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

By Simon Worrall


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.

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.

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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.

U.S. officials are talking about urban warfare. The Antichrist can tell them what urban warfare really involves

A demonstrator protests as police forces hold a line near Lafayette Square and the White House on Wednesday. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. officials are talking about urban warfare. Here’s what urban warfare really involves.

How do you “mass and dominate the battlespace” in a U.S. city?

By Margarita Konaev and Kirstin J.H. Brathwaite

Is the U.S. roiled by “urban warfare?” That’s what several U.S. officials have been suggesting about the unrest following largely peaceful protests about George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. On May 30, the Minneapolis Department of Public Safety tweeted it would expand its efforts “to address a sophisticated network of urban warfare.” On Monday, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper told governors, “I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal.” From the White House Rose Garden, President Trump threatened that if states did not call out the National Guard to stop unrest, “then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

For most, the term “urban warfare” evokes images of destroyed buildings, terrified civilians, and dust-covered rescue workers in devastated cities like Aleppo or Mosul — not scenes one associates with a Midwestern city like Minneapolis. With public officials using such terms, let’s examine what scholars know about urban warfare, and whether such concepts are relevant to the current moment in the United States.

What is urban warfare?

Urban warfare is a broad term referring to military operations in cities. Depending on the political and strategic goals, urban warfare can be part of a conventional war, like the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II or a counterinsurgency or counterterrorism campaign, such as the British campaign in Belfast from 1968 to 1973 during the Troubles. Increasingly, democratic countries are also sending in military forces when police are overwhelmed, as France did during the Yellow Vest protests.

Most recently, the U.S. military fought in urban warfare as part of a coalition to defeat the Islamic State from 2016-2017, supporting Iraqi and Kurdish allies in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria. Before that, U.S. troops deployed to the Iraqi cities of Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah between 2003 and 2011. In Somalia in 1993, the Battle of Mogadishu turned into the longest and most intense firefight involving U.S. troops since the fighting in Vietnam.

All this tells us that the U.S. military’s experience with urban warfare has involved fighting enemies overseas, not confronting Americans at home. That said, the U.S. government has deployed military forces on U.S. soil on some occasions — for instance, in Los Angeles in 1992, after an all-white jury delivered a not-guilty verdict in the trial of white police officers who had been videotaped beating Rodney King on the street, which sparked days of riots. At the request of California’s governor, then-president George H.W. Bush sent in federalized National Guard, Army and Marine units to back up law enforcement.

Yes, Trump can send in the military to shut down protests in U.S. cities. Here’s the background you need.

How do you mass and dominate the battlespace?’

Militaries prefer not to fight in cities. Cities are mazes of high-rise buildings, massive highways, underground transportation networks, narrow side-streets and densely populated neighborhoods. When large forces and heavy military equipment move through those streets en masse, they destroy buildings, streets, and critical infrastructure. Clearing buildings and patrolling narrow streets requires splitting units up to subteams that often can’t see or hear each other. Any multistory building could be a sniper’s nest.

The secretary of defense spoke out against Trump’s approach to the protests. Yes, that’s a big deal.

To “dominate” the battlespace requires first physically and psychologically isolating or sealing off enemy combatants inside the urban area of operations — limiting movement, communications and access to reinforcements, weapons and supplies until they surrender. During the 2008 battle of Sadr City within Baghdad, for example, U.S. forces cut off the Sadrist armed militia, Jaish al-Mahdi, from its lifeline in the Jamiliya Market by building a 12-foot-tall concrete wall that isolated the Ishbiliyah and Habbibiyah neighborhoods from the rest of the city. It’s not clear what “isolating enemy combatants” would entail in an American city.

Effective urban warfare also requires gathering intelligence and managing and influencing public opinion. Gathering intelligence technologically can be difficult, since cameras, surveillance drones, and communication signals have a hard time seeing through and into buildings and underground spaces. Gathering human intelligence can be complicated by cities’ demographics. Urban communities’ complex ethnic, racial, economic, political and social diversity can make it difficult to determine who may have information or even where the military threat is coming from.

Meanwhile, militaries conducting counterinsurgency and urban combat operations need to win the local civilian population’s support while maintaining domestic and international support. Achieving that requires protecting civilians during military operations and minimizing collateral damage to critical city infrastructure. That’s hard to do in densely populated urban areas where enemy combatants easily hide among civilians. With different and often opposed ethnic, social and political groups, the military has to manage several very different audiences. And since thousands of people are equipped with handheld recording devices that can immediately broadcast to the world, controlling the flow of information and remaining in charge of messaging is almost impossible.

Why are U.S. leaders using military rhetoric to respond to events in American cities?

Public officials’ comments about protests and unrest have been heavily steeped in military language. Yet the protests themselves, taking a stand against police violence toward black people, are associated with increased militarization of policing. During the past 20 years, the Department of Defense 1033 Program has distributed surplus military equipment to U.S. police departments, including high-caliber weapons, armed vehicles, helicopters and other tactical equipment.

After Ferguson, Mo., police used this equipment to shut down 2014 protests over police violence, the public, researchers and policymakers increasingly examined this program. Research finds such transfers are linked to higher levels of law enforcement violence against civilians.

No, militarizing the police does not reduce crime, our research finds.

While the police seem to be facing a legitimacy crisis in some communities, the U.S. military remains one of the most popular U.S. institutions. Eighty-three percent of Americans say they trust the military to act in the public’s best interest. Still, civil-military relations scholars warn that politicizing the military could undermine that support. Talking about urban warfare and deploying U.S. troops in American cities risks ensnaring the military into a partisan political fight.

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Margarita Konaev (@Ritakonaev) specializes in military applications of artificial intelligence, Russian military innovation, and urban warfare in the Middle East, Russia, and Eurasia.

Kirstin J.H. Brathwaite (@KirstinJHB) is an assistant professor of international relations in James Madison College at Michigan State University, specializing in combat effectiveness, urban warfare, and civil conflict

The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

India Has Lots of Nuclear Weapons

Key point: India has a good nuclear arsenal. But they want to upgrade it to ensure their deterrence is credible.

India has 130 to 140 nuclear warheads—and more are coming, according to a new report.

“India is estimated to have produced enough military plutonium for 150 to 200 nuclear warheads, but has likely produced only 130 to 140,” according to Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. “Nonetheless, additional plutonium will be required to produce warheads for missiles now under development, and India is reportedly building several new plutonium production facilities.”

In addition, “India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal,with at least five new weapon systems now under development to complement or replace existing nuclear-capable aircraft, land-based delivery systems, and sea-based systems.”

Unlike the missile-centric U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, India still heavily relies on bombers, perhaps not unexpected for a nation that fielded its first nuclear-capable ballistic missile in 2003. Kristensen and Korda estimate India maintains three or four nuclear strike squadrons of Cold War-vintage, French-made Mirage 2000H and Jaguar IS/IB aircraft targeted at Pakistan and China.

“Despite the upgrades, the original nuclear bombers are getting old and India is probably searching for a modern fighter-bomber that could potentially take over the air-based nuclear strike role in the future,” the report notes. India is buying thirty-six French Rafale fighters that carry nuclear weapons in French service, and presumably could do for India.

India’s nuclear missile force is only fifteen years old, but it already has four types of land-based ballistic missiles:the short-range Prithvi-II and Agni-I, the medium-range Agni-II and the intermediate-range Agni-III. “At least two other longer-range Agni missiles are under development: the Agni-IV and Agni-V,” says the report. “It remains to be seen how many of these missile types India plans to fully develop and keep in its arsenal. Some may serve as technology development programs toward longer-range missiles.”

“Although the Indian government has made no statements about the future size or composition of its land-based missile force, short-range and redundant missile types could potentially be discontinued, with only medium- and long-range missiles deployed in the future to provide a mix of strike options against near and distant targets,” the report noted.

India is also developing the Nirbhay ground-launched cruise missile, similar to the U.S. Tomahawk. In addition, there is Dhanush sea-based, short-range ballistic missile, which is fired from two specially-configured patrol vessels. The report estimates that India is building three or four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, which will be equipped with a short-range missile, or a bigger missile with a range of 2,000 miles.

It’s an ambitious program. “The government appears to be planning to field a diverse missile force that will be expensive to maintain and operate,” the report points out.

What remains to be seen is what will be the command and control system to make sure these missiles are fired when—and only when—they should be. And, of course, since Pakistan and China also have nuclear weapons, Indian leaders may find that more nukes only lead to an arms race that paradoxically leaves their nation less secure.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook. This first appeared last year.

Image: Reuters

Fatah, Hamas say to resist Israel Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Fatah, Hamas say to resist Israel’s plan of annexing Palestinian lands

RAMALLAH/GAZA, June 4 (Xinhua) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Movement and Islamic Hamas movement announced on Thursday that they will resist Israel’s plan of annexing Palestinian lands in West Bank.

“We won’t let the Israeli annexation plan pass and we will continue all types of struggle and resistance until the occupation of the Palestinian territories ends,” said Fatah in a press statement.

The movement called on the Arab states and nations “to back the Palestinian people by showing unity and solidarity against the Israeli plan which doesn’t only target the Palestinian people, but all the Arabs.”

Meanwhile, Abdulatif al-Qanou’a, spokesman of the Islamic Hamas movement, which has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007, said in a press statement that “all means and types of resistance are our strategic track to foil the plan.”

“We will topple the occupation’s annexation plan which aims at eliminating the Palestinian cause,” he said. Enditem

The Rising China Horn (Daniel 7)

A photo released in May by North Korean state media, which said it showed Kim Jong-un presiding over a meeting of the Central Military Commission.Korean Central News Agency, via Reuters

North Korea Lashes Out at U.S., Saying China Is Eclipsing It

By Choe Sang-Hun

June 4, 2020, 1:32 a.m. ET

The North compared the United States to a setting sun, taking notice of the unrest over George Floyd’s killing. It also threatened to scrap deals with South Korea.

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea lashed out at both Seoul and Washington on Thursday, threatening to scrap key parts of agreements with South Korea and comparing the United States to a setting sun being eclipsed by China.

The attack on the United States comes as President Trump is in an increasingly bitter standoff with China, blaming it for the spread of the coronavirus and threatening action over its weakening of Hong Kong’s autonomy. And it follows Mr. Trump’s sputtering efforts to court the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and get North Korea to give up its nuclear arms.

In a statement carried by state media, North Korea also highlighted the unrest that has been consuming the United States over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

“Demonstrators enraged by the extreme racists throng even to the White House,” said the statement published by Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s main state-run newspaper. “This is the reality in the U.S. today. American liberalism and democracy put the cap of leftist on the demonstrators and threaten to unleash even dogs for suppression.”

The statement, from an arm of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, excoriated Mike Pompeo, the American secretary of state, for criticizing the Communist Party of China during a televised interview on Sunday. In the interview, Mr. Pompeo accused the Chinese party of being “intent upon the destruction of Western ideas, Western democracies, Western values.”

Mr. Pompeo also said that the United States could work with its allies around the world, including South Korea, to “ensure that the next century remains a Western one modeled on the freedoms that we have here in the United States.”

The statement carried by Rodong Sinmun said Mr. Pompeo’s remarks showed that “he is nervous over the plight of the U.S. on the downhill side” in relation to an ascendant China.

“Pompeo, who has been deeply engrossed in espionage and plot-breeding against other countries, has become too ignorant to discern where the sun rises and where it sets,” the statement read.

North Korea also fumed over another development: the recent release of anti-North Korean leaflets by defectors from the North, who used balloons to send them across the inter-Korean border. North Korea has long bristled at this propaganda tactic , as well as radio broadcasts from defectors in the South that depict Mr. Kim as a cretinous dictator toying with nuclear weapons.

In another statement carried Thursday by Rodong Sinmun, Kim Yo-jong, Mr. Kim’s sister and his de facto spokeswoman, assailed the propaganda campaign. “What matters is that those human scum hardly worth their value as human beings had the temerity of faulting our supreme leadership and citing ‘nuclear issue,’” Ms. Kim said.

If South Korea does not stop the leaflets, Ms. Kim said, North Korea could scrap an agreement between Mr. Kim and South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, to operate a joint liaison office and cease all hostile military acts along the border.

Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon agreed to ease tensions and improve relations during two summit meetings in 2018. Setting up the liaison office and ending cross-border propaganda were part of those agreements. But anti-North activists in the South, mainly defectors, have resumed their leaflet campaign in recent months.

Inter-Korean relations have chilled rapidly since Mr. Kim’s second summit meeting with President Trump, held in Vietnam in February of last year, ended without an agreement on how to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program or when to ease United Nations sanctions imposed on the country. North Korea’s economic isolation has deepened since the global coronavirus outbreak.

Reacting to Kim Yo-jong’s statement, Yoh Sang-key, a spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, criticized the defectors for raising tensions by releasing the leaflets. He also said that most of the leaflets had ended up south of the border, creating a trash problem.

Mr. Yoh indicated that South Korea was working on legislation to curtail the leaflet campaign.

Park Sang-hak, head of Fighters for Free North Korea, a defectors’ organization that has sent leaflets across the border, said the group would continue to do so.

“We are no longer slaves of North Korea, we are citizens of a free South Korea with an obligation to speak the truth,” Mr. Park said. He called the Unification Ministry a “spokesman for North Korea.”

Ms. Kim’s statement about the propaganda reflects “Pyongyang’s desire to drive a wedge between the South Korean government and civil society,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

Russia Lowers the Nuclear Threshold

A Russian soldier waves on transporters equipped with nuclear-capable RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles February 26 as they make their way from Teykovo, Ivanovo region toward Alabino, Moscow ahead of the 75th Victory Day Parade originally scheduled for May 9 but rescheduled for June 24 as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Russian Ministry of Defense

Russia Releases New Rules for Using Nuclear Weapons in War

On 6/02/20 at 4:31 PM EDT

The two new provisions include cases in which the government receives “reliable information” that a ballistic missile attack is imminent or enemies damage the nation’s critical and military facilities to the degree that the ability to retaliate with nuclear weapons is disrupted.

The document describes containing and deterring aggressions against Russia as being “among the highest national priorities.” Ultimately, Moscow’s nuclear weapons policy is described as being “defensive in nature” and designed to safeguard the country’s sovereignty against potential adversaries.

The United States has remained ambiguous about the tenets of its own threshold for using nuclear weapons. The latest Nuclear Posture Review, published in 2018, stated the country considers using nuclear weapons “only in extreme cases when it is forced to defend the U.S. or its allies or partners.”

In a quickly-deleted document shared last year by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, indicated a more potentially broader application for such weapons of mass destruction. “Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” one passage said. “Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.”

Both the Soviet Union and the United States amassed tens of thousands of nuclear weapons during their decades-long Cold War and although both countries have taken significant steps toward non-proliferation, they remain in possession of the world’s largest stockpiles. Since coming to office in 2017, President Donald Trump has threatened to let a historic treaty limiting and allowing information-sharing mechanisms of the U.S. and Russia’s arsenals expire.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) limits Russian and U.S. deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers to 700 each. Deployed warheads on either side may not exceed 1,550 and deployed and non-deployed launchers were capped at 800.

The deal, signed in 2010 as the successor to the original START, is set to expire next February and the Trump administration has so yet to negotiate an extension. Instead, the White House has sought a new deal involving new, more advanced weapons platforms including highly-maneuverable, hypersonic missiles, as well as other countries, such as China, which has declined to subject its much smaller arsenal to such restrictions.

“The next arms control agreement must be multilateral,” Marshall Billingslea, Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing and nominee for Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs told reporters last week. “We do absolutely expect that whatever arrangements are reached, the Chinese will be part of a trilateral framework going forward.”

Billingslea linked, in principle, the adoption of a more hardline strategy with the White House’s recent decision to exit the Open Skies Treaty that allows for the mutual passage of spy planes over U.S. and Russian territory. Trump in August also exited the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty banning land-launched missiles between 310 and 3,420 miles, and has since tested such weapons.

World leaders condemn George Floyd killing as violence spreads in Babylon

World leaders condemn George Floyd killing as violence spreads in U.S.

North America 22:46, 03-Jun-2020


World leaders have voiced condemnation over the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police in the United States, as his death prompted waves of angry and sometimes violent protests in cities across the U.S. and around the world.

U.S. President Donald Trump has faced heated criticism for using force outside the White House to dispel peaceful demonstrators against racial injustice.

Federal police on Monday abruptly fired rubber bullets and tear gas into a peaceful crowd in Lafayette Park outside the White House, permitting Trump to walk through for a brief photo-op at a historic church that had suffered damage the night before.

From Amsterdam to Nairobi, protesters highlighted allegations of abuse of black prisoners by their jailers, social and economic inequality, and institutional racism lingering from the colonial pasts of the Netherlands, Britain and France.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned racism and called for efforts to end inequality and discrimination.

“Racism is an abhorrence that we must all reject… Addressing inequality & discrimination, strengthening support for the most vulnerable and providing opportunities for everyone,” he tweeted.

He also urged law enforcement to “show restraint in responding to demonstrations.”

While peaceful protesters joined the Black Lives Matter march in Hyde Park in London, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the killing of the unarmed African-American man by police.

“I think what happened in the United States was appalling, inexcusable,” Johnson told MPs in parliament, in his first public comment on the case. “We all saw it on our screens and I perfectly understand people’s right to protest what took place,” he added. “Obviously I also believe that protests should take place in a lawful and reasonable way.”

But Johnson avoided answering questions as to whether he had raised the matter with Trump.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the police killing shows the “true face” of the United States and its oppression of the peoples of the world, including its own.

“The fact that a policeman has cold-bloodedly pressed his knee on the throat of a black man until he died and that other policemen watched on without doing anything is nothing new,” Khamenei said in a televised speech on Wednesday.

“It is the true face of America, it’s what it has always done all over the world – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries, and before that in Vietnam… It is the normal course of action of the United States, it’s the true face of their regime,” Khamenei said.

“These are realities that have always been camouflaged or hidden, but they are not new,” he said.

Asked about Trump’s threat to use military force against protesters, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paused for 21 seconds and took aim at social injustice.

“We all watch in horror and consternation at what is going on in the United States,” he said. “It is a time to pull people together … it is a time to listen. It is a time to learn, when injustices continue despite progress over years and decades.”

But he avoided directly criticizing Trump’s handling of the situation.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called the anti-racism protests “understandable and more than legitimate.”

“I hope that these peaceful protests won’t slide further into violence, but even more than that I hope that they will make a difference in the United States,” Maas said.

(With input from Reuters, AFP)

(Cover: People wearing protective face masks hold up signs during a protest against the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis, London, Britain, June 3, 2020. /CCTV)