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As death toll mounts, volunteers brave Oregon wildfires to rescue stranded livestock

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Volunteers struggle to gather sheep for rescue near Colton, Ore., in the Riverside wildfire south of Portland. <span class="copyright">(Richard Read / Los Angeles Times)</span>
Volunteers struggle to gather sheep for rescue near Colton, Ore., in the Riverside wildfire south of Portland. (Richard Read / Los Angeles Times)

The plea for help appeared on Facebook just after noon: Dozens of animals were trapped on a farm outside the Oregon town of Colton. A wildfire was closing in.

Suzi Cloutier jumped in her pickup and headed south, towing a horse trailer.

As director of an animal sanctuary outside Portland, Cloutier has been on high alert amid some of the worst wildfires in Oregon history.

She sped past barricades near Colton, 30 miles south of Portland on the front lines of the 136,000-acre Riverside fire.

When she met half a dozen other volunteers at the end of a remote gravel road, she saw a barnyard full of alpacas, sheep and chickens within 100 yards of billowing smoke. The woman who lived there had fled.

Her son was waiting for help to arrive. He and the volunteers, along with some neighbors, quickly arranged fencing in a funnel formation, then nudged 30 jittery sheep almost to the trailer doors.

Suddenly, the herd spooked and bolted past stunned gatekeepers and back to the barnyard.

“OK, what happened?” Cloutier asked her crew. “When the sheep are in, you have to close the gate behind them immediately.”

The volunteers would have to keep trying.

That was Friday. As of Monday, three dozen wildfires had burned more than 1 million acres in Oregon, killed 10 people, left more than two dozen missing, wiped out several towns, blanketed the state in thick smoke and forced more than 40,000 people to flee their homes.

The air quality in Portland this week was worse than that of any other major city on the planet. On Monday, Alaska Airlines suspended all flights in and out of the airport there to avoid exposing its employees and passengers to dangerously contaminated air.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told reporters Monday that “without question our state has been pushed to its limits” by the fires. 

“It’s really hard for all of us to wrap our heads around the devastation that these fires have caused, and the pain and the suffering that so many Oregonians have endured over the past few days,” she said.

The good news was that progress had been made on many of the fires, and officials were hopeful that cooler temperatures and higher humidity expected into the weekend would help.

Still, some fires are expected to keep burning until fall rains arrive, said Doug Grafe, a senior fire official at the Oregon Forestry Department.

About 5,600 firefighters were battling the blazes — up from 3,000 two days earlier — and more were expected to arrive soon from North Dakota and Minnesota.

Amid the devastation, hundreds of volunteers have been scrambling to rescue pets and livestock, sometimes literally driving through flames to reach the stranded creatures.

Confusion reigned as rural residents brought hundreds of animals to the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in the city of Canby, only to relocate most of them after hearing — wrongly, it turned out — that an evacuation was being ordered.

Fires spread so quickly last week that many people who evacuated lacked time to round up livestock, or trucks and trailers to transport their animals.

Frantic owners posted plaintive messages on social media with photographs and locations, in hopes that strangers would try to retrieve them.

“My horse is still standing alone at my burned down house,” said a post last week on Cowgirl 911, a Facebook group created to enable rescues. “He has one white foot. He is a bay.”

The owner included a video clip of the horse and an address in the town of Vida, 30 miles east of Eugene, that was in the path of the Holiday Farm fire, 160,000 acres and growing.

Stephanie Olson, 32, a backcountry pack-horse guide who lives outside the central Oregon city of Bend, finally reached the owner and arranged Saturday to retrieve the big bay named Toby, as well as some other horses nearby.

The two-hour drive west to Vida was a tour of destruction. After crossing 4,800-foot Santiam Pass, Olson wound through the McKenzie River Valley and past the charred remains of the town of Blue River.

It was midday when she reached a roadblock and explained her mission to a state trooper.

“Just go, do what you need to do,” he said.

Vida’s outskirts were on fire when she arrived, horse pastures flanked by burning trees. Olson spent hours trying to wrangle two mares, one of which had never worn a halter.

Five firefighters sprayed water on flames at the base of the trees, cutting some down as she pursued the horses and darkness fell.

Olson caught one mare and loaded it into her trailer, then the other.

Finally, she found Toby and loaded him into the trailer of another rescuer.

Olson made it home that night. She was caring for five horses she evacuated and said she aimed to make more rescue attempts.

“I may go to Paisley,” she said Monday evening, when it appeared that the Brattain fire was quickly approaching the town in southern Oregon.

Elsewhere in the state, rare California condors were among the creatures whisked to safety. Zoo keepers removed more than 40 of them from a breeding center south of Portland where seven chicks hatched last spring and were being raised to be released into the wild.

Twenty-six of the birds were driven to the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. Others went to the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

“It’s a tough decision to go in and disrupt a bunch of breeding birds with their chicks,” said Leah Medley, the Peregrine Fund propagation manager.

Leah Medley, left, Heather Springsteed and Carolina Granthon examine a condor in Boise. <span class="copyright">(Peregrine Fund)</span>
Leah Medley, left, Heather Springsteed and Carolina Granthon examine a condor in Boise. (Peregrine Fund)

In the Portland suburb of Sherwood, the DevonWood Equestrian Center, a dressage facility closed because of the coronavirus, has taken in more than 300 horses, llamas, goats, sheep, chickens and other animals.

Manager Noah Rattner said he would accept almost any animal except cattle, which could demolish stalls designed for expensive horses.

As for the rescue effort near Colton, Cloutier and other volunteers managed to save a young Jersey bull after a neighbor lured the ornery animal to safety, holding out a bucket of grain and dancing backward, just out of range of his sharp horns.

Animal rescuers coax a bull to safety as a wildfire advances near Molalla, Ore. <span class="copyright">(Richard Read / Los Angeles Times)</span>
Animal rescuers coax a bull to safety as a wildfire advances near Molalla, Ore. (Richard Read / Los Angeles Times)

Ten feet from the doors of a trailer, he veered right and jumped a rope strung between the truck and a tree. But the volunteers eventually enticed him into the trailer and bolted the doors.

They also captured 10 alpacas, two horses, a mini mule and several chickens and ducks.

All that remained were the sheep. Four men who had shown up later in the day vowed to lasso them. Cloutier rolled her eyes.

“You can’t rope sheep,” she said.

She was right. The owner of Zeb’s Wish Equine Sanctuary, in Sandy, Ore., knows more than horses. She led the volunteers as they coaxed 10 sheep into a trailer.

Twenty more, panicked by the smoke and the chase, could not be caught.

“It was too late,” Cloutier said. “There’s a point where it’s futile. You’re just putting a lot of lives at risk. It’s sad.”

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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United to become 1st U.S. airline to offer passengers COVID-19 tests

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Yahoo News

United Airlines has announced plans to start offering COVID-19 tests to certain passengers, becoming the first U.S. airline to do so, CNN reports.

The airline on Thursday said that beginning on Oct. 15, passengers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii will be able to take either a rapid COVID-19 test at the airport or a test that they can administer at home prior to the trip.

At the airport, United will offering Abbott’s COVID-19 test that provides results in 15 minutes. For the mail-in test from Color, passengers will be able to return it through mail or a drop box and get the results back in between 24 and 48 hours. According to CBS News, the rapid testing at the airport “takes about 20 minutes from arrival to result and initially will cost $250,” while the at-home testing “will be $80 plus shipping and go to a San Francisco lab for processing.”

This program, United said, will help ensure that these passengers who test negative for COVID-19 will not be subject to Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine requirements. As CNN notes, Hawaii says that those who “are tested no earlier than 72 hours before their flight arrives with an FDA-approved nucleic acid amplification test” can avoid the 14-day quarantine.

United Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist says the company will “look to quickly expand customer testing to other destinations and U.S. airports later this year.”

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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The Coming 5G Boom Is Not Fully Priced in These 2 Stocks

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Yahoo Finance

5G, first introduced two years ago, is expanding past its initial phases and has reached the edge of a great boom. There are 105 5G networks worldwide, and device manufacturers have released over 160 5G smartphones, tablets, and other products onto the commercial market – and there are over 230 million 5G subscribers worldwide. The new tech is here, and it’s ready to expand.

That expansion will bring a series of benefits to wireless users. The higher speeds on the networks have gotten the most attention, but 5G will also over 10 times higher data transfer rates, one-tenth the network latency, and far higher connection density capabilities. That last may turn out to be the key to 5G’s long-term success, as related technologies like IoT, autonomous cars, and smart homes multiply the connected devices in our lives.

The expansion and benefits of 5G have attracted attention from some of Wall Street’s high-rated analysts; specifically, it has directed the analysts’ attention to the companies that will build and maintain 5G as it expands. These are stocks that are sure to benefit from the network tech, and 5-star analysts say that now – before 5G becomes ubiquitous – is the time to buy in.

And with that in mind, we used TipRanks database to pinpoint two top 5G picks from top analysts. These are stocks with Buy ratings and recent share appreciation. Let’s find out what else makes them leaders in the 5G stock boom.

Ceva, Inc. (CEVA)

The first company on our list, Ceva, is part of the semiconductor industry. The company is a developer of digital signal processing (DSP) technology that is essential to the proper functioning of wireless devices in the consumer, industrial, mobile, and IoT niches. Ceva’s DSP architecture is also becoming an increasingly important feature of 5G capability, and the company has, in recent years, teamed up with handset maker Nokia to collaborate on 5G technology.

Ceva saw strong gains in both 1Q20 and 2Q20 as EPS beat the forecasts and showed improvements year-over-year. Revenues in Q2 were $23.6 million, up 28% from Q2 2019. Ceva’s balance sheet is positive, with $157 million cash and cash equivalents and no outstanding debt.

Ceva’s share performance has been strong, too. The stock has outperformed the broader markets, and, despite some recent losses, is up 38% year-to-date.

Gus Richard, a 5-star analyst with Northland Securities, sees several factors working together to lift CEVA in coming months. He notes the company’s business model, licensing intellectual property and collecting on royalties, and sees its 5G exposure as a net plus.

“With the banning of Huawei CEVA’s customer, ZTE, is getting more of the 5G infrastructure business in China and we expect this revenue to increase from $1M in Q2 to $2M to $2.5M in Q3. In addition, we expect NOK to start to ramp next year. Finally, we expect a surge in WiFi, Bluetooth including smart home appliances, such as smart TV, smart speaker, connected lightbulbs, thermostat, and wearables to drive royalty revenue in the coming years.”

As a result, Richard upgraded CEVA shares to Outperform (i.e. Buy), and his $48 price target implies room for 29% upside growth in the coming year. (To watch Richard’s track record, click here)

Overall, with 3 Buy and 2 Hold reviews given recently, CEVA gets a Moderate Buy rating from the analyst consensus. The stock has an average price target of $48.25, in line with Richard’s and also indicating a ~29% upside potential (See Ceva stock analysis on TipRanks)

Skyworks Solutions (SWKS)

This mid-cap semiconductor chip maker is major part of Apple’s iPhone supply line. In fact, Skyworks saw 51% of its 2019 revenue from sales to Apple. That Apple exposure, however, makes the connection to 5G clear; Apple is expected to release the new 5G capable iPhone 12 series in the next few weeks, and by some estimates, the device maker can expected up to one-third of its 900 million-strong installed user base to switch to the new devices in the next 18 months. That’s a whole lot chip sales for Skyworks.

The company is heavily invested in IoT chips, and its MIMI technology is essential to 5G small cell units, and important part of the network’s infrastructure.

Skyworks shares have fully recovered from the mid-winter swoon, and are up 14% year-to-date. Earnings remained positive throughout the height of the corona crisis, and are expected to start turning upwards in the next quarterly report.

Rosenblatt’s Kevin Cassidy, another analyst rated 5-stars by TipRanks, was impressed enough by Skyworks’ performance to initiate coverage of the stock with a Buy rating and a $160 price target. His target indicates a potential upside of 17% for the stock. (To watch Cassidy’s track record, click here)

Supporting his stance, Cassidy says, “Skyworks is well positioned to benefit from the increasing radio frequency front-end content in 5G enabled devices. We are modeling above semiconductor industry revenue growth of 10% over the next two years. The company can leverage its multiple generations of cellular RF technology leadership and smartphone OEM relationship to expand its customer base. The increasing RF front-end design complexity will continue the company’s long-term margin expansion, in our view. Improving profitability, pristine balance sheet and shareholder friendly policy makes SWKS an attractive Buy in front of the 5th generation of communications.”

All in all, the Moderate Buy analyst consensus rating on Skyworks is based on 15 Buy reviews and 7 Holds, set in the past two months. The shares are selling for $136.35 and their average price target of $148.58 suggests a one-year upside of 10%. (See Skyworks’ stock analysis at TipRanks)

To find good ideas for 5G stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Amazon Luna cloud gaming service launches with support for iOS

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Amazon is finally showing off what it’s working on in the cloud gaming space. The company revealed the Amazon Luna streaming platform today, which enables Amazon-device owners to play games on their connected TVs from a remote server. This includes Amazon’s Fire TV, but it also works with PC and Mac. Amazon even built a web app to ensure that Luna can work on iOS outside of the confines of the Apple App Store. This separates it from Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which are trying to launch apps on iPhone and iPad. Android support is coming later.

Publishers and developers are already working with Amazon on this service. When players boot up Luna for the first time, they will find familiar games like Resident Evil 7, Panzer Dragoon, and A Plague Tale: Innocence.

“We created Luna to make it easy to play great games on the devices customers already own and love,” Amazon entertainment device and services boss Marc Whitten said. “It’s day one for Luna. We are excited to work with gamers, streamers, and publishers like Ubisoft and Remedy Entertainment to build a great gaming experience for everyone.”

Gaming fans in the United States can begin requesting early access to Luna starting today. A full launch will come after this testing period.

Of course, Amazon is powering all of this with its Amazon Web Services platform. Gamers are among one of the most enthusiastic audiences, and Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are hoping they can get gamers to pay for the expansion of their servers.

Gaming channels, 4K, and playing through Twitch

Amazon said that Luna can support for gaming at a 4K resolution and 60 frames per second in “select titles.” It brought this up in relation to its Ubisoft gaming channel. This feature works like Amazon’s Prime Video channels. For example, I subscribe to PBS Kids for $5 per month on Prime Video to ensure I have plenty of content for my kids that goes beyond what the free PBS Kids app provides.

Amazon is bringing that concept to gaming. You can subscribe to the Ubisoft gaming channel and get access to many of its games in 4K60. This includes new games — like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Far Cry 6, and Immortals: Fenyx Rising — as they launch.

On Twitch, which Amazon owns, gaming fans can launch straight into Luna while watching a game. Twitch is already a huge discovery tool, and Amazon wants to capitalize on this. Now that’s a vertical integration!

Finally, Amazon is also launching the Amazon Luna Controller for an introductory price of $50. This works like the Stadia gamepad that connects direct to the server over Wi-Fi so it can travel instantly between screens. You can, of course, also use a keyboard and mouse or Bluetooth controller.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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