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NEWS BRIEFS

Garden City Telegram

Texas power plants get emergency clearance to crank up output

WASHINGTON - The Department of Energy issued an emergency order allowing several Texas power plants to produce as much electricity as possible, a move expected to violate anti-pollution rules that comes amid a deepening electricity crisis in the state that has cut power to millions of homes.

The Energy Department order, requested by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, authorizes power plants throughout the state to run a maximum output levels, even as such a move is anticipated to result in a violation of limits of pollution.

The order comes as millions of Texas households suffer rolling blackouts for the first time in a decade as an unprecedented Arctic freeze sends temperatures plummeting across much of the U.S. Large swaths of Dallas, Houston and other cities are being plunged into darkness for an hour at a time - and in some cases longer - as surging demand for heat pushes the power grid to the brink. Outages are expected to continue into early Tuesday, grid operators said during a briefing Monday.

“This weather event is expected to result in record winter electricity demand that will exceed even ERCOT’s most extreme seasonal load forecasts,” said the order, which was signed by acting Energy Secretary David Huizenga late Sunday night, referring to the council.

The Energy Department issued a similar order to address blackouts in California last year. - Bloomberg News

Social media video leads police to suspect in Chihuahua's death

LOS ANGELES - Riverside, California, police have arrested a 19-year-old Riverside man on suspicion of animal cruelty after being tipped off about a social media post showing a severely injured Chihuahua who later died.

On Saturday, authorities received a call about a video posted online of a small Chihuahua with a large laceration to its neck gasping for air, the Riverside Police Department said. The video showed a young man standing over the Chihuahua and discussing hurting the dog, police said.

Police traced the posting through the social media profile to the 3500 block of Lou Ella Lane in Riverside, where they found a man who matched the description of the suspect in the video, allegedly with fresh blood stains on his clothes and cuts on his hands, police said in a news release.

Police detained Angel Ramos, who they said was in possession of illegal metal knuckles. In the apartment's bedroom, officers found a months-old Chihuahua clinging to life with a severe neck wound, police said.

The Riverside County Department of Animal Services took the puppy to a pet clinic, but the wounds were too grave and the animal had to be euthanized, police said.

Ramos was arrested and charged with two felony counts — possession of metal knuckles and animal cruelty. He was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center, but due to the coronavirus-related emergency bail schedule for nonviolent offenses, Ramos was released from custody with a notice to appear later in court, the Police Department said. - Los Angeles Times

COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium to reopen for second doses

LOS ANGELES - Dodger Stadium and several other COVID-19 vaccination sites that were shuttered last week due to shortages are set to reopen Tuesday, though continuing supply problems mean the vast majority of shots administered will be second doses, Los Angeles officials said.

People vaccinated in mid-January were automatically slotted into appointments for most of the city's anticipated weekly supply of 54,000 Moderna doses and 4,000 Pfizer doses, a prioritization that the city said complied with directives by county and federal health officials.

Just 4,600 doses will be set aside for initial immunizations and will be administered at Pierce College and at mobile clinics in hard-hit sections of South and East L.A.

Thousands more are expected to get their initial dose on the campus of Cal State L.A., where a site jointly run by the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is to begin operations Tuesday.

That site will have the capacity to vaccinate up to 6,000 people daily and is part of a Biden administration effort to roll out 100 vaccination sites nationwide in the first 100 days of the president's term. The Cal State site and a second one at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum were selected, Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week, to focus on underserved areas devastated by the virus and ensure "communities that are often left behind are not left behind."

Meanwhile, teachers and other L.A. Unified School District employees will get their first designated vaccination site Wednesday. The operation at the Roybal Learning Center near downtown will be available to district staff age 65 and older along with those assigned to work at immunization sites.

About 6 million vaccine doses have been administered in California with just under 1.5 million in L.A. County. The virus is on the decline nationally and across the state. Over the past week, the daily average of new cases in California has fallen by 51% versus two weeks ago.

At the peak of infections last month, the county was averaging 241 related deaths per day. The county recorded 82 related deaths Sunday, though the number might have been affected by weekend reporting delays. - Los Angeles Times

58 countries sign declaration against arbitrary arrests

Fifty-eight countries signed a declaration against countries detaining each others' nationals for political leverage in international relations in a move widely seen as targeting countries like Iran and China.

Canada led the initiative to denounce the practice of arbitrary arrests. Beijing has detained several citizens from Canada, Australia and other countries and has carried out mass incarcerations of residents in Hong Kong, including some dual nationals.

“Today, a quarter of all countries, from all continents, come together to tell those who are being arbitrarily detained for diplomatic gain that they are not alone - we stand with them,” said Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau in an emailed statement. “This illegal and immoral practice puts citizens of all countries at risk and it undermines the rule of law. It is unacceptable and it must stop.”

The announcement comes as relations between China and Western democracies continue to sour over tense economic relations, violent crackdowns in Hong Kong and persecution of China’s Uighur Muslim minority.

Chinese officials last week formally arrested an Australian television anchor on national security charges. Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovring have been held since December 2018 after the Vancouver arrest of Huawei Technologies Co.’s Meng Wanzhou over a U.S. extradition request. - Bloomberg News