Nearly 1 million without power as winter storms wallop 25 states – National & International News – THU 23Feb2023


Nearly 1 million without power as winter storms wallop 25 states.

Biden proposal to restrict asylum at border criticized.

Gaza and Israel exchange rocket fire for second time this year.



Nearly 1 million without power as winter storms wallop 25 states

Western and northern states are experiencing severe storms with heavy snowfall which will continue for the next few days. At the moment, nearly 1 million people across the affected states are without power. Over 800,000 of those are in Michigan. Since yesterday, more than 2500 flights have been canceled and over 5000 have been delayed.

Road travel is also very hazardous. In the most hard hit states, authorities have warned residents to stay indoors and stay off the roads. This includes states where residents are accustomed to icy conditions and snow. But areas that rarely see heavy snow are also getting it now, including Las Vegas, Nevada, and Los Angeles County in California. Even after the blizzards subside, dangerously low temperatures will move in, keeping conditions icy for days.

There is some hope that the snow might help to somewhat alleviate drought conditions in California and the Midwest. Last year, a shortfall of precipitation in the Midwest lowered water levels in the Mississippi River to the point that barges had difficulty moving freight.

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Biden proposal to restrict asylum at border criticized

Earlier this year, the Biden administration expanded Title 42 restrictions to immigrants from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba and Haiti. Title 42 allows border authorities to immediately expel arrivals at the border without allowing them to seek asylum. At the same time, the administration created a new pathway to allow people from these countries to apply for temporary visas from their home countries. However, many immigrant advocates say that the requirements for these visas are too restrictive and deny access to the most vulnerable people.

This week, the administration announced a proposal to further restrict who can apply for asylum in the US. This program would declare anyone ineligible to apply for asylum if they passed through a third country without seeking protection in that third country. Advocates for immigration rights say this program will cause “unnecessary suffering” for the most vulnerable asylum seekers. The move has also been criticized as a carbon-copy of Trump-era policies that Biden promised to abolish. The administration denies this, saying it makes exceptions in certain cases where Trump’s policy didn’t.

Biden seems to have introduced these policies as a way to appease Republican critics, most of whom still say they are too permissive. 

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Gaza and Israel exchange rocket fire again after deadly West Bank raids

For the second time this year, Gaza and Israel have exchanged rocket fire. Six rockets were fired into southern Israel from Gaza at dawn this morning, five of which were intercepted by Iron Dome. Israel then carried out airstrikes on what it claims were two militant sites in Gaza. So far there are no reports of deaths or injuries. 

As in the previous instance in January, the rocket attacks from Gaza came after a deadly Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank. On Wednesday, troops entered the West Bank city of Nablus, with the stated goal of capturing some militants who were planning attacks on Jewish Israelis. In the densely occupied area, 11 Palestinians were killed, including three elderly men and a 16-year-old boy. Over 100 more were injured. 

Since last year, Israeli security forces have been carrying out violent raids in the West Bank in response to terrorist attacks. Palestinian authorities say that most of the people killed in these raids are unarmed civilians. In the Nablus raid, witnesses described soldiers firing at people indiscriminately, including into crowds and at passers-by.

Last year, the Israeli army killed 171 Palestinians, 30 of them children, in the West Bank, making it the West Bank’s deadliest year since 2006. So far in 2023, Israeli security forces have killed 62 Palestinians, including 13 children, in the occupied territories.

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