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

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rumbling Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was at a depth of 13.2 kilometers miles, or roughly 8.2 miles, centered pretty much smack dab in the center of South Glen Falls, NY.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was at a depth of 13.2 kilometers miles, or roughly 8.2 miles, centered pretty much smack dab in the center of South Glen Falls, NY. (Shutterstock)

Earthquake Hits Upstate NY, Rumbles Felt In Connecticut

A 3.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded Wednesday at 6:43 in the morning in upstate New York. Did you feel it?

By Rich Kirby, Patch Staff 

CONNECTICUT — A 3.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded Wednesday at 6:43 a.m. in upstate New York, but rumblings were reported in Connecticut as far south and east as Tolland and Newtown.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was at a depth of 13.2 kilometers miles, or roughly 8.2 miles, centered pretty much smack dab in the center of South Glen Falls, NY.

The furthest rumble was recorded in Navarre, OH, 445 miles away from the seismic epicenter. In Connecticut, reports of the earthquake came into the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program from Tolland and Newtown, 117 and 132 miles away, respectively.

According to the Richter Scale, anything between a 3.0 and 3.9 is considered to be a “minor” tremor.

Connecticut residents are no strangers to teacup-rattling tremors. In February of 2018, Ridgefield residents woke up to items dropping from shelves in their homes after a 2.2 earthquake was recorded in the Lake Mohegan, NY, area. A year later, seismologists recorded a 4.7 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Ocean City, MD, but the effects of it were felt widespread, including Connecticut.

And in December 2017, a 1.9 magnitude earthquake hit 8.6 miles south-southwest of Hartford and was felt in several areas of north central Connecticut. According to the United States Geological Survey, Newington, Berlin, New Britain and Hartford were among the towns feeling the buzz.
There have been no reports of damage in the Wednesday morning quake. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had not reported any tsunami activity off the East Coast. The USGS logged a total of 81 responses, according to is website.

Earthquakes happen when there is movement below the Earth’s surface on fault lines. They can occur anywhere in the U.S. and usually last less than a minute, according to FEMA.

The New Cold War (Daniel 7)

Russia Claims Its New Nuclear Weapons Are A Response To U.S. Missile Defense

Russia’s security establishment is obsessed with Western missile defense.

Key point: The United States has long been Russia’s primary nuclear rival and the technical capabilities that Moscow has chosen to spend a great deal of time, money, and effort to develop are laser-focused on defeating missile defense.

In a speech before Russia’s Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin unveiled several new nuclear-weapons systems. The speech comes less than a month after the release of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which named Russia as a primary strategic competitor of the United States and called for new low-yield nuclear weapons to counteract Russia’s alleged (and highly disputed) “escalate to deescalate” strategy.

The timing of the NPR and Putin’s speech gives the impression that the new Russian capabilities are a reaction to American nuclear policy. Instead, Putin stated that the new nuclear weapons were meant to counter U.S. missile defenses, which have steadily expanded since the George W. Bush administration withdrew the United States from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002.

The United States has long said that its missile defenses are not meant to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent, and the limited size and poor accuracy of current missile-defense systems should reassure Russia. But it is readily apparent that Russia—and China—is not mollified by such assurances.

As policymakers in Washington contemplate further expansion of missile defense to counter the pressing threat posed by North Korea, it is important for them to appreciate that missile-defense policy doesn’t just impact its intended target.

Many of the nuclear capabilities Putin discussed in his Federal Assembly speech feature technical characteristics that help them penetrate or circumvent U.S. missile defense systems.

The unnamed nuclear-powered cruise missile was perhaps the most eye-popping new capability. Putin described it as, “A low-flying low-visibility cruise missile armed with a nuclear warhead and possessing practically unlimited range, unpredictable flight path . . . [that] is invulnerable to all existing and future anti-missile and air defense weapons.” A nuclear propulsion system aids in missile defense penetration by increasing the missile’s range and ability to maneuver. Increased range allows the missile to take flight paths that are not covered by missile defense radar, and maneuverability reduces the likelihood of a successful intercept.

Another new capability that makes use of maneuverability to evade missile defenses is a hypersonic glide vehicle known as the “Avangard.” The Avangard is carried atop a ballistic missile. After the missile reaches outer space the HGV is released and falls back to earth, but not on a ballistic flight path. Instead, it “glides” towards its target and is capable of changing direction in flight, which helps it avoid missile-defense radar coverage and interceptors. China is also developing HGVs to counter U.S. missile defenses deployed in East Asia.

The final nuclear capability of note is the RS-28 “Sarmat” intercontinental ballistic missile. Unlike the nuclear-powered cruise missile and the Avangard, the RS-28 is not a “new” capability; Russia acknowledged the missile’s existence several years ago. However, Putin did provide some details about the Sarmat that highlighted its ability to defeat U.S. missile defenses. He said that the missile has “practically no range restrictions,” and also mentioned Sarmat’s ability to carry multiple warheads and HGVs, stating “Sarmat will be equipped with a broad range of powerful nuclear warheads, including hypersonic, and the most modern means of evading missile defense.”

Practically all of the nuclear weapons systems mentioned in Putin’s speech, old and new, were justified as a response to the steady buildup of U.S. missile defense since it withdrew from the ABM Treaty. He argued, “We create state-of-the-art systems of Russia’s strategic weapons in response to the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.” Putin was especially concerned by the deployment of two Aegis Ashore missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe that the United States argues are necessary to protect NATO allies from Iranian missiles.

It is tempting to view Putin’s vitriol toward U.S. missile defense as little more than propaganda. The size and quality of missile-defense capabilities are too low, and the Russian arsenal far too large to provide a meaningful level of protection against a Russian nuclear attack. Moreover, it would be foolish to expect Russia’s nuclear arsenal to not incorporate new technology over time.

However, the United States has long been Russia’s primary nuclear rival and the technical capabilities that Moscow has chosen to spend a great deal of time, money, and effort to develop are laser-focused on defeating missile defense. Russian perceptions of what missile defense signals about long-term U.S. intentions seem to weigh much more heavily on its nuclear strategy than technical reality. If American policymakers want to avoid a new arms race with the Russians, then it would be wise of them to not dismiss Russian concerns as merely propaganda as they make missile-defense policy.

Eric Gomez is a policy analyst for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. This article first appeared two years ago.

Image: Reuters.

How a small nuclear war would transform the entire planet (Revelation 8 )

As geopolitical tensions rise in nuclear-armed states, scientists are modelling the global impact of nuclear war.

16 March 2020


Alexandra Witze

India tests its Agni-5 rocket in 2013, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.Credit: Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty

It all starts in 2025, as tensions between India and Pakistan escalate over the contested region of Kashmir. When a terrorist attacks a site in India, that country sends tanks rolling across the border with Pakistan. As a show of force against the invading army, Pakistan decides to detonate several small nuclear bombs.

The next day, India sets off its own atomic explosions and within days, the nations begin bombing dozens of military targets and then hundreds of cities. Tens of millions of people die in the blasts.

That horrifying scenario is just the beginning. Smoke from the incinerated cities rises high into the atmosphere, wrapping the planet in a blanket of soot that blocks the Sun’s rays. The planet plunges into a deep chill. For years, crops wither from California to China. Famine sets in around the globe.

This grim vision of a possible future comes from the latest studies about how nuclear war could alter world climate. They build on long-standing work about a ‘nuclear winter’ — severe global cooling that researchers predict would follow a major nuclear war, such as thousands of bombs flying between the United States and Russia. But much smaller nuclear conflicts, which are more likely to occur, could also have devastating effects around the world.

This week, researchers report that an India–Pakistan nuclear war could lead to crops failing in dozens of countries — devastating food supplies for more than one billion people1. Other research reveals that a nuclear winter would dramatically alter the chemistry of the oceans, and probably decimate coral reefs and other marine ecosystems2. These results spring from the most comprehensive effort yet to understand how a nuclear conflict would affect the entire Earth system, from the oceans to the atmosphere, to creatures on land and in the sea.

Scientists want to understand these matters because the nuclear menace is growing. From North Korea to Iran, nations are building up their nuclear capabilities. And some, including the United States, are withdrawing from arms-control efforts. Knowing the possible environmental consequences of a nuclear conflict can help policymakers to assess the threat, says Seth Baum, executive director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute in New York City, who has studied the risks of triggering a nuclear winter. “Fleshing out the details of ways in which it can be bad is valuable for helping inform decisions,” he says.

Cold-war forecasts

Nuclear-winter studies arose during the cold war, as the United States and the Soviet Union stockpiled tens of thousands of nuclear warheads in preparation for all-out assaults. Alarmed by leaders’ bellicose rhetoric, scientists in the 1980s began running simulations on how nuclear war might change the planet after the initial horrific deaths from the blasts3,4. Researchers including the US planetary scientist and communicator Carl Sagan described how smoke from incinerated cities would block sunlight and plunge much of the planet into a deep freeze lasting for months, even in summer4. Later studies tempered the forecasts somewhat, finding slightly less-dramatic cooling5. Still, Soviet leader Mikail Gorbachev cited nuclear winter as one factor that prompted him to work towards drawing down the country’s nuclear arsenals.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons continued to drop. But with many thousands of warheads still in existence, and with more nations becoming nuclear powers, some researchers have argued that nuclear war — and a nuclear winter — remain a threat. They have shifted to studying the consequences of nuclear wars that would be smaller than an all-out US–Soviet annihilation.

US President George Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev celebrate the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty on 31 July 1991. Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty

That includes the possibility of an India–Pakistan war, says Brian Toon, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Colorado Boulder who has worked on nuclear-winter studies since he was a student of Sagan’s. Both countries have around 150 nuclear warheads, and both are heavily invested in the disputed Kashmir border region, where a suicide bomber last year killed dozens of Indian troops. “It’s a precarious situation,” says Toon.

Both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998, highlighting growing geopolitical tensions. By the mid-2000s, Toon was exploring a scenario in which the countries set off 100 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs, killing around 21 million people. He also connected with Alan Robock, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who studies how volcanic eruptions cool the climate in much the same way that a nuclear winter would. Using an advanced NASA climate model, the scientists calculated how soot rising from the incinerated cities would circle the planet. All around the dark, cold globe, agricultural crops would dwindle.

But after a burst of publications on the topic, Robock, Toon and their colleagues struggled to find funding to continue their research. Finally, in 2017, they landed a grant worth nearly US$3-million from the Open Philanthropy Project, a privately funded group in San Francisco that supports research into global catastrophic risks.

The goal was to analyse every step of nuclear winter — from the initial firestorm and the spread of its smoke, to agricultural and economic impacts. “We put all those pieces together for the first time,” says Robock.

The group looked at several scenarios. Those range from a US–Russia war involving much of the world’s nuclear arsenal, which would loft 150 million tonnes of soot into the atmosphere, down to the 100-warhead India–Pakistan conflict, which would generate 5 million tonnes of soot6. The soot turns out to be a key factor in how bad a nuclear winter would get; three years after the bombs explode, global temperatures would have plummeted by more than 10 °C in the first scenario — more than the cooling during the last ice age — but by a little more than 1 °C in the second.

Toon, Robock and their colleagues have used observations from major wildfires in British Columbia, Canada, in 2017 to estimate how high smoke from burning cities would rise into the atmosphere7. During the wildfires, sunlight heated the smoke and caused it to soar higher, and persist in the atmosphere longer, than scientists might otherwise expect. The same phenomenon might happen after a nuclear war, Robock says.

Raymond Jeanloz, a geophysicist and nuclear-weapons policy expert at the University of California, Berkeley, says that incorporating such estimates is a crucial step to understanding what would happen during a nuclear winter. “This is a great way of cross-checking the models,” he says.

Comparisons with giant wildfires could also help in resolving a controversy about the scale of the potential impacts. A team at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico argues that Robock’s group has overestimated how much soot burning cities would produce and how high the smoke would go8.

The Los Alamos group used its own models to simulate the climate impact of India and Pakistan setting off 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs. The scientists found that much less smoke would get into the upper atmosphere than Toon and Robock reported. With less soot to darken the skies, the Los Alamos team calculated a much milder change to the climate — and no nuclear winter.

At a 2005 parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, a truck carries a Shaheen II long-range missile that can be armed with a nuclear warhead.Credit: Farooq Naeem/AFP via Getty

The difference between the groups boils down to how they simulate the amount of fuel a firestorm consumes and how that fuel is converted into smoke. “After a nuclear weapon goes off, things are extremely complex,” says Jon Reisner, a physicist who leads the Los Alamos team. “We have the ability to model the source and we also understand the combustion process. I think we have a better feel about how much soot can potentially get produced.” Reisner is now also studying the Canadian wildfires, to see how well his models reproduce how much smoke gets into the atmosphere from an incinerating forest.

Robock and his colleagues have fired back in tit-for-tat journal responses9. Among other things, they say the Los Alamos team simulated burning of greener spaces rather than a densely populated city.

Dark seas

While that debate rages, Robock’s group has published results showing a wide variety of impacts from nuclear blasts.

That includes looking at ocean impacts, the first time this has been done, says team member Nicole Lovenduski, an oceanographer at the University of Colorado Boulder. When Toon first approached her to work on the project, she says, “I thought, ‘this sure seems like a bleak topic’.” But she was intrigued by how the research might unfold. She usually studies how oceans change in a gradually warming world, not the rapid cooling in a nuclear winter.

Lovenduski and her colleagues used a leading climate model to test the US–Russia war scenario. “It’s the hammer case, in which you hammer the entire Earth system,” she says. In one to two years after the nuclear war, she found, global cooling would affect the oceans’ ability to absorb carbon, causing their pH to skyrocket. That’s the opposite to what is happening today, as the oceans soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide and waters become more acidic.

She also studied what would happen to aragonite, a mineral in seawater that marine organisms need to build shells around themselves. In two to five years after the nuclear conflict, the cold dark oceans would start to contain less aragonite, putting the organisms at risk, the team has reported2.

In the simulations, some of the biggest changes in aragonite happened in regions that are home to coral reefs, such as the southwestern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. That suggests that coral-reef ecosystems, which are already under stress from warming and acidifying waters, could be particularly hard-hit during a nuclear winter. “These are changes in the ocean system that nobody really considered before,” says Lovenduski.

And those aren’t the only ocean effects. Within a few years of a nuclear war, a “Nuclear Niño” would roil the Pacific Ocean, says Joshua Coupe, a graduate student at Rutgers. This is a turbo-charged version of the phenomenon known as El Niño. In the case of a US–Russia nuclear war, the dark skies would cause the trade winds to reverse direction and water to pool in the eastern Pacific Ocean. As during an El Niño, droughts and heavy rains could plague many parts of the world for as long as seven years, Coupe reported last December at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Beyond the oceans, the research team has found big impacts on land crops and food supplies. Jonas Jägermeyr, a food-security researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, used six leading crop models to assess how agriculture would respond to nuclear winter. Even the relatively small India–Pakistan war would have catastrophic effects on the rest of the world, he and his colleagues report this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1. Over the course of five years, maize (corn) production would drop by 13%, wheat production by 11% and soya-bean production by 17% .

The worst impact would come in the mid-latitudes, including breadbasket areas such as the US Midwest and Ukraine. Grain reserves would be gone in a year or two. Most countries would be unable to import food from other regions because they, too, would be experiencing crop failures, Jägermeyr says. It is the most detailed look ever at how the aftermath of a nuclear war would affect food supplies, he says. The researchers did not explicitly calculate how many people would starve, but say that the ensuing famine would be worse than any in documented history.

Farmers might respond by planting maize, wheat and soya beans in parts of the globe likely to be less affected by a nuclear winter, says Deepak Ray, a food-security researcher at the University of Minnesota in St Paul. Such changes might help to buffer the food shock — but only partly. The bottom line remains that a war involving less than 1% of the world’s nuclear arsenal could shatter the planet’s food supplies.

“The surprising finding”, says Jägermeyr, “is that even a small-war scenario has devastating global repercussions”.

Nature 579, 485-487 (2020)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00794-y


1.Jägermeyr, J. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1919049117 (2020).

▪ Article

▪ Google Scholar

2.Lovenduski, N. S. et al. Geophys. Res. Lett. 47, 3 (2020).

▪ Article

▪ Google Scholar

3.Crutzen, P. J. & Birks, J. W. Ambio 11, 114–125 (1982).

▪ Article

▪ Google Scholar

4.Turco, R. P., Toon, O. B., Ackerman, T. P., Pollack, J. B. & Sagan, C. Science 222, 1283–1292 (1983).

▪ PubMed

▪ Article

▪ Google Scholar

5.Schneider, S. H. & Thompson, S. L. Nature 333, 221–227 (1988).

▪ Article

▪ Google Scholar

6.Toon, O. B. et al. Sci. Adv. 5, eaay5478 (2019).

▪ PubMed

▪ Article

▪ Google Scholar

7.Yu, P. et al. Science 365, 587–590 (2019).

▪ PubMed

▪ Article

▪ Google Scholar

8.Reisner, J. et al. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 123, 2752–2772 (2018).

▪ Article

▪ Google Scholar

9.Robock, A., Toon, O. B. & Bardeen, C. G. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 124, 12953–12958 (2019).

▪ Article

▪ Google Scholar

Download references

Latest on:

Atmospheric science

Climate sciences

Ocean sciences

Nature Briefing

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.

Antichrist Calls Coronavirus a Zionist-American Conspiracy

Islamists Call Coronavirus a Zionist-American Conspiracy

by Hany Ghoraba

A worker takes stock as consumers empty shelves of food at a Trader Joe’s grocery store, gathering supplies as coronavirus fears spread in Encinitas, California, March 12, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mike Blake.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeps across the world, some Islamists are pushing a theory that God is punishing infidels for disobeying his commands. They note that the virus broke out in Wuhan, China, and that the Chinese government is repressing Uyghur Muslims. ISIS reportedly issued “Shariah directives” in its latest newsletter, telling followers to stay out of Europe.

The coronavirus is a “torment sent by God on whomsoever He wills,” the newsletter said. “Illnesses do not strike by themselves but by the command and decree of God.”

When initial reports about the virus came out of China, Salafists in Egypt, Morocco, and elsewhere dubbed it a “Soldier of God” targeting those infidels who work against him. “The power of God strikes upon China, Communism and Buddhism: Crowded Hospitals. China declared war on Islam and Muslims and persecuted our brothers Uyghurs,”

Abdul Razzak al-Mahdi, a Syrian Salafist, tweeted on Jan. 20. “God gave them a soldier (virus). And many of God’s soldiers said, Glory be to Him … O God, increase their suffering and affliction until they stop fighting your religion and worshipers.”

After Coronavirus, the Mask Is Off at the Quincy Institute

We ought to thank Sarah Leah Whitson, Managing Director for Research and Policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft…

An Egyptian cleric celebrated that the “power of God strikes upon the Buddhist communist China. China launched a war against our Muslim Uyghur brothers and God sent his soldier [coronavirus]. God is not unjust to his worshipers.”

Videos of Islamist clerics praying for the demise of Chinese communists were common. “After China isolated more than 5 million Muslims,” one wrote on January 25, “the whole world is isolating China because of the outbreak of the coronavirus among Chinese in fear of contamination.”

The tenor of Islamist comments changed after the outbreak spread into other countries, particularly Iran. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami suggested that the coronavirus might be a biological weapon developed by the United States against China and Iran.

Iran now is suffering one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, with a reported 853 people killed by the illness as of Monday. The actual number could be dramatically higher. Its victims include high-ranking government officials and senior clerics.

Scientists throughout the world, meanwhile, are racing to develop a vaccine to end the crisis. An American-developed vaccine started clinical trials Monday. An Israeli laboratory is reportedly on the cusp of a similar formula. Should either prove successful, a new dilemma faces those who insist the two countries are the root of the world’s evils.

Algerian news outlet Al Masdar published a conspiracy theory under the headline, “A Zionist organization is behind the coronavirus and the Zionist entity (Israel) claims to have found the vaccine.”

Iranian mullah Nasser Makarem Shirazi declared it is prohibited to take any Israeli medication for the virus unless there is no alternative. Even Western Israel-haters couldn’t wrap their heads around the prospect.

“I’d rather take my chances with the virus than consume an Israeli vaccine,” wrote Roshan M. Salih, an Iranian Press TV journalist and editor of the British Muslim news site Five Pillars.

When people reacted angrily, he wrote that he “activated the Israel lobby.”

Press TV, meanwhile, published an article by American conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett to back the claim that the coronavirus is a US-Israeli conspiracy using biological warfare to hurt Iran. “US, Israel waging biological warfare on massive scale,” was the March 7 story’s headline.

Barrett, a “9/11 truther,” got crazier in the story:

The United States waged biological warfare against its own Congress in 2001 with the anthrax component of the 9/11 anthrax false flag operation, which terrorized Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, the leaders of the movement that blocked the Patriot Act, into giving up and allowing the Patriot Act.

So the United States is run by lunatics, by psychopaths who are entirely capable of launching World War 3 by way of a biological warfare attack on China and Iran, with the Iran component presumably led by Israel. That’s the most likely explanation for what we’re seeing.

This is the kind of rot Press TV publishes.

In Iraq, prominent Shiite political leader Moqtada al-Sadr refused any vaccine coming from the United States, accusing President Donald Trump of “spread[ing] this virus especially [since] most who suffer from it are America’s enemies.”

“O Trump if you are an atheist and think yourself as a healer, we don’t seek anyone’s help but God,” al-Sadr said. “Any cure that comes from you or your infested companies, we don’t accept it. You are not just an enemy of God but an enemy of nations and a virus that spreads wars and pestilence.”

Hizballah’s Al Manar TV published an op-ed by Ali Abadi saying that the United States could benefit from downsizing in the Chinese economy.

“At least we know that the United States is experiencing a feverish anxiety about the continued growth of China’s economy, and it has tried for many years to curb this growth through political pressure to force Beijing to take steps such as raising the value of Chinese Yuan,” Abadi wrote. “American think-tanks fear that the USA will lose its global leadership position through the rapid growth of China.”

Muslim Brotherhood historian Mohamed Gawady believes that the group’s ideology will prevail as a result of the virus, though his logic wasn’t clear. “As Egypt was the first country in the world and it was the first country that was headed by a Brotherhood member [Mohamed Morsi] despite his martyrdom,” he wrote. “God willing after the coronavirus passes, all the presidents of the world will be Muslim Brotherhood as the world has matured.”

The global COVID-19 outbreak gave Islamists a new opportunity to spew antisemitism and conspiracy theories about their perceived enemies. Even though the virus has hit the United States and Israel, many Islamists insist on seeing a conspiracy behind everything.

Hany Ghoraba is an Egyptian writer, political and counter-terrorism analyst at Al Ahram Weekly, author of Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy and a regular contributor to the BBC.

A version of this article was originally published by The Investigative Project on Terrorism.

The Iran horn is being tested by coronavirus

Image result for coronavirus iran

Iran warns virus could kill ‘millions’ in Islamic Republic

Jon GambrellAssociated PressPublished: March 17, 2020, 3:52 amUpdated: March 17, 2020, 12:34 pm

DUBAI – Iran issued its most dire warning yet Tuesday about the outbreak of the new coronavirus ravaging the country, suggesting “millions” could die in the Islamic Republic if people keep traveling and ignoring health guidance.

A state television journalist who also is a medical doctor gave the warning only hours after hard-line Shiite faithful on Monday night pushed their way into the courtyards of two major shrines that had finally been closed due to the virus. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious ruling prohibiting “unnecessary” travel in the country.

Roughly 9 out of 10 of the over 18,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the Middle East come from Iran, where authorities denied for days the risk the outbreak posed. Officials have now implemented new checks for people trying to leave major cities ahead of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on Friday, but have hesitated to quarantine the areas.

That’s even as the death toll in Iran saw another 13% increase Tuesday. Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the virus had killed 135 more people to raise the total to 988 amid over 16,000 cases. Jordan prepared for a shutdown of its own, banning gatherings of more than 10 people, and neighboring Israel issued its own strict guidelines.

Most infected people experience only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and recover within weeks. But the virus is highly contagious and can be spread by people with no visible symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

In announcing the new warning, the Iranian state TV journalist, Dr. Afruz Eslami, cited a study by Tehran’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology, which offered three scenarios: If people cooperate now, Iran will see 120,000 infections and 12,000 deaths before the outbreak is over; if they offer medium cooperation, there will be 300,000 cases and 110,000 deaths.

But if people fail to follow any guidance, it could collapse Iran’s already-strained medical system, Eslami said. If the “medical facilities are not sufficient, there will be 4 million cases, and 3.5 million people will die,” she said.

Eslami did not elaborate on what metrics the study used, but even reporting it on Iran’s tightly controlled state media represented a major change for a country whose officials had for days denied the severity of the crisis.

Underlining that urgency was the fatwa issued by Khamenei, which prohibited “unnecessary” travel. It comes as the public ignored repeated warnings and pleas from security forces. Such a decree is a rare move by Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters.

Some Iranian media later said Khamenei hadn’t issued a fatwa, though semiofficial news agencies believed to be close to the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said the order had been made.

Late Monday night, angry crowds stormed the courtyards of the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad and the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom. Many people visit the shrine in Qom 24 hours a day, seven days a week, touching and kissing the shrine.That has worried health officials, who for weeks wanted Iran’s Shiite clergy to close them.

State TV had announced the closures earlier in the day, sparking the demonstrations.

“We are here to say that Tehran is damn wrong to do that!” one Shiite cleric shouted at the shrine in Mashhad, according to online video. Others joined him in chanting: “The health minister is damn wrong to do that, the president is damn wrong to do that!”

Police later dispersed the crowds and made arrests. In a statement, religious authorities and a prominent Qom seminary called the demonstration an “insult” to the shrine, urging the faithful to rely on “wisdom and patience” amid the closure.

Iran’s shrines draw Shiite pilgrims from all over the Mideast, likely contributing to the spread of the virus in the region. Saudi Arabia has closed off Islam’s holiest sites over the virus and on Tuesday it announced communal Friday prayers would be halted throughout the kingdom.

President Hassan Rouhani said that despite the closures, “our soul is closer to the saints more than at any time.”

State TV reported teams were deployed to screen travelers leaving major cities in 13 provinces, including the capital, Tehran. But Iran has 31 provinces and authorities haven’t tried to lock down the country the way its allies Iraq and Lebanon have done.

The teams check travelers’ temperatures and send those with fevers to quarantine centers. Iran has been urging people to stay home, but many ignore the call.

In apparent efforts to try to curb the spread, Iran has released 85,000 prisoners on temporary leave, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said. That number included half of all “security-related” prisoners, he said without elaborating. Western nations have urged Iran to release dual nationals and others, alleging they are used as bargaining chips in negotiations.

Among those released is Mohammad Hossein Karroubi, the son of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, who was in jail for nearly two months.

Iran’s parliament also met via video conference.

Egypt, which has 166 confirmed cases of the new virus including four deaths, announced the immediate shutdown of all movie theaters across the country until further notice.

It also locked down the Red Sea province that includes the popular resort town of Hurghada. Local authorities barred workers in all tourist sites, hotels, bazaars and restaurants from leaving the province and imposed a 14-day quarantine, according to a document from the Red Sea governor’s office obtained by The Associated Press. Visitors to the province were prohibited for the next two weeks.

Jordan deployed troops outside of major cities to block travel. It also ordered newspapers to cease publishing, banned gatherings of more than 10 people and established a quarantine zone at Dead Sea hotels. It halted all private sector work and public transportation as well.

In Oman, the sultanate announced anyone coming from abroad would be subject to quarantine.

Israel’s Defense Ministry plans to use near-empty hotels, ravaged by the crash in tourism, as recovery centers for patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Israel also called on citizens to stay home, closing parks, museums, libraries, beaches and other public areas.

Only short walks outside with family members and pets are permitted.

In Syria, all sports clubs, movie theaters, concerts, theaters, as well as halls used for weddings or funerals were ordered closed in the capital of Damascus, and all restaurants and other shops around the country were ordered closed. Syria says it has no cases of the virus so far.

Pakistan’s number of coronavirus cases jumped to 236, although no deaths have been reported. Government critics say thousands of pilgrims were not properly screened as they arrived from Iran at the southwestern Taftan border earlier this month.


Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Mehdi Fattahi in Tehran, Iran, Aron Heller in Jerusalem, Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan, Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.


The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Even a Limited India-Pakistan Nuclear War Would Bring the Bowls of Wrath

Even a Limited India-Pakistan Nuclear War Would Bring Global Famine, Says Study

Soot From Firestorms Would Reduce Faraway Crop Production for Years

Kevin Krajick

The concept of nuclear winter—a years-long planetary freeze brought on by airborne soot generated by nuclear bombs—has been around for decades. But such speculations have been based largely on back-of-the-envelope calculations involving a total war between Russia and the United States. Now, a new multinational study incorporating the latest models of global climate, crop production and trade examines the possible effects of a less gargantuan but perhaps more likely exchange between two longtime nuclear-armed enemies: India and Pakistan. It suggests that even a limited war between the two would cause unprecedented planet-wide food shortages and probable starvation lasting more than a decade. The study appears this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Of an estimated 14,000 nuclear warheads worldwide, close to 95 percent belong to the United States and Russia. India and Pakistan are thought to have about 150 each. The study examines the potential effects if they were to each set off 50 Hiroshima-size bombs—less than 1 percent of the estimated world arsenal.

Average changes in maize yield in the five years following a nuclear war between Pakistan and India. (Adapted from Jägermeyr et al., 2020)

In addition to direct death and destruction, the authors say that firestorms following the bombings would launch some 5 million tons of soot toward the stratosphere. There, it would spread globally and remain, absorbing sunlight and lowering global mean temperatures by about 1.8 degrees C (3.25 F) for at least five years. The scientists project that this would in turn cause production of the world’s four main cereal crops—maize, wheat, soybeans and rice—to plummet an average 11 percent over that period, with tapering effects lasting another five to 10 years.

“Even this regional, limited war would have devastating indirect implications worldwide,” said Jonas Jägermeyr, a postdoctoral scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies who led the study. “It would exceed the largest famine in documented history.”

According to the study, crops would be hardest hit in the northerly breadbasket regions of the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia and China. But paradoxically, southerly regions would suffer much more hunger. That is because many developed nations in the north produce huge surpluses, which are largely exported to nations in the Global South that are barely able to feed themselves. If these surpluses were to dry up, the effects would ripple out through the global trade system. The authors estimate that some 70 largely poor countries with a cumulative population of 1.3 billion people would then see food supplies drop more than 20 percent.

Some adverse effects on crops would come from shifts in precipitation and solar radiation, but the great majority would stem from drops in temperature, according to the study. Crops would suffer most in countries north of 30 degrees simply because temperatures there are lower and growing seasons shorter to begin with. Even modest declines in growing-season warmth could leave crops struggling to mature, and susceptible to deadly cold snaps. As a result, harvests of maize, the world’s main cereal crop, could drop by nearly 20 percent in the United States, and an astonishing 50 percent in Russia. Wheat and soybeans, the second and third most important cereals, would also see steep declines. In southerly latitudes, rice might not suffer as badly, and cooler temperatures might even increase maize harvests in parts of South America and Africa. But this would do little to offset the much larger declines in other regions, according to the study.

Farmers in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh separate rice from chaff. (Kevin Krajick/Earth Institute)

Since many developed countries produce surpluses for export, their excess production and reserves might tide them over for at least a few years before shortages set in. But this would come at the expense of countries in the Global South. Developed nations almost certainly would impose export bans in order to protect their own populations, and by year four or five, many nations that today already struggle with malnutrition would see catastrophic drops in food availability. Among those the authors list as the hardest hit: Somalia, Niger, Rwanda, Honduras, Syria, Yemen and Bangladesh.

If nuclear weapons continue to exist, “they can be used with tragic consequences for the world,” said study coauthor Alan Robock, a climatologist at Rutgers University who has long studied the potential effects of nuclear war. “As horrible as the direct effects of nuclear weapons would be, more people could die outside the target areas due to famine.”

Previously, Jägermeyr has studied the potential effects of global warming on agriculture, which most scientists agree will suffer badly. But, he said, a sudden nuclear-caused cooling would hit food systems far worse.  And, looking backward, the the effects on food availability would be four times worse than any previously recorded global agriculture upsets caused by droughts, floods, or volcanic eruptions, he said.

The study might be erring on the conservative side. For one, India and Pakistan may well have bombs far bigger than the ones the scientists use in their assumptions. For another, the study leaves India and Pakistan themselves out of the crop analyses, in order to avoid mixing up the direct effects of a war with the indirect ones. That aside, Jägermeyr said that one could reasonably assume that food production in the remnants of the two countries would drop essentially to zero. The scientists also did not factor in the possible effects of radioactive fallout, nor the probability that floating soot would cause the stratosphere to heat up at the same time the surface was cooling. This would in turn cause stratospheric ozone to dissipate, and similar to the effects of now-banned refrigerants, this would admit more ultraviolet rays to the earth’s surface, damaging humans and agriculture even more.

Much attention has been focused recently on North Korea’s nuclear program, and the potential for Iran or other countries to start up their own arsenals. But many experts have long regarded Pakistan and India as the most dangerous players, because of their history of near-continuous conflict over territory and other issues. India tested its first nuclear weapon in 1974, and when Pakistan followed in 1998, the stakes grew. The two countries have already had four full-scale conventional wars, in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999, along with many substantial skirmishes in between. Recently, tensions over the disputed region of Kashmir have flared again.

“We’re not saying a nuclear conflict is around the corner. But it is important to understand what could happen,” said  Jägermeyr.

The paper was coauthored by a total of 19 scientists from five countries, including three others from Goddard, which is affiliated with Columbia University’s Earth Institute: Michael Puma, Alison Heslin and Cynthia Rosenzweig. Jägermeyr also has affiliations with the University of Chicago and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.