Hurricane Odile Ravages Baja California

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Hurricanes like Odile have the potential to ravage coastal towns. / Image: drpavloff via Flickr CC

Hurricane Odile slammed into Baja California, the northernmost state of Mexico, which is home to many luxury resorts, in the early morning hours on Monday September 15th. Odile tore through Cabo San Lucas Sunday evening around 9:45PM PDT according to the US National Hurricane Center. Tourists and locales took shelter in Los Cabos and other resorts Sunday in expectation of Odile’s arrival. Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters reports that this is the strongest hurricane to strike the Baja coast since 1967.

According to Dr. Masters, “Since July, the Eastern Pacific has had ocean temperatures about 0.6°c above average and win shear about 20% below average. The region has been dominated by moist, rising air and low pressure, leading to above average vertical instability. All of these factors are favorable for an active hurricane season,” of what we can expect to see in the next few months.

Hurricane Odile was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall. A storm of Category 3 strength can produce sustained winds of up to 115 mph in addition to large volumes of rainfall. The storm produced 24-foot tall waves, prompting the Mexican government to urge caution on local fisherman and any others near the coastal waters.

Odile has produced dangerous amounts of flooding and rainfall, which have prompted evacuations and required many people be rescued, stranded in their cars. Additional rainfall anywhere between 6–15 inches can be expected along the Baja coast, according to the Weather Channel. Combined with hurricane-force winds, these large volumes of rainfall are especially dangerous because they can cause flash floods and mudslides.

Luis Felipe Puente, head of Mexico’s national public safety department, reported on the damages to Cabo San Lucas via his Twitter account. While there were several reports of injuries, mostly due to falling glass, there have been no deaths yet to be reported. Early estimates put roughly 200,000 people without electricity in Odile’s wake.

Mexican officials are urging all people in the area to “take extreme precautions and remain alert.”

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National Geographic to Air ‘American War Generals’ Documentary

National Geographic has announced it will air a two-hour documentary on the history of American warfare and leadership on September 14. Called “American War Generals,” the documentary will focus on the last fifty years of American war. It will include a variety of interviews with notable leaders such as Colin Powell, Stanley McChrystal, and David Petraeus, chairman of KKR’s Global Institute.

From the Vietnam war to America’s war with Al-Qaeda, the documentary will look at military history through the eyes of eleven active and retired US Army generals. The never-before-heard stories will chronicle the big changes that led American troops into Vietnam and out of Afghanistan, including complicated personal experiences and broad decisions that redefined an entire approach to modern warfare.

The interviewed generals discuss the politics and challenges of the places behind the action they saw. “The problems in Iraq today are inherently the same as they were when I was there,” says General George Casey, who served from 1970 to 2011. “The elected government is not seen as representative of the entire population.” He goes on to express his belief that the US did everything in its power to help the Iraqis transition to democracy.

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Retired General Colin Powell. / Image: via National Geographic.

The interviews include more personal stories as well: General Petraeus describes being badly wounded during a training exercise (“It knocks the wind out of you, to put it mildly”), and Lieutenant General Flynn describes how his upbringing in a large family taught him to mediate conflict and work well with others.

The documentary was produced by filmmaker Tresha Mabile and journalist Peter Bergen with Towers Productions, which has produced other war specials for National Geographic.

In addition to watching the documentary itself next week, interested viewers can go to the National Geographic website to find further information, including short video interviews with General Casey on Iraqi politics, General Clark on the Iraq invasion, Lieutenant General Eikenberry on Afghanistan, and General McChrystal on the Black Hawk Down operation. There are also infographics available on topics such as army uniforms and rank.

“American War Generals” will air on Sunday, September 14 at 8 PM ET/PT.

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12 McDonald’s Now Closed In Russia

McdonaldsMcDonald’s stores in Russia have been temporary closed for supposed sanitary reasons; however, the closings also coincided with heightened tensions over the Ukraine crisis, in which the United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia.

The state agency closed three McDonald’s in Moscow, one in Stavropol and one in Yakaterinburg in the Urals region. There were also two closed in Sochi and one in the Serpukhov region of Moscow, among others. The tensions have intensified after Kiev accused Russia of invading Ukraine. The Russian state consumer regulator, Rospotrebnadzor, is inspecting over 100 outlets.

“We are studying the essence of claims laid to us to determine the actions necessary to open the restaurants for our customers as soon as possible,” McDonald’s said. The fast-food chain has over 440 restaurants in the country and was a huge sponsor of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

One of the restaurants closed was the first McDonald’s in Russia, which opened in the then-Soviet Union in 1990. President Vladimir Putin is reciprocating the sanctions from the US and EU against Russian companies and officials by banning some food imports.

“It’s Russian retaliation to the sanctions — first it was a ban of food imports and then McDonald’s,” claims Sabrina Mukhamedzhanova, a fund manager at Promsvyaz Asset Management in Moscow. “This is a prominent symbol of the U.S., it has a lot of restaurants and therefore is a meaningful target. I don’t recall McDonald’s having consumer-safety problems of such a scale in over more than two decades of presence in Russia.”

Russia has a long history of utilizing sudden food safety concerns as a political weapon against unfriendly states.

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Kia to Spend Over $1 Billion on Mexican Plant

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IMG: via KIA

Kia Motors is planning to build its first assembly plant in Mexico. The goal of the plant is to produce 300,000 vehicles a year and is on schedule to be completed in the first half of 2016, according to the Kia Vice Chairman Lee Hyoung-Keun. The assembly plant will be in the Monterrey area of northern Mexico.

Kia is planning to invest at least $1.5 billion in the plant. “It is the first investment by the Korean auto industry in our country. We celebrate that KIA Motors has decided to join in the success story that we Mexicans are writing,” Peña Nieto said, noting that parts of the country have seen an increase in automotive production financed by U.S. and Japanese firms in recent years.

From January to July this year, auto production has risen 7.5% in Mexico as compared to 2013. Most car brands already have plants in Mexico, including Honda, Mazda, Volkswagen, Nissan, General Motors and Ford. Even Mercedes-Benz and Nissan announced a joint $1.4 billion plant that would be running in 2017. In July BMW also revealed plans to build a $1 billion plant.

“Having a Korean company enter Mexico will mean that practically all global auto makers will be represented in the country,” Armando Soto, president of Kaso & Asociados, a Mexico City-based auto industry consultant, said in a telephone interview. “It will also trigger large investments from Korean auto-parts companies.”

Experts posit that the Kia plant will likely produce the Forte compact cars and Rio subcompact cars.

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50 Cent’s Feud with Floyd Mayweather Could Benefit Charity

50 Cent challenged Floyd Mayweather to a reading contest

The feud between 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather could benefit charity.
Image: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Opting out of the wildly popular and influential “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” rapper 50 Cent posted a video on Instagram earlier this month, challenging Floyd Mayweather Jr. to read a full page of a “Harry Potter” novel aloud without messing it up. In the video, 50 Cent states that if Mayweather, who currently holds the title of best boxer in the world, does so and has proof, he will donate $750,000 to any charity of Mayweather’s choice.

Later, 50 Cent posted another video stating that late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel agreed to let Mayweather read on his show. “We don’t want to put pressure on you,” 50 Cent says to Mayweather in the latest post. “We know you can’t pronounce those words in the “Harry Potter” book, so we gonna let you read “‘Cat in the Hat.’”

Floyd Mayweather does not seem to be a fan of many rappers lately. He fought T.I. in a Fatburger in Las Vegas in May, dissed Nelly for being a high school dropout on ESPN, and has had a total falling out with former friend 50 Cent. Nelly is also now dating Mayweather’s ex-fiancé, Miss Shantel Jackson.

At the end of the Instagram video 50 Cent yells, “f*** the bucket of ice,” and tosses it over his balcony. Mayweather still hasn’t replied but sources say that if he does, it will likely come via social media. Was this display in poor taste given the seriousness of ALS, an incurable disease? While many people aren’t invested in the overly hyped and often media-manufactured feuds between celebrities, at least 50 Cent was able to stir up more attention for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a campaign that raised millions of dollars for ALS research.

How do you weigh in on this charitable feud? Does it truly serve charitable causes to raise funds in this way?

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