Tag Archives: ‘oppressive

Wildfire-ravaged areas of Australia get holiday relief, but oppressive conditions to return

Areas of Australia that have been ravaged by deadly wildfires experienced temporary relief on Wednesday, but oppressive conditions are expected to return this weekend.

About 50,000 square kilometres of land have burned over the past few months, with nine people killed and more than 950 homes destroyed.

New South Wales (NSW), the country’s most populous state, has received the brunt of the damage, with around 850 homes razed in the state.

Parts of NSW, including Sydney, experienced cool and damp conditions on Christmas Day, but more than 70 fires continued to burn across the state. NSW has been in a seven-day state of emergency that was to expire on Wednesday night.

About 2,000 firefighters and 400 fire trucks battled the blazes in more favourable conditions, but high temperatures are set to return. Sydney is forecast to hit 31 C on Sunday, while the western suburbs could reach 41 C.

Dozens of Canadian firefighters have travelled to Australia to help with the effort.

Fire danger ratings remained high in northwestern NSW, and were between high and moderate for the rest of the state.

In his annual Christmas Day message, Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to the families of the two firefighters — Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O’Dwyer, 36 — who died last week battling blazes southwest of Sydney.

The wildfire crisis forced Morrison to cut short his much-criticized family vacation in Hawaii. He returned to Australia on Saturday night.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in his annual Christmas Day message, paid tribute to the families of the two firefighters died last week battling blazes southwest of Sydney. (Kelly Barnes/AAP/REUTERS)

“To Andrew and Geoffrey’s parents, we know this is going to be a tough Christmas for you, first one without both those two amazing men,” he said.

“I want to thank all those who serve our nation, serving as volunteers fighting those fires as we speak.”

About 200 firefighters continued to battle a wildfire Wednesday in the Adelaide Hills, which on Wednesday was at the “watch and act” level issued by the South Australian Country Fire Service.

South Australia state, which last week had 86 homes destroyed after wildfires flared in catastrophic conditions, is bracing for a return of extreme temperatures, with Adelaide, the state capital, expected to reach 41 C on Saturday.

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U.S. lawmaker Tlaib won’t visit West Bank under ‘oppressive conditions’ imposed by Israel

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib says she won’t travel to the West Bank after all to visit her family after the Israeli government lifted a ban on her entry, citing “oppressive conditions” that she says just work to humiliate her.

Israeli officials decided to reverse an earlier decision to bar Tlaib by giving her entry to visit family, so long as she doesn’t advocate a boycott of Israel. 

Tlaib submitted a letter earlier to the Israeli government in which she promised to respect any restrictions imposed on her visit to the West Bank, but she has changed her mind and will not go. 

In a tweet on Friday, she said she doesn’t want the Israeli government to silence her and treat her like a criminal. Visiting her family, particularly her grandmother, under “humiliating” conditions set by Israel amounts to a violation of her values.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said Thursday he would not allow Tlaib, of Michigan, and fellow Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, to make a planned trip to Israel.

The ban sparked widespread criticism, including from Israeli and Jewish organizations that said it was an affront to U.S. institutions to bar the entry of members of Congress.

Tlaib and Omar have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement over Israel’s policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under Israeli law, BDS backers can be denied entry to Israel.

However, Netanyahu said that if Tlaib submitted a request to visit family on humanitarian grounds, Israel would consider it as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel.

Tlaib’s initial letter to Israel’s Ministry of Interior on Thursday requested permission “to visit relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s,” adding it “could be my last opportunity to see her.”

“I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit,” Tlaib had written in the request, which was circulated by the Ynet website and other Israeli media. 

Israel’s Interior Ministry said in a statement it had “decided on Friday to approve the entry of U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for a humanitarian visit to her 90-year-old grandmother.”

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