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South Asia cyclone death toll passes 100

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Amphan Cyclone Victime (Dibyangshu Sarkar:AFP)

At least 106 people died in the fiercest cyclone to hit Bangladesh and eastern India since 1999, officials said Friday as aerial footage revealed immense flooding in coastal areas.

Amphan, only the second “super cyclone” ever recorded over the Bay of Bengal, bulldozed houses, tore off roofs, uprooted trees and left millions without power when it hit late on Wednesday.

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Mamata Banerjee, premier of West Bengal said Friday that 80 people died in the Indian state, while Bangladesh’s toll rose to 26, health department spokesperson Ayesha Akhter said.

The total was much lower than the many thousands of fatalities recorded in previous cyclones, thanks to better forecasting and the timely evacuation of over three million people.

However, huge damage was done in coastal areas as vast volumes of seawater rushed inland, inundating villages and shrimp farms that are vital to the Bangladeshi economy.

The United Nations in Geneva said Friday that the saltwater is expected to have “a severe impact on livelihoods for the next 2-3 years”.

West Bengal’s capital Kolkata was also badly hit, with 19 dead, parts of the old city flooded and hangar roofs at the airport caved in on top of aircraft.

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The bodies of 11 people who were electrocuted were recovered from the flooded streets.

The storm also blew off the black weathercock on top of a 205-year-old church in Kolkata city centre that has survived countless cyclones before.

“It was as old as the church,” Father Swarup Bar told AFP. “We have only been able to trace small pieces of one of the wings of the cock so far.”

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday morning flew over the affected areas by helicopter and announced $132 million in government aid.

“The whole country is now with West Bengal at this critical time and we will jointly rebuild the areas ruined by the cyclone,” Modi said.

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The European Union also announced initial funding of 500,000 euros ($545,000) for India and 1.1 million euros for Bangladesh.

– Habitats damaged –

The damage did not appear to be as bad as feared in the Sunderbans, the vast mangrove forest area home to Royal Bengal tigers, Ganges dolphins and other endangered species straddling India and Bangladesh.

“Some Keora trees in the forest have been uprooted and some branches were broken. But overall the damage was not big,” said Amir Hossain Chowdhury, Bangladesh’s chief forester.

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He said that 65 of the forest’s 81 freshwater ponds that are vital for local fauna would now be pumped to remove seawater brought in by a smaller-than-predicted storm surge.

Four teams would also scour the dense 140,000-hectare forest to inspect the damage to wildlife, but so far no dead bodies had been found, he added.

Like in previous cyclones, the vast Sunderbans area, a UNESCO world heritage site dubbed the “lungs of Bangladesh”, acted as a brake on the weather system.


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Things are so bad for Republicans the GOP had to send money to Texas

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In 2016, then-anti-Trump Republican Sen. Linsey Graham proclaimed, "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it." It seems his prediction is coming closer to fruition.

Financial reporting reveals that the Republican Party was forced to send $1.3 million to ruby-red Texas as the election nears.

It was something spotted by ProPublica developer and ex-reporter Derek Willis Sunday.

"That's never happened before," he tweeted.

He noted that the Texas GOP raised $3.3 million in August, but nearly half of that came from their national parents.

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What the London ‘Blitz’ reveals about how much pain and tragedy people can handle in 2020

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It's hard to imagine how 2020 could possibly get worse. "If we lose Betty White," a friend said on a drive to the Supreme Court to lay flowers.

So many Americans have lost friends or family members to COVID-19. Thousands of Americans survived the virus only to desperately needed organ transplants and forever will struggle to breathe the way they once did. Others are still suffering without smell or taste even three months after having the virus. Millions of Americans are out of work. Debt is stacking up for those trying to survive in the COVID economy. A lack of health insurance can mean hospitalizations from the virus are putting people into bankruptcy.

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Stop trying to convince people you’re right — it will never persuade anyone: expert

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MSNBC host Joshua Johnson noted that this year has been full of strife, with Americans having a lot to stand up about. Whether the slaying of unarmed Black men and police brutality, or healthcare, and the coronavirus, Americans are lining up to protest.

Johnson asked if people try to start tough conversations, how do they keep it productive, and when it's time to give up. In her book, We Need to Talk, Celest Headlee explains tools that people can use to have productive conversations about tough issues that help move the needle.

"Keep in mind that a protest isn't a conversation, right?" she first began. "That's a different kind of communication. The first thing is that our goal in conversations is not always a productive one. In other words, oftentimes, we go into these conversations hoping to change somebody's mind or convince them that they are wrong. You're just never going to accomplish that. There's no evidence. We haven't been able to -- through years and years of research we haven't been able to find evidence that over a conversation somebody said, 'You're right, I was completely wrong.' You've convinced me. So, we have to stop trying to do that. We have to find a new purpose for those conversations."

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