The “Zone” of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

North Jersey region among ‘most active’ earthquake zones

Matt Fagan, Staff writer, @fagan_nj

Northern New Jersey, which straddles a significant ancient crack in the Earth’s crust known as the Ramapo Fault, recorded 16 earthquakes last year, an unusually high number for the area.

It had been relatively quiet this year, until geologists recorded a 1.3 magnitude quake last weekend in Morris Plains, and then a 1.0 magnitude quake Saturday in Morristown.

Last weekend’s tremor was reported by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Observatory to the Morris Plains Police Department, which issued an advisory to residents on Monday morning.

Lamont-Doherty spokesman Kevin Krajick said the quake was pinpointed to a shallow depth of 6 kilometers just north of Grannis Avenue, between Mountain and Sun Valley ways, about 500 feet southeast of Mountain way School.

Rutgers Newark geology professor talks about earthquakes in northern New Jersey. Matt Fagan/

“It was a very small earthquake at a very shallow depth,” Krajick said. “Most people would not feel an earthquake that small unless they were absolutely right under it, if that.”

“To date (there) were no reported injuries or damage related to the earthquake and no Morris Plains residents reported any activity to this agency,” according to Morris Plains police Chief Jason Kohn

On the other hand, Butler Police Lt. Mike Moeller said his department received “a bunch of calls about it, between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.”

Saturday’s earthquake was so minor that Morristown police said they received no calls from residents

Earthquakes are generally less frequent and less intense in the Northeast compared to the U.S. Pacific Coast, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. But due to geological differences between the regions, earthquakes of similar magnitude affect an area 10 times larger in the Northeast compared to the West Coast.

The 16 tremors recorded in 2016 were minor, generally 1 or 2 magnitude, often misinterpreted as explosions, said Alexander Gates, geology professor at Rutgers University Newark campus.

“A lot of people in Butler felt them over the course of the last year, but a lot of them didn’t know it was an earthquake,” Gates said.

Butler is the borough, but also the name of the fault that sits at the end of aseries of others belonging to the Ramapo Fault, Gates said.

The Ramapo fault, Gates said, is the longest in the Northeast and runs from Pennnsylvania through New Jersey, snaking northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before coming to an end in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant.

The small area, Gates said, is considered the most seismically active region east of the Mississippi based on data gathered since 1974, when seismographs were installed.

“I’d be willing to bet that you’d have to go all the way to Canada and all the way to South Carolina before you’d get one that active,” Gates said of the area which runs from the New York state line in the Ringwood and Mahwah area down to Butler and central Passaic County, Gates said.

Of last year’s 16 earthquakes, 12 were directly associated with the faults around Butler, Gates said.

Butler Councilman Ray Verdonik said area residents are well aware of the frequency of earthquakes and agrees they are often difficult to discern.

During one earthquake, the councilman said he and his neighbors rushed from their homes.

“We thought it was from Picatinny Arsenal or a sonic boom.” he said.

Won-Young Kim, director of the  Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network, which  monitors earthquakes in the Northeast, said often very shallow, the low magnitude quakes’ waves cause much ground motion. He said even though the waves don’t travel very far, they can seem more intense than the magnitude suggests.

They may not topple chimneys, he said but can crack foundations and frighten residents.

To put earthquake magnitudes in perspective, experts said each year there are about 900,000 earthquakes of 2.5 magnitude or less recorded annually by seismograph. These mild tremors are usually not felt.

There are 30,000 that measure between 2.5 and 5.4, and these are often felt, but cause minor damage.

About 500 quakes worldwide are recorded between 5.5 and 6 magnitude per year and cause slight damage to buildings and structures.

The 100 that fall within 6.1 and 6.9 may cause lots of damage in populated areas.

The 20 or so which fall within the 7 and 7.9 magnitude per year are considered major and cause serious damage.

Those that measure at 8 or greater can totally destroy communities near the epicenter and average one every five to 10 years.

The earthquake recorded in Mexico last week measured 7.1 magnitude.

Gates said he has identified most of the region’s numerous faults, but has yet to name them all. Among the unnamed include the faults responsible for last year’s quakes in the region.

Earthquakes in this region are intraplate ones, Gates said, meaning they occur within the plates. Earthquakes of this type account for more than 90 percent of the total seismic energy released around the world.

Plates are the masses of the earth’s crust that slowly move, maybe as little as a few centimeters a year to as much 18 centimeters, around the globe. Faults such as the San Andreas are interplate and occur near where two plates meet.

The plate North America rides upon runs from the Mid Atlantic Ridge to the Pacific Coast. The theory is that as plates interact with one another, they create stress within the plate. Faults occur where the crust is weak, Gates said. Earthquakes relieve the built up pressure.

Boston College Geophysics Professor John Ebel said he and a Virginia Tech colleague, believe the seismically active areas in New York and South Carolina are where some 200 million years ago, the plates tried to break off but failed. This led to a weakening of the earth’s crust which makes them susceptible to quakes.

While not predictable, the data collected seem to suggest earthquakes occur somewhat periodically, 40 active years followed by 40 less active, Gates said.

“We are over due for a 3 or 4” magnitude, Gates said. “A 4 you’d feel. It would shake the area. Everybody would be upset.”

Ebel does not fully agree. He said saying “overdue” might be somewhat misleading.  Earthquakes happen through a slow process of rising stress, “like dropping individual grains of sand on the table.”

You never know which grain will cause the table to break, he said.

Still all three experts say statistically it is only a matter time before a magnitude 5 quake is recorded in the northern New Jersey area.

The scientists said quakes in the Northeastern part of the United States tend to come 100 years apart and the last one was recorded in 1884 believed to be centered south of Brooklyn. It toppled chimneys and moved houses from their foundations across the city and as far as Rahway.

Washington D.C. experienced a 5.8 magnitude quake in 2011, which was felt in the Northeast, Gates said. That quake cracked the Washington Monument.

A similar quake was recorded in 1737 in Weehawken, Gates noted.

“Imagine putting a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Weehawken, New Jersey next to the Bridge, next to the tunnel,” Gates said. “Boy that would be a dangerous one.”

In 2008 Columbia University’s The Earth Institute posted an article titled: “Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study.”

“Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” the article’s co-author John Armbruster wrote. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling.”

The threat though, is not tangible to many, Armbruster wrote.

“There is no one now alive to remember that last one, so people tend to forget. And having only a partial 300-year history, we may not have seen everything we could see. There could be surprises — things bigger than we have ever seen,” Armbruster wrote.

The Earth Institute’s article did note New York City added earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.

New Jersey also began to require earthquake-resistant standards in the 1990s. The state, following the 2011 Virginia quake, now requires lake communities to make dams able to withstand a magnitude 5 earthquake.

The issue, Gates said, is that many of the buildings were built before these codes went into effect. A “sizable” earthquake could cause much damage.

Then there’s the prediction that every 3,400 years this area can expect a quake at 7 magnitude.

According to the Earth Institute article, a  2001 analysis for Bergen County estimates a magnitude 7 quake would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone.  Likewise, in New York City the damage could easily hit hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ebel noted that depending on the depth and power of a severe quake, damage could be also be wide ranging. In 2011, Washington D.C., 90 miles away from the epicenter, which was located in central Virginia, suffered significant damage.  Cities like Philadelphia fall within that radius.

“The big one could happen tomorrow or 100 years from now. That’s the problem,” Gates said. It geological terms 100 years is just a spit in the ocean, he noted.

Then again North Jersey is more likely to be hit by hurricane in the next three years, Gates added.


Staff Writer William Westhoven contributed to this report. 

New Jersey’s top earthquakes

• Dec. 19, 1737 — Weehawken, believed to be a 5-plus magnitude quake, could be very serious if occurred in same spot today.

• Nov. 29, 1783 — Western New Jersey. Geologists are not exactly sure where it happened because area was sparsely populated. Estimated magnitude varies from 4.8 to 5.3. Felt from Pennsylvania to New England.

• Aug. 10, 1884 — A 5.2 earthquake occurred somewhere near Jamaica Bay near Brooklyn. The quake toppled chimneys and moved houses off their foundations as far Rahway.

• The biggest earthquake in the last 45 years of data available form USGS was a 3.8 quake centered in Carneys Point in Salem County on the morning of Feb.28, 1973

• New Jersey has never recorded a fatality due to an earthquake, according to the DEP.

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The Antichrist: Iraq’s premier political player

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr abandons an alliance in parliament with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in August 2018. File photo: Haidar Hamdani

Since the announcement of election results in May, Muqtada al-Sadr has emerged as the leading post-election player, taking over from Nuri al-Maliki who had always been at the head of post-election negotiations and political maneuvering.

Sadr declared his victory in a tweet on October 26. Muqtada al-Sadr stamped his authority over the process of negotiations from the start and sustained it throughout.  He started with holding talks with all the major political parties in June and July, and then formed a new coalition (al-Eslah and al-Emaar).  He lead the coalition from the outset despite the fact that it included some of the biggest names in Iraqi politics, including Ammar al-Hakim, Haider al-Abadi, Ayad Allawi, and Osama al-Nujaifi, among others.

Perhaps the press conference that was held in Babylon Hotel on September 23 by Sadr’s young representative Ahmed al-Sadr who read a statement, with all the leading figures of the coalition standing behind him, was a clear illustration of Sadr’s authority over the other big guns and coalition partners.

Thereafter he moved on to make sure he is the one who appoints the prime minister.  Al-Eslah squabbled openly and privately with al-Binaa bloc (led by Hadi al-Ameri) for several weeks over who is the largest bloc. Both tried to win the smaller political parties; however, the race ended once Sadr and Ameri agreed on nominating the same person as PM designate, namely Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

This agreement came about after the Basra unrest and burning of the Iranian consulate. The political parties felt the urgency and gravity of the situation, they sensed that matters such as the largest bloc are petty compared to the overall danger they are facing collectively, and realized that if matters get out of hand in Basra and other provinces, they would lose more than just naming the PM.

Additionally Sadr and Ameri aligned because of a desire to stop the Islamic Dawa Party holding the Premiership for another term, their tight grip on that post has gone on for too long and this was their golden opportunity.

Sadr declared his victory in a tweet on October 26. Observers agree he is a completely different political player than what he used to be; he has emerged as a force to be reckoned with and has many more tools at his disposal to stamp his authority.

As examples:

— He used his popularity at the grass root level to put pressure on political parties. They all agreed that they could not ignore Sadr or form a new government without his participation,

— He used savvy maneuvering to make sure he is in the heart of the government formation, his representative, Sheikh Waleed al-Kremawi, was the leading negotiator in AAM’s team, calling most of the shots when it came to ministerial distribution.

— He used his parliamentary block inside the parliament to sway the voting and the proceedings during the voting session. They managed to effectively install Abdul-Mahdi as PM, and prevent opponents from taking their post in the interior minister. Sayirun first used the pretext of lack of information about candidates‘ background, yet they were fully involved in the shortlisting process through their candidate in Abdul-Mahdi’s team.  They stopped the proceedings and asked for a 30 minute recess, only to comeback and distribute 14 of 22 ministries. This can only be regarded as a master stroke of parliamentary manipulation.

— He used Twitter to its maximum effect, portraying himself as the person who is calling the shots, and got what he wanted most of the time.  To this end, he prevented any current members of parliament to take ministerial positions or any previous ministers to be re-appointed in Abdul-Mahdi’s cabinet

— He adopted a winning formula to form the new government, his party has no ministers in the cabinet, yet he is seen as the person behind the formation of this new government. If Abdul-Mahdi succeed in his mission, Sadr would take plenty of credit for it; however, if he runs into trouble, Sadr would walk away and become opposition.  Either way he can maneuver into a good position without losing political credit.

Farhad Alaaldin is an advisor to the Iraqi president.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.

Trump’s Trigger Happy Nuclear Finger

World War 3: Risk of nuclear war with ’Trump’s finger on trigger,’ warns expert

DONALD Trump’s decision to pull the US out of a landmark nuclear arms limitation treaty has “definitely” made the world less safe, with diplomats increasingly concerned about his “finger being on the nuclear trigger”, a US-based foreign policy expert has said.

Ciaran McGrath

PUBLISHED: 07:30, Sat, Oct 27, 2018


DONALD Trump’s decision to pull the US out of a landmark nuclear arms limitation treaty has “definitely” made the world less safe, with diplomats increasingly concerned about his “finger being on the nuclear trigger”, a US-based foreign policy expert has said.

Mr Trump is pulling the US out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a pact signed by then-leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, citing breaches by Vladimir Putin’s regime.

But Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Americas branch of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), an influential think-tank, which has its headquarters in London, said the decision was fraught with risk.

He told “There is no mechanism for negotiating a new treaty.

“Parties would have to start over.

“If they did, this time they would surely need to include China, which shows no interest.

“Trump often talks blithely about nuclear weapons.

“I do not think his bluster signals any real intent to use nuclear weapons.

Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the INF treaty with Vladimir Putin’s Russia (Image: GETTY)

His thin skin, disinterest in facts and ego-driven decision-making makes everyone worried about his finger being on the nuclear trigger

Mark Fitzpatrick

“But his thin skin, disinterest in facts and ego-driven decision-making makes everyone worried about his finger being on the nuclear trigger.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said the INF treaty was of “tremendous importance”, because it stopped a missiles arms race in Europe and removed several classes of missiles for the arsenals of the two arsenals: those with ranges between 500km and 5,500km.

He added: „There is no doubt that Russia was violating the INF, by deploying nuclear-armed cruise missile that exceeded the INF limits.
“But this is not the main reason that Trump is pulling out.

“The reason is because the INF does not restrict China’s growing missile development.

The INF treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 (Image: GETTY)

If the US goes ahead with the threat to pull out, it will give carte blanche to Russia to deploy more nuclear-armed missiles aimed at Europe.

“So it will definitely make the world less safe.”

Earlier this week, Mr Fitzpatrick also warned of a possible new Cold War with China, after two warships sailed through the narrow strait which separates the mainland from the disputed island of Taiwan.

He explained: “US-China relations are certainly frosty, with the high-stakes tariff tit for tat and mutual flexing of muscles at sea.

Mr Trump has accused Russia of violating the treaty with cruise missile deployments (Image: GETTY)

„It would be an exaggeration to call it a cold war, though relations are heading in that direction.”

Mr Trump has referred to the use of nuclear weapons on a number of occasions since becoming President in 2016, and on Monday said the US would build up its nuclear arsenal “until people come to their senses”.

Meanwhile Mr Putin, speaking to an audience of international experts in Sochi earlier this week, vowed to destroy anyone who used nuclear weapons on Russia first.

He said: „We have no concept of a preemptive strike.

Clinton warns of danger giving Trump nuclear weapons

„In such a situation, we expect to be struck by nuclear weapons, but we will not use them.

„The aggressor will have to understand that retaliation is inevitable, that it will be destroyed and that we, as victims of aggression, as martyrs, will go to heaven.

„They will simply die because they won’t even have time to repent.”

Khamenei Lies About Iranian Hegemony (Daniel 8:4)

Khamenei says Iran did not encourage fighters to go to Syria, Iraq

Al-Monitor Staff October 26, 2018

Millions of Shiite Muslims make a pilgrimage every year to the Hussein ibn Ali shrine in Karbala, Iraq, to commemorate the battle in which the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad was killed. Under Saddam Hussein’s rule, Arbaeen — meaning the “40th” day — commemorations were subdued. With the fall of Saddam and closer Iran-Iraq relations, Arbaeen pilgrimages have become important not only for millions of Iranian pilgrims but also for Iranian leaders who see the rise of the significance of the event with their own geopolitical rise.

At a meeting with the families of those who lost their lives fighting in Iraq and Syria — fighters whom Iran refers to as “defenders of the shrines” — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed the importance of this group for the significance of Arbaeen today. Khamenei recounted the actions of the early believers who protected Ali’s tomb and likened them to today’s defenders of the shrines.

Khamenei said that if it were not for the early believers who would not allow the desecration of Ali’s tomb, there would not be 20 million Arbaeen pilgrims today. He continued, “It is the same for your children. If not for your children — your dear martyrs — if these people had not gone, the enemy would have been very close to the sacred tombs.” Khamenei’s reference to the enemy is the Islamic State (IS), which took over large parts of Iraq in June 2014. He said that IS was so close to the shrines — particularly the Al-Kadhimiya shrine, which contains the tomb of the seventh Shiite imam, Musa al-Kazim, and the ninth imam, Mohammad al-Jawad — they could have shelled and destroyed the shrines.

An interesting point Khamenei also claimed was that — unlike the Iran-Iraq War in which Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini encouraged Iranians to go to the front lines and defend the country against invading Iraqi troops in the 1980s, no one was encouraged to go to Syria or Iraq in a similar fashion. “The great task that your youth accomplished — this was for God,” Khamenei said. “We did not encourage anyone to go.”

Khamenei is right in that there was not a large push by the state to recruit Iranians to fight in Iraq and Syria. However, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) certainly was active in recruiting young Shiites in these campaigns. This is one reason perhaps why Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, and Bahrain chose to include the IRGC on their list of terrorist organizations. The list also included IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani as well as Quds Force members Hamed Abdollahi and Abdul Reza Shahlai.

In response to the designations, Mohammad Saleh Jokar, IRGC deputy for parliamentary affairs, said that the listing of Soleimani and the IRGC as terrorists was a tactic by Saudi Arabia to “distract public opinion” from the Jamal Khashoggi murder. Former Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian tweeted, “The Saudi and Bahrain regimes which govern their own people through terror and fear are in no place to name IRGC and Soleimani terrorists.”

The Clueless Clowns in the White House

Image result for trump bolton nuclearWhat Trump and John Bolton Don’t Understand About Nuclear War

Jon Schwarz

October 27 2018, 7:00 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s announcement on October 20 that he intends to pull the United States out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was, if nothing else, appropriately timed. On that date exactly 56 years before, President John F. Kennedy abruptly cut short a midterm campaign trip to Illinois because, the White House said, he had a cold. In fact, Kennedy was returning to Washington to address the Cuban missile crisis — the closest humanity has ever come to obliterating itself with a nuclear war.

The INF treaty was signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. It required both countries to forgo any land-based missiles, nuclear or otherwise, with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

In concrete terms, the treaty was a huge success. The U.S. destroyed almost 1,000 of its own missiles, and the Soviets destroyed almost 2,000 of theirs.

But arms control treaties are never about weapons and numbers alone. They can help enemy nations create virtuous circles, both between them and within themselves. Verification requires constant communication and the establishment of trust; it creates constituencies for peace inside governments and in the general public; this reduces on both sides the power of the paranoid, reactionary wing that exists in every country; this creates space for further progress; and so on.

The long negotiation of the INF treaty, and the post-signing environment it helped create, was part of an extraordinary collapse of tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the 1980s. When Reagan took office, the Soviets genuinely believed that the U.S. might engage in a nuclear first strike against them. This, in turn, led to two separate moments in 1983 in which the two countries came terrifyingly close to accidental nuclear war — closer than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis.

Instead, the INF treaty was part of an era of good feelings that contributed to one of the most remarkable events of the past 100 years: the largely peaceful implosion of the Soviet Empire. Empires generally do not go quietly, and the dynamics of imperial collapse often contribute to huge conflagrations. Think of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and World War I; or the British Empire and World War II. The Soviet fall was an incredible piece of good fortune for the world; if it had happened in the early 1980s, instead of a few years later, it plausibly would have been catastrophic.

It is almost certainly these more diffuse effects that concern the smarter members of the Trump administration, such as national security adviser John Bolton, who’s yearned for decades to decommission the treaty. Russians may be cheating on the treaty in a modest way, while China is not bound by it at all and is developing intermediate-range missiles. But it’s hard to see how this will affect legitimate U.S. security interests.

On the other hand, exiting the treaty will do more than just lead to an arms race in which all three countries throw themselves into building new weapons. It will also create an atmosphere in which any rational modus vivendi between the U.S. and Russia, or the U.S. and China, will be far more difficult. This is the prize for Bolton and his allies, who can imagine only one world order: One in which they give orders, and everyone else submits.

Bolton has the standard self-perception of his genre of human: In his memoir, “Surrender Is Not an Option,” he explains that he cares about “hard reality,” in contrast to the “dreamy and academic” fools who support arms control.

But in fact, it is Bolton who is living inside of a dream. The hard reality is that our species almost committed suicide on October 27, the most dangerous moment of the Cuban missile crisis, later dubbed Black Saturday by the Kennedy administration. Even with comparative doves in charge of the U.S. and the Soviet Union, we came close to ending human civilization, thanks to mutual incomprehension. And we avoided it, as then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later said, not by talent or wisdom, but pure luck. Then, we created a false history of what happened, one which allows terrifying fantasists like Bolton to reach, and thrive within, the highest levels of power.

President John F. Kennedy meets with U.S. Army officials during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Photo: Corbis via Getty Images

There is a standard story about the Cuban Missile Crisis, at least for those who remember it at all:

The perfidious Soviet communists, bent on intimidating the U.S. into submission via the superior power they wielded as a result of the missile gap, sent nuclear weapons to Cuba, from where they could strike the U.S. in minutes. But John F. Kennedy stood tall, refusing to make any concessions to the Russian bullies. JFK went toe to toe with the Soviets, and demonstrated he was tough enough to risk nuclear war. Finally, the other side blinked first and surrendered, taking the missiles out of Cuba. America won!

The hard reality, however, is that everything about this is false, both in its specifics and implications. It is, as James Blight and janet Lang, two of the top academic specialists on the crisis, have put it, “bullshit.” The even harder reality is that October 27 was a far more petrifying moment than U.S. and Soviet participants understood at the time — and they were terrified. Blight and Lang estimate that if the crisis were run under the same conditions 100 times, it would end in nuclear war 95 times. We are living in one of the five alternate universes in which humanity survived.

The roots of the Cuban missile crisis can be found in three main factors: America’s overwhelming nuclear superiority; the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961; and the stationing of U.S. intermediate nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey early on during the Kennedy administration.

During the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy attacked the Eisenhower administration for allowing the development of a “missile gap” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. There was indeed an enormous gap in the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles possessed by each country — but in favor of the U.S. As of 1962, the Soviets only had 20, and they were of such poor quality that they might not have managed to accurately reach the U.S. The U.S. had hundreds. This made the Soviets believe a nuclear first strike by the U.S. — something genuinely supported by factions of the U.S. military and hard right — could leave them unable to retaliate. The Soviets did have missiles, however, that could reach the U.S. mainland from Cuba.

The Soviets were also motivated to send the missiles to Cuba because they believed they would deter another invasion attempt.

Finally, the Soviets reasonably saw it as leveling the playing field. The American nuclear missiles in Turkey could hit Moscow in 10 minutes. Now, the Soviet missiles in Cuba could do the same to Washington, D.C.

The U.S. did not perceive it this way when American reconnaissance discovered the Cuban missiles on October 14. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended an immediate invasion of Cuba. Kennedy instead chose to blockade the island. But by October 26, he had come to believe that only an invasion could remove the missiles. The administration began planning for a replacement government in Cuba. All the while the U.S. was acting in the dark, with the CIA concluding that Soviet nuclear warheads had not yet arrived in Cuba to arm the missiles. They had.

Shortly after midnight, in the early morning of Black Saturday, the U.S. informed NATO that it “may find it necessary within a very short time” to attack Cuba. At noon, a U-2 flight over Cuba was shot down, killing the pilot. On all sides, war — potentially nuclear war — seemed likely, if not inevitable.

But that night, Kennedy made the most important presidential decision in history: He accepted an offer from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to remove the U.S. missiles in Italy and Turkey in return for the removal of the Soviet missiles in Cuba. But the U.S. part of the bargain was kept secret from Americans. The administration maintained that Kennedy had forced the Soviets to give in, giving them nothing.

That was, of course, more than frightening enough. But here’s the rest of the story.