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We think of the financial crisis as a man-made calamity, and Hurricane Sandy as the malignant innocence of nature. But neither the notion of a man-made nor natural disaster quite captures how the power of a few and the vulnerability of the many determine what is really going on at ground level.

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The Russian capital has suffered nearly 50 fires as Muscovites cope with the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the city. The BBC reports that it got up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday. Guess they won't be needing those funny hats.

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The president has at last landed in the Golden State to see for himself the fires that have caused over a billion dollars in damage and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. With uncomfortable parallels to Katrina already in place, we can't say we're all that excited about his arrival here.

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