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Aug 20, 2020: Thousands Flee California Fires

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Many thousands of Californians are fleeing their homes to avoid massive wildfires that are tearing through it and other western states. Governor Gavin Newsom has declared an emergency and warned that more could face urgent evacuation.

Meanwhile, Kamala Harris officially accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for the office of vice-president. She joined former President Barack Obama last night in calling out the dire threat of a second term for Donald Trump.

And lastly, do you have too much toxic positivity in your life? Because apparently that’s a real thing!


More than three hundred and sixty-seven wildfires are raging across Northern California, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes during a pandemic. Lighting is to blame for most of the blazes. Nearly eleven thousand lighting strikes were recorded over the previous three days. Most were not accompanied by rain. Scientists say increased lightning activity in various places around the world can be attributed to climate change resulting from the burning of fossil fuels by humans. A group of fires outside Vacaville, near Sacramento, covers more land area than Washington, DC, and has destroyed more than fifty homes. Thousands more homes are threatened around the state. Other large groups of wildfires threaten the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Cruz County, southwest of Silicon Valley.

Smoke from the fires has caused terrible air quality across the state. California’s firefighting resources are already stretched to their limit. Officials have called in three-hundred and seventy-five additional fire engines and crews from neighboring states. But neighboring states including Nevada and Oregon are dealing with their own fires. Colorado’s ongoing Pine Gulch Fire has grown into the second-largest fire in state history. Most of the California wildfires remain uncontained at the time of this recording. In the hardest-hit areas, firefighters are focused on helping people evacuate rather than containment.

The weather isn’t helping. An intense heat wave beginning last week brought rolling blackouts to the Bay Area. Some two million homes and businesses were warned they could lose power. And on Sunday, a world record high temperature of one hundred and twenty-nine point nine degrees Farenheit was recorded in Death Valley. This is the new normal, folks.

Some evacuees in California say they got no warning to evacuate until neighbors began pounding on their doors. If you are being evacuated, call the Red Cross hotline at one, eight six six, two seven two, twenty-two thirty seven. That’s one, eight six six, two seven two, two two three seven. They will help you figure out where to go to get a temporary roof over your head.

Harris accepts VP nomination

Night three of the Democratic National Convention brought out a bevy of woman leaders to welcome Kamala Harris as the party’s the vice presidential nominee. Seven women governors spoke on the theme of women’s leadership, which is simply not something that could be replicated by the Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also enjoyed speaking slots.

Harris, the former prosecutor and Senator from California, last night formally became the first woman of color to be nominated for the White House by a major party. She attacked Donald Trump, saying he turned tragedies into political weapons. Harris said we must elect QUOTE a president who will bring all of us together — Black, White, Latino, Asian, Indigenous — to achieve the future we collectively want. We must elect Joe Biden ENDQUOTE.

Former President Barack Obama delivered a powerful speech comparing Black Lives Matter to the civil rights movement. Haddressed Republican attempts to undermine ballot access and election integrity. Obama also, at long last, spoke of the threat to democracy posed by Trump. Obama said QUOTE I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care. But he never did ENDQUOTE. Still a master of understatement!

Psychologists: beware "toxic positivity"

The Washington Post interviewed a number of psychologists and mental health experts to draw attention to an American scourge. It’s called toxic positivity.

Recently we reported that record numbers of Americans are experiencing anxiety and depression, due in no small part to the pandemic and... everything else. Toxic positivity is a habit some people have developed that can actually make it harder for themselves and others to process negative emotions. The problem isn’t to do with people who are genuinely effusive or upbeat. Rather, it’s about the way some people are always saying it’s fine, or it will be fine, no matter what the facts of the situation actually are. That kind of thing can prevent people from working through serious issues in a healthy way, according to the Post. Natalie Dattilo, a clinical psychologist in Boston, compares toxic positivity to shoving ice cream into somebody’s face when they don’t feel like having ice cream. Unhelpful! Dattilo says QUOTE ‘Looking on the bright side’ in the face of tragedy of dire situations like illness, homelessness, food insecurity, unemployment or racial injustice is a privilege that not all of us have. So promulgating messages of positivity denies a very real sense of despair and hopelessness, and they only serve to alienate and isolate those who are already struggling ENDQUOTE.

Another psychologist, Stephanie Preston, says people who engage in toxic positivity may seem more well-adjusted, but they’re really holding themselves and people around them back. Experts quoted by the Post say people should feel how they feel, rather than get caught up in how they think they should feel. One thing is sure, you won’t get any of that toxic positivity from us. That’s the AM Quickie promise!


At least ten Mexican states plus Mexico City are considering bills that would ban children from buying junk food. Under the proposals, sugar-sweetened drinks and highly processed foods would be restricted much like alcohol and tobacco, and prohibited for purchase by anyone under age eighteen. Several United Nations agencies including the World Health Organization have expressed support for the new laws. Soft drink lobbyists say their products are being unfairly demonized. They would, though.

After an emergency session, the European Union has decided not to certify the results of the election in Belarus, and will refuse to recognize Alexander Lukashenko (LUKE-UH-SHENK-OH) as president. Meanwhile, the Guardian reported, riot police have returned the streets of the capitol, Minsk. And the Belarusian defence ministry has ordered an increased military presence along the borders with Poland and Lithuania. EU sanctions against Lukashenko and his aides at this point seem likely.

The leaders of a military coup in Mali say they plan to hold new elections, one day after arresting the president and the prime minister. Five colonels appeared in a video message broadcast yesterday morning. But according to the New York Times a general in the military also led the coup. That general, Cheick Fanta Mady Dembele, is reportedly staying in the shadows because he was trained in France, and the coup leaders do not want to be associated with the former colonial power.

On the same day his White House press secretary repeated his threat to reject the result of the election, Donald Trump endorsed the Q-Anon movement. Asked twice in a press conference about conspiracy theorists who believe he is saving the world from satanic pedophiles and cannibals, Trump asked, rhetorically, is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? Then he said QUOTE if I can help save the world from problems, I will do it. And we are, actually. We are saving the world from a radical left philosophy ENDQUOTE. Trump cast Q-Anon believers as patriots. He also repeated his threat to deploy federal troops to Democratic Party strongholds such as Portland, New York, and Chicago.

That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report.

Aug 20, 2020 - AM Quickie

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Corey Pein

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw