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Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

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Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major Quake

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”
That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.
His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

Babylon the Great Threatens the Russian Horn

Igor Korotchenko. File photo

Lukashenko’s suggestion to host Russian nuclear weapons seen as response to Western threats

MOSCOW, 6 December (BelTA) – By suggesting to host Russian nuclear weapons Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has responded to the West’s threats to deploy its nuclear capabilities in Poland and the Baltic countries, editor-in-chief of the Russian magazine Natsionalnaya Oborona [National Defense] and military expert Igor Korotchenko said during the roundtable in Moscow on 6 December, BelTA has learned.

“Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko outlined a number of new initiatives in the field of military cooperation with Russia, including the possibility of hosting Russian nuclear weapons under certain circumstances,” Igor Korotchenko said. “What are we talking about? It is not about the deployment of the Strategic Missile Forces units, as it was the case in the Soviet Union. Obviously, we are talking about the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons and their carriers. This is a very sensitive subject. I would like to highlight the fact that the Belarusian president voiced such a possibility in response to statements voiced by some high-ranking Western functionaries and politicians about the possibility of sending the U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Germany and a number of other countries to Poland and, possibly, to the Baltic countries. Therefore, in response to such threats, the Belarusian side suggested hosting Russian tactical nuclear weapons.”

“In an interview to Dmitry Kiselyov, Aleksandr Lukashenko did not specify the types of carriers, warheads, their nuclear and TNT equivalent. From a military point of view, I believe this can be Russian tactical nuclear weapons and their carriers, such as modern operational-tactical missile systems, in particular Iskander-M,” the expert said.

“But this, of course, is an extreme scenario, an undesirable one. We categorically do not welcome it. But to ensure the sovereignty of the Union State, we will have to retaliate if the USA deploys its tactical nuclear weapons in Poland,” Igor Korotchenko emphasized.

The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

 Living on the Fault Line
A major earthquake isn’t likely here, but if it comes, watch out.
Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo
This chart shows the location of the Ramapo Fault System, the longest and one of the oldest systems of cracks in the earth’s crust in the Northeast. It also shows the location of all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in New Jersey during the last 50 years. The circle in blue indicates the largest known Jersey quake.
The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.
After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.
Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.
During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.
“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”
Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.
Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.
After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.
But no area on the East Coast is as densely populated or as heavily built-up as parts of New Jersey and its neighbors. For this reason, scientists refer to the Greater New York City-Philadelphia area, which includes New Jersey’s biggest cities, as one of “low earthquake hazard but high vulnerability.” Put simply, the Big One isn’t likely here—but if it comes, especially in certain locations, watch out.
Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.
Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.
The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.
For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.
Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”
The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.
The Ramapo Fault sits on the North American Plate, which extends past the East Coast to the middle of the Atlantic, where it meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range in constant flux. The consequences of this intraplate setting are huge: First, as Gates points out, “The predictability of bigger earthquakes on…[such] settings is exceedingly poor, because they don’t occur very often.” Second, the intraplate setting makes it more difficult to link our earthquakes to a major cause or fault, as monitors in California can often do.
This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”
Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”
But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.
Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.
All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.
For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.
Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the  amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.
To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.
In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial  rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.
As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)
In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.
The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (state.nj.us/dep/njgs/enviroed/hazus.htm).
Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.
Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.
This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.
“Any vulnerable structure on these weak soils would have a higher failure hazard,” Stanford says. And the scary truth is that many structures in New Jersey’s largest cities, not to mention New York City, would be vulnerable, since they’re older and built before anyone gave much thought to earthquake-related engineering and construction codes.
For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at nycem.org.)
All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or  auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.
Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”
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Planning for the Big One
For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.
In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.
Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”
Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.
This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”
A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.
“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”
Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in Mahwah, near the Ramapo Fault.

Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago
It happened before, and it could happen again.
By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg
Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM
On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.
The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.
According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.
The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.
A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:
“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”
The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.
The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.
The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.
“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”
The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.
“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.”
The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.
There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.
According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.
“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,
that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,
the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;
O turn to God; lest by his Rod,
he cast thee down to Hell.”
Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”
There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.
Well, sort of.
In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”
It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.
In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”
If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Iran fires missile near uranium facility: Daniel 8

Iran fires missile near uranium facility in Natanz after nuclear talks in Vienna

Iran fires missile near uranium facility in Natanz after nuclear talks in Vienna

Dec. 4 (UPI) — Iran fired a missile over the town of Natanz on Saturday amid ongoing international negotiations in Vienna about its nuclear program.

Gen. Shahin Taqikhani, a spokesperson for the Iranian Army, told Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting — the nation’s state media service — that the missile was fired to test the rapid response of defense systems over Natanz.

“Such exercises are carried out in a completely secure environment,” he said. “There is no need to worry.”

The semi-official Fars News Agency, which is managed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that residents reported hearing “a terrible sound” and witnessing “intense light” in the sky.

“The governor of Natanz said that exact details are not yet known. Unofficial rumors from a Fars reporter indicate the destruction of an unidentified drone,” the news agency tweeted.

The Natanz nuclear facility, which includes a uranium enrichment plant, sits about 20 miles from the town, which has a population of around 12,000 to 14,000 people.

The missile test came as talks of returning to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal appeared to be foundering.

Former President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the nuclear deal in 2018 and impose sanctions on the country.

Iran said last year that the country would no longer abide by the nuclear plan after the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani — but pledged it would rejoin the JCPOA if the United States did so, The Guardian reported at the time.

It remains unclear if either country would return to the deal after negotiations seemed to stall on Friday.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh criticized its rival Israel for “meddling” in the latest Vienna talks after Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for a halt to the negotiations, Fars News Agency reported.

“As #ViennaTalks advances, Israeli regime shows its true color again, calling for immediate halt of negotiations,” Kahtibzadeh tweeted. “Not surprising. Dialogue is always despised by the regime whose genesis is based on war, tension & terror.”

Human beings are destined to annihilate ourselves: Revelation 16

Troops from the 11th Airborne Division watch an atomic explosion at close range in the Las Vegas desert on Nov. 1, 1951.

Report: Bit by Bit, the Noose Is Tightening Around the Nuclear Weapons Industry

Humans beings are not necessarily destined to annihilate ourselves.

Jon Schwarz
December 5 2021, 8:06 a.m.

For years, the Dutch organization PAX has been issuing reports detailing the Armageddon that’s hiding in plain sight. The business of nuclear weapons — and it is in fact a business — does not for the most part take place in secret underground lairs. It is all around us, conducted by corporations and banks that might otherwise make cellphones or cornflakes or autonomous vacuum cleaners.

PAX’s newest paper, “Perilous Profiteering,” should be front-page news around the world. Why it is not is an interesting question.

Nuclear war is still a threat to humanity. It’s true that it’s generally vanished from popular culture and our imagination since the end of the Cold War 30 years ago. What almost no one knows, however, is that many serious observers believe that the actual danger of nuclear conflict is now greater than at any point in history.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists invented its Doomsday Clock in 1947 to express how close the world was to self-destruction. It was initially set at seven minutes to midnight. Since then it has varied, being set both closer to and further away from midnight. But today, in 2021, it is the closest it’s ever been: 100 seconds to midnight. The publication’s reasoning can be read here.

Or take it from such anti-peaceniks as former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz. Together they warned for years of the tremendous danger of nuclear war and called for “a world free of nuclear weapons.”

It therefore would behoove everyone to read the PAX report, both to understand the forces driving us toward obliteration and because it explains why taking action is not pointless. In fact, the report is surprisingly optimistic: Public pressure has recently generated tangible victories over the nuclear weapons industry, suggesting that we may not necessarily be doomed.

Public pressure has recently generated tangible victories over the nuclear weapons industry, suggesting that we may not necessarily be doomed.

PAX explains that 25 companies around the world are particularly involved in the production, manufacture, and development of nuclear weapons. America’s Northrop Grumman makes the most money off nukes, with at least $24 billion in current nuclear contracts. Other U.S. firms such as Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin are close behind. But it is a worldwide industry, with companies in Europe (Airbus), India (Larsen & Toubro), Russia (Rostec), and China (China Aerospace Science and Technology) profiting from the potential end of the world.

The report also closely examines the financial infrastructure that undergirds the physical production of nuclear weapons. At least 338 companies are investors in or facilitators of the nuclear industry. They may own stock in nuclear corporations, hold their bonds, or underwrite their debt offerings. In any case, the system can’t function without them.

The largest investor in the nuclear industry is Vanguard, with $51 billion, followed a few paces behind by BlackRock, with $41 billion.

These cases do not involve a few individuals with huge investments in nuclear weapons, but rather millions of people who’ve invested in Vanguard and BlackRock mutual funds and hence own small amounts of many companies, including ones like Northrop Grumman.

It is here where the PAX report identifies genuine leverage that regular people can wield over the nuclear behemoth. While the facts and figures are all interesting enough on their own, PAX’s work is not aimed at encouraging its audience to engage in the passive consumption of information. Its goal is to provide tools for everyone to take action, with a rational hope that we can in fact, slowly but surely, consign nuclear weapons to history’s scrap heap.

PAX is part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its role in the promotion of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted that year at the United Nations.

The 56 countries that have ratified the treatyto date have agreed not to “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons” — but not just that. They have also pledged not to “allow any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory.”

The significance of this is that while none of the nine countries with nuclear weapons have ratified the treaty, they rely on many other nations without nuclear weapons to participate in their manufacture and transport. For instance, if the Netherlands were to ratify the treaty, Airbus — headquartered there — could no longer help build France’s nuclear missiles.

While it is almost unknown to Americans, the nuclear divestment campaign is already happening.

ICAN believes that the governments of such countries can be forced by pressure from their citizens to ratify the treaty and cut ties with the nuclear industry. It also believes that campaigns calling on pensions and mutual funds to divest from the nuclear industry can be powerful organizing tools to generate such pressure. This is not a vain dream, given that divestment campaigns played a similar role in the international isolation of apartheid South Africa.

While it is almost unknown to Americans, the nuclear divestment campaign is already happening. The second-largest pension fund on Earth, in Norway, has sold its investments in the nuclear industry. ABP in the Netherlands, the world’s fifth-largest pension fund, has done likewise. An ABP executive explained why: “Changes in society, also at an international level, [mean that] nuclear weapons no longer fit in with our sustainable and responsible investment policy.”

And the general trend, the report indicates, is downward. The 338 financial institutions that invest in or facilitate the nuclear industry is down from 390 recently. Shareholding values are down by $67 billion, and bondholding by $2 billion. It is possible to see a future in which the worldwide opprobrium that has almost eliminated the existence of biological and chemical weapons will apply to the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction.

This, then, will have to be a long fight, but it is potentially a winnable one. Human beings are not necessarily destined to annihilate ourselves. But to avoid that fate, we’ll have to study the kind of research produced by PAX — and get to work.

The silence before the storm outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas militants in Gaza

Photo: AFP

The silence before the storm in Gaza

Opinion: The recent foiled terror plot in West Bank, coupled with the murder of an Israeli man in Jerusalem, indicate Hamas is readying for another round of fighting with Israel, which has so far opted to ignore the warnings

Alex Fishman| Updated: 12.05.21, 08:02

As per its plan, Hamas intended to plant hidden sniper nests in various spots around the country in order to kill as many Israelis as possible and push the West Bank into utter chaos.The terrorist group also intended to detonate at least four explosives in Jerusalem and other cities within the Green Line – the demarcation lines separating Israeli and Palestinian territory. Had that scenario come to pass, the IDF would have sent large forces into the West Bank to arrest a fair number of suspects, which would have surely led to violence between the army and the local Palestinian population.This pandemonium would have served to further erode the already-shaky reputation of the Palestinian Authority – Hamas’ long time political rival – and bring an end to the political career of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.This terror plan – the largest in scope since 2014 – included 60 militants and was uncovered by Israeli authorities in mere weeks, while members of the terror cell were arrested on the eve of the plan’s execution

The Iranian Horn Refuses to Concede Their Nukes:Daniel 8

The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Iran abandoned any compromises in latest nuclear talks – U.S.

By Arshad Mohammed and Jan WolfeDecember 4, 20211:19 PM MSTLast Updated 2 days ago

WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Iran abandoned any compromises it had made in talks to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, pocketed those made by others, and demanded more during indirect U.S.-Iran talks this week, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

Tehran’s stance during the first such talks in more than five months disappointed not just the United States and its European allies but also China and Russia, historically more sympathetic to Iran, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this week.

While stressing that the United States still wanted to revive the deal, under which Iran had limited its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, the official told reporters time was running short.

The indirect U.S.-Iranian talks on saving the deal broke off on Friday in Vienna as European officials also voiced dismay at sweeping demands by Iran’s hard-line government.

The latest talks were the first with delegates sent by Iran’s anti-Western President Ebrahim Raisi, who was elected in June and whose government had said it needed time to prepare for fresh talks after the six rounds between April and June.

The senior U.S. official said Iran used the time to speed up its nuclear program in “provocative” ways and to stonewall the U.N. nuclear watchdog charged with monitoring its eroding compliance with the deal.

While seeking to leave the door ajar for talks, the official blamed Iran as “the reason why there is not … a mutual return to compliance” with the original deal struck with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

Tehran, however, has placed the onus on Washington, noting that then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to begin violating the nuclear restrictions starting in 2019.

The 2015 agreement imposed strict limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, extending the time it would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, if it chose to, to at least a year from around two to three months.

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying it only wants to master nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

While saying it was unclear whether China and Russia might ramp up economic pressure on Iran if talks fail, he suggested their positions may be evolving.

“They also were quite taken aback by the degree to which Iran had walked back its own compromises and then doubled down on the requests that it (made),” he said. “They do share a sense of disappointment, to put it diplomatically.”

The U.S. official said he did not know when the next round of talks would resume – others had said next week – and said the date was less important than Iran’s willingness to negotiate.

American officials have said they would consider other options if they cannot revive the deal, a phrase understood to include the possibility of military ones, however remote.

Iranian air defenses fired a missile as part of an exercise on Saturday over the town of Natanz, which houses nuclear installations, state TV said after local residents reported hearing a large blast.

Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Writing by Arshad Mohammed Editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Israeli forces attacked fishermen outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Gaza fishermen

The Gaza Strip is under siege [Getty]

Israeli forces attacked fishermen with bullets and water hoses who were sailing five nautical miles across from Rafah coast.

The Israeli navy and army shot at Palestinian fishermen and farmers in the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

The Israeli navy attacked Palestinian fishermen with bullets and water hoses as they were sailing five nautical miles across from Rafah coast.

No injuries were reported, but one boat was damaged, forcing them all to retreat to the coast, according to Wafa.

In a separate incident, Israeli soldiers stationed at army watch towers east of the city of Khan Yunis and shot at farmers working on their land east of Khuzaa town, forcing them to leave the area. No injuries were reported.

Amjad Yaghi

The besieged Gaza Strip rely on fishing for daily sustenance as a tight blockade on the besieged enclave has significantly reduced Gazan access to food.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege for 14 years, creating a major human catastrophe in the enclave.

In 2007, Israel imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the strip, effectively turning the coastal enclave into an open-air prison, where basic necessities such as food, fuel and medicines are severely controlled.

Critics say the blockade amounts to collective punishment of the coastal enclave’s two million residents. The UN and rights groups say Gaza is uninhabitable.

Moqtada al-Sadr | The Antichrist

Moqtada al-Sadr | The kingmaker of Iraq

The Shia cleric’s bloc emerged as the winner of the October legislative vote

He was once seen as one of the most dangerous militia leaders in the U.S.-occupied Iraq. Now, he has an outsized influence in deciding who should rule the country. When results of the October parliamentary elections were formally announced earlier this week by Iraq’s Independent High Elections Commission, Moqtada al-Sadr’s political bloc, the Sadrist Movement, won 73 seats out of 329. The elections were held amid high volatility. The country has witnessed protests for months. The government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was struggling to ensure law and order amid growing violence by different groups. The Popular Mobilisation Forces, militia groups backed by Iran, remained outside the state control. Above all, Iraq’s economy is in tatters. That Mr. Sadr’s bloc won the most number of seats in an election held in such circumstances shows the Shia cleric’s growing influence and popularity in a country that has never fully recovered from violence unleashed by the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Mr. Sadr derives much of his authority and support from his family name. His father was the revered Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, who stood up to Saddam Hussein and was executed by him. The fall of Hussein, whose Ba’ath party ruled Iraq under its tight grip for decades, opened political opportunities for other politicians, especially leaders from Iraq’s majority Shia community. Mr. Sadr mobilised his supporters and launched a political movement with a military wing — the Mahdi Army, named after Muhammad al-Mahdi, the Imam who Shia Muslims believe has disappeared (in “occultation”) and would return to redeem the world. Mr. Sadr rejected the post-Saddam provisional government and asked the U.S. forces to leave. In an interview with CBS immediately after the U.S. invasion, Mr. Sadr said, “Saddam was the little serpent, but America is the big serpent.”

In the post-Saddam chaos, when al-Qaeda in Iraq, under the command of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, unleashed a wave of sectarian attacks against the Shias, Mr. Sadr’s militia emerged as a protector and defender of the Shias community. He built his base in Sadr City of Baghdad (previously Saddam City), particularly among the underclasses, and the Mahdi Army took the fighting often to U.S. troops. As Iraq slid into a sectarian civil war and the U.S. troops found it difficult to establish order, Mr. Sadr rose as a parallel authority among the country’s Shias.

Political evolution 

But in Iraq’s fractious polity where it’s impossible for any political leader or bloc to establish dominance, Mr. Sadr has transformed himself to widen his base. He disarmed his militia, formed a political coalition and positioned himself as an Iraqi nationalist, rather than a Shia religious leader. He remained opposed to both U.S. presence and Iran’s growing influence in the country. At home he allied with Sunnis, communists and political independents. He also called for improved ties between Iran and the Sunni Gulf kingdoms, including Saudi Arabia. The transformation was relatively successful. In the 2018 election, Mr. Sadr’s coalition won 54 seats. His bloc emerged as the main rival of Al-Fatah alliance, the bloc comprising the pro-Iran militias and political groups. Three years later, when Mr. Sadr’s seat share in Parliament went up by 19, the al-Fatah coalition suffered a crushing loss and secured only 17 seats.

The election victory doesn’t mean that it’s easier for Mr. Sadr to decide the future course of Iraq. Government formation in Iraq is a painful and prolonged process. Once the results are ratified by the Federal Supreme Court, President Barham Salih will convene the new Parliament, where the largest political bloc (the Sadrist Movement) will be invited to nominate the PM. Mr. Sadr could practically decide whether PM Kandhimi should get one more term or another leader should be chosen. But then, he should start negotiations to form a coalition that will have a majority in the 329-member Parliament. With the Fatah having already dismissed the election results, it would not be easy for Mr. Sadr to put together a sustainable coalition. But notwithstanding the difficulties of day-to-day politicking, the results underscore one thing — Moqtada al-Sadr is the most influential cleric-politician in today’s Iraq.

China’s Growing Nuclear Program Worries Babylon the Great: Revelation 16

China’s Growing Nuclear Program Worries the Air Force

Here’s What You Need to Remembers: “The Chinese have plans to at least double their arsenal by the end of the decade. They are departing from what has been known as a minimalist theory,” Gen. Timothy Ray, Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command, told reporters at the 2021 Air Force Association Symposium. 

China’s military seems like it is growing in every direction possible. 

For example, Chinese shipbuilders are adding new aircraft carriers, amphibs and destroyers at an alarming pace. Chinese armored vehicle engineers are fast-adding new infantry carriers and mobile artillery platforms. Chinese weapons developers are adding large numbers of new drones and attack robots. But the largest and potentially most alarming element of all of this, according to many senior U.S. leaders, is the staggering pace at which China is adding nuclear weapons. 

“A troubling revelation has been about the trajectory of the Chinese nuclear program. The Chinese have plans to at least double their arsenal by the end of the decade. They are departing from what has been known as a minimalist theory,”  Gen. Timothy Ray, Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command, told reporters at the 2021 Air Force Association Symposium. 

Ray’s concern about the fast-growing Chinese nuclear arsenal aligns with and builds upon the Pentagon’s 2020 China Military Report, which states that the number of warheads arming Beijing’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of threatening America will likely grow to 200 in the next five years. As an element of this expansion, China is increasing its inventory of long-range land-fired DF-26 Anti-Ship missiles able to fire both conventional and nuclear missiles.

Ray cited a hope that China might be willing to consider joining various ongoing arms treaty discussions, but did not appear extremely optimistic about the possibility given China’s approach to nuclear weapons modernization. 

 “I think the need to have China in a conversation about arms control is important,” Ray says. 

“Combined with a near-complete lack of transparency regarding their (China’s) strategic intent and the perceived need for a much larger, more diverse nuclear force, these developments pose a significant concern for the United States,” the 2020 Pentagon report explains.  

The reality of the threat circumstance with China seemed to be one of several reasons why Ray stressed the importance of maintaining and adding to the U.S. nuclear triad, particularly in the Asian theater. 

There continues to be successful U.S. and allied Bomber Task Force Patrols, including ongoing work with B-1s in India and integrated flights with nuclear-capable B-2s and B-52s. Ray said the Air Force is working vigorously to expand allied collaboration with Bomber Task Forces beyond its current scope. 

“We have the highest bomber aircrew readiness in the history of the command,” he said. 

Alongside an effort to emphasize the growing importance of allied operations in the Pacific, Ray stressed a need for the U.S. to maintain its strategic deterrence posture with a modernized nuclear triad. 

“There are no allied bombers and no allied ICBMs. These two components are the cornerstone of the security structure of a free world,” Ray said. 

What much of this contributes to, Ray explained, is the importance of continuing the current Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program, a now underway effort to build a new arsenal of 400 U.S. ICBMs. 

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

This article first appeared in March 2021 and is being reprinted for reader interest.

Image: Reuters