Residents of the Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Japan were privy to the amazing sight of lightning striking an ash cloud from an active volcano, with a powerful bolt cascading through thick, darkened fumes.
A photographer with Reuters was able to capture the once-in-a-lifetime image on camera, seen above. More photography revealed the scale of the eruption. Residents of surrounding villages reportedly were drawn from their homes to watch, even as the dangerous phenomenon occurred within miles.
Sakurajima is the most active volcano in Japan, and accounts describe the natural formation as erupting “constantly” since 1955. Academics have expressed concern that the site could explode in a “major” eruption in the near future, potentially endangering citizens who live on the southern tip of Japan’s Kyushu island.
Lightning striking in the proximity of an active volcano is not unprecedented, with some scientists speculating that the release of gases from the natural formation attracts lightning. It’s thought that the billowing and dense release of gases creates statis energy that draws lightning. Photographers have captured images of lightning striking the active volcano of Volcan de Fuego in Mexico before.
Volcanoes are notoriously difficult for scientists to study, with attempts to document volcanic eruptions at the scene having ended in death previously. A volcanologist who observed the infamous and devastating eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington in 1980 was killed by the blast-despite witnessing it from an observation post more than six miles away from the summit’s explosion.
Volcanoes are plentiful in Japan, which is situated on the other side of the ‘Pacific Rim’ which features American volcanoes. There are no reports of injuries occurring as a result of the Sakurajima eruption.
Baghdad Bombings Could Give Biden Administration Excuse to Increase US Presence in Iraq
The first major Baghdad bombings in three years happen on Joe Biden’s first full day as president.
Two suicide bombings rocked a marketplace in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 32 people and wounding over 100. As of now no one has claimed responsibility, although Iraqi military leaders suspect the Islamic State, the paramilitary group often referred to as “ISIS” in years past.
Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji said that the first suicide bomber shouted in the marketplace that he was not feeling well, and when a group of people drew near him, he detonated an explosive belt he was wearing. Not long after that, a second suicide bomber then detonated his own belt several feet away.
This was Baghdad’s first major bombing in three years, and interestingly enough it came on the first full day of Joe Biden’s presidency. Even the Associated Press pointed out that “many questioned the timing of the attack.”
“The US-led coalition recently ceased combat activities and is gradually drawing down its troop presence in Iraq,” the article reads.
The Jerusalem Post also writes that the bombings provide Biden with “an early opportunity to show US support for Iraq.”
“Biden has said that the US is ‘back’ and the world can expect the US to care again about foreign policy and work multilaterally to solve problems,” said the Post.
All this leads many to believe that the Biden administration will once again increase the US presence in Iraq, thereby dragging us deeper into a situation that the Trump administration had been eager to get out of.
This is not the first time that a Middle Eastern tragedy has coincided with a change of power. In March of 2017, two months after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Assad government in Syria allegedly used chemical weapons against its own people, leading to international outcry and the Trump administration’s unilateral decision to launch an April 7 missile strike on the Syrian government’s Shayrat Airbase.
Bombings and attacks have also been known to happen shortly after the US announces commitments to scale back military operations.
Perhaps groups like the Islamic State feel emboldened by such announcements and power changes. In any case, the military-industrial complex often uses such attacks to justify never-ending involvement in the Middle East. As of now, however, it still remains to be seen what they will do as a result of Thursday’s bombings, if anything. Fingers crossed that it’s not much.
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