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Heat Wave in Pacific Northwest Could Break Records

A heat wave this weekend could surpass daily records in parts of the Pacific Northwest and worsen wildfires already burning in western Canada, a historically temperate region that has grappled with scorching summer temperatures and unprecedented wildfires fueled by climate change in recent years.

“We’re looking at record-breaking temperatures,” said Miles Higa, meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Portland office, describing the warmth as “unusual for this time of year.”

The unseasonal high temperatures could further fuel the dozens of fires burning in Canada’s western Alberta province, where officials have ordered evacuations and declared a state of emergency. Residents and officials in the Northwest have been trying to adjust to the likely reality of longer, hotter heat waves following the deadly “heat dome ” weather phenomenon in 2021 that prompted record temperatures and deaths across the region.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory Friday lasting from Saturday through Monday for much of the western parts of both Oregon and Washington state. It said the temperatures could raise the risk of heat-related illness, particularly for those who are dehydrated or don’t have effective cooling.

Temperatures in Portland, Oregon, are expected to hover around (94 degrees Fahrenheit) (34.4 degrees Celsius) throughout the weekend, according to the website of the National Weather Service office there. The current daily temperature records for May 13 and 14 stand at 92 F (33.3 C) and 91 F (32.8 C), dating from 1973 and 2014, respectively.

Air-conditioned buses free

Temperatures in the Seattle area could also meet or surpass daily records, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch. The mercury could near 85 F (29.4 C) Saturday and reach into the low 90s F (32.2 C) Sunday, he said.

King County, home to Seattle, directed transportation operators such as bus drivers to let people ride for free if they’re seeking respite from the heat or heading to a cooling center. The city’s regional homeless authority said several cooling and day centers will be open across the county.

Authorities also urged people to be wary of cold-water temperatures, should they be tempted to take a river or lake swim to cool off.

“Rivers are still running cold. We have snow melting and temperatures … probably in the low- to mid-40s (4.4 to 7.2 C) right now,” National Weather Service meteorologist Higa said. “You’re nice and warm and jump into the cold water — that could pose a risk to getting cold water shock.”

Outreach to vulnerable

Residents and officials in the Pacific Northwest have become more vigilant about heat wave preparations after some 800 people died in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia during the heat dome weather event in late June and early July 2021. The temperature at the time soared to an all-time high of 116 F (46.7 C) in Portland and smashed heat records in cities and towns across the region. Many of those who died were older people who lived alone.

In response, Oregon passed a law requiring all new housing built after April 2024 to have air conditioning installed in at least one room. The law already prohibits landlords in most cases from restricting tenants from installing cooling devices in their rental units.

Last summer, Portland launched a heat response program with the goal of installing portable heat pump and cooling units in low-income households, prioritizing residents who are older and live alone, as well as those with underlying health conditions. Local nonprofits participating in the program installed more than 3,000 units last year, according to the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

One of those nonprofits, Verde, said interest in the units has been high. Verde has installed roughly 180 units so far this year, and their waitlist last year was nearly 500 people long, said Ricardo Moreno, a project manager for the group who oversees its heat response program.

“People we’ve talked to, mostly elderly people with some health conditions, they all shared that having these units have made a world of difference and definitely improved the quality of their lives through the summer,” Moreno said.

Another local nonprofit, the African American Alliance for Homeownership, installed 1,200 units last year and 75 units so far this year, program manager Richard Hines-Norwood said.

Officials in Multnomah County, home to Portland, said they weren’t planning on opening special cooling centers for now but are monitoring the forecast and can do so if needed.

“This is the first significant event … and it is early for us,” said Chris Voss, the county’s director of emergency management. “We’re not seeing a situation where we are hearing that this is extremely dangerous. That being said, we don’t know if it’s going to drift.”

Outreach teams have started visiting homeless encampments to let them know about the resources available to them, Voss said. Air-conditioned libraries are an example of a public place where people can cool off, he added.

Los Angeles Library Evolves with Changing City

The Los Angeles Public Library evolved from donated space over a saloon to a sprawling system with an imposing central library downtown. An exhibition looks back at the drama surrounding the library through its 150-year history. Mike O’Sullivan reports.

US-Mexico Border Appears Calm After Lifting of Pandemic Asylum Restrictions

The border between the U.S. and Mexico was relatively calm Friday, offering few signs of the chaos that had been feared following a rush by worried migrants to enter the U.S. before the end of pandemic-related immigration restrictions.

Less than 24 hours after the Title 42 rule was lifted, migrants and government officials were still assessing the effect of the change and the new regulations adopted by President Joe Biden’s administration to stabilize the region.

“We did not see any substantial increase in immigration this morning,” said Blas Nunez-Neto of the Department of Homeland Security. He said the agency did not have specific numbers because it was early in the day.

Migrants along the border continued to wade into the Rio Grande to take their chances at getting into the U.S. while defying officials shouting for them to turn back. Others hunched over cellphones, trying to access the appointment app that is a centerpiece of the new measures. Migrants with appointments walked across a bridge hoping for a new life. And lawsuits sought to stop some of the measures.

Migrants are now essentially barred from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they did not first apply online or seek protection in the countries they traveled through. Families allowed in as their immigration cases progress will face curfews and GPS monitoring.

Across the river from El Paso in Ciudad Juarez, many migrants watched their cellphones in hopes of getting a coveted appointment to seek entry. The application to register to enter the U.S. had changed, and some were explaining to others how to use it.

Nearby, other migrants were charging their phones on a lamppost to try to get an appointment. Most of them were resigned to wait.

The legal pathways touted by the administration consist of a program that permits up to 30,000 people a month from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter if they apply online with a financial sponsor and enter through an airport.

About 100 processing centers are opening in Guatemala, Colombia and elsewhere for migrants to apply to go to the U.S., Spain or Canada. Up to 1,000 can enter daily through land crossings with Mexico if they snag an appointment on the app.

If it works, the system could fundamentally alter how migrants come to the southern border. But Biden, who is running for reelection, faces withering criticism from migrant advocates, who say he’s abandoning more humanitarian methods, and from Republicans, who claim he’s soft on border security.

Melissa Lopez, executive director for diocesan migrant and refugee services at El Paso, said the streets were calm Friday, with few migrants present.

After talking with many migrants, she said they were willing to follow the pathway created by the federal government, but there is also fear about deportation and possible criminal penalties for people who cross the border illegally.

The lull came after days in which large numbers of migrants crossed the border in hopes of being allowed to stay in the United States before the Title 42 restrictions expired.

Farther west, hundreds of migrants, mostly families, sat in two dozen rows between the border walls between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, as Border Patrol agents walked among them and selected who would be allowed to leave to be processed. When some got up with them, those left behind cheered.

Gloria Inigo of Peru said she hoped her family would be next. Inigo, her husband and two girls, ages 5 and 8, crossed the border Wednesday before the new rules went into effect. She said she had heard about the rules and wanted to get in before then, but she was surprised so many others were doing the same thing.

“I have faith,” she said of being able to get asylum in the U.S.

The expired rule, known as Title 42, has been in place since March 2020. It allowed border officials to quickly return asylum-seekers back over the border on the ground of preventing the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. has declared the national emergency over, ending the restrictions.

While Title 42 prevented many from seeking asylum, it carried no legal consequences, encouraging repeat attempts. After Thursday, migrants face being barred from entering the U.S. for five years and possible criminal prosecution.

Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz said Friday in a tweet that the agency had apprehended 67,759 people in the last week. That averages out to 9,679 per day — nearly twice the average daily level of 5,200 from March.

It’s slightly below the 11,000 figure that authorities said was the upper limit of what they expected after Title 42 ended, but it wasn’t clear where numbers peaked in the hours before Title 42 expired Thursday night.

“We’re seeing precisely the challenge we expected,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We cannot control the movement of people before they reach our border.”

Border holding facilities were already far beyond capacity in the run-up to Title 42’s expiration. Officials had orders to release people with a notice to report to an immigration office in 60 days if facilities reached 125% capacity or when they were held 60 hours or more. The quick releases were also to be triggered when authorities stopped 7,000 migrants along the border in a day.

But late Thursday, a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump temporarily halted the administration’s plans to release people into the U.S. and set a court date on whether to extend the ruling. Customs and Border Protection said it would comply but called it a “harmful ruling that will result in unsafe overcrowding.”

G7 Talks Focus on Ways to Fortify Banks, Supply Chains

Bank runs, cybersecurity and supply chain reliability were among items on the agenda of closed-door financial talks Friday in Japan by the Group of Seven advanced economies. 

Tensions with China, and with Russia over its war on Ukraine, loomed large on the wide horizon of issues the G-7 is tackling this year in Japan, its only Asian member. 

But while G-7 finance ministers and central bank chiefs discussed ways to protect the international rules-based order and prevent what they are calling “economic coercion” by China, Beijing lashed back, accusing the club of wealthy nations of hypocrisy. 

China is a victim of economic coercion, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Friday. 

“If any country should be criticized for economic coercion, it should be the United States. The U.S. has been overstretching the concept of national security, abusing export controls and taking discriminatory and unfair measures against foreign companies,” Wang said in a routine news briefing. 

China accuses Washington of hindering its rise as an increasingly affluent, modern nation through trade and investment restrictions that the United States says are needed to protect American economic security. 

Speaking before the talks began, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said such measures are “narrowly targeted” and focused on national security. 

“It’s not focused on undermining China’s economic competitiveness or preventing them to advance economically,” Yellen said. 

Asked what G-7 countries mean by trying to prevent “economic coercion,” namely by China, Yellen cited trade actions by Beijing against Australia as one example. 

“There have been examples of China using economic coercion on countries that take actions that China’s not happy with from the geopolitical perspective,” she said. “We in the G-7 share a common concern with this kind of activity and are looking to see what we can try to do to try to counter this kind of behavior.” 

China’s relations with the 27-nation European Union, which is also a member of the G-7, have also been frayed by friction over trade and over its tacit support for Russia. 

Leaders attending the talks in Niigata said they would be considering ways to prevent countries from skirting sanctions against Moscow meant to hinder its ability to continue the war. 

Both the U.S. and European Union maintain they are not advocating “decoupling,” or dismantling extensive economic ties with China, but support “de-risking” relations to avoid becoming too dependent on China. 

For its G-7 presidency, Japan has prioritized launching a partnership with low- and middle-income countries to build “robust supply chains” to help cut carbon emissions. One key area of concern for all G-7 countries is the heavy concentration in China of suppliers of rare earth materials needed in many high-tech products. 

Meanwhile, recent failures of banks in the U.S. and Europe have added to the complexity of steering the world economy toward a sustained recovery from the pandemic while cooling inflation that surged to multidecade highs in the past year. 

“It’s become clear that financial worries can spread in an instant via social networking sites, and online banking, allowing money withdrawals outside business hours, can cause bank runs,” Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said Thursday. 

The collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and other lenders stemmed largely from the pressure of interest rate hikes that, by making borrowing more expensive, are designed to slow business activity and cool inflation. 

The meetings in Niigata are a good chance to “compare notes and to see how we can make the world a little bit more stable and reach the price stability that we very much want to arrive at in short order,” Christine Lagarde, head of the European Central Bank, said in videotaped comments posted online. 

Overhanging the financial experts’ talks is the question of whether U.S. President Joe Biden and Congress will agree to raise the ceiling on the national debt before the U.S. government runs out of money to pay its bills. Yellen said a default on the national debt would be catastrophic and was “unthinkable.” 

A meeting between Biden and lawmakers on the issue was pushed back to May 18 to allow staff talks to continue over the weekend. Administration officials portrayed it as a positive step, and it did not appear to indicate a breakdown in talks. 

The three days of talks in Niigata, a port city on the Sea of Japan, are the last in a series of ministerial meetings to prepare for a summit of G-7 leaders next week in Hiroshima.