Dozens Evacuate In Washington State, Fearing Landslide

Washington’s Yakima Valley is preparing for a potential landslide, as a crack in Rattlesnack Ridge grows by the day.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

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Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

The first to notice the growing crack in Rattlesnake Ridge was a local pilot, back in October.

Since then, geologists have been monitoring the area in Washington state, and report that 4 million cubic yards of land have moved in just a couple of months — faster than was expected.

As Anna King of the Northwest News Network reports, nearby residents are “weighing grim options: abandon house and home — or stay and risk their lives.”

Residents told The Seattle Times they were haunted by what happened in Oso, Wash., in 2014, where 43 people were killed and dozens of homes were destroyed. Brian White, one of the state Department of Transportation administrators told reporter Erik Lacitis: “Everyone thinks about it.”

Geologists disagree over how big the Rattlesnake Ridge slide will be, and whether it will speed up and grow, or stabilize itself. David Montgomery, a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, studies landslides, and says “this is a very interesting one.”

“It’s still moving quite slowly,” Montgomery says. “It’s a very different geological material than what we had in the tragic Oso landslide in 2014.” He adds though that Oso was also considered a “low probability” event. “They’re trying to assess, what’s the worse case scenario?”

The “worst case scenario,” it seems, is that the landslide could begin moving much more rapidly. If that were to happen, it could impact infrastructure, including the highway that runs through Yakima Valley.

Such predictions have alarmed residents who live in the quarry at the bottom of Rattlesnake Ridge. The Seattle Times reported Sunday that many have evacuated to motels. The Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management is seeking foster homes for displaced animals, including eight small dogs and 100 chickens.

“It sounds to me like they’re being fairly conservative in their response to it,” Montgomery says of the geologists working on the case. “They should have a good handle on how the landslide is evolving and be able to evaluate how the nature of the hazard may be shifting.”

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Trump Surrogates Take To Sunday Shows To Denounce Wolff Book, Defend The President

Senior Adviser to the President for Policy Stephen Miller talks to reporters from the White House Briefing Room.

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The CIA Director, a top policy aide and a former campaign manager made appearances on Sunday talk shows to defend Donald Trump’s fitness as President and to bash a new tabloidlike book that has caused delirium in the nation’s capital for the better part of a week.

While the president’s surrogates were busy on the airwaves providing him cover, the man at the center of the frenzy Washington finds itself in, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, issued an apology for his part in the controversy.

In a statement provided to Axios, Bannon said he regrets comments he made in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, where he describeda June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., other campaign staff and Russian operatives as “treasonous.”

Bannon went on to praise the president’s son calling him “both a patriot and a good man,” Adding:

“I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr. has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”

In his statement to Axios, Bannon said his “support is also unwavering for the president and his agenda,” and that he remains “ready to stand in the breech for this president’s efforts to make America great again.”

White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller was a guest on CNN’s “State of the Union” where he railed against Wolff’s book and Bannon, saying that Bannon’s comments were “tragic.” Miller also went on to say it was “unfortunate that Steve would make these grotesque comments, so out of touch with reality.”

Miller, as the President has in recent days, sought to discredit the author and Bannon, saying of the book:

“It reads like an angry vindictive person spouting off to a highly discreditable author,” Miller said, adding, “The book is best understood as a work of very poorly written fiction and I will also say that the author is a garbage author of a garbage book.”

Later in the interview Miller called Bannon’s involvement in the book “a betrayal to the president,” and said the extent of Bannon’s role in the Trump White House has been “greatly exaggerated.”

The interview turned into a contentious shouting match as Miller sought to highlight Trump’s “political genius,” and host Jake Tapper tried to move into questions addressing Trump’s fitness as commander in chief, a topic central to the book.

At one point Tapper abruptly cut off the interview with Miller, but not before telling him:

“There’s one viewer you care about right now and you are being obsequious, you’re being a factotum in order to please him ok? And I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time.”

Tapper then went to a commercial break.

For good measure, after the interview was done, the President tweeted:

“Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!”

Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018

In a much more measured interview on Fox News Sunday, Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called the book “a complete fabrication.”

“Let me be very clear, this is a book of fiction. Not only is it not accurate, there are so many misrepresentations in this book that it shouldn’t be taken seriously,” Lewandowski said.

Earlier on the same program, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who personally delivers most of the daily intelligence briefings to Trump, called the digs at the president’s mental capacity “absurd.”

“We talk about some of the most serious matters facing America and the world, complex issues,” Pompeo said. “He asks really difficult questions of our team at CIA, so that we can provide him the information that he needs to make good, informed policy decisions, and I’ve watched him do that.”

Trump sounded a triumphant tone Sunday, drawing parallels between himself and President Ronald Reagan, tweeting:

“I’ve had to put up with the Fake News from the first day I announced that I would be running for President. Now I have to put up with a Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author. Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!”

I’ve had to put up with the Fake News from the first day I announced that I would be running for President. Now I have to put up with a Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author. Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018

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Pope Francis Once Again Encourages Mothers To Breastfeed In The Sistine Chapel

Pope Francis baptized 34 babies Sunday in an annual ceremony in the Sistine Chapel. He repeated advice from previous years: mothers should feel free to breastfeed during the service.

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There are many spaces where women are discouraged from breastfeeding in public. Museums, airlines, and even hospitals have come under fire for not giving new moms enough support, or admonishing them for breastfeeding or pumping. But Pope Francis is a proponent of the practice, even in Catholicism’s holiest places.

In an annual baptism ceremony in the Sistine Chapel Sunday, the Pope encouraged mothers to feed their babies if they were hungry during the two-hour-long service.

Vatican News reports that the Pope “appeared to enjoy every minute” of the baptism ceremony, blessing 34 babies of Vatican employees and the diocese of Rome. This ceremony occurs every year on the day of a Catholic feast marking Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan. The Pope gave a brief, “off the cuff” homily in Italian, telling parents to teach their children faith through “the language of love.”

“Babies have their own dialect,” he added. “If one starts to cry the others will follow, like in an orchestra.” He said that if the babies were “starting a concert” of crying because they were hungry, mothers should “go ahead and feed them,” for this too is a “language of love.”

This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has encouraged mothers to breastfeed in the Sistine Chapel. Last year at the same ceremony, the Pope made similarly supportive remarks, saying mothers should feed their children as “Mary breastfed Jesus.”

NPR’s Rebecca Hersher reported that even though Pope Francis has “repeatedly justified his position in the most traditional terms possible — harking back to the infancy of Christ himself,” not all Catholic churches have followed the same logic.

“In 2014, the National Catholic Reporter published an article describing a mother who said she was told breast-feeding during church was ‘inappropriate.

“In a 2012 Christianity Today article titled ‘Breast-feeding in the Back Pew,’ writer Rachel Marie Stone recalled, ‘On a family trip to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, as I started to breast-feed my son in the sanctuary, I was whisked away by a security guard to the bathroom.

” ‘Countless other Christian women, trying to feed their children without having to miss a sermon, have faced the disapproval of others who think breasts have no place in the sanctuary,’ she continued.’ “

Reuters noted that, though attitudes are changing in many countries, “Women still face harassment for breastfeeding in public.”

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32 Missing After Iranian Oil Tanker Collides With Chinese Bulk Ship Off China's Coast

The Iranian oil tanker “Sanchi” was ablaze after a collision with a freighter off China’s east coast Sunday. Its entire 32-person crew is missing, as rescue efforts are hampered by bad weather and the fire.

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The Panama-registered tanker “Sanchi” was sailing from Iran to South Korea carrying 136,000 tonnes of crude oil when it collided with a Chinese freighter, Reuters reports. Its entire 32 person crew remained missing Sunday as the fire continued to blaze.

The AP reports that an official in Iran’s Oil Ministry said 30 of the tanker’s 32 crew members were Iranians.

“We have no information on their fate,” he told the news agency. “We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.”

State media reports that China dispatched several vessels to search for and rescue crew members as the vessel burned. South Korea also sent a ship and helicopter to aid the rescue and clean up efforts.

The environmental impact was not immediately clear, and the Chinese government did not give details as to the size of the spill. The ship was carrying almost a million barrels of condensate, an ultra light crude oil.

The AP reports that this is the second collision for the National Iranian Tanker Company in less than two years. In 2016 one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the busy Singapore Strait, though that incident caused no injuries or oil spill.

All of the 21 Chinese crew members were rescued from the CF Crystal, which suffered only “non-critical” damage in the crash, according to Reuters.

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