Tuesday, July 31, 2018
'Fire Cloud' Looms Over California, Wildfires So Strong, They Are Creating Their Own Weather Systems
As a scorching heat wave engulfs large parts of Europe this summer, fires have torn through dozens of countries across the European Union. From Germany to France to Sweden, countries in Western Europe are set for another intense heat wave this week with temperatures soaring above 90 degrees. As firefighters continue to battle treacherous blazes that have killed scores of people, here’s a look at what some European countries face as wildfires continue to scorch large swaths of land.
Some fires were sparked by thunderstorms, with an estimated 62,000 acres burned so far. Italian planes and Norwegian helicopters have been fighting the fast-moving flames, and more help from other European countries, including France and Germany, is on the way. However, strong winds will continue to push the fire.
The threat that Iran will choose to initiate a devastating war in the Middle East, from its perch in Syria, continues to rise.
The regime’s reconquest of southwestern Syria, along the borders with Jordan and Israel, in recent weeks has been accompanied by repeated penetration of Israeli territory by projectiles from Syria.
Last Tuesday, Israel shot down a Syrian Air Force Sukhoi 22 that crossed into its territory. Last Wednesday, so-called Islamic State (ISIS) forces in southern Syria shot two missiles into Israel that fell into the Sea of Galilee just a few dozen yards from beachgoers. The Israeli navy located one of the missiles, but is still looking for the other one, which reportedly failed to detonate.
Assad owes his survival to two outside powers: Iran and Russia. Iran has directed Assad’s war effort, including his mass killing from the outset of the war in 2011. Through its Revolutionary Guards Corps and its Hezbollah and Shiite militia proxies, Iran supplied the ground forces to secure Assad’s control of territory. Assad needed these forces because over the years, at least half of his armed forces deserted their posts. Today, Assad still lacks the manpower to hold the territories he is reclaiming. Iranian-controlled forces still comprise the bulwark of the “Syrian regime forces.”
As Iran supplied Assad with his army, Russia has served as his air force since 2015. Had Russian President Vladimir Putin not sent his bombers to Syria, Assad and his Iranian controllers would probably have lost the war. In exchange for saving him, Assad gave Putin the Khmeimim air base and the Tartus naval base.
This outcome is deeply problematic for the U.S. and for Israel. Russia’s position in Syria has made it both the most powerful actor in Syria and a major power broker in the Middle East as a whole. So long as U.S. and Russian positions are unaligned, particularly in relation to Iran, Russia’s empowerment comes at America’s expense.
Israel’s primary interest in the war has from the outset was to prevent Iran from transferring precision weapons to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon through Syria. Since it became clear that the Iranian-controlled Assad regime would defeat its opponents, Israel’s goal has been to end the Iranian presence in Syria altogether.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has worked avidly to forge an operational partnership with Putin in the hopes of diminishing Russia’s commitment to Iran generally, and to Iran’s control over the Syrian regime more specifically. To Putin’s credit, he has opted to avoid confrontation with Israel and to accept Israel’s right to attack his Iranian partners. But his strategic ties to Iran remain significant and present a major challenge to Israel and the U.S.
This is the case because Iran’s position in Syria poses a massive threat to Israel. Unlike the Syrian regime, which avoided direct conflict with Israel after Israel destroyed its air force in 1982, Iran is interested in a war with Israel.
Iran’s Hezbollah proxy army has exerted effective control over Lebanon since 2008. Hezbollah has 150,000 missiles pointing at Israel. Its forces have now gained massive combat experience through their participation in the war in Syria. Hezbollah also has effective control over the U.S.-armed and trained Lebanese Armed Forced, (LAF).
Iran’s control over the Syrian ground forces increases the prospect of war not only against Israel, but against U.S. forces in the Middle East and against Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s threats against oil shipments through the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and the Bab el Mandab at the mouth of the Red Sea – the two sea lanes that control all seabound oil shipments from the Middle East — cannot be seen in isolation from its presence in Syria. There is a possibility that Iran may choose to begin a major war against the U.S. and its allies by attacking Israel from Syria and Lebanon. Add to that the fact that Iran controls the Hamas regime in Gaza as well, and we are looking at the prospect of a war breaking out along any one of these Iranian-controlled fronts, which could easily become a regionwide war.
Carr Fire In California - Size And Heat Of Fire Creating Its Own Weather System, Updates On California Fires
Wildfires like this can get so hot they make pyrocumulus clouds, formations that look like mushroom clouds and can be seen for miles.
High temperatures, low humidity and increased winds are all in the forecast, setting the stage for more explosive fire behavior, Chris Harvey with the Cal Fire Incident Management Team said Sunday.
The National Weather Service also warned that forecast conditions would worsen the situation.
River and Ranch Fires (Mendocino Complex)
A powerful earthquake has killed at least 14 people and injured more than 160 on Indonesia’s Lombok island, with many people left stranded by landslides.
The quake damaged more than 1,000 houses on the popular tourist island and was felt in a wider area, including on the neighbouring island of Bali, where no damage or casualties were reported.
More than 500 hikers and their guides remain stranded as landslides struck on active volcano Mount Rinjani.
Head of Rinjani national park Sudiyono, who goes by one name, said: ’There are still 560 people trapped. Five hundred are in Segara Anakan area, and 60 are in Batu Ceper.
The US Geological Survey said the 6.4 magnitude quake struck at a depth of only 4.4 miles.
East Lombok district was the hardest hit with 10 deaths, including a Malaysian tourist, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency.
The number of casualties could increase as data is still being collected from other locations on the island, he said.
At least 162 people were injured, including 67 taken to hospital with serious injuries, Mr Nugroho said.
In East Lombok and the provincial capital of Mataram, the quake lasted about 10 seconds, causing residents to flee their homes on to streets and fields, Mr Nugroho said.
He added that most of the fatalities and injuries were caused by falling slabs of concrete.
Television footage showed residents remaining outside, fearing aftershocks, as the injured were being treated on mattresses taken out of their partially damaged houses and patients were wheeled out of a hospital.
Eka Fathurrahman, the police chief in East Lombok, said the Malaysian woman who died was part of a group of 18 Malaysian tourists who had just visited Mount Rinjani when the quake jolted their guesthouse and toppled a concrete wall. Six other people were injured at the guesthouse.
Mr Fathurrahman said many injured people who were treated outside a damaged clinic were taken to the main hospital farther away after more ambulances reached the devastated location in East Lombok’s Sembalun village.
Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency recorded more than 130 aftershocks.
Lombok is known for pristine beaches and mountains. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.
Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.