The Sixth Seal Will Be On The East (Revelation 6:12)

Did You Feel It? East vs West: This image illustrates how earthquakes are felt over much larger areas in the eastern U.S. than those west of the Rocky Mountains. The map compares USGS

Did You Feel It? East vs West: This image illustrates how earthquakes are felt over much larger areas in the eastern U.S. than those west of the Rocky Mountains. The map compares USGS “Did You Feel It?” data from the magnitude 5.8 earthquake on August 23, 2011 in central Virginia (green) to data from an earthquake of similar magnitude and depth in California (red). ((High resolution image)

  New Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes
Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances
Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM

Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.
U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.
“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”
“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”
This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.
This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.
The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.
“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”
It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.
In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2 from an earthquake of similar magnitude.
“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”
The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.
Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

Iran Continues To Push Its Agenda (Daniel 8:4)

Iran Says Missile Tests Won’t Stop ‘Under Any Circumstances,’ Foreign Minister Denies Violation Of Nuclear Deal
By
On 03/10/16 AT 3:29

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA
Iran ballistic missile test-firing UN Resolutions  
A senior commander for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said Wednesday that the country’s missile program will not stop under any circumstance while the country’s foreign ministry said that the test-firing was not a violation of the nuclear deal. In this photo, missiles are displayed during an exhibition on the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, as part of the ‘Sacred Defense Week’ commemorating the 8-year war on Sept. 28, 2014 at a park, northern Tehran. Photo: Getty Images/AFP/Atta Kenare

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A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA

Iran ballistic missile test-firing UN Resolutions
A senior commander for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said Wednesday that the country’s missile program will not stop under any circumstance while the country’s foreign ministry said that the test-firing was not a violation of the nuclear deal. In this photo, missiles are displayed during an exhibition on the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, as part of the ‘Sacred Defense Week’ commemorating the 8-year war on Sept. 28, 2014 at a park, northern Tehran. Photo: Getty Images/AFP/Atta Kenare

A senior commander for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced late Wednesday that the country’s missile program will not stop under any circumstances. The statement from the official comes as IRGC test-fired several ballistic missiles over the last two days, challenging a U.N. resolution and a nuclear deal, under which the country agreed to limit its nuclear program to get relief from economic sanctions.

“Iran’s missile program will not stop under any circumstances. … The IRGC has never accepted the U.N. Security Council resolutions on Iran’s missile work … we are always ready to defend the country against any aggressor. Iran will not turn into Yemen, Iraq or Syria,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told a state news network, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Hossein Jaberi-Ansari, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, said Thursday that the test-firing of the missiles are not a violation of the nuclear deal signed in 2015.
“Iran’s missile program and its test-firing of missiles in the past days during a military drill are not against its nuclear commitments and the nuclear deal reached with the six powers,” Reuters quoted Jaberi-Ansari as saying.

The first test occurred Tuesday when the IRGC reportedly fired several missiles from different underground silos across the country; however the footage was seen only for one. On Wednesday, the IRGC fired two new ballistic missiles from the northern part of the country that hit the southeastern part, traveling a distance of 870 miles.

Tuesday’s tests had triggered a threat of sanctions from the U.S., which also said that it would raise the issue in the U.N. Security Council to get an “appropriate response.” A journalist based out of Tehran said, according to Al Jazeera, that the missile tests were “to show Iran’s deterrent power and also the Islamic Republic’s ability to confront any threat against the (Islamic) Revolution, the state and the sovereignty of the country.”

Hajizadeh had reportedly said earlier that the sanctions will not stop Iran from making ballistic missiles. He was also quoted on the website of IRGC as saying: “Our main enemies are imposing new sanctions on Iran to weaken our missile capabilities … But they should know that the children of the Iranian nation in the Revolutionary Guards and other armed forces refuse to bow to their excessive demands.”

Although Iran claims that the missiles tests did not violate the nuclear deal, U.S. and French officials recently said that a missile test by Iran would violate U.N. Security Council resolution 2231 that asked the Islamic republic not to conduct “any activity” related to ballistic missiles, which can deliver nuclear weapons.

Iraq Cabinet Succumbs To Antichrist’s Demands (Revelation 13:11)

Iraq’s al-Sadr supporters back PM’s move for non-partisan cabinet to fight graftsadr
Iraq’s powerful Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr wants Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to stay in power but replace his cabinet with professionals with no party affiliation so he can fight corruption, the head of the Sadrist bloc in parliament said. Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi listens to a translation during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch.

Corruption is eating away at Baghdad’s resources even as it struggles with falling revenue due to rock-bottom oil prices and high spending due to the costs of the war on Islamic State.

A year and a half into his four-year term, Abadi said last month that he wanted to replace his ministers with technocrats to weaken the system of patronage that distributing posts along political, ethnic and sectarian lines creates.

Sadr, heir to a Shi’ite clerical dynasty persecuted under Saddam Hussein, on Feb. 12 gave Abadi 45 days to deliver on this pledge or face a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Dhiaa al-Asadi, head of the parliamentary bloc that supports Sadr, said the drive for a change of cabinet was what hundreds of thousands of Sadr’s followers have held protests in the capital for on the last two Fridays. They plan to demonstrate this Friday as well, he said.

“Doctor Haider (Abadi) is saying ‘You haven’t tried me working with a professional cabinet. You gave me dysfunctional tools, knowing that I cannot perform with these tools since each one of them is tied to his own party’,” Asadi told Reuters on Wednesday.

In a speech on Wednesday evening, Abadi said that he would announce ministerial changes soon and that the cabinet would be made of “competent professionals” who reflect the nation’s ethnic and sectarian makeup.

But while all political parties publicly support reform and are against corruption, they have yet to respond to Abadi’s request that they refrain from having representatives in the cabinet, contrary to the practice put in place after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ended Saddam’s regime.

Asadi said his group supports the move, however.

“We told him (Abadi) ‘We will form a bloc in parliament that will transcend the sectarian and ethnic groups that will form a majority and that will be ready to vote for you’,” he said.

The Sadrist bloc, called al-Ahrar, accounts for only 34 of parliament’s 328 members. But Asadi said more than 30 representatives of other blocs have already agreed to join the initiative to form a parliamentary coalition including Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds.

Keeping up the pressure for change on the streets, the cleric al-Sadr has asked his followers to demonstrate again this Friday in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square.

Last week’s protest was held at the gates of the Green Zone, a heavily fortified district of Baghdad that houses government offices, raising concern of clashes with security forces.
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Last Days Before The End (Revelation 16)

THREE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT: CLOSER TO NUCLEAR CONFLICT THAN WE THINK
 

DAVID BARNO AND NORA BENSAHEL
MARCH 8, 2016

While at Stanford last month, we had a long conversation with former Secretary of Defense William Perry about the nuclear dangers facing the world. We were struck by his provocative and frightening outlook: that the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War. North Korea’s recent bluster only underlines the dangers.

Perry knows whereof he speaks, since he has devoted most of his career to preventing nuclear conflict. (Full disclosure: One of us was his student and research assistant at Stanford.) His recent book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, explains why he focused so much on these issues, and why he concluded that nuclear weapons endanger U.S. national security far more than they preserve it.
After our conversation with Perry, we attended a lecture that he gave on today’s nuclear dangers. It is well worth watching in its entirety, for he offered a nuanced analysis of the nuclear policies and capabilities of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan. After this sweeping tour of the world, he concluded that there are three main nuclear dangers today that, taken together, make the current world even more dangerous than during most of the Cold War. He pointed out that the Doomsday Clock is currently set at three minutes to midnight — the closest to midnight it has been since the height of the Cold War in 1984, and only one minute ahead of its lowest setting ever, in 1953.
The first danger is the possibility of a nuclear war with Russia, either by accident or miscalculation. Perry argued that today’s situation is “comparable to the dark days of the Cold War,” not only because Russia is modernizing its nuclear arsenal but also because Russian President Vladimir Putin might consider using nuclear weapons if the survival of his regime is at stake. Putin faces many domestic challenges, including the drastic decline of oil prices that is forcing the state to rapidly consume its capital reserves, and aggressive nationalist policies are one way to divert domestic attention from those problems. Russia is not deliberately seeking a military conflict with the United States or NATO, Perry said, but the key danger is that Putin “will take actions that will cause him to blunder into a conflict.” He argued that over time, Russia would inevitably lose any such conventional conflict, which might lead it to use its tactical nuclear weapons (which it refers to surreally as a “de-escalatory strike”). And if that were to happen, it would be impossible to predict or control the resulting escalation.

The second danger is a regional nuclear war — a danger that did not exist during the Cold War. Though he discussed possible future threats from North Korea, Perry rightly described a possible nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan as “the poster child” of this scenario. We’ve written about this danger before. Pakistan and India remain locked in a frozen conflict that is the legacy of nearly 70 years of unresolved issues — including Kashmir — and three bloody wars. Today, both nations possess more than 100 nuclear weapons. The Pakistanis have recently begun developing and fielding tactical nuclear weapons, ostensibly to offset India’s sizable conventional superiority. These short-range weapons are inherently less easy to secure and control, and clearly lower the threshold for actual use on the battlefield.

Perry noted that both Indians and Pakistanis expect and fear future attacks similar to the 2013 Mumbai terrorist massacre — and neither side expects New Delhi to exercise similar military restraint in response. Thus, the stage is set for a conventional military confrontation that could rapidly escalate into an Indo-Pakistani nuclear war — first at the tactical level, but one that could spiral unpredictably into a strategic exchange. In Perry’s words: “This is the nightmare of how a regional nuclear war would start — a nightmare that would involve tens of millions of deaths, along with the possibility of stimulating a nuclear winter that would cause widespread tragedies all over the planet.”
The third nuclear danger is the prospect of nuclear terrorism, which also did not exist during the Cold War — and which he argued is far more dangerous than most people understand. He showed a chilling video of what he called the Nightmare Scenario. It involves a rogue group of scientists operating on the fringes of a state’s nuclear weapons program smuggling out enough plutonium and bomb-making knowledge to create a single nuclear device, which they then transfer to a waiting terrorist group. This group then uses commercial air, sea, and land transport to infiltrate the bomb into the United States and detonate it in downtown Washington, D.C. — inflicting tens of thousands of casualties and effectively decapitating the U.S. government. The terrorists threaten further attacks on other major American cities if all U.S. troops deployed overseas are not immediately brought home. The resultant chaos plunges the nation into a paroxysm of civil disorder, mass roundups of thousands of suspects, and martial law.

This scenario may be unlikely, but it is both credible and chilling — and a little-discussed danger for the United States. Its dangers lie not just in tens or hundreds of thousands of casualties from such a devastating attack here at home, but in the potential for the United States to plunge into chaos and respond in ways that forever alter the essence of what it means to be an American. Both the catastrophic destruction and the breakdown of U.S. civil liberties depicted in the film suggest the imminent dangers associated with this nuclear threat today — one aimed within the United States itself, not just constrained to some distant region.

Perry suggested a series of steps to help reduce the growing risks of nuclear war in this century. Foremost among them was the very purpose of his book and lecture: to “educate the public on today’s nuclear dangers, and to promote policies that can reduce those dangers.” He is a tireless advocate of improving relations between the United States and Russia, because he believes that restoring cooperation in areas of mutual interest is the first step towards reducing the dependence on nuclear weapons. He also reinforced the need to raise global awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons, and remain focused here at home on the very real dangers of a terrorist group detonating a weapon in the United States.

Perry, who is 88 years old, ended his talk on a much-needed note of optimism. He continues to work tirelessly to reduce the threat of nuclear conflict and towards a world free of nuclear weapons. But he does not believe he is a “naïve idealist,” as he has been called, for promoting such unrealistic goals. Instead, he noted that the famous Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov spent his whole life working toward political reform in the Soviet Union, which also seemed to be a hopeless task. When told he was being too idealistic, Sakharov replied, “There is a need to create ideals, even when you cannot see a path to achieving them. Because when there are no ideals, then there is no hope.”
“We must pursue our ideals,” Perry concluded, “in order to keep alive our hope — hope for a safer world for our children and for our grandchildren.”

Lt. General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.) is a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, and Dr. Nora Bensahel is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence, at the School of International Service at American University. Both also serve as Nonresident Senior Fellows at the Atlantic Council. Their column appears in War on the Rocks every other Tuesday. To sign up for Barno and Bensahel’s Strategic Outpost newsletter, where you can track their articles as well as their public events, click here.

Like the Saudi’s, South Korea Will Be A Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

03/09/2016 07:21 am ET | Updated 9 hours ago 
 
ASSOCIATED PRESS
 

Four decades ago South Korea’s President Park Chung-hee, father of the current president, launched a quest for nuclear weapons. Washington, the South’s military protector, applied substantial pressure to kill the program.

Today it looks like Park might have been right.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues its relentless quest for nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. Its Special Forces and unconventional tactics — such as tunnels under the Demilitarized Zone — threaten to disrupt allied operations. While most of its conventional weapons are decrepit, Pyongyang still could wreak havoc in Seoul with artillery and Scud missiles.

The South is attempting to find an effective response. It closed Kaesong industrial complex, which provided the North with nearly $100 million in hard currency annually. Seoul also is talking with the U.S about installing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD system. Nevertheless, neither of these steps is likely to much affect Pyongyang’s behavior.

Although the DPRK is unlikely to attack since it would lose a full-scale war, the Republic of Korea remains uncomfortably dependent on America. And Washington’s commitment to the much more populous and prosperous ROK likely will decline as America’s finances worsen and challenges elsewhere multiply. Seoul could find itself ill-prepared to deter the North.

In response, talk of reviving the South’s nuclear option is growing. Won Yoo-cheol, parliamentary floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, told the National Assembly: “We cannot borrow an umbrella from a neighbor every time it rains. We need to have a raincoat and wear it ourselves.”

Won is not alone in this view. Chung Moon-jong — member of the National Assembly, presidential candidate, and Asan Institute founder — made a similar plea two years ago. He told an American audience “If North Korea still refuses to surrender its nuclear weapons then we have to make the ultimate choice.” That is, “if North Korea keeps insisting on staying nuclear then it must know that we will have no choice but to go nuclear.” He suggested that the South withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and “match North Korea’s nuclear progress step-by step while committing to stop if North Korea stops.”

The public seems inclined to follow such advice. Koreans’ confidence in America’s willingness to use nuclear weapons in defense of the ROK has declined, while support for a South Korean nuclear program is on the upswing, hitting 66 percent in 2013. Nearly a third of people “strongly support” such an option.

While President Park Geun-hye’s government remains formally committed to the NPT, Seoul has conducted nuclear experiments and resisted oversight by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Like Japan, the ROK could develop a weapon quickly if it chose to do so, perhaps in a matter of months.

Of course, the idea triggers a horrified reaction in Washington and among those committed to nonproliferation.

Unfortunately, in Northeast Asia today nonproliferation operates a little like gun control in the U.S.: only the bad guys end up armed. China, Russia, and North Korea all have nuclear weapons.

America’s allies, Japan and South Korea, do not, and expect Washington to defend them. To do so the U.S. would have to risk Los Angeles to protect Seoul and Tokyo — and maybe Taipei and Canberra as well, depending on how far Washington extends the “nuclear umbrella.”

While America’s overwhelming nuclear arsenal should deter anyone else from using nukes, conflicts do not always evolve rationally. If Washington’s nuclear commitment is triggered, even inadvertently, the U.S. would find itself wandering down a completely unexpected and dangerous path. South Korea and Japan are important international partners, but their protection is not worth creating an unnecessary existential threat to the American homeland. Indeed, the potential price of initiating nuclear war actually reduces the credibility of Washington’s commitment and thus its deterrent value.
Better to create a balance of power in which the U.S. is not a target if nukes start falling. And that would be achieved by independent South Korean and Japanese nuclear deterrents. Such a prospect would antagonize, perhaps even convulse, China. But then, such an arsenal would deter the People’s Republic of China as well as DPRK. Which also would serve American interests.

Moreover, the mere threat of spreading nuclear weapons might end up solving the problem. That is, when faced with the prospect of Japanese and South Korean nuclear weapons, China might come to see the wisdom of applying greater pressure on the North — most importantly, cutting off energy and food shipments. The U.S.-ROK discussions over THAAD appeared to touch a nerve in Beijing, and Xi Jinping’s government indicated its willingness support a UN resolution imposing more pain on the North for its latest nuclear launch. That declaration might end up being mostly for show, but maybe not. And the prospect of having two more nuclear neighbors would concentrate minds in Zhongnanhai.

Abandoning nonproliferation is not a decision to take lightly. No one wants a nuclear arms race. More nuclear powers mean more possibilities of misuse or mistake. Moreover, China might retaliate by accelerating its own nuclear development

But the PRC already is improving its nuclear forces to diminish Washington’s edge. And allowing North Korea to enjoy a unilateral advantage creates a different, and even greater, set of dangers. The right trade-off isn’t obvious.

Which is why policymakers should consider the possibility of a nuclear South Korea. The NPT does not necessarily triumph over other security concerns. Keeping America entangled in the Korean imbroglio as Pyongyang develops nuclear weapons is a bad option which could turn catastrophic. Blessing allied development of nuclear weapons might prove to be a better alternative.

Park Chung-hee was a brute, determined to stifle political freedom while focusing on economic development. But his desire for an ROK nuclear weapon looks prescient. Maybe it’s time for the good guys in Northeast Asia to be armed as well.