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North Korea's Nuclear Tests Could Trigger "Supervolcano" Eruption

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After North Korea’s latest nuclear test, scientists are worried that more underground explosions in the isolated country’s rocky north could set the stage for a deadly volcanic eruption not unlike the one that NASA fears could be brewing in the Yellowstone caldera.

Following the North’s sixth nuclear test, which produced a blast that, by some estimates, was as powerful as 300 kilo hertz, Chinese authorities have stepped up radiation monitoring and even closed part of their border with North Korea as fallout fears have intensified.

And now, as Newsweek reports, China has limited access to a nature reserve on its border with North Korea after a mysterious series of seismic shakes at the rogue nation's nuclear test site were detected less than 10 minutes after it conducted its latest test, which also triggered a sizable tremor. The severity of the tremors prompted Beijing to close the site over fears that underground detonations by the North Koreans at a facility near Punggye-ri could lead to rockslides, or worse, trigger an eruption of the active "super volcano" Mount Paektu, according to


According to, the magma and sulfur booms during a supervolcano eruption could kill millions of people in the surrounding area, and potentially endangering all of humanity.

The volcano, which is sacred to North Korea, is located right on its border with China. China’s closure is in effect for a 70-mile-radius around the detonation site. A blast from a super volcano could be catastrophic, with ash traveling thousands of miles, potentially causing hundreds of thousands of deaths

"For the safety and convenience of travelers, we have temporarily closed the southern tourist zone of Changbai Mountain," read the message from Chinese authorities, translated by UPI. "Officials are thoroughly investigating the safety of the tourist area." The area will remain closed to the public until "the potential risks disappear," it said.

But besides radioactive risks, scientists are worried that North Korea’s nuclear tests could disturb could disturb mountains in the Changbai range, along with the still-active Mt. Paektu, triggering the first eruption since 1903.

A new article in scientific journal Nature’s Scientific Reports states that “an underground nuclear explosion test near an active volcano constitutes a direct threat."

Scientists wrote that it could “disturb the magma chamber of a volcano, thus accelerating the volcanic activity,” scientists argue.

“This is an interesting mystery at this point,” Göran Ekström, a seismologist at Columbia University in New York City, told Nature.

The US Geological Survey estimated the second burst of seismic energy, only eight and a half minutes after the detonation, had a magnitude of 4.1; the detonation itself registered at 6.3. While satellite images do show signs of structural collapse, the movement of rock more closely resembles a landslide.

North Korea is hardly alone in facing a potentially deadly eruption. Recently, NASA scientists have spoken out about the threat of super volcanoes and the risky methods that could be used to prevent a devastating eruption.

Lying beneath the tranquil and beautiful settings of Yellowstone National Park in the US is an enormous magma chamber called a caldera. It’s responsible for the geysers and hot springs for which the area is known, but for scientists at NASA, it’s also one of the greatest natural threats to human civilization as we know it.

Following an article published by BBC about super volcanoes last month, a group of NASA researchers got in touch with the media to share a report previously unseen outside the space agency about the threat Yellowstone poses, and what they hypothesize could possibly be done about it. As one researcher described it, the threat from super volcanos is much higher than the risk from asteroids

“I was a member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense which studied ways for NASA to defend the planet from asteroids and comets,” explains Brian Wilcox of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology.  


“I came to the conclusion during that study that the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.”

So, the agency has devised a plan that could ameliorate the volcano threat. The plan, which has yet to be authorized or implemented, would drill up to 10km down into the super volcano and pump down water at high pressure. The circulating water would return at a temperature of around 350C (662F). Thus, slowly day by day, extracting heat from the volcano. And while such a project would come at an estimated cost of around $3.46 billion, it comes with an enticing catch which could convince politicians (taxpayers) to make the investment.

“Yellowstone currently leaks around 6GW in heat,” Wilcox says. “Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh. You would have to give the geothermal companies incentives to drill somewhat deeper and use hotter water than they usually would, but you would pay back your initial investment, and get electricity which can power the surrounding area for a period of potentially tens of thousands of years. And the long-term benefit is that you prevent a future supervolcano eruption which would devastate humanity.”

Of course, drilling into a super volcano comes with its own risks – in fact, it could inadvertently cause the eruption scientists are trying to prevent.

Talk about a volcanic irony…

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3 days ago
Perhaps Yellowstone, not cities, is what DPRK is looking to target with its WMD?
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Why we have such bad commuter rail service in Boston

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Labor Day Week continued…

Part of the misery of work in the U.S. is commuting in a country of 325 million trying to use infrastructure (highways, railroad tracks, bridges, tunnels) that was built for a country of 150 million.

This summer I was amazed that a guy at a party admitted to being an executive for the company that runs the universally hated commuter rail system here in the Boston area.

When they’re on schedule, our trains run every hour or two during off-peaks times and usually no more frequently than every 30 minutes at rush hour. This renders the commuter rail more or less useless except for those who can plan their lives to the minute.

I asked Could the trains run every 15 minutes as they do in Moscow? [Subway lines in Moscow run every minute on weekdays, every two minutes on weekends, but commuter rail is less frequent.]

The answer was “no” because the MBTA uses super heavy rolling stock, more like what you’d see on a freight train, and the tracks would be quickly destroyed by such frequent usage. The difference is easy to see if you go to England, for example, where the long-distance “trains” look to an American eye more like subway cars.

Why couldn’t we buy these lighter vehicles here? “I don’t know,” he responded, “but I think there are political connections involved with the rolling stock manufacturer.”

Why were the prices so high and yet the system was always losing money? “Unions,” was the answer. The company that runs the train is French. How could our unions be less efficient than workers in France? “It is on a completely different scale,” the international executive responded. “I have never seen a group of workers as unproductive as American union members.”

We have structural problems here in Boston as well. Because North Station and South Station aren’t connected, trains can’t be scheduled to keep rolling through a station. They have to back up after reaching downtown Boston. The $15 billion Big Dig project didn’t connect the stations. “Take long view, build N-S Rail Link” suggests that we redo the Big Dig so as to accomplish this goal.


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10 days ago
...except, Boston 'Commuter' (purple line) trains are cheapest, mile for mile, in the country.
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Amazon Announces Plans For $5 Billion Second North American Headquarters

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“We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos said. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in upfront and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

The company also announced that its investment in Seattle from 2010 through 2016 has brought an additional $38 billion in investments to the local economy. It hopes to generate the same level of return in the new site:  “In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in construction and related industries, and generate tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the city where Amazon HQ2 is located."

Existing senior leaders will get to choose whether they locate their teams in the Seattle headquarters, HQ2 or both, the company said. Amazon is currently in an aggressive stage of expansion, buying up competitor companies and bricks and mortar stores as it looks to challenge the likes of Walmart in food retailing. According to the FT, the ecommerce giant has made about 130 acquisitions or investments since its debut in 1995.

The company’s Seattle headquarters is spread across 8.1 million square feet in 33 buildings and employs more than 40,000 people.

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13 days ago
Too bad New England is 'over built' for such an undertaking.
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Hunting and Gathering

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Basically, everyone is descended from the guy who ruined everything.

New comic!
Today's News:
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16 days ago
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16 days ago
I think the current leading hypothesis is that agriculture developed in response to humans exhausting nature's abundance (the Ice Age helped a bit there too)

'Djrongren VS. Djrongren,' Today's Comic by Brian Blomerth

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For more of Brian Blomerth's work, visit his website, Twitter, and Tumblr.

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18 days ago
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In Berkeley, Attacks by Antifa Turn ‘Alt-Right’ Trolls into Fox News Heroes

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Updated: 8:37 p.m. EDT

As a reader of The Intercept, you are probably not a regular viewer of Fox News. That’s understandable. Even as a writer for The Intercept, keenly aware that the current occupant of the Oval Office gets most of his “alternative facts” and opinions from the channel, I find it hard to sit through a full minute of its programming.

Still, a segment broadcast on Fox Wednesday night deserves some of our attention. That’s because it was an interview with a far-right video blogger from California, Keith Campbell, whose work, which consists mainly of stalking left-wing activists, had attracted almost no attention until Sunday, when he was beaten by anti-fascist activists in Berkeley.

Clips of Campbell being kicked, punched, and hit with a stick by four black-clad, masked activists — and rescued after 10 seconds by a progressive journalist, Al Letson, who shielded him from further harm — have gone viral since then and played on a loop as he described the assault to Tucker Carlson.

As a result, a 54-year-old fringe activist who spends his days crashing far-left events for the benefit of his 878 YouTube subscribers has become a hero to millions of Fox News viewers. Images of Campbell being thrashed are now also Exhibit A for supporters of Donald Trump who argue that the president was right to condemn “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” after the killing of an antiracist protester by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month.

Even before the events in Berkeley, Trump himself clearly took great delight in shouting “Antifa!” as he described the group at a rally last week in Phoenix.

Precisely this fear, that attacks on right-wing protesters would be nothing more than “a welcome gift to the far right and those elements in the state yearning for a pretext for repression,” are what led Noam Chomsky to warn against anti-fascist violence. Such violence, Chomsky wrote in June, was “wrong in principle, and tactically self-destructive.”

Coverage from Berkeley was dominated by videos and photos of anti-fascist activists, known as antifa, beating Campbell and a handful of right-wing activists who showed up to a cancelled far-right rally.

Shane Bauer, who shot the most widely shared video of Campbell’s beating, observed in Mother Jones that images of violence carried out by a small number of anti-fascists drew press attention almost entirely away from the fact that the vast majority of the thousands of antiracist demonstrators were peaceful.

The images of violence also prompted condemnation of antifa from current and former Democratic officials.

Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, called for the arrest and prosecution of the “people calling themselves antifa,” who were responsible for the beatings caught on camera. “I think we should classify them as a gang,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin told the Bay Area CBS News affiliate. Andy Slavitt, who administered health care programs in the Obama administration and has been instrumental in the grassroots effort to defend the Affordable Care Act, went even further, calling antifa “idiots” and “animals.”

For their part, the anti-fascists defended their tactics. As The Intercept reported last year, the anti-fascists argue that their use of force to deny white supremacists a platform is entirely justified by the threat of physical violence posed by neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies.

As the historian and former Occupy Wall Street organizer Mark Bray writes in “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” the activists draw their inspiration from postwar anti-fascist groups in Europe, whose experience with the death camps convinced them that hate speech did not deserve protection. “After Auschwitz and Treblinka, anti-fascists committed themselves to fighting to the death the ability of organized Nazis to say anything,” Bray explains. Anti-fascism, he adds, is “an illiberal politics of social revolutionism applied to fighting the Far-Right, not only literal fascists.”

Anti-fascist activists also contested Campbell’s claim that he did nothing to provoke the attack and was merely present as an “independent journalist.” An anonymous contributor to an anarchist news site, It’s Going Down, argued that Campbell was far from an innocent bystander. “Campbell already has a lengthy history of attacks against antifascists by attempting to bring down violence and repression on them through exposing people’s identities,” the contributor wrote.

While there is no evidence that Campbell initiated any physical contact with the masked activists who assaulted him, a review of his Twitter feed, before he started to edit it late Wednesday, makes it clear why they might have recognized him.

Campbell’s tweets show that he planned to attend the far-right rally as a participant, and has been working to confront and undermine anti-fascists and other left-wing groups for months.

Whether or not one accepts the anonymous anti-fascist contributor’s claim that “intervening to prevent him from trying to record and compromise the identities of antifascists was a defensive act,” a look at Campbell’s YouTube channel makes it obvious that he is a right-wing activist and provocateur whose aim seems to be baiting left-wing activists into violent or compromising behavior and capturing it on video.

To that end, he has spent much of the last six months following left-wing activists around with his video camera, as part of an effort to surveil or disrupt their activities. Last week, for instance, Campbell joined College Republicans at Berkeley to disrupt a meeting of By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, a left-wing group associated with antifa and dedicated to taking “militant, direct action” to defend affirmative action, integration, and immigrant rights.

He later posted 27 minutes of video showing that he and other right-wing activists blocked the door of a classroom the group planned to use for their meeting, demanding to be allowed in and recording their faces.

Video of the same event recorded by another right-wing activist shows Campbell facing off with one of Berkeley’s most prominent anti-fascists, Yvette Felarca, a teacher at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley.

Keith Campbell, a right-wing video blogger, filmed Yvette Felarca, a left-wing activist, in Berkeley last week.

Felarca currently faces felony charges for assault and inciting a riot for throwing two ineffective punches at the torso of a member of the Traditionalist Worker Party, a neo-Nazi group, during a rally in Sacramento last year that was violently disrupted by anti-fascists.

In Campbell’s own video of his confrontation with Felarca, she can be heard accusing him and other right-wing activists of “stalking and harassing women.” Campbell has indeed devoted quite a lot of energy to harassing Felarca online and in person, calling for her to be fired, tweeting obscene images at her, and livestreaming her trial.

In another one of his videos, as Northern California Anti-Racist Action reported on the anarchist news site It’s Going Down in June, Campbell could be heard boasting about his plans to bait Felarca in person. “I have her home address,” he said. “I’m going to go and provoke her and see if I can get her to do something crazy.”

Although Tucker Carlson made no effort to follow up on the point, Campbell volunteered in his Fox News interview that one of his attackers had apparently recognized him from previous confrontations and accused him of trying to “dox,” or expose the identities, of the anti-fascist activists. The anonymous antifa supporter who defended the attack on Campbell cited the same motivation. “He has a lengthy documented history of affiliation and participation with fascist politics,” the antifa supporter claimed in the post, “and, over the past several months, has worked to doxx and identify anti-fascists for targeted harassment, repression, and possible violence.”

For his part, Campbell makes no secret of his far-right politics, working with groups like Proud Boys, a fraternal organization described by its founder Gavin McInnes as a group for “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” In one of Campbell’s own videos, he can be briefly seen wearing a cap of the Oath Keepers, a militia organization of current and former law enforcement officers, military veterans, and first responders.

Keith Campbell, a right-wing video blogger, wearing an Oath Keepers cap in Oakland in May.

An Oath Keepers Twitter account refers to Campbell, under his social-media alia @KPikklefield, as a member of the militia group.

Like Eddy Brock, another Bay Area video blogger who achieved a measure of viral fame in February by getting punched in the face by anti-fascists at Berkeley and proudly displaying his injuries for the media, Campbell might have done more damage to the image of left-wing protesters by getting hit and kicked than he ever did with his camera. Campbell was clearly thrilled by the outcome, even titling his own YouTube copy of the Fox News segment, “From Hell on the Streets to Heaven with Tucker Carlson.” (In on-screen text added to the video, Campbell also claims that the kicks and punches he sustained were meant to kill him, writing that he was “targeted for a hit by BAMN” which was “carried out by violent Antifa terrorists.”)

Media coverage of the beatings, and the embarrassment it caused Democrats, also pleased pro-Trump social media activists like Mike Cernovich, an “alt-right” provocateur who was given a press credential by the Trump White House, Paul Joseph Watson, an editor at Infowars, the conspiratorial website that channels outlandish theories to the Oval Office, and Jack Posobiec, who promoted the false rumor that Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives kept child sex slaves at a Washington pizzeria.

Cernovich in particular has been working for months to discredit protests against Trump by drawing attention to the tactics of black-clad antifa activists. In May, the blogger had used his access to the White House briefing room to scold reporters for not pressing Democrats to disavow what he called “alt-left terror.”

Another part of the backstory to the viral video of Campbell that Fox News noted but failed to follow up on was the intervention of the progressive journalist, Al Letson.

In his own account of the clash, Letson reported that Campbell was attacked shortly after the organizer of the right-wing rally, Joey Gibson, had been chased behind police lines by antifa activists wielding sticks, shields, and pepper spray.

Letson explained to Kelly McEvers of NPR why he intervened on Campbell’s behalf. “What came to me was that he was a human being, and I didn’t want to see anybody die.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the events in Charlottesville,” Letson added, “and I remember seeing the pictures of a young man being brutally beaten by these guys with poles, and when I saw that I thought, ‘Why didn’t anybody step in?'”

Among the many ironies of Letson, an African-American journalist, stepping in to defend Campbell with the savage beating of DeAndre Harris by white supremacists on his mind, is the fact that Campbell posted a tweet two weeks ago scoffing at a crowdfunding page for Harris, writing that he got what he deserved for trying to disrupt a lawfully permitted white supremacist rally.

Another is that Letson is the host of a radio show “Reveal,” produced by the Center for Investigative Journalism, which is partly financed by a grant from the Open Society Foundations. That philanthropy is funded by George Soros, the liberal financier who, in the fevered imaginations of far-right bloggers like Campbell, is behind all manner of left-wing conspiracies and plots.

In the video he recorded last week of himself and Berkeley’s College Republicans haranguing Felarca, one of them can be heard accusing her of taking “George Soros’s money.”

Top Photo: A right-wing demonstrator was beaten by anti-fascist activists in Berkeley, California on Sunday after spraying a chemical at them.

The post In Berkeley, Attacks by Antifa Turn ‘Alt-Right’ Trolls into Fox News Heroes appeared first on The Intercept.

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19 days ago
Really thinking after watching these anti fa guys that they're probably actors. Menacing yes, dangerous; not so much. They don't know or want to really do anything to the 'victims' ... or so it appears. "Fake news" ?
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