Five to one – five to one, the number of clean energy jobs in the State of California versus fossil fuel jobs.”

Daniel Kammen, who founded the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at the University of California, Berkeley adds that the state is ahead of schedule in meeting its energy needs from renewable sources, and is far along in building a green economy. “Across the United States right now, 35-40 percent of all investments in green tech flow through California,” he says.

The 2020 election in the United States is absolutely critical, because we know on the climate side that we have very few years left to get on an innovative green energy path.

Daniel Kammen, University of California, Berkeley

Biden is following California’s lead, and promises to transition the US to a green economy. His plan calls for investing $2 trillion over the next four years, setting the US on a path to achieve a clean energy, net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

“The 2020 election in the United States is absolutely critical,” Kammen says, “because we know on the climate side that we have very few years left to get on an innovative green energy path.”

The importance of the coming poll is at least something both sides can agree on. Radio host Win Carpenter feels it is critical that Trump wins. “Mr Trump is at one point of the government and then we are at the other end. He’s fighting from that side, we’re fighting from this side,” he says.

Former Democratic governor Jerry Brown says the stakes in the 2020 election are climate change, social turmoil and the current pandemic.

“We’ve got to find a way to see the common threats. Certainly, the coronavirus is a common threat. Climate change is a common threat … all we need is some common sense in the minds of those people who are in charge.”

Watch: Trump v California (Part 2)

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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