A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

http://www.standeyo.com/NEWS/10_Earth_Changes/10_Earth_Changes_pics/100227.Ramapo.Fault.map2.jpgA Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Saudis Call for End to Iran Deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia called the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers a “flawed agreement” on Monday, on the eve of a meeting between the Saudi crown prince and U.S. President Donald Trump who have both been highly critical of Iran.

“Our view of the nuclear deal is that it’s a flawed agreement,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Washington.

The meeting between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Trump comes at a time when Riyadh and Washington have been strengthening their relationship after tensions under the previous U.S. administration, in part over Iran.

Jubeir called out Iran for what Riyadh has long slammed as Tehran’s destabilizing behavior in the region. “We’ve called for tougher policies towards Iran for years,” he said.

“We’re looking at ways in which we can push back against Iran’s nefarious activities in the region,” Jubeir said, lambasting Tehran’s support for the Houthi militia in Yemen and support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Iran denies interference in the region’s affairs.

Saudi Arabia had viewed with unease the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, which it felt considered Riyadh’s alliance with Washington less important than negotiating the Iran nuclear deal.

Saudi state news agency SPA said the crown prince left for the United States on Monday to begin the visit, which is also expected to include meetings with business leaders and stops in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.

It is first visit by Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS as he known in Western circles, to the United States since he became heir apparent.

The ambitious young prince has embarked on reforms to modernize deeply conservative Saudi Arabia.

He visited Britain this month on his first foreign tour since his rise as part of efforts to persuade Western allies that “shock” reforms have made his country, the world’s top oil exporter, a better place to invest and a more tolerant society.

He will meet Trump on Tuesday at the White House. He will also see members of the U.S. Congress, some of whom have been critical of the Saudi campaign in Yemen, particularly the humanitarian situation and civilian casualties.

Senior Trump administration officials who briefed reporters ahead of the visit said Trump wants to resolve a dispute between Gulf states and Qatar, although the Saudi foreign minister called the issue a “very small matter.”

Trump also wants to arrange a summit of Gulf states, the officials said.

Commercial ties also figure into the visit.

“While the crown prince is in Washington, we will be advocating for $35 billion in commercial deals for U.S. companies that would support 120,000 American jobs,” one official said.

Executives form the largest U.S. defense companies, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing plan to attend an industry round table with Prince Mohammed on Wednesday, people familiar with the plan said.

Top executives, including Lockheed’s Marillyn Hewson and Boeing’s Dennis Muilenburg, plan on attending, the people said on condition of anonymity.

The prince also plans to meet with executives in the oil and gas industry in Houston, according to Jubeir. Without providing details, Jubeir said Riyadh would look to sign memorandums of understanding.

In addition, the crown prince will have meetings at Google and Apple , and meet with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In his meetings with business, industry and entertainment leaders, the prince is aiming to cultivate investments and political support. Several dozen Saudi chief executives are expected to join him in touting investment opportunities in the kingdom.

Any visit to the New York Stock Exchange will be watched closely by investors because of the potentially lucrative listing of up to 5 percent of Saudi Aramco expected this year.

Sources close to the process said the kingdom is increasingly looking to just float the oil giant locally as plans for an initial public offering on an international exchange such as New York or London appear to be receding.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said recently that Aramco was too important to risk listing in the United States because of litigation concerns, such as existing lawsuits against rival oil companies for their role in climate change.

Prince Mohammed has won Western plaudits for seeking to ease Saudi Arabia’s reliance on oil, tackle chronic corruption and transform the Sunni Muslim kingdom.

But the severity and secrecy of an anti-corruption crackdown last November, after he was named heir to the throne, has unnerved some investors.

(Additional reporting by Marwa Rashad in Riyadh and Steve Holland and Mike Stone in Washington; Writing by Yara Bayoumy and Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Tom Brown and James Dalgleish)

The Threat of the Pakistani Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Kyle Mizokami

Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.

Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.

Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.

Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.

The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Russian Nuclear Horn Threatens the US

 © Provided by Business Insider Russia Vladimir Putin submarine navy arctic REUTERS/Presidential Press Service/Itar-Tass

  • Russian media reported on Friday that its military snuck nuclear attack submarines near US military bases and left undetected.
  • Russia has been increasingly touting its nuclear capabilities. 
  • Even though the alleged submarine patrols near the US are militarily meaningless, Russian media reports they will air a TV series on the event.

Russian media reported on Friday that its military snuck nuclear attack submarines near US military bases and left undetected just weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin hyped up his country’s nuclear capabilities.

“This mission has been accomplished, the submarines showed up in the set location in the ocean and returned to base,” Sergey Starshinov, a Russian navy submarine officer, told Russian state-owned media. Starshinov said the vessels came and went “undetected” and that without violating the US’s maritime borders, they got “close enough” to US military bases.

The Russian media, known for trafficking in propaganda to glorify Putin and the state’s military, will reportedly release a TV series on the exercises.

The Pentagon did not respond to request for comment on this story.

The incident remains unverifiable with deniability baked in. If Russian submarines truly came and went undetected, no credible third party could likely verify the exercises. The fact that the military drill will become a TV series suggests that it was carried out at least in part for propaganda purposes, rather than practical military needs.

The submarines, which carry long-range cruise missiles that can fire from underwater, have no business coming close to the US, as they have an effective range of more than 1,500 miles. The submarines named by Russian media are powered by nuclear reactors, but have no nuclear weapons.

The incident comes as Putin prepares for an election on March 18, though he is expected to win handily. Putin has limited which opposition figures can run and controlled the state’s access to information throughout.

Russia frequently engages in propaganda to glorify its military, as it did when it recently deployed early-stage supposedly stealth fighter jets to Syria. After a few days of dropping bombs on undefended villages in Syria, Russia declared the planes, which are designed for high-end warfighting against US stealth jets, “combat proven.”

In February, Russian military contractors suffered a humiliating defeat to the US military in Syria, with airstrikes and artillery wiping out up to 300 Russian nationals while US forces suffered no combat losses, a US General has confirmed.

Does it matter if Russia can sneak its submarines around like this?

Nuclear strike targets in the US © Provided by Business Insider Nuclear strike targets in the US Skye Gould/Business Insider

Both the US and Russia have heavily entrenched mutually assured destruction nuclear postures, meaning that any nuclear strike on the US by Russia would be immediately returned by US missiles fired from silos, submarines, and airplanes pummeling Russia.

Russia is currently facing increasing scrutiny and sanctions over its meddling in the US’s 2016 presidential election and its alleged role in the poisoning of former spies in Britain. Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on energy exports, and the weak price of oil and competitiveness from the US and other players have crippled its economy, though it continues to spend heavily on the military.

Despite having four times the population, Russia’s GDP is roughly equivalent to Canada’s and military sales and power remain one of its few lifelines to nationa prestige.

Though the US and Russia are Cold War foes increasingly at odds over foreign policy, the only recent significant clash between the two countries came in February, during the battle in Syria which Russia overwhelmingly lost.

Iraq Continues to Distance Itself from Iran (Daniel 8:6)


The repercussions of Iran’s controversial arrest of the Shiite cleric Hussein Shirazi could include a weakening of Iranian influence over Shiites in Iraq. On March 6, Iranian authorities arrested Shirazi, who was beaten and insulted in front of his father, Grand Ayatollah Sayed Sadeq Shirazi, while the Shirazis were on their way home in the city of Qom. Hussein’s detention stems from a recent lecture he gave to Qom seminary students on jurisprudence in which he compared the practices of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, to those of oppressive Egyptian pharaohs who couldn’t be criticized or held accountable for their actions.

Hussein Shirazi and his father hold dual citizenship in Iran as well as in Iraq, where their influence is especially strong. Their family, whose roots date back 150 years in Iraq, founded the Shirazi political movement, which has followers across the Middle East. The Shirazi movement has traditionally held that a council of Islamic jurists should be in a position of authority in a country, rather than just one supreme leader, such as has been the case with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini or Khamenei.

Iraqi demonstrations against Hussein Shirazi’s arrest broke out in front of the Iranian Consulate in


, the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad and near the border with Iran in


. The protesters shouted slogans against the Iranian regime’s ongoing repression of their religious leaders in Iran, and demanded Shirazi’s

immediate release

. They also called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his government to intervene and pressure Iran to release Shirazi.

In London, members of the Iraqi community protested in front of the Iranian Embassy. Four people were arrested after they climbed onto the porch and lowered the Iranian flag and then raised the Shirazi flag. British police intervened to restore calm.

Protests also took place in Kuwait and other Arab countries. During a demonstration in front of the Iranian Embassy in Kuwait City, Sheikh Yussef Mulla Hadi, a leader in the Shirazi movement in the country, described the Iranian regime as a dictatorship masquerading under the banner of velayet-e faqih (clerical rule) and demanded that Shiites around the world renounce it.

Sadeq Shirazi’s older brother, Mohammad, was among the founders of the principle of velayet-e faqih, but the family believes Khamenei and Islamic Republic founder Khomeini have corrupted the concept. Mohammad Shirazi, who died in 2001, had called for establishing a velayet-e faqih, or council of jurists, but Khomeini advocated that ultimate authority be held by an individual.

Differences in interpretations appear to be leading to a Shirazi rejection of the concept of velayet-e faqih altogether. Hussein Shirazi now says velayet-e faqih, as implemented by Iran, enslaves the citizenry and contradicts the principles of freedom, equality and democracy

Mohammad Shirazi, who led the Shirazi movement, established his religious authority in Karbala during the 1960s and 1970s, until moving to Iran and settling in Qom in 1979. In the early 1970s, he founded the Islamic Action Organization, which supported liberation movements in the Islamic world, including that of the Palestinians. There also was a third brother, Hassan Shirazi, who was assassinated in Lebanon in 1980 because of his activities on behalf of the Shirazi movement.

Hussein Shirazi has made scathing comments against Khamenei over the years. In his most recent speech, he also criticized the brutal eight-year war (1980-88) between Iran and Iraq, which he described as a Khomeini political venture to expand Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Shirazi has even gone so far as to compare Khomeini and Khamenei to the men who killed the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein, revered by Shiite Muslims as the third imam.

Mohsen Kadivar, a prominent Iranian reformist cleric and visiting professor of religious studies at Duke University, has called velayet-e faqih a religious dictatorship. He believes the unprecedented, open criticism of clerical rule by Shiite clerics could create major problems for the Iranian regime. This is especially the case because such criticism is coming from the Shirazi movement, which is so strongly associated with political Shiite Islam and so deeply tied to the establishment of Iran’s velayet-e faqih. Kadivar has called on the Shirazi movement’s religious jurists to produce a doctrinal theory rejecting velayet-e faqih.

These developments, among a series of previous Iraqi Shiite reactions to Iran’s role in Iraq — such as the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr‘s distancing himself from Iran and Iraqi Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s refusal to meet with several Iranian officials — are likely to signal a potential curtailing of Iranian influence among Iraqi Shiites. It appears some Shiites are changing their views after experiencing the repressive practices of religious rule.

Ali Mamouri is Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse Editor and a researcher and writer who specializes in religion. He is a former teacher in Iranian universities and seminaries in Iran and Iraq. He has published several articles related to religious affairs in the two countries and societal transformations and sectarianism in the Middle East.

Iran Prepares For a Nuclear Confrontation

Iran warns Donald Trump of ‘PAINFUL MISTAKE’ in stark THREAT over nuclear deal

Sam Sholli| UPDATED: 01:52, Sun, Mar 18, 2018

DONALD Trump would be making a “panful mistake for the Americans” if he decides to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, the foreign minister of Iran has warned.

Mohammad Javad Zarif’s warning follows Donald Trump threatening to unilaterally pull out of the deal
Mohammad Javad Zarif’s warning comes after the US President threatened to unilaterally pull out of the deal, formally named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if it is not revised.

Trump has before dismissed the deal as “the worst and most one-sided transaction Washington has ever entered into”.

Mr Zarif said: “Considering what has been envisaged in the JCPOA in the field of research and development and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s continued measures to develop its peaceful nuclear capability, if the US makes the mistake of exiting the JCPOA, it will definitely be a painful mistake for the Americans.

“It has been fully foreseen in the JCPOA what measures the Islamic Republic of Iran would carry out if it cannot reap the agreement’s economic benefits.”

Mr Zarif’s words have come amid reports Trump’s decision to fire US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with Mike Pompeo could have major implications for the the future of the Iran deal.

As CIA chief Mr Pompeo has steered clear of calls to scrap the landmark 2015 deal with Iran, which puts restrictions on its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions.

He told the Foundation for Defence of Democracies last year: “We need even more intrusive inspection.

“The deal put us in a marginally better place with respect to inspection.

“But the Iranians have on multiple occasions been capable of presenting a continued threat through covert efforts to develop their nuclear program along multiple dimensions, right?

“The missile dimension, the weaponisation effort, the nuclear component itself.”

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director at the Arms Control Association and a regular contributor to the 38 North website, said: “Tillerson was a moderating influence on the administration’s foreign policy and his departure may have significant implications for the administration’s approach on key issues, including the Trump-Kim summit and the future of the Iran deal.

While Pompeo is probably more trusted by Trump than Tillerson was, he has been far more hawkish about blowing up the Iran nuclear deal even though it is working and on the prospect of ‘regime change’ in North Korea.”

Mike Pompeo has been far more hawkish about blowing up the Iran nuclear deal, it has been claimed
Mr Kimball suggested it would be foolhardy to pull the plug on the Iran deal in the same month that he was likely to ask the North Koreans to sign up to a similar arrangement.

He added: “If Trump really wants to secure a deal with Kim Jong-un or use his May summit meeting to launch negotiations on the terms and timelines for North Korean denuclearisation, it would be foolhardy to decide that same month unilaterally discard the Iran nuclear deal, which Iran is complying with and which is effectively blocking Iran’s pathways to the bomb.

“The reality is that the US cannot unilaterally re-impose sanctions on Iran in an attempt to change the original terms of the agreement without violating the deal and opening the door for Iran to walk away what is an effective and vital non-proliferation agreement — and create a major breach without European allies who strongly support the Iran Deal.”

Preparing For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)


Preparing for the Great New York Earthquake

by Mike MullerShare

Most New Yorkers probably view the idea of a major earthquake hitting New York City as a plot device for a second-rate disaster movie. In a city where people worry about so much — stock market crashes, flooding, a terrorist attack — earthquakes, at least, do not have to be on the agenda.

A recent report by leading seismologists associated with Columbia University, though, may change that. The report concludes a serious quake is likely to hit the area.

The implication of this finding has yet to be examined. Although earthquakes are uncommon in the area relative to other parts of the world like California and Japan, the size and density of New York City puts it at a higher risk of damage. The type of earthquake most likely to occur here would mean that even a fairly small event could have a big impact.

The issue with earthquakes in this region is that they tend to be shallow and close to the surface,” explains Leonardo Seeber, a coauthor of the report. “That means objects at the surface are closer to the source. And that means even small earthquakes can be damaging.”

The past two decades have seen an increase in discussions about how to deal with earthquakes here. The most recent debate has revolved around the Indian Point nuclear power plant, in Buchanan, N.Y., a 30-mile drive north of the Bronx, and whether its nuclear reactors could withstand an earthquake. Closer to home, the city adopted new codes for its buildings even before the Lamont report, and the Port Authority and other agencies have retrofitted some buildings. Is this enough or does more need to be done? On the other hand, is the risk of an earthquake remote enough that public resources would be better spent addressing more immediate — and more likely — concerns?

Assessing the Risk

The report by scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University at summarizes decades of information on earthquakes in the area gleaned from a network of seismic instruments, studies of earthquakes from previous centuries through archival material like newspaper accounts and examination of fault lines.

The city can expect a magnitude 5 quake, which is strong enough to cause damage, once every 100 years, according to the report. (Magnitude is a measure of the energy released at the source of an earthquake.) The scientists also calculate that a magnitude 6, which is 10 times larger, has a 7 percent chance of happening once every 50 years and a magnitude 7 quake, 100 times larger, a 1.5 percent chance. Nobody knows the last time New York experienced quakes as large as a 6 or 7, although if once occurred it must have taken place before 1677, since geologists have reviewed data as far back as that year.

The last magnitude 5 earthquake in New York City hit in 1884, and it occurred off the coast of Rockaway Beach. Similar earthquakes occurred in 1737 and 1783.

By the time of the 1884 quake, New York was already a world class city, according to Kenneth Jackson, editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City.”In Manhattan,” Jackson said, “New York would have been characterized by very dense development. There was very little grass.”

A number of 8 to 10 story buildings graced the city, and “in world terms, that’s enormous,” according to Jackson. The city already boasted the world’s most extensive transportation network, with trolleys, elevated trains and the Brooklyn Bridge, and the best water system in the country. Thomas Edison had opened the Pearl Street power plant two years earlier.

All of this infrastructure withstood the quake fairly well. A number of chimneys crumbled and windows broke, but not much other damage occurred. Indeed, the New York Times reported that people on the Brooklyn Bridge could not tell the rumble was caused by anything more than the cable car that ran along the span.

Risks at Indian Point

As dense as the city was then though, New York has grown up and out in the 124 years since. Also, today’s metropolis poses some hazards few, if any people imagined in 1884.

In one of their major findings, the Lamont scientists identified a new fault line less than a mile from Indian Point. That is in addition to the already identified Ramapo fault a couple of miles from the plant. This is seen as significant because earthquakes occur at faults and are the most powerful near them.

This does not represent the first time people have raised concerns about earthquakes near Indian Point. A couple of years after the licenses were approved for Indian Point 2 in 1973 and Indian Point 3 in 1975, the state appealed to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Appeal Panel over seismic issues. The appeal was dismissed in 1976, but Michael Farrar, one of three members on the panel, dissented from his colleagues.

He thought the commission had not required the plant to be able to withstand the vibration that could occur during an earthquake. “I believe that an effort should be made to ascertain the maximum effective acceleration in some other, rational, manner,” Farrar wrote in his dissenting opinion. (Acceleration measures how quickly ground shaking speeds up.)

Con Edison, the plants’ operator at the time, agreed to set up seismic monitoring instruments in the area and develop geologic surveys. The Lamont study was able to locate the new fault line as a result of those instruments.

Ironically, though, while scientists can use the data to issue reports — the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot use it to determine whether the plant should have its license renewed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission only considers the threat of earthquakes or terrorism during initial licensing hearings and does not revisit the issue during relicensing.

Lynn Sykes, lead author of the Lamont report who was also involved in the Indian Point licensing hearings, disputes that policy. The new information, he said, should be considered — “especially when considering a 20 year license renewal.”

The state agrees. Last year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began reaching out to other attorneys general to help convince the commission to include these risks during the hearings.

Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation delivered a 312-page petition to the commission that included reasons why earthquakes posed a risk to the power plants. The petition raised three major concerns regarding Indian Point:

  • The seismic analysis for Indian Point plants 2 and 3 did not consider decommissioned Indian Point 1. The state is worried that something could fall from that plant and damage the others.
  • The plant operators have not updated the facilities to address 20 years of new seismic data in the area.
  • The state contends that Entergy, the plant’s operator, has not been forthcoming. “It is not possible to verify either what improvements have been made to [Indian Point] or even to determine what improvements applicant alleges have been implemented,” the petition stated.

A spokesperson for Entergy told the New York Times that the plants are safe from earthquakes and are designed to withstand a magnitude 6 quake.

Lamont’s Sykes thinks the spokesperson must have been mistaken. “He seems to have confused the magnitude scale with intensity scale,” Sykes suggests. He points out that the plants are designed to withstand an event on the intensity scale of VII, which equals a magnitude of 5 or slightly higher in the region. (Intensity measures the effects on people and structures.) A magnitude 6 quake, in Sykes opinion, would indeed cause damage to the plant.

The two reactors at Indian Point generate about 10 percent of the state’s electricity. Since that power is sent out into a grid, it isn’t known how much the plant provides for New York City. Any abrupt closing of the plant — either because of damage or a withdrawal of the operating license — would require an “unprecedented level of cooperation among government leaders and agencies,” to replace its capacity, according to a 2006 report by the National Academies’ National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution chartered by Congress.Indian Point Nuclear Plant

Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center, a three-unit nuclear power plant north of New York City, lies within two miles of the Ramapo Seismic Zone.

Beyond the loss of electricity, activists worry about possible threats to human health and safety from any earthquake at Indian Point. Some local officials have raised concerns that radioactive elements at the plant, such as tritium and strontium, could leak through fractures in bedrock and into the Hudson River. An earthquake could create larger fractures and, so they worry, greater leaks.

In 2007, an earthquake hit the area surrounding Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world’s largest. The International Atomic Energy Agency determined “there was no significant damage to the parts of the plant important to safety,” from the quake. According to the agency, “The four reactors in operation at the time in the seven-unit complex shut down safely and there was a very small radioactive release well below public health and environmental safety limits.” The plant, however, remains closed.

Shaking the Streets

A quake near Indian Point would clearly have repercussions for New York City. But what if an earthquake hit one of the five boroughs?

In 2003, public and private officials, under the banner of the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation, released a study of what would happen if a quake hit the metropolitan area today. Much of the report focused on building damage in Manhattan. It used the location of the 1884 quake, off the coast of Rockaway Beach, as its modern muse.

If a quake so serious that it is expected to occur once every 2,500 years took place off Rockaway, the consortium estimated it would cause $11.5 billion in damage to buildings in Manhattan. About half of that would result from damage to residential buildings. Even a moderate magnitude 5 earthquake would create an estimated 88,000 tons of debris (10,000 truckloads), which is 136 times the garbage cleared in Manhattan on an average day, they found.

The report does not estimate possible death and injury for New York City alone. But it said that, in the tri-state area as a whole, a magnitude 5 quake could result in a couple of dozen deaths, and a magnitude 7 would kill more than 6,500 people.

Ultimately, the consortium decided retrofitting all of the city’s buildings to prepare them for an earthquake would be “impractical and economically unrealistic,” and stressed the importance of identifying the most vulnerable areas of the city.

Unreinforced brick buildings, which are the most common type of building in Manhattan, are the most vulnerable to earthquakes because they do not absorb motion as well as more flexible wood and steel buildings. Structures built on soft soil are more also prone to risk since it amplifies ground shaking and has the potential to liquefy during a quake.

This makes the Upper East Side the most vulnerable area of Manhattan, according to the consortium report. Because of the soil type, the ground there during a magnitude 7 quake would shake at twice the acceleration of that in the Financial District. Chinatown faces considerable greater risk for the same reasons.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management agency does offer safety tips for earthquakes. It advises people to identify safe places in their homes, where they can stay until the shaking stops, The agency recommends hiding under heavy furniture and away from windows and other objects that could fall.

A special unit called New York Task Force 1 is trained to find victims trapped in rubble. The Office of Emergency Management holds annual training events for the unit.

The Buildings Department created its first seismic code in 1995. More recently, the city and state have adopted the International Building Code (which ironically is a national standard) and all its earthquake standards. The “international” code requires that buildings be prepared for the 2,500-year worst-case scenario.

Transportation Disruptions

With the state’s adoption of stricter codes in 2003, the Port Authority went back and assessed its facilities that were built before the adoption of the code, including bridges, bus terminals and the approaches to its tunnels. The authority decided it did not have to replace any of this and that retrofitting it could be done at a reasonable cost.

The authority first focused on the approaches to bridges and tunnels because they are rigid and cannot sway with the earth’s movement. It is upgrading the approaches to the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel so they will be prepared for a worst-case scenario. The approaches to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street are being prepared to withstand two thirds of a worst-case scenario.

The terminal itself was retrofitted in 2007. Fifteen 80-foot tall supports were added to the outside of the structure.

A number of the city’s bridges could be easily retrofitted as well “in an economical and practical manner,” according to a study of three bridges by the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. Those bridges include the 102nd Street Bridge in Queens, and the 145th Street and Macombs Dam bridges, which span the Harlem River. To upgrade the 155th Street Viaduct, the city will strengthen its foundation and strengthen its steel columns and floor beams.

The city plans upgrades for the viaduct and the Madison Avenue bridge in 2010. The 2008 10-year capital strategy for the city includes $596 million for the seismic retrofitting of the four East River bridges, which is planned to begin in 2013. But that commitment has fluctuated over the years. In 2004, it was $833 million.

For its part, New York City Transit generally is not considering retrofitting its above ground or underground structures, according to a report presented at the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2004. New facilities, like the Second Avenue Subway and the Fulton Transit Center will be built to new, tougher standards.

Underground infrastructure, such as subway tunnels, electricity systems and sewers are generally safer from earthquakes than above ground facilities. But secondary effects from quakes, like falling debris and liquefied soil, could damage these structures.

Age and location — as with buildings — also add to vulnerability. “This stuff was laid years ago,” said Rae Zimmerman, professor of planning and public administration at New York University. “A lot of our transit infrastructure and water pipes are not flexible and a lot of the city is on sandy soil.” Most of Lower Manhattan, for example, is made up of such soil.

She also stresses the need for redundancy, where if one pipe or track went down, there would be another way to go. “The subway is beautiful in that respect,” she said. “During 9/11, they were able to avoid broken tracks.”

Setting Priorities

“On the policy side, earthquakes are a low priority,” said Guy Nordenson, a civil engineer who was a major proponent of the city’s original seismic code, “and I think that’s a good thing.” He believes there are more important risks, such as dealing with the effects of climate change.

“There are many hazards, and any of these hazards can be as devastating, if not more so, than earthquakes,” agreed Mohamed Ettouney, who was also involved in writing the 1995 seismic code.

In fact, a recent field called multi-hazard engineering has emerged. It looks at the most efficient and economical way to prepare for hazards rather than preparing for all at once or addressing one hazard after the other. For example, while addressing one danger (say terrorism) identified as a priority, it makes sense to consider other threats that the government could prepare for at the same time (like earthquakes).

Scientists from Lamont-Doherty are also not urging anybody to rush to action in panic. Their report is meant to be a first step in a process that lays out potential hazards from earthquakes so that governments and businesses can make informed decisions about how to reduce risk.

“We now have a 300-year catalog of earthquakes that has been well calibrated” to estimate their size and location, said Sykes. “We also now have a 34-year study of data culled from Lamont’s network of seismic instruments.”

The Iran Deal Will Soon End

Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Sunday he expected President Donald Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement in May.

“The Iran deal will be another issue that’s coming up in May, and right now it doesn’t feel like it’s gonna be extended,” Corker said on the CBS “Face the Nation” program.

Asked if he believed Trump would pull out on May 12, the deadline for the president to issue a new waiver to suspend Iran sanctions as part of the deal, Corker responded, “I do. I do.”

Britain, France and Germany have proposed fresh EU sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles and its role in Syria’s war, according to a confidential document, in a bid to persuade Washington to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

The joint paper, seen by Reuters, was sent to European Union capitals on Friday, said two people familiar with the matter, to sound out support for such sanctions as they would need the support of all 28 EU member governments.

The proposal is part of an EU strategy to save the accord signed by world powers that curbs Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, namely by showing Trump that there are other ways to counter Iranian power abroad.

Trump delivered an ultimatum to the European signatories on January 12. It said they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” – which was sealed under his predecessor Barack Obama – or he would refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran. U.S. sanctions will resume unless Trump issues fresh “waivers” to suspend them on May 12

Why China and Russia Aren’t Our Enemies (Daniel 7)

“[Rome] pretends to aspire to peace but unerringly generates war…there was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger…Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors…the whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies.” ~ Joseph Schumpeter (1918)

Some readers will barely finish reading the title of this piece before the ad hominem attacks commence. They’ll surely label me a Putin crony or a China apologist before reaching the second paragraph. Such is life in this age of militarism, hyper-partisanship and American hysteria. Sure, Russia has been accused of meddling in the 2016 elections; and, yes, China is flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and investing heavily across Eurasia and Africa. Maybe its even fair to consider Russia and China as competitors on the world stage. Still, none of that justifies war or the threat of war. The U.S. has seen darker days (like two world wars and a Cold War nuclear showdown) and there’s little cause for panic. Instead, the rhetoric of the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy (NDS), which refers to China and Russia as “revisionist powers,” reads like 1950s anti-Soviet-alarmism.

President Trump lacks anything close to a consistent foreign policy doctrine or dogma, which, well, can be both a good and a bad thing. His generals, on the other hand – Mattis, Kelly, and McMaster – are all hyper-interventionists bent on perpetual American exceptionalist hegemony. And, for these true believers, there are only two countries standing in the way of a new Pax Americana: China and Russia. Seriously, read the NDS summary and you’ll see what I mean. Look, I don’t know exactly what occurred between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016 – honestly, no one does. But for me, the Trump team’s hardline defense rhetoric and combative posture towards the twin Eurasian powers of China and Russia, has never jived with the MSNBC-Russia gate-collusion narrative. Of course, I could be wrong.

What’s certain, however, is this: neither Russia or China have the capacity nor the intent for global conquest. These are nuclear-armed regional titans, and, at least in China’s case, have real economic clout. What they’re decidedly not is super villains. All the alarmism surrounding Russia and China (and North Korea and Iran, for that matter) serves none but the military-industrial complex, the arms dealers, and hawkish politicians who bully their way to power through the force of inflated threats. The US military – no how much we thank the troops and pour on the faux adulation – is already overstretched, fighting several small, indecisive wars simultaneously across the Greater Middle East. The soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors can’t possibly forward deploy – indefinitely – to balance against Russian and Chinese invasions that just aren’t coming. That’s just madness…absurdity…the specialty of post-9/11 America.

A Stroll in the Other Guys’ Shoes

Humor me with a quick thought experiment: imagine a foreign power possessing the strongest military in the world set up bases in Canada, Mexico, and on various Caribbean Islands; that its ships cruised the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico with regularity; that it forward-deployed nuclear weapons in Central America; that it built an alliance with every power in North America besides us and conducted regular military exercises along the Rio Grande and in the Puget Sound. How might the United States respond? I’d bet on all out war, but hey, who knows.

The point is, that’s the way the world looks when viewed from Moscow or Beijing. This shouldn’t imply that Putin or Xi Jinping are swell guys without skeletons in their proverbial closets. It’s just the stark reality. Only most Americans are too self-obsessed and blinded by self-righteousness to walk a mile in Russian or Chinese shoes. We’re special, we’re exceptional – it’s the other guy that’s (always) wrong.

The Great White Hype: Inflating the Russian Bear

Russia ain’t no angel. Since 2008, it has fought a war with neighboring Georgia, annexed the Crimea, and not-so-surreptitiously intervened in Ukraine. See, but it isn’t so simple. Foreign affairs unfold in manifold gray areas and Uncle Sam doesn’t have such a clean track record itself!

Context matters! Remember, that all the above actions occurred directly adjacent to Russia’s borders, in its neighborhood. Georgia (backed by NATO and the US) wasn’t so innocent and helped provoke the Russian bear at the outset of war. The people of Crimea wanted to join Russia and only became Ukrainian property due to a deal struck by Premier Khrushchev in the 1950s. In the Ukraine, the US appears to have colluded with the pro-Western opposition to overthrow an elected government long before the Russians intervened. Most significantly, despite promises made by then President George H.W. Bush, the (by definition anti-Russian) NATO military alliance has spread eastward right to Moscow’s borders.

Speaking of borders, Russia has fourteen countries touching its territory on land alone. Russia is encircled by adversaries and feels deeply threatened. And, despite an impressive arsenal of nukes, Russia is weak. Its essentially a petro-state that’s hostage to the fluctuation of oil and gas prices, boasting – at best – an economy about the size of Spain or Italy. Russian men also suffer from a serious alcohol, suicide, and life expectancy crisis. White ethnic Russians are losing demographic ground to a growing Muslim population, which spooks Putin and company. Their Defense spending is about a tenth of the United States and less than half that of a British-German-French combo. Russian tanks and armored vehicles appear daunting next to Latvia, but it still has a GDP just 11% that of the European Union and lacks the air or sea lift capacity to project power globally. Russia has one aircraft carrier. The US has (depending on the source) about 20 of various sizes.

The prognosis: Russia is, at best, playing a losing hand with remarkable skill. Western Europe is not in danger of conquest and the US homeland is quite safe. The Russian military is more likely to get bogged down fighting Islamists in the Caucasus or Mid East than to invade Poland. It may nibble at the edges of its eastern and southern rim but has neither the capacity or intent to assert itself globally. Besides, if forced to do so, a European coalition can and will easily check Russia’s most aggressive moves along its borders.

The Asian Invasion: Inflating the Chinese Dragon

China’s no stranger to controversy either. It claims a slew of sandy islands in the South China Sea and bullies smaller neighbors economically and at sea. It’s constructing infrastructure for a trade route through Central and South Asia that will only increase its economic clout. Still, some perspective is in order. The South China Sea is essentially China’s version of the Caribbean, a sea which the US Navy has dominated for some 200 years, often through Marine Corps interventions and CIA-inspired coups. This is China’s backyard, and they’ve got a population over 1 billion, with the #1 or #2 world economy. Is it so crazy to expect they’d be a major player in East Asia? Over time, the US will either have to accept this and seek mutually beneficial coexistence, or, otherwise, fight a potentially cataclysmic war, which, no one would really win (especially when the global economy collapses and nukes begin-a-flying).

China, too, has fourteen land neighbors (the US has two) – many of them hostile. Russia, historically, is not a natural ally and the two fought serious border clashes during the 1960s. A coalition of maritime neighbors, allied with the US Navy, are actively contesting those islands in the South China Sea. Sure, China could punish them with sanctions, but – since their economies are inextricably linked – would also hurt itself in the process.

China’s military spending is still one-third that of the US, and even smaller if one includes powerful US regional partners like Japan, South Korea, India, and Australia. For all the fear of its navy turning the Western Pacific into a “Chinese lake,” it still has a single aircraft carrier. It’s local (US-allied) neighbors have quite a few more; Japan has four; India and Australia two each; and even South Korea matches China’s one! Admittedly, due to Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) missile technology (which China has heavily invested in), aircraft carriers are no longer the be all, end all, of naval power. Still, if a state seeks to project power globally – as we’re told China intends to do – its going to need more than one old, leaky, former Russian carrier.

China, like Russia, also has a future demographic problem, mainly due to its long standing “one child policy” and low birthrate. It also faces a natural US ally with a growing population, economy, and military on its southwest border: India. All those inconveniences are likely to keep China busy for at least a generation or two.

The prognosis: China’s economic and military might are expanding. Still, it has nowhere near the global reach of the United States, and its economy is far too interdependent with America to risk a war of expansion. They’ll eventually become the big boy on the block in their own neighborhood (just like we are in the Gulf of Mexico!) and take their inevitable place among the major powers. None of that requires, or could even be avoided by, a catastrophic war. China isn’t coming for California, except, perhaps, to collect some debts.

Let us review, then: Putin is a nasty guy and probably a killer; XI is centralizing power in his authoritarian single party system. Putin wants to regain some of Russia’s (or the Soviet Union’s) former regional clout XI desires regional preeminence in the South China Sea. This author, at least, is not a particular fan of either strongman. There’s my disclaimer…again.

Yet even if we accept all of the above as a given, it doesn’t add up to Russian or Chinese schemes for world conquest or global hegemony. Nor is Putin or XI (or even Kim Jong Un) irrationally suicidal enough to actually launch a nuke at Los Angeles. Love em or hate em, these are generally rational men seeking national security and limited military gains at the margins of their local regions.

It is the United States, rather – you know, the “beacon of freedom” – that deploys commandoes and military advisers to around 70% of the countries in the world. It is the United States, and only the United States, which rings our “adversaries” with hundreds of military bases and spends more on Defense than most of the rest of the world combined. And, uncomfortable though it may be, it’s the United States that often tops international polls as the greatest threat to global peace.

Maybe the rest of the world is crazy, mistaken, and only us Americans gaze upon this world with objective eyes. Maybe Russia, China, and a slew of other rogue states really are bent on global empire and the US military must police the global commons from now till eternity.

Maybe; but, what if we’re wrong?

Major Danny Sjursen, an Antiwar.com regular, is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast “Fortress on a Hill,” co-hosted with fellow vet Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson.

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

Copyright 2018 Danny Sjursen

North Korea Will Not Be a Nuclear Horn


South Korea’s foreign minister says North Korea’s leader has “given his word” he’s committed to denuclearization, a prime condition for a potential summit with President Donald Trump in May.

Trump has agreed to what would be historic talks after South Korean officials relayed that Kim Jong Un was committed to ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons and was willing to halt nuclear and missile tests.

North Korea hasn’t publicly confirmed the summit plans, and a meeting place isn’t known.

South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha says Seoul has asked the North “to indicate in clear terms the commitment to denuclearization” and she says Kim’s “conveyed that commitment.”

She tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “he’s given his word” and it’s “the first time that the words came directly” from the North’s leader.