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Over 40 killed, 90,000 evacuated as Japan hit by 2 powerful quakes & devastating landslides 

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Japan Earthquake-wefornews

Dozens of people are feared trapped under rubble in southern Japan, as the death toll from two earthquakes has climbed to 41. The search for survivors is in full swing, while 90,000 people have been evacuated from their homes to safer locations.

Over 200 aftershocks have hit Japan following the initial Thursday tremor of 6.5-magnitude, which hit the city of Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu. Officials have warned that the risk of further strong aftershocks will linger for about a week.

About 190 of the injured are in serious condition, the Japanese government said.

Only 24 hours later the same areas was struck by a violent 7.1-magnitude earthquake. The Japan Meteorological Agency briefly issued tsunami warnings for the areas that were still recovering from Thursday’s devastating tremors.

Landslide site caused by an earthquake is seen in Minamiaso town, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 16, 2016. © Reuters

The overall death toll from the two quakes now stands at 41, with more than 1,000 people injured – 184 of them seriously.

About 90,000 people in Kumamoto Prefecture were evacuated to shelters, authorities say.

“We are aware of multiple locations where people have been buried alive,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. “Police, firefighters and Self Defense Force personnel are doing all they can to rescue them.”

Local residents look at cracks caused by an earthquake on a road in Mashiki town, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 16, 2016. © Reuters

The death toll in the earthquakes may be climbing by the hour, Kumamoto Prefectural official Tomoyuki Tanaka said.

About 170,000 households were without electricity and 385,000 without water following the powerful quakes.

Yuichiro Yoshikado described his experience during Thursday’s earthquake to AP. He was in the bathroom at the time.

Romon gate (bottom R), designated as a nationally important cultural property, and other buildings damaged by an earthquake are seen at Aso Shrine in Aso, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 16, 2016. © Reuters

“I grabbed onto the sides of the bathtub, but the water in the tub, it was about 70 percent filled with water, was going like this,” he said, waving his arms, “and all the water splashed out.”

“I thought I was going to die and I couldn’t bear it any longer,” he added.

A damaged building caused by an earthquake is seen in Kumamoto, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 16, 2016. © Reuters

Among 29 casualties are two students from Tokai University.

“We offer our sincerest prayers for the two,” said a University statement. “We’re trying to confirm the safety of other students.”

“I felt strong shaking at first, then I was thrown about like I was in a washing machine,” a Tokai University student told local media, “All the lights went out and I heard a loud noise. A lot of gas is leaking and while there hasn’t been a fire, that remains a concern.” 

The quakes triggered massive landslides, which cut off roads and destroyed bridges, local media reported, adding that they imperiled rescue and relief efforts.

Meteorologists forecast heavy rain and wind, adding that the temperature is expected to drop to 13 degrees Celsius.

“The wind is expected to pick up and rain will likely get heavier,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a government meeting. “Rescue operations at night will be extremely difficult … It’s a race against time.”

 

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Kamala Harris to take oath of office on ‘second mother’s’ Bible

“That’s been her amulet so to speak, her oracle, my aunt’s Bible,” LaBrie told Yahoo News in an interview.

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kamala harris

New York, Jan 20: A Black woman’s Bible has featured in every single big moment of Kamala Harris’ political career up till now. She laid her left hand upon it as she took the oath of office to be Attorney General of California, and it was there when she swore to defend the Constitution of the United States, as a Senator from California. “I carry Mrs. Shelton with me always,” wrote Harris in a 2019 article in Bustle.

Shelton’s Bible will be one of two that will feature at Kamala Harris’ coronation at noon on Wednesday when she becomes America’s first woman Vice President.

“When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need: Justice Thurgood Marshall and Mrs Shelton,” Harris posted on Twitter, barely 24 hours before she takes office.

The second Bible belongs to the late civil rights icon and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, in a nod to his role in Harris’ choice of Howard University for her graduation and in shaping her thinking to see law as a tool to bring equity. Marshall also graduated from Howard, a legendary school among historically black universities. Howard is only a short distance away by train from the White House.

The “Mrs Shelton” Harris invokes is Regina Shelton who owned three houses in a single block in Oakland, California, and ran a nursery school in one of them. This was a time when Kamala Harris’ mother, newly separated from husband Donald Harris, was looking for help to care for her girls Kamala and Maya and also needed a place to stay. Gopalan and her daughters moved into an apartment above the nursery. The bonds soon grew so strong that Harris began referring to Shelton as her “second mother.”

In an interview to Yahoo!, Shelton’s nephew Aubrey LaBrie said Shelton used to ferry Kamala and Maya to a Baptist church in West Oakland every Sunday. The Bible on which Harris has taken all her oaths of office is the same Bible that Shelton carried with her to church.

“That’s been her amulet so to speak, her oracle, my aunt’s Bible,” LaBrie told Yahoo News in an interview.

Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, extending the ‘historic’ tag to yet another first. Harris will be the first Indian and Black American woman Vice President taking her oath of office from the first Latina justice on the US Supreme Court.

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US Covid-19 catastrophe is Biden’s problem now

Biden has vowed to “manage the hell out of this operation”. There’s a ton of managing to be done, starting with the simple act of masking up, which has gone from public health tool to culture war in the Trump era.

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Joe Biden

New York, Jan 19 : At noon on January 20, 2021, almost a full year after the first coronavirus case was reported in the US, Covid-19 will no longer be Donald Trump’s problem to solve. It will be incoming US president Joe Biden’s.

The pandemic’s winter surge is raging, pushing the total death toll towards 400,000 (398,000 lives have already been lost to the virus), deaths are rising in nearly two-thirds of the country’s 50 states even as a strong variant is taking hold. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the new variant is about 50 per cent more contagious than the one that has ravaged the country so far.

California, where it all started, became the first state Monday to cross a grim milestone than 3 million coronavirus infections. The state took 292 days to get to 1 million infections on November 11 and just 44 days to sprint to 2 million. California alone accounts for more than 33,600 Covid-19 deaths.

The first wave never really ebbed, the baseline never came down to levels seen in Europe or Asia, US was struggling to hold down new infections even before the variants appeared, millions of Americans are out of work, the US has topped 24 million infections and counting.

“Almost a year later, we’re still far from back to normal. The honest truth is this: Things will get worse before they get better,” Biden said last week, in a nod to the massive challenge facing his “crisis tested” Covid-19 task force.

Biden has a stated goal of vaccinating 100 million people in the first 100 days. What we know so far is all the goals that haven’t been reached. The US had a goal of reaching 20 million vaccinations by end December 2020, and less than 11 million have got shots in arms by Inauguration Day out of about 31.2 million doses of vaccine which have been distributed.

Biden wants to use the Defence Production Act to boost vaccine supplies and set up 100 vaccination centers around the country by the end of his first month in office. He plans to pour $50 billion to expand testing which is seen as a key to reopening K-8 classrooms. About $130 billion is the outlay to help schools reopen safely. A much touted predictive model used by the Trump White House projects a cumulative death toll of more than 550,000 deaths within 100 days from January 20.

Biden has vowed to “manage the hell out of this operation”. There’s a ton of managing to be done, starting with the simple act of masking up, which has gone from public health tool to culture war in the Trump era.

After 24 million infections and 398,000 deaths in America’s deadliest year, Biden is pleading with Americans: “For God’s sake, wear a mask for yourself, for your loved ones, for your country.”

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French government urges Russia to immediately release Navalny

He also informed Putin that France’s own analysis had confirmed Germany’s conclusion that Navalny was poisoned by Novichok “in contravention of international norms on using chemical weapons”.

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emmanuel macron

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to urgently shed light on the “attempted murder” of opposition figure Alexei Navalny after French tests confirmed the use of the Novichok nerve agent, the Elysée said.

Macron told Putin in telephone talks that it is “imperative that all light be shed, without delay, on the circumstances of this attempted murder and who is responsible”, the French presidency said in a statement.

Read: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained after landing in Moscow

He also informed Putin that France’s own analysis had confirmed Germany’s conclusion that Navalny was poisoned by Novichok “in contravention of international norms on using chemical weapons”.

Putin, for his part, told Macron that it was “inappropriate” to make groundless accusations against Russia over the suspected poisoning of Navalny, the Kremlin said.

The Russian leader said his country wanted Germany to hand over medical test results taken from Navalny, according to a Kremlin readout of the call.

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