Iceland’s Crystal Cave

http://timewheel.net/Image-Iceland-s-Crystal-Cave-Is-A-Scene-Of-Pure-Magic

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Beneath the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Iceland’s Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, there is an enormous natural cavern of unbelievable beauty. The cave has been delicately sculpted from years of underground lava flow and geothermal heat emissions interacting with the hydrologic cycle, resulting in this breathtaking natural formation.

The ice that forms the walls of the cave is unbelievably dense, having been subjected to centuries of compression and stifling amounts of pressure. As ice involved in this process achieves higher levels of density, it is able to prevent less red and yellow light from the sun to pass through it, giving the cave its soothing blue glow.

http://timewheel.net/Image-Iceland-s-Crystal-Cave-Is-A-Scene-Of-Pure-Magic

Six more photos at above link.

Worst Catastrophe Since BP Spill

Claire Bernish
December 23, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Porter Ranch, CA —Methane gas continues spewing, unchecked, into the air over southern California from a fractured well to an underground storage site — at such an alarming rate that low-flying planes have necessarily been diverted by the FAA, lest internal combustion engines meet highly volatile gas and, well, blow the entire area to hell.  

This is, indeed, the biggest environmental catastrophe since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010; and for now, there is no way to stop it.

This methane disaster is worse than can be sufficiently described in words, because while it’s estimated well over 100,000 pounds of methane spew into the atmosphere every hour, the leak can’t be halted, at least until spring. Even then, that stoppage depends entirely on the efficacy of a proposed fix — which remains a dubiously open question.

According to the California Air Resources Board, methane — a greenhouse gas 72 times more impactful in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide — has been escaping from the Aliso Canyon site with force equivalent “to a volcanic eruption”for about two months now. So far, the total leaked gas measures somewhere around 100,000 tons — adding “approximately one-quarter to the regular statewide methane emissions” during that same time frame.

“The relative magnitude of emissions from the leak compared to other sources of methane in the State underscores the urgency of stopping the gas leak. This comes on top of any problems caused by odor and any potential impacts from exposure,” states the initial report on the Aliso leak by air quality officials.

The enormity of the Aliso Canyon gas leak cannot be overstated. Gas is escaping through a ruptured pipe more than 8,000 feet underground, and it shows no signs of stopping. As the pressure from the weight on top of the pipe causes the gas to diffuse, it only continues to dissipate across a wider and wider area,” explained Erin Brockovich, who spent time in nearby Porter Ranch investigating the leak.

Officials and experts are concerned, and they can’t recall another leak of this magnitude in decades — if ever“I asked this question of our staff of 30 years,” said Steve Bohlen, who recently left his position as state supervisor of oil and gas. “This is unique in the last three or four decades. This is an unusual event, period.”

Though methane, itself, has no odor, the addition of odorants methyl mercaptan and tetrahydrothiophene — a safety measure to alert people by smell to the presence of natural gas — has made the enormous methane seepage impossible to ignore. Thousands of households have evacuated the area, despite little help, much less information, from the gas company about when they might be able to return. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, SoCalGas spokesperson Michael Mizrahi claimed the company had paid to relocate and house 2,092 households — but that effort is severely lacking, says Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.

Yesterday, the city attorney’s office sought a restraining order to mandate SoCalGas relocate residents in the affected area within 48 hours of their request; and it is also seeking a “special master” to oversee the entire relocation operation, which is currently being handled by the gas company. Not only does the present relocation lack speed and coordination, but a housing crunch has resulted in surrounding areas — in some cases landlords, who prefer year-long leases to shorter terms, have driven rent as high as $8,500 per month. Hotels are operating at capacity, and in “some of those hotel rooms there are not enough beds for the people who are being moved,” explained chief deputy to the city attorney, James P. Clark.

“It’s time Porter Ranch residents had direct and complete answers about all facets of this leak,” Clark continued, “including what caused it, how to stop it, and what will be done to assure it never happens again. They should receive better, quicker, and completely adequate relocation assistance.”

On Thursday, Los Angeles Unified School District board members voted unanimously to close two Porter Ranch schools and relocate their 1,900 students and staff to different locations for the foreseeable future. A local emergency has been declared by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Multiple lawsuits have now been initiated against SoCalGas and/or its parent company, Sempra Energy. A Los Angeles firm representing three of the families, who filed their suit Friday, described in a statement that the well has been “leaking noxious odors, hazardous gases, chemicals, pollutants, and contaminants due to a massive well failure and blowout. However, SoCalGas failed to inform residents of neighboring communities of the disastrous gas leak in a timely manner, putting the health and well-being of thousands of families in jeopardy.” Those suits allege “negligence, strict liability of ultra-hazardous activity, private nuisance, inverse condemnation, and trespass.”

A class-action lawsuit has also been filed on behalf of the Save Porter Ranch group; and City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a civil suit earlier this month due to the leak’s continued threat to residents’ health and damage to the environment, alleging failure by SoCalGas to prevent the leak and further exacerbation of “the effects of that failure by allowing the acute odor and health problems faced by the community to persist for more than one month, to say nothing about the indefinite time it will persist into the future,”state the court documents“No community should have to endure what the residents of Porter Ranch have suffered from the gas company’s continued failure to stop that leak,” Feuer stated.

SoCalGas insists there will be no long-term health effects resulting from the persistent leak; but as Brockovich pointed out“no one really knows the potential long-term side effects of benzene and radon, the carcinogens that are commonly found in natural gas.” In an email to the Los Angeles Daily News, SoCalGas stated they were “providing air filters for people’s homes” and “have established a claims process for those who feel they may have suffered harm or injury. And our top priority remains stopping this leak as quickly and safely as possible.

“While the odor added to the leaking gas can cause symptoms for some, the gas is not toxic and county health officials have said the leak does not pose a long-term health risk.”

But what’s making this massive leak so difficult to stop pertains to the storage ‘container,’ itself. “We have the largest natural gas storage system in the world,” boasts Chris McGill, vice president of the American Gas Association. In the United States, old underground oil fields are often put to use as storage vessels for natural gas — because, hey, that geology worked just fine to hold oil for millions of years, so why not natural gas?

In fact, there are some 300 such depleted subterranean oil fields being employed this way around the United States. Aliso Canyon, a natural gas storage site since the 1970s, has one of the largest capacities: 86 billion cubic feet. During the summer, gas earmarked for winter heating is pumped into these underground cavities by SoCalGas — and the process is reversed with the turn of the seasons. However, this year, workers encountered what quickly became evident was anything but a typical hiccup. As Wired reported:

“On October 23, workers noticed the leak at a 40-year-old well in Aliso Canyon. Small leaks are routine, says Bohlen, and SoCalGas did what it routinely does: put fluid down the well to stop the leak and tinker with the well head. It didn’t work. The company tried it five more times, and the gas kept leaking. At this point, it was clear the leak was far from routine, and the problem was deeper underground.”

Beginning December 4th, SoCalGas crews began drilling a relief well to intercept the fissured pipe. Cement will then be poured into both to seal the wells permanently. Of course, for this to work, crews must locate that original pipe, which is a mere seven inches in diameter, thousands of feet underground — without accidentally creating any sparks, whatsoever. Work near the leak site, therefore, has been prohibited after nightfall, when lighting equipment could potentially cause such a spark; though drilling for the relief well is situated far enough away to continue nonstop.

Flaring, or setting a deliberate fire to burn off excess gas, simply isn’t an option. The mammoth scope of this leak means a flare would ultimately complicate matters even further.

“There is no stone being left unturned to get this well closed,” Bohlen stated. “It’s our top priority.”

In the meantime, it will be months without any possibility of halting this disaster-in-motion. Sickened, uprooted, and furious residents can rest assured, though, because even as methane spews nonstop into the air, SoCalGas did have this consolation:

“We are deeply sorry for the frustration.”


This article (Unstoppable California Gas Leak Being Called Worst Catastrophe Since BP Spill) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.orgAnti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Tim Evanson. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Harper Lee’s 1956 Christmas

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It was on this day in 1956 that novelist Harper Lee spent Christmas in New York City with friends, and received a gift that changed her life. In 1949, Lee had dropped out of a law program at the University of Alabama and moved to New York City, the home of her childhood friend Truman Capote. Capote had just published his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948) – which featured a character based on Lee, and he was a literary star. In New York, Lee found a job as a ticket agent at an airline. For seven years, she wrote on the weekends, but she never published anything.

She rarely got time off from work, so she wasn’t able to get home to Alabama for Christmas. That Christmas of 1956, she was homesick. Lee wrote: “What I really missed was a memory, an old memory of people long since gone, of my grandparents’ house bursting with cousins, smilax, and holly. I missed the sound of hunting boots, the sudden open-door gusts of chilly air that cut through the aroma of pine needles and oyster dressing. I missed my brother’s night-before-Christmas mask of rectitude and my father’s bumblebee bass humming ‘Joy to the World.'”

Lee spent that Christmas, like many others, with her closest friends in the city: a couple named Michael and Joy Brown, whom she had met through Capote, and their two sons. Michael Brown was paid by companies to write promotional “industrial musicals,” like “Wonderful World of Chemistry” for DuPont, which was performed 17,000 times. In the fall of 1956, he had written a successful industrial show for Esquire magazine, and he was feeling rich.

Lee and the Browns had a tradition of trying to exchange the best Christmas gifts for the least amount of money, and that year Lee’s present for Michael Brown was a portrait of an 18th-century Anglican writer and cleric. It cost her 35 cents. Lee couldn’t hide her disappointment when everyone had opened their gifts and there were none for her. The Browns told her to look in the tree, where she found an envelope addressed to her. Inside, it said: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”

Lee thought it was a joke, and when she finally realized that it wasn’t, she protested, but the Browns insisted – they were feeling financially comfortable, and they thought she was talented and deserved a chance to write full-time. When she said that it was too big of a risk for them, Michael replied: “No, honey. It’s not a risk. It’s a sure thing.” She wrote: “I went to the window, stunned by the day’s miracle. Christmas trees blurred softly across the street, and firelight made the children’s shadows dance on the wall beside me. A full, fair chance for a new life. Not given me by an act of generosity, but by an act of love. Our faith in you was really all I had heard them say. I would do my best not to fail them.”

She went to work immediately, and just three weeks later she brought 49 pages of a new novel called Go Set a Watchman to an agent. By the end of February, she had finished the draft. Her agents suggested some edits, and by October of 1957 the manuscript was sent off to a publishing company without a title. The publishers liked it but thought it needed major revisions – most significantly, they thought that Lee should focus on the childhood, not the adulthood, of the novel’s narrator, Scout Finch. Lee spent two years reworking the novel, and came up with a new title: To Kill A Mockingbird. To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) went on to sell more than 30 million copies and become one of the most beloved books in American literature.

Lee didn’t release another book until earlier this year, when Go Set a Watchman (2015) was published. The book has caused a huge controversy, with some people claiming that Go Set a Watchman is an important newly discovered novel, and others criticizing it as a mediocre first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird that should never have been published.

-The Writer’s Almanac, Dec 25, 2015

Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical marijuana

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-medical-pot-20141216-story.html

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Marijuana background

by Evan Halper

Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy.

 

The bill’s passage over the weekend marks the first time Congress has approved nationally significant legislation backed by legalization advocates. It brings almost to a close two decades of tension between the states and Washington over medical use of marijuana.

Under the provision, states where medical pot is legal would no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations. Agents would be prohibited from doing so.

The Obama administration has largely followed that rule since last year as a matter of policy. But the measure approved as part of the spending bill, which President Obama plans to sign this week, will codify it as a matter of law.

Pot advocates had lobbied Congress to embrace the administration’s policy, which they warned was vulnerable to revision under a less tolerant future administration.

More important, from the standpoint of activists, Congress’ action marked the emergence of a new alliance in marijuana politics: Republicans are taking a prominent role in backing states’ right to allow use of a drug the federal government still officially classifies as more dangerous than cocaine.

“This is a victory for so many,” said the measure’s coauthor, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa. The measure’s approval, he said, represents “the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana.”

By now, 32 states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot or its ingredients to treat ailments, a movement that began in the 1990s. Even back then, some states had been approving broader decriminalization measures for two decades.

The medical marijuana movement has picked up considerable momentum in recent years. The Drug Enforcement Administration, however, continues to place marijuana in the most dangerous category of narcotics, with no accepted medical use.

Congress for years had resisted calls to allow states to chart their own path on pot. The marijuana measure, which forbids the federal government from using any of its resources to impede state medical marijuana laws, was previously rejected half a dozen times. When Washington, D.C., voters approved medical marijuana in 1998, Congress used its authority over the city’s affairs to block the law from taking effect for 11 years.

 

Even as Congress has shifted ground on medical marijuana, lawmakers remain uneasy about full legalization. A separate amendment to the spending package, tacked on at the behest of anti-marijuana crusader Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), will jeopardize the legalization of recreational pot in Washington, D.C., which voters approved last month.

Marijuana proponents nonetheless said they felt more confident than ever that Congress was drifting toward their point of view.

“The war on medical marijuana is over,” said Bill Piper, a lobbyist with the Drug Policy Alliance, who called the move historic.

“Now the fight moves on to legalization of all marijuana,” he said. “This is the strongest signal we have received from Congress [that] the politics have really shifted. … Congress has been slow to catch up with the states and American people, but it is catching up.”

The measure, which Rohrabacher championed with Rep. Sam Farr, a Democrat from Carmel, had the support of large numbers of Democrats for years. Enough Republicans joined them this year to put it over the top. When the House first passed the measure earlier this year, 49 Republicans voted aye.

Some Republicans are pivoting off their traditional anti-drug platform at a time when most voters live in states where medical marijuana is legal, in many cases as a result of ballot measures.

Polls show that while Republican voters are far less likely than the broader public to support outright legalization, they favor allowing marijuana for medical use by a commanding majority. Legalization also has great appeal to millennials, a demographic group with which Republicans are aggressively trying to make inroads.

Approval of the pot measure comes after the Obama administration directed federal prosecutors last year to stop enforcing drug laws that contradict state marijuana policies. Since then, federal raids of marijuana merchants and growers who are operating legally in their states have been limited to those accused of other violations, such as money laundering.

“The federal government should never get in between patients and their medicine,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland).

Beatles Albums to Go on Streaming Services Starting at Midnight

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/arts/music/beatles-fans-start-your-streaming-playlists.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=wide-thumb&module=mini-moth&region=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-below&_r=0

Happy holidays from the Beatles: As of 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24, the band’s music will finally be available on streaming services worldwide.

The group announced the news in a 35-second video featuring a medley of its biggest hits that kicks off to the sound of the 1963 single “She Loves You.” An accompanying news release simply said: “Happy Crimble, with love from us to you.”

However, the surviving members of the group, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with Universal Music Group, which controls the band’s recorded music, made no statements other than the fact that the Beatles’ catalog — 13 original albums and four compilations — will now be playable on nine subscription streaming music services: Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, Deezer, Microsoft Groove, Napster/Rhapsody and Slacker Radio.

Happy Christmas! From The Immortal Jukebox

Christmas is a time for celebration. A time for tradition – for the tried and tested. There is enormous pleasure to be harvested from the repetition of personal and family rituals.

Through these we reassure ourselves that whatever the trials of the year now concluding that, all in all, all is well and shall be well.

I’ll raise my glass to that and institute an Immortal Jukebox tradition of wishing all my readers a happy and peaceful Christmas and a new year that brings all you are hoping for by reblogging the final post of the Christmas Cornucopia featuring the incomparable Judy Garland, Bob Dylan and Charles Dickens.

First, the Keeper of American Song, Bob Dylan, with his inimitable spoken word rendition of Clement Moore’s, ‘The Night Before Christmas’.

It is safe to say that Bob’s pronunciation of the word ‘Mouse’ has never been matched in the history of the dramatic arts!

Of course, in the process of his more than 50 year career Bob has continually been reinventing himself and in so doing has gloriously renewed American culture.

The clip, above comes from his wonderful, ‘Theme Time’ radio show where over a 100 episodes he displayed an encyclopaedic knowledge of twentieth century popular music and a wicked sense of humour.

Bob also recorded for the season at hand the deeply heartfelt, ‘Christmas In The Heart’ album which gets better and more extraordinary with every hearing.

It is clear that Bob, who is well aware that it’s not dark yet (but it’s getting there) is consciously rounding out his career by assuming the mantle of the grand old man of American Music tipping his hat to every tradition (hence Shadows In The Night – his wonderful Sinatra covers CD).

The only safe thing to say about Bob is that he will have a few surprises for us yet!

Now we turn to Judy Garland with a Christmas song without peer, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. Her singing on this song seems to me to be almost miraculous.

It’s as if her singing really came from the secret chambers of the heart all the rest of us keep under guard. No wonder she has such a deep impact on us – we know she is expressing a profound truth about the human condition – our need to love and know we are loved.

Judy Garland paid a high price in terms of personal happiness for living her life and art with such an exposed heart and soul but she fulfilled a vocation given to very few and left an indelible mark on her age and will surely do for aeons to come.

Today, not a poem but the concluding passages from, ‘A Christmas Carol’ by the incomparable Charles Dickens – a writer for all seasons and situations.

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‘Hallo!’ growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as near as he could feign it. What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?

‘I am very sorry, sir’ said Bob, ‘I am behind my time,’

‘You are?’ repeated Scrooge. ‘Yes. I think you are. Step this way, sir, if you please.’

‘It’s only once a year, sir,’ pleaded Bob, appearing from the Tank. ‘It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir.’

‘Now I’ll tell you what my friend, said Scrooge, I am not going to stand that sort of thing any longer. And therefore, he continued, leaping from his stool and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again, and therefore I am about to raise your salary!’

Bob trembled and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.

‘A merry Christmas Bob!’ said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back.

‘A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!’

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.

Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed; and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards, and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.

May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, Every One!

And who am I to do anything other than echo Mr Dickens and Tiny Tim?

So, to all the readers of the Jukebox I wish you a peaceful and joyous feast – however you choose to celebrate it. God bless us, Every One!

The Immortal Jukebox

Christmas is a time for celebration. A time for tradition – for the tried and tested. There is enormous pleasure to be harvested from the repetition of personal and family rituals.

Through these we reassure ourselves that whatever the trials of the year now concluding that, all in all, all is well and shall be well.

I’ll raise my glass to that and institute an Immortal Jukebox tradition of wishing all my readers a happy and peaceful Christmas and a new year that brings all you are hoping for by reblogging the final post of the Christmas Cornucopia featuring the incomparable Judy Garland, Bob Dylan and Charles Dickens.

First, the Keeper of American Song, Bob Dylan, with his inimitable spoken word rendition of Clement Moore’s, ‘The Night Before Christmas’.

It is safe to say that Bob’s pronunciation of the word ‘Mouse’ has never been matched in the history of the…

View original post 822 more words

WHAT TRUMP SAID ABOUT HILLARY

 

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Trump said that Hillary got “Schlonged” by Obama in the 2008 election. “She was favored to win, and she got schlonged,” Trump said, turning a vulgar Jewish noun for a large penis into a verb. Schlong means the same thing as schmuck, but I neither word is used in Yiddish used as a verb. The Washington Post has a good linguistic analysis. You  would not say someone was “schmucked.”

schlong

SHlôNG,-ˌläNG/

noun

US
vulgar slang
  1. a man’s penis.