California Mudslides Claim 20 Lives, Destroy Homes—
Mudslides swept through Santa Barbara County, Calif. the morning of Jan.9, killing 20 people in the town of Montecito. Residents had little to no warning before the mudslides swept through the area– many residents were unable to flee. Santa Barbara County was left vulnerable to mudslides after the extensive Thomas fire that began in December, which burned over 280,000 acres in Santa Barbara and neighboring Ventura county. Recent heavy rains met the already damaged terrain and put the slides in motion. Nearly 500 homes throughout the area were damaged by the mudslides and 65 were destroyed. Most areas in Santa Barbara are open but Montecito is struggling with businesses closed due to extensive damage. Rescuers are searching for three missing people.
Chelsea Manning Runs for Maryland Senate—
Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning is seeking election into the Maryland Senate as a Democrat. Manning, previously known as Bradley, was convicted of giving classified government documents and photos to WikiLeaks in 2013, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. She spent four years in a military prison and then was released in May 2017 when former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence. Manning is both revered and criticized for her role in leaking documents concerning military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning has been vocal on Twitter, advocating for transgender rights and criticizing police brutality. She confirmed the canidacy on Twitter account and made a strong statement: “We don’t need more or better leaders, we need someone willing to fight.”
North Korea to Attend 2018 Winter Olympics—
North Korean negotiators have accepted a South Korean request to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang next month. The decision has sparked some optimism among rising tensions surrounding the North’s missile tests, though others worry that the agreement is only for the North to use as propaganda. This is the first time in eight years that North Korea will be participating in the Winter Olympics, although the country has previously attended all of the Summer Olympics, except for boycotts of the years of 1984 and 1988. In 1987 North Korean agents placed a bomb on a Korean Air flight, killing all 115 people aboard the plane. South Korea called the attack an attempt to sabotage the 1988 Olympics, which were held in Seoul. The most recent negotiations are the first time South and North Korea had spoken since December 2015.
Soccer Stadiums in Saudi Arabia to allow Women In—
Women in Saudi Arabia will now be permitted to attend soccer games in three major cities around the country. Public stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam will allow unaccompanied adult women to view the games, though they must sit in sections of the stadium that are reserved for women and families. Jeddah was the first city to host female spectators for their game on Jan. 12, with women cheering from the stands for the first time. The country’s guardianship system means that women have limits on what they can do without a man’s permission. Such restrictions include the ability to apply for a passport, open a bank account and leave prison. Saudi women are also required to wear long,loose robes in public places. hey have been permitted to vote since 2015 and can attend university. This move is a part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to implement social reform for women; The country also lifted a ban on women driving in September 2017.
President Trump Takes Swipe at Immigrants From Haiti, El Salvador—
In an immigration talk Jan. 11, President Donald Trump lamented immigration from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa, calling them “shithole” countries and noting that he would prefer people from countries like Norway instead. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin first reported the comment, with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham later confirming. Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, who were also at the meeting, released a statement saying they did not recall the comment, but did not deny that the President suggested he preferred immigrants from certain countries. President Trump has previously sparked outrage for similar comments, such as his remarks calling people coming from Mexico “rapists.” He has since denied this recent comment, tweeting “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.” Trump added that he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.” Various African countries have summoned US diplomats to meet, and South Africa has issued a diplomatic protest in response to the President’s comments.
H&M Closes Stores in South Africa Amid Protests—
An H&M clothing ad featuring a black child wearing a sweatshirt that read ‘Coolest monkey in the jungle’ has prompted harsh criticism for its implications from the word ‘monkey’,which is commonly used as a racial slur towards black people. Other items from the clothing line referencing other animals were modeled by white children. The ad has since been deleted from the website. Protesters took to store fronts in South Africa, toppling over racks of clothes and security sensors. All stores in South Africa have now been temporarily closed. Musicians including The Weeknd and G-Eazy have cut ties with the company, with The Weeknd tweeting that he was ‘shocked’ and ‘embarrassed.’ The company issued a statement apologizing to anyone offended, and promising to investigate how the mistake could be avoided in the future. Another statement from H&M added, “We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable.”
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