Wildfires strain resources
Wildfires are putting such a strain on the nation’s firefighting resources that authorities have activated the military and sought international help to beat back scores of blazes burning uncontrolled throughout the West. The situation is so urgent that the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Washington, this week called in 200 active-duty military troops to help contain about 95 wildfires. It is the first time since 2006 that the agency has mobilized soldiers for fire-suppression. “Nationally, the system is pretty tapped,” said Rob Allen, the deputy incident commander for the fires around the Cascade Mountain resort town of Chelan, Washington. “Everything is being used right now, so competition for resources is fierce.” The troops are to be sent to a fire north of Republic, a town in Washington about 48km south of the Canadian border.
Man fights for ‘pet’ ferrets
Pat Wright loves his three ferrets — even though they do sometimes bite and he has had to replace the baseboards in part of his house after they urinated for years along the walls — and wants them to become legalized as pets in California. Wright has begun preparing what he admits may be a quixotic campaign to legitimize Tiger, Bailey and Jethro after a decision on Friday last week by state officials in Sacramento to allow him to gather signatures to place a referendum on the ballot making it legal to own and import ferrets.
Cops freed cub stuck in tub
Police in Colorado rescued a bear cub whose head was stuck in a large plastic tub of protein powder, giving the cub a ride in the back of a cruiser before tranquilizing her so she could be freed. The Colorado Springs Police Department said three officers responded to a call about the trapped animal before dawn on Tuesday, but were unable to remove the tub. “The quick-witted officers were able to get the cub into the back seat of a patrol car and brought her to nearby fire station 3, where a Department of Wildlife Ranger sedated the bear,” the police department said in a statement, adding that the cub “was tagged and released ... in hopes that she will be reunited with mama bear.”
Snake hunt expanded
Snake-hunters take note: Authorities are expanding Florida’s next public hunt for invasive Burmese pythons into Everglades National Park. The “Python Challenge” will run from Jan. 16 through Feb. 14. The national park was excluded from the 2013 contest, which drew 1,600 participants, but netted only 68 pythons. Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos said in a statement on Tuesday that authorities hope the expanded access prompts more people to participate in programs that would allow them to remove pythons year-round from the park and state lands.
Inmate makes daring escape
Authorities yesterday vowed to review security after a prisoner used bed sheets and a pillow to scale a wall topped with razor wire and escape from a maximum security jail in Goulburn, about 200km from Sydney. Convicted armed robber Stephen Jamieson made his daring break for freedom on Tuesday and was on the run in a stolen car for 10 hours before police using helicopters and dogs caught up with him about 100km from the prison. “This is a very serious incident that should not have happened,” Corrective Services New South Wales Commissioner Peter Severin said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread