The Massacre Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

A large group of protesters runs from Israeli sniper fire and crowd control measures, east of Gaza City, March 30, 2019. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

In Gaza’s Return March, echoes of an Apartheid-era massacre

The Sharpeville Massacre, in which South African police gunned down 250 black protesters, marked a turning point in the struggle against Apartheid. But it would take another 34 years until democracy finally came to South Africa. A cautionary tale for Palestinians.

His art lies scattered across an unkept room, amid tarps and spent cans of paint. In the far corner, a giant head of papier-mâché sits propped beside a stencilled wall, where the artist has traced the likeness of a British tank. The image, the color of soot and blood, evokes a particular kind of armored vehicle — the Saracen — which, 59 years ago this month, gunned down dozens of unarmed protestors here.

Here is Sharpeville, and Thabiso Gaedie, its native son, shakes his head politely when I finally ask him about the sign. At Gaza’s Great March of Return, I say, protesters held a banner bearing his township’s name. And in one day alone, the Israelis killed 68 marchers, with well over a hundred more killed since. We Palestinians, I try to explain, have our own Sharpevilles.

But I am not here to talk about Palestine. I came to Sharpeville on a scorching, late-summer day to hear from its residents first-hand, to test the logic that has made of its trauma such a common metaphor for our own. What I found is a place as forgotten as it is heralded; a place no South African I spoke with — white or black — had ever visited; and, as I discovered when trying to find my own way there, a place most foreign visitors skip, opting for the more familiar scripts of Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum or the Mandela House of Soweto.

It’s easy, I suppose, to understand why. According to government census data, Sharpeville is one of the smallest of South Africa’s townships, with a population less than two percent that of Soweto, the sprawling cluster of urban settlements that, by some estimates, is home to more than two million people. Still, Sharpeville’s size is dwarfed by its symbolism.

A mural outside the Sharpeville memorial, Sharpeville, South Africa. (Samer Badawi)

It was here, at the site of the massacre that bears its name, that Nelson Mandela chose to sign South Africa’s democratic constitution. And each year, on the massacre’s anniversary, the country’s sitting president, flanked by all manner of politicians, gathers at the memorial to lay wreaths marking “Human Rights Day” — an obliquely named public holiday that Julius Malema, head of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters party, blamed on the “nonsense of non-racialism.”

“They only care about this place once a year,” a Sharpeville resident, who gives his name as Elias, tells me. The 31-year-old is sitting at a makeshift vegetable stand just meters from the site of the Sharpeville memorial. The entrance to the memorial is closed, despite an online listing advertising it as open. Outside its gates, plastic bags litter the ground around a mural showing six empty nooses and the shadowy outlines of a tree and human face. The memorial itself is a bare plot of land, dotted with obelisk-shaped markers denoting each of the murders that day. It is eerily quiet as I snap a photo of it through the gates.

When I meet Thabiso, it is on the Sunday before Human Rights Day, and he and his business partner, Karabo Mokoena, are busy preparing for the influx of official visitors. When he is not tending to his art, Thabiso — who calls Karabo the brains behind their small side venture, Sharpeville Printers and Designs — is busy manning a six-plated t-shirt printing machine, which they secured through a provincial development program. The shirts are emblazoned with “Sharpeville 1960” and, underneath that, a shop slogan of sorts: “dompass never defined us.”

Karabo Mokoena holds one of the shirts produced by Sharpeville Printers and Designs. (Samer Badawi)

The Afrikaans word means, literally, “dumb pass” — a reference to the document all blacks had to carry under Apartheid. Thabiso and Karabo recall the pass laws that sparked the 1960 protest, and most mornings, they walk past the memorial to the 69 men, women, and children killed on March 21 of that year. At 37 and 34, though, they are too young to remember the next-door massacre that, by most accounts, signaled the beginning of the end of South Africa’s Apartheid regime.

Instead, their connection to the massacre is more immediate. Along with a small group of other local artists, their studio sits inside the Old Sharpeville Police Station, where as many as 7,000 people had come, on that fateful day, to demand an end to the pass law system. An eyewitness, whose account was published by the New York Times two weeks after the massacre, recalled the scene:

One little boy had on an old blanket coat, which he held up behind his head, thinking, perhaps, that it might save him from the bullets. Some of the children, hardly as tall as the grass, were leaping like rabbits. Some were shot, too. Still the shooting went on. One of the policemen was standing on top of a Saracen, and it looked as though he was firing his gun into the crowd. He was swinging it around in a wide arc from his hip as though he were panning a movie camera.

The horrors that day prompted passage of a UN Security Council resolution, which blamed the killings on “the racial policies of the Government of the Union of South Africa.” That recognition is why most observers cite the Sharpeville massacre as the beginning of the end of Apartheid rule. It is also why the township’s name quickly became shorthand for the May 14, 2018 massacre at Gaza’s Great March of Return.

Yet Sharpeville may be as much a metaphor as a cautionary tale.

After the massacre, it would take another 34 years before Mandela would be sworn in as South Africa’s first democratic president. In the interim, the Apartheid regime unleashed countless acts of state violence against the country’s non-white populations. With each of these acts, international solidarity with South Africa’s freedom struggle grew, ultimately forcing a change in the status quo. But this change would not have been possible without the real lives sacrificed along the way.

Before I part ways with Thabiso, I ask him if he will be attending the speeches around Human Rights Day. “No,” he tells me. “They say the same things every year.” In this, I think, is the latter-day lesson of Sharpeville. As we mark another solemn anniversary in the Palestinians’ long march to freedom, solidarity and speech have their place. But it is only with the weight of lives lost that our words carry any meaning at all.

East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness

By By BEN NUCKOLS

Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT

WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.

A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.

The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.

In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.

At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.

A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.

Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.

The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.

Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.

“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.

“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.

“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.

At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.

“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”

Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.

The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.

The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.

The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.

In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.

At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”

Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.

Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.

“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”

The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.

Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.

A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.

“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”

An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.

The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.

Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.

It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.

The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.

People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.

In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.

Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.

“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.

“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”

___

Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

Indian Point Reactor Down Again Before the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

Indian Point reactor down again, this time as a precaution

Workers decided to shut down Unit 2 as a precaution after they noticed an issue with a generator

THOMAS C. ZAMBITO | ROCKLAND/WESTCHESTER JOURNAL NEWS | 6 hours ago

This is the first time in 10 years that both of Indian Point’s reactors were down at the same time

• Unit 2 automatically shut down twice this month

Indian Point Energy Center temporarily shuts down, natural gas picks up the slack

JOHN MEORE, JMEORE@LOHUD.COM

Indian Point shut down its troubled Unit 2 reactor Tuesday afternoon to fix a persistent problem in its generator, according to Entergy, the power plant’s owner.

The shutdown came after workers at the Buchanan plant noticed that an excitation system, which provides the current needed to create electricity, was not functioning as designed, Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said.

Over the past three weeks, Unit 2 automatically shut down twice after a malfunction in the generator located on the non-nuclear side of the power plant.

Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, viewed from Tomkins Cove on Tuesday, April 2, 2019.

JOHN MEORE/THE JOURNAL NEWS

Unlike the two earlier shutdowns, Tuesday’s was initiated by workers as a precautionary measure, Nappi said. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was notified.

“We are closely monitoring Entergy’s troubleshooting efforts involving the Indian Point 2 generator, which is on the ‘non-nuclear’ side of the plant,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said. “There are no immediate safety concerns and the unit is out of service as those evaluations continue.”

The plant’s other working reactor – Unit 3 – was powered down on March 11 for its biennial maintenance and refueling. Unit 2 automatically shut down four days later.

This is the first time in 10 years both reactors were down at the same time.

With Indian Point down, natural gas’ contribution to the state’s electric grid increased, an investigation published Wednesday by The Journal News/lohud.com found.

On six of seven days following the March 15 shutdown, natural gas’ contribution to the grid increased by as much as 744 megawatts, the investigation found.

During the same period, renewable wind and solar power played a lesser role, in what could be a preview of what the state’s fuel mix will look like in 2021 when Indian Point is scheduled to shut down for good.

Another Escalation Before the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

A civilian, who according to local media was injured in a cross-border shelling near the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in Poonch sector, is rushed to a hospital in Jammu, Pakistan administered Kashmir, April 1, 2019. REUTERS

New Delhi — Seven people have been killed and 28 injured in two days of small arms fire and shelling between Indian and Pakistani forces. The renewed clashes have taken place along the de-facto border that divides the Kashmir region in half. Both of the nations claim rightful ownership of the entire area, and they’ve fought three wars over it already.

This week has seen the deadliest border escalation between the nuclear armed neighbors since they carried out airstrikes on each other’s territory near the end of February.

An intervention by the United States and other nations brought the two countries back from the brink of a possible full-scale war.

Four Pakistanis and three Indians have been killed in the cross-border clashes since Monday morning. On Tuesday, three Pakistani soldiers were killed by gunfire from Indian forces. A statement by the Pakistan military said they were killed in the Rawalakot area of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. A Pakistani civilian was also killed in shooting on Monday, and five civilians were injured.

On the Indian side, a 5-year-old girl, a woman, and a soldier of the Border Security Force (BSF) were killed on Monday. Eighteen other civilians and five soldiers were also injured.

There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Indian side on Tuesday, but the exchange of fire was continuing in at least six areas along the unofficial border dividing Kashmir, known as the Line of Control (LoC).

Government officials in one part of Indian Kashmir ordered all schools near the border to remain shut amid the violence.

A ceasefire has been in place since 2003 along the border, but both sides’ militaries regularly exchange fire and then accuse the other side of “unprovoked ceasefire violations,” usually followed by warnings of a “retaliatory response.”

The cross fire incidents have increased since the February airstrikes, claiming dozens of lives and displacing scores of people from the border areas on both sides.

The tension has escalated in recent weeks as India is just days away from a crucial national election in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term.

National security issues have come to dominate the election campaign in a major shift from previous elections, in which political parties have generally focussed on development and employment issues.

The Risk of Nuclear War Continues to Rise (Revelation 16)

“In general terms, the technology to develop nuclear weapons is an old one, dating back 70 years, and after that lots of progress has been made in technology,” said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “You can get the information, you can get the material, the education. It’s available.”The nuclear weapons club has remained small; only a handful of countries have fully developed programs. But Amano, the world’s so-called nuke chief, warns that “the current environment” makes it “easier for countries to proliferate.”“That is one of the reasons why we have to strengthen our activities to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and verify that all the material and equipment stay for a peaceful purpose,” he said.The IAEA was formed in 1957 and is charged with promoting the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technology — and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Amano, a Japanese diplomat who became head of the nuclear watchdog agency in 2009, sounded one reassuring note in a wide-ranging interview with CBS News: The threat “does not keep me up at night… the IAEA is doing its job.”

Here’s how Amano sees the state of nuclear technology in three key countries: North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

North Korea’s nuclear program advancing

Amano said that over the last decade North Korea’s “nuclear program has significantly expanded.”

“Over the past year, activities at some facilities continued or developed further,” he said.

His comments come after warnings from South Korean officials and independent analysts that, with U.S. efforts to negotiate the “complete denuclearization” of the Kim regime stalled, North Korea has rebuilt its primary long-range rocket test site and is also operating its main nuclear research facility.

The North has explicitly warned that it could resume nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Amano said the IAEA “is the only international organization that can verify and monitor denuclearization in an impartial, independent and objective manner,” but with the U.S. talks — the only real current dialogue with North Korea — going nowhere, there was little hope that inspectors could enter the isolated country any time soon.

Ever hopeful, Amano noted that the IAEA was ready and able to send a team of inspectors into the country “within weeks,” if an agreement were to be reached.

Iran still sticking to nuke deal

“I don’t see activities that are contrary to the Iran nuclear agreement … but we need to monitor very, very carefully,” Amano said of the international agreement that the Trump administration unilaterally walked away from last year.

All of the other parties to the agreement hammered out by former President Barack Obama; Iran, Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the European Union, are still trying to keep it viable.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The IAEA has said consistently since the agreement was reached that Iran continues to abide by it, and he confirmed on Tuesday to CBS News that the agency’s “inspectors have had access to all the sites and locations in Iran which they needed to visit.”

Mr. Trump had long bashed the deal as too generous to Tehran. He pulled the U.S. out for that reason — the White House has never claimed that Tehran was in violation of the deal.

“So far they are implementing” the agreement, Amano said of Iran. He noted that the U.S. is “a very important country, so, of course, it (the U.S. withdrawal) has impact.”

Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy bid

Saudi Arabia is eager to join the nuclear energy community, as rapid economic development has left it hungry for electricity. The kingdom is currently reviewing bids from international companies to build its two first nuclear reactors, but it is not currently held to the most rigid international standards for nuclear oversight. That, experts and the IAEA say, is a problem.

The Trump administration has appeared keen, regardless, to push ahead and secure the contract to help build a Saudi nuclear energy program for a U.S. firm. The White House has said if the U.S. doesn’t get the contract, a country with less interest in ensuring a verifiably safe and legal nuclear program may get it instead.

Westinghouse is leading a U.S. consortium competing for the contract against companies from China, France, Russia and South Korea.

In the late 90s the IAEA adopted a new, stricter monitoring program known as the “additional protocol.” Many countries with nuclear programs, old and new, have agreed to adhere to the new oversight mechanism, but not Saudi Arabia.

Amano said the additional protocol is, “a powerful verification tool that gives the Agency broader access to information about all parts of a State’s nuclear fuel cycle. It also gives our inspectors greater access to sites and locations, in some cases with as little as two hours’ notice.”

Saudi Arabia insists it is only pursuing nuclear energy, not weapons, but remarks by the conservative Islamic kingdom’s future king have led to concerns that it could change its mind on that point.

Last year Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told “60 Minutes” that his country “does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb — but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.

“I think there is indeed a danger of a slippery slope,” Gary Sick, senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute and a professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, told CBS News. He believes Saudi Arabia should be held to the same strict standard Iran has been.

The world “should insist on the same level of assurance; (that) under no circumstances will it ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons,” Sick told CBS News.

Brett Bruen, the former Global Engagement Director at the White House, told CBS News that Saudi Arabia “is precisely the sort of country that shouldn’t have access to our nuclear technology. Even if we see the need for an alliance of convenience against Iran and ISIS, that doesn’t necessitate that we hand over the recipe for our secret sauce.”

The IAEA has been working with Saudi Arabia for several years, and even the soft-spoken Amano wants additional verification for the kingdom.

“Not only Saudi Arabia, but I am asking all the countries to implement the additional protocol. This would increase confidence,” Amano said.

The Nuclear Bowls of Wrath (Revelation 16)

First of all, it is safe to say that detonating the world’s arsenal of nukes would be a Very Bad Idea.

A nuclear confrontation involving 100 or so warheads would plunge the world into a nasty nuclear winter. This would involve years of winter-like temperatures and extreme levels of crop failure, sending the global food system into a tailspin and creating unprecedented levels of famine. As few as five could drag us into a nuclear autumn, less severe, sure, but still pretty devastating. As a result, we could lose 20 to 80 percent of global rainfall and up to 1 billion lives. 

Now, if we consider the world’s entire nuclear stock, you are looking at around 15,000 warheads. The US and Russia both possess a little under 7,000 each, with the rest split unevenly among the remaining nuclear powers – the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. It’s fair to say that these weapons could do quite a lot of damage.

In case you are wondering what level of destruction can be done with 15,000 nukes, you will be pleased to know that YouTube channel Kurzgesagt­ – In a Nutshell has your back. In an animation posted on Sunday, they answer the question, “What would happen if all the world’s nuclear bombs were detonated at once?”

The answer is a lot.

Kurzgesagt­ – In a Nutshell/YouTube

According to scientists consulted by the host of the channel, it takes just three nuclear warheads to destroy one of the planet’s 4,500 cities. This means that even after you have taken out every urban area of 100,000 or more people, you have 1,500 warheads left over.

If, instead, you decide to put all your nukes in one basket and drop that basket in the Amazon, you could unleash an explosion with the force of 3 billion tons of TNT, according to the host. That is equivalent to 15 Krakatoa 1883 eruptions, the most powerful volcanic eruption on record.

It would trigger a 50-kilometer (30-mile) fireball that would destroy all within a 3,000-kilometer (1,800-mile) radius of the blast. This would generate a series of pressure waves that would circle the world in the following weeks. Meanwhile, a mushroom cloud would extend to the upper levels of the Earth’s atmosphere and millions of tons of incinerated material would be catapulted into the skies.

A (relatively) small crater 10 kilometers (6 miles) across would mark the site of the explosion, while the entire continent of South America would be engulfed in extreme wildfires that would make the Californian flames of last summer (the deadliest and most destructive in history) look minute in comparison.

But this is when the “unpleasant part” begins, the host says. Because this is when extreme levels of radiation would do their damage, killing living things. Everywhere from the crater to hundreds of kilometers downwind would be simply uninhabitable, while the rest of the planet would be doused in the fallout carried into the atmosphere by the mushroom cloud. The world would be plunged into a nuclear winter.

Still, we are told, “human life will go on”. It just won’t be very nice.

For an explanation of what would happen if we put every bit of uranium on Earth into a nuclear bomb and watched it burn, check out the video here.