Xi in Seattle: ‘Without reform’ no progress for business in China Published: Sep 23, 2015 at 5:31 PM PDTChinese President Xi Jinping speaks at a U.S.-China business roundtable, comprised of U.S. and Chinese CEOs, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, Pool)
A meeting Tuesday with governors from five U.S. states and local Chinese officials produced a deal to work on clean energy.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU leaders pledged at least 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for Syrian refugees in the Middle East and closer cooperation to stem migrant flows into Europe at a summit described as less tense than feared after weeks of feuding.Chairman Donald Tusk said the meeting, which ended early on Thursday after seven hours of talks in Brussels, was „really excellent, for sure much better than we expected”.He heard „very substantial and energetic” exchanges between the Austrian and Hungarian leaders, whose common border was among those disrupted by chaotic crowds of migrants this summer, but not the mutual recrimination that has threatened to tear apart the bloc’s cherished passport-free Schengen zone.”Today’s meeting and this atmosphere are a very positive sign,” said European Council President Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland. „It’s quite a symbolic moment for me as it’s clear we have stopped this risky blame game.”German Chancellor Angela Merkel, criticized by some eastern neighbors for what they saw as actions that have fueled the influx of people trying to reach Germany, voiced satisfaction:German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves the EU council headquarters at the end of a European Union le …”We know that the problem is not solved with the decision taken. But we have taken one of many necessary steps. I got the feeling that we want to tackle this task together.”Held at short notice after governments fell out badly over a scheme to share out responsibilities for asylum-seekers around the EU, the summit carried political rather than legal weight. A joint statement read: „We can only manage this challenge by working together in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility.”RAPID ACTIONSAmong short-term actions before the next regular summit in mid-October, the EU would offer at least 1 billion euros more to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, its World Food Programme and other agencies and increase funding for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries — part of a broad push to ease factors driving Syrians to risk sailing to Europe.”It is close to the scene of the tragedy that the refugees must be kept, welcomed, supported,” said French President Francois Hollande, renewing a call for global cooperation by wealthy powers to take in some of the most needy cases.France’s President Francois Hollande gives a news conference after an European Union leaders ext …As part of efforts to win cooperation from Turkey, locked in a long love-hate relationship with Europe and host to some 2 million Syrian refugees, Tusk and EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker will host President Tayyip Erdogan on Oct. 5.The summit set a November deadline for Greece and Italy to have EU-staffed „hotspots” in place to register and fingerprint new arrivals and start a process of relocating Syrians and others likely to win refugee status to other EU states and deporting those regarded as unwanted economic migrants.That is a demand of Germany and France but also of ex-communist states like Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia which fought against being obliged to take a share of asylum-seekers but were over-ruled in a rare vote on such a sensitive issue at a ministerial meeting on Tuesday.The accords may do little to ease the immediate chaos and tension which has flared, for example between old Yugoslav foes Croatia and Serbia, or to slow the rafts reaching Greek islands from Turkey.”The measures we have agreed today will not end the crisis,” Tusk said. „But they are all necessary steps in the right direction … Tonight we have a common understanding that we cannot continue like we did before. Without changing the current paradigm the Schengen area will only exist in theory.”Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban answers reporters’ questions at the end of a European Unio …ITALY SATISFIEDEstablishing a principle of „relocating” some asylum-seekers has been a key demand of Italy in particular, which wants to end a rule that states they should remain in the first EU state they enter. Northern countries accuse Italy and Greece of undermining the Schengen area by simply letting migrants move on unchecked.Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said a package of EU-run relocations and deportations and EU-funded frontier forces meant Rome’s partners had finally accepted demands it has been making for years to spread the load of migrant arrivals by sea.Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave a robust defense of the razor-wire fencing he has erected to keep out migrants; he insisted he was only following EU rules and said that if Greece could not defend its borders, Athens should ask for help.On a visit to Germany earlier in the day, Orban accused Berlin of „moral imperialism” for encouraging Syrian refugees to try and reach the German frontier. But in Brussels he said he would not criticize Germany whom he praised as a valued partner.French President Francois Hollande (L), European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker (C) and Ge …Orban’s Slovak ally, Prime Minister Robert Fico, said he would challenge in EU courts the imposition of quotas on states for taking in 120,000 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece.”We have been refusing this nonsense from the beginning, and as a sovereign country we have the right to sue,” Fico said.Collectively, national leaders were chided by the executive European Commission when it named 19 countries for breaches of EU asylum laws. The Commission, among proposals adopted at its weekly meeting on Wednesday, also called on them to reverse cuts in their funding for the World Food Programme.Overall, Juncker said, the EU had doubled the funds targeted to deal with migration to 9.5 billion euros.(Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek, Robin Emmott, Francesco Guarascio, Andreas Rinke, Jean-Baptiste Vey and Tom Koerkemeier; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Tom Heneghan/Mark Heinrich)
Hungary PM rejects Merkel’s ‘moral imperialism’ in refugee crisis 13 hours agoHungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban says his country has a „democratic right” to a different approach on the migrant crisis (AFP Photo/Thierry Charlier)Bad Staffelstein (Germany) (AFP) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday rejected what he called German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s „moral imperialism” in Europe’s migrant crisis.Related Stories
When asked what he expected from Merkel while Europe grapples with an influx of asylum-seekers, the hardline leader grinned: „I have a long list.”Orban accused Merkel of trying to impose her vision of an open EU on the rest of the bloc.”The most important thing is that there should be no moral imperialism,” he said during a visit to the southern German state of Bavaria.Orban, speaking ahead of an EU summit in Brussels later Wednesday, said his country had a „democratic right” to a different approach.The summit takes place amid a growing east-west split within the bloc after ministers forced through a controversial deal Tuesday to share out 120,000 refugees.”I don’t doubt Germany’s right to define its moral obligations for itself. They can decide if they accept every refugee or not… (but) that should only be compulsory for them,” Orban said.”We are Hungarians however, we cannot think with German minds. Hungary should have the right to control the impact of a mass migration,” he said.”The Hungarian people don’t want this, we ask that the wishes of Hungarians be respected.”Orban revived recent proposals in what he called a six-point plan to resolve the crisis.They included persuading Greece, one of the EU countries on the front lines of the migrant influx, to hand over control of its borders to EU countries willing to help police them, as well as separating asylum-seekers from „economic migrants” before they reach the passport-free Schengen zone.Orban said he would also press fellow EU leaders to agree on a common list of safe countries of origin to which migrants can be returned, and to pitch in one percent of their EU income and their EU contributions to an emergency fund.He urged the bloc to work closely with key non-EU countries playing a key role in the crisis such as Russia and Turkey, and the creation of a global system of migrant „contingents” for countries to take in.Overriding opposition from eastern European states, including Hungary, interior ministers approved plans Tuesday that require all to take their share of the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have overwhelmed states such as Greece and Italy.The deal was widely seen as a victory for Berlin in the German media, just as Germany expects up to one million asylum-seekers this year and has been clamouring for „fair” distribution of migrants throughout the bloc.In response to the influx, Hungary has closed its border with Serbia and introduced draconian laws to punish those crossing into the country illegally.Orban said Wednesday that he would only consider voluntary measures to accept asylum-seekers.”Quotas and contingents are two different things. We reject the former, but are ready to discuss the latter,” he said.Orban was invited to Germany by one of the most vocal critics of Merkel’s migrant policies within her conservative bloc, Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer.
Pope makes California missionary a saint 4 hours ago Yahoo News Video Pope Francis delivers Mass of Canonization of Junipero SerraNews Pope Francis delivers Mass of Canonization of Junipero SerraWashington (AFP) – Pope Francis on Wednesday elevated to sainthood a Franciscan friar who brought Christianity to California but left a controversial legacy among Native Americans whose culture was brutally suppressed in the process.Related Stories
Celebrating his first mass on US soil, Francis canonized Junipero Serra before a sea of white-robed clergy gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.Francis praised the 18th-century missionary as „the embodiment of ‘a Church which goes forth,’ a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God,” according to a translation of his homily released by the Vatican.In 1769, the Spanish-born theologian founded in San Diego the first of a network of missions that would stretch all the way to San Francisco, giving the Roman Catholic Church a firm foothold in what was then called New Spain.Serra died in 1784 at the age of 70 at Carmel, the headquarters of his Alta California missions, where he remains interred under the chapel floor.He was beatified — the first step towards sainthood — by Pope John Paul II in September 1988.Pope Francis delivers Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Wa …The Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez has called his canonization a „gift to California and the Americas.”But the missionary is seen by some Native Americans as having contributed to the death of tens of thousands of their forebears, through illness, brutality or malnutrition.”We strongly oppose naming the murderer of our people and culture a saint,” Toypurina Carac, spokesman for the Kizh Gabrieleno nation in greater Los Angeles, told AFP when the pope’s intention was first announced.Pope John Paul II extended a historic apology to Native Americans in 1992 for the harm inflicted upon them by the Catholic Church, and Francis himself has made strong moves towards reconciliation.While in Bolivia in July the Argentine pope also sought forgiveness for the „many, very serious crimes committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God.”Pope Francis presides over a Canonization Mass for Friar Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the Natio …During Wednesday’s mass the pope used his historic first visit to the United States to acknowledge once more the damage done to indigenous Americans in centuries past.But he presented Serra as a figure who shielded them from harm.”Junipero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it,” the pope said. „Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us.”More than 10,000 people signed an online petition urging Francis not to canonize Serra.The Church’s 18th-century outposts along what is today the US West Coast have been described as „death camps” where, according to the author Elias Castillo, 62,000 Indians perished out of a native population of 300,000.”We are very surprised that a modern, progressive pope like Francis would follow through on this, without doing his homework on the history of Serra and his true legacy,” Carac told AFP.
Why Kate Middleton Is Avoiding Dresses for Princess Charlotte Until She’s 1Elise Solé Senior Writer Elise Sole September 23, 2015
Photo: Getty Images She’s only 4-and-a-half months old, but Princess Charlotte, the daughter of Kate Middleton and Prince William, has big fashion shoes to fill. Yet there’s one key piece missing from her stylish wardrobe: dresses. STORY:Kate Middleton Ends 4-Month Maternity Leave Rachel Riley, Kate Middleton’s favorite children’s designer, told Peoplethat the little princess won’t wear dresses until she turns a year old on May 2, 2016. “Because they’re a traditional family, I’m sure that she’ll wear baby suits for the first year, and then only when she’s walking will she then move into dresses,” Riley told the magazine, adding, „Even in terms of separates, I don’t think she’ll be wearing separates until much later.”STORY: After Meeting the Queen, Little Girl Gets (Accidentally) SlappedIt’s true that the only dress Princess Charlotte has been photographed wearing is a christening gown; when she was baptized on July 5, the tiny royal, then 9 weeks old, wore a replica of a 172-year-old christening gown (worn by her big brother Prince George for his 2013 baptism) made of Honiton lace and white satin. (The dress also made an appearance inofficial family photos published days after the ceremony). And in June when the royal family released adorable snaps of the brother-sister pair snuggling, Charlotte was dressed in an all-white onesie. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile the British monarchy doesn’t have an official dress code, tradition is an important theme in the royal family. Prince George has repeatedly stepped out dressed in outfits almost-identical to those his father, Prince William, wore when he was a young boy. “Continuity is the cornerstone of the British monarchy, and George’s clothes add a sense of history to a day steeped in royal custom and tradition,” CNN royal contributor Victoria Arbiter told Yahoo Parenting in July.And while noting how similar Prince George’s outfit was to a much younger Prince Charles in a photo, public relations expert Mark Borkowski told the BBC, “There’s something rather beautiful in the fact that the pictures could have been taken in the 1920s, 1930s, in fact any decade up until the present day. It’s greatly reassuring. The duke and duchess are not trying to make a fashion statement, but to dress George timelessly. Could you imagine the outrage if they tried to make sure their children kept up with those of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian?”Kate Middleton and Prince William haven’t commented on how they plan to dress their daughter, but they have been known to bend royal rules — William was present for the birth of both his children (unlike royal dads of past generations), and the couple allowed fans gathered outside Charlotte’s christening ceremony to take selfies (breaking a traditional ban on photography while royals attend church). Queen Elizabeth herself may have skirted the so-called dress rule — in August 2013, photos of a young Elizabeth were published online. In one shot, the future Queen, around 1 year old, was wearing a dress while learning to walk beside her mother at Balmoral Castle and Estate.Children typically begin taking their first steps around their first birthday, although plenty begin walking a bit earlier or later, according to theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics. So while we’ll have to wait for photos of Charlotte wearing adorable dresses or matching mommy-and-me outfits with Kate, one thing is certain: The Princess Charlotte Effect is inevitable.
Pope wows Washington but takes on controversy By Andrew Beatty, and Jean-Louis de la Vaissiere1 hour ago Washington (AFP) – Pope Francis received a rapturous welcome to Washington on Wednesday but did not shy away from controversy, addressing church sex abuse and urging action on immigration and climate change.Related Stories
President Barack Obama was clearly delighted to welcome to the White House a pontiff who can lend moral and spiritual force to his own priorities, but others may be left uncomfortable by the pope’s stances.Meeting Catholic bishops in Washington, he praised their handling of the child sex abuse scandal that rocked the US church.”I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you,” he said.”And I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims… and to work to ensure such crimes will never be repeated.”The Argentine pontiff waded into another bitter US political debate when he urged the church to embrace new immigrants, speaking „not only as the Bishop of Rome, but also as a pastor from” the developing world.”Perhaps it will not be easy for you to look into their soul. Perhaps you will be challenged by their diversity. But know that they also possess resources meant to be shared,” he said.US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Pope Francis wave during an arrival ceremon …He later moved on to conduct his first mass in North America, a ceremony to canonize a Franciscan friar who brought Christianity to California, Junipero Serra — a figure also shrouded in controversy.Native Americans hold Serra responsible for the suppression of their centuries-old culture and the death of many thousands of their ancestors.Consternation over his elevation to sainthood did not overshadow the visit, however, and Francis was cheered by euphoric crowds with breathless wall-to-wall televised coverage as he toured Washington’s stately boulevards.- ‘Welcoming the stranger’ -Obama, America’s first black president, gave the first Latin American pope an effusive welcome to the White House, praising his moral leadership.”I believe the excitement around your visit must be attributed not only to your role as pope, but to your unique qualities as a person,” Obama said, praising Francis’ humility, simplicity and generosity of spirit.This photo released by L’Osservatore Romano shows Pope Francis with US President Barack Obama as …Though Francis has inveighed against the materialism that the United States seems to embody like no other country, he is also a potential political ally for Obama, sharing many of his progressive goals and bringing along many of America’s 70 million Catholics.Speaking in fluent, if accented, English, the 78-year-old returned the warm blessings of his host.”As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families,” he said.Francis said he would address Congress „to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles.”That may come as good news to a five-year-old American-born girl whose parents are from Mexico, who caught the attention of Francis — and of the world.As Francis drew nearer and nearer in his open-sided popemobile and the crowd in Washington whooped and squealed, little Sofia Cruz clambered over a metal barrier, darted out onto stately Constitution Avenue and headed straight for the pontiff — Secret Service agents be damned.A group of nuns have a picnic near their van as they wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at the Bas …”She handed the pope a letter asking him to support the drive to legalize undocumented migrants living in the United States,” her family’s parish in Los Angeles said, contacted by AFP. More than 11 million people without legal residency, like her parents, could be deported unless immigration reform is passed.Obama lauded Francis for reminding the world that „the Lord’s most powerful message is mercy.””That means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart, from the refugee who flees war-torn lands to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life,” Obama said.Their message may also resonate strongly in a Europe convulsed by a refugee crisis.And, as many US conservatives question the very existence of man-made climate change, Francis and Obama made a de facto joint appeal for action.”Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet, God’s magnificent gift to us,” Obama said.Pope Francis greets the crowd on September 23, 2015, during a parade in Washington, DC (AFP Photo/Al …Francis took up the call.”Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation,” Francis said.- Pomp and circumstance -The pope was afforded a full ceremonial welcome and a 40 minute one-on-one meeting with Obama in the Oval Office.But the White House held off a planned 21-gun salute that would not have chimed with the pope’s stature as a man of peace.That was the only expense spared during a historic first visit to Washington — a political city that shrugs when presidents, queens and sheikhs roll through.School children and parents cheer while waiting for Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature to the …The visit was a political mirror of pope Benedict’s 2008 visit to George W. Bush’s White House. Those two leaders were as conservative as their successors are progressive.Still, the White House insisted it is not co-opting a holy man in order to batter Republican foes in Congress.”The goal of the pope’s visit, and certainly the goal of the meeting was not to advance anyone’s political agenda,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.The Vatican played a crucial role in brokering talks between Cold War foes Havana and Washington that led to the recent restoration of diplomatic ties.But the pope told reporters that he would not specifically bring up Washington’s embargo of Cuba in his speech Thursday before American lawmakers, who largely favor a tough line with Havana.Republicans are already crying foul.Congressman Paul Gosar, who is Catholic, declared he would boycott the pontiff’s address to protest his „leftist” views.- ‘The people’s pope’ -Nevertheless, there is no mistaking the political value of enlisting a popular pope’s moral authority.Seven out of ten Americans have a favorable impression of Francis, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll.The pontiff will make two speeches during his visit, the address to Congress and another to the United Nations on Friday.He will wrap up his historic six-day US trip on Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia at an international festival of Catholic families.
Syria deploys Russian drones for first time: security source 8 hours agoA picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) talking with troops during a reported visit to the eastern Damascus district of Jobar on December 31, 2014 (AFP Photo/)Related Stories
Damascus (AFP) – The Syrian military for the first time on Wednesday deployed drones supplied by Russia for its fight against jihadists, a security source in Damascus said.”For the first time, the army today used drones received from Moscow in operations against extremists in the north and east of the country,” the source said, without elaborating on the type of drones or locating exactly where they were deployed.In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the report, news agency RIA Novosti said.The deployment came amid a Russian military build-up in Syria, over which the United States has expressed deep concern.It also comes a day after a senior military official said Damascus had received new weaponry from Russia, including at least five fighter jets.”Russian weapons are starting to have an effect in Syria,” the official told AFP.The official added that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces had already been using these weapons against the Islamic State group in the cities of Deir Ezzor and Raqa, the IS de facto capital in Syria.Assad’s forces have stepped up air strikes in the past week, killing at least 38 IS jihadists in central Syria, especially Palmyra, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Scandals spark public anger at UK’s historic charities By James Pheby1 hour agoLondon (AFP) – A walk down a typical British high street dotted with second-hand shops testifies to the central role that charities play in the country, but a spate of grim headlines has left the sector facing a crisis of trust.For centuries, British charities have harnessed public goodwill and the expertise of staff to help deliver care to the neediest and lobby governments of the day to support their cause.The sector’s proud achievements include helping to abolish slavery, securing religious freedoms and improving education and working conditions.When the Duke of Wellington met activists in 1814 to discuss how to convince France to abolish the slave trade, he urged them to proceed „in our good old English fashion” of voluntary-sector agitation.Charity began to play an even more central role in the 1980s when the market-friendly Conservative government began „outsourcing welfare” through contracts with charities, according to Paul Palmer, a charity professor at London’s Cass Business School.But a recent YouGov poll found that public trust in charity had fallen by over 10 percent since June following a series of negative news stories — although voluntary groups still rank just below doctors and the police as the most trusted bodies in public life.Controversies include the suicide in May of 92-year-old Olive Cook, which was blamed by her son-in-law on harassment by charities, having at one point received 267 charity letters in one month.More recently, it was revealed that charities sold personal details of dementia sufferer Samuel Rae to conmen who tricked him out of thousands of pounds.”It’s a disgrace, absolute disgrace,” Palmer told AFP. „Some fundraisers have lost their ethical compass.”- ‘Stick to knitting’ –There are now around 385,000 charities in Britain, one for every 167 people, all competing for donat …Transparency and governance also came under the microscope when high-profile children’s charity Kid’s Company collapsed amid concerns about its financial management, having just received £3 million ($4.6 million, four million euros) in public funds.Critics such as author and commentator David Craig say the sector has become a „hungry monster”, whose annual revenues have swollen by 30 percent since 2009 to £68.2 billion.Each year, charities make around 13 billion money „asks”, the equivalent of 200 for each person in Britain.There are now around 385,000 charities in Britain, one for every 167 people, all competing for donations amid tightening household budgets.Some 81 percent of local authorities have received complaints about the behaviour of „chuggers” — fundraisers who ask for donations on the street.The sector’s reputation took another hit in 2014 when the charity regulator ruled a campaign against austerity by the anti-poverty charity Oxfam could be „misconstrued as party political campaigning”.The incident angered the right, and put the sector on a collision course with the ruling Conservatives.Brooks Newmark — the party’s minister for civil society — demanded that charities „stick to their knitting” and avoid politicking, provoking outrage within the voluntary sector.Defenders say that Oxfam, and charities in general, do their job by holding authority to account.”They’re continually a thorn in the flesh of any government,” said Andrew Purkis, a former chairman of various well-known charities.”It’s their duty” to try to change the law when they are worried about their benefactors, he told AFP, adding that voluntary-sector activity had historically gone „hand-in-hand” with deeper democracy. Independence compromised? -Conversely, charities seen as too close to the government because of their dependence on public funding have also found themselves as targets.Around 27,000 charities are now dependent on the taxpayer for more than 75 per cent of their income, according to Chris Snowdon from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free-market think tank.Many charities „feel unable to speak out against government policy for fear of losing grants,” he told AFP. „This is a sign of a lack of true independence.”A new bill to give the Charity Commission additional powers to tackle deliberate wrongdoing is going through parliament while accounting and lobbying rules have both been tightened up.A government-commissioned review published this week recommended replacing the main fundraising regulator and banning charities from certain forms of fundraising if they break stricter new rules.”I think they’ve got a long way to go before they step back over the line we all thought they were behind,” said Rae’s son Christopher. „The charities need to do more farming and less hunting.”
„We have to speak with many actors, this includes Assad, but others as well,” Merkel told a press conference after an EU summit on the migration crisis sparked by the Syrian war.”Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia,” Merkel added.The comments by the leader of Europe’s biggest political and economic power come amid increasing signs that Western powers who were once insistent on Assad’s departure may be softening their positions in a bid to end the war.US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that although Assad must step down, that need not immediately be upon reaching a settlement to end the country’s civil war.British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has made similar comments.Russia and the United States launched military talks on the Syrian conflict last week as Moscow increased its build-up of forces in the war-torn country.But French President Francois Hollande, whose country is set to launch air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, insisted Thursday that there could be no place for Assad.”There can be no transition without his departure,” Hollande insisted after the summit.”The future of Syria will not pass through Bashar Assad.”Merkel, Hammond, Hollande and the other EU leaders issued a statement after the Brussels summit calling for a new push for peace.”As regards Syria, we call for a renewed UN-led international effort to bring an end to the war that has caused so much suffering and forced an estimated 12 million people to leave their homes,” the summit statement said.
California Wildfires: New Death Confirmed; Body Found in Valley Fire Burn Scar Area By Associated Press Published Sep 23 2015 10:05 PM EDT weather.com Father And Son Defend Home From Fires Jack and Jonathan Stephens defend their home from the wild fires in Middletown, California.Another body has been found among the ashes in northern California, bringing the death toll from two large wildfires there to six.Police say Robert Taylor Fletcher, 61, was found as officials were checking the burn area of the Valley Fire in Lake County. He hadn’t been seen since Sept. 16. Earlier this week, President Obama declared the area around the Valley Fire a major disaster. It has destroyed at least 1,200 homes. The president’s declaration allows for federal funds, such as grants for temporary housing and home repairs, to be used for recovery and cleanup.Officials reported the blaze is now the third-worst in state history, in terms of the number of structures it has claimed.The Valley fire has now reduced more than 1,750 structures to ash, according to CalFire. Factor in another large wildfire still burning in Northern California, the Butte fire, and the total number of houses, outbuildings and commercial properties destroyed nears 2,700. Together, the two fires have burned through about 229 square miles, an area roughly the size of the city of Chicago.By comparison, a 1991 fire in Oakland Hills burned 2,900 structures and still ranks as the worst fire in state history in that category.(PHOTOS: Wildfires Rage in California)Here’s a brief update on each of the three major fires burning in Northern California.
- Valley fire: 76,067 acres burned; 1,783 structures destroyed; 6,563 structures threatened; 82-percent contained; 4 killed
- Butte fire: 70,868 acres burned; 901 structures destroyed; 6,400 structures threatened; 80-percent contained; 2 killed
- Rough fire: 142,629 acres burned, 70-percent contained
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Lake and Napa counties due to the effects of the fire. He also requested a presidential disaster declaration on Monday, hoping to acquire federal funds to help with the recovery effort.Some firefighters are battling the infernos, working to save as many houses as they can, while their own homes burn down.”I was out fighting the fire on the other end, and then my whole place burned down,” Bob Eaton, a volunteer firefighter with the Cachagua Fire Protection District, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. „My parents’ house, right below me, it burned down. And my neighbors up on top, their place is burned down.”Making matters worse, this disaster has occurred in one of the Golden State’s poorer counties. In addition to the hundreds of homes destroyed in Lake County, many others have been heavily damaged. The fire has left thousands are without power and needing shelter.”The biggest challenge is there aren’t enough hotel rooms in Lake County,” county Supervisor Jim Comstock said Monday. His house was spared, but a majority of his 1,700-acre ranch was lost to the Valley fire.(MORE: How You Can Help the Fire Victims)With so many needing shelter, evacuees are being housed anywhere possible. The Twin Pine Casino and Hotel in Middletown set up beds in its event center, but hotel rooms are reserved for displaced tribal members and employees. An evacuation center at the nearby Napa County Fairgrounds is housing about 500 people in tents and campers, Comstock said.Seven people have been confirmed dead in California’s latest round of wildfires. In addition to the six killed by the Valley and Butte fires, officials recovered the body of a person in Monterey County on Sunday. No information has been releasedabout the victim, according to the Los Angeles Times.That wildfire, the Tassajara fire, has burned more than 1,000 acres of land and is 50-percent contained. It has destroyed 10 homes, CalFire confirmed. Despite a quick response to the fire, crews’ attempts to save the 10 homes were unsuccessful.”It just went so damn fast,” Eaton said.Mia Hoogendoorn searches through her grandparent’s home, which was destroyed by a wildfire, near Middletown, Calif., Sept. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)