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10 Haunting Photos As California’s Largest Wildfire Ever Spirals Out Of Control

On Monday, the twin fires being treated as one incident north of San Francisco became the largest wildfire in state history, destroying 443 square miles (1,148 square kilometers), nearly the size of the city of Los Angeles and 45% greater than New York City.

The Mendocino Complex grew to span 283,000 acres (114,526 hectares) on Monday when two wildfires merged at the southern tip of the Mendocino National Forest, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. The size of the fire has surpassed the previous record set by the Thomas Fire which burned 281,893 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties when it destroyed more than 1,000 structures. It is now the largest of eight major fires burning out of control across California, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a “major disaster” in the state.

The wildfire about 225 miles (360 kilometers) north of San Francisco started more than two weeks ago by sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailer’s flat tire. It killed two firefighters and four residents and displaced more than 38,000 people.

And as the record-breaking wildfire continued to grow amid hot and windy conditions, it challenged thousands of fire crews battling eight major blazes burning out of control across the state.

The Mendocino Complex, which is 30% contained, has been less destructive to property than some of the other wildfires in the state – it has so far burned down 75 homes – because it is mostly raging in remote areas. But as AP notes, officials say it threatens 11,300 buildings and some new evacuations were ordered over the weekend as the flames spread.

More than 14,000 firefighters are battling more than a dozen major blazes throughout California, state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean told AP. “I can remember a couple of years ago when we saw 10 to 12,000 firefighters in the states of California, Oregon and Washington and never the 14,000 we see now.”

Unfortunately, there is no respite in sight as temperatures could reach 110 degrees (43 Celsius) in Northern California over the next few days with gusty winds fanning the flames of the complex, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

The 3,900 crews battling the Mendocino Complex on Monday were focusing on keeping flames from breaking through fire lines on a ridge above the foothill communities of Nice, Lucerne, Glen Haven, and Clearlake Oaks, said Tricia Austin, a spokeswoman for Cal Fire.

Elsewhere, the Carr Fire – which has torched 164,413 acres in the scenic Shasta-Trinity region north of Sacramento since breaking out on July 23 – was 47% contained according to Reuters. The Carr Fire has been blamed for seven deaths, including a 21-year-old Pacific Gas and Electric Company lineman Jay Ayeta, whom the company said on Sunday was killed in a vehicle crash as he worked with crews in dangerous terrain.

Even Trump commented on Twitter on the California conflagrations: “California wildfires are being magnified and made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized.”

The Northern California fires have created such a haze of smoke in the Central Valley that Sacramento County health officials advised residents to avoid outdoor activities for the entire week.

Below we shows 10 haunting photos from the wildfire, courtesy of Bloomberg:

In defense of using ‘the new normal’ to describe climate change

WHAT IS NORMAL ANYWAY?

In defense of using ‘the new normal’ to describe climate change

It’s been an unusual summer, to say the least. Heat maps keep taking on a red-orange glow, with some veering into rare magenta territory. The Carr Fire, one of the most severe in California history, has burned down 1,000 homes and spun a fire tornado through the air.

“Over a decade or so, we’re going to have more fire, more destructive fire, more billions that will have to be spent on it,” California Governor Jerry Brown said last week. “All that is the ‘new normal’ that we will have to face.”

Why on earth is the word normal being thrown around to describe such extraordinary times?

The new normal is a catchy phrase, and one you’ve probably heard before — if not from Brown, then perhaps from the New York Times. In recent years, the cliche has shown up after disastrous wildfires, hurricanes, heatwaves, and drought.

While government officials and the media like to throw the phrase around, scientists kind of hate it.

“It sounds like we left the old normal, the old conditions, and arrived at a new normal, a new stasis,” Crystal Kolden, a fire scientist at the University of Idaho, tells me. “Unfortunately, that’s not what our climate projections are telling us. They’re telling us that this is one step on a very long staircase that’s heading toward extreme conditions.”

In climate science, “normal” is a well-defined word: an average over a 30-year period. Thus, the use of normal does not describe our current period, in which we’re going to continue seeing things we’ve never seen, Kolden says.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Massive “Fire Tornado” Blaze Started By A Flat Tire; White House Declares “Major Disaster” In California

One the most destructive wildfires in California history, the Carr fire, is still raging with only about 40% of it contained while elsewhere in the state, especially in the north, fires continue to expand.

Overnight a seventh person was reported killed by the Carr fire as another in the north of the state expanded by 25% overnight, leading the White House to declare a “major disaster” in California in a statement on Sunday morning. President Donald Trump has ordered the release of federal funding for recovery efforts.

The deadly Carr fire has scorched more than 145,000 acres as of Sunday morning; and as CNN reports, the wildfire which began on July 23rd was actually caused by a flat tire.

Photo taken Saturday morning. Via Antionio Paris/Twitter

The CNN report details the Carr fire’s origins in late July — but one of the 17 currently burning across the state:

It happens countless times on roads across America: a vehicle gets a flat tire, usually just a temporary inconvenience.

But on one road near Redding, California, when a tire failed last month on a trailer and its rim scraped the asphalt, the result was catastrophic for an entire region.

The sparks that shot out July 23 from that minor incident, California fire officials said, ignited what is now the sixth-most destructive wildfire in state history.

The Carr Fire blazed a fiery path along Highway 299, lighting up mile after mile of dry brush as it crept up on residential areas.

One man, Ed Bledsoe, lost his wife and two great-grandchildren, ages 4 and 5, within only a 15 minute time frame.

The man’s family were victims of the previously reported “fire tornado,” or what some are calling a “firenado” that ripped through Redding, which produced whirling winds of fire in excess of 143 mph.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

CA Wildfire Surges 25% Overnight As Exhausted Firefighters Battle On

A rapidly growing wildfire that has forced thousands to evacuate in Northern California surged overnight into Saturday – growing over 25% in size according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). The “Mendocino Complex Fire” which consists of two fires had reached 201,471 acres and 34% containment as of the agency’s last report.

The Mendocino Complex Fire is now the state’s largest fire at more than two-thirds the size of sprawling Los Angeles, and has forced the evacuation of nearly 16,000 residents and destroyed more than 100 structures. –Reuters



The Mendocino Complex has grown larger than the deadly Carr fire which is still raging around 100 miles to the northeast, and has killed six people while destroying over 1,500 structures.

Firefighters have managed to bring that blaze to 41% contained, while some evacuees have been allowed to return. Both areas remain under a “red flag warning,” however, as strong winds, low relative humidity and high temperatures topping 90 degrees are perfect conditions for further spread.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California’s progress, or lack thereof, in cutting its emissions

California’s progress, or lack thereof, in cutting its emissions

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently published its 2018 inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to which the state achieved its goal of cutting GHG emissions below 1990 levels in 2016, four years in advance of the 2020 target date*. Gov. Jerry Brown claims that this proves that the state’s anti-carbon laws and regulations are “succeeding”, but are they really? Here we take a brief look at CARB’s data, concluding a) that success has not yet been achieved and b) that California’s long-term emissions targets remain as elusive as ever.

* There is no certainty that California’s 2016 emissions (429 million tons) were in fact lower than its 1990 emissions. (431 million tons). With estimation errors in the 2-5% range a 0.5% difference is not diagnostic.

A few points to note before proceeding:

The graphics and data used in this post are from CARB’s 2018 inventory report unless otherwise specified.

CARB’s emissions include all greenhouse gases from all sources, not just CO2 from fossil-fuel burning. Gases such as methane, Nox, fluorocarbons etc. are converted into CO2 equivalents on the basis of their “global warming potential”.

CARB’s electricity sector emissions cover the entire state. Previous posts on California have used only data from the three major utilities that make up the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which between them account for about 75% of California’s electricity transmission.

First a brief history of California’s GHG emissions-reduction legislation. The bill that established the 1990-by-2020 GHG target (AB 32) was passed in 2006. Then in 2017 AB 398 set a new target of a GHG reduction of at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and in April of this year an executive order established a longer-term target of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. (California is now considering another bill – SB100 – that reportedly calls for 100% renewable electricity by 2045, but more about this later).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Radioactive Cesium-137 From Fukushima Found In California Wine

Following the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan – which left Japanese residents contending with toxic water and radioactive wild boars, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said that particles of radioactive fallout which made its way to the Western United States and elsewhere was no biggie and didn’t pose a health risk.

California wine lovers will get to test that theory, after researchers at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) discovered cesium-137 in several golden-state vintages. The researchers tested 18 bottles of California rosé and cabernet sauvignon from 2009 onward – finding increased levels of the radioactive isotope in bottles produced after the Fukushima disaster. The cabernets had double the radiation of the other wine, according to the study.

“We can measure some radioactive level that is much higher than the usual level,” said Michael Pravikoff, a physicist at a French research center who worked on the study.

The French research team has in recent years examined wines from around the world, trying to correlate the level of radioactive material with the date the wine grapes were picked.

Wines made around major nuclear events, including American and Soviet nuclear tests during the Cold War and the Chernobyl accident, should show higher levels of radioactive isotopes, called cesium-137, according to the researchers. The man-made isotope cannot be found in nature and would be present only at certain levels after the nuclear events. –NYT

While ingesting cesium-137 elevates one’s risk of cancer, the radioactive particles found in California wine “are not seen as a health hazard” according to Pravikoff, who said: “These levels are so low, way below the natural radioactivity that’s everywhere in the world.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We Are Seeing Heat And Drought In The Southwest United States Like We Haven’t Seen Since The Dust Bowl Of The 1930s

We Are Seeing Heat And Drought In The Southwest United States Like We Haven’t Seen Since The Dust Bowl Of The 1930s

Despite all of the other crazy news that is happening all around the world, the top headlines on Drudge on Monday evening were all about the record heatwave that is currently pummeling the Southwest.  Of course it is always hot during the summer, but the strange weather that we have been witnessing in recent months is unlike anything that we have seen since the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.  At this moment, almost the entire Southwest is in some stage of drought.  Agricultural production has been absolutely devastated, major lakes, rivers and streams are rapidly becoming bone dry, and wild horses are dropping dead because they don’t have any water to drink.  In addition, we are starting to see enormous dust storms strike major cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, and the extremely dry conditions have already made this one of the worst years for wildfires in U.S. history.  What we are facing is not “apocalyptic” quite yet, but it will be soon if the rain doesn’t start falling.

Large portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah are already at the highest level of drought on the scale.  In Arizona, things are so bad that wild horses have been dropping dead by the dozens, and now authorities are trying to save those that are left

For what they say is the first time, volunteer groups in Arizona and Colorado are hauling thousands of gallons of water and truckloads of food to remote grazing grounds where springs have run dry and vegetation has disappeared.

Federal land managers also have begun emergency roundups in desert areas of Utah and Nevada.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Google and Facebook Are Quietly Fighting California’s Privacy Rights Initiative, Emails Reveal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the annual F8 summit at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on May 1, 2018. - Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced the world's largest social network will soon include a new dating feature -- while vowing to make privacy protection its top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

GOOGLE AND FACEBOOK ARE QUIETLY FIGHTING CALIFORNIA’S PRIVACY RIGHTS INITIATIVE, EMAILS REVEAL

LOBBYISTS FOR THE largest technology and telecommunications firms have only three days to prevent the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, a ballot initiative that would usher in the strongest consumer privacy standards in the country, from going before state voters this November.

The initiative allows consumers to opt out of the sale and collection of their personal data, and vastly expands the definition of personal information to include geolocation, biometrics, and browsing history. The initiative also allows consumers to pursue legal action for violations of the law.

The idea that Californians might gain sweeping new privacy rights has spooked Silicon Valley, internet service providers, and other industries that increasingly rely on data collection, leading to a lobbying push to defeat the initiative before it gains traction. Their best hope may be to convince the sponsors of the initiative, including San Francisco real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart, to pull the proposal in exchange for compromise privacy legislation, AB 375, which would achieve some of the same goals of the initiative. Lawmakers behind the legislation, led by state Assembly Member Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, and state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, have promised to swiftly pass their bill this week if sponsors withdraw the CCPA.

Emails obtained by The Intercept reveal that tech giants are fighting behind the scenes to water down the privacy legislation, hoping to prevent an expensive and potentially losing ballot fight this year.

Andrea Deveau, a lobbyist for TechNet, a trade group for Google, Facebook, and other tech companies, has continually updated an ad-hoc business lobbying coalition formed to defeat the CCPA. In an update sent on Sunday evening, Deveau provided a “compilation of feedback re: the most problematic aspects of AB 375.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters

California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters

One of the big news stories neglected by both the mainstream and “alternative” media is the capture of California politics and the regulatory apparatus by Big Oil and other corporate interests in recent years – and the massive expansion of offshore drilling that has occurred in state waters under the helm of Governor Jerry Brown as a consequence of this regulatory capture.

The enormous power that Big Oil exerts over California regulators was inadvertently revealed in a March 10, 2012 article in the Santa Barbara Independent that discussed a so-called “marine protected area” created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that went into effect on January 2 of that year.

The official language for the marine protected area in the Isla Vista area of Santa Barbara County, the Campus Point State Marine Conservation Area, reads, “Take of all living marine resources is prohibited, except for take pursuant to operation and maintenance of artificial structures inside the conservation area … ”

“The caveat, allowing marine resources to be taken near artificial structures, exists to allow oil production representatives the ability to maintain equipment, including pipelines, located in this area,” the article by Cat Heushul stated.

Unfortunately, the reporter failed to mention the even bigger story — that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, actually served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative to create this “marine protected area” and others like it in Southern California.

She also served on the task forces to create “marine protected areas” on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. If that is not a huge, glaring conflict of interest, I do not know what is.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

CA Judge: Twitter Can Be Sued For Falsely Advertising They Allow Free Speech

CA Judge: Twitter Can Be Sued For Falsely Advertising They Allow Free Speech

A California judge has ruled that social media giant Twitter can be sued for falsely advertising free speech. The judge said that Twitter’s policy of banning users “at any time, for any reason or for no reason” may constitute an “unconscionable contract” for a company which advertises free speech.

The judge rejected Twitter’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit from Jared Taylor, who was banned by the platform in December last year, according to Breitbart.  Taylor, a self-described “white activist” may proceed with his lawsuit against Twitter because the social media company falsely advertises free speech, yet bans users for “any or no reason.”  The judge also ruled that Twitter could be sued on the basis of misleading its users, due to the platform’s promise not to ban accounts on the basis of viewpoint or political affiliation, which is frequently violated.

“This ruling has massive implications for the platform going forward,” said Noah Peters, Jared Taylor’s lawyer. “this is the first time that a social media company’s argument that it can censor user speech has been rejected by a court.”

Taylor describes himself as a “race realist” and has defended white separatism, claiming that races are “not equal”, but his attorney says this trial is not about his client’s particular views, and that’s a correct assessment.  The trial is about Twitter’s disallowance of free speech although they use that term to advertise the social media platform.

“Our lawsuit is not about whether Taylor is right or wrong,” Peters said in February.It’s about whether Twitter and other technology companies have the right to ban individuals from using their services based on their perceived viewpoints and affiliations.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Fact-Checking the “Fact-Checkers”: Snopes & Politifact Said I’m a Big Fat Liar, But Let’s Look at THEIR “Facts”

Fact-Checking the “Fact-Checkers”: Snopes & Politifact Said I’m a Big Fat Liar, But Let’s Look at THEIR “Facts”

Last weekend when I wrote about the new bills that were turned into law in California by a mercifully-departing Governor Jerry Brown, I never expected a hub-bub. I did my research, came to some conclusions, and titled my article, “Now It’s Illegal to Have a Shower and Do Laundry on the Same Day.” That’s the link if you want to read it first. Fact-checkers Snopes and Politifact said I was a big fat liar, but let’s take a look at their “facts,” shall we?

Contrary to popular belief, no kittens were sacrificed to the devil in the writing of that article. I just sat down, did a little research, and came to some conclusions that in my eyes were (and still are) entirely reasonable. However, Snopes and Politifact disagreed rather vehemently. (About the conclusions, not the kittens. The kittens actually were a figment of my imagination, unlike anything in the article they “debunked.)

Now, before I get into fact-checking these so-called fact-checkers, let me tell you a quick personal story. Writing controversial content can be a wee bit stressful sometimes.

When the mainstream picks up on what you’ve written, you can expect a lot of hate mail.  Most of it is of the generic, “you’re an idiot” style but there are always a few overachievers.

I’d like to send out my very best wishes to the guy who hopes that my daughters and I get locked in a basement and die of thirst. You’re a stellar human being. Almost as nice as the guy who believes it would be my just desserts if I were to drown in all the water I want to waste.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

If You Think the Water Restrictions in California Are Tough, Check Out Cape Town

If You Think the Water Restrictions in California Are Tough, Check Out Cape Town

Remember earlier in the year when the news was abuzz about Day Zero in Cape Town, South Africa?  According to the press at the time, the day was looming when the city of 3.74 million people would run completely out of water. First, the date of Day Zero was heralded as April 16th, then May 11th, then June 4th.

Calculating Day Zero took into account maximum evaporation (based on temperature and wind) and existing patterns in agricultural and urban use—an equation that considered both natural and man-made conditions. (source)

Now, they’re saying the disaster has been averted for now, but that it could happen in 2019. And if you think the water restrictions in California are tough, wait until you see what they’re doing in Cape Town.

So how did Cape Town avoid Day Zero?

Day Zero was delayed by a combination of things. Fortunately, there was some rainfall, and citizens went to great effort to reduce their water usage.  There was a public campaign to basically scare Capetonians into compliance with conservation efforts.

Late last year, as the South African government faced the prospect of its largest city running out of water, they took an unprecedented gamble.

The government announced “day zero” – a moment when dam levels would be so low that they would turn off the taps in Cape Town and send people to communal water collection points.

This apocalyptic notion prompted water stockpiling and panic, caused a drop in tourism bookings, and raised the spectre of civil unrest.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Where It All Began: The Dawn of “Fake News”

Where It All Began: The Dawn of “Fake News”

It has long been suggested that the first full-blown example of “fake news”—where patently false information is intentionally presented in a phony but utterly believable “news media” format in order to sway public opinion—occurred during the watershed 1934 California gubernatorial election.

The two principals were Republican incumbent, Frank Merriman, and his Democratic challenger, Upton Sinclair. Merriman, a nondescript political lightweight with no national profile, was viewed more or less by the RNC as the Party’s West Coast performing flea. As Lieutenant Governor he was jettisoned into the incumbency when Governor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph died of a heart attack in June of 1934, just months before the election.

His chief opponent, Upton Sinclair, a prairie socialist and muckraker, was the celebrated author of “The Jungle,” the best-selling expose of the Chicago meat packing industry. Because the nation was still in the stranglehold of the most debilitating economic depression in its history, Sinclair reasonably chose to base his campaign on the EPIC (End Poverty in California) project.

Put simply, EPIC was an ambitious socialist program whose goal was universal employment. Among other things, EPIC promised massive public works programs, the reorganization of the agriculture industry into farm co-ops, and virtual state control of California’s factories.

Given the overall popularity of FDR’s New Deal, and the fact that the American Left was still feeding off table scraps of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the notion of “eliminating poverty” was properly considered not only necessary but feasible.

In addition to Merriman and Sinclair, there were two other notable players: Louis B. Mayer, the powerful overlord of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), whose dominion over the movie industry permitted him to comport himself like the Sun King (think of Harvey Weinstein magnified 100 times). and the advertising-public relations firm of Whitaker & Baker.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hayward Bay Fault Line MORE DANGEROUS Than San Andreas: It’s A ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

Hayward Bay Fault Line MORE DANGEROUS Than San Andreas: It’s A ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

Scientists are now saying that the “Big One” in California may not be caused by the San Andreas fault line, but by the Hayward Bay fault line. It is now thought to be the “ticking time bomb” fault line and more dangerous than the San Andres.

The scariest scenario for the next major earthquake may not be from the San Andreas Fault (though that one still threatens), but from the Hayward Fault that runs along the east side of the San Francisco Bay. In fact, many say that the next earthquake on the Hayward Bay fault line would be “disastrous.” According toKTUV, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake along the Hayward Fault could kill as many as 800 people and injure 18,000, according to results of a new research released Wednesday.

The U.S. Geological Survey, citing findings from a simulated tremor with an epicenter in Oakland, said the disaster would cause 400 fires that could destroy 50,000 homes. Nearly half a million people would be displaced, authorities said.

The simulated quake in the video above, known as the “HayWired scenario,” was modeled to occur at 4:18 p.m. on April 18 (yesterday). It replicates a rupture along the fault’s entire 52-mile length, from San Pablo Bay in the north to just east of San Jose in the south. According to this model, the violent shaking from the earthquake could cause the two sides of the fault to split six feet apart in some places. Some of the aftershocks would continue for several months as well. Cities in the East Bay would be hit hard, including Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro, and Hayward.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Waiting for the Debris Flows

Waiting for the Debris Flows

In J.M. Coetzee’s 1980 novel, Waiting for the Barbarians, his characters sit around in an isolated colonial fort in a nameless desert country, awaiting their destiny – an invasion of the barbarians. The novel concerns its characters’ slow realization of their complicity, as agents of the Empire, in their fate. Something very similar is happening here on the eastern fringe of southern California’s Thomas Fire burn area as we await the rains and the debris flows that will surely follow – as they did, earlier in the year, with such devastating results in Montecito, further to the west.

This analogy, to fully flower, depends on two things. The first is that the fire was intensified by global warming. It came, early in December, after six years of drought, towards the end of a dry first half of the rainy season and in the midst of N.E. Santa Ana winds of unprecedented intensity. The second is that we are both culpable and complicit in the first by the fact of our living in a society driven by the burning of fossil fuels. Implicit is the connection between the two.

The motley assortment of ex-pats who populate Coetzee’s desert fort have more reason to debate the benefits or provocations of their colonial mission impacting the peoples they have (we presume) earlier displaced, although they too, even without the benefit of a course in post-colonial studies, come to accept their role in the disruption of a pre-existing social ecology and the acts of revenge this will ultimately generate. They sit and wait for an invasion by the people who, by destroying their world, they have made barbarians.

Meanwhile, in our now certified fire-safe house (but still surely vulnerable to debris flows) situated in the wildland-urban-interface, we sit and wait for other acts of weather terrorism provoked by the Empire’s eviscerations of the earth’s crust.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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