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 Actually, the 1.4 million projection is already out of date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.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.

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.

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.”

Know where to run nor hide

KNOWHERE TO HIDE AS MINORITY REPORT-STYLE FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY SPREADS ACROSS AMERICA (Source What is our society going to look like when our faces are being tracked literally everywhere that we go?  As part of the FBI’s new Next Generation Identification System, a facial recognition database known as the Interstate Photo System will have collected 52 million of our faces by the end of 2015.  But that is only a small part of the story.  According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using advanced facial recognition technology for years.  In addition advertising companies are starting to use Minority Report-style face scanners in their billboards and many large corporations see facial recognition technology as a tool that they can use to serve their customers better.  Someday soon it may become virtually impossible to go out in public in a major U.S. city without having your face recorded.  Is that the kind of society that we want? To the FBI, this technology does not represent an invasion of privacy.  Rather, they are very proud of the fact that they are not going to be so dependent on fingerprinting any longer.  The FBI has been developing the Next Generation Identification System for years, and this month it was announced that it is finally fully operational.

Google works like NSA

Spying and storing: Assange says ‘Google works like NSA’ (Source RT) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange equated Google with the National Security Agency and GCHQ, saying the tech giant has become “a privatized version of the NSA,” as it collects, stores, and indexes people’s data. He made his remarks to BBC and Sky News. “Google’s business model is the spy. It makes more than 80 percent of its money by collecting information about people, pooling it together, storing it, indexing it, building profiles of people to predict their interests and behavior, and then selling those profiles principally to advertisers, but also others,”Assange told BBC. “So the result is that Google, in terms of how it works, its actual practice, is almost identical to the National Security Agency or GCHQ,” the whistleblower argued. Google has been working with the NSA “in terms of contracts since at least 2002,” Assange told Sky News. “They are formally listed as part of the defense industrial base since 2009. They have been engaged with the Prism system, where nearly all information collected by Google is available to the NSA,” Assange said. “At the institutional level, Google is deeply involved in US foreign policy.” Google has tricked people into believing that it is “a playful, humane organization” and not a “big, bad US corporation,” Assange told BBC. “But in fact it has become just that…it is now arguably the most influential commercial organization.” “Google has now spread to every country, every single person, who has access to the internet,” he reminded.


Fireball in sky was a Russian Spy Satellite, Experts say


Fireball Was Russian Spy Satellite, Experts Say (Source Military experts believe a mystery object spotted streaking across the sky over the US was a Russian spy satellite. More than three dozen witnesses reported seeing a bright object that broke apart into three “rocks” with glowing red and orange streaks as it moved northward over the Rocky Mountains on September 2. Russia has denied claims that the fireball spotted at 10.30pm was a piece of the Cosmos 2495 satellite, which was designed to shoot reconnaissance photos and send them back to Earth in capsules.  But Mike Hankey from the American Meteor Society said a meteor would have burned up too quickly to be seen over such a large area, while fragments from the unidentified object were big enough to show up as a weather event on radar east of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Charles Vick, an aerospace analyst with military information website agreed that the object was probably a piece of the Russian satellite, which was launched in May.’s director John Pike said Russia continues to spy on similar targets to those it focused on during the Cold War. “Deployed hardware, airplanes, ships, tanks, factories, new intelligence facilities, all that stuff,” he said. “They’re looking for the same things that our spy satellites are looking for.” The US Strategic Command, responsible for American nuclear war fighting forces, confirmed that Cosmos 2495 re-entered the atmosphere and was removed from the US satellite catalogue on September 3.

Europe: The Rise the Fringe Parties

Europe: The Rise of the Fringe Parties Continue (Source Germany’s newest party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) continued its dramatic rise on September 14. This time last year, in Germany’s federal elections, it fought its for first-ever election campaign. It started strong, but with 4.7 percent of the vote, it fell just short of the 5 percent threshold necessary to enter Germany’s parliament.

In May, it did much better, winning 7.1 percent of the vote in the European Parliament elections. Then, on August 31, the AfD won its first seats in the German regional parliament in Saxony, with just under 10 percent of the vote. This Sunday the party repeated that success, winning 10.6 percent of the vote in Thuringia and 12.2 in Brandenburg. The AfD has officially arrived on the German political scene. The AfD rise shows that a large number of Germans reject the traditional political parties. We saw the same trend with the sudden rise, and then fall, of the Pirate Party. A growing number of voters want a change from business as usual. Europe saw this same process play out in the 1930s. In the ’30s, the extremist groups took power. It won’t necessarily play out the same way today, but the same instability is there. So is that same desire for a new way of doing things, a new type of politics with new leaders. Europe has been a relatively stable and prosperous place for the past 70-odd years. But that prosperity stopped growing in 2008, and more and more voters think Europe needs a new way forward. Watch for this dissatisfaction to bring about a political transformation across Europe.