Yellowstone Supervolcano Could Be Fueled By Churning Chunks of Pacific Ocean Plate, Not Mantle Plume




The Yellowstone supervolcano could be fueled by a faraway heat source off the Pacific Northwest coast—which challenges the hypothesis that the mantle plume beneath Yellowstone is responsible for volcanism at its surface. The recent findings, published in mid-December, however, don’t point to any future super eruptions. Instead, the study helps scientists better understand the complex volcanic system that seems to have many concerned that a super eruption will occur. (Spoiler alert: That is very unlikely).

“The heat needed to drive volcanism usually occurs in areas where tectonic plates meet and one slab of crust slides, or subducts, under another,” Lijun Liu, lead author and geology professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a statement. “However, Yellowstone and other volcanic areas of the inland western U.S. are far away from the active plate boundaries along the West Coast. In these inland cases, a deep-seated heat source known as a mantle plume is suspected of driving crustal melting and surface volcanism.”

The study, published in Nature Geoscience, used seismic tomography to determine the geologic history behind the Yellowstone volcanic system. Based on possible geologic histories of the past 20 million years in the western U.S., they found little support for the mantle plume hypothesis. Liu’s and her team’s findings point to the Pacific Ocean’s plates as the supervolcano’s heat source.

A broken-off piece of the ancient Farallon plate has been slowly sliding east beneath the western part of the U.S. beginning about 200 million years ago, reported ScienceNews. The ancient plate broke apart—and a slab of it slipped closer to Yellowstone. Researchers think that the tearing up of that plate's fragments could have led to outpourings of magma, keeping the heat in Yellowstone's volcanic system. 

A view of a hot spring at the Upper Geyser Basin at Yellowstone National Park on May 11, 2016. Getty

“A robust result from these models is that the heat source behind the extensive inland volcanism actually originated from the shallow oceanic mantle to the west of the Pacific Northwest coast,” Liu said. “This directly challenges the traditional view that most of the heat came from the plume below Yellowstone.”

One factor that made this study different was adding heat to their models. Hot materials like those in the mantle plume should rise towards the surface—but they found the mantle plume was sinking deeper into Earth. Liu said that it “seems counterintuitive,” but that specific finding is what led the researchers to point their attention towards the Pacific Ocean. Future studies, said co-author and graduate student Quan Zhou, will add chemical data from volcanic rocks to the model.

“That will help us further constrain the source of the magma because rocks from deep mantle plumes and near-surface tectonic plates could have different chemistries,” Zhou said in a statement.

Tourists enjoy the Grand Prismatic Spring at the Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park on May 11, 2016. Getty

While Liu’s research untangles the mystery of Yellowstone a little bit more, researchers emphasized that this model doesn’t predict specific future-eruptions. Fears of future eruptions have caused a flurry of concerns. As Newsweek previously reported, a misinterpreted New York Times article resulted in inaccurate and misleading news coverage following it, which added fuel to fire about the fears of a supereruption. The most recent eruption was 631,000 years ago. Though an eruption would blanket huge swaths of the U.S. in ash and change global climate, the chances of this happening remain exceedingly low.

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White Supremacists Blamed for Racist, 'Muslim-Free America' Posters Appearing at University of Houston




White supremacist groups marked the start of the 2017–18 school year by papering dozens of colleges and universities with hate posters aimed at recruiting young white members. Their latest stop: The University of Houston (UH), where students discovered racist, anti-Semitic propaganda plastered across their campus last week. Flyers reading “Beware the International Jew,” “Imagine a Muslim-Free America” and “We Have the Right to Exist” hung on trash bins, newspaper racks, lampposts, walls and paper-towel dispensers. Stickers with images of deconstructed swastikas were strategically placed on flyers for immigrant, LGBTQ and feminist student organizations. Most of the flyers were hung in buildings and areas relating to the arts and humanities.

Students at UH’s chapter of the Young Communist League (YCL) believe the white supremacist group Vanguard America was behind the incident, according to a public letter addressed to UH leadership and posted on Facebook last Thursday. “No student at the University of Houston should come to school and be told that they don’t belong, that they should be deported, that their life is inferior, that their extermination is imminent,” the group wrote. The day before, Michael Leone, chair of YCL at UH, shared pictures of the hate propaganda on Facebook, saying he'd found and ripped down at least 30 flyers.

“We are working to address the inappropriate and possible criminal postings around campus,” UH Chief of Police Ceaser Moore Jr. told UH’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Cougar. Last spring, racist flyers found on UH’s campus were tied to Proud Boys, an alt-right men’s group founded by Gavin McInnes, who is known for co-founding Vice (he left the company a decade ago) and was once dubbed “the godfather of hipsterdom.”

Mike Rosen, executive director of media relations at UH, says the posters and stickers were all removed, but the school itself only took down propaganda when it was posted in locations where flyering is prohibited by university rules. “We respect the constitutional right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, regardless of how reprehensible the content may be,” Rosen says.

RELATED: White supremacists who attacked Charlottesville are coming back with a vengeance

The incident at UH, one of the most diverse schools in the U.S., is the latest in a wave of white supremacist recruitment activities at colleges and universities around the country. In the first few weeks of the 2017–18 school year, another white supremacist group, Identity Evropa, papered 13 campuses in seven states with racist flyers, according to the ADL. During that same period, Vanguard America hit the University of Utah, Antioch College in Ohio and Weber State University, also in Ohio.

Vanguard America (formerly known as American Vanguard) is a white supremacist organization that shuns multiculturalism and believes America should be an exclusively white nation, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The group’s slogan, “blood and soil,” is rooted in the Hitler-era idea that people with “white blood” have a special relationship with “American soil.” Vanguard America is known for targeting schools as well as Jewish institutions, and is particularly “blatant about anti-Semitism and racism, and for holding neo-Nazi ideology as well,” says Marilyn Mayo, senior research fellow at the ADL’s Center on Extremism.

RELATED: The plot to paper college campuses with racist posters

Vanguard America helped plan the “Unite the Right” rally last month in Charlottesville, Virginia. James Alex Fields, Jr., the white supremacist who allegedly mowed down a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring at least 19 people, was photographed earlier that day protesting with the racist group. Wearing sunglasses and Vanguard America’s signature white-collar shirt, Fields held a black shield with the group’s logo on it. Vanguard America quickly denied ties with him. The group is also responsible for hanging an anti-Semitic banner over a Holocaust memorial in front of a synagogue in Lakewood, New Jersey.

A white nationalist protester, carrying a Vanguard America-Texas flag, is confronted by a group of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12. Reuters

While Vanguard America hasn’t taken credit for the UH incident on its website or on Twitter, the one-liners on the flyers are associated with the group. Vanguard America did not respond to a request for comment.

Since September 2016, the ADL has tracked 192 incidents of white supremacist leafleting or other incidents across 131 campuses in 37 states. Vanguard America was behind 36 of those campaigns.

Finding—and tearing down—hate propaganda has not been the first hurdle for UH students this school year. Hurricane Harvey battered the area, forcing the school to shut down for 10 days in late August. Students returned after Labor Day weekend, and about a week later the racist, anti-Semitic posters appeared. “If anything, they’ve been a distraction—they’ve come in the aftermath of a catastrophic hurricane, and many in our community are moving forward with their education or their work in the midst of either being flooded out of homes or having cars that are no longer driveable,” Rosen says. “We’re a community that is even-keeled and diverse and understands that there is hate in the world, but we’re a community that’s focused on getting an education—and not easily provoked."

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President Trump’s Family Came to the U.S. Partially Because They Were Running From Climate Change




UPDATE | Over 5 million Germans moved to North America during the 19th century, including President Donald Trump's grandfather, Friedrich, who moved to the U.S. at age 16. New research suggests that a variable climate in Germany may have played a role. 

During the 19th century, there were glacier advances in the Alps, colder winters and summers, and extreme events like droughts and floods. An estimated 20 to 30 percent of migration from southwest Germany to North America may be attributed to that shift in climate, according to Rüdiger Glaser, lead author of the study appearing in the journal, Climate of the Past, and physical geography professor at the University of Freiburg, Germany. 

"The chain of effects is clearly visible: poor climate conditions lead to low crop yields, rising cereal prices and finally emigration," Glaser said in a statement. "But it is only one piece of the puzzle."

President Donald Trump smiles during the introduction of his Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Kirstjen Nielsen in the East Room of the White House on October 12. Reuters

The study analyzed official migration statistics, population data, weather data, harvest figures and cereal price records. They focused on the region Baden-Württemberg, a southwestern state in Germany that borders France. Migrants such as Charles Pfizer—who founded one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world—originated from there, and Trump's grandfather also grew up nearby, according to Glaser. 

"Trump, he comes from southwest Germany—the Palatinate, the neighboring region to Baden-Württemberg," Glaser told The Independent. Although Glaser also said that Germans like Trump's grandfather came to the U.S. for "peace and freedom," his study points to evidence that a variable climate was also a factor. Glaser told The Independent that world leaders should be aware of the history of migration, particularly in relation to climate change. 

The president—who campaigned on building a 2,000-mile wall along the southern border of the United States to keep immigrants out of the country—has largely denied climate change, once even calling it a hoax that was created by the Chinese. Trump also intends to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, though he cannot officially do so until after the 2020 election. Meanwhile, Politico reported last year that Trump wants to build a seawall to protect one of his golf courses from rising sea levels, which are expected to rise significantly as a result of climate change.

U.S. Customs and Border patrol agents on all-terrain vehicles look over the Mexico-U.S. border wall where it enters the Pacific Ocean at Border Field State Park in San Diego on November 18. Reuters

Glaser’s study notes that climate change is not the sole reason for massive amounts of immigration to North America during the 19th century, but rather, another factor. The study points to other major climate events that have caused waves of migration. In Indonesia, a volcano eruption in 1815 resulted in the “year without summer” in 1816, which saw wet and cold weather that led to failing crops, famine and emigration.

From 1850 to 1855, climate played a less significant role in emigration. The Crimean War from 1853 to 1856 drove up food prices since France banned food exports, which put pressure on German grain markets.

“Migration in the 19th century was a complex process influenced by multiple factors,” Glaser concluded in a statement. “Lack of economic perspectives, social pressure, population development, religious and political disputes, warfare, family ties and the promotion of emigration from different sides influence people’s decision to leave their home country.”

“Nevertheless, we see clearly that climate was a major factor.” 

Correction: An earlier version of this story said President Trump's father immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. It was President Trump's grandfather, Friedrich, who immigrated, not his father. 


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Protests in Iran: Beyond the Tweets, What Trump Should Do Now




This article first appeared on The Daily Signal.

Popular demonstrations ignited by smoldering resentment about Iran’s mismanaged economy has quickly escalated to political denunciations of Tehran’s rulers.

President Donald Trump was quick to offer support to the protesters in a series of tweets. At 7:44 a.m. New Year’s Day, he tweeted:

Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!

Early chants about price hikes have given way to increasingly bold criticisms of what the protesters see as a corrupt and repressive government that fails to meet their needs. Their demands varied.

Some chanted, “We don’t want an Islamic Republic” and “Death to the dictator,” the latter being a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The protests apparently were triggered by a surge in prices of basic food supplies, which also had contributed to early Arab Spring protests six years ago. Protests spread quickly, sparked by social media posts, as state-controlled media blocked press coverage.

S-DEMO Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017. STR/AFP/Getty

These are the largest protests since millions of Iranians flooded the streets in 2009 to protest against then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rigged re-election. But the regime crushed those protests in a brutal crackdown in which at least 30 people were killed and thousands were arrested, tortured, and imprisoned.

So far, the ongoing protests have not reached the size of the 2009 Green Movement demonstrations, when millions of Iranians took to the streets in protest. Twelve people have been killed in demonstrations, with 10 of the deaths inflicted amid intensifying clashes on Sunday night.

Some of the early protests in Mashhad reportedly were organized by ultra-hard-line regime supporters opposed to Rouhani, and may have been designed to undermine his authority.

Pro-regime demonstrations denouncing the 2009 Green Movement leaders also may have provoked a political backlash.

Unemployment remains high at more than 12 percent, and inflation has resurged to 10 percent. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman blamed on a cull over avian-flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.

Hundreds of students and others joined a new economic protest at Tehran University, a hotbed of prior student protests against the regime. Iranian students historically have played a leading role in several revolutionary movements, including the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The tense situation at Tehran University will be a litmus test for the strength of the protest movement and of the regime’s ability to contain, suffocate, or crush the protests.

The Revolutionary Guards, which crushed protests in 2009 and take the lead in exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution and terrorism, remain a strong repressive force that is likely to crush the student rebellion if the local police prove to be inadequate.

Trump tweeted out his support for the protests Saturday morning:

Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests

Trump is right that simmering resentment over the costs of Iran’s aggressive foreign policy have led protesters to call for more spending at home and less on support of radical groups abroad.

Some of the new protests have specifically denounced the regime’s extensive corruption and its costly involvement in regional conflicts, such as those in Syria and Iraq.

In Mashhad, some chanted, “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran,” a reference to what protesters say is the regime’s focus on exporting the revolution, rather than responding to domestic needs.

They also denounced Iran’s theocratic leaders: “The people are begging. The clerics act like God.”

Washington must continue to drive up the long-term political, economic, and military costs of Iran’s military interventions in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. It should underscore that the regime’s economic mismanagement, corruption, and support for terrorism and Islamic revolution, which provoked sanctions, have exacerbated Iran’s economic problems.

U.S. policy should also highlight and denounce the regime’s repression and human rights abuses. But the protests might soon be quelled, dissolve into competing camps led by rival leaders, or be hijacked by hostile anti-Western forces, as many of the Arab Spring revolts were hijacked.

Washington should support the right of Iranians to challenge the heavy-handed repression and corruption of a tyrannical regime, but it should hold off on endorsing specific opposition leaders or movements until their character and goals are assessed.

Until then, the Trump administration should do its best to publicize and promote the legitimate political and economic grievances of frustrated Iranians and support their efforts to recover freedom from an Islamist dictatorship that depends on thugs to suppress its own people.

James Phillips is the senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

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'Voice' Star Meghan Linsey Defends Her National Anthem Knee Despite Backlash From Country Fans




UPDATED | Country star Meghan Linsey, who angered some fans when she took a knee after her rendition of the national anthem on Sunday in Nashville, fired back at critics, saying her peaceful one-woman protest against President Donald Trump's rhetoric "was the right thing to do."

Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans remained in their locker rooms rather than participating in the national anthem, so Linsey and her guitarist, Tyler Cain, performed on a nearly empty field. Linsey, a former finalist on The Voice in Season 8, was slammed by some fans for taking a knee in support of NFL players, but Linsey said she knew what she was doing.

"I am a white, blonde, privileged woman in the music industry, and I knew the weight it would carry, and I knew I had to do it," Linsey told Newsweek. "I wanted to take a stand for people of color facing police brutality. Yesterday was not a demonstration against anyone, it was purely in support and solidarity with the NFL players."

The Louisiana native made a name in country music—an audience she knows is generally supportive of President Donald Trump—but she said kneeling at the end of the anthem was done "out of love" for the country and a desire to show solidarity with people of color facing police brutality.

"No one is doing it, especially in Nashville," Linsey told Newsweek. "Tennessee is a red state. People are scared to voice their opinion, and a lot of country music stars are Republican and conservative. I’ve gotten a lot of negative comments, but I’ve also had people reach out and say I gained new fans."

The singer's protest thrust her to the center of the political conversation in country music, an industry that has long feared the retribution that occurred when the Dixie Chicks spoke out against President George W. Bush in 2003 and were accused of being unpatriotic by their country-loving base. Radney Foster, a singer and songwriter, told Billboard that "the Dixie Chicks' black cloud looms over the entire industry in Nashville." 

On Twitter, Linsey was compared to the Dixie Chicks and quickly criticized by Fox News host Todd Starnes, who pinned a tweet: "If you are so offended by the #NationalAnthem - why did you agree to sing it?" and said Linsey tried "to disrespect Gold Star Mothers & Families. Shame on you."

Linsey did not engage with critics on Twitter but retweeted a comment that defended her: "No she kneeled to protest Trump condemning football players while staying silent about white nationalists."

She told Newsweek, "I didn't realize how much hate there was in the world. I’m a proud American and I do love this country, it wasn’t a stand against anyone. I had a platform and I had to do what's right."

Linsey's guitarist, Tyler Cain, posted on Facebook that his father and grandfather in the military taught him to stand up for what's right, and that respect for the national anthem means supporting the freedom it represents to take a knee.

"Meghan and I made the decision to take a knee after the performance as a show of support to those who deal with social injustice and oppression" Cain posted. "After 15 years grinding in the Nashville music business, I would not be able to sleep at night if we didn't use this opportunity to peacefully promote social equality."​

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AI Vs. Bioterrorism: Artificial Intelligence Trained to Detect Anthrax by Scientists




South Korean scientists have been able to train artificial intelligence to detect anthrax at fast speeds, potentially dealing a blow to bioterrorism.

Hidden in letters, the biological agent killed five Americans and infected 17 more in the year following the 9/11 attacks, and the threat of a biological attack remains a top concern of Western security services as radicals such as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) seek new ways to attack the West.

Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have now created an algorithm that is able to study bacterial spores and quickly identify the biological agent, according to a paper published last week for the Science Advances journal.

The new training of AI to identify the bacteria using microscopic images could decrease the time it takes to detect anthrax drastically, to mere seconds from a day. It is also accurate 95 percent of the time.

Anthrax contaminates the body when spores enter it, mostly through inhalation, multiplying and spreading an illness that could be fatal. Skin infections of anthrax are less deadly. 

Spores from the Sterne strain of anthrax bacteria (Bacillus anthracis) are pictured in this handout scanning electron micrograph obtained by Reuters May 28, 2015. Reuters/Center for Disease Control/Handout

“This study showed that holographic imaging and deep learning can identify anthrax in a few seconds,” YongKeun “Paul” Park, associate professor of physics at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, told the IEEE Spectrum blog.

“Conventional approaches such as bacterial culture or gene sequencing would take several hours to a day,” he added.

Park is working with the South Korean agency responsible for developing the country's defense capabilities amid fears that North Korea may plan a biological attack against its archenemy across their shared border.

North Korea's regime is no stranger to chemical agents. South Korea has accused operatives linked to Pyongyang of responsibility for the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half brother, Kim Jong Nam, using a VX agent at Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February.

Contamination by anthrax has a death rate of 80 percent, so detection of the bacteria is crucial.

Spreading anthrax far and wide in an attack would mean that thousands would die if contaminated. So Western security services fear that hostile parties, such as ISIS sympathizers or regimes such as North Korea, will make attempts to develop a capability to cause a mass-casualty attack.

The researchers say the AI innovation could bring advances elsewhere, too, including the potential to detect other bacterias, such as those that cause food poisoning and kill more than a quarter of a million people every year.

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