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

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago

It happened before, and it could happen again.

By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg

Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM

On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.

The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.

According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.

The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.

A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:

“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”

The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.

The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.

The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.

“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”

The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.

“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.

The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.

There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.

According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.

“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,

that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,

the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;

O turn to God; lest by his Rod,

he cast thee down to Hell.”

Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”

There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.

Well, sort of.

In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”

It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.

In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”

If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Iran Continues to Trample Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

REPORT: CAIRO WARNS OF IRAN’S INTENTIONS TO ESCALATE CONFLICT IN GAZA

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF

Senior Egyptian intelligence officials warned on Sunday that Iran wanted to increase its involvement in the Gaza Strip, according to a report by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a London-based newspaper.

The sources noted that Iran was interested in bringing about an escalation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in response to the tension between Jerusalem and Tehran because of the recent events in Syria.

The Egyptian sources were also concerned about Qatar’s growing involvement in the region, which they said was trying to become a key player in the region. They believe that Qatar’s involvement is no longer financial and has taken on the role of mediator, which they feel undermines Cairo.

TENSE DAY OUTSIDE THE THE TEMPLE WALLS (REVELATION 11:2)

Palestinian demonstrators protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the central Gaza Strip January 25, 2019. (photo credit:“ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Tanks, IDF patrols and security vehicles ensured that potential violence did not boil over.

One Palestinian was killed and dozens more injured by IDF fire during the weekly protests which saw some 10,000 demonstrators riot along the Gaza security fence. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 25-year-old Ehab Atallah Abed was killed during clashes with IDF troops east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Another 24 were injured, including f14 minors, the ministry was quoted by Palestinian Wafa news as saying.

Friday riots on the Gaza border came amid rising tensions between Israel and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. The dispute gathered steam last week over a $15 million transfer of salaries from Qatar to Gaza, which was temporarily blocked by Israel and then by Hamas. Sniper fire from the enclave raised alert levels that worse might come on Friday, when protesters descend to the border area weekly.

On Friday, the fields along the border fence, where Israeli communities are within eyesight of Palestinian houses in Gaza, tensions ran high. Tanks, IDF patrols and security vehicles ensured that potential violence did not boil over. Near Kibbutz Nahal Oz and in the northern Gaza Strip, smoke and tear gas could be seen in Gaza and as well as hundreds of protesters.

Five locations along the Gaza border, where Palestinian urban areas sprawl toward the border fence, have become flashpoints over almost 10 months of protests that Hamas has called the “March of Return.” Every Friday protesters gather and confront the IDF. On January 25, the protests began after Friday prayers and stretched into sunset. From the border, tear gas fired near the crowds could be seen and distant rifle fire, fired into the air somewhere in Gaza City, could be heard.

Despite calls on the Palestinian side to increase protests and rumors that violence would increase, the protests mostly passed without major incidents on the Israeli side. This is due to the long experience of months confronting the same kind of riots every week and the frustration on the Gazan side at the ineffectiveness of the demonstrations. The IDF cordoned off some access to Gaza, telling journalists that part of the area was a closed military zone. In the distance, security jeeps and a tank could be seen from Kibbutz Nahal Oz, whose fence is only a kilometer from the Palestinian enclave.

Several local residents watched the smoke and tear gas that billowed infrequently from near the Karni factories and crossing. Just before sunset, Palestinian ambulances were heard frequently arriving and leaving the border area, their sirens blazing. The protesters chanted and waved Palestinian flags. However, threats that the demonstrations Friday would be a major escalation after several days of tension did not materialize.

An ambulance was reportedly hit with tear gas canisters in eastern Gaza, wounding six paramedics, the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Ministry of Health said. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that the rioters had been burning tires, throwing rocks and hand grenades at Israeli troops, who responded by riot dispersal means, including firing rubber-coated steel rounds and live bullets at the protesters.

Earlier on Friday, two Palestinians were taken into custody after they crossed the border fence from Gaza. The military said they were unarmed.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi toured the border area during the protests and held a situational assessment with senior commanders,  hearing reports from the commander of the Northern Brigade, Col. Avi Rosenfeld,  the commander of the Gaza Division, Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano and the head of the southern Command Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevi. 

Later on, during a tour of the Gaza Strip fence, Halevy met with the officer who was lightly wounded earlier this week after sniper fire hit his helmet.

Head of IDF Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevy, meets an officer who was shot in the helmet by a Gazan sniper / IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

India Builds up the Nuclear Triad

India is Building a Deadly Force of Nuclear-Missile Submarines

On November 4, 2018, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced that the Arihant, the Indian Navy’s first domestically-built nuclear-powered submarine, completed her first deterrence patrol. The Arihant, which means “Slayer of Enemies” in Sanskrit, uses a uranium-fueled pressurized light-water reactor to generate 83-megawatts of electricity, allowing the submarine to swim underwater for months at a time at speeds as high as twenty-four knots.

Even more important than the Arihant’s propulsion system, however, are the weapons presumably stowed in her four vertical launch tubes: up to a dozen K-15 Sagarika (“Oceanic”) nuclear-tipped missiles designed to launch from underwater to annihilate an adversary’s cities and military bases. (Note that the warheads are usually stowed separately from the missiles per Indian doctrine.)

The Arihant is the lead-ship of India’s most expensive defense program ever, valued at $13 billion, with its origins in the secretive Advanced Tactical Vessel program in the 1990s. Indian engineers received substantial Russian assistance designing the Arihant, basing her in part on the Russian Akula-class attack submarine, one of the quietest types operated by the Russian Navy. The Indian Navy’s only other operational nuclear-submarine is the Akula-class Chakra II under lease from Russia through 2022.

However, instead of developing an attack sub for hunting enemy warships and submarines, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) wanted a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN or “boomer”) to complement India’s land- and air-based nuclear forces . Because nuclear-powered submarines can remain submerged for months at a time and deliver their weapons from underwater, they are considered the asset most likely to survive a nuclear “first strike” by an adversary, guaranteeing an apocalyptic second strike in retaliation.

The Arihant was launched in 2009 but underwent seven years of testing and sea trials before finally being discreetly commissioned in August 2016. However, just four months later, a hatch left open in port caused the 6,500-ton submarine to flood with corrosive saltwater. Because of the bizarre mistake, the Indian Navy was forced to delay deployment for 10 months to replace the submarine’s pipes.

Even with completion of Arihant’s first patrol, however, India’s sea-based nuclear deterrence will require years more of work before it becomes fully credible.

To start with, the Arihant’s ten-meter long K-15 missiles have a range of only around 430 miles, meaning that they cannot strike inland Pakistani targets, including the capital Islamabad. Nor could K-15s hit Chinese cities when launched from the Indian Ocean.

The DRDO has developed a twelve-meter tall K-4 Shaurya SLBM with a range of 2,100 miles that is due to enter service in the early 2020s. Though the Arihant successfully test-fired a K-4 in 2016 , technical problems reportedly scrubbed a later test in 2017.

Once the K-4 enters service, the Arihant will finally be able to serve as deterrence against both Pakistan and China. However, the Arihant, which remains in many respects a testbed, can only carry four K-4s—a fraction of the payload carried by most SSBNs around the world.

The Indian Navy will also need more than one SSBN so that at least a few can rotate on patrols, while others undergo repairs or are used for training. Redundancy is also necessary so that the loss of a single boat—whether to enemy action, accidents at sea, or absent-minded maintenance—doesn’t cripple India’s sea-based deterrence.

Towards this end, India has already launched a second Arihant-class submarine, the Arighat, which is expected to be commissioned between 2019-2021. The Arighat has a more powerful reactor and can carry twice the payload: twenty-four K-15 missiles or eight K-4s.

Additionally, the Indian Navy has already begun construction of two to four more Arihant-class boats of progressively larger configurations—dubbed the S4 and S4*—and carry 3,000-mile-range K-5 missiles. By the mid-2020s, the DRDO then plans to begin construction of four larger and more advanced S5 ballistic missile submarines which displace 15,000 tons and are armed with twelve-sixteen launch tubes that can fire K-6 ballistic missiles. These will have a range of 3,700 miles and separate into multiple independent nuclear warheads (MIRVs) when reentering the atmosphere.

The DRDO also intends to apply experience developing the Arihant towards building six Chakra-III nuclear-powered attack submarines. Reportedly, New Delhi’s decision to pursue the 60,000 crore ($8.4 billion) program was prompted by the 2013 patrol of a Chinese Shang-class nuclear submarine in the Indian Ocean. With a speed of thirty knots and indefinite underwater endurance, the Shang-class could potentially hunt down the slower Arihant-class, which has torpedoes for self-defense but is not optimized for such a fight.

However, devising more powerful nuclear reactors remains a stumbling block impeding development of both the S5 SSBN and Chakra III. The former reportedly may require a 190-MW reactor.

By 2022, the Indian Navy will complete a nuclear submarine base called INS Varsha, located on the central-eastern coast of India, southwest of the shipyard at Visakhapatnam. Theoretically, India’s boomers will depart from there on long, quiet patrols within the “bastion” of the eastern Indian Ocean, with friendly air and naval forces close at hand to ward away hostile sub-hunters. The submerged subs would only launch their doomsday weapons upon receiving orders transmitted via extremely-high-frequency radio from a national command authority.

Despite the many milestones ahead for India to bring its SSBN force to maturity, the Indian Navy may possess the missiles and boats to maintain credible submarine nuclear-deterrence by the mid-2020s.

Does this make the world a more dangerous place? India, China and Pakistan between them have a population of 2.92 billion people—nearly 39 percent of all human beings on the planet. A nuclear conflict could easily claim tens, or hundreds of millions of lives.

Fortunately, despite long-running tensions over their Himalayan borders, New Delhi and Beijing both maintain a No-First-Use policy. This means their militaries are authorized only employ their nuclear arsenals in retaliation for an adversary’s nuclear strike. If both states stick to that policy, neither will deploy nuclear weapons against the other.

Of course, adherence to principle is hardly guaranteed in an anarchic international system, particularly if a country believes it is facing an existential threat. Nonetheless, the No-First-Use doctrine profoundly impacts how India and China’s nuclear forces are equipped, trained and organized—as well as how their respective governments signal to each other internationally.

Pakistan, which is allied with China, is a destabilizing factor: it has dispersed dozens of lower-yield tactical nuclear weapons to its forward military units, and claims it is willing to employ them in response to a non-nuclear attack. Unfortunately, simulations suggested that tactical nuclear attacks on battlefield targets are likely to initiate a tit-for-tat exchanges escalating to horrifying strategic attacks targeting enemy populations. Pakistan is also developing a submarine-based nuclear deterrent using simpler diesel electric submarine that can launch nuclear-tipped Babar cruise missiles .

As China is also developing a nuclear-capable stealth bomber , the world’s two most populous nations will soon likely boast full nuclear deterrence triads on air, sea, and land. Hopefully, the destructiveness of those capabilities will serve to make resorting to nuclear arms an even more unattractive option for resolving disputes, because the outcome of a regional nuclear exchange is horrifying to contemplate.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

Image: Reuters

Iranian Political Hegemony in Iraq (Daniel 8:4)

Iran contributing to political gridlock in Iraq | Mona Alami | AW

Despite US sanctions, Iran appears in a more comfortable position at the regional level with US President Donald Trump’s disengagement from the Middle East. Iran is thus gearing up to consolidate power in countries where it projects influence, including Iraq.

The United Sates reinstated sanctions on Iran last November, targeting more than 700 individuals and entities, including major banks, oil exporters and shipping companies. The US Department of State designated the son of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah a global terrorist. In October, the US Senate passed bills sanctioning Hezbollah and foreign nationals and companies that secured material, financial or technological support to the Lebanese militant group and its regional affiliates.

Tehran’s fresh regional ease will increase its influence and, combined with the battle of wills it is waging against the United States, appears to be contributing to the political gridlock in Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament appointed 14 of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s 22 cabinet nominees in November. Other ministers were appointed in December. However, lawmakers failed to vote on the key defence and interior ministries, mainly because of political disagreements between the two largest political blocs in the parliament — the Islah alliance dominated by prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the pro-Iran Shia al-Binaa coalition led by militiaman Hadi al-Amiri.

The mercurial al-Sadr is perceived as one of the strongest political players and a kingmaker in Iraq. His bloc, the largest in parliament, has 54 out the 329 parliamentary seats. Power within Shia blocs is more fragmented: al-Sadr is a powerful enemy because he can raise stakes thanks to his ability to command widespread street movements. Al-Sadr has capitalised on anti-corruption protests across Iraq.

In addition, Iraq is ruled by the tradition of consensual democracy, which disregards the principle of majority rule and encourages political factions to form a participatory government. This rule allowed Nuri al-Maliki, at the behest of Iran, to sideline Ayad Allawi, who had won the plurality of the vote in the 2010 elections, to become prime minister at the time.

This policy is favoured by Iranian allies in Iraq and Lebanon. “Consensus is necessary in Iraq, parties need to agree on the ministries,” said Montathar Nasser, editor of al-Alam, an Iraqi news outlet.

Pro-Iran figures such as Qais Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, Maliki and Amiri are clinging to the appointment of Falih Alfayyadh as minister of interior.

Alfayyadh is head of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) and a member of a Dawa Party, perceived to be close to Iran. The PMF, which played a critical role in the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS), includes militia groups with ties to Iran.

The choice of the pro-Iran camp to head the interior ministry was objected to by al-Sadr’s bloc.

“Al-Sadr does not want someone who is affiliated to a clear party line, such as Falih Alfayyadh,” said Nasser. “Alfayyadh was the only name submitted for the post of minister of interior and has the support of Qassem Soleimani,” said Nasser, in reference to the head of al-Quds Force, the elite branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for external operations.

Since the claimed defeat of ISIS, Soleimani and Iraj Masjedi, Soleimani’s former aide who is now Tehran’s ambassador to Baghdad, have been playing an active role in Iraqi politics.

As Washington ratchets up its coercive policy towards Tehran, Iranian leaders appear to be hardening their stances in Iraq. “Iran and the United States are still fighting for influence in Iraq,” said an Iraqi diplomatic source who did not wish to be named.

Regardless of how long the Iraqi government takes to be formed, Iran proves once again that it disposes of significant regional clout that it uses at its convenience. The West has, more than ever, to contend with a Tehran that has the power to shape regional developments.

The Indian Nuclear Horn

Overviewing India’s Military Modernization: 2019 and Beyond

By Syeda Saiqa BukhariJanuary 26, 2019

On 10th of January, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat gave the statement that the military is launching war games next month to test ‘structures geared towards sudden and swift offensives into enemy territory by Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs)’. These new structures will be “validated” in military exercises on the ground in May, 2019’. He further highlighted the three key objectives of these exercises: to be prepared for future warfare by strengthening Indian military capabilities, become more efficient and better manage its defence budget which shows that India is trying to prepare itself for military conflict against Pakistan.

Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) are self-contained fighting units, comprising of major elements of military with close support of the air force and if need arises expanded to include naval forces. He further said that ‘after military exercises they will go to the government and take their sanction to restructure traditional divisions into permanent IBGs’.

South Asian region witnesses complex and hostile relations between India and Pakistan due to a number of historical and political events.  Indeed, both hostile states have over 100 nuclear warheads; have gone to war four times since independence, in addition to several other standoffs, skirmishes and crises that nearly escalated into conflict. This new statement from Indian side provides the latest reminder of hostility between two India and Pakistan.

General Rawat’s statement somehow raises concerns in Pakistan because the proposed Integrated Battle Groups are the foundation of Indian offensive military doctrine, which involves initiating rapid military offence from multiple fronts by exploiting the element of surprise and leaving Pakistan with neither the time to respond nor the defensive resources to stop those multiple attacks. Indian intention to operationalize IBG is a way of parlaying Pakistan’s nuclear gamesmanship through proactive war.

The timing of General Bipin statement is very noteworthy as in January 2017; General Rawat appeared to acknowledge the existence of Cold Start. Before that, the Indian political and military establishments have not officially sanctioned the doctrine. General Bipin said that CSD exists for conventional military operations. His more recent statement about IBGs exercises seem to solidify further that Indian is in its path towards implementation of its offensive military strategy.

Indian military doctrine Cold Start is to fight short duration of conventional war with Pakistan under the nuclear shadow. Cold Start Doctrine involves restructuring of its defensive formations of army stationed near to the international borders, expansion of its offensive capability with higher mobility, make preliminary gains by exploiting the element of surprise and more focus on combined operations of air-land forces. Military offensive power of India is consisted of three strike corps, an armored division each with mechanized infantry and extensive artillery support. Holding corps operate as defensive corps stationed closed to the international border and primarily meant for enemy penetrations. Indian Cold Start Doctrine would require reorganization of the Indian military offensive power into eight small sized battle groups called IBGs that combine mechanized infantry, artillery, and armor.

Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat official confirmation about the existence and validity of offensive military doctrine Cold Start a year before, justified Pakistan’s development of Short Range Ballistic Missiles “Nasr”. Pakistan tactical nuclear weapons have a definite capability to deter India’s aggressive military action.

As seen that after Modi Government, India is more assertive towards Pakistan. They have claimed to conduct surgical strikes inside Pakistan which is yet doubtful. If India continues its assertive behavior towards Pakistan, Islamabad can expect any kind of Indian conventional military attack. Again the Indian general election is going to happen in April/May this year, Pakistan is undoubtedly a subject of relevance in the India’s 2019 general elections.

During the BJP government, anti-Pakistan sentiments have flared in New Delhi on multiple occasions, prompting many of the members from the BJP to perpetuate such sentiments overtly.  Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has made several offers for talks but India repeatedly rebuffed such attempts. Because a step towards normalizing the relationship with Islamabad could be used against the government by the opposition parties, and deteriorating the vote bank of BJP government. General Bipin statement in this scenario is very significant because this is the one way to do stirring up nationalistic sentiments among the people.

Hence, India has made noticeable strides towards operationalising the Cold Start Doctrine which includes weapon and equipment procurements, forward leaning posture by constructing cantonment near the international border and shifting of logistical units, depots to forward locations and recent announcement to restructuring of traditional armed forces to IBGs. This implies that India is fast moving towards fully operationalizing the Cold Start Doctrine by meeting all the requirements to successfully implement such a strategy. However, to what extent it can dent the Pakistani defenses or to what extend it can achieve its stated objectives remains a different proposition which remains a subject of debate and is difficult to predict with certainty.

So far India is not ready for any limited, quick and swift warfare operations. India lack adequate offensive elements in their overall military. Most of the Indian offensive military capabilities are under process. It could be assumed that by 2025, New Delhi would be able to fulfill its deficiencies in its army and air force capabilities and would be able to launch joint military and air force operation with the support of political leadership capabilities. Presently, India need more time to fill the operational gaps to bring into practice its CSD. It can be said that India changed its military doctrine only to threaten Pakistan not for initiation of limited conflict against Pakistan.

Lastly, Nasr (TNW) holds peculiar position as far as Indian military’s Cold start doctrine is concerned. The induction and deployment of Tactical nuclear weapons would checkmate CSD and prevent India from any misadventure.