California braces for record-setting heatwave, more fires

People flock to the beach in Venice Beach, California to escape the heat wave on September 4, 2020. (AFP / Robyn Beck)
Short Url
Updated 05 September 2020

California braces for record-setting heatwave, more fires

  • Death Valley — located near California's border with Nevada — recording a high of 130 degrees F (54.4 C), one of the hottest

LOS ANGELES: California is bracing for record-breaking temperatures and dangerous fire weather conditions this Labor Day weekend, with the National Weather Service urging people to limit outdoor activity and to stay hydrated.
“Saturday and Sunday will be about 20 to 30 degrees above normal across the entire area,” Frank Fisher, a NWS meteorologist for the southern part of the state, told AFP.
“By Monday, we should be 10 to 20 degrees above normal ... but still very warm and dangerous outside,” he added.
Fisher said temperatures are expected to peak to 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2 Celsius) in the Los Angeles area on Sunday and to 118 Fahrenheit (47.8 Celsius) further inland in Woodland Hills.
Excessive heat warnings through the holiday weekend and possibly beyond have also been issued in other western states including Arizona and Nevada.
The warm temperatures in California come as the state is recovering from another heat wave in mid-August and devastating wildfires that have burned some 1.5 million acres in the last three weeks.
That heat wave also set records, with Death Valley — located near the border with Nevada — recording a high of 130 degrees, one of the hottest temperatures ever measured on Earth with modern instruments.
Weather forecasters said red flag warnings indicating the potential for dangerous fire conditions had been issued in many parts of California for the weekend, notably in the Santa Barbara mountains, north of Los Angeles.
“We have the heat, winds and low humidity,” a perfect cocktail for fires, Fisher said.
“Our big issue with this excessive heat,” he added, “is the fact that it’s a holiday weekend and a lot of people are going out.”
He said the National Weather Service was recommending people refrain from outdoor activities such as hiking and remain indoors during the day.
Once the sun sets, however, evening temperatures are not expected to bring much relief.
“This is going to be the warmest nighttimes we are going to have in a while,” Fisher said. “We are looking for temperatures to be in the upper 70s and even upper 80s, the warmest being Saturday night.”
And if you’re expecting to go to a restaurant in the Los Angeles area or other regions, where only outdoor dining is allowed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, you may want to think twice.
“Outdoor dining is not going to work this weekend,” Fisher said.
The situation is not expected to be any better further north — in the Bay Area and beyond — where dangerous hot conditions are also predicted.
“It’s certainly gonna be hot all over,” said Jonathan Garner, a NWS meteorologist for that region.
“In areas like Ukiah, the record of 108 degrees could be exceeded by one or two degrees,” he told AFP, referring to a city about 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of San Francisco.


How French citizens of Arab origin perceive secularism

Updated 20 min 46 sec ago

How French citizens of Arab origin perceive secularism

  • Secularism “the French way” is running up against a wall of incomprehension in the Arab-Muslim world

LONDON: The opinion poll carried out jointly by Arab News and YouGov provides detailed data on the relationship of French people of Arab origin to secularism in France and reveals a generally benevolent view of the French model.

Indeed, 65 percent of the people questioned affirm that they would defend the French values of secularism in their country of origin. Among the over-45s 80 percent share this opinion. Less than half (46 percent) believe that the French model is not appropriate for Arab countries.

Secularism “the French way” is running up against a wall of incomprehension in the Arab-Muslim world, as strong tensions have demonstrated in recent weeks with some countries calling for a boycott of France.

The French model is mainly based on a triptych set out in the 1905 law on the separation of churches and state: the separation of politics and religion, state neutrality and respect for freedom of conscience. Even though the 1905 law was passed in an anti-clerical context, it is not fundamentally hostile to religion.

The French of Arab origin largely adhere to the 1905 definition of secularism but are reluctant to go beyond it. So 62 percent are opposed to the state restricting the wearing of religious clothing, with the proportion even higher among the younger generation (71 percent). However, responses varied according to the level of income. Of those questioned 34 percent of people with an income below €20,000 ($24,000) per year are in favor of more restrictive laws, compared to 49 percent of people with an income above €40,000.

Since the turn of the century, several laws have been adopted to limit the wearing of religious symbols, such as the 2004 law prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols in schools, and the 2010 law prohibiting the wearing of the burqa in public spaces.

“The French Muslims have generally accepted these new laws and respect them, but are worried about new regulations treating Muslims very differently from other believers,” said Haoues Seniguer, lecturer at Sciences Po Lyon University and a researcher at the Triangle laboratory (ENS/CNRS).

INNUMBERS

  • 65% willing to defend French secularism in their country of origin.
  • 62% oppose state restrictions on wearing religious clothing.

More and more politicians are calling for strong measures in a more radical secularism, in particular to limit the wearing of the veil in public spaces, for example at universities, or when the parents of pupils accompany school trips.

There are two visions of secularism in France. On one hand, there is the liberal legacy of the Third Republic embodied by the French statesman Aristide Briand — who served 11 terms as prime minister and introduced the law of 1905 — for which secularism does not have to interfere with the religiosity of individuals. On the other hand, there is a militant secularism, which considers secularism as a form of individual emancipation with regard to religion.

This second vision of secularism is on the rise today, and it is creating tensions among French Muslims, Seniguer said.

The polarization around the debate on Islam and secularism is not new. “Militant secularism was reinforced at the beginning of the 1990s, in a context of the growing visibility of Muslims in the public spaces and of identity claims, as illustrated by the affair of the scarf of Creil in 1989 (when three Muslim girls were suspended for wearing scarves in school),” Seniguer said.

Moreover, this period has also coincided with that of a globalized Islam and the advance of Islamists in several countries, such as the FIS in Algeria, which has sometimes manifested itself in violence.

The new law against separatism or “consolidating secularism and republican principles,” which has been toughened since the assassination of Samuel Paty, the teacher murdered in a Paris suburb in October, will be on the table of the Council of Ministers on December 9. Enough to further fuel lively new debates on the future of French secularism.