The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Living on the Fault Line

A major earthquake isn’t likely here, but if it comes, watch out.

Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo

This chart shows the location of the Ramapo Fault System, the longest and one of the oldest systems of cracks in the earth’s crust in the Northeast. It also shows the location of all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in New Jersey during the last 50 years. The circle in blue indicates the largest known Jersey quake.

The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.

After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.

Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.

During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.

“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”

Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.

Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.

After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.

But no area on the East Coast is as densely populated or as heavily built-up as parts of New Jersey and its neighbors. For this reason, scientists refer to the Greater New York City-Philadelphia area, which includes New Jersey’s biggest cities, as one of “low earthquake hazard but high vulnerability.” Put simply, the Big One isn’t likely here—but if it comes, especially in certain locations, watch out.

Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.

Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.

The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.

For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.

Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”

The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.

The Ramapo Fault sits on the North American Plate, which extends past the East Coast to the middle of the Atlantic, where it meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range in constant flux. The consequences of this intraplate setting are huge: First, as Gates points out, “The predictability of bigger earthquakes on…[such] settings is exceedingly poor, because they don’t occur very often.” Second, the intraplate setting makes it more difficult to link our earthquakes to a major cause or fault, as monitors in California can often do.

This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”

Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”

But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.

Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.

All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.

For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state  could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.

Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the  amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.

To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.

In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial  rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.

As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)

In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.

The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (state.nj.us/dep/njgs/enviroed/hazus.htm).

Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.

Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.

This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.

“Any vulnerable structure on these weak soils would have a higher failure hazard,” Stanford says. And the scary truth is that many structures in New Jersey’s largest cities, not to mention New York City, would be vulnerable, since they’re older and built before anyone gave much thought to earthquake-related engineering and construction codes.

For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at nycem.org.)

All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or  auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.

Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”

***********************

Planning for the Big One

For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.

In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.

Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”

Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.

This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”

A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.

“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”

Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in Mahwah, near the Ramapo Fault.

How John Kerry Betrayed US

John Kerry’s just mad that Trump’s foreign policy is working far better than his

By David Harsanyi

It took approximately 20 seconds for former Secretary of State John Kerry to drop the first flagrant lie in his Democratic National Convention speech, when he claimed that the Obama administration’s so-called Iran deal had “eliminated the threat of an Iran with a nuclear weapon.” It didn’t get any better from there.

Kerry knows well that sunset provisions in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action provided Iran’s government with a pathway to building nuclear weapons in a few years. He knows well that Israel uncovered a giant cache of documents with instructions on how to jumpstart a program to build a nuclear arsenal, which undermined both the spirit and the rationale of the nonproliferation agreement Iran signed. He knows that Iran was developing ballistic-missile programs.

Kerry’s big accomplishment was to destroy a sanctions program that was working, thereby saving the Islamic Republic from economic ruin. This allowed the Islamist government to strengthen its proxies in Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Yemen and Iraq.

Now Kerry says Trump “doesn’t know how to defend the troops”? Well, I’m not sure that the man who oversaw the billions in direct cash payments to a government that had a hand in murdering and maiming hundreds of American troops has the moral authority to level that criticism.

Kerry himself acknowledged that sanctions relief would likely end up in the coffers of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard — now a designated terror group.

Surely, then, he knew that the pallets of euros and Swiss francs he was shipping to Tehran in an unmarked cargo plane would also find their way to the groups triggering conflicts across the Middle East — not to mention subjugating people at home.

While many argued for a maximum-pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic, Kerry preferred the no-pressure route. The Iran deal, in fact, often seemed to be the Obama administration’s top obsession. Nothing would stand in the way. And while the media echo chamber was misleading the public at home, Kerry was placating Russia and allowing a humanitarian disaster to unfold in Syria in an effort to save the deal.

Around the time the Obama administration was chasing an Iran deal, the Syrian government, backed by the Islamic Republic, was crossing the president’s “red line” and gassing civilians. Even when the United States began funding rebel forces in Syria, the administration reportedly wouldn’t allow Iran’s ally to be touched.

When pressed on the matter by some Syrian civil-society workers in London, then-Secretary Kerry snapped, “What do you want me to do, go to war with Russia?” Obama officials — led by Kerry — long peddled this false choice: the Iran deal or war. Well, we are no longer a party to the Iran deal, and there is no war.

Kerry would continue to entertain Iranian officials even after he was out of government. When Trump ordered a drone strike on terrorist Qassem Soleimani, a man who masterminded the killing of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians, Kerry said the world was in “no way at all” safer and claimed that Trump was risking an “outright war.”

Kerry was wrong about Iran. Kerry was also wrong about Israel. When the US embassy was about to be moved to Jerusalem, Kerry warned it would lead to “an explosion” in the Middle East — more specifically, “an absolute explosion in the region, not just in the West Bank and perhaps even in Israel itself, but throughout the region.”

Moreover, Kerry declared, it would have serious and negative repercussions on relations between Israel and the Arab world, making peace far less likely.

Of course, outside of some typical Palestinian noise, the opposite has happened. Only recently, Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to a historic deal that normalized relations between them. Other Arab Gulf states are expected to join the UAE, though it is well-known that many of them already have clandestine working relationships with Israel.

This week, Sudan, the third-largest Arab nation, announced it was close to reaching its own peace deal with the Jewish state.

All of this seems pretty significant. It would surely have been massive news if the Obama administration had helped forge the pacts. Right now, though, Obama has one more Nobel Prize than he does a peace agreement.

And time keeps proving John Kerry wrong.

Too late to stop Trump’s martial rule

Mandel Ngan/Getty

The Law Governing National Emergencies Needs Fixing

The flaws in the National Emergencies Act must be addressed before our democracy pays hefty consequences.

Elizabeth Goitein

LAST UPDATED: February 12, 2020

PUBLISHED: July 31, 2020

This originally appeared in the New York Times.

This weekend will mark one year since President Trump declared a sham emergency at the southern border to secure money for a wall Congress refused to fund. During that time, federal judges in three cases have declared the president’s move illegal, and Congress has made history by twice voting to terminate the emergency.

Yet the emergency declaration remains in place, even as Mr. Trump announced triumphantly in his State of the Union address that “our borders are secure.”

The lesson is clear: The law governing national emergencies is broken and must be fixed while there is a window of opportunity before the election —  and before our democracy pays a hefty price.

The law in question is the National Emergencies Act. This statute authorizes the president to declare a national emergency, which in turn gives him access to special powers set forth in more than 100 other provisions. Some of these powers seem more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy, like the authority to shut down communications systems, freeze Americans’ bank accounts and lend armed forces to other nations.

In February 2019, Mr. Trump declared that “unlawful migration” at the southern border was a national emergency. At the time, official statistics showed that illegal border crossings were hovering near historic lows. Moreover, Mr. Trump freely admitted that the purpose of using an emergency declaration was to get around Congress, which had refused to fund his pet project, a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico. His administration then announced that it would use emergency powers to raid funding from 127 military construction projects, including ones for weapons maintenance shops, crash fire rescue stations and cyberoperations facilities.

When Congress passed the Emergencies Act in 1976, it included a critical check against just such abuses. Congress would be able to terminate any emergency using a so-called legislative veto, a law that takes effect without the president’s signature. But in 1983, the Supreme Court held that legislative vetoes are unconstitutional, and Congress was forced to amend the law. As it now stands, lawmakers effectively have to muster a veto-proof supermajority to end an emergency. Before last March, Congress had never even attempted such a vote, even though presidents had issued 59 emergency declarations since the law went into effect.

It is proof of the unpopularity of Mr. Trump’s declaration that Congress voted, not once but twice, to terminate the border emergency. In the Senate, 12 Republicans broke ranks to register their disapproval — an extraordinary showing given the party’s record of fealty to Mr. Trump. To achieve a veto-proof supermajority, though, 20 Republicans would have had to defy the president on something that he had made a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. The result was predictable: Mr. Trump twice issued a veto, and Congress was unable to override it.

That left the courts as the sole institutional backstop. To date, federal judges have issued rulings in three cases holding the president’s actions unlawful. Other lawsuits, however, have been thrown out based on findings that the plaintiffs had no right to sue. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has won the right to continue dipping into the funds while the government appeals the adverse rulings — and has built 101 miles of new border wall.

Lawmakers from both parties have recognized that the system isn’t working. Last July, the Senate Homeland Security Committee voted 12-2 to pass the Article One Act, introduced by Mike Lee, Republican of Utah. Under this bill, presidentially declared emergencies would generally terminate after 30 days unless Congress voted to approve them. This would give the president flexibility when he most needs it — in the moment of crisis — but would ensure that Congress could meaningfully weigh in once the dust cleared. The legislation has broad bipartisan support, as the 2020 presidential election looms and each party considers how these powers might be used if the other side wins. But the bill, like all other legislation, was moved to the back burner during the impeachment proceedings.

It would be unwise to wait much longer. Mr. Trump periodically threatens to use emergency powers in new ways — to impose tariffs against Mexico, for instance, or to order American companies out of China. And while some Democratic hopefuls in the 2020 presidential race have embraced the idea of using emergency powers to fight climate change, the risk we take by leaving Congress powerless to stop abuses is far greater than any likely benefit. There are emergency powers that a president could potentially use to shut down the internet, but none that provide all the authorities and resources that will be necessary to address global warming.

Without sufficient checks, emergency powers have the potential to undermine democracy and core civil liberties. Congress needs to restore those checks now, when both parties are operating behind the veil of ignorance as to who will wield these breathtaking powers in January.

The Storms of God’s Wrath (Jeremiah 23)

Tropical Storm Marco Expected to Become a Hurricane

By Derrick Bryson Taylor’s

Aug. 22, 2020, 1:59 p.m. ET

Marco is expected to become a hurricane on Saturday and Laura is forecast to produce heavy rain over several Caribbean islands.

Tropical Storms Marco, left, and Laura, right, are churning in the Caribbean. A forecaster described Marco as “looking pretty organized.”NOAA

Tropical Storms Marco and Laura continued to churn in the Caribbean on Saturday, prompting a wave of warnings and watches for several countries, and leading the governor of Louisiana to declare a state of emergency.

Marco on Saturday was 105 miles east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said on Saturday morning.

“It’s looking pretty organized,” said Joel Cline, tropical program coordinator for the National Weather Service. “It’s expected to become a hurricane later today or tonight.”

Mr. Cline said it was possible that both storms would become hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico as early as Monday. He added that it would be “pretty unusual” and that the last time it happened was in 1933. The last time a hurricane and a tropical storm were both in the Gulf of Mexico was in 1959, he said.

Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center, on Friday squashed social media speculation that the storms would collide forming a single monster storm. “They cannot merge,” he said. “They actually repel each other because of the rotations.”

Marco may strengthen over the next two days but begin to weaken by Monday or Tuesday, the center said. The storm was expected to produce from one to four inches of rain, with some isolated amounts of six inches, across the eastern portions of Mexico, forecasters said.

In response to Marco, the government of Cuba issued a tropical storm warning for the province of Pinar del Rio, the center said. A tropical storm warning was also in effect for Cancun to Dzilam, Mexico.

“By late in the day on Monday, it should be very, very close to Louisiana, Texas coastlines, and probably go down to a tropical storm at that time,” Mr. Cline said of Marco.

On Saturday morning, Laura was about 20 miles southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, with maximum sustained winds of 40 m.p.h., according to the hurricane center.

The center of Laura was forecast to move near Puerto Rico on Saturday morning, near Haiti and the Dominican Republic by Saturday afternoon and night and then near eastern Cuba by Sunday.

Mr. Cline said Laura was “disorganized.” As long as it’s moving over those islands, he said, “then no intensification is expected to happen.”

However, Laura was expected to produce three to six inches of rain in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with some areas seeing as much as eight inches, the hurricane center said. Cuba was expected to receive similar rainfall amounts. The Dominican Republic and Haiti may see up to eight inches of rain, with as much as 12 inches across the southern areas.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, and certain areas of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas. A tropical storm watch was issued for the central Bahamas and portions of Cuba.

When Laura reaches the Gulf of Mexico, it may strengthen, Mr. Cline said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana on Friday declared a state of emergency.

Louisiana is in a unique situation being in the cone of two storms, which could impact different areas in the coming days,” Mr. Edwards said. “It is too soon to know exactly where, when or how these dual storms will affect us, but now is the time for our people to prepare.”

Declaring a state of emergency allows the state to help local governments with their preparations, Mr. Edwards said. He advised Louisiana residents to include face masks and hand sanitizer in their emergency kits. “Covid-19 does not become less of a threat because of tropical weather,” he said.

This year’s hurricane season is expected to be one of the most active on record, the National Weather Service has said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this month updated its forecast for the remainder of this year’s season, estimating that by the time the hurricane season is over on Nov. 30, there will have been up to 25 named storms.

Seven to 11 of the named storms could become hurricanes with winds at 74 m.p.h. or more, including three to six major hurricanes during the season, NOAA scientists said.

Even with a forecast of up to 25 named storms, meteorologists still do not expect a season as active as the one in 2005, which had 28 named storms.

The 2020 Hurricane Season

Derrick Bryson Taylor is a general assignment reporter on the Express Desk. He previously worked at The New York Post’s PageSix.com and Essence magazine.

Russia Really Does Have a Nuclear-Armed Hypersonic Missile (Daniel 7)

Does Russia Really Have a Nuclear-Armed Hypersonic Missile?

Does Russia really have a nuclear-armed hypersonic missile able to travel at 20-times the speed of sound to instantly destroy targets, penetrate air defenses and overwhelm enemies before there is a chance to respond?

A Russian newspaper says yes, adding that Russia has completed the “experimental design work to develop the Avangard missile systems with the boost-glide vehicle capable of breaching existing and future anti-ballistic missile defenses.”

Avangard is reported to be an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with both hypersonic speed and an ability to fly a “maneuvering” flight path through the atmosphere.

Boost-glide hypersonic weapons are built to skim along the upper boundaries of the earth’s atmosphere before using the sheer speed of descent to close in on targets with kinetic energy warheads. The principle advantage with hypersonics is, of course, time–an ability to deprive an enemy with any ability to respond.

Should this weapon fully come to fruition, and be nuclear-capable, it would certainly present technical and strategic challenges for U.S. defenses, as there simply may not be time for air defense radar to find and track the approaching missile.

This being said, the prospect of this kind of weapon does raise several interesting questions, pertaining to both U.S. nuclear defenses and emerging innovations aimed at stopping hypersonic attacks.

Should U.S. nuclear launchers, ICBMs or even land-launched, nuclear-armed strategic bombers be rendered ineffective or destroyed, the U.S. still has available options with which to retaliate.

What this means is that an attacker, if even enabled by scores of fast-moving, destructive hypersonic nuclear weapons, will still be at risk of total nuclear destruction for one specific reason…. nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines.

Lurking beneath the surface in strategically vital waters throughout the world, U.S. submarines are at any time in a position to annihilate entire nations with nuclear-armed missiles. Submarines, it goes without saying, could most likely not be found, targeted or destroyed by air traveling hypersonic weapons.

The U.S. Navy now operates 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines capable of firing nuclear-armed Trident II D5 nuclear weapons at any time. The concept here is self-evident, as they can ensure the complete and immediate destruction of any nation which launches a nuclear attack upon the U.S. Given this, would it make sense for Russia to consider firing nuclear-armed hypersonic weapons at the U.S., even if they were able to penetrate missile defenses.

Also, beyond the well known undersea leg of the U.S. strategic deterrence nuclear triad, U.S. military and industry innovators are working on new innovations aimed at establishing a “continuous track” on approaching hypersonic weapons at long ranges, regardless of their advanced speed. Much of this involves advanced networking, satellite-integrated sensors, and connectivity between boundaries within and beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

Kris Osborn is the new Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Future of Kashmir…the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

Future of Kashmir

by Zeeshan Khan , (Last Updated 12 hours ago)

India’s action last year set the whole region in tumoil

When we look at the history of Indian Subcontinent, it has always remained womb of many disputes and battles, being a gateway of many conquerors since the beginning, as it attracted almost everyone due to the fertility of its soil and being a place of paramount economic as well as social opportunities, now with now over 1.8 billion people in 1.7 million square miles of South Asia.

The magnitude of disputes in past was not too dangerous because of the limited availability of modern weapons. However, now the things have changed so largely that presence of nuclear powers in the region has made the situation too risky in case of any non-resolving conflict between these nuclear powers. At present, the Kashmir issue is one such dispute from last the seven decades between India and Pakistan, and since last year on August 5, with the Indian revocation Of Articles 370 and 35A Of the Indian Constitution with its implementation of an unprecedented curfew in Indian Occupied Kashmir violated not only 11 United Nations Security Council resolutions but also transgressed the United Nations Human Rights Charter, two UN Human Rights Reports, the Simla Accord between both countries and basic human rights Of over eight million Kashmiris. Indian Occupied Kashmir is still under unending siege for the last one year. The seriousness of the problem cannot be imagined until one suffers the very state of affairs. Additionally, the  Indian Government is not apologetic at all and the inauguration of the construction of a Ram Mandir at the site of the demolished Babri Mosque just added fuel to the fire by its clear exhibition of hatred against Muslims.

Moreover, the international community has adopted a criminal silence over the extreme infringement of human rights, maybe considering Kashmiris the children of a lesser God.

In the end, economic might is the real power in today’s world but India must think about humanity and must lift the curfew as freedom is Kashmiris’ basic human right. Peace must be given a chance otherwise radicalisation would have serious repercussions, because conflicts and wars never benefitted any nation but only destruction is achieved as the end product

On 5 August 2020, Pakistan protested vehemently at completion of one year of siege in Indian Occupied Kashmir and also issued a new political map including it in Pakistan marked as disputed region. Now, steps ought to be followed include; the Kashmiri diaspora abroad, in particular Europe and North America, the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir(AJK) and Indian Occupied Kashmir are needed to be included in the process of the struggle for the freedom of Kashmir.

On the diplomatic front, from last two years Kashmir issue has been highlighted eloquently but before this era, the Kashmir conflict was put on the backburner long ago. Diplomacy regarding the Kashmir conflict remained absent in the past. So, things did not work out properly as diplomacy is not an event but a process and the process was missing. Aggressive diplomacy is needed to address the conflict especially after the imposing of an inhuman curfew in Indian Occupied Kashmir for the last one year.

There should be a sole representative for the people of Kashmir, who must lead the Kashmir cause clearly, as Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi are too busy with their limited time, and they cannot properly propagate the issue as special envoy can, although Imran Khan highlighted it strongly on international stage. Therefore, a Special envoy on Kashmir is the need of the hour. Pakistan must also nominate a plebiscite advisor to prepare people of Kashmir and overseas Kashmiris to aggregate the support in case of a referendum.

As the world knows now, Kashmir is not India’s internal matter. It is an international dispute. India’s actions on 5 August 2019 were a violation of UNSC Resolutions and international law, and its own leaders’ commitments. The world must pay attention to the catastrophic humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Indian Occupied Kashmir, which has all the hallmarks of a genocide. India has tried to erase the Kashmiris’ identity. The bleakest year in the history of Indian Occupied Kashmir as Kashmiris mark one year of arbitrary arrests, killings, torture, rapes, hatred against minorities and, following India’s colonial domicile laws, land grab. Instead of loosening its stranglehold on the Kashmiri people, India has used covid-19 to double down on its oppression in Kashmir. There are even more arrests, more extrajudicial killings. 30,000 young Kashmiri boys have been disappeared forcefully.

India has itself paid the ultimate tribute to the Kashmiris’ spirit and resistance by imposing curfew in Indian Occupied Kashmir even before August 5. Kashmiris have not accepted the injustice and the denial of their right to self-determination. Events over the last year have proved that Pakistan’s warnings to the international community about Kashmir Siege being the opening gambit in BJP’s implementation of its RSS inspired extremist racialist Hindutva agenda were well-founded. The Kashmiri cauldron could trigger explosions, destroy regional peace , rip apart the fabric of political geography and spark wider conflagrations. The USA and the international community must assert its moral authority and use its influence to extinguish the fires now burning in Kashmir.

On 6 August 2020, the UNSC again for the second time expressed concerns over the human rights situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir after India imposed curfew, which has been on its agenda for over 70 years. The UNSC, under the UN Charter, not only has the responsibility for maintaining international peace and security but also of ensuring implementation of its resolutions.

Pakistan at United Nations has underscored the need for the world community to end India’s human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir and move to resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions.

Pakistan must first and foremost, rely on Muslim World Leaders to uphold the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people. India increased its troop strength in Kashmir to 900,000 – one soldier for every eight Kashmiris, and it imposed a military siege, a 24 hour curfew, and all political leaders and prominent Kashmiris are incarcerated. India has opened the door to demographic transformation and more than 400,000 thousand Indian military and civilian officials and their families have already obtained residency rights in Kashmir. Demographic flooding of an occupied territory violates Security Council resolutions, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Genocide Convention.

In the end, economic might is the real power in today’s world but India must think about humanity and must lift the curfew as freedom is Kashmiris’ basic human right. Peace must be given a chance otherwise radicalisation would have serious repercussions, because conflicts and wars never benefitted any nation but only destruction is achieved as the end product.

Gaza militants fire 12 rockets from outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Gaza militants fire 12 rockets, Israel strikes Hamas targets

By JOSEPH KRAUSS

Homeowner Osnat Malka inspects damage from a rocket fired overnight by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, Israel, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. The rocket attack was the most serious exchange of fire along the Gaza frontier in months, but there were no reports of casualties. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian militants fired 12 rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip overnight, nine of which were intercepted, and Israel responded with three airstrikes on targets linked to the territory’s militant Hamas rulers, the Israeli military said early Friday.

Friday evening, the military added that the militants fired at least one more projectile that was also intercepted.

It was the most serious exchange of fire along the Gaza frontier in months, but there were no reports of casualties. Police said buildings and vehicles in Israel were damaged, and that bomb-disposal units had been dispatched to pick up shrapnel and rocket parts.

In recent weeks, groups affiliated with Hamas have launched incendiary balloons into Israel, igniting farmland in a bid to pressure Israel to ease the blockade it imposed on Gaza when the Islamic militants seized power in 2007. The rocket fire marks a significant escalation.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and several smaller battles over the last 13 years. Neither side is believed to be seeking war, but any casualties could ignite a wider conflict.

After a meeting with the military chiefs to assess the situation, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz threatened Hamas with a serious blow. He said the army “is prepared, is protecting and will continue to protect the people of the south, and will attack the attackers in turn, inflicting serious damage.”

“We will not stand by while Hamas is out of control,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement. The military “will respond with force and determination, sortie after sortie, and will continue even if it requires patience and time.”

Israel has closed Gaza’s only commercial crossing, causing the territory’s sole power plant to shut down for lack of fuel and limiting the territory’s 2 million residents to around four hours of electricity a day. Israel has also banned fishing in Gaza’s coastal waters, measures it says are in response to the incendiary balloons.

Egyptian mediators were in Gaza earlier this week to try and shore up an informal truce but left without announcing any progress. Israel has allowed the Gulf nation of Qatar to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Gaza in recent years to keep the economy from collapsing and preserve calm.

“We will not allow the enemy to continue the unjust siege on our people, who have the right to express their rejection to this siege by all means,” Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups said in a joint statement.

Describing the incendiary balloons as “peaceful tools” of resistance, the factions said they “responded and will respond” to any Israeli airstrikes on militant sites.

The latest exchange began late Thursday when militants fired two rockets that landed near the security fence. A few hours later, a volley of three rockets was intercepted by Israeli missile defenses. Another seven rockets were fired early Friday, six of which were shot down.

The Israeli military said it carried out airstrikes targeting Hamas military infrastructure, including a compound used to manufacture rocket ammunition, in response.

It was the most serious cross-border exchange since February, when the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group fired around 80 rockets into Israel after one of its fighters was killed near the border while allegedly planting explosives. Israel struck dozens of targets across the territory.