70 More Injured Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Over 10,000 Palestinians protest at Gaza border,

One person in critical condition; ahead of the rallies organizers and armed factions had reportedly called to avoid violence, amid ceasefire talks

By TOI staff5 Apr 2019, 6:39 pm

Over 10,000 Palestinians participated in weekly protests and riots along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel Friday afternoon.

Despite reported calls by organizers and armed factions to avoid violence, as Israel and Hamas work to achieve a long-term truce, clashes were reported. Some protesters hurled rocks and explosive devices at Israeli troops, who responded with less-lethal measures. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 70 people had been injured, one of them critically.

By nightfall the protesters had disbanded. A Palestinian who crossed the border was detained by Israeli troops.

Last week’s rallies, on the one-year anniversary of the start of the marches, drew over 40,000.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh earlier Friday said talks were “advancing in a positive direction.”

On Thursday a top March of Return organizer told the Kan public broadcaster that protesters have been instructed not to launch incendiary balloons toward Israel during the rallies, and that the nighttime “confusion units” have been called off.

According to the organizer, who was not identified, Gaza factions had committed to a nonviolent protest, and Israel had agreed not to use live fire to disperse the border demonstrations.

There was no confirmation from Israeli officials.

Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar have recently worked to broker ceasefire understandings between Israel and Hamas, which, if finalized, would likely see an end to violence emanating from the Strip in exchange for the Jewish state easing some of its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave.

Israeli officials have long held that the Jewish state’s limitations on movement aim to prevent Hamas and other terror groups from transferring weapons into Gaza.

There appeared to be a breakthrough in the ceasefire efforts last weekend, when Palestinians in Gaza maintained relative calm along the border during large protests on Saturday.

Israel, in turn, reopened its two crossings with Gaza on Sunday, having closed them last week after a rocket attack struck a home in central Israel and injured seven people, and significantly expanded the permitted fishing area on Monday around the coastal enclave.

Over 40,000 Palestinians took part in the rallies at the Gaza border last Saturday, with some rioters throwing grenades and explosives toward the security fence as well as lobbing rocks at troops and burning tires. The enclave’s Hamas-run health ministry said three 17-year-old Palestinians were killed during the protests last Saturday, while at least 300 were injured.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Iran’s Hegemony Continues (Daniel 8:4)

Iran’s Deception Continues

05 April 2019

Terrorism

By Mehdi

Newly revealed information from the U.S. military points to Iran being responsible for the deaths of 608 U.S. troops in Iraq since 2003. The U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said earlier this week that the information is being revealed now because military reports have been de-classified.

To put this figure into perspective, he explained that this represents 17 per cent of all casualties from 2003 to 2011.

Many of these deaths were caused by highly lethal bombs – explosively formed projectiles, or EEPs as they are known. Iran manufactured these devices and sold them to a number of Shiite militias that it supports across the region, especially those in Iraq.

Previous estimates put the number of deaths at around 500. Of course, there have been thousands of Iraqis that have been killed by Iran’s proxy groups too.

Iran’s belligerence is something that the United States under the Trump administration has been very keen to tackle. President Trump announced last year that the country would no longer remain party to the one-sided nuclear deal because Iran’s malign acts cannot be ignored.

Furthermore, he highlighted that the nuclear deal does nothing to curb the nuclear threat from Iran. He stated that it did nothing but increase the chances of a nuclear arms race in the region.

A large number of documents were seized by Iran and this nuclear archive is something that must be examined very carefully. There are indications from these documents that Iran had been deceptive about its activities during the nuclear deal negotiations and that it has lied about where it truly was in nuclear development.

The Institute for Science and International Security and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies have been trawling through the nuclear archives to find indications about where Iran was carrying out nuclear activities.

The institute also reported recently that Iran had been deceptive about the activities being carried out at its underground Fordow plant. It indicated that Iran is still trying to keep the enrichment site open.

It is expected that more and more information will come to light showing that Iran cannot be trusted and that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was founded on Iran’s deception and lies.

Previous administrations, especially the Obama administration, believed that Iran would become more moderate if concessions were granted. However, Iran has proven, time and time again, that it does not respond to concessions. Tough policies and sanctions are the only way to force the Mullahs into curbing its behaviour. Even then, it is not because Iran wants to cut down on its belligerence – it is because it is being left with no choice.

It is important that foreign governments, especially in the European Union, work together to curb the Iran threat. It is clear by now that Iran must be dealt with in a firm manner. Broader sanctions must be put in place and Iran must be held accountable for its actions. It should no longer be left to spread chaos.

The Suffering Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

The suffering of Gaza’s population

Very little has been written about the reign of terror Hamas has inflicted on the people of Gaza.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Eliran Aharon)

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.

The Gaza Strip’s borders have been under an Israeli-imposed siege ever since Hamas – a terror organization by any definition of the term – overran Gaza and turned it into a terror state, hostile both to Israel and its southern neighbor, Egypt and also to the close to two million residents of the Strip itself.

Much has been written about the terror Hamas aims at Israel by means of the rockets, explosive balloons and incendiary kites that have turned life in the Israeli communities in close proximity to Gaza, known as ‘The Gaza Envelope,” into hell on  earth. It is important to realize that despite all the terror Hamas exports to Israel, the Jewish state continues to supply Gaza’s population with food, drinking water, fuel, electricity, medicines, and more.

Much has also been written about the terror operations carried out by Hamas and the terrorist organizations under its wing in Egypt, including hundreds of tunnels used to export terror to Egypt and help to terrorist organizations in the Sinai and within Egypt. These include the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and the remnants of ISIS, fleeing terrorists who took shelter among Sinai-based tribes.

For years, Egypt has accused Hamas of fanning the flames of terror in the Sinai and Egypt and this is the main reason for the fact that the Rafah crossing – the only legal way to go from Gaza to Egypt – is closed for most of the year. Egypt, in fact, has imposed a much more severe siege on Gaza than has Israel, since Egypt does not supply the Gazans with anything, but little has been written about that.

Similarly, very little has been written about the terror Hamas inflicts on the residents of Gaza. A reign of terror began in June 2007 when the Hamas movement seized control of the Strip and attacked the Palestinian Authority security forces with extreme brutality: Scores of PA police died when a tunnel dug by Hamas under one of the PA security installations was booby trapped and set off, others were shot down in front of their families, and some were thrown from the roofs of the residential buildings they escaped to for fear of Hamas only to be hurled to their deaths on the asphalt.

Hamas terrorists eliminated at least twenty members of Amarat Beyt al-Maqdis in Rafah when they shot them on the street in cold blood. Over the years, a good many of those who expressed opposition to Hamas died in the organization’s torture chambers. Another horrible practice developed by Hamas was to swoop down on the homes of those opposed to it at night and rape their wives and daughters. These methods sealed the mouths of many of those opposed to Hamas who did not want to pay the steep price of opposition to the terrorist organization that has taken over the lives of Gaza’s residents.

Recently, however, more and more complaints have been leveled at Hamas by Gazans, due to the disastrous economic situation in the Strip and the fact that it affects most of those living there. The only group whose lives continue as usual is that of the Hamas leadership, which has become wealthy by levying exorbitant taxes on food and merchandise imported to the Strip. For example, a box of tomatoes costs the consumer 200 shekels and one of cucumbers 150 shekels, many times more than the price charged by the Israeli supplier. Hamas, naturally, blames Israel and the PA for the miserable situation, but the Gazans are not stupid: They have begun pointing an accusing finger at those who appointed themselves to be responsible for Gaza’s future, but who first take good care of themselves.

Dissatisfaction with Hamas has grown stronger over the past few months during which Qatar transferred – with Israeli permission – 15 million dollars each month to the Strip. At first the money came in suitcases stuffed with cash, later on by means of bank transfers. These funds were not used to rebuild the ruins of the last Israeli IDF air strikes in response to incessant shelling of Israeli civilian communities, to build schools, health facilities, support welfare or employment needs, nor were they used to subsidize foodstuffs. They went to pay the salaries of Hamas employees, as if there is no one else needy in the Strip.

On March 21 – in the midst of preparations for the “March of the Million” planned for March 30th, Land Day, protests with the mantra “We want to live” erupted in Gaza. Someone even created a logo for these anti-Hamas protests, aimed at the leadership’s corruption and the terrible economic situation brought about by its policies. Other signs seen at the protests were “The Revolution of the Hungry,” “Religion, homeland and legitimacy have left you.” This last sign is the most damaging, because Hamas bases its legitimacy on its connection to Islam, love of homeland and the legitimacy it gained in the 2006 elections when it won most of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The Hamas leadership needed no time at all to realize the size of the threat posed by the street as well as its potential significance, because its members are fully aware of what the man in the street thinks of them. Before the demonstrations could gain more participants, widen their scope and begin to snowball, Hamas security forces attacked the demonstrators with clubs and kidnapped some of the organizers to unknown destinations, dispersing the protestors with severe cruelty and injuring many of them with heavy blows.

The public responded by posting videos showing Hamas security forces in their camouflage uniforms mercilessly beating peaceful demonstrators, by publicizing photographs of the injuries inflicted on the demonstrators and by posts on social media, the likes of which had never been seen before.  Imad abu Neima wrote: “I am writing to you from Shifa Hospital, from  amidst  the ever growing number of injured, and out of their rock-splitting groans and I say: The condition of the injured is very bad and they are an albatross around your necks, o leaders, and need you to take a great interest in them. Don’t lose them because that will mean losing your families. Care for them as you would if it were your sons who are injured.”

The writer’s words hint at the impossible situation known to all Gazans:  Hamas gives preference to its own families in everything, and when all of Gaza is suffering, this rankles even more than usual. The discrimination will become even greater on April 6th, when Ramadan, during which it is the custom to consume more food at night because of the daily fast, begins.

One writer posted: “Go to the Jews to learn from them [how a political leader acts towards his citizens]. Imagine!  A fellow resident of my city beat me in front of my parents!! Hamas oppresses, breaks the arms and legs of women, children and the elderly.”

Hamas has internalized the problem but lifts an accusing finger at Israel. Salah Albardwil, a member of the political office of Hamas, claims that all the protests and activities using the mantra “We want to live” are organized by the Intelligence Corps of the PA which incited the masses against Hamas while, at the same time, its men eliminated a poor boy from Gaza who infiltrated the PA to bring some money to his mother and brothers.

Hamas leader Yihye Sinwar outdid them all when he declared on March 30: “‘Land Day’…Our nation emphasizes its loyalty to our basic principles, it will never relinquish the right of return despite those who do (=PLO), despite the normalization of the normalizers (=Saudi, UAR, Egyptian and Jordanian officials), and in the face of the collaborators (=the PA).” He then added: “Our people go out today to say ‘We want to live with honor’ (=in the face of Israeli humiliation)..” By saying this, Sinwar manages to outflank the protest movement, taking the phrase used by the protestors against Hamas and re-directing it against Israel.

On another occasion, Sinwar did the same, proclaiming: “Our people say strongly that they intend to continue on their present path and will break the siege with the power of the strong or the helplessness of the weak, because our nation goes out [to the border fence] today to say  ‘We want to live with honor.'”

The PA did not ignore the Gaza protests and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the cameras: “…A curse on the fathers [of Hamas]…Dogs…we have an exemplary people in Gaza…may Allah help them..their sacrifice will not be forgotten…they (Hamas)  have to end up in the dustbin of history.”

Hamas spokesmen did not take these insults lying down. They accused Mahmoud Abbas of spreading the culture of “we want to live” in the areas under his control, meaning that he prefers they seek a livelihood, support their families and give up the opposition to Israel. Hamas believes that Abbas turned the Palestinian nation into a passive, spineless people, whose only wish is to live in the present, abandoning the dream of destroying Israel, the struggle to free Falestin and the hope for “return.”

This “we want to live” culture is the total opposite of Hamas, which bases all its activities on Palestinian Arab willingness – both individual and group – to be sacrificed on the altar of the homeland in order to eliminate the Zionist entity and return to the villages from which they claim their grandparents fled in the 1948 war.

Does the sacrifice expected of Gaza residents include the sons of Hamas operatives? Gazans know the answer to that, which is why they are going out to the streets chanting :”We want to live”

Is this the harbinger of an “Arab Spring” in the Hamas state of Gaza? Only time will tell.

Translated from Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky

South Asia’s Overlooked Nuclear Crisis (Revelation 8)

South Asia’s Overlooked Nuclear Crisis

While few were watching, India and Pakistan may have just narrowly avoided a nuclear confrontation.

By Dilip Hiro Yesterday 2:32 pm

Newly raised soldiers participate in a commencement parade at a military base on the outskirts of Srinagar, in India-controlled Kashmir. (AP Photo / Dar Yasin)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.

It’s still the most dangerous border on Earth. Yet compared to the recent tweets of President Donald Trump, it remains a marginal news story. That doesn’t for a moment diminish the chance that the globe’s first (and possibly ultimate) nuclear conflagration could break out along that 480-mile border known as the Line of Control (and, given the history that surrounds it, that phrase should indeed be capitalized). The casus belli would undoubtedly be the more than seven-decades-old clash between India and Pakistan over the contested territory of Kashmir. Like a volcano, this unresolved dispute rumbles periodically—as it did only weeks ago—threatening to spew its white-hot lava to devastating effect not just in the region but potentially globally as well.

The trigger for renewed rumbling is always a sensational terrorist attack by a Pakistani militant group on an Indian target. That propels India’s leadership to a moral high ground. From there, bitter condemnations of Pakistan are coupled with the promise of airstrikes on the training camps of the culprit terrorist organizations operating from the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. As a result, the already simmering relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors are quickly raised to a boiling point. This, in turn, prompts the United States to intervene and pressure Pakistan to shut down those violent jihadist groups. To placate Washington, the Pakistani government goes through the ritual of issuing banning orders on those groups, but in practice, any change is minimal.

And in the background always lurks the possibility that a war between the two neighbors could lead to a devastating nuclear exchange. Which means that it’s time to examine how and why, by arraying hundreds of thousands of troops along that Line of Control, India and Pakistan have created the most perilous place on Earth.

How It All Began

The Kashmir dispute began with the birth of the kicking twins—Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan—as independent countries. They emerged from the belly of the dying British Raj in August 1947. The princely states in British India were given the option of joining either of the new nations. The dithering Hindu ruler of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir (its full title) finally signed a legally binding instrument of accession with New Delhi after his realm was invaded by armed tribal raiders from Pakistan. This document offered that state’s citizens the chance to choose between the two countries once peace had been restored. This has not happened so far and there is no credible prospect that it will.

After the 1947–48 Indo-Pakistani War that followed independence, India was left in control of almost two-thirds of the princely state (18 percent of which it lost to China in the Sino-Indian War of 1962). Crucially, the 45 percent of the former princely state that remained in its hands included the Vale of Kashmir. Guarded by snow-capped mountain peaks, covered with verdant forests of fir and pine, carpeted by wild flowers in the spring, and irrigated by the Jhelum River, it has been described by poets and others as “paradise on Earth.” Its population of seven million is 96 percent Muslim. And it is this territory that is coveted by Pakistan.

In 1989, having secured the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan after a 10-year struggle, some of the Afghan Mujahedin (“Holy Warriors”), including Pakistani militants, turned their attention to liberating Indian-controlled Kashmir. In this, they had the active backing of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, of Pakistan’s army. Earlier, the ISI had acted as the conduit for channeling US and Saudi-supplied weapons and cash to the Mujahedin coalition.

At that time, the two Pakistani groups in the Mujahedin coalition, which always harbored an anti-Indian agenda, emerged front and center. They were the Jaish-e Mohammad (Army of Mohammad) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous), led respectively by Masoud Azhar and Hafiz Saeed. Working with those Kashmiris who wanted their state to secede from India, they soon began to resort to terrorist acts.

The Indian government responded with draconian measures. In July 1990, it passed the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, or AFJKSP, a law that authorized the state government to declare any part of Jammu and Kashmir a “disturbed area,” where the Indian army would be free to shoot anyone acting in contravention of “any law” or in possession of a deadly weapon. Indian forces could now arrest people suspected of committing any offense without a warrant or enter and search any premises to make such arrests. In other words, from then on, the armed forces had carte blanche legal immunity to do whatever they wished without the slightest accountability.

Yet resistance to Indian rule did not subside. In fact, the slogan “Azadi” (Freedom) caught on, emboldening both terror groups to jointly launch an audacious attack on the Indian Parliament building on December 20, 2001, with the aim of taking lawmakers hostage. (They were bravely blocked by armed guards.) In the crisis that followed, the mobilized armies of the two neighbors, each already a declared nuclear power, faced off across their international border and the Line of Control in Kashmir. Pressured by Washington, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf banned the two terror organizations in January 2002. Yet both of them soon resurfaced under different names.

In June 2002, at a regional conference in the Kazakh city of Almaty, Musharraf assailed then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for ignoring the wishes of the Kashmiri people. “The possession of nuclear weapons by any state obviously implies they will be used under some circumstances,” he stated grimly, refusing to commit his country (as India had) to a “no first use” policy on nuclear arms. Vajpayee accused him of “nuclear blackmail.” At home, however, Musharraf’s hardline stance was applauded by the militant groups.

Over the years, the crisis only deepened. In November 2008, for instance, working with the ISI, the operatives of Lashkar-e-Taiba attacked Mumbai’s landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and two other inns. After a 60-hour siege, 166 people, including 28 foreigners, were dead. Despite initial denials, Pakistan would finally acknowledge that the Mumbai conspiracy was, in part, hatched on its soil, and place Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Saeed under house arrest. But no charges would be leveled against him and he would, in the end, be released.

After the Mumbai carnage, Jaish-e Mohammad’s chief, Azhar, kept a low profile for several years, only to reappear publicly in 2014, issuing fiery calls for more attacks on India (and the United States as well). In September 2016, his fighters stormed an army camp in Uri, an Indian garrison town near the Line of Control, killing 19 soldiers.

With the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, under Narendra Modi gaining power in New Delhi in 2014, repression of the Muslim separatist movement in Kashmir only intensified. Within three years, the number of security personnel—army troops, paramilitaries, border guards, federal armed policemen, state policemen, and intelligence agents—had reached 470,000 in Jammu and Kashmir, which had a population of only 14.1 million. As a result, the proportion of local Kashmiris among anti-Indian fighters only rose.

A Sensational Terrorist Attack

This February 14, a 19-year-old suicide bomber, Adil Ahmad Dar, drove a car bomb into an Indian convoy heading for Kashmir’s capital city, Srinagar. At least 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed—the worst such attack in the troubled history of the state. Jaish-e Mohammad proudly claimed responsibility.

After dropping out of his village school, Dar had gone to work in a neighbor’s sawmill. During a four-month-long protest sparked by the killing of a popular 22-year-old local militant leader, Burhan Wani, in July 2016, Indian troops gunned down nearly 100 protesters, while injuring 15,000, including Dar. In response, he crossed the Line of Control and joined Jaish-e Mohammad. In the wake of his suicide attack, Indian soldiers raided the home of his parents, locked them inside, and set it on fire. And so it continues in the officially “disturbed” Kashmir.

In response to the deaths of the soldiers (and keenly aware of an upcoming nationwide election), Prime Minister Modi exploited the situation for political ends. He turned popular grief into an emotive and prolonged commemoration of those military deaths. TV networks focused on the flag-draped coffins of the slain troops, while local BJP candidates followed their hearses. The cremations were telecast live, while Modi proclaimed that “the security forces have been given complete freedom. The blood of the people is boiling.”

On February 26, temporarily released from civilian control, the Indian military launched a “pre-emptive” air strike on an alleged Jaish-e Mohammad training camp near Balakot, six miles inside Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The last time the air forces of either country had crossed the international border was during their 1971 war.

India claimed to have killed more than 300 militants, but Islamabad reported that the Indian bombs had actually hit a totally deserted site. (This would be confirmed later by satellite analysis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute which concludedMorning that no damage had been done to the hilltop facility India claimed to have struck.) The next day Pakistan announced that, in a dogfight between warplanes of the two countries, an Indian fighter jet had been shot down and its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, captured.

India angrily demanded that he be set free immediately. On February 28, while announcing the pilot’s release during a televised address, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan warned against miscalculation and the explosive potential for such aerial skirmishes to escalate into a wider conflict in the most dangerous environment on the planet. He said, “With the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we afford miscalculation? Shouldn’t we think that, if this escalates, what will it lead to?”

This was a barely disguised reference to the devastating nuclear arsenals that the two South Asian neighbors now possess, with 135 nukes in New Delhi’s possession and 145 in Islamabad’s. Those arsenals are more than capable of causing havoc far beyond South Asia. It’s estimated that even a “moderate” Indo-Pakistani nuclear conflict could create a global “nuclear winter,” killing directly or indirectly up to a billion people as crops failed and starvation stalked the Earth.

Those Nuclear Arsenals

Pakistan’s arsenal now includes tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) with “low” explosive power for battlefield use. In 2011, it tested its first one successfully. Since then, according to Professor Rajesh Rajagopalan, author of Nuclear South Asia: Keywords and Concepts, Pakistan is believed to have assembled four or five of these annually. They are to be fired from the Nasr, a short-range missile. Two successful tests of it were conducted this January.

Islamabad began producing and deploying TNWs after India adopted a “Cold Start” military contingency plan to punish unacceptable Pakistani provocations like mass-casualty terror strikes. After repeated denials, in early 2017, India’s army chief finally acknowledged the existence of the plan, involving the creation of eight division-size integrated battle groups (IBGs). Each is to consist of infantry, artillery, armor, and air support and is to be able to operate independently on the battlefield. In response to major terrorist attacks from Pakistan or by Pakistani-based groups, the IBGs are to rapidly penetrate that country at unexpected locations and advance up to 30 miles beyond the border, disrupting command-and-control networks while trying to avoid locations likely to trigger nuclear retaliation. In other words, the goal is to be able to launch an overwhelming conventional strike swiftly but in a limited fashion in order to ward off a Pakistani nuclear response. Overall, India’s contingency plan assumes unrealistically that, in the heat of the battle, leaders on both sides will remain calm and rational.

Responding to Islamabad’s production of theater nuclear weapons, New Delhi initiated a super-secret nuclear program revealed only in December 2015, thanks to an investigation by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity. A top-secret, government-run, $100 million rare materials plant near the city of Mysore in southern India now houses a nuclear enrichment complex that has been operating since 2012. It feeds the country’s nuclear weapons program and, far more ominously, has laid the foundation for an ambitious Indian hydrogen bomb project.

To consternation in world capitals, it was also revealed that this plant has a larger twin 160 miles north of Mysore in southern India that goes by the innocuous name of the Aeronautical Test Range. Conceived in March 2007 by the defense ministry, its construction started in 2012 on nearly 13 square miles of land. It is to become the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, and weapons- and aircraft-testing facilities after its completion in 2020. Among the project’s aims is to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for the country’s nuclear reactors, and to help power its fleet of new nuclear submarines. This nuclear city is to be protected by a ring of military garrisons, turning the site into a virtual military facility, which also means that it will not be open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Its overarching aim is to give the country an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used to create hydrogen bombs and so further enhance the power of India’s already devastating nuclear arsenal.

Both of these projects are directed by the office of the prime minister. India’s Atomic Energy Act and its Official Secrets Act have placed everything linked to the country’s nuclear program under wraps. In the past, those who tried to find out more about these activities were bludgeoned into silence.

According to Gary Samore, an Obama-era White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, “India intends to build thermonuclear weapons as part of its strategic deterrent against China. It is unclear when India will realize this goal of a larger and more powerful arsenal, but they will.” Once manufactured, however, nothing would block India from deploying them against Pakistan. “India is now developing very big bombs, hydrogen bombs that are city-busters,” commented Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy. “It is not interested in [producing] nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield; it is developing nuclear weapons for eliminating population centers.”

In other words, while India has long been in a nuclear arms race with Pakistan, it is no longer sticking to the same race course. In late March, Modi announced that India recently launched a rocket successfully shooting down one of its satellites. This creates the possibility that, in a future nuclear war with Pakistan, it could preemptively “blind” the Pakistanis by destroying their space-based communication and surveillance satellites. A race of another kind could be in the offing.

The central motive that drove Pakistan to develop its nuclear arsenal, however, remains unchanged. It was the only way Islamabad could deter New Delhi from defeating it in a war waged with conventional weapons. India’s 2.14 million-strong military, equipped with 5,967 artillery pieces, 4,500 tanks, and 2,216 aircraft, is significantly larger and better armed than Pakistan’s 1.55 million soldiers, 3,745 artillery, 2,700 tanks, and 1,143 aircraft. In addition, New Delhi’s annual defense budget of $55.9 billion is more than five times Islamabad’s $10.8 billion.

Little wonder that, in his February 28 televised address, while announcing the Indian pilot’s release, Prime Minister Khan suggested that the two sides “should sit down and resolve our problems through dialogue.” He claimed that his own political party, Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (the Pakistan Movement for Justice), and the country’s powerful military were “all on one page” in wishing to mend fences with India.

Pakistan’s Belated Suppression of Violent Jihadists

In late February, India handed over to Pakistan a dossier with information on Jaish-e Mohammad, its top leadership, and their involvement in several terror attacks. Islamabad initially said that the dossier was being “examined.” However, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi added that his government could act against Masoud Azhar only if New Delhi provided “solid, inalienable evidence” strong enough to convince the country’s judiciary.

And yet on March 8, the Pakistani government acted, launching a crackdown on leading terrorist groups. Among other things, it outlawed the Jamaat-ud Dawa (Society of the Islamic Call), or JuD, a welfare organization that raised funds for Lashkar-e-Taiba. It sealed the banned organization’s headquarters in Lahore as well as more than 200 schools, seminaries, and hospitals it ran. It also banned its chief, Hafiz Saeed, from leading Friday prayers on the sprawling JuD complex and kept him under surveillance.

One key factor that spurred such action was a warning the Pakistani government received on February 22 from the Paris-based intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It threatened to add Pakistan to its blacklist of non-cooperating countries if, by May, it failed to take specific steps against the financing of terrorism. To be added to the FATF blacklist could mean being sanctioned by most Western nations, a development only likely to deepen Islamabad’s current financial crisis. (Recently, it has had barely enough foreign reserves to pay for two months of imports or service a huge loan it secured from the International Monetary Fund in 2013.)

In January 2018, President Donald Trump had already canceled plans for Washington to give Pakistan $1.3 billion in military aid and had imposed sanctions on the country for its support of terrorist groups, including the Afghan Taliban. On Twitter, he accused Pakistan of “providing nothing but lies and deceit.” Soon after, the FATF placed Pakistan on its “gray list.”

Still, none of that proved sufficient to compel Pakistan’s powerful military high command to cede its traditional monopoly on national security and foreign policy decision-making, including its covert backing of anti-Indian extremist groups through the ISI. Only when pressure continued to build, bolstered by fresh urging from Washington, London, and Paris, was a critical mass reached that made those generals finally fall in line with recently elected Prime Minister Khan’s more conciliatory stance toward India.

Now, the international community can only hope that the carnage and chaos of February was the last in a tragic series of encounters between nuclear neighbors that could otherwise lead South Asia to devastation and the world to nuclear winter.

The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Rev 6:12)

Earthquakes Can Happen in More Places Than You Think

By Simon Worrall

PUBLISHED AUGUST 26, 2017

Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.

In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.

When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”

What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.

One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.

There are other places around the country that are also well overdue for an earthquake. New York City has historically had a moderate earthquake approximately every 100 years. If that is to be trusted, any moment now there will be another one, which will be devastating for that city.

As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.

You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.

Earthquakes 101

Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.

Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?

The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.

You Might Also Like

Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.

After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?

The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.

Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]

Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.

Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.

The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?

This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.

What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.

Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.

After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?

[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]

What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!

There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?

All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.

One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.

The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.

MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.

You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?

I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.

What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.

We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Again, on the Brink of Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

THE INDIAN Army has killed “two dozen” Pakistani soldiers and civilians as the two nuclear nations teeter on the brink of a devastating war – despite a ceasefire being called weeks ago.

 

India Pakistan: Crossfire breaks out in Poonch district

The two neighbouring countries, which have a combined population of more than 1.5 billion, have been involved in tit-for-tat attacks even after February’s ceasefire.

Pakistan confirmed it had suffered casualties along its border and reprimanded the Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad.

A ceasefire, which has been place since February, is in danger of collapsing due both sides attacking each other.

In a strongly worded statement, the Pakistan Foreign Office accused its neighbour of committing war crimes.

The statement said: “Indian troops intentionally targeted innocent civilians travelling in a civil bus in Bagsar Sector.

“This is not only in clear violation of existing arrangement but also unethical and immoral.

“The Indian forces along the Line of Control and the Working boundary are continuously targeting civilian populated areas with heavy weapons.

 

India Pakistan

The Indian Air Force has bombed Kashmir this year (Image: Getty)

 

“This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017 when the Indian forces committed 1970 ceasefire violations.

“The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws.

“The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.”

Pakistan Military Sources also estimated dozens of people have been killed or injured in the latest border problems.

 

However, the Indian Army accused Pakistan of sending Border Action Teams into its territory and refused to stop their attacks.

Indian military sources told The Print the military would continue to use artillery to attack Pakistan’s border towns if violations around the Line of Control continued.

Pakistan was censured by Facebook earlier this week when Facebook and Twitter announcing the removal of sites due to the amount of anti-Indian propaganda being spewed from them.

The dispute between India and Pakistan has spanned decades and centres around disputes over Kashmir and border arguments.