President Trump views damage from wildfires in Malibu, California. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump threatened to cut off FEMA funding for California's wildfire relief in a Wednesday tweet, blaming the state's poor land management.

"Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!"

Our thought bubble from Axios science editor Andrew Freedman: Climate change is extending wildfire season year-round and increasing the frequency of extreme fires that spread quickly and are harder to contain. Forest management, including "raking" brush, which President Trump has previously advocated, would reduce only some of the risk, fire experts have told Axios.

Background: FEMA has approved more than $12.7 million for survivors affected by wildfires in three California counties, the New York Times reports. Assistance includes temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.

  • The Camp Fire that ravaged northern California was both the deadliest in state history and the costliest with overall losses of $16.5 billion and insured losses of $12.5 billion, according to Munich Re in a press release.
  • About 57% of California's forests are managed by the federal government, according to government reports. More federal lands in the state were burned last year than state lands.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) responded to President Trump's tweet:

"Californians endured the deadliest wildfire in our state’s history last year. We should work together to mitigate these fires by combating climate change, not play politics by threatening to withhold money from survivors of a deadly natural disaster."

Newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted:

"Mr. President -- Just yesterday, @OregonGovBrown, @GovInslee, and I sent a letter asking the federal government to work with us in taking on these unprecedented wildfires. We have been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives."

Go deeper: Humans are a wildfire threat multiplier

Go deeper

China announces retaliatory sanctions on U.S. officials

Photos: Graeme Jennings/Pool/Getty Images; Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

China's Foreign Ministry announced Monday that it's imposing sanctions on Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) along with nine other Americans, including Freedom House president Michael Abramowitz and Human Rights Watch Executive director Kenneth Roth, per Bloomberg.

Why it matters: It's a direct response to similar actions by the U.S. that included the Trump administration placing sanctions on officials Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam last Friday over Beijing's encroachment of the Asian financial hub's s autonomy. China announced last month it would ban Rubio and Cruz from entering the country over their criticisms of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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Why it matters: It's a precarious moment for the former Soviet republic, where decades of repression and a complete disregard for the coronavirus pandemic threaten to topple "Europe's last dictator." Rights groups said at least one protester was killed and dozens more wounded in a "police crackdown," per AP.

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