A gender reveal party is thought to have caused a California wildfire that forced residents to flee their homes

A firework at a gender reveal party triggered a wildfire in southern California that has scorched 2,800 hectares and forced many residents to flee their homes.

More than 500 firefighters and four helicopters were battling the El Dorado blaze east of San Bernardino, which started on Saturday morning, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said.

Residents of several communities in the area have been ordered to evacuate.

“Cal Fire Law Enforcement has determined the El Dorado Fire, burning near Oak Glen in San Bernardino County, was caused by a smoke generating pyrotechnic device, used during a gender reveal party,” Cal Fire said on Twitter.

“Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible,” it warned.

Gender reveal parties are held during pregnancy to unveil the sex of the expected child, sometimes announced by pink or blue smoke fireworks.

California has been baking under scorching conditions with temperatures reaching a record 49 degrees Celsius on Sunday in Woodland Hills – an all-time high for Los Angeles county, the National Weather Service said.

With the hot and dry conditions, California has suffered a particularly busy fire season this year, including three of the biggest blazes in the state’s history.

In northern California, more than 200 people were airlifted to safety over the weekend after a fast-moving wildfire trapped them near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir northeast of Fresno.

They were rescued by military helicopters, with dozens packed into a helicopter known as a Chinook.

WATCH: National guard rescues dozens trapped by California wildfires

The Creek Fire, which started on Friday in steep and rugged terrain, has so far spread to 29,500 hectares, according to the US Forest Service, making it one of the largest blazes. 

More than 800 firefighters were battling the blaze.

Firefighter Ricardo Gomez, of a San Benito Monterey Cal Fire crew, sets a controlled burn with a drip torch while fighting the Creek Fire, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, in Shaver Lake, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Firefighter Ricardo Gomez of a San Benito Monterey Cal Fire crew sets a controlled burn with a drip torch while fighting the Creek Fire.


Another rapidly-spreading fire near San Diego, Valley Fire, has so far spread to about 4,000 hectares and destroyed 11 structures, Cal Fire said.

California governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday declared a state of emergency for five counties affected by the Creek, El Dorado and Valley fires.

“The fires have burned tens of thousands of acres, destroyed homes and caused the evacuation of thousands of residents,” the governor’s office said.

Record temperatures over the three-day Labor Day weekend have aggravated already dangerous fire conditions and further stressed exhausted California firefighters.

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Los Angeles’ Garcetti mocked over tweet urging residents to conserve energy

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the city’s Democrat widely seen too have national ambitions, was roundly mocked on Twitter late Sunday after he urged residents to turn off major appliances to conserve energy during a historic heatwave.

“It’s almost 3 p.m.,” Garcetti’s tweet read. “Time to turn off major appliances, set the thermostat to 78 degrees (or use a fan instead), turn off excess lights and unplug any appliances you’re not using. We need every Californian to help conserve energy. Please do your part.”

Fox 11 reported that thousands of residents across Los Angeles County were without power and a California Independent System Operator declared a Stage 2 Emergency, which means the city is “taking all the steps to protect the grid, manage transmission loss and avoid outages.”

Garcetti’s tweet got the attention of Eric Trump, one of President Trump’s sons,  who tweeted, “Hard to believe this tweet is real from the Mayor of LA. This is what the democrats will do to this country… #Blackouts.”

Another commenter posted,  “What do our extremely high taxes pay for? Police have been defunded. Public schools are not in session. Where’s the money and resources going?”

Garcetti’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment from Fox News.

Eric Schmitt, vice president of operations for the California Independent System Operator, which the Los Angeles Times said runs the power grid for much of the state, told the paper there could be power cuts to up to 3 million customers in the state.

“I think it’s fair to say that without really significant conservation and help from customers today that we’ll have to have some rolling outages,” he told the paper. “So this is really an appeal for people to help us out to get through what will prove to be a very, very difficult day.”

Downtown Los Angeles reached 111 degrees and a record-shattering high of 121 degrees was recorded in the nearby Woodland Hills neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley.

It was the highest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles County, according to the National Weather Service. The mark rivaled the high in California’s Death Valley, typically the hottest place in the country.

About 7 p.m., the California Independent System Operator declared an emergency and said power outages were imminent because a transmission line carrying power from Oregon to California and another in-state power plant went offline unexpectedly. The cause of the outages is unknown at this time, the agency said. But about 8:30 p.m., the agency issued a tweet calling off the emergency “thanks to conservation of Californians!”


It said no power outages were ordered by operators of the grid.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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The lockdown diaries: Melbourne residents tell of life under stage 4 coronavirus restrictions

Five weeks ago, as Melbourne entered a strict lockdown of nightly curfews, mandatory masks, and bans on social gatherings, the ABC began documenting life during this once-in-a-century event in the words of those living through it.

A diverse group of Melburnians recorded their experience of lockdown in a series of video diaries.

The youngest is 11 years old, the oldest is 81. They include born-and-bred Victorians, new arrivals, students, retirees, and the unemployed; people with disabilities, and those that care for them, from the inner city to the urban fringe.

Their stories are deeply personal, yet will be very familiar to many who are also living under stage 4. Some readers may recognise feeling similar emotions at similar times: fear, worry, frustration, and hope.

Week one: The shock hits hard

Seven-day average of new cases: 449

Natasha Biggins, 20, new mum and uni student, living with her partner at her parents’ house in Sunshine

Natasha Biggins is juggling caring for her son William with university studies.(ABC News: Dan Harrison)

It’s day one today of day-care being closed, and I’ve been trying to study all day. I’ve got about a page of work done so far because obviously my baby needs constant attention, and I’ve had to break my concentration all day but we’ll work on it.

It’s only day one. Maybe it will get better from here.

Anna Colbasso, 47, autistic advocate and mother of two, Camberwell

A woman with light-coloured hair and glasses smiles while holding a black and white cat.
Anna Colbasso says she’s finding the current lockdown much harder than when stage 3 restrictions were first imposed.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

I’m autistic, and in some ways, going into the first stage 3 lockdown was just bliss.

Less demands, less people around. The sensory things, like the reduction in car noise. I started to notice birds again in our garden.

This one is less enjoyable. Not because the conditions have changed, it’s the way people are responding to it.

They’re anxious, they’re frightened, they’re angry, and you can feel it in the air wherever you go.

Rose Lewis, Grade 6 student, Northcote

A young girl smiles as she sits on a log by a river. A boy can be seen climbing a tree in the background.
Rose Lewis worries that her mother could catch coronavirus at work.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

My mother works in a hospital as a midwife, and it’s scary sometimes watching her leave for work when she could possibly come home with this dangerous virus that everyone’s talking about.

She has to do this really strange routine: When she gets home she has to shower and wash all her clothes straight away, and wipe down her keys and passes before we can even give her a hug.

It just seems like another world.

Nick Crameri, 27, osteopath, Kensington

Two young man and a young woman lean over the railing in front of their home.
Nick Crameri (left), with his housemates Bonnie Spain and Sam Bennett.(ABC News: Dan Harrison)

Why should I not lose my job as well?

Even after stage one lockdown, I was trying to have a plan B, because I thought there was no way we could socially distance at my workplace.

I spent all of one Sunday editing my resume to go and work as a packer at Aldi. Lucky it didn’t have to come to that.

But I feel if the worst was to happen, it’s our generation’s responsibility to try and bounce back from it — because we’ve got a lot of time ahead of us to make the most of whatever careers we have ahead of us.

Sarah Goulding, 40, mental health crisis counsellor and mother of two, Surrey Hills

Sarah Goulding, wearing glasses and with her hair up, stands in the doorway of her home.
Sarah Goulding says the daily case numbers have a big impact on her mood.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

The data that’s put out every day in the press release dictates the way I feel.

If it’s a bad day with data, we’ve had a lot of deaths, if we’ve had multiple cases recorded, if there’s unknown community transmission cases, I feel terrible — like, ‘this is now at a point where it’s uncontrollable’.

Mien Jeu Chang, 27, speech therapist on skilled visa, Flemington

Mien Jeu Chang has a serious expression on her face as she stands in front of her door.
Mien Jeu Chang say she’s trying not to think too far ahead.(ABC News: Scott Jewell)

The changes have been overwhelming because they are sudden and we are forced to quickly adapt.

It feels like there’s no time to think, to breathe and to process all that is going on and we just have to roll with it.

It does feel like I’ve been thrown into the deep end at times, and it’s either sink or swim.

I’m managing these feelings by just taking things one day at a time. And that has helped.

Week two: Time drags, morale drops

Seven-day average of new cases: 317

Tash Spencer, 27, coach on JobKeeper, pregnant with first child, Newport

A young woman with long brown hair stands in a doorway, looking into the camera with a serious expression.
Tash Spencer says thoughts of spending Christmas with family are keeping her going.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

This week has gone really, really slow.

The biggest impact on me has probably been the lack of motivation.

It’s the tenth week of my pregnancy, so naturally not feeling as sprightly as I normally would — but just the fact that we haven’t been able to get out and about has certainly impacted my feelings of being motivated and having energy.

The sunshine this week in Melbourne has really helped, just feeling that there is a sense of hope, and that spring is around the corner.

One thing that is also helping is to imagine being together with my family at Christmas. If that’s something that could happen, that’s definitely keeping me going right now.

Meeka Rafiq, Grade 6 student, Epping

Brothers Levi and Meeka hold soccer balls and embrace each other at a sports field.
Meeka Rafiq (right), with his brother Levi.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

Now I realise that you should never take school for granted, especially when you’re in Grade 6.

I started doing bike club in term one, but we missed out on going to the Sports Museum.

This is the best excursion in primary school.

In term one I was chosen as school captain and was supposed to host some assemblies and lay a wreath at the Epping RSL.

Right now I am really missing school and my friends. I don’t feel like we’ll be going back to school this year.

Di Henning, 71, executive coach, Ascot Vale

A woman wearing glasses and a patterned maroon scarf smiles while standing before the front door of a brick house.
Di Henning is finding it tough not being able to volunteer.(ABC News: Scott Jewell)

It’s the sense of what’s happening for others that really upsets me.

And it does create a sense of helplessness, because you’re in lockdown as well.

You can’t go out and do any kind of volunteering or support. That’s hard.

So I take the view that the only thing I can do is make sure that I do the right thing as we’ve been asked to.

Sarah Goulding, 40, mental health crisis counsellor, mother of two, Surrey Hills

Sarah Goulding stands in her doorway and looks towards the sky.
Sarah Goulding says she’s been dismayed by some people’s behaviour.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

My confidence and sense of safety within the community is pretty low right now.

You go for walks, you go for a drive, do the shopping, there’s always someone without a mask.

There’s always someone doing something stupid. And it’s just like, ‘do you have any idea what we’re going through? Any idea how hard this is?’ But they don’t.

And it makes me feel very angry, when I’m working so hard to contain part of the community, and there’s other parts of the community that are like, ‘woo, like, let’s just do whatever we want’.

So no, I don’t feel safe.

Mien Jeu Chang, 27, speech therapist on skilled visa, Flemington

Mien Jeu Chang looks to the side with a serious expression on her face as she stands in front of her door.
Mien Jeu Chang says being so far from family is making the lockdown even tougher for her.(ABC News: Scott Jewell)

My birthday has just passed, and I’m definitely feeling more homesick, which is probably why it’s been a long and tiring week.

I also feel like there’s nothing to look forward to, because in normal circumstances I would be looking forward to going back to my home country to see my family, or having my parents come here to visit.

It just adds to this dreadful feeling. I wake up three to four hours after falling asleep, which is not great. And that just adds to the fatigue that I experience during the day.

Week three: Adapting to life in lockdown

Seven-day average of new cases: 210

Katie De Araujo, 45, yoga teacher, mother of three, Maidstone

A family of five, comprising a man, woman, two boys and a girl, pose outside the front door of their home.
Jorge and Katie De Araujo have been supervising remote learning for their twin boys.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

Today is not a good day. My son was doing his schoolwork and asked for some help with his maths, and out of the blue I became very impatient and intolerant and was no use to him at all.

I actually ended up upsetting him quite a bit. It can be quite shocking how things can change when I’m not looking after my mood and managing myself.

In the end, I’m going to have to apologise to him and just recommit to a better way of managing things when they don’t go as I expected.

Eli Muse, 34, engineer, father of two, Point Cook

A man with short hair, wearing a jacket, stands outside a brick house.
For Eli Muse, the distinction between his business and family lives has been a casualty of the lockdown.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

There is no work/life balance for me — it’s more about work/life integration.

Sometimes when I’m having my meetings, you have your little one come in, their voice coming through, there’s nothing you can do about it.

You just have to just have to be a dad, a businessman, everything all together in one. There is no separation.

Sarah Goulding, 40, mental health crisis counsellor, mother of two, Surrey Hills

Sarah Goulding, wearing glasses and with her hair up, stands in the doorway of her home.
Sarah Goulding says between work and supervising her son’s learning, she sometimes runs out of time to eat.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

This is my lunch break. I don’t know how many psych triages I’ve taken today.

I can’t think straight, but we are now going to do home school.

Levi needs to record a dance routine. So I’ve in my 20 minute break, I’ve just come up with a bit of a dance routine, and we’re going to film it now.

I don’t think I’ll get a chance to eat. I have had two of those orange biscuits, those Arnott’s ones. They were pretty good.

And I don’t reckon I’ll eat til after my shift which is maybe … 5? Yeah. I don’t anticipate I’ll eat until 5.

Nishadi Wathiyage, Year 12 student, Dandenong

A young woman with her hair tied back wearing a black hoodie stands in front of her home.
Nishadi Wathiyage doesn’t see life returning to normal anytime soon.(ABC News: Chris Le Page)

I just feel like these stage 4 restrictions will be extended longer, and I feel like society will have to adapt to a new lifestyle.

I feel like it will be the norm to wear masks regularly outside of their homes, to socially distance wherever they are, and this won’t go away soon.

It will still be around, maybe for the next few years. But who knows?

Mien Jeu Chang, 27, speech therapist on skilled visa, Flemington

Mien Jeu Chang looks into the camera with a serious expression on her face as she stands in her doorway.
Mien Jeu Chang says video calls are a poor substitute for personal contact with her friends and family.(ABC News: Scott Jewell)

There were definitely some tears earlier this week.

It dawned on me that if I were to go back to my home country to see my family in the near future, I will need to be in mandatory hotel quarantine for two weeks, and then another two weeks of hotel quarantine upon return to Australia.

That’s one month of hotel quarantine at my own expense.

While I’m thankful for text messages and video calls, I find that I don’t want to see my friends over video calls because of screen fatigue.

I keep in touch with my family every week, but there’s only so much I can tell them because I don’t want them to feel more worried than they already are.

Temi Ajayi, 52, aged care nurse, Point Cook

A woman wearing a bright floral dress stands with her hands on her hips in the doorway of her home.
Temi Ajayi is using the lockdown as a chance to read more.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

You just hope that tomorrow will be better. I appreciate people that are in my life. And that’s how I’m managing myself.

I manage myself with meditation. I pray, I’m a spiritual person. So I pray a lot. I meditate.

I read books, there are a lot of books that I’ve never read. I mean, I’ve had piles and piles that were in my office, so I was able to bring them home.

Now I’m reading them, I’m enlarging my scope, and building myself up. So in a way it’s helped me in in navigating life, everyday — take every day as it comes.

Week four: The halfway mark

Seven-day average of new cases: 117

Tash Spencer, 27, coach on JobKeeper, pregnant with first child, Newport

A young woman with long brown hair stands in a doorway with a serious expression on her face.
Tash Spencer says seeing people interstate live very differently has been hard to take.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

There is something about coming into the halfway point that has helped a little bit with the mental health.

But I’m just generally feeling flat, which is not my usual state.

The way I coped during the first lockdown — meditating a lot, doing yoga — I don’t feel those things are hitting the spot this time around.

I think one of the biggest challenges has been seeing people in different states living quite a different life.

They’re going on weekends away, seeing friends, even weddings, and it’s just bizarre.

They don’t have that experience of the physical and social isolation and not being able to experience all the normal things that we would do to keep well and be connected to each other.

Rose Lewis, Grade 6 student, Northcote

A young girl smiles as she stands by a tree.
Rose Lewis’s father has started a part-time job after being out of work for much of the lockdown.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

I don’t think my parents have coped very well with this.

Dad, for most of it, hasn’t had a job.

He did get a job though, which is good. Um, yeah. So he works two days a week.

And my mum — she’s had a job the whole time but she gets pretty stressed sometimes. And the rest of us all do.

Jadwiga Piotrowski, 81, grandmother, Altona North

A light-haired woman wearing glasses stands on her doorstep and looks into the camera.
Jadwiga Piotrowski is using technology to keep up with her grandchildren.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

I’m doing lots of things which I’ve neglected previously.

I’m spending lots of time with computer and of course SMSing more to my grandchildren.

I think people who experience lockdown will be more close to their family members, and more loyal to their friends.

They will appreciate social life and work more.

Natasha Biggins, 20, new mum and uni student, Sunshine

A woman looks at the baby boy she is holding, who is smiling at the camera.
Natasha Biggins says her son William will grow up in a world very different to the one she was born into.(ABC News: Dan Harrison)

After this is all over, I don’t think that the world is ever really going to go back to the way that it was.

And mostly, I’m worried about the fact that I don’t know what the world’s gonna be like.

And I don’t know how to prepare my son well enough to face the change well, because it’s not going to be like the world that I grew up in.

Jorge De Araujo, 43, photographer, Maidstone

A girl adjusts the face mask of her father as her mother and two brothers pose outside the front door of their home.
Jorge De Araujo, a photographer, fears his usual clients might not be there when restrictions ease.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

I hope we are coming out of our second lockdown because it’d be nice for us to get back into some sort of routine again, go back to work, kids go back to school, see their friends.

I worry that my regular clients won’t be there when the lockdown ends, I worry that I’ll have to start from scratch again.

I worry that the kids won’t be able to deal with this lockdown for much longer because they want to be out.

But those worries don’t take up too much of my time, they’re just things that I think about.

Di Henning, 71, executive coach, Ascot Vale

A woman wearing glasses and a patterned maroon scarf smiles while standing before the front door of a brick house.
Di Henning is finding it hard to watch the debate about what led to Victoria’s second wave.(ABC News: Scott Jewell)

I find it really upsetting to watch the blame game.

Scapegoating is a really fascinating psychological process. It seems to be, for some people, an automatic response.

You want to get past something by finding somebody to blame, and I just find that such a negative way of thinking about things.

What does it achieve in the end? Okay, we need to explore things that have gone wrong. What didn’t we know? What didn’t we understand? What would we do differently next time?

We missed the opportunity to learn while we’re so busy throwing mud at people or groups. It’s pointless.

Week five: We’re different now

Seven-day average of new cases: 81

Tash Spencer, 27, coach on JobKeeper, pregnant with first child, Newport

A young woman with long brown hair stands in a doorway, looking into the camera with a smile on her face.
Tash Spencer is expecting a baby in March.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

It has been really comforting to see that cases are going down and feeling that there is hopefully a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

I am a little bit unsure as to whether the next two weeks will actually mean an easing of restrictions.

But I guess one thing that has helped me have a little bit of certainty is knowing that there is this baby on the way.

We had our 12-week scan this week, which really brought some joy and excitement just to see a little human growing.

There is a certainty in the fact that — all going well — this baby will arrive in March, and we actually have a timeline to work towards.

That was just a really special moment — that wasn’t cancelled during lockdown.

Katie De Araujo, 45, yoga teacher, mother of three, Maidstone

A young girl tickles her brother, as a family of five pose on a park bench.
The De Araujo family have been exploring parts of their neighbourhood for the first time.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

We’ve only got maybe a week and a half left, something like that, so we’re quite far in.

And the most difficult thing has been not being able to get out, go for a drive in the car, go somewhere new.

Just mixing the energy up, seeing different people, visit family, visit friends, go to the beach, just being able to be in a different space. That’s the hardest thing.

So of course you know, we’ve been creative and we’ve made the most of what we do have and we’ve actually found new walks.

River walks and parks that we’ve really enjoyed within the five-kilometre distance from home, and that’s a great thing.

Natasha Biggins, 21, new mum and uni student, Sunshine

Natasha Biggins holds her baby as she sits at a table with a birthday cake on it.
Natasha couldn’t leave the house to celebrate her 21st birthday.(Supplied: Natasha Biggins)

So, yesterday I celebrated a pretty big milestone when I turned 21.

And my mum got me a key to the city, which I can’t use because we are still in stage four lockdown.

But that’s OK. I have a few thoughts that I’d like to share.

First of all, when we come out of this, I hope that there is a much bigger sense of community.

When I first started my degree, I thought I was going to end up being a criminal defence barrister or something like that.

But as this lockdown has progressed, I have unequivocally decided that I want to work within the community and try and make a difference that way.

Rose Lewis, Grade 6 student, Northcote

A young girl looks into the camera as she stands under a bridge.
Rose Lewis has enjoyed spending more time with her parents and little brother during lockdown.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

One good thing that’s come out of lockdown is being able to spend so much time with my family.

And I think I’ll really miss that when we go back to normal life whatever that may be.

But I really enjoyed spending time with them so much, and I hope that we’ll still get to spend time together when we come out of lockdown if that ever happens.

Di Henning, 71, executive coach, Ascot Vale

A woman wearing glasses and a patterned maroon scarf smiles while standing before the front door of a brick house.
Di Henning says the restrictions have given her a renewed appreciation of the beauty in nature.(ABC News: Scott Jewell)

We should never ever just take for granted the joy that you can find in the ordinary things in life.

So one of the things that I find myself doing is really enjoying the flowers that are coming out in our little garden.

And I just find that focusing on that and seeking awe and beauty in nature around us feeds into that idea as well.

What I do notice so much more now is the birds.

Sarah Goulding, 40, mental health crisis counsellor, mother of two, Surrey Hills

Sarah Goulding embraces her son, who is holding a soccer ball.
Sarah Goulding with her son Levi.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

I think this is the greatest city. One of the greatest cities in the world.

And hopefully, if anything, this has created even more understanding of people’s differences and diversities, and we’ll be much more cohesive as a society.

And we have to remain somewhat optimistic, even though we don’t feel like it.

We’re doing the best we can I think as a community, as a society, and we will get out the other side, but it’s gonna take time, patience, and sensibility — and we just have to accept that.

And the quicker we accept it, I think the quicker we will get over this.

Yeah, that’s my take on it. Thank you.

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Victorian cross-border residents can access emergency and urgent medical care at Pinnaroo and Lameroo

South Australia’s health department says cross-border community members living in Victoria will not be turned away from SA care, despite the death of an unborn baby interstate.

Concerns about cross-jurisdiction restrictions were raised a week ago when the family of a pregnant woman from New South Wales said having to access urgent treatment in Sydney, instead of the nearer city of Brisbane, may have contributed to the death of the woman’s unborn child.

For people in the Victorian town of Murrayville the closest hospital is Pinnaroo in SA, which is just 26 kilometres away.

The trip from Murrayville to Victoria’s Ouyen is 110km, while Mildura is 210km away.

Mallee Medical Practice doctor Sara Fensak said something similar would not occur in her local region.

“I would like to reassure people that medical care is always going to be available via Mallee Medical Practice and the hospitals at Pinnaroo and Lameroo.”

Patient transfers possible

Dr Fensak said her SA clinic provided a 24-hour, seven-day emergency service across the entire Mallee region, and that included those living in Victoria.

“There’s no issue with the border in an emergency situation and with the lesser lockdown situation, we’re [now] able to see people with urgent medical conditions as well,” she said.

Dr Fensak reinforced it was important people did not hesitate to call an ambulance in an emergency and that transferring cross-border patients to Adelaide was also a possibility.

“I have transferred some people from over the border to Adelaide, some of the logistics are a bit tricky, but it can be arranged, it may require masks or isolation,” she said.

Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network chief executive Wayne Champion backed the advice and explained essential traveller status allowed for emergency care.

He said there may be specific isolation requirements for people travelling with a patient, but it depended on individual circumstances.

“Staff will take appropriate precautions and infection control measures to reduce the risk of exposure,” he said. 

“All patients presenting to hospital requiring emergency care will continue to be assessed and treated by nursing staff and will be transferred to the most appropriate hospital via SA Ambulance Service or MedSTAR if required.”

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NT police say text warning Alice Springs residents of ‘social unrest’ didn’t come from them

Northern Territory police have said they never issued advice for members of the public to stay out of the Alice Springs CBD, despite hundreds of residents receiving text message warnings attributed to law enforcement.

The warnings instructed parents and carers to avoid the CBD because of “social unrest”.

Similar messages were broadcast on social media, where parents expressed deep concern for the wellbeing of their families.

But NT Police Southern Command Acting Commander Craig Laidler said NT police never issued the warning.

“That directive hasn’t been made — if that directive was made it would have come from me,” he said.

Commander Laidler said there had been a dispute in the town centre earlier in the day, but that it had been quickly dealt with and there was no threat to the public.

“There is no reason for us to be telling schools to avoid the centre of town,” he said.

Texts were sent to parents advising them to avoid the centre of town.(Supplied)

Raid response police dealt with dispute

Commander Laidler said that at about lunchtime there had been a dispute between two groups in the centre of town who were known to each other.

“We’ve dealt with this with a rapid police response,” he said.

“We’ve had a number of preparations for this week with the increase of people in town, so we did have sufficient police resources on standby, and that’s what’s enabled us to give this disturbance a very rapid response.”

He said that police had seized a weapon and that three people had been taken into custody.

A text from a school advising the recipients to avoid the Alice Springs CBD.
Police say they didn’t issue the texts.(Supplied)

Alice Springs Town Council asked to shut event

Police said that while they had not issued the alert, they had contacted the Alice Springs Town Council and instructed it to shut down a wellness event on the council lawns.

“Because there was an event on the lawns and some people from this incident had moved in that direction, we did ask for it to be shut down for their safety,” Commander Laidler said.

The council confirmed it had shut down the event and decided to close the library for the rest of the day as a precautionary measure.

The ABC understands that staff at the civic centre and library were also instructed via text message not to leave the building for their safety.

The Department of Education said it contacted Alice Springs school principals after receiving an alert from a “third party” regarding “the need for vigilance in the Alice Springs CBD”.

A spokesperson for the department says that it simultaneously sought advice from NT Police and later confirmed that there was no threat to people’s safety.

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Lesly Figueroa and Rebecca Zaragoza work on issues to help southern California’s most at-risk residents.

Rebecca Zaragoza and Lesly Figueroa represent the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability in California’s Coachella Valley. 

The Fresno-based group advocates at the local, state, regional and national level on overlapping issues of land use, transportation, climate change, safe drinking water, housing, environmental justice and government accountability. They partner with residents and other local organizations to:

  • Help low-income and communities of color.
  • Hold decision makers accountable.
  • Ensure that rural areas are included in decisions that affect them.

As part of USA Today Network’s Leaders of Change project, Zaragoza, 25, and Figueroa, 24, jointly answered our written questions about their work and what changes they hope to see in the future. Some answers may have been edited for length and clarity:

Lesly Figueroa, right, informs residents of a mobile home park about an upcoming community meeting while working for the Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability, June 4, 2019.
Jay Calderon/ The Desert Sun

To co-power community leaders and organizational partners to fundamentally transform the culture in which decision making occurs. Co-powerment is the acknowledgment of equal power held by residents, communities, partners, decision makers and other stakeholders and the ability to work together to leverage expertise to develop shared solutions.

One of the issues that is important in the community of Oasis (Calif.) is ensuring new housing opportunities and access to clean drinking water for the residents at the Oasis Mobile Home Park. There are multiple jurisdictional issues within this mobile home park and lack of regulatory processes that create layers of barriers to creating a  comprehensive solution. Due to historical underinvestment in housing and water/sewer infrastructure in rural communities, options to safe and affordable housing are limited and the last resort for housing is often this mobile home park where living conditions are poor, with ongoing issues with the drinking water, wastewater, trash collection, wild dogs, electricity outages, and flooding. During the pandemic, these issues have worsened.

Oasis Mobile Home Park was cited by the Environmental Protection Agency as having dangerous levels of arsenic in the water provided to the residents of the park.

Oasis Mobile Home Park was cited by the Environmental Protection Agency as having dangerous levels of arsenic in the water provided to the residents of the park.
Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun

Poor air quality has been an ongoing issue in the eastern Coachella Valley for decades.  Given that the four unincorporated communities we work with (Thermal, Oasis, Mecca, and North Shore) have significant pollution sources, have less infrastructure, and are underinvested, residents have consistently organized for better land use practices and emissions reductions for better air quality. Some of this advocacy has greatly organized around the Salton Sea and AB 617: Community Air Protection Program. Residents have been able to elevate their concerns to the regional and statewide levels, demanding …improved air quality. We knew these problems existed before and understood some of the major health impacts that poor air quality was causing to the public, and with COVID-19, residents with already damaged immune systems grew more concerned with how devastating this could be to the eastern Coachella Valley. The historic neglect and poor land use practices not just locally, but through the entire South Coast air basin continue to worsen our local air quality. 

To build solidarity. Communities are often made to feel isolated from one another, which hurts their advocacy and overall effort to make their communities more resilient. Everyday we try to find ways to collaborate with different stakeholders, and although this can be difficult, it’s good to take different approaches to the problems we are trying to solve. This is the type of solidarity that we need to work towards and foster in order to create better systems of collaboration and equity in the region.

Residents should be able to rely on and support one another and not made to feel like they’re in a competition for resources that we all should already have. If we can shift from individualism to sustainable community power, this will dramatically change the work we do for the better and have stronger and long-lasting impacts in working towards a better future. 

Allies can be anybody who wants a better world for themselves and others and ally-ship can look differently for everyone. It’s important to act in a way that truly supports residents and their priorities. It’s equally important to also ask residents who are being directly impacted what they want that support to look like so it’s not tokenizing or condescending. We are more powerful when we do work together and recognize the class struggle that exists in our society.  Getting involved in the work can also mean attending community meetings, sharing social media messages, volunteering your skills to support current campaigns and projects residents are working on, and become a true partner with residents and the organizations that do this work.

This also means fundraising and securing resources to continue this work and create programs to compensate residents for their time and new learning opportunities. Any work and support that comes from the heart and is done meaningfully with respect and dignity to the community that is leading the work, is welcomed and appreciated. 

We are always looking for support from the community and allies to help us reach more people. Their work can go a long way and help spread important information, share resources, conduct community meetings, do phone calls; all of these organizing tools that help us connect with residents and others to drive advocacy. 

Rebecca Zaragoza works for the Leadership Council for Justice and Acountability, June 4, 2019.

Rebecca Zaragoza works for the Leadership Council for Justice and Acountability, June 4, 2019.
Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun

Rebecca: I am inspired by my family and the communities I now work with. I grew up in Thermal (Calif.) and after 25 years, not much has changed. This region continues to be left behind, and it’s hard to deny that it’s because of who we are: a low income community and community of color. But we’re actually much more than these two characteristics or how the world sees us. I’ve come to meet and build relationships with residents of different backgrounds and identities, and reconnect with people I grew up with. Their drive for improving their community is what encourages me to keep going. I’ve always wanted to do something meaningful with my life and thanks to the guidance and support from my parents and three brothers, I’m now in a position to do so.

Lesly: Community and family. This work is not easy and change is slow. Sometimes you cannot directly see the fruits of your labor and the work of the community. But, the reality is that there is change happening and we are slowly changing a system that was created to not validate or elevate the issues of low-income and communities of color. Through the community organizing work we do, it inspires to continue doing this work because I get to interact with residents directly and build a relationship that is meaningful. If I am able to help connect someone with a resource, talk to them over the phone with any issue they have, and organize the community for a better future then I know I am doing what I love to do. I am the type of person that is always thinking creatively and willing to speak up. It takes a lot of courage but this work always reminds me that we can build a better world with one change at a time and I am so honored to be a part of it. 

We know how much time it will take to see something truly transformational. But we hope that our work with residents continues. What often happens is that we get sent back to the starting point, either due to a change in government, organizations, politics, or other reasons; we end up back at step one.

We can help change this if we start to truly listen and pay attention to who the community is and what they’re advocating for. We want to see elected officials engaging with residents in a more meaningful way and respecting the knowledge and leadership that they have to offer. We want to see the projects that residents in Thermal, Oasis, Mecca, and North Shore helped design for active transportation infrastructure, paving, community centers, parks, and others that would truly help create a more resilient and sustainable community for the people that live here.

We hope that in the next 5 years, residents will be able to see their advocacy, sacrifice and planning efforts start to be implemented.  

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City of Newcastle’s flash flood alert service provides early warning to residents – 16 News

City of Newcastle is encouraging residents to register for its free flash flood alert service after July brought record-breaking rainfall and severe East Coast Lows.

July’s wet weather saw residents flock to the service to receive up-to-the-minute information, with a 41% increase in subscriptions between 25 July – the day before an East Coast Low dumped 107.6mm of rain at Nobbys weather station in three days – and mid-August. Subscriptions spiked from 3,337 to 4,711 across the eight zones.

The late July weather event triggered moderate flood warnings to be issued across four zones, encompassing suburbs such as Wickham, Hamilton, New Lambton, Jesmond and Stockton. Around 2,000 emails and text messages were sent to residents, as well as 474 pre-recorded messages to landlines.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was the largest-scale alert distribution since the service was successfully trialled in Wallsend in 2017 and rolled out across the LGA in 2018.

“Due to our city’s topography, heavy rainfall can cause flash flooding in low-lying areas extremely quickly,” the Lord Mayor said.

“This is why our flash flood alert service is an important tool to help residents avoid hazardous areas and remind them to never walk or drive through fast-moving and unpredictable floodwaters, potentially preventing serious injury or worse.

“Anyone can register for free, but those who would most benefit include those who live, work, visit or own a business in Newcastle.”

The eight zones covered by the flash flood alert service are:

  • Wallsend and Elermore Vale vicinity
  • Jesmond, Birmingham Gardens and Callaghan
  • Kotara and New Lambton vicinity
  • Lambton, Hamilton, Islington, Broadmeadow and Mayfield
  • Merewether, Junction, Cooks Hill and Newcastle West
  • Carrington, Stockton, Maryville and Wickham
  • Beresfield, Tarro, Hexham and Sandgate
  • Stockton, Kooragang, Carrington and Wickham

You can register to receive alerts for multiple zones. Alerts are sent by SMS, email or recorded voice message to landline, and there are three levels: minor, moderate and major flood warning.

The alerts are activated through the Early Warning Network (EWN), which continuously monitors local rainfall gauges and records intensity and duration.

For more information, including how to register, visit newcastle.nsw.gov.au/floodalert

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Kenosha residents say the way police handled the 2 shootings this week tell you all you need to know about whether the city is racist

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian speaks to a resident about what his office is doing to combat racism after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. 

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Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian speaks to a resident about what his office is doing to combat racism after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

  • Two shootings thrust Kenosha, Wisconsin into the national reckoning over racism and police brutality this week.

  • On Sunday, a white police officer identified as Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back.

  • During demonstrations over the incident in the city on Tuesday, a white 17-year-old identified as Kyle Rittenhouse shot three protesters, killing two.

  • Residents told Insider the differences in how law enforcement handled the two incidents reveal the racial issues the city has had for decades.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

KENOSHA, Wisconsin — Several Kenosha residents are pointing to the glaring difference in how local law enforcement handled two shooting incidents this week as examples of the systemic racism they say has long plagued this small Wisconsin city.

The first involved a police officer shooting an unarmed Black man seven times, and the other incident involved an armed white teen who was able to go home after fatally shooting two people.

“If he were Black or brown, they would’ve opened fire with all they had,” Rev. Monica Cummings told Insider. An assistant minister at Bradford Community Church Unitarian Universalist, Cummings has lived in Kenosha since 2008.

Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by a white Kenosha police officer — identified as Rusten Sheskey — on Sunday as he tried to enter his vehicle while his three young sons watched from inside. The shooting left Blake with a severed spinal chord and paralyzed from the waist down.

During protests over Blake’s shooting on Tuesday night, graphic videos circulating on social media showed a gunman running down a Kenosha street with an AR-15 as someone yells that he shot someone. He trips and is seen opening fire as several people approach him. After he gets up, he’s seen carrying his gun and walking toward law enforcement vehicles. They didn’t arrest him.

On Wednesday, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinois resident, was taken into custody and charged with two-counts of homicide and one count of attempted homicide in connection to the shooting of three people — two of whom have died.

“Unarmed Black man gets shot seven times in the back. A white guy with a long gun gets to shoot people and then go home and sleep in his bed and then get arrested the next day,” Cummings told Insider.

Lifelong Kenosha resident Porche Bennett, 31. 

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Lifelong Kenosha resident Porche Bennett, 31.

Lifelong Kenosha resident Porche Bennett, 31, has been leading peaceful protests all week. Bennett, who is Black, said she’s happy that Rittenhouse has been apprehended but doesn’t like that it didn’t happen immediately.

“They didn’t arrest him right then and there like they should have. But if it had been one of us, we actually would’ve got shot down with our weapon on us. Even though this is an open-carry state, we would’ve got shot down, arrested right then and there,” Bennett told Insider Wednesday evening as a crowd of protesters began to disperse at a park near the Kenosha County Courthouse.

Neither the Kenosha Police Department and the Kenosha County Sheriff responded to Insider’s requests for comment on this story.

The mayor of Kenosha says ‘there’s an issue of racism and that’s systemic’ — and many residents agree

When Insider asked Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian on Thursday whether the city has an issue with racial discrimination, he said, “If you look at all communities, there’s an issue of racism and that’s systemic, and that’s part of the problem that we’ve been dealing with.”

The mayor said the city has been working with local religious and community leaders for at least two months about “how they were going to deal with racism” and other issues Kenosha’s facing.

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian speaks at the Rev. Jesse Jackson press conference with the NAACP on August 27, 2020. 

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Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian speaks at the Rev. Jesse Jackson press conference with the NAACP on August 27, 2020.

“I think when you look at it from a historical basis, there’s always been different levels of racism in any community that you go to,” Antaramian said, adding that his office is working with the Department of Justice on how to handle things moving forward.

Though Monique Webb-Papia, 45, no longer lives in Kenosha, her family members do, including her mother, who lives across the street from Blake. Webb-Papia said she is “happy” that Kenosha’s racial issues are being brought to light.

Webb-Papia told Insider that she and her brothers experienced racial discrimination while in high school, and white guys shouting the N-word once chased her down the street when she worked as a hospital volunteer.

“The way most white people treat Black people and people of color in Kenosha has never been good,” she said. “There’s a mentality with the white people in Kenosha where it seems that we’re never going to be equal.”

A 31-year-old Kenosha native of Mexican heritage, who preferred to go by his nickname Rebel, told Insider that “it’s a common thing” for him or any other person of color to be stopped by the police while walking down the street.

“This is Kenosha, and it is very obvious to us here that there is that latent racism,” Rebel said.

Another Kenosha resident, Brian Little, 34, echoed Rebel’s sentiments, saying the racism here has “become very normalized over the years.”

Left: Kenosha resident Rebel told Insider “it’s a common thing” for him or any other person of color to be stopped by the police while walking down the street. Right: Kenosha resident Brian Little told Insider racism in Kenosha has “become very normalized over the years.” 

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Left: Kenosha resident Rebel told Insider “it’s a common thing” for him or any other person of color to be stopped by the police while walking down the street. Right: Kenosha resident Brian Little told Insider racism in Kenosha has “become very normalized over the years.”

Though most residents agree that Kenosha is segregated along racial lines, pockets of it, like Blake’s neighborhood, are racially diverse with Black, white, and Latino residents. Kenosha’s population is about 100,000, with whites comprising nearly 80%, Blacks 11.5%, and Latinos 17.5%, according to the US Census.

Residents say many white people ‘say nothing. They just ignore it.’

While some residents, including its mayor, say that Kenosha has a problem with racism, others don’t think so.

Insider spoke with several middle-aged, white Kenosha residents who didn’t think their community had issues with racism but didn’t want to share their thoughts on the record.

“The attitudes, the silence — the complicit silence — of the people who say they are my friends and love me that I have known for 20 years is unbelievable to me. They say nothing. They just ignore it,” Webb-Papia said.

Comparing the dismissive attitudes toward racism’s presence to an ostrich with its head in the sand, Scott Alberts, 46, said it didn’t hit home for some people that Kenosha has an issue with racism until the aftermath of the Blake shooting.

“Maybe they’re not doing it on purpose, but they’re also not purposely educating themselves,” Alberts, who is white, told Insider.

His wife, Amanda, 48, said she thinks there are “racial tensions and attitudes” but is hopeful things can change.

“I think it’s not necessarily intentional but generational and just the way it’s always been,” she said.

The Kenosha county sheriff has come under fire for past comments

Also fanning the flames is a January 2018 video of Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth saying “some people aren’t worth saving” and other controversial remarks after a shoplifting case involving five Black people has resurfaced this week, with some calling his statements a dog whistle for racists.

In the video, Beth said he was “tired of being politically correct,” saying, “we need to build warehouses to put these people into it and lock them away for the rest of their lives.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. played audio from the video during a Thursday morning press conference in Kenosha with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the NAACP, and other civil rights leaders.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Beth apologized a few days later for his heated comments after facing backlash.

Alderman Anthony Kennedy, who represents Kenosha’s 10th district, said he called Beth out on his comments previously.

“I think he’s misguided and ignorant but I don’t think he’s a racist,” said Kennedy, who is Black.

Despite the apology, Webb-Papia said she thinks Beth’s comments are indicative of the racial bias and believes the sheriff would’ve responded differently had the offenders been white.

“There wouldn’t have been a press conference. You wouldn’t have heard about it. The fact that he knew they were Black and spoke about them like they were beasts and animals speaks volumes of how police and deputies treated Black people in Kenosha for years,” she said.

Friday morning, the Wisconsin Department of Justice identified Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek as the two officers who were there when Sheskey shot Blake. They’ve been put on administrative leave along with Sheskey.

None of the officers have been charged.

Read the original article on Insider

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Hong Kong residents arrested on way to claim asylum in Taiwan

Chinese authorities have arrested at least 10 people after intercepting a boat off the coast of the southern province of Guangdong, the provincial Coast Guard Bureau says.

Hong Kong media, citing unidentified sources, said 12 people from the former British colony were arrested while sailing to Taiwan where they planned to apply for political asylum.

It was not clear what law they would be charged with violating but, if confirmed, it would be a rare instance of Chinese authorities arresting people from Hong Kong trying to leave the city.

The Guangdong Coast Guard said on its social media platform late on Wednesday the people on the boat were arrested on August 23.

Two of the detained were surnamed Li and Tang, it said. It did not provide further details and could not be reached for comment.

Hong Kong media identified one of those on the vessel as Andy Li, who media said was recently arrested under a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing on its freest city on June 30.

Chris Tang, the Chinese-ruled city’s police chief, said at a press conference he had not received any information from mainland authorities regarding the arrests.

The security legislation, opposed by many in Hong Kong, punishes what Beijing broadly defines as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

Taiwan has proved a popular destination for Hong Kong people aiming to leave their city as Beijing tightens its grip, with the self-ruled island’s President Tsai Ing-wen pledging to help those who arrive.


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North Dakota’s GOP governor grew emotional discussing the partisan divide over face masks, asking residents to ‘dial up your empathy’

    • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, appeared to hold back tears when urging his citizens to show “empathy” and wear a face covering when in public.
    • “If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,” he said.
    • President Trump has repeatedly been photographed in public settings without a mask and has said he does not want the media to see him wearing one.
    • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday got emotional when urging his residents to wear a face mask and avoid turning the act into a political battle.

“I would really love to see in North Dakota that we could just skip this thing that other parts of the nation are going through where they’re creating a divide – either it’s ideological or political or something – around mask versus no mask,” Burgum, a Republican, said at a press conference Friday.

Burgum called the political debate over whether to wear a facial covering in public a “senseless dividing line,” and he said he was asking his citizens “to try to dial up [their] empathy and understanding.”

Masks are not presently required in North Dakota. There has been heated debate as all 50 states have begun to relax stay-at-home orders over whether facial coverings – and particularly their requirement in some areas – are necessary particularly among people who believe the COVID-19 pandemic is exaggerated or believe mandated masks are a violation of civil liberties, as The Associated Press reported.

During a Friday visit to a Ford manufacturing facility in Michigan, the president was photographed without a mask, though he said he wore one during a tour of the facility but took it off because he did not want the media to see him wearing it.Trump similarly said he wore a mask “backstage” during a tour of a Honeywell factory on May 6. Vice President Mike Pence was also photographed without a mask when he visited the Mayo Clinic at the end of April.

The president reportedly fears wearing a face mask will harm his chances at reelection and make him look ridiculous.

It hasn’t just been White House leaders stroking divisions surrounding the facial coverings. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson earlier this month defended his decision to go mask-free when visiting a thrift store for veterans in Joplin, Missouri. He said he didn’t believe it was the “government’s place” to determine whether residents should wear a face mask in public and it was up to the individual.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said last month that Ohioans would be required to wear face masks in reopened businesses, though – after protest – he said it was just a recommendation and that his mandate went “too far.” The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in April that facial coverings be worn in public, though US leaders had earlier said masks should only be worn by medical professionals or people who test positive for COVID-19.

“If someone is wearing a mask they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support. They might be doing it because they have got a 5-year-old child who’s going through cancer treatments,” Burgum said, as his voice began to shake and he took a brief pause.

“They might have vulnerable adults who currently have COVID and are fighting,” he added. “So again I would love to see our state as part of being ‘North Dakota Smart‘ also be North Dakota kind, North Dakota empathetic.”

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