Grind for November 17th, 2018
“I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.”
– Walt Whitman
Trump plans visit to California following deadly wildfire
US National Guard troops are searching for bodies after a fast-moving wildfire destroyed nearly 8,700 homes in the city of Paradise, CA (located 175 miles north of San Francisco).
The disaster coincided with fires in Southern California, which destroyed over 500 buildings and displaced 200,00 people.
At least 58 people have been confirmed dead and 130 are missing.
Most of those missing are over the age of 65, and authorities worry that elderly residents were left behind in the rush to flee the flames.
The local police department is having a difficult time responding to the tragedy. Cops are working with borrowed equipment and the station is running on a generator. Thirteen of the department’s 30 officers lost their homes in the fire.
Meanwhile, residents without homes are living in cars, tents, and shelters.
Authorities reported Thursday that 40% of the fire had been contained.
That leaves 140,000 acres still burning, with strong winds and dry foliage encouraging its spread.
President Trump has repeatedly blamed the fires on mismanagement and threatened to withdraw federal aid if the situation remains out of control.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” tweeted Trump last weekend.
Scientists largely agree the fires are caused by prolonged drought related to climate change.
US prepares to prosecute Julian Assange
The Justice Department is optimistic that it will finally be able to get WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange into a US courtroom.
Assange, who has been hiding out at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, could be charged under the Espionage Act in relation to the sharing of national defense-related materials via WikiLeaks.
Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, said he was unaware that a prosecution was in the works: “We have heard nothing from authorities suggesting that a criminal case against Mr. Assange is imminent…prosecuting someone for publishing truthful information would set a terrible and dangerous precedent.”
Earlier this month, the Ecuadorean government said it had not received an extradition request for Assange.
Assange’s situation garnered massive public support until 2016, when the computer programmer was blamed for the release of thousands of hacked DNC emails.
Assange’s relationship with Ecuador has also deteriorated following the election of President Lenin Moreno in Feb. 2017, who described Assange as a “stone in our shoe.”
Moreno said Assange’s ongoing residence at the embassy is unsustainable, but promised not to send him to any country with the death penalty.
Assange sued Ecuador in October after the embassy revoked his Internet access and told him he was responsible for cleaning his own bathroom.
The claims were dismissed, and Assange said he expected to be kicked out of the embassy soon.
If Assange leaves the embassy he will be arrested by British authorities, who have an outstanding warrant related to a sexual assault case.
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… The mother of the boy Michael Jackson is accused of abusing is named ‘Janet Jackson’.