MidEast Peace plans/Syrian refugees/Namibia’s drought and hunger and more = sign of the times


Three injured, hundreds evacuated as Southern California wildfire rages

August 8, 2013 – CALIFORNIA – A wildfire raged out of control in the high desert east of Los Angeles on Wednesday, injuring two firefighters and one civilian and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents of three small communities. The fire broke out shortly after 2 p.m. near a back-country road south of Banning, about 90 miles outside Los Angeles in Riverside County. Within hours it had blackened more than 5,000 acres, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlandt said. The department’s website said three people had been injured but provided no additional details. Poppet Flats, Twin Pines and Silent Valley were under mandatory evacuation orders, and Highway 243 had been closed, Berlandt said. Shelters had been set up at high schools in nearby Hemet and Beaumont, the department’s website said. Berlandt said several structures had been destroyed by the flames, but it was not immediately clear whether any of them were homes. Local TV images showed what appeared to be single-family residences in flames. He said some 500 firefighters assisted by water-dropping aircraft were working to protect homes and other buildings, and more crews were on the way. Authorities have not yet determined how the fire started. Berlandt said conditions were “extremely dry” in the area and across California and the West. The fire is the latest to break out during what experts say could become one of the worst U.S. fire seasons. A Colorado wildfire, ranked as that state’s most destructive on record, ravaged more than 500 homes and killed two people. In Arizona, 19 members of an elite “hotshot” firefighting crew died while battling a wildfire on June 30. –Reuters

Namibia drought threatens 400,000 with hunger

August 8, 2013 – NAMBIA – A severe drought that sparked a state of emergency in Namibia has left 400,000 people facing hunger, the government said. The government has been criticized for failing to do enough to provide relief to people during the worst dry spell to hit the country in decades. But the chairman of the Disaster Risk Management Committee defended the government’s performance as he announced the new figure late Tuesday. “We are trying to do the best we can to make sure that the food goes to the intended people. So far so good,” he said. Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, and only two percent of land receives sufficient rainfall to grow crops. The southern African country has seen several droughts in the recent decades. The number of people at risk from hunger has risen from 300,000 in May, when President Hifikepunye Pohamba declared a state of emergency. In May, the government started handing out maize meal bags to rural areas in a central part of the country and authorities are appealing for international support. Unicef says more than 778,000 people including 109,000 children under the age of five are at risk of malnutrition. The organization says it needs about $22 million (about 17,000 euros) to support those people. The dry spell has destroyed grazing land and raised concerns about the country’s spectacular wildlife, which attracts vital tourist income.  –Space Daily




With conditions continuing to deteriorate in Syria, the Obama administration is making a major policy shift by agreeing for the first time to allow thousands of new Syrian refugees into the United States, The Cable has learned. The numbers are relatively small: just 2,000 refugees, compared to an estimated two million people who have fled Syria during the civil war. But it’s a significant increase from the 90 or so Syrian refugees who have been permanently admitted to the U.S. in the last two years. And it’s not entirely uncontroversial. The refugees, mostly women and children, will be screened for terrorist ties — a process that could take a year or more to complete.  Unlike previous efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to give temporary protected status to Syrians already in the United States, the State Department effort will bring in Syrians from overseas for permanent resettlement in America. ”Referrals will come within the next four months. We will need to interview people and perform security and medical checks,” Kelly Clements, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration, tells The Cable.More




It’s an astonishing fact: America’s most vexing problems – crime, widespread human degradation and immorality, dependency on government handouts, rampant political corruption and overwhelming public debt, sky-high taxes and a pervasive socialist mindset – are primarily problems of her big cities. America’s cities are dying – some fast, some slow – but almost all are in great and growing distress.  The poster boy for sick cities right now may be bankrupt Detroit, but there are countless others. Like Chicago, with its legendary murder rate and even more legendary corruption rate (4 of Illinois’ last 7 governors went to prison). Or bankrupt Stockton, Calif., with the nation’s highest foreclosure rate and among the five worst cities for unemployment and crime. Or even New York City, where perversion has become high-culture and taxes are higher than Manhattan’s skyscrapers. Meanwhile, dozens of other great American cities – from Modesto and Vallejo in the West, to Rockford and St. Louis in the heartland, to Wilmington and Buffalo in the East and Miami and New Orleans in the South – are similarly afflicted. Yet overshadowing all these problems is another truly ominous trend: As during the Civil War era, America is again becoming dangerously polarized – but this time not between North and South. Incredibly, the last few elections have demonstrated a historic and growing divide between liberal and conservative America in which, considered as a whole, America’s cities are liberal and the rest of the country conservative. One glance at any recent electoral red-state/blue-state map makes that conclusion starkly undeniable. WND




WASHINGTON (AP) — The second round of U.S.-brokered Mideast peace talks will be held next week, the State Department said Thursday, even as the Palestinians protested new Israeli settlement activity. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said Israel’s latest settlement announcements were an indication of “Israel’s bad faith and lack of seriousness” in the talks. The letter was sent Thursday, the same day that State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced that Mideast peace envoy Martin Indyk and deputy special envoy Frank Lowenstein were heading to the region for talks Aug. 14 in Jerusalem, followed by a later meeting in the West Bank. More














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