Sep 10

Today’s News 10th September 2017

  • Irma Begins To Lash Florida With Hurricane-Force Winds, Tornadoes Reported

    With just hours left until landfall, sometime on Sunday morning, Hurricane Irma is edging ever closer to Florida and has started to batter the state with Hurricane force winds as millions brace for the impact of the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade.

    According to ABC and AP, the National Weather Service measured a 74-mph gust in the Florida Keys on Saturday night, marking the beginning of hurricane-force winds that forecasters say will steadily intensify in the coming hours.

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    A tornado watch is in effect across the area, and at least two such twisters have already been reported.

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    As of about 10 p.m. Saturday, Irma was 100 miles southeast of Key West with sustained winds of 125 mph. It was moving west, and is expected to turn north and head up the western coast of Florida, making landfall on Sunday.

    Hurricane Irma approached Florida, Sept. 9, 2017.

    A live feed tracking the hurricane is shown below, courtesy of ABC:

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    According to Hurricane Tracker, the peak forecast wind gust city-by-city is as follows:

    • Miami: 74 mph (Sun. Morning)
    • Key West: 144 mph (Sun. Morning)
    • Naples: 141 mph (Sun. Morning)#Irma
    • Tampa: 139 mph (Sun. Night)
    • Orlando: 74 mph (Sun. Night)
    • Fort Myers: 134 mph (Sun. Afternoon)

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    The NHC is expecting a storm surge anywhere between 6 and 12 feet.

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    The storm, which was downgraded to Category 3 after making landfall as a rare Category 5 hurricane in Cuba overnight but is expected to strengthen once more before again making landfall in Florida, has sent 75,000 people into shelters in Florida. More than six million people, or nearly a third of Florida’s population, have been warned to evacuate its path.

    The National Hurricane Center on Friday cautioned that Irma’s winds would likely be strong enough to uproot trees, bring down power poles and rip off the roofs and some exterior walls of well-built frame homes. “Obviously Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States,” Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said at a press conference Friday morning. “We’re going to have a couple rough days.”

    Several counties and cities in south Florida have issued a curfew as the storm draws near. Broward County set a curfew for 4 p.m. Saturday and said no unauthorized vehicles will be allowed on the roads. Charlotte County and the City of Miami Beach will enter one later tonight. Palm Beach County has issued a curfew to prevent looting and other criminal activity as the storm approaches, according to a press release. The curfew goes into effect Saturday at 3 p.m. It is unclear when it will be lifted.

    Some 10,000 flights have been cancelled in anticipation of Irma, about 7,000 of them in Florida alone.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the storm unprecedented. “This is a life-threatening situation,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday. “Our state has never seen anything like it.” The governor stressed the dangers of what he called a “deadly, deadly, deadly storm surge.”

    President Trump tweeted a video from a Cabinet meeting Saturday, telling people to “get out of” Irma’s way. “Property is replaceable but lives are not. and safety has to come first. Don’t worry about it, get out of its way,” Trump said.

    Meteorologists from ABC News are forecasting storm surges of 10 feet in Tampa and Sarasota, and 10 to 15 feet from Fort Myers to Naples. Somewhat lower storm surges of 3 to 6 feet may occur from Miami to Key Largo. Winds were already picking up in Florida early Saturday, with gusts between 40 and 60 mph, as the following clip shows:

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    Hurricane-force winds with gusts over 115 mph are possible in the Keys by daybreak Sunday. More tornadoes are also likely and a tornado watch was issued Saturday for southern Florida.

    According to ABC, Florida state residents should anticipate days-long power outages, FEMA said. Ahead of Irma’s arrival in the Sunshine State, the last flights departed Friday night from Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Miami’s airport officially remains open, while Fort Lauderdale’s airport is closed for Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, many ATM machines across southwest Florida were out of cash by late Friday night after people stocked up in case Hurricane Irma causes power outages that make debit and credit card transactions impossible, the Associated Press reported.

    Meanwhile, as millions evacuate, Germain Arena, a large shelter between Naples and Fort Myers along Florida’s west coast, is already at capacity Saturday as hundreds of people were in line waiting to get in. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez said Saturday morning about 25,000 residents are sheltered in Miami-Dade alone, a number he called “unprecedented in our history.” 


    Traffic streaming out of Florida creeps along northbound Interstate 75 after a
    vehicle accident in Lake Park, Ga., Sept. 6, 2017.

    “We must remain vigilant,” Giménez said. “The storm will still strengthen … and we will be impacted.”

  • China Warns Trump: "We Will Back North Korea If The US Strikes First"

    All day Saturday, South Korea braced for a possible new missile test by North Korea as the provocative northern neighbor marked its founding anniversary, just days after its sixth and largest nuclear test rattled global financial markets and further escalated tensions in the region. Throughout the week, South Korean officials warned the North could launch another intercontinental ballistic missile, in defiance of U.N. sanctions and to further provoke the US. As Reuters reports, Pyongyang marks its founding anniversary each year with a big display of pageantry and military hardware. Last year, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on the Sept. 9 anniversary.

    Ultimately, September 9 came and went, and North Korea did nothing, perhaps signalling its eagerness to de-escalate. Or perhaps not, and Kim is simply looking to surprise his adversaries with the ICBM launch date. Experts have said the rogue, isolated regime is close to its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States, something Trump has vowed to prevent.

    Celebrating its founding anniversary, a front-page editorial of the Saturday edition of North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun said the country should make “more high-tech Juche weapons to continuously bring about big historical events such as a miraculous victory of July 28.”. The July date refers to the intercontinental ballistic missile test (Juche is North Korea’s homegrown ideology of self-reliance that is a mix of Marxism and extreme nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather).

    * * *

    Meanwhile, South Korean nuclear experts, checking for contamination, said on Friday they had found minute traces of radioactive xenon gas but that it was too early to link it to Sunday’s explosion. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) said it had been conducting tests on land, air and water samples since shortly after the North Korean nuclear test on Sunday. There was no chance the xenon “will have an impact on South Korea’s territory or population”, the agency said.

    What is more concerning, however, is a Friday report on NBC, according to which Trump is readying a package of diplomatic and military moves against North Korea, including cyberattacks and increased surveillance and intelligence operations, after the nation’s sixth and largest nuclear test.

    Trump’s top national security advisers walked him through a range of options over lunch in the White House on Sunday, just hours after North Korea’s latest test, officials said.

    According to NBC, Trump is also seriously considering adopting diplomatically risky sanctions on Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang and upgrading missile defense systems in the region, administration officials said. In addition, the administration is not ruling out moving tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea should Seoul request them, a White House official said, though many consider such a move a nonstarter. It would break with nearly three decades of U.S. policy of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

    U.S. officials have also made the case to China that if Beijing doesn’t take stronger steps against North Korea, such as cutting off oil exports, South Korea and Japan are likely to pursue their own nuclear weapons programs and the U.S. won’t stop them, the official said. “It’s more a message for China than North Korea,” the official said.

    The U.S. has adopted sanctions aimed at Chinese entities that conduct business with North Korea, but has so far held back on broadly targeting China’s banking system. China has told U.S. officials it would protest such a move diplomatically and retaliate, according to the senior administration official.

    So what happened on Sunday? According to NBC, Trump’s national security advisers presented him with U.S. military options, including pre-emptive strikes, and nuclear capabilities should America be called on to abide by its treaty obligations in the region, White House and defense officials said.

    The president’s advisers have made the case, however, that military strikes on North Korea could have serious repercussions, senior defense officials said, and the most glaring among these is that China has told administration officials that if the U.S. strikes North Korea first, Beijing would back Pyongyang, a senior military official told NBC.

     

    This is not the first time China has warned the US not to escalate: on August 11, Beijing, through the state-owned media, cautioned the US president on Friday that it would intervene (militarily) on North Korea’s behalf if the US and South Korea launch a preemptive strike to “overthrow the North Korean regime,” according to a statement in the influential state-run newspaper Global Times.

    “If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so,” it said.

    At the same time, the Chinese regime made it clear that its preferred outcome would be a continuation of the status quo, warning Kim Jong Un, or perhaps Trump, that it would “remain neutral if North Korea were to strike first.”

    As we said almost one month ago:

    “not surprisingly, analysts have compared the standoff between the two nuclear powers (the North is a recent, if untested, member of this club) to a modern day Cuban Missile crisis.  “This situation is beginning to develop into this generation’s Cuban Missile crisis moment,” ING’s chief Asia economist Robert Carnell said in a research note. “While the U.S. president insists on ramping up the war of words, there is a decreasing chance of any diplomatic solution.

    Since then, the potential risks, mutual threats and near-hostilities have grown exponentially. China – which is by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 92% of two-way trade last year, and also provides hundreds of thousands of tonnes of oil and fuel to the impoverished regime – has only dug in deeper, explaining repeatedly that it wants a peaceful de-escalation and that it would not side with the US in case of a military conflict.

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    What happens next? Well, on one hand, after today’s lack of launch, there is hope that things will indeed de-escalate. A headline that just hit from Yonhap may accelerate this:

    • SOUTH KOREA SEES NO SIGNS OF IMMINENT ADDITIONAL PROVOCATIONS BY NORTH KOREA THAT COULD LEAD TO ANOTHER MISSILE OR NUCLEAR TEST: YONHAP

    On the other hand, what the US does next may be a sufficient provocation to force Kim to lob another ICBM. Earlier today, Reuters reported that the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier left its home port in Japan for a routine autumn patrol of the Western Pacific, a Navy spokeswoman said. That area included “waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula.” North Korea vehemently objects to military exercises on or near the peninsula, and China and Russia have suggested the United States and South Korea halt their exercises to lower tension.

    Another imminent escalation is due on Monday.

    That’s when the United States told the U.N. Security Council that it intends to call a meeting to vote on a draft resolution establishing additional sanctions.  U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said last Monday that she intended to call for a vote on Sept. 11 and then the United States circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council on Wednesday.

    The United States wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and to subject Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

    It was not immediately clear how North Korean allies China and Russia would vote, but a senior U.S. official on Friday night expressed scepticism that either nation would accept anything more stringent than a ban on imports of North Korean textiles. Chinese officials have privately expressed fears that imposing an oil embargo could risk triggering massive instability in its neighbor. 

    Meanwhile, tensions are also growing between China and South Korea. The two countries have been at loggerheads over South Korea’s decision to deploy the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system, which has a powerful radar that can probe deep into China. Shares in South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor and key suppliers slid on Friday on worries over its position in China after highly critical Chinese state newspaper comments. Recently Hyundai auto sales in China have crashed as local suppliers and potential customers have shied away from the company due to nationalistic prerogatives. The military section of China’s Global Times newspaper on Thursday referred to THAAD as “a malignant tumor”.

    The good news, for markets, is that this Saturday’s widely anticipated ICBM launch from North Korea did not take place; the bad news is that said launch was at best delayed, and if and when it comes, the US will have to choose: do nothing again, and appears increasingly weak on the global diplomatic arena, or retaliate, and risk dragging China into the conflict, potentially precipitating the appearance of mushroom clouds around the globe.

  • Paul Craig Roberts Rages At Americans "Laughing All The Way To Armageddon"

    Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

    The United States shows the world such a ridiculous face that the world laughs at us.

    The latest spin on “Russia stole the election” is that Russia used Facebook to influence the election. The NPR women yesterday were breathless about it.

    We have been subjected to ten months of propaganda about Trump/Putin election interference and still not a scrap of evidence. It is past time to ask an unasked question:

    If there were evidence, what is the big deal? All sorts of interest groups try to influence election outcomes including foreign governments.

     

    Why is it OK for Israel to influence US elections but not for Russia to do so?

     

    Why do you think the armament industry, the energy industry, agribusiness, Wall Street and the banks, pharmaceutical companies, etc., etc., supply the huge sum of money to finance election campaigns if their intent is not to influence the election?

     

    Why do editorial boards write editorials endorsing one candidate and damning another if they are not influencing the election?

    What is the difference between influencing the election and influencing the government?

    Washington is full of lobbyists of all descriptions, including lobbyists for foreign governments, working round the clock to influence the US government. It is safe to say that the least represented in the government are the citizens themselves who don’t have any lobbyists working for them.

    The orchestrated hysteria over “Russian influence” is even more absurd considering the reason Russia allegedly interfered in the election. Russia favored Trump because he was the peace candidate who promised to reduce the high tensions with Russia created by the Obama regime and its neocon nazis—Hillary Clinton, Victoria Nuland, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power. What’s wrong with Russia preferring a peace candidate over a war candidate? The American people themselves preferred the peace candidate. So Russia agreed with the electorate.

    Those who don’t agree with the electorate are the warmongers—the military/security complex and the neocon nazis. These are democracy’s enemies who are trying to overturn the choice of the American people. It is not Russia that disrespects the choice of the American people; it is the utterly corrupt Democratic National Committee and its divisive Identity Politics, the military/security complex, and the presstitute media who are undermining democracy.

    I believe it is time to change the subject. The important question is who is it that is trying so hard to convince Americans that Russian influence prevails over us?

    Do the idiots pushing this line realize how impotent this makes an alleged “superpower” look. How can we be the hegemonic power that the Zionist neocons say we are when Russia can decide who is the president of the United States?

    The US has a massive spy state that even intercepts the private cell phone conversations of the Chancellor of Germany, but his massive spy organization is unable to produce one scrap of evidence that the Russians conspired with Trump to steal the presidential election from Hillary. When will the imbeciles realize that when they make charges for which no evidence can be produced they make the United States look silly, foolish, incompetent, stupid beyond all belief?

    Countries are supposed to be scared of America’s threat that “we will bomb you into the stone age,” but the President of Russia laughs at us. Putin recently described the complete absence of any competence in Washington:

    “It is difficult to talk to people who confuse Austria and Australia. But there is nothing we can do about this; this is the level of political culture among the American establishment.

     

    As for the American people, America is truly a great nation if the Americans can put up with so many politically uncivilized people in their government.”

    These words from Putin were devastating, because the world understands that they are accurate.

    Consider the idiot Nikki Haley, appointed by Trump in a fit of mindlessness as US Ambassador to the United Nations.

    This stupid person is forever shaking her fist at the Russians while mouthing yet another improbable accusation. She might want to read Mario Puzo’s book, The Godfather. Everyone knows the movie, but if memory serves somewhere in the book Puzo reflects on the practice of the irate American motorist who shakes a fist and gives the bird to other drivers. What if the driver receiving the insult is a Mafia capo? Does the idiot shaking his fist know who he is accosting? No. Does the moron know that the result might be a brutal beating or death? No.

    Does the imbecile Nikki Haley understand what can be the result of her inability to control herself? No. Every knowledgeable person I know wonders if Trump appointed the imbecile Nikki Haley US ambassador to the world for the purpose of infuriating the Russians.

    Ask Napoleon and the German Wehrmacht the consequence of infuriating the Russians.

    After 16 years the US “superpower” has been unable to defeat a few thousand lightly armed Taliban, who have no air force, no Panzer divisions, no worldwide intelligence service, and the crazed US government in Washington is courting war with Russia and China and North Korea and Iran.

    The American people are clearly out to lunch in their insouciance. Americans are fighting among themselves over “civil war” statues, while “their’ government invites nuclear armageddon.

    The United States has an ambassador to the world who shows no signs of intelligence, who behaves as if she is Mike Tyson or Bruce Lee to the 5th power, and who is the total antithesis of a diplomat. What does this tell about the United States?

    It reveals that the US is in the Roman collapse stage when the emperor appoints horses to the Senate.

    The United States has a horse, an uncivilized horse, as its diplomat to the world. The Congress and executive branch are also full of horses and horse excrement. The US government is completely devoid of intelligence. There is no sign of intelligence anywhere in the U.S. government. Of or morality. As Hugo Chavez said: Satan is there; you can smell the sulphur.

    America is a joke with nuclear weapons, the prime danger to life on earth.

    How can this danger be corralled?

    The American people would have to realize that they are being led to their deaths by the Zionist neocon nazis who, together with the military/security complex and Wall Street, control US foreign policy, by the complicity of Europe and Great Britain desperate to retain their CIA subsidies, and by the harlots that comprise the Western media.

    Are Americans capable of comprehending this? Only a few have escaped The Matrix.

    The consequence is that America is being locked into conflict with Russia and China. There is no possibility whatsoever of Washington invading either country, much less both, so war would be nuclear.

    Do the American people want Washington to bring us this result? If not, why are the American people sitting there sucking their thumbs, doing nothing? Why are Europe and Great Britain sitting there permitting the unfolding of nuclear armageddon? Who murdered the peace movement?

    The World and the American people need desperately to rein in the warmonger United States, or the world will cease to exist.

    An International Court To Preserve Life On Earth needs to be assembled. The US government and the war interests it serves need to be indicted and prosecuted and disarmed before their evil destroys life on earth.

  • "Like Moths To The Flame": ISIS Fighters Cut Down While Approaching Stranded Convoy

    A convoy of buses containing hundreds of lightly armed ISIS terrorists and their family members remains stuck in the Syrian desert and pinned down as US and coalition planes continue to pick off militants who stray too far from the group. External ISIS vehicles have also tried to access and aid the group, but as US coalition spokesman Army Col. Ryan S. Dillon statedcoalition aircraft are picking them off as they come close "like moths to the flame."

    Dillon estimated that over 40 ISIS vehicles were destroyed, including nearly 100 terrorists killed, while heading toward the convoy as the coalition has been "able to continue to just observe and pick them off one at a time.” But on Friday afternoon the US alliance announced the sudden withdrawal of its surveillance aircraft over the site at Russia's request, publishing the following statement:

    At approximately 7am GMT Sept. 8, Syrian pro-regime forces advanced past the 11-bus convoy of ISIS terrorists and non-combatants in the eastern Syrian desert. To ensure safe de-confliction of efforts to defeat ISIS, coalition surveillance aircraft departed the adjacent airspace at the request of Russian officials during their assault on Dawyr Az Zawyr.


    The Syrian Army and Hezbollah in the Qara area in Syria's Qalamoun mountains when the ISIS bus convoy deal was initiated on August 28, 2017. Photo source: AFP/Louai Beshara


    ISIS convoy in Syria. Photo source: Louai Beshara/Agence France-Presse

    The convoy has been stranded in no-man's land on the Syrian battlefield since at least last Wednesday (9/30) after its progress was halted by US coalition airstrikes along the evacuation route, including a key bridge. The Lebanese government and Hezbollah arranged a deal with Syria to allow the convoy to pass as ISIS fighters and their families were transferred from northeast Lebanon after loosing a decisive battle there. In exchange, ISIS handed over the bodies of previously kidnapped Lebanese soldiers as well as a the body of an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer to Hezbollah.

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    The deal, which President Assad acknowledged as "an embarrassment" has been mired in controversy as it would result in experienced ISIS fighters being dropped in eastern Syria along the Iraq border. Both Iraq and the US have vociferously protested the arrangement, essentially labeling the deal an intentional terror transfer that will hinder Iraq's ongoing anti-ISIS fight. 

    But US officials have failed to acknowledged that the deal was first and foremost brokered by the Lebanese government, specifically Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun. A reluctant Assad agreed to let the convoy pass after the personal intervention of Nasrallah, who argued the deal would result in fewer Lebanese lives lost as the army sought to root out the final few hundred ISIS fighters in the border region of Arsal after their recent overall defeat (in what was set to be a "fight to the death" scenario). The United States has given over $1 billion in military aid to Lebanon over the past years, and itself contributed US special forces support for the successful Arsal anti-ISIS campaign. While the US coalition has highlighted Hezbollah's role in the deal, it has conveniently side-stepped the lead role of its own allies in the Lebanese government.  

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    For the past week and a half a catch-22 standoff has developed: Syria made a difficult and embarrassing deal – in Hezbollah leader's Hassan Nasrallah's words "for the sake of Lebanon" – yet it's a deal which is going unfulfilled as the US coalition intervened to stop the evacuation. At the same time Hezbollah fighters are escorting the convoy as part of upholding its end of the bargain. Friday's Operation Inherent Resolve statement confirms that though Russia waived off American surveillance in the area, the coalition's stance has not changed, nor does it appear that the remaining ISIS buses have moved:

    “From the start of this situation on Aug. 29, we have placed responsibility for the buses and passengers on the Syrian regime, who in conjunction with Lebanese Hezbollah brokered a deal with ISIS to move its terrorists into Iraq,” said Brig. Gen. Jon Braga, director of operations for the Coalition. “The regime’s advance past the convoy underlines continued Syrian responsibility for the buses and terrorists. As always, we will do our utmost to ensure that the ISIS terrorists do not move toward the border of our Iraqi partners,” said Braga.

    The ISIS fighters and their families have continued to be provided food and water through Syrian government lines. The group exited Lebanon with 17 chartered buses along with an unknown number of individual vehicles – all attempting to make it to ISIS held Abu Kamal in Deir Ezzor Province close to the Iraq border, but that number was reduced to 11 this week as 6 buses returned to an unknown fate in Syrian government territory. In a speech announcing specifics at the beginning of the evacuation, Nasrallah put the original numbers at 308 ISIS fighters and 331 civilian family members in the convoy.  Wounded ISIS members travelling in ambulances reportedly made it to Islamic State territory ahead of the convoy last week. 

    The US coalition has stated its desire to separate the militants from their families in order to destroy the ISIS terrorists. Apparently there are even pregnant women in the group – this according to Hezbollah's Al Manar news network. The US issued a statement Tuesday, saying, “Coalition leaders have communicated a course of action to the Russians, providing the Syrian regime an opportunity to remove the women and children from this situation.”

    Though the whole arrangement is one of the more bizarre deals to come out of the Syrian war, it's been widely seen as a blow to ISIS propaganda and recruiting efforts. Last week Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk reported, "some ISIS leaders in Syria did not want members of the group who had surrendered territory to be welcomed back into the so-called caliphate, and the militants should have fought to the death instead." Other observers of Islamic State social media accounts have noted that ISIS members initially reacted in disbelief, claiming the entire brokered deal and ISIS retreat to be a fiction of Hezbollah media.

    With the Syrian Army's assault on Deir Ezzor city successfully underway, it is likely that Assad's calculation was to allow the pressure to be let off Lebanon (and perhaps repaying a favor to Hezbollah, which has sacrificed much to defend Syria) with the thinking that the ISIS stronghold of Deir Ezzor Province would be the next to be pummeled anyway. In meantime, this stranded ISIS convoy episode continues to be among the more bizarre waiting games of the entire war.

  • "It's A Killer" – Florida Orders A Third Of The Population To Evacuate As Irma Hurtles Toward Tampa

    Florida’s highways and backroads are clogged with motorists after Gov. Rick Scott has ordered an unprecedented 6.2 million residents of central and southern Florida to evacuate. Meanwhile, Miami, along with many towns and cities along the state’s southeastern coast, resembles a ghost town, according to the New York Post.

    To recap: The category 4 storm has already carved a path of destruction through the Caribbean, leaving 90% or Barbuda uninhabitable and nearly a million people without power in Puerto Rico. And now, with the storm’s outer bands already battering the southern part of the state, meteorologists are saying Irma has suddenly shifted westward and is now heading toward Florida’s Gulf Coast – specifically, the Tampa Bay area.

    Here’s the Associated Press:

    Forecasters expect Irma’s core to come ashore Sunday and strike the Keys, southwestern Florida and the Tampa Bay region, which hasn’t felt a major hurricane since 1921. The eye is expected to miss heavily-populated Miami, which may have dodged a bubble in the last minute, but that area will still get life-threatening hurricane conditions even without a direct hit, Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

    Irma weakened slightly to Category 3 with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph on Saturday morning, but it was expected to pick up strength again as it closes in on Florida.

    Damaging winds bombarded Key Biscayne and Coral Gables on Saturday morning with gusts of up to 56 mph (90 kph) recorded at Virginia Key, near Miami, according to the National Weather Service.

    It's not just the wind that is deadly, the storm surge could well be life-threatening too…

    In one of the country’s largest evacuations, a record 6.2 million people in Florida, or 30% of the state’s population, have been ordered to leave, and another 540,000 were ordered out on the Georgia coast. Authorities opened hundreds of shelters for people who did not leave. Meanwhile, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued evacuation orders for Hilton Head Island and six of the state's other barrier islands, according to the Associated Press. Hotels as far away as Atlanta were filling up with evacuees.

     

     

    Scott warned that those who choose to stay will be on their own, before urging everybody in the Keys to get out as fast as possible.

    “If you are planning to leave and do not leave tonight, you will have to ride out this extremely dangerous storm at your own risk,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday.

     

    "It's getting late … if you're not on the road on the west coast by noon you need to get to a shelter…get off the road,"

    Ray Scarborough and girlfriend Leah Etmanczyk left their home in Big Pine Key and fled north with her parents and three big dogs to stay with relatives in Orlando. Scarborough was 12 when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992 and remembers lying on the floor in a hallway as the storm nearly ripped the roof off his house.

    “‘They said this one is going to be bigger than Andrew. When they told me that, that’s all I needed to hear,’ said Scarborough, now a 37-year-old boat captain. “That one tore everything apart.”

    Their house in the Keys, up on 6-foot (1.8-meter) stilts, has flooded before.

    “This isn’t our first rodeo. Andrew was a wicked storm. Wilma was a wicked storm. This one is going to be worse. Then we’ll go home and rebuild, like we always do,” said Etmanczyk, a 29-year-old teacher.”

    While it might take some residents along the state’s gulf coast by surprise, the storm’s westward shift means “a less costly, a less deadly storm,” according to University of Miami. Still, forecasters warned that Irma’s winds could reach from coast to coast, testing the rapid development of more stringent hurricane-proof building codes in the last decade or so.

    As residents flee, streets were nearly deserted early Saturday in Palm Beach County as the first squalls hit the state’s Atlantic coast. Gas stations ran out of fuel, grocery stores were closed and only a few fast-food restaurants were open.

    Meanwhile, Gov. Scott took to CBS This Morning to warn residents that the storm was going to have "a big impact" on the state, calling it a "killer." for large swaths of southern and central Florida. He has ordered all schools in the state shut, and was scrambling to set up emergency shelters for residents, according to an interview with CBS This Morning.

    "People are going to shelters, but I just want to make sure everybody understands this is an unbelievable, massive, destructive storm, and it's a killer," he said.

    Meanwhile, some of the worst-case projections will likely leave the southernmost parts of the state uninhabitable for months. According to one forecaster, a reasonable worst case scenario has over half of Key West underwater due to storm surge.

     

    The storm, which is presently battering parts of Cuba, is expected to make landfall early Sunday, bringing winds well over 100 miles per hour and dangerous water levels…

    …meanwhile, Hurricane Jose – a Category 4 storm – is following closely behind.
     

  • The Real Estate Market, Explained In One Graph

    The U.S. housing market has now surpassed its pre-recession peak by 4.3%. This is great news for the economy, although there’s still an ongoing debate about the possibility of another housing crash.

    Whatever you believe about real estate, there’s no doubt that prices depend on where you live. HowMuch.net created a new visualization to demonstrate what this looks like…

    According to Zillow,  the median price for a house is $200,400, up 7.4% over last year.

    So, naturally, how big of a house can you afford with a mortgage of $200,400? Our visualization answers this question on a sliding color-coded scale. We broke each state into a grid with 25 boxes, representing 2,500 square feet—that’s a large home with at least 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Green boxes indicate affordability and orange and red boxes mean it’s expensive. We then graphed how much house you can purchase with exactly $200,400.

    The results highlight the enormous differences between housing values in the U.S. It is all about location, location, location.

    In the Hoosier State, your $200k mortgage can purchase 2,330-sq. ft., but in Washington D.C. only 497 sq. ft. That’s the difference between a large home and a cramped studio apartment.

    The fact that Washington D.C. boasts the most expensive housing market in the coutry should come as no surprise to observers of the economy in the aftermath of the recession. While real estate market crashed in other metro areas, it kept rising in Washington D.C. The nation’s capital has actually started to come back down to Earth, but the area is still an outlier. If you can get a high-paying job in the government, chances are that you’ll need to find a roommate to make ends meet.

    Except for Ohio, rural states without large cities dominate the list of affordability. The five most affordable states to purchase a home for a mortgage of $200,400:

    1. Indiana – 2,330 sq. ft.

    2. Arkansas – 2,227 sq. ft.

    3. Mississippi  – 2,277 sq. ft.

    4. West Virginia – 2,252 sq. ft.

    5. Ohio – 2,252 sq. ft. 

    The five most unaffordable states highlight pockets of high economic growth in the U.S. (like Colorado) or a restriction in housing availability (like Hawaii, which is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!).

    1. Washington D.C. – 403 sq. ft.

    2. Hawaii – 418 sq. ft.

    3. California – 713 sq. ft.

    4. Massachusetts – 887 sq. ft.

    5. Colorado – 982 sq. ft.

    Think about the inequality here: The fourth most unaffordable state in the country (Massachusetts) is still more than twice as affordable as Washington D.C. and Hawaii.

    Whether you are buying a home or just renting, chances are you know that the price you pay can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. If you ever think you are paying too much, just know that someone else in Washington D.C. is paying a heck of lot more for a smaller home.

    Data: Table 1.1 

  • Mind The Chemtrails: US Air Force Dispatches Sprayer Aircraft In Response To Harvey

    Via StockBoardAsset.com,

    The Pentagon has just dispatched C-130H Sprayers from the Air Force Reserve’s 910th Airlift Wing residing in Youngstown, Ohio to Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey.

    The aircraft are outfitted with spraying equipment tasked with ‘minimizing the impact of the brutal storm’s aftermath’.

    According to the article, the specially outfitted C-130Hs can spray wide areas with various chemicals for ‘multiple applications, including dispersing oil spills, destroying invasive vegetation, and controlling insect populations’. 

    Per The Drive,

    Because there is so much standing and heavily polluted water around Houston and other areas affected by the storm, insects populations are bound to explode, which poses a major health risk to the population of southeastern Texas and the first responders working to get the area back on its feet.

     

    Mosquitoes that can carry and transmit malaria, west nile virus, zika, and multiple types of encephalitis will be the target of the operation.

     

    Supposedly the C-130s will treat over six million acres of land while dispatched to the region, far more territory than in previous post-hurricane operations. 

    Houstonians and other surrounding areas are about to get their daily dose of chemtrails in large amounts. Each aircraft can spray 190,000 acres per day emitting chemicals into the atmosphere and ultimately ending up in living organisms.

    Back in the Vietnam War, the Pentagon launched its herbicidal warfare coined Operation Ranch Hand, which sprayed Agent Orange for deforestation purposes.

    According to the American Cancer Society, “there is now quite a bit of evidence about the health effects of Agent Orange” on the human body.

    Some returning veterans from Vietnam began reporting skin rashes, cancer, psychological symptoms, birth defects in their children, and other health problems in the 1970’s. In 1979, a class action lawsuit was filed against major herbicide manufacturers and was settled in 1984 out of court forming Agent Orange Settlement Fund.

    Watch the 910th Aerial Spray C-130H in action spraying insecticides into the atmosphere over Charleston..

    The article ends by telling Texans don’t be alarmed if you see or hear a C-130H Sprayer flying at low altitude dumping chemicals behind it.

    The lesson above dating back to Vietnam is heed the warning that the Pentagon is still willing to spray chemicals into the atmosphere with disregard to human life.

  • Here Are The California Counties Where Annual Opioid Scripts Outnumber People

    The California Department of Public Health just dropped some staggering statistics about the level of opioid abuse in America’s progressive paradise of the left coast.  As the Sacramento Bee points out, there are a remarkable number of counties in California where annual prescriptions for pain killers actually exceed the population.  

    Trinity County is the state’s fourth-smallest, and ended last year with an estimated population of 13,628 people.

     

    Its residents also filled prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and other opioids 18,439 times, the highest per capita rate in California.

     

    Besides Trinity, other counties with more prescriptions than people include Lake, Shasta, Tuolumne and Del Norte counties. In the Sacramento region, El Dorado, Placer and Sacramento counties had prescription rates above the statewide average, with Yolo County slightly below the state average.

     

    A county’s prescription total represents all opioids dispensed via prescriptions filled at a pharmacy and tracked by the state. Statewide, 15 percent of Californians were prescribed opioids in 2016, ranging from 7.3 percent of residents in tiny Alpine County to almost 27 percent in Lake County.

    As might be expected, the scripts per capita are highest in California’s more rural northern counties.

     

    So who is participating most in this deadly epidemic?  Well, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the biggest abusers of opioids are high-school educated, unemployed, white people living in small towns…

    “The following characteristics were associated with higher amounts of opioids prescribed: a larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites; higher rates of uninsured and Medicaid enrollment; lower educational attainment; higher rates of unemployment; (small-town) status; more dentists and physicians per capita; a higher prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, arthritis, and disability; and higher suicide rates,” concluded the authors of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released in July.

     

    “What you’re seeing in California is what you’re seeing in many parts of the country, including Oregon,” Korthuis said. “There are still a lot of rural counties around the U.S. that are awash in prescription opioids.”

    …oh, and grandma and grandpa are getting high on the reg as well.

    In California, residents aged 15 to 29 got 1.7 million prescriptions in 2016, representing 7.2 percent of the state total. That’s down from the 1.9 million prescriptions in 2015, which represented about 7.8 percent of the state total. The age range that featured the largest prescription rate increase were 70- to74-year-olds, whose prescriptions grew from almost 1,354 per 1,000 people in 2015 to 1,394 per 1,000 people in 2016.

     

    Of course, growth in opioid addiction is hardly just a California phenomenon.  According to the CDC’s Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes, addiction-related deaths are far more prevalent in the rural ‘rust-belt’ states of the Midwest.

     

    Meanwhile, the epidemic is growing far more severe every year with overdose deaths up 167% across the country since 1999.

    The rate of drug overdose deaths increased from 6.1 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 16.3 in 2015; for unintenttional drug overdose deaths, the rate increased from 4.0 per 100,000 in 1999 to 13.8 in 2015; for drug overdose deaths involving any opioid, the rate increased from 2.9 per 100,000 in 1999 to 10.4 in 2015 (p<0.05); for unintenttional drug overdose deaths involving any opioid, the rate increased from 2.1 per 100,000 in 1999 to 9.3 per 100,000 in 2015 (p<0.05). For all four categories of drug overdose deaths, increases in rates were largest from 2013 to 2015, with the rate increasing on average by 9% per year for overall drug overdose deaths (p<0.05), 11% per year for unintenttional drug overdose deaths (p<0.05), 15% per year for drug overdose deaths involving any opioid (p<0.05), and 16% for unintenttional drug overdose deaths involving any opioid (p<0.05).

     

    But don’t worry too much because, as Princeton Economist Alan Krueger told us yesterday, there is a simple solution to the opioid epidemic in the U.S…apparently it can all be solved with just a little more Obamacare.

  • Babies On Drugs In America? 1984 Predicted It!

    Authored by Chris Campbell via LFB.org,

    Over a million kids in America six years old and under are on psychiatric drugs – mostly to treat anxiety.

    Let that sink in.

    I have to ask. Is the U.S. really becoming this out of touch? And I mean that literally.

    Author Ray Williams, a contributor to Psychology Today, offered an important question back in 2010: “In our desire to have a politically correct and safe social environment, or an environment of instant communication, have we lost sight of the most important aspect of human development and culture  — physical touch?”

    The science is in: After food, water and shelter, there’s little more important to kids, especially babies, than human contact. Without simple human contact, in fact, babies can die.

    This is the case, actually, to varying degrees, for all mammals.

    In many litters of puppies and kittens, for example, there are sometimes one or two animals that come out enfeebled — as the “runts.”

    The weakness of the runts, felt by the mother during nursing, is a sign to the mother it likely won’t survive. To make sure her genes have the best chance for survival, she must use her limited resources wisely.

    As a result, the mother doesn’t lick or nurture the runt. The mother still allows the runt to feed (other species don’t even go that far), but it refuses to show the runt affection.

    It’s hard to understate how catastrophic this is for the runt. A certain amount of maternal licking and nuzzling is necessary. The affection, we now know, turns on the production of a certain growth hormone in the brain. Without it, food cannot be metabolized properly and healthy growth and development is impossible. If the runt continues to be ignored, even if it still gets plenty to eat, it will eventually shrivel up and die.

    It’s the same for humans. Without human contact at the earliest of age, the immune system is essentially shot. The affected becomes vulnerable to all sorts of ailments and diseases.

    But it’s not just babies…

    Human contact, in kids and adults, has been shown to ease pain, lift depression and may even, oddly enough, increase the odds that a team will win a game.

    And it’s the simplest thing. (Plus, it’s free!)

    K.I.S.S.: When the Synthetic Gets in the Way

    Indeed. In our headlong rush for “progress” in all forms, this is one aspect of our existence in which we need to “make great again,” rather than mindlessly perverting or opting for more synthetic versions. (Food and most medicine can also be added to this list, among other things.)

    Progress, technological and otherwise, hold incredible potential to lift humanity to new heights — yet, if not done mindfully (which is the ideal role of conservatism, preserving that which is worthy of preservation), it can, without question, push us down to new lows.

    The latter is precisely what both George Orwell and Aldous Huxley were warning us about.

    Dystopia would come first with a smile and promises of a vast utopia. And, so enamored we would be, we wouldn’t even notice the glimmering of its fangs until, of course, it was too late.

    Today, we invite Joe Jarvis of the Daily Bell to ask one unnerving question: Have we already reached dystopia?

    Read on.

    As Babies are Prescribed Pharmaceuticals, Have We Reached Dystopia?

    By Joe Jarvis

    Would you let a five-year-old smoke a joint? I certainly hope not. Yet that would probably be less harmful than loading kids up on pharmaceuticals.

    Currently, over a million American children UNDER SIX YEARS OLD are taking psychiatric drugs. Babies are literally being doped up by the pharmaceutical industry. Over 274,000 babies UNDER ONE-YEAR-OLD are given drugs, mostly for anxiety.

    Anxiety drugs for babies. Have they tried motherly love? Or is that just an old fashioned, outdated concept?

    You know, I like to mention society’s similarity to Orwell’s 1984. And surely the growing police state, war on drugs, and endless military campaigns – where the enemy seems to change daily – are reminiscent of the fictional dictatorship of Big Brother.

    But it seems the powers that be are working tirelessly to blend together the dystopia of 1984, with that of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

    Brave New World

    In that dystopia, there is no police state or war. Society has been perfectly designed by scientists, inspired by Ford’s assembly line. Babies are grown in the lab, cloned to all look alike, depending on their class. Parents are an embarrassing relic of the past. How silly to think a child needs family when they have the state!

    The lower castes are deprived of oxygen as embryos to stunt their mental development. In America, they use fluoride in the drinking water instead.

    In Brave New World, children listen to 24-hour propaganda in their cribs.

    Betas hear:

    Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse.

    White pride, black pride, gay pride, national pride. Pride is not meant for accidents of birth. You should be proud of accomplishments and achievements, not genetics and geography.

    Perhaps someone has been whispering in these radicalized children’s ears.

    And how jealous the Department of Education must be of the incubators of Brave New World! They have to sometimes wait years to indoctrinate children. But at least the government gets to drug them up at a young age! And if the TV is left on, most of the programming is done for them.

    Of course, the adults are drugged up in Brave New World as well, just like in America. If anyone feels the least bit anxious, nervous, sad–or any other troublesome emotion–they get “soma.” It’s the perfect mix of drugs with only pleasant feelings and no ill side effects.

    The 1 in 6 Americans on antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medication still have to put up with side effects.

    The 50 million plus Americans on psychiatric medication sometimes kill themselves, or go mad and kill others. I guess the government is still working out the kinks. Or it’s just another creative blending of 1984 and Brave New World. In the former, the proles must be properly terrified.

    1984

    And there is one more thing I can remember from Brave New World that strikes eerily similar to modern America.

    At what age does the public education system start teaching sex ed? Kindergarteners in some states receive “age appropriate” – according to the government – sexual education. Some studies suggest teen pregnancies rise in areas where sex ed is taught at younger ages.

    How young is too young for a sex change? Kids can now choose between 43 genders, or make up a new one! It’s like Mr. Potato head, but with their own bodies. And they will be given corresponding drugs to enhance the “natural” changes.

    In the classrooms of Brave New World:

    “We had Elementary Sex for the first forty minutes,” she answered. “But now it’s switched over to Elementary Class Consciousness.”

    The Director walked slowly down the long line of cots. Rosy and relaxed with sleep, eighty little boys and girls lay softly breathing…

    He let out the amazing truth. For a very long period before the time of Our Ford, and even for some generations afterwards, erotic play between children had been regarded as abnormal (there was a roar of laughter); and not only abnormal, actually immoral (no!): and had therefore been rigorously suppressed.

    Drugging the population, programming citizens with propaganda, sexualizing children, creating class divisions.

    These dystopian novels were meant to be warnings, not instruction manuals.

    Aldous Huxley explores how his fictional predictions progressed in his nonfiction work, Brave New World Revisited.

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