TIME animals

No, A Super Volcano Is Not About To Erupt In Yellowstone

Viral videos showing bison apparently fleeing Yellowstone National Park are not a sign that a super-volcano will be erupting soon, park officials said. "It's a natural occurrence and not the end of the world,” said a park spokesperson

Yellowstone National Park dismissed claims Friday that a super-volcano located underneath the park would erupt soon. A YouTube video showing bison running away from the park sparked rumors that the animals were attempting to avoid an eruption.

The rumors began swirling following a 4.8 magnitude earthquake, which occurred on Sunday in the northwest section of Yellowstone, Reuters reports. The quake was the largest to strike the park since 1980, which led people to believe the volcano, which has a 50 foot long and 30 mile wide mouth, could be erupting sooner than the thousands of years it had been predicted to lie dormant.

But scientists have said the possibility of the volcano erupting is slim. “The chance of that happening in our lifetimes is exceedingly insignificant,” Peter Cervelli, a scientist with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, told Reuters.

As for the galloping bison, Yellowstone spokesperson Amy Bartlett said they were simply running deeper into the park. “It was a spring-like day and they were frisky. Contrary to online reports, it’s a natural occurrence and not the end of the world,” Bartlett said.

[Reuters]

TIME Controversies

WATCH: House Hearing On IRS Scandal Descends Into Shouting Match

Heated debate between Reps Elijah Cummings and Darrell Issa during hearing

Tempers flared during a House hearing on the IRS scandal Wednesday, as a top Democrat and Republican found themselves entangled in an impassioned dispute after former IRS official Lois Lerner refused to testify.

Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment rights once again Wednesday, refusing to answer questions from the the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about her role in allegedly singling out Tea Party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. Lerner pleaded the Fifth at a hearing last year and did so again when she was called back to testify this week.

Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) then quickly adjourned the hearing, but as his gavel struck the lectern, ranking Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said he had a procedural question.

Issa ignored Cummings and got up to leave, but not before the two got into a heated argument.

“Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this,” Cummings said.

Issa spoke over him, and gestured for the microphone to be turned off.

“I am a member of the Congress of the United States. I am tired of this,” Cummings continued as the microphone switched off.

Cummings later told TIME he wasn’t surprised at Issa’s behavior. “It’s not unusual, not with him,” he said. “He has shut off the mic before, not my mic but other members of the committee. I can think of at least one time within the last month where he has shut off somebody’s mic, and this is on national T.V.”

“I think people are shocked that members of Congress would be treated that way,” Cummings added.

Issa later accused Cummings of slandering him. “The fact is Mr. Cummings came to make a point of his objections to the process we’ve been going through,” he told Politico. “He was actually slandering me at the point that the microphone went off by claiming that this had not been a real investigation.”

The IRS has been accused by Republican lawmakers of unfairly targeting Tea Party and conservative groups who have applied for tax-exempt status, but others counter the IRS rightly applies additional scrutiny to politically-affiliated groups, which are not supposed to be tax-exempt if political activities are their primary purpose.

Watch the debate between Issa and Cummings here:

[Fox News]

Additional reporting by Alex Rogers

TIME Controversies

NYC Mayor Says Biden’s Airport Snub ‘Inappropriate’

Bill De Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks after being sworn in on the steps of City Hall in Lower Manhattan January 1, 2014 in New York. Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images

Bill de Blasio sticks up for La Guardia airport

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio stood up Friday for his city’s airports after Vice President Joe Biden said LaGuardia Airport could be confused for one in a third-world country.

“Not his finest moment,” the newly-elected Democratic mayor said Friday when asked about Biden’s comments.

“I respect the vice president but I think his comments were inappropriate,” de Blasio told reporters at a news conference. “LaGuardia, obviously, needs an upgrade. But that being said, the airport manages an extraordinary amount of traffic, and the people who work there make it work under very difficult circumstances and so as a proud New Yorker, I didn’t like that comment and I think it was not the right way to talk about it.”

Lamenting the United States’ decaying infrastructure during an event Thursday in Philadelphia, Biden said: “If I blindfolded someone and took them at two in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said, ‘where do you think you are,’ they’d say, ‘this must be America, it’s a modern airport.’ If I took you and blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think, ‘I must be in some third-world country.’”

De Blasio on Friday defended the airport’s employees. His ties to former Secretary of State and potential 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton, for whom he worked as Senate campaign manager in 2000, could be coloring de Blaio’s strong rebuke of Biden. Former President Bill Clinton presided at de Blasio’s inauguration earlier this year. Biden is flirting with his own bid for the Oval Office, telling CNN this week that he will make a decision next year.

[Hat-tip to Newsday‘s Matthew Chayes]

TIME Controversies

University President Explains World War I Anti-Pornography Video

This week a video about pornography produced at the Idaho campus of Brigham Young University went viral, and not in the usual way pornography videos go viral.

Set to a voiceover from the university’s president Kim Clark, the video interchanged World War I reenactment footage with the tale of a lonely college student who struggles with an affection for Internet porn, only to be saved by his dorm mate who helps him seek treatment. The online response was swift and unanimous. The Huffington Post proclaimed the video compared “self pleasure to war.” Mediate announced “BYU Implores Students To Report Masturbating Friends.” As the Daily Beast put it, “The Mormon university is urging its students to narc on chronic masturbators.”

For Clark, the sudden online attention missed the point completely. “Neither my talk nor the video has anything to do with masturbation. There’s nothing in the video or in my talk about that,” Clark said, in an interview with TIME Thursday. “We were really focused on addictions, pornography, things that are really damaging spiritually to people.”

The story behind the film actually begins with a devotional talk that Clark gave to students six years ago. Brigham Young University is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, a religion known for its conservative sexual values. At the time of Clark’s talk, the Rexburg Temple was about to open near the campus, and Clark wanted to talk to students about how to prepare themselves to be pure for the temple, and especially how to prepare eventually to be married there.

Clark drew on three passages from the Bible for that talk. First, Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan to show why you should not ignore your neighbor in need. Second, from the book of Revelation, where John writes about the casualties of a Great War over good and evil in heaven. The LDS church believes that all humans had a pre-mortal life, and the battles over good and evil on earth—and things like addiction and sin—stem from this first Great War in heaven. Third, the Apostle Paul’s message to Christians to wear the full armor of God, a spiritual armor of faith and truth to fight dark powers.

Clark then gave an example of what these passages are important for spiritual life today. “A lonely, confused young man gets addicted to pornography…the young man is spiritually wounded on the battlefield of the Great War…his roommates know, but they do nothing to help him,” he said. “You can help the spiritually wounded find the Savior.”

Five years later, Clark’s speech was used in an educational video for BYU’s student living program, which stresses communal responsibility. Students decided to create the video to share how important it is to help their peers—and they chose Clark’s 2008 speech as the spiritual voiceover for their spiritual message. The housing office showed the video on campus in a devotional last month. It was posted on YouTube, and it soon spread to meet the criticism of the non-Mormon world.

On Thursday, TIME spoke with Clark about why the message of the video is important for students, the harm that pornography and masturbation can cause and how they fit in LDS teaching. Here’s what he had to say.

Do the church and the school see masturbation as a sin?

Well, it is interesting. I would frame it this way. Masturbation is a behavior that, if continued, could over time lead to things that are sinful, so the counsel that the church gives to its leaders is to counsel with young people to help them understand that their bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost. That comes right out of Corinthians, that is what Paul taught, and it is a beautiful doctrine—that our bodies are a great gift from God and we need to take good care of them, and that the procreative powers that God has given us, he cares very much about how they are used, and so that we need to learn to use them in ways that are in accordance with his will and his mind.

Is there are larger effort on the part of the school to educate young people on the dangers of pornography?

There certainly is the larger effort, meaning, helping our young people live a righteous life. Pornography is one of the addictions that if not dealt with and addressed can lead to very, very serious problems. Because we live in a world where the media is just saturated with sexuality, and where lots of things that are out there in the mainstream are pornographic, we felt it important to teach people and to help our students understand the dangers out there. . . . Pornography is like a plague in our society. We want to educate our young people to be aware of that. That is also true of drugs, alcohol, sexual activity before marriage. Lying, cheating, stealing. But pornography is particularly salient in this media-saturated world.

Do you find that students suffer a lot of guilt when it comes to pornography? Is that a problem?

Oh yeah. Absolutely. One of the characteristics of people who get involved in pornography is that it is done in the dark. It is something people try to hide. Oh yeah, they feel very guilty. Because they know, it is like anyone who gets caught in bad choices they make or situations where they choose to do things that are not right. We have really great young people here. I mean these are great young people. Sometimes they make mistakes or make bad choices and yeah they feel guilty and often work very hard to hide what they are doing. That is true of everyone who gets involved with pornography.

What do you do to help students overcome those feelings of guilt?

Feelings of guilt are very useful. You do not want them to get rid of the guilt by anything other than turning to what is right. The real question is, what are we doing to help them caught in the situation? What are we doing to help them get help? Where they can turn to light? So actually guilt is there. It is the part of this wonderful blessing that God has given us, that we have a conscience, that when we do things that are wrong, we feel guilty. It’s like pain in the body, spiritual pain. What we try to teach the young people is, there is a redeemer, he is real, and there is hope, because he has power over all things.

What advice would you give to other campuses could be doing to address the issue?

One, draw on the fundamental beliefs and principles that are in the institution. The second is to encourage this spirit of concern for one another and love, and then to teach the students to be aware of one another and courageous enough to take action. It all comes back to the parable of the Good Samaritan.

What’s the attitude on campus now that the video has taken such a different public turn?

If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have to expect that from time to time you will be the recipient of scorn and ridicule, because you believe things and know things are true that are not fashionable and that other people will poke fun at and even ridicule or heap scorn on you. When it happens, say, well, that’s okay. That’s what we believe, we know it is true, and we stay the course.

TIME Controversies

What You Missed While Not Watching the Bill Nye and Ken Ham Creation Debate

Bill Nye
TV's "Science Guy" Bill Nye speaks during a debate on evolution with Creation Museum head Ken Ham, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Petersburg, Ky. ASSOCIATED PRESS / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Here it is. All 150 minutes of it.

-13 minutes. The online countdown clock races toward zero. Dramatic music with a heavy bass line begins to play. Hashtags sprout in Twitterspace: #HamOnNye. #CreationDebate. #NyevSham. One could easily add, #OMGWeAreDebatingCreationIn2014. Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a long 150-minute return of the culture wars, because creationist Ken Ham is about to debate Bill Nye the Science Guy.

-5 minutes. The epic Braveheart-Lord-of-the-Rings-style soundtrack intensifies. Only thing missing is a sweeping camera pan over the horizon as Frodo travels on toward Mount Doom. Ham and his PR team are firing away tweet after tweet about the debate and its importance. Nye, meanwhile, has tweeted about it only once. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweets for prayers that the debate will reveal God’s truth.

0 minutes. A cartoon camel, a T-Rex, and a flying monkey flash across the screen. It’s a surprise ad for the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY, Ham’s (unaccredited) $27-million museum that is the site for the debate. Kids under 12 are free in 2014!

30 seconds. The feed takes us live inside the museum’s Legacy Hall, where a lucky 900 people managed to score tickets to the event before they sold out in two minutes. Some 750,000 other people are watching the debate online. At least according to Ham’s evangelistic organization, Answers in Genesis.

1 minute. CNN’s Tom Foreman appears out of the darkness. He’s moderator, and the guy who wrote Obama a letter every day for four years. This isn’t exactly the same as moderating a presidential debate, but tonight’s symposium gets at something far more important: the origin of life. Foreman introduces the topic at hand: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”

2 minutes. Nye, in his signature bowtie, and Ham, with his Aussie accent, hop on stage, shake hands, and ready themselves behind their respective Apple laptops (only Nye’s has stickers). Nye stands on the left. Ham is on the right. The cameras pan to an all-white audience.

4 minutes. Ham won the coin toss, so he’s up first with an opening statement: the word science has been hijacked, hijacked by secularists. America’s textbooks have been indoctrinated by Darwin, and we need to take back the terms. He starts listing scientists who believe biblical creationism, and he’s got a slide show to back it up. His voice races as he talks about Raymond Damadian, the inventor of the MRI machine, who is a biblical creationist. Nye just stares at him.

9 minutes. Ham gets in his first Bible references. They are, predictably, about Jesus, not the creation story.

10 minutes. Now it’s Nye’s turn. He launches into an unrelated and awkward story about how someone taught his father to tie a bow tie by making him lie down on a bed.

13 minutes. Moving right along, Nye drops the first references to fossils and the Grand Canyon. The world is not 6000 years old as Ham believes, Nye says. And if America doesn’t get its act together to listen to scientific evidence, it won’t stay ahead. America’s future depends on evolution.

15 minutes. Now Nye and Ham each get 30 minutes (!) to present their full arguments. Everyone who has ever worked in presidential politics is drooling over the generosity of those allocations.

16 minutes. Ham starts saying the words “science” and “observe” so many times I lose count. He is clicking through slide after slide of atheists who are great scientists and scientists who believe the earth is 6,000 years old. The MRI scanner guy story appears on a video again. Then someone else says he and other scientists are afraid to speak out for creationism because they will face persecution. These are Ham’s freedom fighters. “I encourage children to follow people like that and make them their heroes,” Ham announces.

21 minutes. Next point. There’s a difference between what you observe in science today and the making a conclusion about science of the past. Lots of slides of vaccines and smoke detectors and other important inventions. We can agree about technology that put the rover on Mars, Ham says, but we can disagree about the origins of Mars. “We’ve only got the present,” he explains.

23 minutes. Cue graphic of Nye and Ham fighting in a tug of war over a globe of the earth with animals and skulls coming out of it. This image is supposed to represent the fact that both Ham and Nye have the same evidence. It instead looks like toddlers fighting over a balloon.

26 minutes. Ham gives a shout out to his museum’s display of Darwin’s finches. Finches come from a common finch, Ham argues, not another common animal. That’s why Noah only needed one species of dog on the ark. “Dogs will always be dogs, finches will always be finches,” he says. Cuz the Bible. And a recent University of California study. Lots of furrowed brows in the crowd.

30 minutes. Apple is still getting great product placement out of this debate.

34 minutes. Darwin taught that there were higher and lower races — not ok, says Ham. If he had started from the Bible, he’d have realized that Caucasians weren’t the top race. He skips any mention of the fact that the Bible was used to justify slavery for centuries.

36 minutes. Students are being indoctrinated by the confusion of terms. “You can’t observe the age of the earth. You can’t see that.” The camera finally finds the first African American face in the audience.

39 minutes. Time for Ham’s “Seven C’s” of life: Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation. And no, consummation is not the sex kind. Consummation is heaven. (But speaking of sex, stick around for minute 64 — that’s when talk about fish sex starts. Just wait for it.)

46 minutes. Nye begins: “I learned something. Thank you.” He fails to define “something.”

47 minutes. Nye holds up a chunk of dirt. Limestone actually. Kentucky limestone. He found it today, and says it couldn’t have existed if “Mr. Ham’s flood” really happened only 4,000 years ago. “Mr. Ham” is taking notes off to the side.

53 minutes. Nye explains the Kangaroo conundrum. If there was a kangaroo on Noah’s ark, and Noah’s ark landed somewhere in the middle east, and kangaroos ended up in Australia, why haven’t we found kangaroo bones somewhere between Sinai and Australia? “Somebody would have been hopping along there and died and we’d find him.” Something like that.

58 minutes. “Go Seahawks. That was very gratifying for me.” #NyeNonsequitor

59 minutes. Back to explaining why rock formations in Oregon prove Nye’s side of the story.

60 minutes. We’ve made an hour. Crack your neck. Stretch your shoulders. We aren’t halfway done yet. You need all your strength to press on.

64 minutes. Nye says “traditional fish sex” and grabs everyone’s attention. Traditional fish sex is different from the sex that fish have with themselves, he is explaining (and not yet explaining why this is relevant to his point). Nye is now asking: “Why does anybody have sex?” Why don’t humans just make like a rosebush and produce a flower? Or divide like bacteria? How sexy. Nye calls that question a real “chinstroker.” The twitterverse is already talking about “fishionary” position. But never fear! Evolution has the answer: species that reproduce sexually have fewer parasites. How about that for motivation to get it on.

68 minutes. Nye is now talking about the Hubble telescope. But it’s impossible to stop thinking about why he brought up fish sex.

77 minutes. Our fearless moderator chimes in with six words everyone’s been thinking “That’s a lot to take in.” Yup. So, on to the rebuttals. And counter rebuttals. And the Q. And the A.

78 minutes. Ham defends the age of the earth using Hebrew definitions of the word “day” in the Bible. Then there’s something about 45,000 year-old wood being found in millions-of-years old basalt rock that proves his point. “There’s no dating method you can use that you can absolutely age date a rock,” he concludes. Plus there’s only one witness that was actually there, who can actually say the truth about what happened in the past: the Word of God.

83 minutes. Ham starts his rebuttal. My livestream freezes, and then flashes neon yellow streaks, thanks to the more than 500,000 people who are tuning in as well. It pops back on in time for me to hear Nye ask Ham if all animals were vegetarian before they got on Noah’s ark.

94 minutes. The theory of evolution now appears to be hinging upon Noah’s construction skills. Ham insists that even his New England shipbuilding ancestors could not have built a ship like that. Ham: “Why would you say Noah was unskilled? I didn’t meet Noah. Neither did you.” Drop the mic, Ham. Drop the mic.

97 minutes. Nye keeps insisting that America will fail at innovation unless people believe in evolution. America’s future is at stake! Maybe that’s why no one in the audience is laughing.

98 minutes. Now its time to move faster, says Foreman. He’s shuffling the Q&A cards. Fingers crossed that he’s right.

99 minutes. Question one for Ham: How does creationism account for celestial bodies? Ham answer: Easy. God. Perfect moment to launch into what sounds very much like an altar call. Ham is resurrecting his image as the defender of the faith to the big secular world.

102 minutes. Next question for Nye: How did the atoms that created the big bang get there? “This is the great mystery.” Nye, cornered by the creationists. Check.

105 minutes. Ham chimes in: There actually is a book that says where matter comes from: it’s called the Bible. Mic drop #2 for Ham. Nye doesn’t flinch.

109 minutes. Another question for Nye: How did consciousness come from matter? “Don’t know! This is a great mystery!” Mic drop #3 for Ham, even though Nye goes on and on about how much he loves mysteries.

112 minutes: Ham chimes in again: There’s a book that says where consciousness comes from too. Bet you can’t guess what that is…

120 minutes. The light. It’s at the end of the tunnel. Just 30 minutes to go before you will finally understand the origins of life. And get to go to sleep. And stop thinking about traditional fish sex.

121 minutes. Ham points out, yet again, that there are scientific papers, “very technical papers,” on his website that explain real science. Which is creationism. Because he’s freeing the hijacked “science.”

123 minutes: Surprise question: In one word, what’s your favorite color? Because that solves the mysteries of life.

124 minutes. Nye: “Green,” and then he launches into an explanation of the irony that plants reflect green light. This gives Foreman his one shining moment to moderate: “Did I not say one word answer?” Ham’s turn: “Can I have three words since he had 300? Observational science: blue.” It’s his best line of the night.

133 minutes: Question for Ham: Do you believe the entire Bible should be taken literally? He dodges the trap. He takes the whole Bible “naturally,” not “literally.” There’s a difference. Basically, a difference that means, as he says, there were a lot of problems when men used Scripture to justify marrying multiple women.

146 minutes. FINAL QUESTION! What is the one thing more than anything else upon which you base your belief? Why don’t you guess what each man said. If you said, “The Bible” for Ham and “Science” for Nye, you are right! Nye sneaks in, for at least the fifth time, that the United States will be left standing by other countries if it doesn’t listen to science and teach real science in schools.

150 minutes. Ham and Nye agree on one thing: punctuality. 9:30pm and we are out. Foreman warns people there’s a level-two snow emergency outside. Your #TBT(uesday) to the ‘90s creation culture wars is complete. You survived. Now go get some sleep.

Excerpts From the Debate:

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