Californication is on fire:

Californian Wildfires: Another Curse? (Source Raging wildfires across California this week forced thousands of residents to evacuate their homes. Firefighters are struggling to contain 12 major wildfires burning across the golden state. Hundreds of thousands of acres of forestland have burned in the fiery infernos. One northern wildfire started on Monday tore through the township of Weed, California. Fanned by high winds, the fire damaged or destroyed 100 structures, including the town’s primary employer—the lumber mill. Another fire, called the “King Fire,” was deliberately lit on September 13 near the south fork of the American River Canyon and Silver Creek Canyon. It has already burned through 73,000 acres of steep forested terrain. This fire threatens 12,000 homes and costs $5 million per day to fight. In central California near Lake Bass, another wildfire destroyed 21 structures, turning them into smoldering piles of ash. “This is gut-wrenching,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Chris Christopherson told the Fresno Bee newspaper. “It makes you sick.” Another of the 12 fires, the Happy Camp Fire has burned 125,788 acres since it started on August 11 from a lightning strike. This fire alone has cost an estimated $79 million to fight. “Firefighters are experiencing extreme fire behavior due to drought and low fuel moisture,” Cal Fire reported Monday in an update. The entire state of California is suffering from drought; 58 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought. Drought conditions have made California a tinderbox just waiting to be ignited.

Every Second counts: Ebola report is deadly

Every Second Counts: New Ebola Report Predicts Huge Spike Without Action (Source

Two scenarios, two completely different outcomes. One has as many as 1.4 million Ebola cases by the end of January, while the other has the epidemic under control and almost over by that time. Actually, the 1.4 million projection is already out of date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It was based on how badly the Ebola epidemic was going in West Africa in August — before the U.S. said it was literally sending in the marines, and before other countries said they were going to do more. The action that’s already under way is beginning to reverse the worst trends, and a rapid scale-up of help can turn things around, the CDC says. The CDC’s latest calculations show that at least 8,000 people will have become infected by the end of this month — and maybe as many as 21,000, because it’s clear that most cases are being missed. That means a lot of deaths — the World Health Organization has revised its death rate estimate to 70 percent of cases, much more than the 50 percent mortality rate now being reported.

How sanctions are hastening the world without the West

How sanctions are hastening the world without the West (Source Sanctions are forcing large volumes of trade and finance out of the ambit of traditional networks, weakening western control over such flows. Western sanctions are having an unintended effect. They are accelerating the birth of a parallel ecosystem where countries not allied to the West are able to operate without the constant threat of sanctions. Free of western control, this alternative platform is gaining traction at a surprisingly fast pace. It is worth mentioning at the start that western companies have a huge exposure in the Russian market. In contrast, Russia is primarily an exporter of commodities such as oil, gas, metals and minerals which are in great demand – especially in Asia’s ravenous markets. Bottom line: while western consumer and capital goods can be replaced by Asian manufacturers, Russian commodities are the lifeblood of economies in both Asia and Europe.

The move towards a non-western world is happening most rapidly in the area of finance. This is hardly surprising because financial flows are easier to reroute – and replace – than say, a shipment of coal or an oil tanker. Among the dozens of sanctions directed against Russia, the most extreme one was proposed by the UK, which pressed European Union leaders to block Russian access to the SWIFT banking transaction system. The Belgium-based SWIFT, which stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is the financial world’s very arteries. Restricting Russian usage of SWIFT would no doubt disrupt financial and commercial activities in the country, but according to Richard Reid of the University of Dundee in Scotland it may carry a longer-term downside. “Large chunks of Russian international payments flows would move to much less well monitored and measured financial channels and thus be beyond sanctions at any future point,” he told Bloomberg News. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel swiftly rejected the British proposal as too extreme, the damage has been done. It is now abundantly clear to Moscow that the US-UK evil twins are not content with symbolic sanctions but are really out to destroy its economy. Anticipating this blow to its financial jugular, Russia had in July drawn up a law that would create a local equivalent of SWIFT.

The sanctions have also highlighted the synergy between Russia and China. Vesti Finance says sanctions aimed at restricting Russian access to finance will have almost no sense, since Russian companies will find the necessary money in China. And the Chinese are keen to increase the impact of the renminbi and turn it into the world’s reserve currency.

Russian Union says Ukraine Air Force shot MH17 plane down

Russian Union Of Engineers Point To Ukraine Airforce As Responsible For MH17 Crash (Source International Business Times)A day after a generous benefactor offered $30 million reward money for information that would lead to identify who is responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, the Russian Union of Engineers pointed blamed the crash on the Ukraine Force. The accusation is part of a report issued by the union, which stressed that the east Ukraine rebels don’t have a fighter jet and it led to the conclusion that the ill-fated Boeing 777 with 298 people on board was allegedly downed by the Ukrainian Air Force. The report said the commercial aircraft, which left Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur, was likely on auto pilot and flying 10,100 metres in Ukrainian airspace near Donetsk when a combat jet, likely a Su-25 or MiG-29, fired from a 30 mm caliber cannon. It resulted in multiple hits to the Malaysia Airlines jet which caused it to depressurise and killed instantly its crew.

Russia getting ready for war

Russia’s large-scale military drills Vostok-2014 (Source ITAR TASS) Large-scale military drills Vostok-2014 are coming to an end in Russia. Over 100,000 servicemen, thousands of tanks and aircraft, dozens of ships participated in the drills. The exercises are to continue until September 25. The drills are the final stage of a series of command and staff, and special exercises, drills, and surprise inspections in 2014. This is not the first large-scale checkup of the operational readiness of the country’s Armed Forces. Since the beginning of the year, Western, Central, and Eastern Military Districts underwent inspections, including those through the holding of large-scale exercises, the involvement of the newest quantity-produced hardware that is provided for the forward striking groups. Reservist mobilization arrangements are drilled; operational-readiness units of the aerospace forces, special-purpose forces, and army groups of all branches of service, the Air Force and fleets of surface ships and submarines are being inspected. The holding of exercises has particularly intensified in autumn. Over the past ten days alone, Northern Fleet exercises took place in Barents Sea with the participation of tens of surface ships and submarines, shore-based troops and maritime aviation, and with the holding of an active firing of cruise missiles of all types of basing. Earlier this month, actions were drilled in the east by a 100,000-strong group of combined-arms Air Force and Air Defence large units, the Pacific Fleet, Long-Range and Military Transportation Aviation. In the Urals and and in Siberia, large-scale firing practice was held at the military ranges of Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, and Novosibirsk Regions. In the Far East, the striking forces of the Pacific Fleet were deployed in Primorsky and Kamchatka sectors. Fleet exercises were held in the Sea of Okhotsk. Active exercises of the Air and Space Defence Forces were also held this month to drill actions in conditions of a simulated nuclear strike. Units of the Main Center for Warning About a Missile attack, the Center for the Monitoring of Space Situation, and the Main Testing Center named after Titov were also placed on an alert footing.

Strikes by US makes Russia angry

Strikes by US and its allies on Syrian territory require Syria’s consent — Russian FM (Source ITAR TASS) Strikes by the United States and its allies against targets in Syrian territory require not just formal notification of Damascus, but Syria’s consent or the adoption of a corresponding UN Security Council resolution, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday. “In connection with the just-started operation by the United Sates with support from some other countries to deal rocket and bombing strikes against the positions of the terrorist group Islamic State in Syria the Russian side recalls that such actions can be carried out exclusively within the framework of international law,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “This implies not just unilateral formal notification of strikes, but the existence of an explicit consent from the Syrian government, or the adoption of a corresponding UN Security Council resolution.” “Russia’s fundamental position on the issue was confirmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 22 in a telephone conversation with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “The struggle with terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa requires concerted action by the whole world community under the auspices of the United Nations. Attempts to attain one’s own geopolitical aims by violating the sovereignty of countries in the region merely fuel tensions and destabilize the situation further.” “Moscow has warned more than once that the initiators of such use-of-force scenarios bear all international legal responsibility for their consequences,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “Attempts by US, its allies to attain geopolitical aims by violating other countries’ sovereignty fuel tensions, destabilize situation over Syria,” the statement said further.

New Record: Ground Beef $4 for the first time


Although the overall Consumer Price Index dropped by 0.2 percent in August, the price index for food rose 0.2 percent, with the average price for a pound of ground beef rising to $4.013 per pound–the first time it has ever topped $4 per pound. In July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price for a pound of ground beef had been $3.884 per pound—which was the record price up to that point.  From July to August, the average price jumped 12.9 cents, an increase of 3.3 percent in one month. A year ago, in August 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.454 per pound. Since then, it has climbed 55.9 cents–or about 16.2 percent. Just five years ago, in August 2009, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $2.134, according to the BLS. The price has since climbed by $1.879 per pound—or 88.1 percent.

Children feared dead after being injected with measle vaccine

DOZENS OF CHILDREN FEARED DEAD AFTER BEING INJECTED WITH ‘TAINTED’ MEASLES VACCINE IN SYRIA (Source Guardian) As many as 36 children were reported to have died excruciating deaths after receiving tainted measles vaccines under a UN-sponsored programme in the rebel-held north of Syria. The programme was suspended amid rumours of sabotage of a high profile international effort to ensure the brutal civil war does not result in an outbreak of measles. Doctors in clinics in the towns of Jirjanaz and Maaret al-Nouman in the northeastern province of Idlib said children started falling ill soon after the doses were administered. There were conflicting figures of dead and injured last night as a tide of grief swept the front line rural settlements. Relief organisations just over the border in Turkey said the loss of life was extensive, rising as high as 36 plus more than a dozen other children in a serious condition.

Superbugs, Do something about it

Do Something About Those Superbugs, President Obama Orders (Source President Barack Obama issued an executive order Thursday telling his administration to hurry up and do something about drug-resistant bacteria, which pose a “serious threat to public health and the economy.” Infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria kill 23,000 people every year, make 2 million more sick and cost $35 billion in productivity lost to sick days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. “These are conservative estimates,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters. “The true number is actually much higher.” Experts have been screaming about it for years -– more and more infections resist most, if not all, antibiotics used against them and there are not any new drugs in the pipeline. Dr. John Holdren, Obama’s chief science adviser, sees “the potential for the runaway spread of infection” that can “undermine social stability.”

Ebola’ threat to world security

Ebola ‘threat to world security’- UN Security Council (Source BBC) The UN Security Council has declared the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa a “threat to international peace and security”. The council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on states to provide more resources to combat the outbreak. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned an emergency meeting of the council that the number of Ebola infections was doubling every three weeks. More than 2,600 people have now died in the worst Ebola outbreak on record. He announced the establishment of an “emergency UN mission” working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the crisis, saying he would convene a “high-level meeting” next week. The council heard that the international response had to be three times bigger than it was now to contain the crisis – the number of cases is doubling every two weeks in West Africa. The resolution attracted 130 co-sponsors – a UN record – and calls on countries to provide urgent aid, such as medical staff and field hospitals. The resolution also calls for travel bans imposed by some states to be lifted, saying the countries need to have access to aid instead of being isolated.