Monday Sunrise Briefing: W. Coast wildfires or 'climate fires'?

AP Photo/John Locher
Shayanne Summers holds her puppy Toph while staying in a tent at an evacuation center Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Oak Grove, Ore. She fled her home near Molalla, Ore. which was threatened by the Riverside Fire.

Millions of West Coast residents stayed indoors this weekend as dense smoke from more than two dozen major wildfires enveloped cities from Los Angeles to Seattle. President Donald Trump blamed poor forest management, while three Democratic governors pointed to climate change. “These are not just wildfires, these are climate fires," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday on ABC's “This Week." In parts of Oregon, air quality was so poor it exceeded the limits of the monitoring equipment. More than 16,000 fire fighters got some reprieve as cooler, wetter air moved over northern Oregon, but southern Oregon and northern California experienced windy conditions Sunday that fanned the flames. Better weather is forecast for Monday. The death toll reached 35 Sunday, mostly in Oregon and California. In Oregon, the fires have forced tens of thousands of people out of their homes. The president is scheduled to visit California Monday for a fire briefing. 

Meanwhile, residents of New Orleans and Bermuda prepped for the arrival of hurricanes. Tropical storm Sally threatens to reach hurricane strength Monday, reaching the Gulf Coast early Tuesday. At 5 a.m. Monday, the eye of Hurricane Paulette was over Bermuda, bringing storm surge and 90 mph winds. With 18 named storms so far, this has been the fourth most active hurricane season on record, tied with the 1969 and 2019 seasons.

2. On the Afghan road to peace. Taliban and Afghan officials launched peace talks Saturday to end decades of war. No one expects progress to be quick. The Afghan negotiation teams face tough issues, including a permanent cease-fire and the disarming of tens of thousands of Taliban fighters and warlord militias. The Afghan government’s team includes four women, who vow to preserve women's right to work, education, and participation in political life, all denied to women when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Separately, the U.S. continues to draw down its troops, from 13,000 in February to about 4,000 by November, said President Donald Trump.

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, September 14, 2020, sunrise briefing.

Here are three news events from this past weekend (while you may have been water skiing, knitting, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

3. NFL shift on racial justice. As the pro football season opened, NFL teams Sunday displayed an array of symbolic gestures in support of racial justice. Perhaps the most dramatic was the orchestrated start of the Seattle Seahawks-Atlanta Falcons game: At the kick off, every player on both teams dropped to one knee where they stood - and the game stopped for 10 seconds. Some teams stayed in the locker room during the national anthem. Some sang the Black anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Some held moments of silence. “To be clear — we were not protesting the flag, the anthem, or the men and women who wear the uniform,” said the Indianapolis Colts. “The timing of this action is meant to highlight that the presence, power and oppression of racism remains inconsistent with the unity and freedoms of what it means to be an American.”

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports NPSTrans toppic
Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates with the 2020 U.S. Open tennis championship trophy after her winning match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the women's singles final in New York Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.

Look Ahead

Tuesday, Sept. 15

Democracy in action. Delaware holds state primary elections. 

Wednesday, Sept. 16 

Leadership change. Japan's parliament is scheduled to officially name their new prime minister today, replacing Shinzo Abe, who announced his resignation last month. On Monday, the Liberal Democratic Party voted internally to elect Yoshihide Suga as the leader of their party. The LDP holds the majority in parliament.

The best of Country. The 55th annual Academy of Country Music Awards, which was postponed from April and moved from Las Vegas to Nashville, will feature performances by Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Luke Combs, and many  more. The show begins at 8 p.m. ET.

Friday, Sept. 18

Let the voting begin. Early, in-person voting for the 2020 U.S. presidential election begins today in Minnesota. Other states will soon follow. 

Saturday, Sept. 19

A monumental opening. The Washington Monument is scheduled to reopen after a three-year renovation project, including work on the elevator and security systems.

Endurance test. The 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race begins today. It’s been held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France.

Tick Tock, TikTok. President Trump set a Sept. 20 deadline for a U.S. company to buy the popular Chinese-owned video app. Microsoft bowed out Sunday, after the owner of TikTok reportedly picked Oracle as its preferred suitor. 

Generosity Watch

Matthew Robertson/The Morning News via AP
State Rep. Terry Alexander and Narzhio the Artist join volunteers painting a Black Lives Matter street mural on Barnes Street in Florence, S.C., Sunday morning, Sept. 6, 2020.

Forget the fake eyelashes and muscle shirts. If you want to be seen as more attractive, try a little generosity. 

New research finds a strong correlation between doing good and looking good

“Poets and philosophers have suggested the link between moral and physical beauty for centuries,” says study coauthor Sara Konrath, an associate professor of philanthropic studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.  She examined three separate studies that looked at how people - from teenagers to older adults -  viewed attractiveness as it relates to giving.

The findings indicate that we innately understand that true beauty rests in character traits, not physical appearances. If you want to give yourself a beauty treatment, try volunteering or donating. 

 “Our findings suggest that beauty products and procedures may not be the only way to enhance an individual’s attractiveness,” Prof. Konrath says, according to an Indiana University press release. “Perhaps being generous could be the next beauty trend.

Hidden gem 

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Back to School: In-person, outside.

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about how art galleries have shifted their approach, and some are thriving during the pandemic. 

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. Is the economy running fast or slow? It depends where you look.
  2. ‘Belarus will never be the same again’: How protests are changing expectations
  3. Where are the Black geoscientists? Diversity call highlights eco-justice.
  4. In superheated Arab world, there are AC haves and have-nots
  5. From ‘I Am Woman’ to ‘Get on Up’: Movies that hit the right note

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