Today in the news: Australia's fire risk is 'catastrophic'

Richard Montgomery

News to know

Extremely hot temperatures and strong wind have led Australiam officials to declare a "catastrophic" fire risk in New South Wales, according to CNN.

Temperatures in the area have reached as high as 109 degrees Fahrenheit and winds have reached speeds of more than 43 mph. While only four areas of the state have a "catastrophic" threat level, over 90 percent of the state is at a fire risk of "severe" or above. A "catastrophic" fire warning means conditions are right for a fire that causes loss of lives and the destruction of many homes.

State fire services were granted access to Defense Force bases and supplies as they fought the more than 130 fires burning in the area. The unusual heat and delayed monsoon have increased fire risk all across Australia, with fires breaking out in the Tasmania region in the first days of 2013.

Quote of note

"The goal is to try and fill the void that is the middle. The American political system is like a doughnut: You've got sides, but you don't have anything in the middle, and it would be my goal to work with Republicans and Democrats who want to find the path forward to getting things done and compromise." - Steven LaTourette, former Ohio representative and president of the newly-named Main Street Partnership, to Yahoo News. The Washington-based group was formerly called the Republican Main Street Partnership, but has recently dropped the word "Republican" and began welcoming Democrats to join. The group seeks to support center-right lawmakers.

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GateHouse News Service