Monday, September 9, 2013

WORLD WAR III: Russia Tries To Stop The U.S. Military Strike On Syria As The Middle East Nears Brink Of Explosion - Syria Welcomes Russia’s Offer To Put Its Chemical Weapons Under International Control; U.S. Argues Over Putin's Request For IAEA To Analyze Risk Of Syria Nuclear Disaster; Syrian Rebels Plan Chemical Attack On Israel From The Assad-Controlled Territories; Assad Says U.S. "Should Expect Anything" If It Strikes Syria!

"Out of Russia comes again the hope of the world". - Edgar Cayce.

September 09, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST
- In a surprise move, Russia promised Monday to push its ally Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control and then dismantle them quickly to avert President Obama's inevitable plans for U.S. military strikes on Syria.

Syria Welcomes Russia’s Offer To Put Its Chemical Weapons Under International Control.

Damascus welcomes Russia’s call to hand control over its chemical weapons to the international community, the Syrian Foreign Minister said responding to Sergey Lavrov's statement after the two met in the Russian capital.

“Syrian Arab Republic welcomes Russia’s initiative, based on the Syrian’s government care about the lives of our people and security of our country,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said in response to the statement by his Russian counterpart.

“We are calling on the Syrian authorities not only agree on putting chemical weapons storages under international control, but also for its further destruction and then joining the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,”
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier.
Syrian Foreign Minister Al-Muallem
(RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
The UN chief has called for measures to provide for the safe storage and destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal. 

“I am sure that the international community will take quick measures to make sure that these chemical weapons reserves are stored in a safe place and are to be destroyed,”
Ban Ki-moon said.
Britain has responded to the Russia-Syria dialogue, saying that the chemical weapons handover idea for Syria must not be used as a “distraction tactic”.

"If Syria were to put its chemical weapons beyond use under international supervision clearly that would be a big step forward,"
Cameron told parliament. "We have to be careful though to make sure this is not a distraction tactic to discuss something else rather than the problem on the table."

David Cameron also stressed that the Syrian conflict can only be solved with “political methods”.

Cameron said that the only way to put an end to the conflict in Syria is to work out a peaceful political decision, adding that through it Syria will come to stability and democracy.

WATCH: Syria welcomes Russia's call to handover chemical weapons.

U.S. Argues Over Moscow's Request For IAEA To Analyze Risk Of Syria Nuclear Disaster.
Participants arrive at the board room on the first day of the board of governors' meeting of the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on September 9, 2013 at the UN headquaters in Vienna (AFP Photo)

Russia and the US are in dispute over Moscow’s request for the International Atomic Agency to analyze risks if military strikes hit a nuclear plant near Damascus. The agency said it is considering the appeal, but won’t give an answer “immediately”.

As a UN atomic agency was meeting on Monday, Russia urged the UN nuclear watchdog to give an “immediate” answer, stressing the urgency of the issue. On September, 5 Russia warned that a military strike on Syria could lead to a nuclear catastrophe if a missile were to hit the so-called Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) near Damascus.

So far, three countries - Russia, Cuba and the US - have spoken on the subject, but Yukiya Amono, IAEA’s Director General, declined to disclose details of the discussion.

However, there is no unity in the 35-Member State Board on whether the International Atomic Agency should comply with Russia’s request, Amano said.

The US ambassador to the IAEA, Joseph Macmanus, insisted that carrying out an analysis as Russia requests was not the UN agency's job and it would exceed the IAEA’s mandate.

"It is our view that requests for comprehensive risk analyses of hypothetical scenarios are beyond the IAEA's statutory authority,"
said  Macmanus.

The IAEA "will have to review such a request in light of legal authorities, mandate and resources and must determine whether there is a scientific basis for conducting a highly speculative investigation of this kind," Macmanus was quoted as saying.  

The IAEA’s head, Yukiya Amano, said he was not sure if the agency would be able to come up with an answer to Russia’s request by the end of the week-long session.

“This is a complicated issue and it has many aspects. It is also important to listen to opinions of other IAEA member states,”
Amano said.

“I can’t tell when we’ll be ready to answer our friends [Russia],”
he added.

Earlier the IAEA said in a report to member states that Syria had declared there was a “small amount of nuclear material” at the MNSR, a type of research reactor usually fuelled by highly enriched uranium.

The MNSR runs on 900 grams of highly enriched uranium – much less than the 25 kg that would be sufficient to build a bomb, according to experts.

However, despite this type of reactor not containing a lot of nuclear material, it would be enough to cause "a serious local radiation hazard".

Syrian Rebels Plan Chemical Attack On Israel From Assad-Controlled Territories.
AFP Photo / Ricardo Garcia Vilanovoa.

A chemical attack may be launched on Israel by Syrian rebels from government-controlled territories as a "major provocation", a number of sources have told RT.

The news comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed that Syria puts its chemical weapons arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction in order to prevent a possible military strike against the war-torn republic.

Moscow also urged the Syrian authorities to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The offer has already been passed over to the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who met Lavrov in Moscow for talks on Monday. 

We don’t know if Syria will accept the offer, but if imposing international control over chemical weapons stored in the country can help to avoid military strikes, we are immediately going to start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said. 

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has welcomed Moscow’s initiative, “based on the Syrian’s government care about the lives of our people and security of our country,” Muallem said later on Monday.  

Shortly after RT’s report, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice also spoke about the possible threat to Israel from the Syrian territory. “The use of chemical weapons also directly threatens our closest ally in the region, Israel,” she said speaking at the New America Foundation in Washington.

A few hours earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that to avoid a military operation Syrian President Bashar Assad has a week to surrender control of “every single bit” of his stock of chemical weapons to the international community. “But he isn't about to do it and it can't be done,” he added, speaking at a media conference in London, as he was wrapping up his European tour in a move to win support for the Obama-proposed “limited” strike against Syria.

The US Administration has blamed the Syrian government for the alleged chemical weapons use in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. Washington has maintained it has the intelligence to prove it, but has so far refused to make public a single piece of concrete evidence that would link the Assad regime to the deadly incident. 

On Sunday, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee released a series of 13 videos showing what is purported to be proof of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The disturbing images of the victims of the alleged attack were earlier shown during a closed-door briefing to a group of senators, as Obama is trying to get authorization from Congress for the military strike on Syria. The administration told senators that the authenticity of the videos was verified by the intelligence community, reported CNN, which first aired the graphic material.

WATCH: Syrian rebels plan chem attack on Israel from government controlled lands - RT sources.

The videos depict scenes of convulsing children, men vomiting and struggling to breathe and, also what appeared to be dozens of dead bodies wrapped up in white sheets, lying side by side. But they still do not provide an answer to the question of who was behind the attack. The Syrian government and the opposition forces point the finger of blame at each other. 

It also remains unclear as to why exactly President Assad would order a chemical attack at a time when a group of UN experts were carrying out an investigation in the country.

There is proof the footage of the alleged chemical attack in Syria was fabricated, Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, mother superior of the St. James Monastery in Qara, Syria, told RT. She added that she plans to submit her findings to the UN.

Assad Says U.S. "Should Expect Anything" If It Strikes Syria.
Bashar Assad (AFP Photo).

Syrian President Bashar Assad has warned that the United States should expect a retaliation if it launches a military strike against Syria in response to the alleged August 21 chemical attack.

You should expect everything. Not necessarily from the government,” Assad told CBS in an interview conducted in the presidential palace in Damascus. He went on to say that it is “not only the government” in the region. “You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology.

Asked if he would mount a military response to any attack on Syria, Assad said “I am not fortune teller to tell you what's going to happen.”

The US will “pay the price if you are not wise with dealing with terrorists,” the Syrian president told ‘CBS This Morning’ co-host Charlie Rose in his first interview with American television in nearly two years.
This comes as American President Barack Obama is seeking to win an authorization from US Congress – that has been rather skeptical so far - for a ‘limited’ military strike against the Syrian government. The administration accused the Syrian government of ordering the use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb last month.

Assad, however, denied any involvement in the alleged attack.

There is no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people,” he said.

According to Assad, the government forces were not in the area of the chemical weapons attack on August 21.

Our soldiers in another area were attacked chemically,” he said. “They went to the hospital as casualties because of chemical weapons. But in the area where they said the government used chemical weapons we only had video and we only have pictures and allegations.

Assad stressed that there were no government forces in the area of the alleged chemical attack.

Our forces, our police, our institutions don’t exist there. How can you talk about what happened if you don’t have evidence?

US Secretary of State John Kerry, a forceful proponent of a military action against Syria, argued on Monday that Assad's repeated denials were “contradicted by facts.” He described the Syrian president as “a man without credibility.”

We know that his regime gave orders to prepare for a chemical attack,” Kerry told reporters in London, on the final leg of his trip to Europe in a bid to bolster EU support for a military strike. “We know by tracing it physically where the rockets came from and where they landed,” he added.

Washington has referred to its intelligence and military communications as proof that the Assad government was behind the August attack in the Damascus suburbs. It also says it intercepted conversations involving Syrian officials during which they took responsibility for the attack. However, the administration has so far refused to make that evidence public.

In Assad’s view, the explanation behind this is that they do not have any evidence.  He also said the current situation reminds him of the arguments that the then-President George W. Bush's administration used before launching an intervention against Iraq. He recalled “the precedent” with Secretary of State Colin Powell over a decade ago, when he presented to the United Nations what the US claimed to be evidence of Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction.

It was false and it was forged,” Assad said.

WATCH:  Ex-UK Foreign Secretary - 'Assad unpleasant, but rational, chemical attack seems illogical'.

- RT.

ICE AGE NOW: And Now It's GLOBAL COOLING - Record Return Of Arctic Ice Cap As It Grows By 60 PERCENT IN JUST ONE YEAR; Almost A Million More Square Miles Of Ocean Covered With Ice Than In 2012!

September 09, 2013 - ARCTIC - A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 60 per cent.

The rebound from 2012’s record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013.

Instead, days before the annual autumn re-freeze is due to begin, an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores.

The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year. More than 20 yachts that had planned to sail it have been left ice-bound and a cruise ship attempting the route was forced to turn back.

Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century – a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading.

The disclosure comes 11 months after The Mail on Sunday triggered intense political and scientific debate by revealing that global warming has ‘paused’ since the beginning of 1997 – an event that the computer models used by climate experts failed to predict.

In March, this newspaper further revealed that temperatures are about to drop below the level that the models forecast with ‘90 per cent certainty’.

The pause – which has now been accepted as real by every major climate research centre – is important, because the models’ predictions of ever-increasing global temperatures have made many of the world’s economies divert billions of pounds into ‘green’ measures to counter climate change.

Those predictions now appear gravely flawed.


Only six years ago, the BBC reported that the Arctic would be ice-free in summer by 2013, citing a scientist in the US who claimed this was a ‘conservative’ forecast. Perhaps it was their confidence that led more than 20 yachts to try to sail the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific this summer. As of last week, all these vessels were stuck in the ice, some at the eastern end of the passage in Prince Regent Inlet, others further west at Cape Bathurst.

Shipping experts said the only way these vessels were likely to be freed was by the icebreakers of the Canadian coastguard. According to the official Canadian government website, the Northwest Passage has remained ice-bound and impassable all summer.

The BBC’s 2007 report quoted scientist Professor Wieslaw Maslowski, who based his views on super-computer models and the fact that ‘we use a high-resolution regional model for the Arctic Ocean and sea ice’.

He was confident his results were ‘much more realistic’ than other projections, which ‘underestimate the amount of heat delivered to the sea ice’. Also quoted was Cambridge University expert

Professor Peter Wadhams. He backed Professor Maslowski, saying his model was ‘more efficient’ than others because it ‘takes account of processes that happen internally in the ice’.

He added: ‘This is not a cycle; not just a fluctuation. In the end, it will all just melt away quite suddenly.’

The continuing furore caused by The Mail on Sunday’s revelations – which will now be amplified by the return of the Arctic ice sheet – has forced the UN’s climate change body to hold a crisis meeting.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was due in October to start publishing its Fifth Assessment Report – a huge three-volume study issued every six or seven years. It will now hold a pre-summit in Stockholm later this month.

Leaked documents show that governments which support and finance the IPCC are demanding more than 1,500 changes to the report’s ‘summary for policymakers’. They say its current draft does not properly explain the pause.

At the heart of the row lie two questions: the extent to which temperatures will rise with carbon dioxide levels, as well as how much of the warming over the past 150 years – so far, just 0.8C – is down to human greenhouse gas emissions and how much is due to natural variability.

In its draft report, the IPCC says it is ‘95 per cent confident’ that global warming has been caused by humans – up from 90 per cent in 2007.

This claim is already hotly disputed. US climate expert Professor Judith Curry said last night: ‘In fact, the uncertainty is getting bigger. It’s now clear the models are way too sensitive to carbon dioxide. I cannot see any basis for the IPCC increasing its confidence level.’

She pointed to long-term cycles in ocean temperature, which have a huge influence on climate and suggest the world may be approaching a period similar to that from 1965 to 1975, when there was a clear cooling trend. This led some scientists at the time to forecast an imminent ice age.

Professor Anastasios Tsonis, of the University of Wisconsin, was one of the first to investigate the ocean cycles. He said: ‘We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped.

Then... NASA satelite images showing the spread of Artic sea ice 27th August 2012.

...And now, much bigger: The same Nasa image taken in 2013.

‘The IPCC claims its models show a pause of 15 years can be expected. But that means that after only a very few years more, they will have to admit they are wrong.’

Others are more cautious. Dr Ed Hawkins, of Reading University, drew the graph published by The Mail on Sunday in March showing how far world temperatures have diverged from computer predictions. He admitted the cycles may have caused some of the recorded warming, but insisted that natural variability alone could not explain all of the temperature rise over the past 150 years.

Nonetheless, the belief that summer Arctic ice is about to disappear remains an IPCC tenet, frequently flung in the face of critics who point to the pause.

Yet there is mounting evidence that Arctic ice levels are cyclical. Data uncovered by climate historians show that there was a massive melt in the 1920s and 1930s, followed by intense re-freezes that ended only in 1979 – the year the IPCC says that shrinking began.

Professor Curry said the ice’s behaviour over the next five years would be crucial, both for understanding the climate and for future policy. ‘Arctic sea ice is the indicator to watch,’ she said. - Daily Mail.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Global Volcano Report For September 09, 2013 - Active Lava Flows On The Coastal Plain West Of Kalapana At The Kilauea Volcano In Hawaii And Explosion at Lokon-Empung In Indonesia!

September 09, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Kilauea (Hawai'i): For most of 2013, lava flows have been active on the coastal plain west of Kalapana and entering the ocean in two places near the National Park boundary, providing great opportunities for visitors to Kīlauea volcano.

A recent lava flow spat out by a spatter cone on Pu`u `O`o, showing lava there is still pressurized.

The more active northern flow-field steams after a wet night

However, in the past few weeks this activity has gradually diminished, with first one then the other ocean entry coming to a halt, and just within the last day all lava activity on the coastal plain of the volcano has come to a pause. In the past, these pauses have lasted from several days to several months, and occasionally signal a bigger change in the character of the volcano's eruption.

Also immediately important is a large lava flow-field developing north of Pu`u `O`o which has increased in activity over the past few weeks. On our overflight this morning, this area hosted at least a dozen of breakouts within the thickening flow-field, which apparently has diverted most or all of the flow from Kalapana.

Kalapana coastal plain during a pause on Sep 8, 2013.

The lava tube system uphill shows a few signs of recent flows only at its uppermost reaches.

At the summit, the overlook vent lava lake remains persistently high with no significant changes so far this year, with fantastic glow still visible for volcano visitors. As only time will tell when this balance will shift again, we will continue to watch and enjoy the changes of Kīlauea! A hui hou!

Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): An explosion at 6:30 am (local time) today at Lokon-Empung volcano produced an ash plume that rose to a height of 1.5 km. The explosion was heard 10 km away.

A newspaper stated that "The lava flow reached several northern area villages, namely Pineleng, Tanawangko and Tateli". This report is vague and there are no other reports of a 'lava flow'.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for September 9, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

GREAT DELUGE: Precursors To A Global Coastal Event - Hundreds Evacuated After Waters Break Dam In Russia's Flood-Hit Far East!

September 09, 2013 - RUSSIA - Nearly 300 houses with over 900 inhabitants have been inundated in a suburb of the Far Eastern Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur after a nearby dam was destroyed in rising floods.

EMERCOM rescuers evacuate people from a flooded district of Khabarovsk.
© RIA Novosti / Vyacheslav Reutov

Up to 700 people have been evacuated so far, local Emergencies Ministry reported. The Mendeleyev settlement, where the dam is located, is home to 4,500 people; about a thousand of them are said to be in immediate danger.

Those living on ground and second floors of apartment buildings have been evacuated, while inhabitants of apartments on higher floors are currently refusing to leave, Emergency Situations First Deputy Minister, Sergey Shlyakov, told RIA news. "Water and food supplies have been organized for them," he added.

Hot water has been cut off in the Mendeleyev settlement, while drinking water is currently being brought up by tankers. 19 rescue workers have been on duty overnight with six boats, as well as Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations' Mi-8 helicopter.

Up to 16,000 people have already been evacuated and 98,800 people have been affected by the ongoing flooding of the Amur River. Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev said on Wednesday that Russia's federal government is providing $360 million in aid to parts of the Far East that have been devastated by the raging flash floods.

The most difficult situation is near Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in the flood-hit Khabarovsk territory, where the level of the Amur River is growing by 13-15 centimeters a day, and has already reached 8.71 meters. According to Trutnev, a further 36,000 people might need to be evacuated from the area if floodwaters continue to rise.

Traffic and repair works on the flooded R454 highway Khabarovsk - Komsomolsk-on-Amur.© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich

In total there are about 45,000 people taking part in rescue work in the flood-hit areas.

According to local meteorologists, the waters of the Amur River near the flood-hit city of Khabarovsk appeared to be on a slow decline having dropped by three centimeters over the past 24 hours. On Friday the water's decline reached a level of 798 centimeters.

WATCH: Floods break dam in Russia's flood-hit Far East.

Earlier this week, the water level in the troubled river peaked over 810 centimeters, surpassing the highest record of 642 centimeters (registered in 1897) by almost two meters.

Over 60 residential sites have been flooded across the Khabarovsk Territory, including the cities of Khabarovsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Some 2,300 residential buildings have been inundated, over 660 of them in Khabarovsk.

Flood in Khabarovsk Region.© RIA Novosti / Vyacheslav Reutov

More than 3,800 people have been evacuated from the affected areas.

Vladimir Putin, who recently visited the flood-hit areas, said that the Far East was encountering an "unprecedented disaster."

"When I was flying over it in a helicopter it looked like an open sea. The only thing that brings you back down to earth is rooftops showing from under the water. This does make you realize you're dealing with a disaster. The scope of that disaster was just enormous..." Putin said earlier this week during an interview with AP and Channel 1.

WATCH: Wrecking Water - Russia's Far East hit by biggest floods in 120 years.

The Russian President has apologized to the local flood-affected people, who are currently suffering, with their homes inundated, possessions lost, and life in danger.

"You can't just leave people so that they, in their own words, painted the walls themselves and ate thin broth," Putin stated, pledging to put everything in order. Some local residents had earlier told Putin they were being poorly-fed, while the local officials simply ignored their needs.  - RT.

EXTREME WEATHER: Intense Wheel Of Heat - More Record Heat For Chicago And The United States Midwest This Week!

September 09, 2013 - UNITED STATES - As an intense wheel of heat spins across the central and southern Plains, a cold front slowly dropping down from Canada will push the highest temperatures into the Midwest early this week.

In the wake of weekend storminess, Chicago cooled down into the 70s for Sunday, but the respite from summerlike warmth will be short-lived.

Extreme temperatures Sunday from Goodland, Kan., into McCook, Neb., will make a surge into the Midwest on Monday into Tuesday.

On Monday, highs will hit the middle and upper 90s from Omaha, Neb., into Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Saint Louis, Mo. Some spots may even reach the 100-degree mark.

On Tuesday, the heat will make its way into Chicago, with high temperatures nearing the record of 95 degrees, set on Sept. 10, 1983.

Interestingly, one has to go back to Sept. 26, 1998, to find the last time a record high was observed in Chicago for the month of September.

If you have any other outdoor plans the next few days, here are a few helpful ideas for staying safe in the heat from Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital:

- Stay Hydrated. The most important tip is to remember to drink plenty of water. Sports drinks can also restore body fluids, electrolytes, and salt balance.

- Avoid Midday Rays. Stay indoors if possible during peak temperatures, which are typically between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

- Dress Appropriately. Wear loose clothing that allows your body to breath, such as cotton and protect your head and face from the sun by wearing a hat with a brim.

- Limit Intense Activity. Refrain from intensive outdoor activity in high humidity, which can hinder sweat from evaporating quickly and prevent the body from releasing heat effectively.

A strong cold front will cut its way through the sweltering heat on Wednesday, triggering showers and thunderstorms. Much cooler and more refreshing air will arrive late this week into the weekend. - AccuWeather.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Invasion Of Crickets - Plague Of Millions Of Crickets Overwhelms Oklahoma Towns?!

September 09, 2013 - UNITED STATES - If bugs make you squeamish, be thankful you don't live in Oklahoma.

Swarms of crickets have invaded the Sooner State recently, prompting grossed out Oklahomans to share photos of the harmless, chirping insects.

Oklahoma State University entomologists say a combination of heat and drought this summer has fueled the cricket invasion, reported NewsOn6. Yet there actually fewer crickets than last year.

“These outbreaks seem to occur after periods of prolonged dry weather in spring and early summer followed by rainfall in July and August,” said OSU's Rick Grantham in a university press release. “Extensive soil cracking may be an important factor.”

One exterminator told KRMG, "This time of year is their mating season." The invasion, which began in late August, may last as long as eight weeks.

Another expert told KTUL that the insects will feed on each others' carcasses, so residents should avoid stomping on them.

WATCH: Cricket plague overwhelms Oklahoma towns with millions of insects.

One upside to the invasion? Male crickets' chirps can serve as a crude thermometer.

According to KOCO meteorologist Brad Sowder, the number of chirps a single cricket makes in 14 seconds, plus 40, is "very close to the actual air temperature." - Huffington Post.

EXTREME WEATHER: Wildfire Threatens San Francisco Area - Blaze Surges To 1,500 Acres; Dozens Of Homes Evacuated

September 09, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A wildfire burning in a San Francisco Bay Area wilderness park led to the evacuation of several dozen homes.

A vegetation fire burns on the east side of Mount Diablo along Morgan Territory Road in unincorporated
Contra Costa County, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. The fire began shortly after 1:45 p.m. was reported
at Morgan Territory and Marsh Creek roads. (AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, Jose Carlos Fajardo)
Photo: Jose Carlos Fajardo, Associated Press

The blaze broke out amid temperatures near triple digits in early afternoon on the edge of Mt. Diablo State Park in Contra Costa County about 15 miles northeast of San Francisco, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement.

By nightfall it had surged to 800 acres, state fire officials said, spewing a plume of smoke visible for miles around and leading to the evacuation Sunday of 50 to 75 homes in Clayton, a town of about 11,000 people alongside the park. The blaze had consumed 1,500 acres as of early Monday.

"I could just see it moving toward us," resident Ann Hyde, who lives about 2 ½ miles from the spot where the fire started, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The embers are all over the place and they make me nervous.... We've never had anything this big before."

Though not far from more densely populated parts of the Bay Area, the threatened homes were on sparsely populated properties dotted with animal pens and shooting ranges.

Karen Cooper, who works at a kennel in the area, said she had safely evacuated 20 dogs, but two of her horses, named Butter and Pineapple, were missing.

WATCH: Wildfire sparks evacuations.

"It's been intense," Cooper told the Contra Costa Times.

An evacuation center was established at Clayton Community Library.

About 250 firefighters from several surrounding agencies were struggling with tough, steep terrain. With help from four planes and three helicopters they had the blaze 10 percent contained. - TWC.

MASS MAMMAL DIE-OFF: Five Dead Whales Found Mysteriously Stranded On The Coast Of Ghana?!

September 09, 2013 - GHANA - Environmentalists and government officials in Ghana currently puzzled about the cause of a large whale deaths.

Since Friday, five dead whales were stranded on the coast of the West African country, as a representative of the Fisheries Commission said.
The Commission will establish a dedicated team to investigate the causes.

To speculation that oil production off the coast of Ghana is responsible for the deaths of marine mammals, said both the Fisheries Commission as well as environmentalists, but there was no evidence.

According to the environmental group Friends of the nation since 2009, 16 whales died in Ghanaian waters. This was an unusually large number, the organization called for an official investigation.

Ghana had begun in December 2010, with oil production in the Atlantic Ocean. The chairman of Friends of the Nation, Donkris Movuta said, this temporal interaction with the whale deaths could be "a coincidence".

"It can be anything in the marine world," he said. The question is why does not the carcasses would sink to the ocean floor, but were washed ashore.

In Kokrobite resort 50 kilometers from the capital Accra removed a partially decomposed whale carcass became an attraction.

Sea parted the animal to a local tradition upside down - and were paid his visit of tourists. Some walkers have been photographed lying in the surf on the body of the dead whale. - ORF News. [Translated]

STORM ALERT: Tracking Developments In Atlantic Ocean - Tropical Storm Humberto Forms In The Eastern Atlantic And Disturbed Weather Pattern From Once-Tropical Storm Gabrielle North Of Puerto Rico!

September 09, 2013 - ATLANTIC OCEAN - Tropical Storm Humberto formed in the far eastern Atlantic early on Monday morning following a short-lived Tropical Depression 9.

Humberto started off as just a low emerging off the African coast over the weekend, becoming a tropical depression on Sunday.

What makes this system different from its predecessors that hinted at development, but failed to do so, is the atmosphere the low is moving into.

The newly formed tropical storm is tracking south of the disruptive wind shear and dry air that has kept this hurricane season relatively quiet thus far.

Without those hindrances in place, the Hurricane Center expects Humberto to gradually strengthen over the next couple of days.

How strong the system gets will depend on how long it maintains a westward heading. Eventually, Humberto will make a sharper turn to the north and could encounter the drier air, stronger wind shear and even cooler water.

The longer Humberto delays that turn to the north, the more opportunity it has to strengthen. If it manages to become a hurricane before Thursday, it would prevent 2013 from setting the record for the formation of the latest first Atlantic hurricane in a season.

That record, for storms in the satellite era, is currently held by 2002 when Gustav reached hurricane status on Sept. 11, according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Tropical Storm Humberto is expected to definitely make that northward turn prior to reaching the central Atlantic, sparing the Caribbean Islands from being impacted.

Farther down the road, it appears that the system should not reach the United States.

The worst impacts to land will come over the Cape Verde Islands. Potentially flooding rain threatens to spread across the islands on Monday through Tuesday. Depending on when Humberto takes its northward turn, the drenching could last through Wednesday.

Damaging winds and rough surf will become greater concerns the more that Humberto strengthens over the warm waters of the eastern Atlantic.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic

A close eye is also being kept on the area of disturbed weather north of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola that contains part of what was once-Tropical Storm Gabrielle.

The window can open for this area to gradually become better organized if the disruptive wind shear in its path to the north lessens.

Even if development occurs, the cold front set to bring another shot of cool air to the Northeast late this week will keep the system away from the United States.

Interests in Bermuda, however, should monitor the feature. Some drenching showers and thunderstorms could still reach the island nation midweek regardless of whether or not a tropical depression takes shape.

The Hurricane Center will also be watching the southwestern Gulf of Mexico for another system to follow in the footsteps of once-Tropical Depression Eight and Tropical Storm Fernand. - AccuWeather.