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Over Easy: Orange Alert Issued for Iceland’s Bárðarbunga Volcano

By: Crane-Station Wednesday August 20, 2014 3:29 am
An icy mountain under a sunny blue sky

Another volcano in Iceland may be preparing to erupt.

Following a swarm of 2600 earthquakes on Saturday in and around Iceland’s Bárðarbunga Volcano, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) reports that the Bárðarbunga civil aviation color code has been raised to “Orange.” IMO defines this alert: “ORANGE: Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.” IMO reports:

The intense seismic activity that started on 16 of August at Bárðarbunga persists. Very strong indications of ongoing magma movement, in connection with dyke intrusion, is corroborated by GPS measurements. There are currently two swarms: one to the E of Bárðarbunga caldera and one at the edge of Dyngjujökull just E of Kistufell. At 2.37 am on the 18th a strong earthquake (M4) was located in the Kistufell swarm.

This is the strongest earthquake measured in the region since 1996. As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10 km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bárðarbunga aviation color code has been changed to orange.

Yesterday, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police (NCIP) reported that evacuations are beginning, in preparation for the volcano’s eruption.

The Bárðarbunga volcano system is about 700 meters beneath the ice. Bárðarbunga is a stratovolcano. Also known as a composite volcano, the stratovolcano:

is a conical volcano built up by many layers (strata) of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic explosive eruptions and quiet eruptions, although some have collapsed craters called calderas.

A stratovolcano is not a supervolcano. By way of historic comparison, two notable stratovolcanoes include Krakatoa (1883) and Vesuvius (79 AD), whereas a notable historic supervolcano includes Yellowstone. Mount Saint Helens is a stratovolcano.

The alert levels are a type of early warning system, and they are issued in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull Volcano eruption in 2010, for example, interrupted large portions of European airspace until atmosperic ash returned to safe levels for air travel.

International Business Times reports:

Intense seismic activity observed at Iceland’s Bardarbunga on Saturday has prompted the country’s Met Office to issue a warning for airlines about a potential eruption at the volcano, which is located beneath Vatnajokull, Europe’s biggest glacier. Officials said they have noticed very strong signs of magma movement through underground fractures.

On Monday, the Met Office changed the Bardarbunga aviation color to orange, which is the fourth level on a five-grade scale and indicates “heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.”

Related:

How to Pronounce Bárðarbunga Volcano

It’ll be time for some Bárðarbunga, if Iceland’s latest volcano threat erupts

Alert: Area North of Bárðarbunga Volcano Evacuated

Another Unpronounceable Icelandic Volcano Is Getting Ready to Explode

At Over Easy, we welcome all topics, and we encourage lurkers to unlurk and join in the discussion. See you in the comments!

 

This Week in White Privilege

By: hotflashcarol

I am not Michael Brown. I am a blonde, middle-aged, middle class white woman. I have committed the very same crimes and transgressions that Michael Brown is alleged to have committed. When I was 18, I smoked pot and shoplifted. Much more recently and on multiple occasions, I have been disrespectful to police. For instance, at a New Year’s memorial for Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station, I walked right up to a cop sitting in his car with the window rolled down. I said, “Happy New Year, Officer!” He smiled. I said, “Try not to kill anybody this year, OK?” Yet Officer Friendly did not grab me by my white throat and shoot me at least six times and leave my white lifeless body uncovered in the street, only to take me away many hours later—not in an ambulance or a hearse but in an unmarked SUV.

I have been mostly unaware of my white privilege for most of my life. When I was in junior high school in the 1970’s, I moved from a rural town in Nevada with no black people at all to a rural Alabama town with more than a few. As the new girl at the public, integrated school, I was picked on mercilessly by the mean white girls. In response, my illogical, racist parents moved me to a private, all-white school. My parents were quite poor but white privilege still afforded them the ability to choose a different school for me – albeit one that did not receive federal funding and whose student body consisted of the most hateful and backward people I had ever been privileged to meet.

When we moved to Texas and there were race riots in my high school, I wore my friendship with black students like a cloak of invincibility. I sat on the hood of a police car in the school parking lot and had an ironic picture taken for the high school annual. Much more recently, during Occupy protests, I provoked police and thereby put people of color at risk. But it wasn’t until I attempted to school a black woman older than me on how to assert your rights when the police are trying to take them away that I realized I had no idea what the fuck I was talking about and that it was time to shut up and educate myself about white privilege. Let me Google that for you.

* * *

This Week in White Privilege

White privilege has been on lurid, technicolor display since, in an “isolated incident,” white police officer Darren Wilson killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In addition to the ensuing police riots and the City of Ferguson follies that have been covered extensively on cable news since white reporters started getting teargassed and arrested, these things actually really honestly happened:

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, a white man, said that the curfew in Ferguson should be reinstated because “We do not do justice in America in the streets . . . . We have legal processes that are set in motion, that are designed after centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence tradition, they’re designed to protect the rights and liberties of everyone involved.”

Ignoring the young black man who was staging a silent protest in which he portrayed the dead body of Michael Brown, assorted smiling white people had their pictures taken at Love Park in Philadelphia. “There was an older white couple that wanted to take a picture in front of the LOVE statue. The older white gentleman said, ‘Why do they have to shove their politics down our throats?’ The woman replied, ‘They’re black kids, honey. They don’t have anything better to do.’” Be sure to scroll down on the link and click through the photos to see more of this novel tourist attraction.

CNN International anchor Rosemary Church, a white woman, wondered if using water cannons on Ferguson protesters might be more appropriate than tear gas or flashbangs. Protesters gathered at CNN headquarters in response in Atlanta on Monday night but, oddly enough, CNN did not cover that event.

White Huffington Post Reporter Ryan Reilly posted a photo on Twitter of what he thought were rubber bullets. Even after he was tweeted into the dustbin of clueless hipster history, Rachel Maddow still featured him on her show and thanked him for his invaluable reporting from Ferguson. Ouch, dude, those bullets must have stung.

The predominately white administration of the City of Ferguson decided that this whole dustup was just a matter of miscommunication and hired an all-white PR firm (with ties to Monsanto, Eli Lilly and United HealthCare) to do damage control.

In an isolated incident not far from the isolated incident in which Michael Brown was killed, two St. Louis police officers (race unknown), shot and killed a 23-year-old, learning disabled black man who had a knife. Well, after all, he did ask.

Fareed’s Screed

By: Deena Stryker Tuesday August 19, 2014 6:57 am
Portrait of Fareed Zakaria

Lowering the bar: Zakaria covers Putin’s trip to Cuba.

The American media campaign against Vladimir Putin reached a new low Sunday when CNN’s Fareed Zakaria turned his attention to the Russian President’s trip to Cuba. It happened a month ago, but was presented as news. In the current propganda war against Vladimir Putin, anything goes, for even New York Times readers have only the sketchiest knowedge of international affairs. Fareed mentioned the U.S.’s fifty plus year long embargo, failing to mention that Cuban exiles centered in Miami have campaigned successfuly to prevent it from being lifted and normal ties instituted.

Successive American Presidents, with that particular morgue gifted only to them, have repeated the conditions that Cuba must meet in order to be treated like any other country in the world. It most not only ‘democratize,’ holding ‘free and fair elections,’ it must release its few political prisoners, some of whom were trying in one way or another to overthrow the state, others being Americans on missions to facilitate that under-taking. Cuba has been holding elections to its parliament for decades, however Fareed doesn’t mention that. What he does acknowledge is that Raul Castro recently introduced some private ownership of businesses as well as the right to buy and sell property and even to purchase foreign automobiles.

However, now this ‘progress’ counts for naught, given that Putin and Raul Castro discussed the possibility of reopening Soviet era listening stations ’90 miles from the US,’ in the consecrated phrase. Never mind that the US has pushed NATO to the Polish border with Bela Rus and overthown the elected Ukrainian president, after trying to effectuate regime change in Georgia a few years ago. Russia, having forfeited its place ‘in the international community’ by accepting a referendum in Crime overwhelmingly in favor of rejoining Russia, cannot hope to enjoy the benefits of effective sovereignty.

But America’s initiatives vis a vis Cuba are another matter. In Fareed’s unique version of history, the ’special period’ that Cuba faced when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early nineties, depriving it of vital oil supplies, endured right up until Putin came and embraced Raul Castro. When a fellow Communist, Hugo Chavez, came to power in Venezuela, Cuba’s oil problems – and several others – were solved. But things aren’t going so well in Venezela these days (Fareed fails to mention the U.S. role in that situation), so Cuba needs to strengthen other contacts.

In reality, Havana and Moscow did not break off relations after the fall of the USSR and as soon as Russia recovered from the chaotic period under Yeltsin, it renewed its economic support to Cuba. President Putin and other high officials made several trips to Havana, and Raul Castro visited Moscow in 2009.

But never mind reality, according to Zakaria, the fact that during this year’s visit Putin forgave ninety percent of their debt is nothing for Cuban’s to rejoice about, because that only strengthened the ‘remaining hard-line communists’ in the government who are holding back Cuba’s transformation to a full-fledged capitalist country.

Inadvertently, Zakaria confirms that capitalist Russia is no less a threat to Washington than the Communist USSR. Though never stated, the reasons are clear: not only does Russia’s size and extraordinary mineral wealth give it an advantage over the United States in the current race for resources. In order to bring his country up to the West’s level of development, while tolerating outrageously rich oligarchs, Putin believes that government has obligations toward the 99%, and supports other governments that espouse that conviction.

Washington brought down Europe’s welfare state via the economic meltdown of 2008, and Fareed’s screed is part of its campaign against Russia. With his most solemn face and authoritiative voice he can make the outrageous claim that Putin’s continuing support for a socialist government ‘ninety miles from America’s shores’ justifies the continuation of the blockade. Relying on the MSM’s versions of the facts, his viewers don’t know that most of the world is not only on Cuba’s side, as it has been for decades, but also, and increasingly, on Putin’s.

Tuesday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Tuesday August 19, 2014 8:32 pm

 

Tonight’s video is “How do you know you exist?” from TED-Ed.

How do you know you’re real? Is existence all just a big dream? Has some mad scientist duped us into simply believing that we exist? James Zucker investigates all of these questions (and more) in this mind-boggling tribute to René Descartes’s “Meditations on First Philosophy.”

Lesson by James Zucker, animation by Stretch Films, Inc.

 

Painting of a woman with her arms up. Don't Shoot, It's Right to Rebel!

But how does the rest of the world see Ferguson?

Readers could have been forgiven for thinking the headline came from The Onion:Egypt urges US restraint over Missouri unrest.” No it’s real news, but the Egyptian government is definitely having a laugh at our expense, especially since their statement echoes our own from last year.

Al Jazeera America took a broad look at how the world media is covering the uprising in Ferguson.

Russian and Iranian media have, perhaps unsurprisingly, printed scathing judgments about the police response to protests in Missouri. One Russian site, Svobodnaya Pressa, coined the term ‘Afromaidan,’ implying that the U.S. is getting a dose of its own medicine for backing anti-Russian Euromaidan rallies in Kiev, Ukraine. The article poked fun at the notion of a land of opportunity, signaling that America’s ‘race war’ proves Washington’s hypocrisy.

PressTV in Iran led with the Ferguson story on its website Monday. A news feature quoted an African-American historian referring to ‘institutionalized racism’ in the U.S. and calling the country a ‘human rights failed state.’ And Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Facebook page read Sunday: ‘Look at what they do to the black community in their own country … . The police may beat them to death over the crime of having dark skins!’

[...] German media site Deutsche Welle, meanwhile, highlighted similarities between minorities in Germany and the U.S. while publishing some commentary on the tone of American television broadcasts: ‘In the current U.S. media coverage of Michael Brown’s death, his photo is almost nowhere to be seen. Media reports are dominated by the images of burning suburban streets and a militarized police force – a visual language that suggests war rather than the tragic death of an unarmed young man shot by a police officer.’ Other German news portals are similarly critical, with scathing evaluations of America’s ‘postracist’ society, and of the quick deployment of weapons in Ferguson.

[...] In Turkey, the pro-government newspaper Takvim has treated the Ferguson unrest as it perceives U.S. media covered protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park last summer. A recent headline derisively referred to American officials as monkeys. An excerpt from the article read: ‘Units patrolling in armored vehicles caused terror. They beat up journalists who were taking photos and sent them to prison.’

Brazilian news site O Globo ran an article on Ferguson emphasizing how U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon ‘appealed to U.S. authorities to ensure protection of the rights of demonstrators.’

And in closing:

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Greater Israel: “I wanna be a super-power too!”

By: Jane Stillwater
Jewish protesters opposed to the siege of Gaza

“It’s not about religion. It is about grabbing power.”

Americans keep making the big mistake of thinking that Israel is a “Jewish state.”  Tel Aviv is no more Jewish than Washington, Moscow or Beijing are Jewish. It’s not about religion here, guys. It is about grabbing and holding onto power.

Sorry to bust your bubble here, but wearing a yarmulke does not make you Jewish any more than wearing a cross makes you Christian or getting up at sunrise makes you a Muslim. Actions always speak louder than words.

Israel’s leaders want to play hardball, not dreidels. Israel’s leaders are not interested in singing “Hava Nagila.” They are interested in singing “From the Nile to the Euphrates.”

In today’s big super-power competition, you have America; you have Russia; you have China. And you have Israel.

“But Jane,” you might ask, “how can that be? Israel is too small to compete!” Now it is. But those aren’t menorahs that Israel’s leaders are lighting these days. Those are missiles — deadly missiles. And those are nuclear weapons that they store in their cupboard, not candles.

And missiles can buy you a whole bunch of land.

And it’s not Hanukkah gelt that is buying all those missiles and nuclear weapons either. It’s American taxpayers’ money that is supporting our latest rival in the super-power game (pdf link).

And it’s not Shylock who is demanding a pound of flesh here either. It is Israel’s leaders. And it’s two pounds of flesh that they are demanding — one pound of flesh from the formerly Arab Middle East and one pound of flesh from America, “to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me.”

Screw all that talk about the Promised Land and the Ten Commandments. Israeli leaders are not looking to become rabbis. They are looking to make Israel the next United States.

“But how can they do that?” you might ask next. Easy. Just think of the Middle East as a chessboard and Israel’s leaders as master players who are trying to wipe that board clean and then take it home with them. Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Iran? All pawns. Even Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. That’s a hecka big chunk of land to make over into a super-power — and good land it is too. Arable. And with oil. And almost the size of the European Union. A very nice start.

Greater Israel. ”I wanna be a super-power too!” Hey, don’t we all.

Causes of War Krugman Overlooked

By: David Swanson Thursday June 16, 2011 12:12 pm
A head of brocolli

“If Iraq’s top export were broccoli there’d have been no 2003 war.”

While I’m working on a campaign to abolish war, it’s helpful and appreciated that a columnist for one of the most effective war promoting institutions in the world, the New York Times, on Sunday mused aloud about why in the world wars are still waged.

Paul Krugman rightly pointed to the destructive nature of wars even for their victors. He admirably presented the insights of Norman Angell who figured out that war didn’t pay economically over a century ago. But Krugman didn’t get much further than that, his one proposal to explain wars fought by wealthy nations being political gain for the war makers.

Robert Parry has pointed out the falsity of Krugman’s pretense that Vladimir Putin is the cause of trouble in Ukraine. One might also question Krugman’s claim that George W. Bush actually “won” his reelection in 2004, considering what went on in Ohio’s vote counting.

Yes, indeed, a great many fools will rally around any high official who wages war, and it’s good for Krugman to point that out. But it’s just plain bizarre for an economist to lament the cost (to the U.S.) of the U.S. war on Iraq as reaching possibly $1 trillion, and never notice that the United States spends roughly $1 trillion on preparations for war each and every year through basic routine military spending — itself economically destructive, as well as morally and physically destructive.

What drives the spending that Eisenhower warned would drive the wars? Profits, legalized bribery, and a culture that searches for the causes of war primarily among the 95 percent of humanity that invests dramatically less in war-making than the United States does.

Krugman dismisses economic gain as relevant only to poor nations’ internal wars, but doesn’t explain why U.S. wars concentrate in oil-rich areas. “I am saddened,” wrote Alan Greenspan, “that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” As Krugman is no doubt aware, rising oil prices are not lamented by everyone, and the high cost of weaponry is not a downside from the perspective of weapons makers. Wars don’t economically benefit societies, but they do enrich individuals. That same principle is central to explaining the U.S. government’s conduct on any area other than war; why should war be different?

No particular war, and certainly not the institution as a whole, has a single simple explanation. But it’s certainly true that if Iraq’s top export were broccoli there’d have been no 2003 war. It’s also possible that if war profiteering were illegal and prevented there’d have been no war. It’s also possible that if the U.S. culture didn’t reward war-making politicians, and/or the New York Times reported on war honestly, and/or Congress had made a habit of impeaching war-makers, and/or campaigns were publicly financed, and/or U.S. culture celebrated nonviolence rather than violence there’d have been no war. It’s also possible that if George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney and a few others were healthier psychologically there’d have been no war.

We should be wary of creating the assumption that there are always rational calculations behind wars. The fact that we can never quite find them is almost certainly not a failure of imagination, but a reluctance to recognize the irrational and evil behavior of our political officials.  Global domination, machismo, sadism, and lust for power contribute significantly to the discussions of war planners.

But what makes war common in certain societies and not others? Extensive research suggests that the answer has nothing to do with economic pressures or the natural environment or other impersonal forces. Rather the answer is cultural acceptance. A culture that accepts or celebrates war will have war. One that spurns war as absurd and barbaric will know peace.

If Krugman and his readers are beginning to think of war as a bit archaic, as something requiring an explanation, that can only be good news for the movement to abolish war making.

The next big leap might come sooner if we all try to see the world for a moment from the perspective of someone outside the United States. After all, the idea that the U.S. should not be bombing Iraq only sounds like a denial that there is a major crisis in Iraq requiring swift action, to people who suppose that crises require bombs to solve them — and most of those people, by some coincidence, seem to live in the United States.

William Astore: The Bomber Will Always Get Funded — and Used

By: Tom Engelhardt Friday July 22, 2011 1:01 pm
An air force bomber refueling

Bombing Iraq? Get used to it.

Bombing Iraq, as retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and TomDispatch regular William Astore indicates today, has become an American pastime.  (These days, you can’t be president without sending in the bombers and drones.)  So let’s try to get our heads around the latest U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq against the forces of the new “caliphate.”  It’s a campaign that President Obama has already indicated is likely to go on for months and may soon enough spread south to the Baghdad area.  It looks like Washington has finally created the perfect machine for the weapons industry.

Think of it this way: first Washington provides the Iraqi military with training and massive infusions of military equipment to the tune of $25 billion.  Next that military, faced with its first serious opposition, the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), numbering in the thousands against security forces in the hundreds of thousands, collapses.  In June, two full divisions, 30,000 Iraqi troops, flee the city of Mosul, abandoning their posts in the face of the advance of ISIS fighters.  In all, four divisions of the country’s 14-division army disintegrate throughout the north.  Left behind is a massive trove of U.S.-supplied weaponry, including 1,500 Humvees, 52 U.S.-made M198 howitzers, tankstrucks, rifles, and ammunition.

ISIS militants, who seem remarkably capable of operating such equipment without an American trainer or adviser in sight, then turn some of that weaponry (as well as weapons captured from the Syrian military) on U.S.-backed forces, including, in the north, Kurdish pesh merga militias.  (They have evidently even brought tanks into play near the Turkish border.)  To save its Kurdish allies from disaster, the Obama administration then sends in the U.S. Air Force (both fighter-bombers and Predator drones) in close support of the beleaguered Kurdish forces.  Doing what air power seems most capable of, the planes begin destroying the armored vehicles and artillery pieces ISIS has brought to bear in Kurdish areas.  In other words, U.S. air power is called in to take out U.S. military equipment (and anyone manning it).

To complete the circle, both the Iraqis defending Baghdad and the Kurds now desperately need new weaponry, and Washington is already starting to supply it in the north and soon undoubtedly in the south as well.  Can there be any question that this is a win-win situation for the American arms industry and the military-industrial complex?  It gives new meaning to American bombing campaigns that, since 1991, have proven to be disastrous regional destabilizers.  Think of this as an innovative profit center for American industry and a jobs-creation exercise of the first order: we provide the weapons, we destroy them, then we provide more.

Given what William Astore calls the American “cult” of bombing and its remarkable futility in policy terms, this is a significant development.  And don’t for a second think that it’s a one-of-a-kind situation. After all, Washington has put at least $50 billion in weaponry and training into Afghanistan’s security forces. So the future is bright. Tom

The American Cult of Bombing
Why You Should Expect More Bombs to be Dropped Everywhere
By William J. Astore

When you do something again and again, placing great faith in it, investing enormous amounts of money in it, only to see indifferent or even negative results, you wouldn’t be entirely surprised if a neutral observer questioned your sanity or asked you if you were part of some cult.  Yet few Americans question the sanity or cult-like behavior of American presidents as they continue to seek solutions to complex issues by bombing Iraq (as well as numerous other countries across the globe).

Poor Iraq. From Operation Desert Shield/Storm under George H.W. Bush to enforcing no-fly zones under Bill Clinton to Operation Iraqi Freedom under George W. Bush to the latest “humanitarian” bombing under Barack Obama, the one constant is American bombs bursting in Iraqi desert air.  Yet despite this bombing — or rather in part because of it — Iraq is a devastated and destabilized country, slowly falling apart at seams that have been unraveling under almost a quarter-century of steady, at times relentless, pounding.  “Shock and awe,” anyone?

Breaking with Tradition in Wisconsin: What it All Means

By: WI Budget Project Monday August 18, 2014 12:24 pm
The underside of the Wisconsin Capitol Dome

Legislators are making life harder for Wisconsin families.

Over the past week, the Wisconsin Budget Project has highlighted a piece each day from our larger publication Breaking with Tradition: How Wisconsin Lawmakers Have Shortchanged a Legacy of Investment in the State’s Future. You can access the full report on our website. This is the conclusion to the report.

Breaking with Tradition in Wisconsin

Over the last three and a half years elected officials have made dramatic changes to how Wisconsin supports its schools, communities and workforce. Lawmakers have reduced investments in public schools and higher education, despite the role education plays in individual financial success and building a strong economy. They have cut taxes for Wisconsin taxpayers with the highest incomes, but raised taxes on seniors with low incomes and on working families. They decided to provide health insurance to fewer people at higher cost. And lawmakers also made it harder to obtain important safety-net benefits like unemployment benefits and food stamps, during a period when families continue to struggle to emerge from the deepest recession in 80 years.

Lawmakers claimed that many of these changes would give the Wisconsin economy a boost and create jobs. But instead, job growth in Wisconsin has lagged both the region and the nation as a whole. We believe that these changes will have long-term negative effects on our state, that they are not in the best interests of our children and families, and that they are not in keeping with Wisconsin’s values of opportunity, responsibility, and community.

To construct a strong economy in Wisconsin, we need to create opportunities for everyone to thrive. Lawmakers should build on our long history of making the kind of investments in our schools and communities that create broad-based prosperity and help make Wisconsin a good place to do business and raise families. We should build on Wisconsin’s legacy of investing in the state’s future, rather than turning away from it.

You can access the rest of the report here.