Russia’s Just Tested Its New ICBM Armed with “Experimental Warheads” (Source The National Interest)
Russia’s Just Tested Its New ICBM Armed with “Experimental Warheads” Russia’s strategic missile forces have conducted a successful training launch of a RS-24 Yars road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. The test was designed to verify the reliability of the weapon. “A test launch of a Yoshkar-Ola missile division RS-24 Yars solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, equipped with a detachable warhead, arrived at the designated area on the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula at the state-owned Plesetsk Test Space Cosmodrome,” the Russian Defense Ministry told the TASS news agency. Russian nuclear forces expert Pavel Podvig suggests that unlike other similar missile launch tests, this particular drill was conducted in conjunction with the Kremlin’s Zapad-2017 (or West-2017) wargames in Belarus. “Russia has been conducting an annual large-scale exercise of its strategic forces in October, but this one appears to be linked to the large Zapad-2017 exercise that was completed today,” Podvig wrote in his Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces blog. “It is worth noting that before the launch the missile crews practiced ‘relocation of the missile launcher to a remote launch area.’” Podvig noted that this was the first test of a mobile Yars ICBM variant since December 2014. However, the Russians also tested a silo-based version of the Yars on September 12 earlier this month. That earlier test was notable because the Russians stated that the missile was fitted with “experimental” warheads. “The main purpose of the launch was to reaffirm the reliability of a batch of the same class missiles,” the Russian Defense Ministry told the TASS news agency.
“The experimental warheads reached the designated area at the Kura proving ground in the Kamchatka Peninsula. The targets were met and tasks accomplished in full.”
Zuckerberg admits Russians exploited Facebook during last year’s election (Source (Source Yahoo Finance)
No company likes to admit it made a mistake, and Facebook is feistier than most. But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has essentially admitted that Russian interests exploited the social-media giant to interfere in last year’s US elections. Zuckerberg didn’t explicitly say Facebook screwed up. But in a short video broadcast on his Facebook page Thursday afternoon, he made indirect references to “what happened here,” vowing that “we can do more” and saying “we are in a new world. It’s a new challenge for internet companies having to deal with nation-states trying to interfere with elections.” The full extent of Russia’s involvement in last year’s elections still isn’t fully known, which is one reason special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating. But Russian interests, among other things, purchased ads on Facebook that generally praised Donald Trump—the Kremlin’s preferred candidate—while deriding his opponent, Hillary Clinton. In general, it’s illegal for foreign interests to run ads in the United States on behalf of political candidates. Russian operatives also appear to have created millions of fake accounts on both Facebook and Twitter, meant to fill social media with pro-Trump propaganda. That’s not necessarily illegal, but it does tarnish the trustworthiness of the two platforms and raise questions about whether they are tacit contributors in the possible tilting of an election.
Grower group says Irma caused 50 to 70 percent citrus loss in portions of South Florida (Source cnbc.com)
More than half the citrus grown in the southern part of Florida was lost due to Hurricane Irma. “Based on reports from the field, it’s estimated that there’s a 50 to 70 percent crop loss in South Florida, depending on the region,” said Lisa Lochridge, a spokesperson for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. “Losses are less going north.” CNBC was told preliminary assessment of the storm showed up to 30 % of some major crops such as grapefruit had losses, according to estimates by Joel Widenor, a meteorologist and co-founder of Commodity Weather Group. As for other crops, she said there was some damage in fields where other fruits and vegetables grow in the southern and central parts of the state, particularly tomatoes and strawberries. For example the plastic ground covering and irrigation systems got ripped up by the storm, and there’s standing water in fields too. “As a result, the tomato crop is expected to be light at the first part of November, but volume should build and we expect a solid December”. “Strawberry growers expect to be able to recover quickly and stay on their timetable to be harvesting on time.”
There’s still no official reports of economic loss totals from agriculture but it could surpass $100 million, as the value of Florida’s citrus last year exceeded $1 billion. The most vulnerable citrus crop due to Irma is grapefruit because of its weight on the trees, although orange groves also suffered losses. Another crop hard hit by Irma was Florida’s sugar cane, which had a value last year of $561 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Pope picks a fight with Trump saying president can’t be pro-life life if he ended DACA(Sourcedailymail.co.uk)
Pope Francis has gone after President Trump over yet another controversial immigration issue, saying if the president is ‘pro-life’ then he should reconsider his order to rescind DACA.
The pontiff commented on the issue on a flight back to Rome from a trip to Colombia, saying the decision – which he noted remains firmly in Trump’s hands – should be ‘rethought. ”The President of the United States presents himself as pro-life and if he is a good pro-lifer, he understands that family is the cradle of life and its unity must be protected,” Pope Francis said.
Tillerson is working with China and Russia — very, very quietly (Source Washington Post) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has often been the silent man in the Trump foreign policy team. But out of the spotlight, he appears to be crafting a broad strategy aimed at working with China to resolve the North Korea crisis and with Russia to stabilize Syria and Ukraine. The Tillerson approach focuses on personal diplomacy, in direct contacts with Chinese and Russian leaders, and through private channels to North Korea. His core strategic assumption is that if the United States can subtly manage its relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin — and allow those leaders to take credit for successes — complex regional problems can be solved effectively.
Russian politician: US spies slept while Russia elected Trump (Source cnn.com) A Russian politician appeared to mock the US intelligence community in a recent television appearance, saying American spies “slept through while Russia elected a new US president.”
Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, made the snarky reference to Russian interference in the 2016 US election on Sunday during a weekly political show called “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov.”
“(To achieve world dominance) the US overextended themselves,” Nikonov said. “Because the most recent tendencies, economical, military, even tendencies in the intelligence (services) which slept through while Russia elected a new US president.”
“It’s just ridiculous, what kind of intelligence in the USA one can even talk about?” he added. “The US sagged in all these aspects for the past two decades. This superpower is losing its ability to define the world.”
China looks at plans to ban petrol and diesel cars (Source bbcnews.com) China, the world’s biggest car market, plans to ban the production and sale of diesel and petrol cars and vans. The country’s vice minister of industry said it had started “relevant research” but that it had not yet decided when the ban would come into force. “Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our car industry’s development,” Xin Guobin told Xinhua, China’s official news agency. China made 28 million cars last year, almost a third of the global total. Both the UK and France have already announced plans to ban new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040, as part of efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions. Chinese-owned carmaker Volvo said in July that all its new car models would have an electric motor from 2019. Geely, Volvo’s Chinese owner, aims to sell one million electric cars by 2025. Other global car firms including Renault-Nissan, Ford and General Motors are all working to develop electric cars in China. Automakers are jostling for a slice of the growing Chinese market ahead of the introduction of new rules designed to fight pollution. China wants electric battery cars and plug-in hybrids to account for at least one-fifth of its vehicle sales by 2025. The proposals would require 8% of automakers’ sales to be battery electric or plug-in hybrids by next year, rising to 12% in 2020. Xin predicted the change would create “turbulent times” in the industry. The shift will also have a knock-on effect on oil demand in China. The country is currently the world’s second-largest oil consumer after the US.
Olivia Newton-John Treating Stage 4 Cancer With Husband’s Homegrown Marijuana (Source Yahoo) Olivia Newton-John Treating Stage 4 Cancer With Husband’s Homegrown Marijuana after undergoing a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy, breast reconstruction, and radiation since her 1992 breast cancer diagnosis, the 68-year-old recently stated that it was her husband John Easterling’s homegrown medical marijuana that helped her through the pain. “My husband’s a plant medicine man so he grew cannabis for me and made tinctures for me to take for pain and inflammation. Olivia previously revealed the healing ‘abilities’ of cannabis has helped her cope with the pain. She said: “I use medicinal cannabis, which is really important for pain and healing … It’s a plant that has been maligned for so long, and has so many abilities to heal. It’s an important part of treatment, and it should be available. I use it for the pain and it’s also a medicinal thing to do – the research shows it’s really helpful.”
As hurricane needs swell, some suggest steering clear of Red Cross. Why? (Source usatoday.com)
The American Red Cross, a 136-year-old institution that is usually among the first to swoop in and set up shelters, health clinics and mobile kitchens in times of need, is one of the big and traditional beneficiaries of donations when disasters happen.
Since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the Red Cross has collected $211 million. Recent criticisms of the organization on Twitter and Facebook — sentiments that can be summed up as “donate elsewhere” — recently led American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern to issue a video statement insisting it does, with 91 cents of every dollar going to Hurricane Harvey relief. “Americans work hard for their money,” she said. “That’s why we’re committed to being the very best stewards of our donor’s dollars. We keep our expenses low.” Her defense of the organization comes as the recent hurricanes have resurfaced stinging critiques. A congressional report and several media investigations have found fault with the Red Cross’ management and performance, suggesting the organization spends as much as 25% of donations on administrative, promotional and overhead costs. A study released last summer by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, claimed the Red Cross had spent $124 million — or a quarter of the money donors gave after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti — on internal expenses. Since 2014, National Public Radio and ProPublica have teamed up for investigations into Red Cross spending. Those reports argue that the agency, whose main role is as a blood broker, spends just a small fraction of its money on its high-publicity disaster relief programs and has made “dubious claims of success.” The outlets’ reports specifically slammed the agency’s response to Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac in 2012. And last year, the Red Cross came under more fire from the outlets, which reported that its response to flooding in Louisiana had drawn significant complaints from relief organizers who often were left without promised assistance.
Putin war games take us closer to conflict (Source times.co.uk)
As Russia embarks on its biggest show of strength since the Cold War ended, its neighbours and the West are right to feel nervous.
The sights and sounds of Russian military exercises are intimidating and spectacular. Giant hovercrafts roar up beaches and disgorge grim-faced soldiers. Attack helicopters blast targets on the ground. Tanks hurtle across the countryside. Since the near-debacle of the Georgian war in 2008, Russia has developed a striking ability to move large formations of people and equipment quickly and efficiently over long distances. The Zapad exercise that starts on Thursday in western Russia and Belarus will be the biggest display of Russian military might since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Though much about the exercise, including the numbers involved, are still unknown, the ostensible scenario is defensive: three fictitious rogue states called Veishnoria, Vesbaria and Lubenia attack Belarus, which defends itself with Russian help.
‘No 100% safety’: Florida toxic materials could leak as Irma hits, EPA‘aggressively’ securing sites (Source rt.com)
Scores of Environmental Protection Agency staff have been working to secure equipment and isolate hazardous materials at Florida’s 54 Superfund sites in the hours before Hurricane Irma made landfall – two weeks after similar sites were damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
Superfund sites are heavily contaminated former industrial zones.
The EPA “can’t guarantee it 100 percent,” that there will not be contamination following the storm, Senator Marco Rubio told AP Saturday night, but reassured the media that federal agents were “generally positive” about their preparation efforts.
“EPA feels they got a handle on it. They think that the risk is real but certainly not as severe as some other places. Not to minimize it – it’s something to think about,” said the Republican politician.
Potential leaks could poison water and soil and cause damage to humans or wildlife, or, at the very least, require expensive clean-up operations. This week, the EPA said it had sent more than 80 staff to Florida, compared to over 200 for Texas, but nonetheless hoped to be more proactive. “Operationally, we’ve tried to make sure we apply the same type of approach we used in Texas. Because of the area and the amount of population that’s affected in Florida, we’re trying to be even more aggressive,” US environmental chief Scott Pruitt said.