Reading Around the Internet: November 17, 2014

Happy Monday! It’s cold and snowy this morning in southeast Missouri — unseasonably cold, unseasonably snowy. That said, we only have a little snow on the ground. Compared to points north of here, that is nothing to complain about…  It’s been known to happen

In the meantime, here’s some interesting news for those of you interested in disaster management. I’ve got earthquake swarms, more volcano eruptions, and an Ebola update that is focused on the not so little question of who will pay containment costs…


Kansas had a 4.8 earthquake over the weekend. Here are some photos. It hit Witchita and the southern part of the state. Since then, they’ve had a few more ranging from 2.4 to 3.8 in intensity.  The state has recorded more than 90 earthquakes in the past year.

Meanwhile, northwestern Nevada has been experiencing an earthquake swarm as well.  According to USA Today, since early July, there have been some 750 earthquakes in the area, mostly with a magnitude between 2.0 and 3.0, and a few a little higher. Geologists say that there is a slightly elevated risk of a larger earthquake (above a 5.0) while the swarm is active, but the swarm is not necessarily an indicator that a big earthquake is coming.

In the meantime, on November 14th, a 7.1 quake hit the waters off the coast of Indonesia. It triggered a small tsunami, and was felt in several cities in the region.


On Saturday morning, Mount Pavlov in Alaska sent an ash plume 30,000 feet up and into the air.  As the LA Times reports, the lava flow from Kilauea has advanced slowly on the town and is now about 200 yards away. It is not yet posing an immediate threat on the residents of the town Pahoa, but Hawaii Civil Defense continues to monitor the situation as the lava edges closer and closer.

Over in Iceland, the volcano eruption there has been observed by what the National Geographic refers to as “intrepid visitors”.  Apparently, there’s a burgeoning tourist industry around this volcano’s activity. (Maybe I need to get on a plane and go — would love to photograph this…).


This morning, The Hill reports that on Sunday Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called upon the federal government to pay for the costs of containing Ebola in New York City: “Local taxpayers should not foot the whole bill for handling this infectious disease that may have been physically present in New York City, but was truly a threat to the whole nation.”  According to The Hill, NYC spent $20 million, and Dallas spent $1 million in their containment efforts. The Hill has links to other stories of interest on this topic.

Reading Around the Internet: October 26, 2014

Happy Halloween! And for everyone experiencing the beauty of autumn, as we are here in Cape Girardeau, I hope you get outside to enjoy it!

This week’s Reading Around the Internet isn’t just about disasters or property. I’ve included a summary of a piece about the judicial selection process as well as upcoming elections, since both are matters that can have a direct impact on the various topics we blog about:

Obama’s Appointments to the Federal Judiciary

Who our judges are matters a lot, or at least most political scientists think so. Yet one thing we also know: it’s not as easy as thinking that, when the President is a Democrat, he’ll nominate liberals; and when the President is a Republic he nominates conservatives. Different presidents have had different agendas with the courts. Jeffrey Toobin, writing in The New Yorker, takes a look at President Obama’s nominees. Toobin asked President Obama what he thought the most significant decision was at the Supreme Court during his time in office. The answer surprised Toobin, causing him to comment, “In other words, Obama’s favorite decision was one in which the Court allowed the political process to go forward, one state at a time. There’s more good material than this in the article — definitely worth the read.

(In the name of full disclosure, Professor Sheldon Goldman, who is quoted in the piece, was one of my most important professors in graduate school — he’s also one of the foremost experts in the US on judicial selection. But no, I am not recommending it just because he’s quoted — it really is an interesting piece about a very important topic.)

Pondering Preparedness Post-Sandy

Jennifer Peltz and Wayne Parry take a close look at disaster preparedness after Sandy in the region hit by that superstorm. Peltz and Parry argue that, though a lot of effort has been put into preparations, and a lot of preparations have been made, there’s still much to do. Work on floodgates, backup power systems at the hospitals, and the installation of generators at gas stations, as well as redrawn evacuation-zone maps have been produced since Sandy. However, a lot of work has yet to be completed, and so many areas remain vulnerable.


We do in fact have an election on the horizon! The Christian Science Monitor reports that environmental groups, in a bid to make climate change a bipartisan issue, have begun to Republic party candidates. Not all Republicans are getting this support, but key Republicans are. When you read this, keep an eye on the part in the article that describes the environmental groups’ fundraising structure. They have deeper pockets now than in past years, says the article, partly because of some changes in strategy.

Ebola Vaccine

Several countries are working to develop a vaccine for Ebola. The Guardian reports on the progress, as well as providing some of the history of the virus and analysis of the dangers it poses.


Hawaii’s Klauea volcano has been producing a lava flow for quite some time, but recently the lava flow has picked up speed. As it advances on the small town of Pahoa in the Puna district of the Big Island, residents are being warned that evacuation may be necessary within the next few days. has some good coverage, and as it often does, some great photos. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory also provides daily updates here. In the meantime, Hawai’i’s governor has requested federal aid to supplement his state’s own preparations. Keep in mind that Hawai’i has also experienced torrential rains and flooding after being hit by tropical storms — and the storm season is not yet over.