Weatherman swears on live TV

BY: Gianna Sanchez

When watching the “Today Show,” most people expect a fun, bubbly morning show to help them wake up and have a good start to their day. While this is usually how the show may be, things took a turn for the worst Thursday morning.

Al Roker was tossing from the show to a weather forecast for the weekend. The meteorologist, Chris Cimino, must not have realized that he was live. When the camera cut to Cimino, he was featured saying “It’s just a weird f–ing thing, it’s just strange. Um, but I think if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have allowed myself.”

That’s all the audience got to hear until the mic was cut off. After, the 20-second silence, the show pictured a 10-day forecast on the screen with Roker going back on the screen. While some people, like Twitter user JDocMartin, found the mistake amusing by saying “Did I imagine it or did Chris Cimino accidentally drop the F bomb? #YourMicisHot,” others like Renny Hurst believe this “is not acceptable when my 6 year old is setting next to me watching the news.” An NBC spokesman issued an apology to all their viewers later that day.

How did this happen in the first place? Was it the fault of a producer for not telling Cimino he was about to be live, an audio board operator who lazily left on the mic for too long or was it Cimino himself? Regardless of whose fault it is, this type of behavior is unacceptable, especially for a show that is marketed to be for a family-type atmosphere.

NBC and Cimino definitely learned their lesson and it will probably come at a hefty price from the Federal Communications Commission. Cimino might be joining George Carlin for his colorful language on the popular morning show.

Amtrak train freed from snow


An Amtrak train with 183 passengers began moving again on Tuesday morning after being stranded in the Oregon mountains for more than 36 hours.

A winter storm that downed trees and left a foot of snowfall forced the Coast Starlight train to halt Sunday evening. Crew members decided to keep the passengers onboard as crews worked through Monday and into Tuesday to clear the track, according to Amtrak and Union Pacific.

“With more than a foot of heavy snow and numerous trees blocking the track, we made every decision in the best interest of the safety of our customers during the unfortunate sequence of events,” Amtrak Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Scot Naparstek said.

Food, heat and electricity were provided to the passengers as the train was being extricated from the snow and debris. One passenger told CNN that the travelers remained in relatively high spirits and developed a sense of camaraderie as the hours went on.

The train is now heading towards Eugene, a town about 45 miles away, after more than a day of being stationary on the track. According to Fox News, the Red Cross is waiting at the station to aid the passengers, although no one onboard was injured.

This story has received extensive coverage since the train was first stranded, multiple news media outlets providing developments as the amount of time it was stuck drew on. What I found interesting was the way that social media was integrated into the articles, Facebook posts giving a deeper understanding of the experience that the passengers underwent.

Winter cold deadly for Iowa student


Yahoo! News has included an article by HuffPost earlier in the day discussing the devastating death of a college student. Gerald Belz, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Iowa was found Wednesday morning near his dorm. He was then taken to the hospital where he passed away. 

Jenna Amatulli, the reporter who covered this story, did a great job of balancing all the information that came with this story. She didn’t provide more information than necessary about Belz. 

Amatulli noted important facts about the weather saying how the polar vortex has done its fair share of damage to the country sending temperatures to an extreme low. The university had weather of minus 21 degrees, with the windchill as low as minus 51 degrees. 

Although this is a heartbreaking story, I appreciate news companies sharing this. Belz is not the only individual who has passed away in the past few days due to the extremely low temperatures. 

I see most news companies today overload stories on celebrities and Donald Trump. News that truly doesn’t concern us citizens as broadly as all the issues occurring in the country today. 

Even if you aren’t living in a cold area, maybe you have loved ones that do. 

Amatulli also did a neat job of including extra sources such as photos, a video, and a link to more information updates on the weather.

Overall, I found this article very interesting and helpful. I hope more news organizations focus on current events that need more attention brought to them and focus less on what our president is doing and what celebrities are going to do next. 

Air quality in Hanoi turns hazardous


Air pollution in Hanoi has reached an alarming level recently, with heavy transportation, industrialization and energy production to blame, according to the authorities.

The Real-time Air Quality Index on this week ranked pollution in Vietnam’s capital as “very unhealthy”. The index measured near the Vietnam-based U.S. embassy at the city center hit 154, a level that will severely threaten the lives of old people and those with heart or respiratory problems.

On the same day, Hanoi’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment reported that the index recorded at the industrial area to the west of Hanoi reached 202, a dangerous level considered as “hazardous”, which means people should avoid outdoor activities. Not very far from there, on Ba Trieu Street downtown, the index measured reached 201.

A survey conducted by GreenID organization on 1,000 Hanoi citizens showed that they blamed transportation, industrialization and energy production for the air pollution in the city with transportation to be the primary cause.

Hoang Tung, a senior official from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment said that heavy traffic has even worsened in the past few days due to the Lunar New Year.

“High demand for travel by personal vehicles in preparation for Tet, the biggest and most significant holiday in Vietnam, has caused the heavy pollution in the city,” he said. He also added that the cold weather also aggravates the problem.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment has recently published a report stating that traffic activities account for more than 70 percent of air pollution in Hanoi. It was also reported that the city of eight million people currently has more than nearly six million vehicles.

Polar cold becomes dangerous


CNN released a story Wednesday morning stating that the weather in the Midwest is at a historic, record-breaking low. The polar vortex descended, causing the coldest air in a generation, and is set to last through the end of the week.

Temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees are expected to hit the Midwest, specifically the Chicago-Minneapolis region. Officials have warned that temperatures at this range are known to cause, hypothermia, frost bite, frozen pipes and frozen vehicle parts. The wind chill readings will fall far below zero in many places.

Four deaths have been linked to these below freezing temperatures. A young couple got into a car accident on a snowy road in northern Indiana, a Milwaukee man was found frozen in his garage, and a man was struck and killed by a snow plow in Chicago. These terrible incidents are encouraging the Midwest to get the homeless off the streets to try and prevent them from interacting with this weather. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Tuesday, “These are actually a public health risk and you need to treat it appropriately, they are life-threatening conditions and temperatures.”

The weather is so drastically cold that airlines have issued weather waivers for 18 airports in the Midwest including Chicago O’Hare and Midway International airports. Besides the waivers, around 2,000 flights have been canceled since Wednesday morning. 3,000 flights combined, were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday. Amtrak as well canceled all trains coming in and out of Chicago, according to CNN as of 9:30 Wednesday morning.

Most public schools from Midwest states like Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, canceled classes on Tuesday and some on Wednesday as well. Several universities within those states have also canceled classes for those days, if not the whole week. Josh Collins, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Education states “Closing schools for an extended stretch isn’t an easy decision, even though most school districts build potential makeup days into their schedules.”

The cold has been so bad that typical outdoor activities have been shutting down. A ski hill in the Minneapolis area said it would close through Wednesday, so did an ice castle attraction. The cold weather has even affected beer deliveries. Shipments are being delayed in fear that the beer will freeze.

This polar vortex has done nothing but cause tragedy and havoc to the Midwest. Hopefully, temperatures will go back to normal after this week ends.

Record temperatures blast Midwest


The United States — specifically the Midwest states like Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana — are seeing brutally low temperatures as January comes to a close.

Wind chill temperatures close to negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit are shocking those in the Midwest, but it does not stop there. Wind chill has made the situation considerably worse, dropping the temperatures down to record-breaking levels of around negative 40 to 50 degrees.

Shockingly low temperatures are having major effects on the cities they are hitting. Various news outlets have reported that the temperatures are dropping to those that are colder than Antarctica. This is changing the way many major cities are operating.

CNN is one outlet that is specifically covering the damage and changes that many cities are going through. I admire the way that they are reporting on individual instances that the snow is causing in a list format, and then expanding on each in their own articles.

The blistering cold has impacted the Midwest with school cancellations, mass transit cancelling the entirety of its services and is even causing deaths. Not only have local schools been closed, various universities among the nation have halted classes until the weather is safer to operate in. Packages are also not being delivered and flights are being cancelled until the weather normalizes.

Winter storm rips through Northeast


CNN’s coverage of the severe and apparently deadly Northeast winter storm provided an accessible and well-organized report of its wide-reaching effects. The lede follows the standard inverted pyramid style, stating what caused this mass destruction and what the exact consequences were. All in the first sentence we find out that the storm is still going on, it is causing major traffic hazards, there were eight deaths and tens of thousands of people are out of power.

After a short intro describing the specifics about the amount of snow accumulated, the story breaks up into three distinct subheads with clear topics. This sort of organization helps the reader, especially if he or she is in a rush or scrolling through the news quickly on their phone (which is where I first came across this story), to quickly acquire the information they want to know about the storm, whether that be about the traffic patterns or the victims it claimed.

It is no accident that the first subhead, “8 related deaths,” comes before the others. Death is always the first and most important aspect of a story (if it pertains to the story). To not mention a death that occurred as a result of the topic of your story is probably one of the biggest blunders a journalist can make. The first item describes the cause of each of the eight victims’ deaths in a short, to-the-point brief.

The next item, entitled “Traffic nightmare, airport delays in New York,” describes the chaos on the roads, which is the next most important topic after death. After all, safety is crucial in these types of storms. They quoted the police and travelers and included Instagram shots of icy roads and an over-crowded Newark airport.

The final item is entitled “Weather forces students to wait in schools,” which rightfully comes last as it is not as severe as death or traffic hazards.

Overall, the formatting of the story, sources used and news media aspect of this story provide an extremely thorough and easy to navigate overview of a tragic and brutal storm.

Michael coverage best of recent memory


Since Michael just became a tropical disturbance in the Western Caribbean a little more than a week ago, the news media as a whole did an incredibly good job covering the track of Michael from the Yucatan to the Florida Peninsula.

Although it did take most outlets a little longer than it should’ve to take notice of the potential track of the storm and a possible landfall on the U.S. mainland, coverage from Sunday through Thursday was spot on in providing clear and accurate information.

The storm is now making its way toward the Atlantic Ocean Friday as during its transition to a post-tropical cyclone with winds gusting at 65 m.p.h., according to the National Hurricane Center.

More than half a million customers in Virginia are without power.

Another million customers were without power across Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas and Florida, where the storm first made landfall and flattened some coastal  communities in the Panhandle.

Hardest hit were Panama City Beach and Mexico Beach, where both sides of the eye wall came ashore.

The official death toll is up to 11 persons now, but it is almost assuredly going to rise once officials reach the hardest hit areas near the Florida Gulf Coast.

Michael coverage varies across board


Six people died in the wake of Hurricane Michael, which decimated Florida’s panhandle, flooded the Carolinas and continues to cause mass destruction on the Atlantic Coast. Entire houses were uprooted and more than one million people were out of power.

I compared CNN’s coverage of the storm to the Sun Sentinel’s and found that although both provided similar information, the presentation and angles were completely different. While CNN’s presentation was much more conducive to acquiring facts quickly, the Sun Sentinel’s coverage almost read as a narrative, using its locality to its advantage with stark Florida references that evoked emotion in its readership.

Even the two news sources’ headlines differed vastly in the message that they sent. The Sun Sentinel’s headline, “Hurricane Michael wipes out Mexico Beach, Fla., in ‘apocalyptic’ assault” plays on the drama of the hurricane and sends the message that the storm has passed, devastatingly, leaving Florida in distress.

CNN, on the other hand, headlined its coverage, “Michael’s not done yet — path of destruction stretches north from Florida,” stressing that although the storm departed Florida, it is still a threat to other coastal states like Virginia — obviously taking a more national lens to the story.

Furthermore, the Sun Sentinel uses similes and metaphors to tell the story of how Michael ripped through the panhandle and shook the worlds of many. Instead of delving right into the hard facts, and after a heart-wrenching anecdotal lede, the author writes, “Boats were tossed like toys. The streets closest to the water looked as if a bomb had gone off.”

CNN, instead, hits the ground running with an inverted pyramid-style beginning, stating in the lede exactly where the hurricane hit already and where it is headed, as well as mentioning some of its effects, like flash floods. CNN also writes a bulleted list of “Key Developments” for readers who want fast facts about the storm, providing the route of the storm, how many power outages there are, who died and more.

Contrarily, it makes sense that a Florida newspaper would only focus on the effects of the storm in Florida, and the narrative style makes for a more interesting, though saddening read. The Sun Sentinel even includes an anecdote about a couple searching for their elderly mother in the ruins of the storm, inserting a quote portraying the way the wife called out for her mother: “Aggy! Aggy!”

Both news sources do a good job of capturing the severity of the storm, but for the Sun Sentinel, the focus was in the past, whereas CNN makes sure to send a message that the storm is still highly threatening. It is always interesting to note how many different ways the same story can be covered based on the location and audience of the news source.

West grabs news focus from Michael


Throughout this week, news coverage has been pretty much all over the place. From Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to hurricane coverage and seemingly everywhere in between, this week has been a mess.

On Wednesday, the primary story was a category 4 hurricane rolling through the panhandle of Florida and seemingly destroying everything in its path. Today, you would expect that the coverage would continue with details and images from the aftermath. Instead, today the main story was Kanye West meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House.

Are you kidding me? People lost their homes, their family members, or their work for the next couple of years and CNN and others are concerned about what was said between the president and Kanye West. Not only is it irresponsible, its grossly unfair to the people who have friends and family impacted by the storm.

On top of this, we have recent hurricane coverage (Florence) to compare to, a hurricane where CNN had vast coverage in all three phases of the storm: before, during and after. The coverage for Michael has been minimize because, apparently, the president meeting with a celebrity is far more pressing and concerning news for our country.

Recovery from Florence continues


It’s been nearly a month since the hit from Hurricane Florence on the Carolinas and other regions along the East Coast and we are still healing from it.

The hit on Sept. 9 of this year still has some of North Carolina flooded. Vox reported that the climate change caused the storm to be more damaging than expected.

The temperature increased prior to the storms hit on the the east coast region causing the storms rainfall and sea level to rise. Floods are as high as 35 inches and approximately 10 trillion gallons between North, South Carolina, and Virgina.

A dog has recently been rescued after spending nearly a week floating on a couch. Owners left behind the dog while fleeing to another state. They called a local humane society but rescuers were not able to locate the house because of the high floods, but were lucky enough to find the dog on the third go ‘round.

It has also been reported that nearly 50 people have lost thier lives due to Florence. There are also about $22 billion worth of damage that needs to be repaired as well. Donations can be made at or by calling 1-800-435-7669.

Post-Florence coverage suffers


Although Florence made landfall nearly a week ago and became a post-tropical cyclone a few days later, the long-lasting impacts are only now coming into view.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster warned on Thursday that, “The worst is yet to come.”

Some rivers are still rising, leading to evacuations that are continuing, more than two weeks after some were already advised to leave.

Portions of I-95 and I-40 remain closed in North and South Carolina.

The death toll has risen to 42.

And yet, the only main news outlet covering the story on its devastation to the Mid-Atlantic States is The Weather Channel.

Sites like CNN and USA Today, instead of covering updates on its aftermath to all the residents of those areas, choose to provide coverage about it from different, sometimes irrelevant angles.

CNN’s headline: “This satellite image shows Florence’s floodwaters polluting the Atlantic.”

USA Today‘s: “A disgusting side effect of Florence: Escaped pig poop. Lots of it.”

Instead of covering the aftermath nation’s most significant national disaster of the year from the correct and informative point of view, they choose different sides of the story that does not provide readers with an idea of the scope of devastation and ruin that some in the Carolinas are dealing with.

Room to improve in Florence coverage


It seems like in these natural disaster events, particularly hurricanes, the national news outlets do the worst job in their coverage efforts.

Sites like CNN and Fox News, although well respected in their political and general news stories, fail in most efforts to convey a well-written or scientifically accurate weather story.

CNN’s latest article incorrectly gave a rain rate total that may only be the case in one section of the hurricane, which could also change from one moment to the next. Instead of recognizing the total amount of rainfall possible at the beginning of the story, the biggest killer in tropical cyclone landfall events, they do it later, in the latter half of the story.

Fox News’s latest article has similar issues, although this article has a little more scientific accuracy than CNN’s did.

They did a good job reporting storm surge numbers reported by the National Hurricane Center in their hourly updates. They also included a tweet from the NHC in their story, giving readers a primary source as to where they can get more information.

The two main issues in this article are with the title and a similar problem in CNN’s story.

First, the title focuses on the downgrade of Florence from a Category 2 to a Category 1 Hurricane. The NHC stressed particularly with this storm that it is irrelevant where Florence landed on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, as it will have impacts far beyond just its maximum sustained winds.

Second, it mentions the total amount of rain possible even later than where CNN put it, which should by far be the most significant part of the story.

Carolinas brace for impact of Florence


This Friday, Hurricane Florence will make landfall on the Carolinas as the strongest storm to make landfall on the continental U.S. in the last decade.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been put in place for North and South Carolina, as well as several counties in the surrounding states. While the government has advised that this storm will be catastrophic, some residents have decided to ride out the storm in their homes.

Florence is currently trekking along in the Atlantic Ocean, maintaining its status as a Category 2 storm, but is expected to strengthen before making landfall on Friday.

With wind speeds reported of up to 80 m.p.h., meteorologists say the biggest concern for coastal cities should be the storm surge and heavy rain.

What’s more, Florence appears to be moving slowly at roughly only 10 m.p.h., meaning these wind speed will batter the Carolinas for hours on end.

Aside from Florence, scientists are monitoring four additional tropical disturbances, all expected to develop into storms within the next three days. Sept. 10 marked the peak of Hurricane season.

Dramatics dominate Florence news


At the height of hurricane season, it’s no surprise that a large storm has formed and will hit the East Coast. That being said, news coverage of the storm is verging on theatrics.

It seems that each year the news media’s coverage of natural disasters increases in sheer time allocated towards the events and in the dramatics with which the news is delivered.

While this may very well be due to an increase in the intensity of storms, the news media are not attempting to quell the general population’s discomfort regarding impending natural threats. This leaves the outlet’s intent when covering storms to question: are they just doing their best to spread breaking information for public safety or are they intentionally using fear-inducing tactics to keep a captive and large audience?

This questionable phenomenon is no different with approaching hurricane Florence.

Opening with dubbing the hurricane as “violent,” Washington Post article “Category 4 Hurricane Florence drawing closer to Carolinas and threatens ‘catastrophic’ flooding” by James Samenow, is one of many fear-inducing pieces circling the web.

Throughout the piece Samenow uses various, arguably unnecessary, phrases to describe the approaching hurricane.

Samenow describes the storm as, “monstrous” and “like a bulldozer,” and emphasizes his intentions with verbs like “unleash.”

Even the direct quotations chosen for the piece are ominous. Including one from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper saying, “Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different.”

Granted, Samenow does prove to have some educational intentions with this article through the inclusion of scientific information, quotations, and graphs via sources like The National Hurricane Center, High Plains Regional Climate Center, and The National Weather Service.

Furthermore, Samenow elaborates on various path projections and the fact that storms are very unpredictable.

The article is extremely informative, but the threatening vocabulary scattered throughout the piece points towards underlying intentions beyond informing the masses.

Florence news sends mixed messages


The middle of September is typically the time of the year when the Atlantic Basin is most active for producing tropical cyclones. This year looks to be living up to the norm.

Tropical Storm Florence is flourishing out in the Western Atlantic, several hundred miles southeast of Bermuda. Two other areas of disturbance are located several hundred miles off the coast of Africa. The National Hurricane Center expects both of these areas to be named storms, Helen and Issac, by the end of the weekend.

Florence is quietly sneaking up on the eastern seaboard, which is something many news outlets are simply not picking up on. USA Today wrote an excellent article Thursday outlining the high activity level of the tropics, along with an enticing headline (Florence expected to re-strengthen as it nears the East Coast) giving readers a heads-up.‘s headline is significantly different (Hurricane Florence weakens to tropical storm as New Jersey weekend weather cools considerably). They fail to recognize the point that their area could very well be in the path of this storm at this time next week but instead focus on the fact that Florence has briefly weakened to a tropical storm, which will certainly not last long.

Although it is understandable that news outlets do not want to scare their readers and induce panic and preparation at too early of a stage, it should still be imperative that the word is out there that they could be in the path of a major hurricane in a short amount of time.

Arctic Sea ice near record low level


In 2016, the maximum extent of Arctic sea ice was 5.57 million square miles, the lowest on record. This past year, sea ice extended 5.59 million square miles, an increase from last year.

Despite the small increase from last year, a downward trend in ice coverage has been recorded since satellites began observing sea ice extent in 1979. The sea ice extent for the past four years has been the four lowest on record.

Decreasing Arctic sea ice is a strong indicator that the Arctic is warming. For many, a warming Arctic implies warmer temperatures, but it could be a key factor in explaining the onslaught of winter storms and sub-zero temperatures that have been affecting the northeastern United States for the past month.

“The jet stream is getting weaker and shifting its behavior, sending cold air south from the Arctic and pumping warm air north,” Jennifer A. Francis, an Arctic researcher at Rutgers University, told The New York Times. “We’ve been in this pattern along the East Coast that is very conducive to the formation of nor’easter-type storms, part of the reason for that is because we’ve had this pattern in the jet stream that’s been so persistent.”

The influence of the Arctic on the global climate system is immense. A warming Arctic implies that sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are rising and that the jet stream is becoming unstable, creating massive storms.

In an age where the fight to stop climate change is gaining momentum, data like this is crucial; it continues to imply that global climate change is, and has been, occurring since the Industrial Revolution.

Will lawmakers and government officials finally begin to act on the data that scientists have been collecting for years? Who knows, but as time progresses and we continue to dig ourselves into a deeper hole, one day there will be no going back.

Deadly nor’easter leaves big cleanup


On March 2, a storm known as a nor’easter hit the Atlantic coast, bringing incessant rain, snow and violent winds. The New York Times and CNN reported that the storm killed at least five people, brought down power lines and flooded homes and roads. Residents and travelers were stranded for hours. Some still are.

According to CNN, the deadly storm is now out at sea since Saturday morning. But its effects will remain for days to come. More than 1.2 million people from the mid-Atlantic to New England do not currently have power. The New York Times shared a slightly different number, stating that two million are out of electricity.

CNN shared a statement made by Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, who said that “people in these homes need to plan for a prolonged outage.” It will take days, maybe even weeks until their power is restored.

For people around the country wondering what states were impacted by the nor’easter, The New York Times informed its readers that states in between Maine and “as far south as Georgia” felt the effects.

The New York Times also shared the National Weather Service said that the flooding has caused damage to homes, have forced roads to close and even caused a car to float down a street. Meteorologists said that because the flooding is still severe, more damage is to be expected in the next couple of days.

The storm underwent bombogenesis on Friday, which means that its pressure rapidly dropped. This is why CNN called is a “bomb cyclone.”

On the coast of Massachusetts, winds were 90 miles per hours during the storm. CNN reported that Boston is currently underwater. The storm also dumped large amounts of snow in Ohio, New England and New York.

After experiencing the infamous wrath of Hurricane Irma, the aftermath of this nor’easter is something to which South Floridians can relate. Hopefully, the effects of this deadly storm will ease for the affected people and areas sooner than later.

Houses of worship gain access to aid


President Trump signed into law that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) now must provide houses of worship with equal access to disaster relief funds.  According to FEMA, the policy is effective for all disasters declared on or after Aug. 23, 2017.

Prior to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, FEMA did not allocate aid relief to houses of worship. However, after Harvey and Irma, three Texas churches and two Florida synagogues filed lawsuits against the government for not providing the same relief funding as secular nonprofit organizations received.

One of these cases made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.  FEMA was asked to explain why houses of worship were left out of disaster relief and the agency responded with a new policy protecting these places.

“Private nonprofit houses of worship are now eligible for disaster assistance as community centers, without regard to their secular or religious nature,” according to FEMA.

Becket, a nonprofit law firm aimed at protecting religious freedom, represented the three churches and two synagogues.

“Congress has delivered a big victory for houses of worship everywhere …. It was always strange to tell houses of worship that there is no room at the inn, when they are the first to help in time of need,” said Diana Verm, legal counsel at Becket.

Becket emphasized that houses of worship were some of the first groups to reach out to disaster victims following Harvey and Irma and they consistently reach out to those in need.

The announcement of new law is a major win for faith groups.  The news was celebrated across many faith-based organizations and networks such as CBN, the Times of Israel, and the Orthodox Union.

“We thank the Trump administration for righting this longtime wrong and treating disaster-damaged churches, synagogues and other houses of worship fairly — on the same terms as other nonprofits such as museums, community centers and libraries stricken by natural disaster,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy at the Orthodox Union.

ABC News covered the announcement by telling the story of Pastor Charles Stocker, whose Hi-Way Tabernacle Church was almost destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.

Stoker’s attorney, Daniel Bloomberg told ABC, Churches are “hubs for the community,” which is still recovering from the hurricane. “Denying help to them, to these churches, denies help to the community.”

“By finally following the Constitution, FEMA is getting rid of second-class status for churches,” Bloomberg stated.  “We will watch carefully to make sure that FEMA’s new policy is implemented.”

The Washington Post gave the story a different angle.  It covered the history of houses of worship fighting to receive disaster relief funds since the early 2000s.

The Washington Post also covered both sides of opinions about the announcement.

This announcement may be a big win for faith groups and religious conservatives, but some secular forces see federal disaster relief being allocated to houses of worship as a threat to separation of church and state.

The Washington Post wrote in their article that Dena Sher, assistant legislative director for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said until this week the FEMA guidelines treated religious and nonreligious nonprofits equally, and determined eligibility based on what activities take place.

“Now this gives houses of worship special treatment,” she said.

“It’s troubling. We know communities need support as they rebuild and we can’t ignore fundamental principles of religious freedom. But the constitutional principle at stake says each of us gets to decide how and if to support any religion. That’s the promise the constitution makes and we should hold to it in good times and bad.”

Malibu brush fire sparks investigation


A small brush fire in Malibu, Calif., north of Los Angeles, began early Monday morning, prompting temporary evacuations and threatening structures.

A heat wave resulting in near-record high temperatures was recorded throughout Southern California on Sunday. The heat, along with the powerful Santa Ana winds gusting up to 40 m.p.h., prompted red-flag fire warnings.

First reports of the fire were at 3:15 a.m. in the 23500 block of Civic Center Way in Malibu. The fire in close vicinity to populated areas led officials to issue mandatory evacuations in the Harbor Vista Drive, Colony View Circle and Malibu Crest Drive areas.

An initial estimate of the blaze was around six acres, but the figure was then narrowed to about 2.6 acres. By 5 a.m., containment was at 95 percent and by 5:30 a.m., local evacuations were lifted. Little to no structural damage was reported.

The L.A. County Fire Department reported that the fire was ‘suspicious in nature’ and that an investigation to determine the cause of the fire will be conducted. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but fingers point to a homeless encampment. The investigation is ongoing.

Cal Fire, a subset of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, reported that nearly 120 fires have occurred though Jan. 21 this year. California’s five-year average for that time frame is 86. Red-flag conditions will remain active for the region until the end of the week.