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Largest wildfire on record in California, that killed 18, finally contained

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VENTURA: The largest wildfire on record in California has been declared contained, days after mud on the coastal mountain slopes it scorched crashed down on homes during a storm, killing at least 18 people.

The Thomas fire was declared 100 per cent surrounded after ravaging Ventura and Santa Barbara counties northwest of Los Angeles for more than a month. A cause has not yet been determined.

Some areas of Los Padres National Forest remain closed to the public until authorities determine it is safe to enter.

 

The blaze began on December 4 and fierce winds drove the flames through tinder-dry brush, chaparral and trees.
The fire blackened 1,140.76 square kms — an area nearly as large as Los Angeles.

Flames whipped through foothill communities and forest wilderness. More than 1,000 buildings, including many homes, were incinerated and thousands of people were forced to flee. Evacuations were called for Montecito as flames topped ridges above the wealthy enclave that was hit by waves of mud.

Two people were killed in the fire. Cory Iverson, a 32- year-old state firefighter, died of burns and smoke inhalation while working in steep country above Fillmore.

A preliminary state fire report said Iverson was laying hose line near a firebreak cut by bulldozers when he became surrounded by spot fires that exploded around him and cut off his retreat.

Four other members of his team managed to escape.

Some Montecito families had only recently returned home when another evacuation call went out on Monday.

Forecasters warned that the approaching storm could unleash flooding and mudslides because fire-scorched areas had lost vegetation that stabilises soil.

Cascades of mud, boulders, trees and other debris inundated the community, destroying at least 100 homes.


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85 pc loot during Congress regime plugged:PM Modi

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Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday described NRIs as India’s brand ambassadors and said they were the symbols of the country’s capabilities.

The Prime Minister was inaugurating the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas convention in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi. “I consider NRIs India’s brand ambassadors.

They are the symbols of our capacities and capabilities,” he told the gathering.

 

“People of Indian origin are in leadership roles in countries such as Mauritius, Portugal and Ireland,” he said.

PM Modi also alluded to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s comment that only 15 paise of Re 1 reaches masses and said the Congress government had done nothing to stop the leakage.

The Prime Minister added that his government had stepped in to rectify the situation. The “85 per cent loot” taking place during the Congress regime had been plugged “100 per cent” through technology, he said.

“We have given about Rs 5,80,000 crore to people, transferred to their bank accounts through various schemes. Imagine, if the country was being run on the older system? Then Rs 4,50,000 crore would have vanished,” PM Modi said.

Continuing his attack on the Congress, he said efforts to stop the “leakage” could have been made earlier as well but there was no intention and will power. “Our government is moving towards ensuring that the aid given by government is directly transferred to beneficiary accounts through direct benefit schemes,” he said.

Mauritian Premier Pravind Jugnauth, who is the chief guest for the three-day event, also spoke on the occasion. He hailed the Prime Minister for India’s transformation through initiatives such as the Skill India and the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao schemes. He also praised PM Modi’s global stewardship in promoting clean energy and for setting up the International Solar Alliance.

Jugnauth announced that his country will hold a Bhagwad Gita Mahotsav next month and a Bhojpuri Festival next year.

For the first time, the three-day convention is being organised from January 21 to 23 instead of January 9 to allow participants to visit the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad and attend the Republic Day parade in the national capital.

The theme of this year’s convention is ‘Role of Indian diaspora in building new India’.

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‘Madrasas promote ISIS ideology, shut them’: UP Shia board chief to PM Modi

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New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board chief Waseem Rizvi on Tuesday said that madrasas promote ISIS ideology.

Rizvi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shut Islamic seminaries across India so that Muslim children are not influenced by it.

“If madrasas across the country are not shut down soon then after 15 years half of the Muslims will start favouring the ISIS ideology. It has been observed across the world that ISIS is targeting children and asking them to follow them,” Rizvi wrote in the letter.

 

The UP Shia Board chief added that Muslim children should study with students of other religions in schools so that they are able to get better education.

The comments are likely to irk several Islamic clerics and scholars.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Rizvi cited the example of Kashmir to substantiate his point

“In Kashmir, ISIS supports can be seen in huge numbers. In rural areas, Madrasas are destroying the future of our children being run on donations as their owners are hungry for money,” he stated.

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Yashwant throws his hat in PM race, calls self ‘closest’ person to deliver on job creation

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New Delhi: Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha threw his hat in the race for prime ministership when he declared himself as the “closest” person who could deliver on job creation, building roads, townships and industries.

Sinha, a former finance minister during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led previous NDA government, also said that Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari would not succeed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he and BJP chief Amit Shah will “not retire” even if the BJP fell below the 200-seat mark in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The former BJP lawmaker said the problem in the country was non-creation of crores of jobs and millions of kilometres of roads. India needs a leader who can make agriculture profitable and set up irrigation projects, townships and industries, he said.

 

“We have to do a lot of work in this country… We will have to find somebody who is prepared to buy this theory and start doing it,” he said.

Asked who the person could be, Sinha told a news channel, “There is nobody in my mind.”

Asked who was closest to deliver all this, he said, “The closest is me, myself, what I am,” leading to a laughter in the audience of the event hosted by the channel.

“I am very close behind him,” said CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, seated next to him, when asked if he endorsed Sinha.

Various opposition parties are seeking to unite to put up a united front to defeat the Modi-led BJP in general elections, with the BJP taking a swipe at them saying all are prime ministerial aspirants in the opposition camp.

About speculation on whether Gadkari would succeed Modi, the disgruntled former BJP MP said, “There is no hope in hell for that.”

Sinha said what he is saying is “because I know the kind of vice-like grip the current prime minister and the party president have over the BJP and even after the loss in elections where they could be below 200, they will not retire from their leadership.”

“It is a very fond hope that some media people are nursing that Gadkari might succeed Modi,” he said, negating the possibility.

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