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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.

Iran’s Hegemony in Palestine (Daniel 8:4)

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior member of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said Chairman of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh’s letter to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei proves that the resistance movement in the Gaza Strip has strategic ties with Iran.

Tasnim News Agency
اسماعیل رضوان عضو ارشد حماس

“This Letter is indicative of Hamas’ strategic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Ismail Rizwan told Tasnim.

“This Letter will (further) strengthen the relations,” he added.

In the letter, Haniyeh praised Iran’s role in supporting the resistance on behalf of Hamas and the Palestinian people, Rizwan added.

Elsewhere, commenting on Palestinians’ roadmap to countering the United States’ decision to recognize Jerusalem (al-Quds) as capital of Israel, he said it should be based on boosting resistance and defending Quds.

The Hamas official urged unity among all the Palestinian groups and ending security cooperation with the Zionist regime.

In his letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, the chairman of Hamas Political Bureau praised the Iranian nation and leadership for supporting Palestine and the anti-Israeli axis of resistance.

Haniyeh pointed to a major plot that the arrogant powers have hatched against Quds and the Palestinian nation with the purpose of wiping out the Gaza Strip as the bastion of resistance, ending the fight against the Zionist regime, and normalizing the relations between Israel and the dependent rulers of regional countries.

He also praised the popular Intifada (uprising) in the West Bank and the city Quds as a phenomenon foiling the plots by the US and the “rulers of hypocrisy” who seek to terminate the issue of Palestine.

Hailing Iran as a stable and resisting nation that has stood against arrogance, Haniyeh expressed gratitude to Imam Khamenei and the Iranian nation for providing the popular Palestinian resistance movement with various kinds of support.

Denouncing the blockade of Gaza and the economic and medical embargo on Palestinian people in the coastal enclave with the aim of creating a humanitarian crisis and undermining the main bastion of resistance, Haniyeh said Washington is trying to put an end to the Palestinian fight against the Israeli regime.

In that case, he added, the rulers impatient to appease the US and Israel could normalize and make public their ties with the Zionist regime, and then the hostile ploys could be targeted on Iran.

Haniyeh also highlighted the significant role of Ayatollah Khamenei in leading the efforts to counter a project on termination of the Palestinian issue.

Iran, under expert guidance of Ayatollah Khamenei, has played and keeps playing a major role in strengthening the Palestinian resistance, he added.

The Hamas official finally refereed to the massive Intifada in the West Bank and Quds as the practical approach to thwarting the new plot against Palestine in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s move to harm the religious nature of Palestine by recognizing Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime.

The Tactics of the Coming Nuclear War (Rev 15)

Return of tactical nuclear weapons would send a dangerous signal

Pentagon finishing US nuclear review
Daniel M. Gerstein works at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and is an adjunct professor at American University. He was the undersecretary (acting) and deputy undersecretary in the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security from 2011-2014 and the principal director for counter weapons of mass destruction in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy) from 2009-2011. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)President Trump traveled to the Pentagon on Thursday to discuss the National Defense Strategy, an unclassified version of which will be released Friday. Undoubtedly, key topics of discussion on the new strategy included the proliferation of nuclear weapons and missile technology, and the need for the protection of space assets essential to providing early warning in the event of a nuclear attack.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Nuclear Posture Review will be released. Taken together, these documents will shape the US nuclear defense policy over the course of the administration and likely usher in significant changes. One of those changes could come on the question of low-yield nuclear weapons, or those weapons most likely to employed on the battlefield. These weapons are smaller, less destructive and have shorter ranges than strategic nuclear weapons — though the death and destruction they cause could still mean substantial casualties.

Recent reports indicate possible US and Russian expansion of nonstrategic nuclear weapons’ capabilities, or those weapons developed for battlefield military uses. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon is planning new nuclear weapons, including a “low yield” warhead, with a view to countering Russia and China.
Nobel laureate: There is one way to prevent nuclear war

For the US, such actions would represent a major change in policy, while for Russia, it would mean a continuation of ongoing force modernization, doctrinal changes and military exercises that regularly feature nuclear weapons such as limited-use options for warfighting and escalation control.

The Nuclear Posture Review — like those issued by the three previous administrations — will likely reaffirm the necessity of ensuring the US deterrence remains viable and the capability to develop and field nuclear warheads. However, the return of tactical nuclear weapons to the US arsenal for the first time since the end of the Cold War would be a significant change.

From the Cold War to today, Russia has maintained strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons. The only category of nuclear-capable forces that neither the U.S. nor Russia have maintained were the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) — with ranges of 500 km to 5,500 km — that were eliminated as part of the 1987 INF Treaty. However, the Russians have recently developed a ground-launched cruise missile that the US believes violates the INF Treaty.

Experts make compelling cases for developing low-yield nuclear weapons on both sides of the argument. Yet, judging the costs and benefits of such a policy reversal comes down to a matter of perspective and largely depends on where one begins in approaching the question, whether from a warfighting, deterrence or nonproliferation perspective.

From the perspective of warfighting, reintroduction of nonstrategic nuclear weapons provides another powerful tool to the arsenal. Lower yields provide a nuclear capability that is more likely to be incorporated into a conflict. Certain missions — striking deeply buried targets like command bunkers — call for nuclear weapons to increase the probability of destruction of these targets.

Naysayers make the case that the conventional arsenals of both nations are more than adequate to attack complex targets with a reasonable surety of destruction. During the Cold War, lower-yield weapons provided a measure of deterrence by linking the battlefield and strategic nuclear capabilities and providing an offset to the perceived Soviet advantage in conventional forces in Europe. Ominously, the Russians have already begun to incorporate these systems into their warfighting plans, something the US halted following the Cold War.

Nuclear weapons provide unique opportunities for deterrence, perhaps discouraging an adversary’s action due to the fear of the consequences and the potential escalation that could raise the stakes of conflict.

The theory has been that two nuclear nations had to exercise greater caution before entering into a conflict, as controlling escalation or blundering into a strategic nuclear engagement was always a possibility.

With the reintroduction of these weapons, a nation could use them to escalate the conflict, demonstrate a willingness to continue to escalate, and seek to cause the adversary to terminate the conflict on less favorable conditions (the Russian doctrine of “escalate to de-escalate”). However, it is also possible the use of these weapons could be misinterpreted and result in escalation to a strategic nuclear exchange, with potentially devastating consequences

If one approaches the policy change from a nonproliferation perspective, the outcomes are uniformly negative. Incorporating tactical nuclear weapons into America’s military planning would undermine 65 years of nonproliferation that goes back to President Eisenhower’s 1953 “Atoms for Peace” speech, which sought to share the benefits of atomic power while containing the risks, and the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and associated technologies.

Ultimately, the goal has been to lessen the likelihood that nuclear weapons will continue to proliferate to other nations. Despite these efforts, nine nations today have nuclear weapons — the US, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. Others such as Japan and South Korea have demonstrated mastery of the technical components of a nuclear weapons program, but have not developed such weapons. Still others such as Syria and Iran have been “dissuaded” from developing these weapons.

Developing low-yield nuclear weapons, establishing a doctrine for their use and incorporating them into military exercises sends a dangerous signal that nuclear warfighting is just one more capability in the toolkit.

The cases of Pakistan and North Korea demonstrate how fragile these nonproliferation regimes can be. The recent rapid enhancements to the North Korean nuclear and missile program provides ample evidence of how challenging it is to prevent global proliferation.

Heated rhetoric about nuclear weapons use, modernization of stockpiles and changes to extended deterrence could undermine nonproliferation programs. Heading “back to the future” through the development of low-yield nuclear weapons could make nonproliferation goals more difficult to achieve. At the same time, it could signal a new willingness to consider these weapons as part of a spectrum of warfighting capabilities, rather than as a necessary component of the US deterrence posture.

Quakeland: New York and the Sixth Seal

Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

Roger Bilham

Given recent seismic activity — political as well as geological — it’s perhaps unsurprising that two books on earthquakes have arrived this season. One is as elegant as the score of a Beethoven symphony; the other resembles a diary of conversations overheard during a rock concert. Both are interesting, and both relate recent history to a shaky future.

Journalist Kathryn Miles’s Quakeland is a litany of bad things that happen when you provoke Earth to release its invisible but ubiquitous store of seismic-strain energy, either by removing fluids (oil, water, gas) or by adding them in copious quantities (when extracting shale gas in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, or when injecting contaminated water or building reservoirs). To complete the picture, she describes at length the bad things that happen during unprovoked natural earthquakes. As its subtitle hints, the book takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy.

Miles poses some important societal questions. Aside from human intervention potentially triggering a really damaging earthquake, what is it actually like to live in neighbourhoods jolted daily by magnitude 1–3 earthquakes, or the occasional magnitude 5? Are these bumps in the night acceptable? And how can industries that perturb the highly stressed rocks beneath our feet deny obvious cause and effect? In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey conceded that a quadrupling of the rate of magnitude-3 or more earthquakes in recent years, coinciding with a rise in fracking, was unlikely to represent a natural process. Miles does not take sides, but it’s difficult for the reader not to.

She visits New York City, marvelling at subway tunnels and unreinforced masonry almost certainly scheduled for destruction by the next moderate earthquake in the vicinity. She considers the perils of nuclear-waste storage in Nevada and Texas, and ponders the risks to Idaho miners of rock bursts — spontaneous fracture of the working face when the restraints of many million years of confinement are mined away. She contemplates the ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera — North America’s very own mid-continent supervolcano — and its magnificently uncertain future. Miles also touches on geothermal power plants in southern California’s Salton Sea and elsewhere; the vast US network of crumbling bridges, dams and oil-storage farms; and the magnitude 7–9 earthquakes that could hit California and the Cascadia coastline of Oregon and Washington state this century. Amid all this doom, a new elementary school on the coast near Westport, Washington, vulnerable to inbound tsunamis, is offered as a note of optimism. With foresight and much persuasion from its head teacher, it was engineered to become an elevated safe haven.

Miles briefly discusses earthquake prediction and the perils of getting it wrong (embarrassment in New Madrid, Missouri, where a quake was predicted but never materialized; prison in L’Aquila, Italy, where scientists failed to foresee a devastating seismic event) and the successes of early-warning systems, with which electronic alerts can be issued ahead of damaging seismic waves. Yes, it’s a lot to digest, but most of the book obeys the laws of physics, and it is a engaging read. One just can’t help wishing that Miles’s road trips had taken her somewhere that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen.

Catastrophic damage in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1964, caused by the second-largest earthquake in the global instrumental record.

In The Great Quake, journalist Henry Fountain provides us with a forthright and timely reminder of the startling historical consequences of North America’s largest known earthquake, which more than half a century ago devastated southern Alaska. With its epicentre in Prince William Sound, the 1964 quake reached magnitude 9.2, the second largest in the global instrumental record. It released more energy than either the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off Japan; and it generated almost as many pages of scientific commentary and description as aftershocks. Yet it has been forgotten by many.

The quake was scientifically important because it occurred at a time when plate tectonics was in transition from hypothesis to theory. Fountain expertly traces the theory’s historical development, and how the Alaska earthquake was pivotal in nailing down one of the most important predictions. The earthquake caused a fjordland region larger than England to subside, and a similarly huge region of islands offshore to rise by many metres; but its scientific implications were not obvious at the time. Eminent seismologists thought that a vertical fault had slipped, drowning forests and coastlines to its north and raising beaches and islands to its south. But this kind of fault should have reached the surface, and extended deep into Earth’s mantle. There was no geological evidence of a monster surface fault separating these two regions, nor any evidence for excessively deep aftershocks. The landslides and liquefied soils that collapsed houses, and the tsunami that severely damaged ports and infrastructure, offered no clues to the cause.

“Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about present-day vulnerability.” The hero of The Great Quake is the geologist George Plafker, who painstakingly mapped the height reached by barnacles lifted out of the intertidal zone along shorelines raised by the earthquake, and documented the depths of drowned forests. He deduced that the region of subsidence was the surface manifestation of previously compressed rocks springing apart, driving parts of Alaska up and southwards over the Pacific Plate. His finding confirmed a prediction of plate tectonics, that the leading edge of the Pacific Plate plunged beneath the southern edge of Alaska along a gently dipping thrust fault. That observation, once fully appreciated, was applauded by the geophysics community.

Fountain tells this story through the testimony of survivors, engineers and scientists, interweaving it with the fascinating history of Alaska, from early discovery by Europeans to purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, and its recent development. Were the quake to occur now, it is not difficult to envisage that with increased infrastructure and larger populations, the death toll and price tag would be two orders of magnitude larger than the 139 fatalities and US$300-million economic cost recorded in 1964.

What is clear from these two books is that seismicity on the North American continent is guaranteed to deliver surprises, along with unprecedented economic and human losses. Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about the present-day vulnerability of US infrastructure and populations. Engineers and seismologists know how to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes (and, in mid-continent, would advise against the reckless injection of waste fluids known to trigger earthquakes). It is merely a matter of persuading city planners and politicians that if they are tempted to ignore the certainty of the continent’s seismic past, they should err on the side of caution when considering its seismic future.

Nuclear Plant Still Open Before the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

CORTLANDT, NY — A strike at the Indian Point nuclear power plant continues to be averted, for now. Negotiators agreed before midnight Thursday to continue talks.

The workers in had initially voted to strike when the contract expired, at midnight Wednesday, and then both sides agreed to a 24-hour extension for negotiations.

As of Friday morning, a union described an agreed-to break in the talks. He also used the occasion to aim some barbs at Entergy, the owner of the plant.

“The Union was ready to go but management needed some beauty sleep, while its appointed “negotiators” and their overlords in Louisiana ignore the impact of their inaction on the fate of the working men and women who safely operate and maintain a nuclear power plant and on the communities they serve in New York State,” Local 1-2 President James T. Slevin said early Friday morning in a press release. “I guess in Entergy’s case, it’s management is more concerned with its own comfort than resolving the problems it has caused by its attacks on the welfare of Entergy’s own employees. For our part, Local 1-2 is used to working round the clock and was prepared to do so tonight.”

Slevin said he hoped and expected that talks would resume later Friday.

An Entergy spokesman said only that negotiations were continuing.

Indian Point, which provides up to a quarter of the electricity for New York City and Westchester County, will cease operations in 2021 under an agreement reached a year ago between Entergy and the principal forces seeking its closure, New York State and environmental watchdog Riverkeeper.

The union represents operations, radiation protection, chemistry and maintenance workers at the plant. It is seeking a new contract through 2022. One of its goals is to keep the experienced nuclear plant workers on hand during the shutdown process.

Australia The Next Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

 

A heavyweight trio of Australia’s strategic and defense policy analysts has opened a debate on the possibility of Australia acquiring nuclear weapons. Paul Dibb and Richard Brabin-Smith documented the increased strategic risk to Australia based on a critical assessment of China’s capabilities, motives and intent.

Paul took that further in The Australian, canvassing the idea of investing in capabilities that would reduce the lead time for getting the bomb to give us more options for dealing with growing strategic uncertainty. North Korea’s nuclear advances and diminishing confidence in the dependability of US extended nuclear deterrence add to the sense of strategic unease.

Andrew Davies inferred Hugh White’s support for the idea and implied that both Paul and Hugh had been too coy to take their analyses to the logical conclusion. Hugh has been the preeminent Australian analyst advocating an independent recalibration of our position vis‑à‑vis the China–US tussle for strategic primacy in the Asia–Pacific.

In reply, Hugh politely, gently but firmly rejected the implication that he’s a closet supporter of Australia taking the nuclear weapon path. He neither advocates nor predicts that Australia should or will go nuclear. He professes uncertainty about the role of nuclear weapons in shaping Asia’s emerging strategic landscape, highlights the importance of getting the decisions right on conventional capabilities first, and points to the choices and trade-offs that would then have to be made between the security benefits and risks of a weaponized nuclear capability.

Who will call out the nuclear emperor for being naked? Nuclear weapons haven’t been used since 1945—Hiroshima was the first time and Nagasaki the last. Their very destructiveness makes them qualitatively different in political and moral terms, to the point of rendering them unusable. A calculated use of the bomb is less likely than one resulting from system malfunction, faulty information or rogue launch.

On the other hand, the non-trivial risks of inadvertent use mean that the world’s very existence is hostage to indefinite continuance of the same good fortune that has ensured no use since 1945.

Curiously, Hugh, Paul and Andrew don’t explore the roles that nuclear weapons might play, the functions they would perform, and the circumstances and conditions in which those roles and functions would prove effective. This is a crucial omission. The arguments I canvassed in a review of the illusory gains and lasting insecurities of India’s nuclear weapon acquisition apply with equal force to Australia, albeit with appropriate modifications for our circumstances.

In short, the nuclear equation just does not compute for Australia.

Consistent with the moral taint associated with the bomb, the most common justification for getting or keeping nuclear weapons isn’t that we’d want to use them against anyone else. We’d only want them either to avert nuclear blackmail or to deter an attack. Neither of those arguments holds up against the historical record or in logic.

The belief in the coercive utility of nuclear weapons is widely internalised, owing in no small measure to Japan’s surrender immediately after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet the evidence is surprisingly clear that the close chronology is a coincidence. In Japanese decision-makers’ minds, the decisive factor in their unconditional surrender was the entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific war against Japan’s essentially undefended northern approaches, and the fear that the Soviets would be the occupying power unless Japan surrendered to the US first. Hiroshima was bombed on 6 August 1945, Nagasaki on 9 August. Moscow broke its neutrality pact to attack Japan on 9 August and Tokyo announced the surrender on 15 August.

There’s been no clear-cut instance since then of a non-nuclear state having been bullied into changing its behaviour by the overt or implicit threat of being bombed by nuclear weapons.

Tensions Increase Before the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir Two civilians and an Indian soldier were killed and twenty more wounded in the latest ceasefire violations in the border villages of Jammu region in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said.

State police Chief Shesh Paul Vaid told Al Jazeera that the two civilians, including a 52-year-old woman, were killed in fresh shelling by Pakistani side in RS Pura sector in Jammu region on Friday morning.

“One Border Security Force (BSF) trooper has also been killed in the shelling which continues since night,” Vaid said, adding that twenty civilians were also wounded.

On Thursday, an Indian soldier and a 17-year-old girl were killed in RS Pura and Arnia sectors of Jammu region, officials said, taking the death toll to five in twenty-four hours from the Indian-side.

Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly trade fire across the so-called Line of Control (LoC), the military demarcation between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of aiding fighters in crossing the LoC to attack Indian targets. Pakistani has been denying the charges.

Since Friday morning, the soldiers of two countries traded heavy gunfire in RS Pura and Ramgarh sectors along the border, officials said, amid the growing tensions between the two neighbours.

“The heavy shelling started from Pakistani side at night,” one official told Aljazeera.

An official said that Pakistani troopers violated ceasefire by resorting to indiscriminate firing at Indian positions in several sectors of the border. The fresh tension on the border has caused further turbulence in the relations between India and Pakistan.

This is the third exchange of fire between the two countries in this sector in past three days, officials said.

The Jammu and Kashmir police in a statement said that Indian forces are retaliating to the firing from Pakistan.

Following the latest shelling, the officials said that the schools in the area were closed.

The latest exchange of fire started after Pakistan accused Indian forces of killing four of their soldiers near the de facto border.

Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly trade fire across the so-called Line of Control (LoC), the military demarcation between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of aiding fighters in crossing the LoC to attack Indian targets. Pakistan has denied the charges.

The hostilities increased between India and Pakistan since December last year after both accused each other of killing soldiers on either side.

In September 2016, India claimed to have launched “surgical strikes” on bases used by armed groups in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to fight Indian security forces. Pakistan denied any Indian soldiers were ever on Pakistan-administered soil.

Since independence in 1947, the two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which both countries claim in full.

The LoC has remained volatile in the last year. According to official figures, 860 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops were reported in 2017, compared with 221 the year before.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep among Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population, and most support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule, despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight dissent.

Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Indian-administered portion to become independent or merge with Pakistan.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown. India maintains roughly 500,000 soldiers in the territory.

How Trump Will Exit the Iran Deal

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Iran deal won’t survive beyond May 2018, sanctions expert says

Natasha Turak

The Iran nuclear deal is on life support and on a trajectory for collapse, many policy experts believe, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s current continuation of sanctions relief.

Trump agreed to waive sanctions on the Islamic Republic in mid-January as part of the 2015 nuclear pact, but pledged that this time it was the country’s “last chance”, threatening a U.S. walkout.

“I am very concerned that it will not survive May 2018. Mr. Trump has set an unreasonable list of demands out that I do not think any realistic European or Congressional agreement could satisfy,” Richard Nephew, program director at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, told CNBC. Nephew served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. State Department negotiating with Iran from 2013 to 2014.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by all five United Nations Security Council members and Germany in 2015, allowed the lifting of international sanctions on Iran in exchange for compliance with restrictions on its nuclear program. The U.S. president is required to recertify it every 90 days or leave its fate to Congress.

While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified Iran’s compliance, Trump continues to deride the agreement, calling for more sanctions on the Islamic Republic particularly for its ballistic missile program and human rights abuses, which were not part of the JCPOA. Trump announced on January 12 that if Congress and the deal’s European signatories did not fix the deal’s “disastrous flaws”, the U.S. would withdraw.

“The simple reality is that Trump hates the JCPOA even as he doesn’t understand it,” Nephew said. “And though his advisors are attempting to get him to think about it more pragmatically, their perennial struggles don’t auger well for its survival.”

President Donald Trump vowed to end the Iran Nuclear Deal while on the campaign trail. He has continued to criticize Iran as president, though he has refrained from condemning Russia, although both countries support Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

Trump’s demands would require altering the original parameters of the deal. They include adding punitive measures for missile tests and regional activity, and amending “sunset clauses” that currently allow certain conditions to expire after a number of years. EU leaders and Russia have urged the U.S. to respect the integrity of the original arrangement.

However the president may not like the deal, however, he cannot legally end it without consensus from its other signatories, notes Pat Thaker, regional director for the Middle East and Africa at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “None of [them] have shown real appetite for a renegotiation of its terms, and have instead lobbied Trump to keep it,” she told CNBC. “This will not change.”

National security community vs. Trump

Much of the diplomatic and national security community in Washington breathed a sigh of relief when Trump agreed to extend the deal on January 12. “It is the national security bureaucracy that ought to be credited,” Nephew said, naming National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis as key figures who emphasized to Trump the risks inherent in dropping the JCPOA. “It addressed a very real problem in a very real and verifiable way, when we were looking in the face of either an Iranian nuclear weapon or war.”

Critics of the deal disagree, arguing that continued economic relief only empowers the country’s nuclear weapons pursuits and reward a regime that has ramped up its missile testing in recent months.

Newly-imposed U.S. sanctions unrelated to the deal target 14 individuals and groups in Iran’s military and judiciary, and have little effect on the country’s economy. But any moves to curtail economic relief for the country will kill the deal for the Iranians and prompt a comeback for hardline anti-western forces in government, analysts say. Nephew notes that any externally-imposed nuclear requirements, like a cap on the number of permitted uranium centrifuges or enriched uranium, could do this.

“If they challenge Iranian economic access, then I think they could very well contribute to hardline aggressiveness toward Rouhani, of which the JCPOA would be just an example.”

Not all policy wonks have handed down such a negative prognosis. James Jeffrey, a former deputy national security adviser during the second Bush administration, told Politico the JCPOA can continue under Trump’s new demands.

“Trump is leaving the door open to staying in the agreement if France, Germany and the UK work with Washington,” he told the magazine.

Iran may also choose to stay in an effort to diplomatically isolate the U.S., said Ryan Turner, senior risk analyst at Protection Group International. But practically, he told CNBC, “the deal may collapse after that regardless.” The current uncertainty alone will likely see many investors rethink their interest in Iran.

In mid-January, European leaders issued statements in defense of the agreement, with the EU’s top diplomat saying it “made the world safer and prevented a potential nuclear arms race in the region.”

Robert Litwak, director of international security studies at the Wilson Center and a member of Bill Clinton’s National Security Council, said whether the deal would live or die past May is hard to say, but that the choice will be difficult and walking away has serious downsides.

“If the United States unilaterally withdraws from the nuclear deal it would isolate Washington,” Liwak told CNBC. “It would change the dynamic from the United States and the world versus Iran to Iran and the world versus the United States.”

Sixth Seal: New York City (Revelation 6:12)

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(Source: US Geological Survey)

New York State Geological Survey

Damaging earthquakes have occurred in New York and surely will again. The likelihood of a damaging earthquake in New York is small overall but the possibility is higher in the northern part of the state and in the New York City region.Significant earthquakes, both located in Rockaway and larger than magnitude 5, shook New York City in 1737 and 1884. The quakes were 147 years apart and the most recent was 122 year ago. It is likely that another earthquake of the same size will occur in that area in the next 25 to 50 years. A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in New York City would probably not cause great loss of life. However the damage to infrastructure – buildings, steam and gas lines, water mains, electric and fiber optic cable – could be extensive.

Earthquake Hazard Map of New York State

Acceleration of the ground during an earthquake is more important than total movement in causing structural damage. This map shows the two-percent probability of the occurrence of an earthquake that exceeds the acceleration of earth’s gravity by a certain percentage in the next fifty years.

If a person stands on a rug and the rug pulled slowly, the person will maintain balance and will not fall. But if the rug is jerked quickly, the person will topple. The same principle is true for building damage during an earthquake. Structural damage is caused more by the acceleration of the ground than by the distance the ground moves.

Earthquake hazard maps show the probability that the ground will move at a certain rate, measured as a percentage of earth’s gravity, during a particular time. Motion of one or two percent of gravity will rattle windows, doors, and dishes. Acceleration of ten to twenty percent of gravity will cause structural damage to buildings. It takes more than one hundred percent of gravity to throw objects into the air.

India Now Has an ICBM

India successfully test-fires a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile

The long range ballistic Agni-V missile is displayed during the full dress rehearsal for the annual Republic Day parade 2013 at Rajpath on January 23, 2013 in New Delhi, India.

Sonu Mehta | Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India successfully launched a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday.

The nuclear-capable Agni-V ICBM was fired from Abdul Kalam island off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha at around 9:53 a.m. local time (11:23 p.m. ET on Wednesday).

India’s Defense Ministry said the test was a “major boost” to the country’s defense capabilities.

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The same missile has been tested five times over the past six years, with the most recent test prior to Thursday’s launch coming in December 2016. That test prompted exasperation from two of New Delhi’s most important continental rivals, China and Pakistan.

Relations between China and India deteriorated significantly in 2017, following a protracted border dispute in the western Himalayas. And given the world’s two biggest emerging economies are both equipped with nuclear weapons, observers were fearful of escalating geopolitical tensions.

‘Bring India down a peg’

The Federation of American Scientists estimates that India has around 120 to 130 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, while China is believed to possess around 270. Pakistan’s military stockpile is thought to be within the region of 130 to 140.

Pakistan has repeatedly expressed concern over India’s development of ICBMs.

Shailesh Kumar, senior analyst for Asia at Eurasia Group, wrote in a blog post Friday that Pakistan’s biggest priority was to “bring India down a peg.”

Meanwhile, Kumar said the U.S. had a natural interest in “building India as a regional power, in part to counter China, and has advanced the U.S.-India strategic partnership and furnished New Delhi with the latest defense technology.”

Russian Horn Enlarges Her Nuclear Weapons (Daniel 7)

A recently released Pentagon document has confirmed the existence of a new nuclear weapon being developed for the Russian military. This new intercontinental, nuclear-armed undersea autonomous torpedo is rumored to be the most powerful nuclear weapon developed by any nation in decades.

The weapon, dubbed “Kanyon” by U.S. Defense officials and “Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6” by the Russians, is often referred to as a nuclear torpedo, though it may be more appropriate to consider it an autonomous submersible, or undersea drone. Estimates based on intelligence gathered primarily through media leaks in Russia itself claim the submersible weapon is about 5.5 feet wide and 79 feet long, capable of covering thousands of miles beneath the sea undetected to standby for detonation near coastal cities. The vessel is said to have a maximum speed of 56 knots and be able to travel continuously at depths exceeding 3,280 feet below the surface. The platform’s range is a supposed 6,200 miles, meaning when deployed by Sarov-class Russian Navy submarines, the Kanyon can secretly reach any coastal city in the world.

The Kanyon’s stealth and autonomy aren’t what has caused some experts to refer to it as a “doomsday” weapon however – it’s the 100 megaton payload.

To better appreciate just how massive the destructive capability presented by Russia’s Kanyon submersible is, consider that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was approximately 16 kilotons. It’s detonation laid waste to the city and killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people, and was equivalent to approximately 16,000 tons of TNT.

A single megaton, however, is equivalent to a thousand kilotons, or one million tons of TNT. Kanyon’s 100 megatons, then, is the destructive equivalent of parking 100,000,000 tons of dynamite just off of the American coast, accompanied by radioactive fallout that would bar a human presence in the affected region for a century, particularly because the payload is rumored to be “salted” with an additional radioactive isotope, Cobalt-60, which would increase the weapon’s fallout potential as an area denial measure.

The detonation would also almost certainly cause a tsunami of irradiated water that would flood further into the coast that the bomb itself may potentially reach.

If these rumors are true, “Kanyon” is twice as powerful as the most powerful nuclear weapon ever even tested (Russia’s Tsar Bomba), and would easily circumvent most existing American nuclear defensive measures, as they are primarily focused on aerial and orbital attacks via nuclear-tipped missile. Aegis, THAAD, and the GMD missile defense systems would be left helpless to defend population centers if Russia launched a nuclear attack on the United States using a fleet of Kanyon submersibles, rather than their latest and most powerful ICBM also in development, the aptly named, Satan II.

Although reports of the Kanyon platform have emerged in Russian media on at least two occasions, until recently, it was widely considered to be propaganda. The Pentagon’s acknowledgement of the platform in internal documents, however, seems to suggest that their intelligence has verified the existence of the weapon.

Feature image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons