Lazy Saturday Reads: Time to Put Our Problems into PerspectivePosted: April 25, 2015
Today is a good day to put things in perspective and meditate on how fortunate we are here in the United States, despite our serious social and political problems. Elsewhere, dramatic, uncontrollable earth changes are happening with disastrous results.
A disastrous earthquake hit Nepal this morning, with hundreds reported dead so far.
From the NY Daily News: 7.9-magnitude earthquake hits Nepal, kills 792 people, triggers Mt. Everest avalanche.
A 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Nepal killed at least 792 people, destroyed homes and landmarks and triggered an avalanche on Mt. Everest Saturday, officials said….
The devastation first struck Nepal’s densely populated Kathmandu Valley, sweeping through the capital Kathmandu before rippling outward.
“Almost the entire country has been hit,” Krishna Prasad Dhakal, deputy chief of mission at Nepal’s Embassy in New Delhi, told Reuters.
Nepal’s tourism jewel, Mt. Everest, was shaken by the country’s worst earthquake in 80 years, setting off an avalanche that killed eight and injured at least 30, officials said.
Here’s some shocking video from YouTube:
This was truly a giant earthquake. [Update: As I write this, USA Today is reporting 876 confirmed dead.]
The earthquake sent aftershocks in all directions, killing 20 in India, six in Tibet, two in Bangladesh, and two Chinese citizens at the Nepal-China border. The rumbling was also felt by some in Lahore, Pakistan and Lhasa.
A 6.6.-magnitude aftershock hit Nepal about an hour after the initial earthquake, and smaller aftershocks continued every few minutes as emergency responders rushed to save citizens and treat them in overcrowded hospitals….
The cosmic quake also injured dozens more and destroyed several centuries-old temples and towers, including the Dharahara Tower, one of the Nepal’s most famous landmarks, which dates back to the 1800s. People were trapped underneath it after it crumbled.
Nepal is going to need a lot of help and soon if lives are to be saved.
USA Today: Nepal quake occurred at major plate boundary.
Saturday’s catastrophic earthquake in Nepal occurred because of two converging tectonic plates: the India plate and the overriding Eurasia plate to the north, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Tectonic plates are the large, thin, relatively rigid plates that move relative to one another on the outer surface of the Earth.
Plates are always slowly moving, but they get stuck at their edges due to friction. When the stress on the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake that releases energy in waves that travel through the earth’s crust and cause the shaking that we feel.
At the location of Saturday’s earthquake, about 50 miles to the northeast of the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, the India plate is converging with Eurasia at a rate of about two inches per year towards the north-northeast, driving the uplift of theHimalayan mountain range.
Although a major plate boundary with a history of large-to-great sized earthquakes, large quakes in this area are rare in the documented historical era, the U.S. Geological Survey reports. Over the past century, just four events of magnitude 6.0 or larger have occurred within about 150 miles of Saturday’s earthquake.
One, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in August 1988 about 150 miles to the southeast of Saturay’s quake, caused nearly 1,500 fatalities, USGS said.
The largest event, a magnitude 8.0 known as the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake, occurred in a similar location to the 1988 quake. It severely damaged Kathmandu, and is thought to have caused around 10,600 deaths.
This photo from CNN shows emergency rescue workers in Kathmandu rushing an injured person to a hospital.
The Guardian is posting live updates on the situation in Nepal.
I may be living in dignified poverty in a country filled with out-of-control religious fanatics and right wing haters, but at least I’m alive and well, with a roof over my head, heat, running water, electricity, and food to eat. I even have a Heaterator in my house for those cold days!
On Wednesday, Chile experienced a massive volcanic eruption that also set off earthquakes.
Calbuco, a stratovolcano in southern Chile, began erupting yesterday [Wednesday] at 7pm local time. First spewing massive ash clouds then, at 10pm, erupting explosively as its fragile structure collapsed inwards….The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile is erupting for the first time in 42 years…
See more photos at Cruel Buzz:
I’m including some of these amazing photos in this post.
From ABC yesterday: Chile Volcano Eruption: Inside a Ghost Town as Volcanic Ash Rains Down.
A volcano that was dormant for 42 years in Chile has erupted twice this week in a magnificent display. But the stunning twin blasts captured on photo and video has forced about 4,000 residents in towns nearby to evacuate as ash blanketed their neighborhoods.
The city of Ensenada, at the foot of the Calbuco volcano, was one of the most thickly covered in ash – which caused roofs to collapse and raised concerns about possible water contamination, respiratory illnesses and more grounded flights.
Chile’s national geology and mining service also warned people to prepare for a possible third and “even more aggressive eruption.”
A missing hiker was found alive late Thursday as ash from Chile’s Calbuco volcano continued to fill the air, piling on roadways and closing borders in the region.
The volcano first erupted Wednesday, marking the first such activity in more than 42 years, billowing a huge ash cloud over the sparsely populated, mountainous area in southern Chile.
A second, more powerful eruption hit around 1 a.m. Thursday, creating swarms of lightning storms. Stunning photos captured the phenomenon, known as “dirty thunderstorms,” which illuminated the night sky.
The eruption rained down as much as 15 to 20 inches of ash in the nearby town of Ensenada, officials said, closing schools and canceling flights. Several surrounding towns, including Alerce, Colonia Rio Sur and Correntos, were also evacuated.
About 7 p.m. local time, two earthquakes associated with fracturing of rock occurred. The largest happened less than 3 miles east of the main crater, with a magnitude of 3, officials said in a 9 p.m. update. An additional “minor” eruption is possible, officials said.
According to the article, no deaths have been reported so far, and officials say they don’t have food or water shortages; but this eruption was huge.
Volcanic ash was falling in the Argentine resort city of Bariloche, about 68 miles east of Calbuco, the Associated Press reported. Officials there were analyzing the ash to see if it posed a threat to drinking water.
Officials closed several border crossings between Argentina and Chile, after “poor environmental conditions” made the roads impassable.
From Reuters early this morning: Chile volcano prompts new evacuations, flights to Argentina canceled.
Chilean volcano Calbuco, which erupted without warning on Wednesday, is still puffing out ash and smoke on Friday, prompting new evacuations and leading airlines to cancel flights to Argentine capital Buenos Aires, some 1,400 kilometers east.
Calbuco, considered one of the most dangerous along Chile’s chain of around 2,000 volcanoes, erupted twice in 24 hours on Wednesday and Thursday, sending up a spectacular 17 kilometer-high (11 miles) cloud and coating nearby towns in a thick layer of gray ash.
Authorities have set up a 20 kilometer (12 mile) cordon around Calbuco, which is located in the scenic Los Lagos region, around 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) south of capital Santiago.
An increase in volcanic activity caused potentially deadly lahars, a mix of water and rock fragments that flow down a volcano’s slopes and river valleys, prompting authorities to evacuate an additional 2,000 people.
“This is a complex (volcanic) process that could last for weeks,” said Rodrigo Alvarez, head of Chile’s mining and geological service.
Of course we do face catastrophic risks here too. Remember that all that volcanic activity under Yellowstone National Park?
The Christian Science Monitor reports: Scientists find huge magma reservoir in Yellowstone ‘supervolcano’ (+video).
Scientists and tourists have always known that Yellowstone National Park featured lively geologic wonders – regular small earthquakes and two-thirds of the world’s geysers, including Old Faithful – all constituting what’s known as a “supervolcano.”
Now, seismologists at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City have made a new discovery about Yellowstone’s subsurface plumbing, specifically a reservoir of hot, partly molten rock more than four times larger than the shallower magma chamber that scientists already knew about. To give that some perspective, the newly discovered reservoir would fill the Grand Canyon 11 times, compared with 2.5 times for the shallower chamber.
“For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone,” says Hsin-Hua Huang, a postdoctoral researcher in geology and geophysics at the university and the study’s lead author, in a statement. “That includes the upper crustal magma chamber we have seen previously plus a lower crustal magma reservoir that has never been imaged before and that connects the upper chamber to the Yellowstone hotspot plume below.”
The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Science this week, emphasize that Yellowstone’s plumbing system is no larger – nor closer to erupting – than before. Now, however, they have used advanced techniques to make a complete image of the system that carries hot and partly molten rock upward from the top of the Yellowstone hot-spot plume – about 40 miles beneath the surface – to the magma reservoir and the magma chamber above it.
But the deeper chamber does mean that the shallow chamber can be replenished again and again.
If that thing blows, we can all kiss our asses goodbye. But we can’t just cower in our houses in fear, can we? We have to face today’s current events, and they can be pretty awful.
Of course, as I wrote at the outset, we do have some serious political and social problems in the good old USA.
I for one am very glad I don’t live in Missouri. Remember the black woman who was elected mayor of the small town of Kinloch? The racism seemingly runs deep in that place, which isn’t far from Ferguson. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:
KINLOCH • Betty McCray, Kinloch’s newly elected Mayor, arrived at City Hall on Thursday morning with an entourage and the intention to fire multiple city employees.
But before she could enter the building, McCray was told she was the one who was out of job.
In the parking lot, McCray was met by a half-dozen police officers and City Attorney James Robinson, who held a manila envelope under his arm containing articles of impeachment.
“You can’t come in as mayor,” Robinson said. “You have been suspended.”
McCray refused to take the envelope, saying, “You may be the attorney now, but I promise you, you won’t be later.”
Robinson also told Alderman Eric Petty, an ally of McCray’s, that the board had drafted articles of impeachment against him. Petty, too, refused to accept them.
“We won,” he said. “It’s time for them to move on.”
Can you believe that? I guess it’s time for the Justice Department to investigate another Missouri police force.
Kinloch, the first city in Missouri to be incorporated by African-Americans, is situated between Ferguson and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. It once thrived with more than 10,000 residents. Then in the 1980s, the airport began buying homes for a noise-abatement program, purchasing roughly 1,360 properties. The city’s population plummeted, and poverty and blight took hold.
Today, Kinloch, which has fewer than 300 residents, is marked by pilfered coffers, shady land deals and increasingly bitter fights over the last remnants of political power.
During the past five years, the city has seen the imprisonment of a former mayor on federal fraud and theft charges, the hiring of a convicted felon as city manager, the selling of a previous city hall building to an alleged drug dealer and the unseating of at least two aldermen.
WTF do they need so many police officers for 300 residents?!
We’ll have to keep an eye on that story.
A few more reads for you, links only:
Washington Post: So far, NBC News finds Brian Williams embellished at least 11 times.
Paul Krugman on Clinton Rules.
Charles Pierce on his long-time nemesis, the goggle-eyed homonculus: Watching Scotty Blow, con’td, Road Trip. In which Scott Walker learns the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
NewJersey.com: Stephen A. Smith rips Patriots’ Tom Brady: You had time for George Bush, but not Barack Obama? For once, I have to agree with this perennial Patriots-hater.
Right now I’m wondering if I can even root for Brady next season–especially after I heard he was spotted at an Apple store in NYC last night.
Talking Points Memo: 2009 Memo Describes Concerns About Oklahoma Deputy’s Training.
New York Times First Draft: Christie’s Wife Leaves Wall Street Job. So the scandal-plagued NJ governor must be planning to run for the GOP nomination.
USA Today: How the Comcast, Time-Warner Deal Unraveled. YAY!!!! One for the good guys.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice weekend.