CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Iceland is where we begin today`s commercial free show. I`m Carl Azuz. Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS. Volcanologists are people who study all things volcanic, they`ve been keeping a close eye on a rural area of eastern Iceland, because it`s been a hot spot for earthquakes and volcanic activity. It`s been going on for nearly a month now. We`ve talked about the Bardarbunga Volcano, it`s the largest volcanic system in Iceland. Here`s what it`s been doing.
Volcanic ash has not been a major problem yet, though volcanologists are warning it could become one. The immediate effects are lava fissures and gas. Miles away, children and people with the respiratory problems have been told to stay indoors with the windows closed. Sulfur dioxide from the eruption is polluting the air in some Icelandic cities. And this isn`t limited to the island country of Iceland. Even across the Norwegian Sea, there`s a nasty smell in the air. Experts say the stench of sulfur is drifting from Iceland to Norway and Finland.
The U.S. military has been sending surveillance flights over Syria as it prepares expected airstrikes against the ISIS terrorist group. Over the weekend, ISIS murdered a British citizen who was captured in Syria saying it was Britain`s alliance with the U.S.
President Obama says he will not send U.S. troops into Syria to fight ISIS. But critics say his current strategy won`t be enough to defeat the terrorists. Congress is debating whether to support President Obama`s plan to arm Syria`s rebels. They are fighting both ISIS and Syria`s government in the civil war. It`s a complicated situation, especially when it comes to Syria.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Obama administration is comparing military action against ISIS to other ongoing operations against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and against al Shabaab in Somalia, and there are similarities. Both of those campaigns taking place largely from the air, no real U.S. presence on the ground, and also both of those campaigns taking place in largely lawless countries like you`re seeing in Syria today.
But the planned operations against ISIS have differences. For one, they are more ambitious. Just in the last month in Iraq the U.S. has carried out more airstrikes than it`s carried out in year in Yemen or in Somalia. And there are particular problems in Syria that make the campaign against ISIS more difficult.
For one, the civil war in Syria is particularly confusing. The enemy is ISIS, but ISIS`s chief rival, the Government of Bashar al-Assad is also an American enemy. What happens if and when the battle against ISIS is over? Because the U.S. go after Assad then as well.
The U.S. also has very difficult allies on the ground. In Syria, the moderate Syrian rebels there have not proven very effective in fighting ISIS on their own. In Iraq, the Iraqi Army as well has not made any significant gains against ISIS and if they are own problems, in fact, running away, dropping their uniforms when ISIS first advanced, will those allies in both Syria and Iraq prove to be reliable allies going forward?
Another challenge here is what is the endgame? The president has said his goal is to degrade and destroy ISIS. The U.S., for instance in Afghanistan has been going after these groups for 13 years and al Qaeda still survives. In Yemen, AQAP still survives, Al Shabaab in Somalia. After years of military action, we`ll that be the same with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, that`s still an open question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for the Shoutout, which of the following objects is 93 million miles away from you? If you think, you know it, shout it out! Is it the International Space Station, the Sun, Mercury or Moon. You`ve got three seconds, go.
It`s the Sun. It`s so far away that its light takes more than eight minutes to reach your eye. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.
AZUZ: So, should you be concerned about something that happens some 93 million miles away? 100 years ago the answer was no, today the answer kind of depends. Do you use electronics? There are often storms on the Sun, there were some over the weekend. They were linked to solar flares that send magnetic gas flying toward Earth. A NASA scientist says no one on the ground was in any danger, but they could have affected some of the things we use every day.
In March of 1989, a solar storm knocked out power for the Canadian province of Quebec. It took 12 hours for the lights and everything else to come back on. What else could happen?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Now, the Sun has always been out there, there`s always been a solar wind, there`s always been solar flares, but now that we are so dependent on satellites, on GPS, on the power grid, now we`re worried about what the Sun is doing out there.
Well, the solar flare comes out very quickly and it can really disrupt radio communications, especially high latitude radio communications. But a coronal mass ejection, when it comes toward the Earth, it is sending plasma, electrons, protons, the big solar wind that will energize the magnetosphere and possibly even energize the Earth itself and that`s what we`re concerned about. Obviously, solar flares and CMEs have been hitting the Earth for billions of years, but we have now the technology in place that can be damaged by these CMEs, the satellites in place, the power grids in place. With a big CME or coronal mass ejection, we could lose the power grid, we could lose satellites, we could certainly lose GPS.
You know, we think of geomagnetic storms as being fun because we get to see the northern lights, the aurora borealis, but there`s more to it than that. It can power the grid, it can make brown-outs in our electrical grid. It can turn our satellites off and maybe we even have to manually turn them off if there is too much energy coming at them. So, think of a world at least temporarily without satellites, without GPS, without communication. A lot of things could shut down with a big CME earth directed.
AZUZ: Who`s watching CNN STUDENT NEWS? Here are three of the requests we`ve got in Friday`s transcript, we are feeling patriotic about Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada. Why? Because it`s home of the Patriots. Two states East in Florence, Colorado, we`ve got the Huskies on our roll today. And in Greenville, South Carolina at Wade Hampton High School the generals are in command.
From "Roll Call" a bit of a wake-up call. It`s likely that most of your activities online are being tracked. Everything every publicly tweeted is on file at the Library of Congress. Yes, your tweets. The websites you visit, they are helping companies try to sell you more stuff. If you have an expectation of privacy for what you do online, maybe you shouldn`t.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, did you know that you are a commodity? Yes, you are a product being bought and sold. So, the digital age means that everything you do online can be tracked, measured, stored. All of this information is called Big Data. So we are talking about the websites that your browse, for example, the surveys that you take every time you apply for a loan, and we are not kidding when we say the word ‘big’. To think about all those photos you keep posting on Facebook every ten minutes. So, to keep up with all of that information Facebook has actually built three massive data centers and it has another one on the way.
So you're constantly leaving behind all of these tiny little digital breadcrumbs, but the thing is, it`s not Hansel and Gretel keeping them up, it`s actually the government, it`s companies, it`s bank. They’re mining that big data to learn whatever they find about you. So, it`s how Target, for example, knows woman is pregnant even before she told her family and it`s how Amazon and Netflix make recommendations. And it`s why Edward Snowden sounded alarmed on the NSA. Companies say they are making our lives more convenient, the government says it`s protecting us from terrorism, but big data is big business.
And it has a dark side: So big data algorithm could actually mean that you don`t get a loan, for example, a Facebook post could cost you a job. If you are behind of your mortgage, or you are addicted online gambling for example, you could actually end up on lists sold by data brokers and targeted for shady offers.
So, I think the bottom line is that big data certainly does have the potential to help us and make our lives easier, but it could also hurt us in ways that we haven`t even thought of or we might not even realize.
AZUZ: Before we go, what`s cuter than seals and puppies? Seal pups! Two boys, two girls, all getting a second chance. They`ve been abandoned as babies, mother seals can do that if they feel threatened. So, these little ones were rescued and rehabilitated by Mystique Aquarium in Connecticut.
First, they were fed SEAL formula, not sure what`s in that, but it sounds fishy, then they were taught to fish themselves. The pups were set free last week off the coast of Rhode Island. Now, that the tide has turned, their future is an ocean of possibilities. They couldn`t wait to embark upon it, they saw the waters and jumped right inland. There was truly a sight to see. I`m Carl Azuz. That seals up another edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS.